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Thread: Fine-Tuning Argument vs Argument From Miracles

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Is Jesus Christ ONLY ONE OF MANY reputed miracle-workers of Antiquity?

    Who are the others? Where is the record of them? Where are the reports of their miracle deeds?



    (continued from previous Wall of Text)


    . . . there is no way to explain . . . how people could have mistaken Jesus to have divine healing power when he did not cite any ancient healing god as his source of power.
    He most certainly did!
    There's no case where he's quoted as citing any ancient healing deity, as all reputed miracle healers do in order to win belief from their audience. In all cases of healing claims (by a faith-healer, charlatan, miracle-worker, etc.), there is a particular ancient healing deity who is named as the source of the healing power, or ancient miracle legend, invoked as part of the account, to connect the current miracle claim to an ancient tradition or belief already recognized, in order to add credibility to the story. Jesus is the only exception to this.

    In all three Elijah and Elisha healing stories (I-II Kings), the name Jehovah is used by the prophet and "the God of Israel" is named in the text.

    But Jesus names no previous deity or prophet or other authority figure as his source, in the miracle stories, nor does the narration of the healing acts say that it was God or the God of Israel or Jehovah who did the miracle. Some of the Jesus miracle stories mention "God" or "the Lord" (Theos, Kurios) within the text, but most do not. Such mention has no essential connection to the miracle act. In most cases there is no such mention.

    The leper healed in Mark 1:40-44 is instructed by Jesus to report to the priest and do a cleansing rite prescribed by Moses, after he's already healed. This is the closest to anything recognizing an ancient authority in any of the Jesus miracle healing acts, and no other similar example. If this accompanied 90% of the Jesus miracle stories, you might claim this was an appeal to an ancient miracle legend or authority.

    The sage Apollonius of Tyana is credited with doing miracles by the author Philostratus, who connects Apollonius to ancient miracles in every one of his reported miracle acts. Not only half of them, but all. The most famous of these is the story of resuscitating a dead girl, who returned to her family, we're told, "just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules" (Vol 1, Bk 4, ch 45, Life of Apollonius of Tyana).

    For this author, Philostratus, there are several ancient miracle legends cited, rather than only one. So his appeal to ancient authority is in effect a "salute" to the whole pantheon of Greek-Roman deities. I.e., he identifies Hercules, Asclepius, Apollo, Athena, and others in his Apollonius stories. In one case a legendary Homeric hero, Telephus, is called upon to enter a child suffering from a wound which won't heal. This ancient hero is invoked because he had also suffered from an incurable wound, and the healing ritual is done in his name so the child is magically cured (Vol 2, Bk 8, ch 7, Life of Apollonius of Tyana). So this miracle-worker, according to the only account of his deeds, identifies his power with these ancient miracle heroes and legends and deities.


    He claimed Jehovah was the source of his power.
    No, he never claims this in any of the miracle stories. The names used are "Lord" and "God," which probably don't mean Jehovah or Elohim in most cases. Though Jesus mentions God here and there, he almost never cites God or the Lord as his Source for a healing act. An exception is the healing of the demoniac, in Mark 5:1-20, where he tells the cured victim to go home and tell his family "all that the Lord has done for you." This is after the healing act, and it's a very rare case where he's quoted as giving credit to "the Lord" (Kurios) for the miracle act. The general pattern is omission of any such appeal to religious authority or miracle tradition. But the opposite is the case for all other miracle healing claims, where the specific ancient healing deity/hero is invoked every time.

    In the Gospel accounts you have to go outside the miracle stories per se to find claims of connection to God or the Lord, as the authority or power, also to Moses and David and Solomon or other ancient authority.

    All other reputed healers cite the ancient healing deity, in the miracle story per se. And not just "God" ("Theos"), but a specific ancient healing god or hero. All the Asclepius healing stories invoke Asclepius by name, not just "God" or "Theos," but a specific ancient miracle deity distinguished from others.

    In the story of Emperor Vespasian healing two victims it's the god Serapis who is invoked, according to both Suetonius and Tacitus, who relate this miracle story. And in the one Josephus account of an exorcist expelling demons, it is Solomon who is credited by Josephus as the source of the healing power, by means of the rituals which Solomon instituted (Antiquities Bk 8, ch 2, 5 (42). (These last 2 miracle stories date later than 90 AD, after the Jesus miracle stories were circulating.)

    In more recent times it is always Jesus who is named as the source for healing miracles. E.g., Joseph Smith and modern faith healers. Citing a specific ancient authority or miracle legend (not just "God") is generally an essential part of the miracle claim, giving it credence, to gain popular acceptance and belief. But the case of Jesus is an exception, not citing a particular ancient miracle legend or deity as his source.

    (An example from modern pop culture: in the movie "the Exorcist" it is Christ who is invoked, not just "God" or "the Lord." In one scene the priest yells repeatedly to the demon, "The power or Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!" There is always a specific ancient healer authority who is called upon, specifically named, distinguishing this healer legend from others.)


    That was the whole basis of his and his followers' claims to his divinity;
    No, he's not quoted saying Yahweh or the Lord or the God of Israel is his source of power. Of course there are quotes from the prophets, from the commandments, from the "Scriptures," references to David and Moses and others. But not in connection with the miracle acts, as the source of his power. These references to ancient authorities are there, e.g., in the teachings, but not connected to the miracle acts.

    This is a radical departure from all other miracle healing gurus/prophets, or accounts of them, where the miracle claim always cites a particular ancient healing deity, in connection with the reported miracle act, or as the source of their power. They make this appeal to an ancient miracle legend because it increases their acceptance by the audience. But the case of Jesus is different -- apparently he did not need to cite any such ancient authority in order to gain belief from his audience. Why? Even when it's the writers who cite the ancient authority, like Philostratus describing Apollonius, still the appeal to the ancient miracle legend is always part of the story. It's obviously done in order to gain credibility from a skeptical audience.

    . . . that he was the son of their Jewish god (whatever name you want to give it; Jehovah, Yahweh, whatever).
    No, not in the Gospel account text, in the miracle stories. There he calls himself "Son of Man." As a Jewish term this doesn't identify him with any miracle healing tradition. Some of the demons expelled call him "Son of God," and some victims seeking to be healed call him "Son of David." In one case the prophet Isaiah is named, and another mentions Moses. But in most of the healing stories there's no such name or identity mentioned. The term "God of Israel" is mentioned once, by the crowd after a demon is expelled.

    These identifications or names are in less than half the miracle stories, and they never mean anything like an appeal to an ancient miracle healing deity such as we see in the Asclepius stories and all other ancient miracle healing claims.

    The terms "God" and "the Lord" appear ("Theos" and "Kurios") in a few cases. You could claim these are the same as the Jewish Jehovah or Yahweh or Elohim or Adonai, but you could just as easily equate them with Allah or Aton or Zeus, etc. "Theos" and "Kurios" do not identify a specific ancient miracle tradition in the same sense as the names Hercules or Asclepius or Apollo or Serapis do, which are specific ancient heroes/deities cited by reputed miracle-workers, and are in contrast to names of other ancient deities.

    It's not in the accounts of the miracle acts that specific ancient hero/deity names occur in the Gospel texts. In these he's not quoted naming a particular divine authority or ancient deity or ancient tradition as his source of power. A vague reference to "God" or "the Lord" in 2 or 3 examples is not the same as invoking a specific ancient miracle legend such we find in all the Asclepius miracle stories. We find names of ancient authorities or references (Moses, Elijah, Solomon) only outside the miracle stories, like in the teaching texts, but not in the miracle stories per se.


    EVERYTHING that Jesus does is to fulfill Jewish prophecy.
    You can interpret the gospel accounts this way, but nothing in the miracle narratives makes any such claim of prophecy fulfillment, or in any way shows a reliance on ancient miracle tradition. Those connections are theological interpretations not contained within the text of the miracle stories.

    Your problem is that you're trying to explain the miracle stories as a product of the earlier Jewish traditions. But that leaves a huge question unanswered: Why didn't Jewish prophecy get connected that way to anyone else? other than Jesus? I.e., why didn't they make any other Jewish hero figure into a miracle-working Messiah? Why only this one Jesus person? There were plenty of Jewish rabbis and prophets and gurus of one kind or another to connect to the ancient prophecies. Why is only Jesus reported in writings as being the Messiah, reportedly doing miracles, but no one else? Presumably there were some rabbis or priests claiming to perform Yahweh's rituals, but we have no written accounts naming them and describing their acts, like we have 4 (5) sources identifying Jesus as doing miracles, and claiming he's the Messiah doing fulfillment of Jewish prophecy.

    The real connection of Jesus to Jewish prophecy happened chronologically as follows:

    event 1: Jesus showed up unexpectedly, performing those miracle acts somehow; and then

    event 2: several Jews converged on him as "the Messiah" predicted in their scriptures, because of those acts he did and which made him stand out as unique, having real power and needing to be explained somehow. So they sought and found the explanation for him in their ancient scriptures.

    However, if you try to reverse the above order, making the Jewish tradition & scriptures Event #1, which then produces Event #2 (Jesus the Messiah), you have to answer why they didn't connect them to ANY OTHER rabbis or prophets, but only to Jesus. So unless you can answer this, the best explanation how Jesus got connected to Jewish prophecy is the above 2-step chronology. I.e., first he showed up doing the miracles, then many Jews took note and connected him to Jewish prophecy.



    What are the "PRIMARY SOURCES"?

    Second, there are no primary sources making any such claims.
    There are virtually no "primary sources" making any claims of any kind.
    You mean extra biblical sources.
    "Can we talk"? -- this term "primary sources" is tossed around all over the place without real clarity as to its meaning. Many people imagine that we have "primary sources" for everything, which are sources contemporary to the actual events, even eye-witnesses who saw what happened and wrote our earliest accounts, and we have to go back to those contemporary authors living at the time to tell us what really happened. And then authors 50-100 years later are not reliable themselves but are dependent on the earlier "primary sources" we need in order to get at the real truth. And this is all nonsense. We have virtually no contemporary sources for the events. 90% of our sources date from 50-100 years after the events happened. Also there's much uncertainty about the accuracy of many of the historical events (for 1000+ years ago).

    As to extra biblical sources, we must rely on the earliest sources for anything, regardless if it happens to be one of the biblical writings. For the historical Jesus we obviously are dependent on the NT writings, because these are the earliest. Plus a very few other Christian writings which are early and not in the NT.

    Just because a document became included in the NT does not mean it has to be tossed out as unhistorical or unreliable. It was included in the canon precisely because it was early and therefore a more reliable account of what happened. How could we ever know anything about history if it's required to toss out of the record anything which happens to be early and closer to the actual events (like the Gospel accounts are)?


    History is based on the sources which exist, not on imaginary "primary sources" you wish existed.
    So, you mean like the books of the NT?
    Whatever books have survived and are close to the actual events. Did the Sanhedrin exist? Did the famous rabbis Hillel and Shammai ever really exist? Yes, but the only sources for them are Jewish writings, and for those famous rabbis there's nothing until 200 years later. Nothing from 1st century historians.

    You can't demand that history must come only from certain mainline historians or from contemporary "primary sources" certified as authentic, and only neutral sources with no propaganda in them -- and that everything else has to be tossed out. Those demands mean eliminating at least half of our ancient history.


    Our sources for the Jesus miracle acts are better than our sources for most of the ancient history events generally.
    "Better" in what sense?
    In the sense that we have more sources, i.e., 4 (5) sources for these events, and these sources are closer in time to the reported events than half (or 1/3 or 2/3 -- take your pick) of our known (ancient) history, which is typically reported in sources 50-100 years later than the events.


    Again, as your own reference to Lucian proves, he easily concocted a fictional story about Christians in one letter. That's all it took, unless you are now going to argue that Lucian's account was also non-fictional?
    There were many fictional stories concocted about many things. What's your point? Our question is about what happened around 30 AD which led to writings about the Jesus miracle acts. A story 150 years later sheds no light on that.


    Your argument is ridiculous. It takes zero generations to write a fictional or otherwise mythological story (i.e., fictionalizing/embellishing certain elements of a story that may otherwise be based in some part on real people).
    There are no miracle legends which show up in writings only 30-70 years later than the alleged events, in multiple sources. I.e., until modern times. If there are exceptions to this, why is no one offering any? (Or rather, why is there only one glaring exception to this, and nothing else coming close?)

    If it takes "zero generations" for a fictional miracle legend to appear, like Jesus in the Gospels, then where is an example of it? This one happened in 25-70 years, in 4 (5) accounts. Where is there any other case of a miracle legend appearing in such a short period, in the ancient world? Where is there anything even close?


    There are reasons one might doubt the reports
    Good, then we're done.
    Of course there are reasons to doubt the Jesus miracle stories, and also to doubt much of our mainline historical events, and also reasons to believe them. A believer can have doubts. There are many facts of history, in the standard historical record, which can be doubted for lack of certainty. Even so, there is still reason to believe, despite the doubt. And reasonable hope in cases of something optimistic, even miraculous, if there's evidence, like 4 or 5 sources confirming it.


    but the complaint that there are no "primary sources" is no more reason to doubt these reported events than 90% of the reported history of those times.
    It very clearly is, or, again, are you now going to argue that Lucian was writing a non-fictional, historically accurate account of Christians circa 165 CE as being a group of easily duped communal Jews who worship a man who was killed and who also worship another man (Proteus) as if he were a god (not that he IS a god; but LIKE a god)?
    Your obsession with this 2nd-century fiction story has no relevance to our question of what happened in 30 AD. There were many fiction stories. How do we explain the origin of the Christ miracle stories by obsessing on this one unrelated 2nd-century story?


    And, according to your own illogic, mustn't we now set in stone Lucian's account as the gospel, if you will, regarding Christians as late as 165 CE?
    His description of Christians of his time, as he knew them, could be partly accurate. Any writing which is polemical is usually not very trustworthy to give a totally accurate account of the ones depicted. That doesn't mean it's dismissed as total fiction. A fictional account with fictional characters can be a tool to communicate real events. You're ignoring that ALL the ancient writings contained both fact and fiction. E.g., even though Homer is classified as "fiction," still there is some historical fact in the stories, and probably some of the characters were real.


    There are only stories of stories handed down year after year in oral form until decades later (at best) some unknown author (“Mark”) wrote his version.
    And that's a better and more reliable account we have for an historical figure than we have for any other 1st-century Jew or 1st-century figure living in Palestine.
    Which doesn't change the fact that its shite.
    So all 1st-century history is "shite"? Call it what you want, there was a 1st century, with characters like Hillel the rabbi and Josephus and Philo the Alexandrian and Jesus Christ and John the Baptist and Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas etc. etc. -- people who did some things which we have some knowledge about, despite the difficulties with all the ancient sources. Our sources for the historical Jesus are as good as (or better than) our sources for most of the other 1st-century historical figures. Including many Greeks and Romans we assume did exist and did things we know about, and for some of whom the evidence is limited.


    Or, again, are we now setting in stone Lucian's account?
    Why are you obsessing on this one account? All the ancient sources are set in stone. And all contain a mixture of fact and fiction.


    (this Wall of Text to be continued)
    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 05-16-2019 at 12:17 AM.

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    Once again, your walls of text say nothing, other than to tautologically confirm the fact that fiction is fictional.

    Last night I had a vision that Jesus appeared before ten thousand poeple to tell them he was not a god and that there are no miracles.

    That is identical to what Paul did; claimed he had a vision. That is the full extent of his “authority” on the matter; a vision he claimed he had.

    Which means that by your illogic, I am now an authority on Jesus and since visions in and of themselves have no chronological time component to their efficacy, I am now the most reliable source on Jesus because I live contemporaneously to you.

    That is what you are arguing. Chronological proximity to an event somehow having more relevance in regard to the efficacy of the event having happened as claimed.

    Or better still, twelve of my friends claim I am the “second coming” of Jesus and I right now confirm that fact. The evidence of this are the wars and rumors of wars and the anti-christ (Trump) on the throne and the fact that only I know the hour and day and I come like a thief in the night, blah blah blah.

    Because I just made that claim—me, a primary source, even, and not the far less reliable anonymous and countless others in between my making the claim and decades later someone writing it down—and according to your illogic of chronological proximity to the original claimant, my claims are true and are the most reliable historical accounts.

    You are, after all, RIGHT NOW reading my claims that I JUST made, so therefore, you are a day or two distant (if not a few hours distant) from the original statement of claims, so therefore what I claimed and what you witnessed by reading my claims proves that I am the return of Jesus.

    And there are three hundred thousand witnesses who saw me appear before them and there is a whole website dedicated to debunking any such claims--called Talk Free Thought--and my claim has never been debunked there, therefore my claim must be true and these are the most reliable sources, so I command you to throw everything else away.

    That is how ridiculous is your argument. It takes exactly zero time to make shit up. It takes less than a roundtable game of telephone (are you old enough to remember that game?) for an original statement to be corrupted and interpolated into something completely different. Iow, it literally only takes ten seconds for an oral account passed around a living room table, ffs, to get completely changed and embellished and distorted, let alone what would happen to the same story told and retold over decades by primarily gullible, ignorant people who already believe in such things as resurrection and gods and healing powers and the like.

    But what's worse is that you're actually talking about two different stories. One is about a group of seditionists who evidently caused a series of social disturbances culminating in the burning of Rome and who were formed by or once led by a martyred leader named "Chrestus" or the like.

    The other story is either Roman propaganda or that leader's follower's martyr mythology about him.

    So you've got mentions of a seditionist cult of radicalized Jews (what we would call "terrorists" today and certainly from the Roman perspective) doing some shit in the lead up to what became a full blown revolut (and subsequent slaughter of the Jews by the Romans, who then wrote the history) and the mythology apparently created by that cult and in regard to their martyred leader.

    At best. Which still puts you exactly at fictionalized accounts of a non-divine, natural being and his non-divine, natural exploits.

    Aka, mythology. Aka, fiction.
    Last edited by Koyaanisqatsi; 05-16-2019 at 01:24 PM.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    If a miracle is defined as 'inexplicable', then any event we can explain as having a god as a cause is by definition not a miracle. Either that, or the existence of miracles proves that the concept of god has no explanatory value.

    Either way, theism is contraindicated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    Once again, your walls of text say nothing, other than to tautologically confirm the fact that fiction is fictional.

    Last night I had a vision that Jesus appeared before ten thousand poeple to tell them he was not a god and that there are no miracles.

    That is identical to what Paul did; claimed he had a vision. That is the full extent of his “authority” on the matter; a vision he claimed he had.

    Which means that by your illogic, I am now an authority on Jesus and since visions in and of themselves have no chronological time component to their efficacy, I am now the most reliable source on Jesus because I live contemporaneously to you.

    That is what you are arguing. Chronological proximity to an event somehow having more relevance in regard to the efficacy of the event having happened as claimed.

    Or better still, twelve of my friends claim I am the “second coming” of Jesus and I right now confirm that fact. The evidence of this are the wars and rumors of wars and the anti-christ (Trump) on the throne and the fact that only I know the hour and day and I come like a thief in the night, blah blah blah.

    Because I just made that claim—me, a primary source, even, and not the far less reliable anonymous and countless others in between my making the claim and decades later someone writing it down—and according to your illogic of chronological proximity to the original claimant, my claims are true and are the most reliable historical accounts.
    We can certainly verify and acknowledge the fact that you exist, and you'll notice: we have a little more to go on at present, as your claim has the advantage (over the ancients) since we are here today on the forum, witnessing your live presence. We can write about you ( as an "external source" too). We have the internet and camera's and technology to document your existence.

    Just the miracle things left to do ... it just, may not be written about , documented or any other hint worth the mention..

    if we .. "in this time", of your second coming, don't see you perform them .

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Is Jesus Christ only one of many reputed miracle-workers of Antiquity?

    Who are the others? Where is the record of them? Where are the reports of their miracle deeds?

    And why can't anyone give a reason to disbelieve the Jesus miracles which isn't also a reason to disbelieve ANY ancient historical events?



    (continued from previous Wall of Text)


    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    Most of our ancient history record was written decades later, even 100 years later, and is based on the oral stories handed down. Only a small percent is from authors contemporaneous to the events.
    And it's equally faulty for precisely that reason.
    So you agree that the evidence for the Jesus miracle acts is the same as for much of our accepted historical record, which means there is doubt, even though it's reasonable to believe it. So,"faulty" = not known with total certainty = most of our mainline "history" record = the same as our knowledge of the Jesus miracle acts.


    The mystery around who Homer was is still just as debated today as it was centuries ago, but no matter who he might have been, there never have been "gods" named Zeus and Poseidon.
    One thunderbolt zap to the fanny would change your mind about that. Also, we can't be sure Zeus did not start out as a real person, like we know the original St. Nicholas was a real person.


    The closest we can get to any confirmed identity of any of the authors of the NT is Paul, who never met Jesus (in spite of the fact that he supposedly lived contemporaneously to him and was both a Roman citizen and a Jew).
    That's better than we have for most historical figures reported in the writings.
    Again, proximity means nothing, so . . .
    Of course it means something if we have a source contemporary to the reported event.

    We can draw an analogy between Paul and Cicero. We have a tiny bit from Cicero about the assassination of Caesar. Later writers tell us much more about Caesar and his downfall, but it's good to have a little from someone who was contemporary to the event. That very close information has value we can't get from a writer 100 or 200 years later. Paul confirms that Jesus was "handed over" to the Romans, and is our best confirmation that Jesus was crucified and buried and raised.

    . . . let's skip to:

    Third, the claims are not just that Jesus could perform miracles, but that his disciples could as well, including raising people from the dead.
    There's almost nothing in the Gospel accounts saying that. It's only the Book of Acts reporting those events.
    Ummm...Matthew 10? Never heard of it?
    There's virtually nothing there. Almost nothing in the Gospel accounts about this. There's no narration in them of any healings by the disciples. Once the Jesus miracle reports were circulating and causing disturbance, it's easy to explain how additional claims would emerge, even though fictional, also how there would be normal praying and some victims recovering from illness, as they would have anyway. Just as we've always had stories of miracle healings where people prayed and claimed it was a miracle if a sick person recovered. And when the sick person died anyway -- well --

    But for the Jesus miracle acts we have real evidence, several written descriptions of these, in 4 accounts. And 5 confirming the Resurrection. And no explanation what led up to these if they are fiction.


    1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

    2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

    5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
    So, is Matthew not true either?
    This particular text does not say explicitly that healings were actually performed by the disciples. Mark 6:13 and Luke 9:6 do say it, in a very brief phrase, treating it as unimportant.

    It's easy to explain how, once the Jesus miracle stories were circulating and believed, some would start believing the disciples also did healings, even if it didn't really happen. What cannot be explained is how the original Jesus miracle claims were believed if the events did not happen. There was nothing previous to cause anyone to start believing the claims if nothing had happened. But once it was known that Jesus was doing the healing miracles everywhere he went, then people began believing, and this expanded to believing additional stories about the disciples having power, even if they did not. This all is easily explained in terms of how normal mythologizing happens, once the original miracle beliefs get started. The question to answer is: how did the original Jesus miracle stories get started, if he did not do those acts?


    But there is no explanation what inspired the Jesus miracle stories unless they were real events.
    Nonsense. The explanation is that they are lies made up either by people who wish to control others (aka, a cult) or they're just typical aggrandizements.
    No, there were lots of lies by lots of people wishing to control others, and lots of aggrandizements. And yet there is no other case of someone reportedly doing miracles, in many towns around the region, reported in multiple writings near to the time of the alleged miracle events. If this scam could spread so easily and be reported in written documents, there would be other scams also, reporting similar claims. It makes no sense that we have only this one reported case of such a miracle cult, and no others.


    Again, look at how Paul desperately tries to convince an early church congregation that doesn't believe Jesus was resurrected.
    Some believed it and some did not.

    They were hundreds of miles distant, 25 years later, separated from the original event, hearing this from a foreigner of a different culture, and of a culture not as skeptical as their own. It's remarkable that so many did believe, despite the obstacles.


    But where there is no explanation of what caused the stories, a good explanation is that the events really did happen.
    There are several very simple explanations--deliberate lies either by cult leaders or others; innocent aggrandizements of oral accounts and/or written accounts changed by copyists over time; a cultural understanding that such fantastical characters are never meant to be taken literally; etc.
    If these could explain it, we should have several Jesus-like cults or religions all around the region, appearing over several centuries. There's no explanation why only one group, only in the 1st century, was able to get its miracle claims published and circulated, in different accounts.


    The very fact that the Gnostic Gospels exist, for a perfect example, and yet are not to this day considered "canon" proves that there were early accounts that church "elders" considered to be too radical or . . .
    No, the Gnostic Gospels are not "early" accounts, but date 100-200 years later than the events happened. Only the Gospel of Thomas might be early, and yet this Gospel does not contradict the canonical gospels, but partly confirms the canonical gospels.

    . . . too radical or too fantastical or just did not present the version of the cult that they wanted preached.
    No, the Gnostic Gospels were rejected mainly because they were not early enough, and therefore not reliable for reporting what Jesus did and said. Almost all the early writings were included in the NT, and those not included were rejected mainly because they were mistakenly believed to be too late. Nothing in the early writings which were excluded shows any significant conflict with the canonical books. It was their supposed late date, not their content, which ruled them out.


    Miracle acts by the disciples, reported only in Acts, are probably fiction and were not widely believed until much later.
    Ahhh. And Matthew? Fiction too? And what isn't fictional then?
    ALL the writings contain both fact and fiction. Not just the NT, but Josephus and the other historians. There is no source that is totally fiction or totally fact. We must analyze to separate the fact from the fiction. We can do that, but there is always some doubt, and some guesswork, with any conclusions. We can draw reasonable conclusions about what the truth is, despite the doubt and the mixture of fact with fiction.


    Can you provide an exhaustive and detailed list of everything that isn't fiction and exactly what evidence you have that would prove such an assertion?
    We can look at every claim, in ALL the documents which survived, and try to determine if it's fact or fiction. We can do that and determine what probably happened, generally. But if you insist that we cannot, then there is no history, and you can throw out every history book and eliminate all the history classes from schools. Is that what you're saying we must do?


    Can you provide an exhaustive and detailed list . . . that would prove such an assertion? No, you can't.
    No one can prove with certainty what happened 1000+ years ago. We have evidence, in the writings, from which we can reasonably piece it together and determine what happened, and what did not. What we have is evidence, and some good guesswork, not the absolute certainty you're demanding.


    As is painfully evidenced in all of this tap dancing you're doing.
    I'm auditioning for a part in the next Kiss Me Kate production.


    Fourth, the fact that there were (supposedly) 12 disciples walking around Jerusalem with the power to heal the sick and raise the dead makes one wonder why those people are not still alive today.
    There's virtually nothing of this except in Acts.
    Again, wrong, so . . .
    In the Gospels we see Jesus performing miracle acts on every page, again and again. But almost nothing about the disciples doing this. It's very easy to explain how those claims about the disciples were added, as an afterthought. There are only 2 or 3 loose comments briefly mentioning it. It's only the Book of Acts which takes it seriously about the disciples performing miracles.

    . . . so let's skip all the bullshit about Acts.
    Then skip the question whether the disciples were given power to perform miracle acts.

    This book shows us the development taking place, how the memory of the Jesus miracle acts inspired new stories, due to mythologizing, as believers longed for a repetition of those events. It's so easy to see how these stories got started as fiction, once the original Jesus miracles caused so many to believe. And it's obvious today also, as it's been for many centuries, as believers are not satisfied having only the record of what happened around 30 AD.

    The public ministry of Jesus lasted less than one year, according to Jesus scholar Albert Schweitzer (1-3 years according to most others). And we have no reliable information about him other than for this one brief period. That short period is not enough for most people, for believers -- the wish for more can easily result in additional output of claims, just to satisfy the demand, or the wish, for the miracle events to resume. That's largely why Acts exists, to satisfy that demand. But there would never have been such a demand, if the original acts of Jesus had not really happened, causing so many to believe such power was actually possible.

    So those later stories about the disciples also doing miracles are further evidence for the earlier miracle acts of Jesus, to explain what inspired those later stories.


    It's easy to poke fun at the part which is obviously fiction.
    Ahhh. "Obviously fiction."
    There's no point to any of this if you can't recognize that all the ancient historical record is a mixture of fact and fiction. For ANY documents or sources. There's not one which is all fiction or all fact. No matter what it claims. So, to pounce on something and condemn it because it contains fiction is extremely bone-headed. By this standard, ALL the ancient history has to be scrapped. Again, you and all the other debunkers here have to keep falling back on arguments which force us to disqualify ANY record for the ancient history events. So you're trashing ALL the history record when you use this reasoning. You're saying ALL (or most) of our historical record is fiction.


    What cannot be explained is why such stories were not told 50 or 100 years earlier.
    Again, Matthew. Which many cult members still think of as the first in the passion narrative mythologies, but is actually dated to around 85 CE.
    No, before Jesus in the Gospels.

    The question is why there are not similar stories about any other Messiah figure than Jesus, especially earlier. If the Jesus stories are a product of a slow process of miracle beliefs leading up to the 1st century, why don't we see any other miracle Messiah in any literature during the period earlier? like in 10 or 20 or 30 AD? or in 20 or 30 or 40 BC? or 100 BC?

    Why is there a total blank? zero miracle stories in this period, going back to 200 BC? Why do the Asclepius miracle claims die out by 200 or 100 BC, so there is nothing left of these in the decades before the Jesus miracles suddenly pop up out of nowhere? Where did these suddenly pop up from? Where is the "lead-up" to this miracle phenomenon which suddenly appears in the mid-1st century, popping up from nowhere?


    Why don't we see stories of such miracles in 60 or 40 or 20 AD and earlier? There is a total blank of such stories in the literature going back at least 200 or 300 years. There is no miracle tradition in the Jewish or Greek/Roman culture during these centuries having any resemblance to the Jesus miracle healings and which could explain where these came from, if they could be explained as fiction. The Asclepius cult, the closest there is to anything analogous, was dying out, and these were priests worshiping an ancient healing god and performing rituals like modern healers who perform their rites in the name of Christ.
    Ok, well, we do circa 85 CE, so, I guess that means everything after GMark is fiction?
    Probably 99% of miracle claims are fiction. Before and after GMark. But you'll notice that there are virtually NO miracle claims in the literature from about 200 BC to 50 AD, before GMark. Or, nothing outside the Jesus miracle stories up to about 90 AD. What needs explaining is why there is a sudden explosion of miracle stories from about this time, when there had been zero such stories earlier.



    (this Wall of Text to be continued)

  6. Top | #176
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    Once again, your walls of text say nothing, other than to tautologically confirm the fact that fiction is fictional.

    Last night I had a vision that Jesus appeared before ten thousand poeple to tell them he was not a god and that there are no miracles.

    That is identical to what Paul did; claimed he had a vision. That is the full extent of his “authority” on the matter; a vision he claimed he had.

    Which means that by your illogic, I am now an authority on Jesus and since visions in and of themselves have no chronological time component to their efficacy, I am now the most reliable source on Jesus because I live contemporaneously to you.

    That is what you are arguing. Chronological proximity to an event somehow having more relevance in regard to the efficacy of the event having happened as claimed.

    Or better still, twelve of my friends claim I am the “second coming” of Jesus and I right now confirm that fact. The evidence of this are the wars and rumors of wars and the anti-christ (Trump) on the throne and the fact that only I know the hour and day and I come like a thief in the night, blah blah blah.

    Because I just made that claim—me, a primary source, even, and not the far less reliable anonymous and countless others in between my making the claim and decades later someone writing it down—and according to your illogic of chronological proximity to the original claimant, my claims are true and are the most reliable historical accounts.
    We can certainly verify and acknowledge the fact that you exist, and you'll notice: we have a little more to go on at present, as your claim has the advantage (over the ancients) since we are here today on the forum, witnessing your live presence. We can write about you ( as an "external source" too). We have the internet and camera's and technology to document your existence.

    Just the miracle things left to do ... it just, may not be written about , documented or any other hint worth the mention..

    if we .. "in this time", of your second coming, don't see you perform them .
    Others have and they have provided to you their eyewitness accounts. Therefore it’s all true.

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    I'm sure they would be willing to "suffer" terrible ordeals for you, if what they witness, is true.

  8. Top | #178
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    I was stuck at DFW airport this Wednesday waiting for a delayed connection, and I spent about an hour watching the antics of a cockatoo named Mr Max.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtn...SaEIeE1zhA_xxA

    Cockatoos are fascinating creatures. They are intelligent, they can learn to mimic the human voice, and some can pick up a vocabulary of over a hundred words. If you follow the youtube link and watch some of the videos, you will find that cockatoos can engage in "conversations" with their owners, a back-and-forth dialog that mimics conversations between humans. They string together the words and sounds they know to make it sound like they are actually communicating using human language. But no matter how smart the bird might appear at first glance, cockatoos do not have nervous systems capable of abstract thought, or the ability to engage in actual conversation with a human.

    Lumpy's posting habits bear a strong resemblance to the mimicry of the cockatoo. For over a year now Lumpy had been putting together walls of text using words from the English language, but when you read the text you discover that they say nothing, or very little.

    Just like the cockatoo puts together strings of words and sounds that communicate nothing or very little, Lumpy puts together long chains of words that communicate nothing or very little.

    You can talk back to the cockatoo and try to explain an idea to it, but the cockatoo will not understand you; it will simply repeat the words and sounds it knows. Likewise, you can talk back to Lumpy and point out why his claims make no sense, and Lumpy will simply repeat what he said before, over and over and over, seemingly incapable of understanding anyone's posts.

    The cockatoo will sometimes throw tantrums and make loud noises when it cannot get its way. Likewise, Lumpy will sometime throw tantrums, complaining that others are not willing to accept his claims as presented.

    I am not saying that Lumpy's cognitive abilities are the same as the cockatoo's. I am sure that is not the case. However, Lumpy is apparently unable to engage in a rational debate about the historicity of Biblical claims, and his posting habits on the subject for well over a year have demonstrated this fact over and over. I am the fool here for continuing to try, not Lumpy, or the cockatoo.

    Anyway, do check out Mr Max on youtube. Fascinating bird!

  9. Top | #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    If a miracle is defined as 'inexplicable', then any event we can explain as having a god as a cause is by definition not a miracle. Either that, or the existence of miracles proves that the concept of god has no explanatory value.

    Either way, theism is contraindicated.
    Unless you see it from the angle that the word "miracle", was used to express a simple contextual term ,... before the use of the word, became later as accordingly , refined and defined, as you've described in your quote.

  10. Top | #180
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    If a miracle is defined as 'inexplicable', then any event we can explain as having a god as a cause is by definition not a miracle. Either that, or the existence of miracles proves that the concept of god has no explanatory value.

    Either way, theism is contraindicated.
    Unless you see it from the angle that the word "miracle", was used to express a simple contextual term ,... before the defined description became "later" defined and refined, as you've described in your quote.
    So, unless the things people called 'miracles' in the past were not, in fact, miracles?

    I agree entirely. They called lots of things miracles, but they were wrong. Either they were wrong about what happened; Or wrong to call it miraculous.

    Stuff like a guy being crucified - which is deliberately intended to be a long, slow and painful death over many days - passing out after a day or so, being mistakenly declared dead, and then recovering after a few days lying down out of the direct sun. It's not particularly implausible; Certainly it's not miraculous. But in the context of a pre-medical age, when a weak heartbeat and shallow breath could easily be mistaken for death, it could certainly be mistaken for a miracle.

    Miracles don't happen. Never have, never will. There's no possible mechanism for them - and no phenomenon that cannot be understood without them. Miracles are make-believe. Grownups don't think that they are real.

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