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Thread: Fine-Tuning Argument vs Argument From Miracles

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    ...

    End of thread.
    Testing.

  2. Top | #852
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Yes, the evidence is that Jesus did the "miracle" acts -- Get used to it!

    You can't refute the evidence with "law of nature" or definition of "miracle" theories.


    Quote Originally Posted by atrib View Post
    This is how google defines the word miracle:
    noun
    noun: miracle; plural noun: miracles

    a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
    "the miracle of rising from the grave"
    synonyms: supernatural phenomenon, mystery, prodigy, sign
    "his first miracle was to turn water into wine"
    a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.
    "it was a miracle that more people hadn't been killed or injured"
    an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.
    "a machine which was a miracle of design"
    synonyms: wonder, marvel, sensation, phenomenon, astonishing feat, amazing achievement
    "Germany's economic miracle"
    The first definition is "event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws ". The second definition states the event has to be highly improbable or extraordinary.
    All the definitions are OK. The "argument from miracles" is not about how "miracle" is defined, but on whether the Jesus miracle acts (or whatever one chooses to call them) really happened in history and, if they happened, whether it matters.


    Human corpses don't come to life after lying in the grave for days or years since the processes that power the functions of the body have ceased, and the body experiences chemical breakdown.
    Of course they don't ordinarily come to life etc. Miracles are events which don't ordinarily happen. We rely on the reports that something happened to tell us what happened -- and for miracle claims we require more than just one report. Anything dubious or improbable requires extra sources. The reports that it happened are evidence that it happened, even if it's something unusual. Just because those things "don't" happen ordinarily doesn't mean it didn't happen in this one reported case, if there is some extra source to corroborate it. Maybe it requires more than just two sources -- there's no hard rule as to exactly how much extra evidence or extra sources we need.


    Humans who are declared dead can sometimes be revived or brought back to life through medical intervention within short periods (usually minutes or tens of minutes) of cessation of vital functions. No human has arisen from the grave after being dead for 3 days or more (Jesus/other risen zombies in the Bible respectively). At a very minimum, such an event would be considered highly improbable (within a day or two), or impossible, in cases where the person died years ago and the organs needed to sustain life have decayed away.
    All that is based on experience, or evidence, or observation of what has happened. So for anything said to be impossible, that means in part that such a thing has never happened. That it has or has not happened is the evidence, at least partly, for judging that it is or is not possible. But if it's observed or reported to have happened in a certain case, and there's extra evidence, that undermines the judgment that it's impossible. Even though that judgment was based on many other cases, even ALL previous cases, and on much good theory about the "laws of nature" and the physics and chemistry etc., still it is undermined and might be overruled by an unusual case which shows it really is possible, at least in this case where something was different and it actually did happen contrary to all the previous known cases.

    So you cannot discount and overrule the reports that the "impossible" event did actually happen, though it goes against the previous established judgments and observations. It depends on how much evidence there is that this "impossible" event happened.


    Human beings also do not have an ability to levitate into the atmosphere under their own power, since we lack the flight control surfaces that flying animals like birds and bats possess, and we are unable to generate enough lift from aerodynamic forces to undergo sustained flight.
    So, such things don't happen. Ordinarily -- which is the whole point. I.e., that's what makes it a "miracle." That such things don't or can't ordinarily happen doesn't mean it could never happen, if those limitations might be overcome in a particular case. So to believe such a claim we'd require extra sources reporting it, as corroboration.

    There's stronger evidence for the Jesus miracle healings than for the particular miracle of the ascension, so the ascension might be considered more doubtful. But since it harmonizes with all the rest, it's not unreasonable to include it as another of his acts of power. A more skeptical believer might choose to set aside the ascension story as dubious while still believing the healing miracles and the Resurrection. There's usually still some doubt, along with the belief, because the evidence is only enough to give us probability, or reasonable hope, rather than certainty.


    Such a claim would be considered impossible, as in, violating . . .
    Impossible for ordinary humans, but not necessarily for someone with superhuman power.

    . . . as in, violating the laws of nature.
    We don't necessarily have to judge that "the laws of nature" were violated. That's just one interpretation.

    If there's an exceptional case where "the impossible" act really is done, there might be an explanation how it was done in that case, even if we don't know what the explanation is. So by one interpretation it means "the laws of nature" were violated, but by another it just means we didn't fully understand all the "laws of nature" applying to that kind of case. One might reasonably believe it happened and violated "the laws of nature" based on the reports that it happened, or one might reasonably believe it happened but did not violate "the laws of nature," because there might be something -- an unknown -- within the "laws of nature" which allowed it to happen in this case, because some condition was different.


    How do we know what violates "the laws of nature"?

    The way we know something is "impossible" or against "the laws of nature" is that it never happens and no one can make it happen, even though they try. It's what we observe which tells us what is possible and what is not. If something was observed, and reported, that tells us it is possible, provided there's sufficient evidence that it really did happen, or really was observed. A certain act might be very unusual, or "impossible" generally, and yet real in a particular case where something different happened which made it possible in that one case. But if it was never observed, and claims saying it happened are debunked, then probably it didn't happen, and maybe it's impossible.

    We can judge based only on what is reported, or according to what we can conclude from all the reports. What's "possible" or in accordance with "the laws of nature" is determined from all the reports of what has happened or has been observed. If an unusual reported event departs from the previous pattern of observed events, then we need some extra evidence for it, and in some cases that unusual report might be credible. Which might require a change in our understanding of what is "possible" or what "the laws of nature" are.

    You can't just fall back on "the laws of nature" based on a majority of past reports and from this insist that it's "impossible" or against "the laws of nature" even though there's a reported case for which there's evidence. You can't rule out exceptional cases. Your theory of what is "possible" or against "the laws of nature" cannot be an Absolute which automatically overrules any claim regardless of the evidence or reports that it happened.


    The Bible makes both claims. Here is what we know:

    • We have no eyewitness accounts to support the claims.
    99% of reported events we have from the ancient historical record are not eyewitness accounts. Virtually none of our recorded history, for 2000 years ago, comes to us from eyewitness accounts. Such accounts are not necessary in order for us to determine that something happened based on the accounts we do have. Indirect testimony, from writers far away from the events, are relied on for most of the historical events.


    • The earliest known description of these claims is dated at least 60 to 120 years after the events (gospel Mark).
    90-150 AD? What goofball wacko source did you get that from?

    Mark is dated about 70 AD by 90% of the scholars -- maybe about 65-80 AD, but virtually no one puts it in the 2nd century. You put yourself in the nutcase category by coming up with dates like this.

    Mark is only about 40 years after the reported events, according to mainline scholars. And the other gospel accounts are dated 10-30 years later than Mark. Of course there's allowance that it could be a few years later, but not into the 2nd century.

    You could push John into the early 2nd century, but only by a few years.

    We have a manuscript fragment from the Gospel of John which usually is dated about 125 AD (give or take 25 years), which is the latest of the 4 gospels, and the original John gospel must have been written decades earlier than this copied ms. fragment -- "Papyrus P52":



    There are later dates also proposed, with little consensus. Some want to put the fragment at 150-200. The bias of the scholars comes into play in where they put the date for it.

    https://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-da...y-papyrus-p52/ . Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryland...ry_Papyrus_P52

    So, theoretically you might put John as much as 100 years later than the reported events (130 AD), if you really stretch it because you're desperate to undermine its credibility, perhaps assuming that this fragment was itself the original John gospel, from the author himself, written in Egypt, and then this piece of the original being recently discovered -- which is very unlikely. All reasonable conjecture has to make this fragment a distant copy of the original written many decades earlier.

    So it's reasonable to put the original John dating much earlier, near 100, to account for this fragment originally dated from 100-150, though recently moved by some to a later date.

    In any case, Mark, Matthew, and Luke have to be much earlier still. So there is no way to push them later than 100 AD.

    And meanwhile Paul, attesting to the Resurrection, is dated only 25 years later than the reported event.

    This separation of the later written accounts from the reported events is a relatively short time period, in comparison to the normal separation of the written account from the reported event, for the ancient historical record.

    And similarly, the dates of MANUSCRIPTS are typically MANY CENTURIES LATER than the original writing, rather than only a few decades as in the case of this John fragment. Even 1000 years is a normal separation between the original and the earliest known manuscript copy which has survived down to us. Based on this normal separation in time + this 2nd-century fragment, it's reasonable to date John to 100 AD at the latest.



    • The first gospel (Mark) is directly contradicted by the writings of Paul, which may have predated Mark by a few decades.
    No, there's no serious discrepancy between them. The two sources are very different, so it's difficult to compare them for contradictions or corroboration. You can always point out minor discrepancies which are normal with multiple accounts about the same events or persons. The difference in emphasis only means that the two authors were quite different in their interpretation of the same event, not that they contradict each other.

    (You're on much stronger ground to claim contradiction between JOHN and Mark, because of some significant discrepancies between them. Where this is the case, Mark has to be considered more credible. We can read the accounts critically, doubting some details, while still accepting them for the general depiction of the events.)

    All the evidence is that Paul's Jesus is the same as Mark's Jesus, with a significant difference in the emphasis. Mark's is narrative, telling us the Jesus events when he lived in history, while Paul's epistles are his interpretation of the same Jesus person, especially his death and resurrection. Just because the two are much different in nature doesn't mean either is "directly contradicted" by the other.

    The idea that Paul's Christ was a cosmic entity only, whose death and resurrection happened only in some non-earthly Outer Space Dimension is just incoherent babble. There's nothing in Paul's writing to make Jesus an Outer-Space entity only. Paul ignores almost entirely the biographical information about Jesus, but that doesn't mean his Christ is a different person from Mark's. He does give us a small amount of biographical information, making his Jesus an earthly historical figure as well as the Cosmic Risen Christ. There's no contradiction between the historical earthly Jesus described in Mark and the Cosmic Risen Christ of Paul. Timewise Paul's Christ is later -- the same person after the Resurrection. Mark's is before.


    • Mark is considered to be allegorical by serious scholars.
    You cannot lump ALL "serious scholars" into the same category like this. There's much disagreement among them.

    There is some allegory, as with most of the ancient writings. This doesn't make it 100% allegory and non-historical. There is the historical factual element as well as some fiction and allegory. The majority of serious scholars believe Mark contains historical information in it, which we can use to determine historical events of the 1st century. Obviously they have many doubts about the credibility, perhaps more doubts than with most of the ancient documents, and yet ALL the ancient documents present problems of credibility, both on the factual content and also on the objectivity/neutrality of the writers.


    That is, they do not believe that the author intended the stories to be taken as a recounting of history.
    Some believe that and some don't. The "history" element is rejected by a few, but most believe there is at least some recounting of history in Mark.

    You need to stop pretending that all scholars are unanimous about Mark, and claiming in absolutist 100% terms what their findings are. There is the historical factual element in Mark as well as the allegorical or literary or fictional. Most scholars believe the historical factual content in Mark is significant and is a source for determining certain events, regardless of the difficulty of separating fact from fiction. Only a few reject it totally for history. And yet even they must admit that there is some legitimate history in Mark. It cannot be denied that John the Baptist and Herod Antipas were real historical persons fitting Mark's descriptions of them.


    • Mark was copied by later authors in the second century who also added creative embellishments to the story.
    No, Matthew and Luke are almost entirely first century documents, according to most scholars, with possibly a small fraction being 2nd-century additions.

    Their accounts contain some "creative embellishment" (like most other ancient documents do, including history writings) as well as content which they added to Mark, i.e., content of their own from other sources, in addition to Mark. The vast majority of them is non-Markan content and is not dependent on Mark or an expansion of Mark. It is just additional content not in Mark.

    It is to the credit of Matthew and Luke that they quote from Mark, showing their recognition of earlier sources which were closer to the original events. This actually adds to the credibility of all three documents, showing the truth-seeking interest of the later writers giving some deference to their already-existing source in order to obtain the earliest report, and also to the credibility of Mark which the later writers considered a reliable source, showing they had reason to trust this source.

    You can't get around the fact that additional sources INcrease the credibility of the claims made, regardless that there is some quoting of an earlier source by a later source.


    They are so far removed from the events, and . . .
    No, only by about 40 or 50 or 60 years, which is a relatively short space between the reported events and the later writings reporting the events. Most of the ancient history events are farther removed than this from the sources reporting them. It's normal for the historical events to be reported 100 or even 200 years later than the events happened. Less than 50 years is the exception. And for miracle claims, 200 years is probably too long to be credible.

    . . . and the contradictions they introduce, make . . .
    There are some normal discrepancies, as with any case of multiple accounts of the same events. And each writer had an interpretation of the events, or a theory about who the Christ person was, his identity, his mission. So the presentations differ on the details, as each promotes his particular theory. And if this means some discrepancy, even some errors, this is normal for any important event being reported by writers who want to present it according to their understanding. THE EVENT PER SE IS REAL, while the presentation of it is slanted or shaded one way or the other. Critical readers can separate out the details, take account of the individual bias. Even if there is the fictional part, that does not nullify the important factual element also present in the account(s).

    . . . make them useless as historical sources.
    No legitimate historian says such a thing, even if they rank the gospels low for credibility.

    If discrepancies make a document "useless" for history, then throw out Herodotus and Josephus, also non-historians like Cicero and Philo the Alexandrian and hundreds of other ancient writers we use for historical facts. No ancient source can be used for history if you have to toss out everything containing some discrepancies compared to other sources.

    If discrepancies made them "useless" for history, then there'd be nothing we could use to determine the historical events, so there'd be no history (i.e., ancient history). The sources can be analyzed and dissected to separate fact from fiction, even though there is guesswork, or conjecture. The essential nature of history sources, especially for 2000 years ago, means there are some discrepancies and a need to do some guesswork in determining the facts.


    • There is no corroboration of the claims by sources outside the Bible.
    There is some corroboration. E.g., Josephus corroborates that John the Baptist was executed by Herod Antipas. And there are some other examples. Even if the overlap with other sources is small, this is because the gospels are limited to a narrow range of events, covering a small space of time, 1-3 years (discounting the Bethlehem stories), and limited geography. But there is some corroboration. For some some of our reported mainline history there is no outside corroboration at all, and yet that does not rule out those reports as useful for determining the historical facts.

    "Corroboration" is more often a luxury, not a prerequisite, in the accounts we rely on for history.


    • There are no sources listed for the gospel of Mark.
    99% of documents from ancient history don't list their sources. And the "history" sources, or writings of mainline historians, give only limited sources. For most of their facts they give no sources.

    It is admitted that Mark and the other NT books are not "history" documents, as most ancient writings are not, and yet we rely on all of them for whatever history they provide to us. No writings are tossed out because they don't list sources, as most of them do not.


    We have no way to assess the historicity of Mark.
    We can believe Mark generally, as we believe other ancient sources, without having certainty of their reliability. There is difficulty in assessing the "historicity" of any source. That doesn't mean we can't believe the source -- except that we disbelieve it where it is contradicted by other sources, or where very unusual claims are lacking the extra evidence needed for it to be credible.

    Mark might be less historical or less reliable than some other sources, but all the sources give us additional information about what happened. We have no reason to single out this source to reject as unhistorical or unreliable. Even though history is based mostly on the mainline historians, like Tacitus and Plutarch etc., we need other sources also, like Mark, even if they're in a more doubtful category.

    There's no reason to reject Mark for its particular events in Galilee and Judea at around 30 AD. Perhaps the degree of probability for those events is lower than for some other writings, so that instead of the usual 85% or 95% probability overall, maybe the probability is only 70% or 80% in Mark. This is no reason to condemn the whole book as "useless" for history. ALL the sources are imperfect -- some slightly more imperfect than others.


    • Consequently we have no way to authenticate Mark.
    "authenticate"? "historicity"? "corroboration"? You think historians put the facts into their "authentication" computer and crank out results which classify each document into the credible or non-credible category?

    Soon we'll have a way to "authenticate" or de-"authenticate" each one, when they invent the time machine to take us back to the past and confirm all the reported events and determine which sources told the truth and which ones were just making up stuff. But in the meantime, since we can't "authenticate" anything, we have to rely on all these unauthenticated sources we have, like Herodotus and Polybius and Josephus and the gospels and so on. We can determine much of what happened even if we can't "authenticate" the sources.


    • Dead and risen, miracle performing personal savior messiahs were common at that time and place. Numerous examples are documented.
    If they were you'd give us an example of at least one, citing the ancient text which reports the miracles performed by the alleged messiah. But instead all you can offer is quotes from your 21st-century guru Richard Carrier, which you copy-and-paste here as if anything he says has to be the Absolute Truth handed down from on high, which must be taken on faith. By not giving us the real source, from the ancient period when the "savior messiahs were common," you prove that there are no other examples of "personal savior messiahs" from that time other than the occasional charlatan who was not taken seriously by anyone except a handful of crackpots.

    If you can offer any example other than just reciting the words of your debunker-guru, then give us the ancient text, finally, of one "documented" miracle-worker messiah from that time. Just because you adopted this guru as your infallible authority and drank his kool-aid doesn't mean everyone else has to believe him.


    (this Wall of Text to be continued)
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    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 11-18-2019 at 09:14 AM.

  3. Top | #853
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    So it's the same fucking argument repeated, which means Joseph Smith trumps it all and Mormonism is all true.

    Again.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Paul writing ''25 years'' after the described events doesn't mean much given that Paul had never met Jesus the man or witnessed the events described in the gospels. Worse, Paul did not seem to be aware of some of the things described in the gospels, which suggests that they are later additions and embellishments to the story line.

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    Super Moderator Atheos's Avatar
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    Paul can bear witness to the healing miracles of Jesus even though he never met Jesus and never wrote about a single healing miracle Jesus performed. But Justin Martyr can't debunk nearly every point Lumpenproletariat attempts to foist because ... well ... "Hey, what's that over there?!?"

    Lumpenproletariat will accept nothing less than original ancient texts with full chain of custody and summarily rejects the work done by the world's foremost expert in that field, but expects everyone else to take his word as a layman who couldn't read the verbiage on P45 if someone was threatening to chop off his gonads.

    Ancient mythology is replete with miracle-working gods of nearly every stripe, including healing miracles. The Jesus myth is a very popular adaptation of ancient mythology and historical fiction that spawned perhaps the most widespread religious movement the world will ever know. But popular doesn't equal true. Not even close.

  6. Top | #856
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Yes, the evidence is that Jesus did the miracle acts -- Get used to it!

    If Jesus did not do the miracle acts, then there's no explanation why the Gospel accounts were written. Or the Paul epistles.



    (continued from previous Wall of Text)


    Here are a few candidate explanations for Mark's motives, ranked in decreasing order of probability:

    1. Mark's gospel is wholesale fabrication.
    You need to explain why the author fabricated these miracle stories, if you claim to give his motivation. There's no other written account narrating fabricated miracles and written less than 100 years after the reported events which it fabricates. It's not normal to write anything like this -- there's no other case.

    Even though there are some miracles in the ancient literature, there is nothing reporting page-after-page miracle acts of a recent historical person (less than 100 years earlier than the written account).

    In the literature before 100 (90) AD, claims of RECENT miracle events are virtually nonexistent. I.e., there are claims only of ancient miracles, the ancient myths and gods/heroes. Extremely rare exceptions might be a prophecy or portent or vision someone had, e.g., in Herodotus or Josephus. But nothing like lepers being instantly cured, or a resurrection from the dead.


    What motivated Mark to invent an instant miracle-worker unlike anything previous?

    And we have a total of 4 (5) sources for the Jesus miracles, for which there is nothing else comparable. So to explain Mark's "motivation" you need to explain what was so different in this case, or what was the extra motivating force which drove the author, and also the other Gospel writers, to record these alleged miracles, if they were fiction like all the others.

    You could cite the isolated Vespasian miracle healing as a similar case, reported in 2 sources, but those don't appear until after 100 AD and so are part of a pattern we see in the literature at that time, where miracle claims start appearing, indicating a new motive of some writers to start fabricating miracle stories, after the gospels were written. But the earlier Mark miracle claims were unprecedented at the time they were recorded. So your top most probable explanation is one requiring a unique event unprecedented up to that point in history. Also, the Vespasian story is about one miracle event only, while Mark presents at least 30 different miracle acts by one person.

    This is a very strange group of documents -- the 4 gospels -- reporting a parade of 2 or 3 dozen miracle acts by one person, performed in a short time space, harmonizing on many details, but also with discrepancies (showing non-collaboration between them), giving a time frame of only a few decades earlier when it happened, as an historical event. There is absolutely nothing like this in all the ancient literature. It's a radical extreme outburst of reported miracles having no resemblance to anything earlier. You have to account for this in your explanation of "Mark's motives."

    The closest thing resembling it would be the Elijah/Elisha stories, but these are from one source only, and they appeared almost 300 years after the reported events and so could easily be explained as caused by mythologizing, and not a report of some recent miracle-worker event in history.

    It's not true that miracle stories were routinely fabricated by writers, especially before 100 AD. When we see miracle claims appearing, presumably fabricated, they fit a recognizable pattern.


    Clue that miracle claims are fabrication
    examples: Vespasian, Joseph Smith (for the 20th time), Asclepius, etc.

    The examples we see of reported miracle-workers fit a pattern showing that they are typically COPIES of earlier tradition, in which case the stories can easily be explained as fiction.

    In these 3 examples (and many others), where a miracle is reported, or many miracles, there is one factor they all share which explains why they were easily believed and perhaps published: All of them are based on an ancient miracle healing tradition, devoted to an ancient healing deity, already believed in popularly in the culture, by millions (or tens of millions) of worshipers/believers. The reported miracle healing stories are always performed in the name of the ancient healing deity, and in accordance with the ancient rituals.

    In cases like these -- e.g., Vespasian, Joseph Smith, Asclepius -- the believers are already devout worshipers of the specific ancient healer-deity in whose name the healing rituals are practiced, and there are current priests or prophets or cult leaders who administer the rituals, healing a disciple who is already an ardent believer in the ancient god. In the case of Vespasian, the believers who reportedly were healed came to him in the name of the ancient healing god Serapis, who they were convinced would heal them if only the emperor would perform the ancient rites prescribed by this god.

    So it's this faith in a particular established ancient miracle tradition, already entrenched, firmly embedded in the minds of the believers, including the victim to be healed, which produces the fiction story of a miracle taking place.

    Fabrications don't just happen randomly without explanation or cause. You have to look for the causal factors, such as the long time period, centuries, in which mythologizing takes place, but also the already-existing traditions which shape the current miracle event. Also the celebrity status of the miracle-worker, his charisma, published reputation, long-term psychological impact on his disciples.

    What makes the Jesus case different is that these explanations do not apply. He had no wide recognized status at the time (far less than Joseph Smith during his life, e.g.), and he did not promote an ancient healing ritual tradition, worshiping an ancient healing deity in whose name he performed his miracle healing acts. In the absence of these factors, the best explanation in this case is that the reported miracle acts must have really happened. Whereas in other reported cases of miracle claims we can see these factors producing the fictional healing stories which were believed by followers because they were influenced by the miracle-worker's charisma and by the ancient religious traditions he practiced and which they already believed.


    He wanted to popularize the Jesus cult around a flesh-and-blood messiah (perhaps Paul's Jesus), . . .
    What? "popularize"? What's the motive?

    WHICH "Jesus cult"? There were MANY Jesus cults, or communities. You're calling Paul's Jesus a "flesh-and-blood messiah"? Or you're saying Paul's Jesus is the one Mark wanted to "popularize"? Whatever you mean, it makes no sense.

    Why would anyone choose a particular cult to "popularize"? Why this particular cult rather than another?

    Why did no one earlier ever want to "popularize" a miracle-worker cult? or turn a "messiah" cult into a miracle-worker cult? Why out of nowhere does a writer pop up with a peculiar desire to "popularize" a "messiah" cult which was no different than hundreds or thousands of such cults earlier which no educated people ever believed in or had any desire to "popularize"?

    It was not a practice of anyone ever to "popularize" any such cult, of which there were many and all of which were ridiculed by writers, by the elitists and the commoners, by the educated class as well as uneducated average people, and rejected in favor of the ancient religious traditions which were popularly believed.

    You might be saying Mark was disappointed in "Paul's Jesus" because he was not a "flesh-and-blood" messiah such as Mark preferred, so he took this Jesus and turned him into a "flesh-and-blood" messiah, but that makes no sense, as Paul's messiah was already a flesh-and-blood messiah, as is clear in Paul, even though he concentrates 99% on the later Risen Christ rather than the biographical Jesus.


    Mark's Jesus vs. Paul's Jesus: 2 different versions of the same person

    Paul omits everything about the earthly Jesus except the very end, the night of the arrest, and the death and resurrection. Of course Mark wanted to add more, i.e., the earlier biographical part, and Matthew and Luke even more still. If this is all you mean -- that the Gospel writers wanted to add the biographical element to Paul's Jesus -- then it's a normal expansion of the earlier accounts. It's even possible they added some fictional elements along with the factual part, because they had limited information.

    This would be like the later writer Tacitus adding further information to the earlier accounts about Julius Caesar, which were lacking so much in biographical matter. Like the earlier Cicero references to Caesar which leave out so much.

    That Mark fills in earlier details omitted by Paul does not mean everything earlier has to be fiction. We can't explain Mark's motive unless it was a real person he "wanted to popularize," and then in adding the earlier detail we can assume the normal mixture of fact and fiction, as with virtually all the ancient accounts of people and events.

    None of this explains anything about Mark's motives, if it's a fictional miracle-worker he creates. Rather, your explanation makes sense if the Jesus miracle-worker he presents was a real person, who did those acts, and Mark wants to fill in important details about the earthly Jesus which Paul omitted. Yes, then you're on the right track.

    But if Mark's miracles are fiction added to a non-miracle-worker "messiah" figure, then you can't explain why Mark would choose this unlikely Jesus figure to popularize. To EXPLAIN Mark's motives you have to identify what was special about his "messiah" Jesus person, distinguishing him from all the other "messiah" upstarts, of which there were many running around, having a similar following at the time. This is another unprecedented event -- that a writer popularizes a "messiah" figure, when all such figures were disdained by any writers who wrote anything about them. There's no other case of a document which wants to popularize such a "messiah" figure, other than perhaps the Roman emperor or similar powerful high-profile celebrity of the time, which Jesus was not.

    . . . so he deliberately made up these stories to reach out to the masses.
    "reach out to the masses"? That's nonsensical, especially in the 1st century.

    There's no other case of anyone making up such stories in order to reach out to the masses, unless it was about the ancient gods/heroes and their miracle deeds. The masses did not believe in such stories about some upstart "messiah" charlatan doing miracles. The charlatans existed but had no appeal to anyone other than a tiny minority of nutcases which no writer wanted to "reach out to" with stories made up for them. You can't name any other case of such a thing.

    This is highest in your "order of probability"? Why can't you come of with an "explanation" which has any resemblance to reality, to actual cases in real history, instead of goofy scenarios of something dissimilar to anything else which had ever happened before?


    2. Mark heard some miracle stories (no sources cited) . . .
    Not giving sources is the norm, for 99% of the ancient writings. The mainline professional historians sometimes gave sources for a claim, for which we can admire them. But we can't toss out the vast majority of the ancient writings just because they failed this standard for the elitist historical writers. And even in the mainline history writings we're not provided with the sources for most of the reported facts.

    . . . and used that as an inspiration for writing his gospel.
    That makes sense, assuming he believed the stories and thought they were important for people to know about, unlike fiction stories which were not noteworthy. He must have been struck by the stories, thinking they were different than other similar claims of miracles which were routinely rejected by both the masses and by the educated elite and never recorded in writing.

    This explanation has some merit, assuming Mark believed the stories, but you have to include WHY Mark believed them while not believing all the other dozens or hundreds of miracle stories floating around but not worth recording. What made these Jesus miracle claims different than all the others? If they were not different, but just more of the same fiction, then you've not explained why they were recorded and no others were.


    3. Mark heard some miracle stories (no sources cited), was convinced these accounts were true, and wrote up the stories just as he had heard them.
    But why was he convinced these accounts were true, if they were just as fictional as all the others? Why would he choose only the Jesus miracle stories to believe and write up instead of any others?


    Even assuming (3) to be true, there is no case to assert that the miracle stories are probably true, given the background information cited previously.
    If they're not true, then there's no explanation why Mark believed them and disbelieved all the others. Your "background information" gives no explanation why Mark believed the Jesus miracle stories if they were not true.


    People of the time were gullible . . .
    No they were not, compared to other times.

    . . . were gullible and believed all sorts of nonsense claims (and people still do).
    No, they rejected miracle claims of any charlatans popping up here or there claiming to do miracles. You can't name any other miracle-worker who was believed, other than by a tiny group of wacko followers. The charlatans were rejected by the masses as well as by the educated elite, who did not record their miracle claims.

    But educated writers did record the Jesus miracle stories, going against the general pattern which was to reject such claims or ignore them.

    The "all sorts of nonsense claims" of miracles became a fad only after 90-100 AD, not before. The period when Jesus appeared in history was one where the people were the most NON-believing and NON-gullible with regard to miracle claims. There's virtually NO miracle claims you can name which caught on in the period of about 200 BC up to 90-100 AD (other than Jesus in the Gospels). Of all time periods, this one had the fewest believers in miracle claims. And virtually all the earlier miracle claims required centuries of mythologizing in order to evolve in the popular culture.


    But here's the last nail in the coffin. Even . . .
    What happened to the earlier nails? I think you missed them and hammered your finger instead.

    . . . in the coffin. Even if Mark were supported by the sworn testimony of a dozen named eyewitnesses, and we had good reason to believe that the testimony was sincere, there are still other explanations for the reports that do not require the laws of nature to be broken, which make them more probable.
    No, they're not more probable if they're not reported in any accounts saying they happened. If no other similar miracle events happened or are reported (especially in written accounts of the time when the events allegedly happened), and no such "explanations" are reported in this case, then it's LESS probable, not more. I.e., you can't pronounce something as "more probable" if it's something which never happened before.


    Magicians routinely trick audiences of hundreds of people into believing all manner of impossible things;
    Not "all manner" -- There's much they cannot trick them into believing, and they don't even try. All the illusionists are limited to a narrow range of miracle possibilities they can trick the audience into believing. They choose what crazy scenario to show the audience, from among the possibilities, greatly restricting the "impossible things" which they can successfully perform.

    . . . that may be one candidate.
    "candidate explanations for Mark's motives"?

    You're not saying the author of Mark was a magician, are you? So what magician are you claiming was trying to trick someone? and what does that have to do with Mark's motive?

    There have always been magicians who perform impressive tricks, but no cases of audiences "routinely" tricked by a magician into believing someone was instantly healed of blindness or leprosy or that a dead person resurrected. And there are no writers motivated to report any such scenarios in order to "popularize" anything or create a "flesh-and-blood" version of someone's abstract "messiah" vision. Your explanations are delusions having no connection to anything which has ever happened. There are no magicians meeting your description, nor any writers having any motivation such as you're imagining.

    So let's forget the magicians, also Mark's motivation, which you obviously cannot explain, and instead assume you're drawing analogies to some modern evangelists who perform healing "miracles" before live audiences.


    Miracle healings before live audiences, televangelists, etc.

    As explained earlier, those who believe these miracles are disciples of the evangelist and worshipers of the same Christ tradition the evangelist practices, dating back centuries. In addition to believing the Christ miracles of about 30 AD, for which there is evidence, they want that miracle power to be shown to them live, now, before their eyes, as a present experience for them, just like the Asclepius worshipers 3 or 4 centuries before Christ. This wish can easily explain their readiness to believe the claims that real miracle healings took place when the evangelist prayed in the name of Jesus.

    Healers of this kind always have to invoke the name of the ancient healing deity which the audience already believes in. And this explains their success in winning over some believers. The evangelist or priest or prophet who performs the healing usually does some act or ritual popularly established within the culture, as part of the performance to impress the audience of believers.

    No such explanation can apply to Jesus in 30 AD who was not practicing any recognized religious ritual or tradition established in the popular culture, or invoking an ancient healing deity. This kind of religious practice is the only phenomenon, in ancient times or modern, having any resemblance to a magician performing before an audience and creating the illusion of a miracle healing, or of raising the dead to life.


    Everyone in the audience would swear that the magician had teleported across the room, or that a pretty young woman had been sawed in half, but we know those were merely cleverly designed illusions.
    There are explanations how these tricks are done. Here's a teleportation video with the explanation how it's done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22BFbGjdkHw

    But where are the demonstrations or explanations on healing blindness and leprosy? Where are the videos showing how it's done, and the audiences who witnessed it and "swear that the magician" healed the victim? Or where is the demonstration of a person killed and then returning to life?


    Your assertion that the claims are probably true is ridiculous. You have not met your burden.
    The "burden" is met by the fact of the extra sources we have for the Jesus miracles, which evidence is lacking in other cases of miracle claims.

    You could say the "burden" is not met for much/most of our recorded history which we believe. The evidence is sometimes from one source only, even an anonymous source in some cases, and yet the claims are probably true. Some claims are contradicted by other claims and yet are probably true anyway, because the evidence is heavier on one side than the other, like the evidence for the Jesus miracles which are not contradicted by any other source. We don't know if the source is reliable or how to "authenticate" or "assess the historicity" of the source in many cases, and yet this does not falsify the claimed historical facts. It depends on how much doubt there is, how much evidence there is, e.g, how many sources, etc.

    For miracle claims we need extra sources rather than only one, and we need sources near to the time of the alleged event. It's because we don't have such evidence that most ancient miracle claims have to be rejected. It's not that all miracle claims per se are automatically rejected -- but rather, it's that we need the extra evidence for such claims and virtually all of them are lacking such evidence.

    For modern miracle claims we need extra evidence also, including an additional quantity of published evidence to outweigh the published sources which deny the claims. I.e., positive (affirming) published sources minus negative published sources = total net evidence for any claim.


    Higher standard of evidence for modern claims vs. the 1st century

    And to take into account the extremely vast increase of publishing today (vastly greater publishing industry) in comparison to that of the 1st century, we need enough evidence -- for modern claims -- for it to constitute a significant percent of the total of all that's published. E.g., if the Gospel accounts comprise .001% of the total of everything published in the 1st century, then miracle claims 1000 or 2000 years later must also comprise about .001% of the total of everything published in their time (i.e., in the 9th or 10th or 18th or 19th or 20th centuries), in order to be comparable to the quantity of evidence we have for the Jesus miracle acts.

    (It is nonsensical to compare the sources/evidence for modern miracle claims vs. that for the 1st century and yet fail to take into account the vastly greater degree of publishing in modern times = vastly more "sources" for virtually any wacko cult claim, in the mass media, the Internet, etc.)

    E.g., for Joseph Smith we would need at least 20 or 30 sources reporting his miracle acts, to be a legitimate comparison to Jesus in the 1st century when virtually nothing was published. And yet there are really only 2 or 3 sources reporting a J. Smith miracle, and they are laughable, such as they are (which is why no one will ever quote any of them here). Had he lived in the 1st century and done everything the same, he would have been totally unreported in any writings -- completely ignored, forgotten without a trace.


    And to add irony to your attempts at making up shit, you are skeptical of every other miracle claim out other than your preferred claim, . . .
    All the miracle claims, including that of Jesus in the Gospels, have to be judged by the same standards. I.e., all ancient claims have to be included and compared, along with all modern claims. You can't single out one ancient claim and compare it only to some modern claims for which there is a vastly greater publishing industry providing an infinity of sources.

    I've noted some other miracle claims and explained why we should disbelieve them. I've mentioned the Vespasian miracle story and why we can easily attribute that to normal mythologizing. And others, like the Apollonius of Tyana stories, which don't appear in a written account until 150 years later than the alleged events, and also which are found in one source only. And similarly the Jewish miracle-workers Honi the Circle-Drawer and Hanina Ben Dosa, of that period. These are comparable miracle claims which are sometimes mentioned and are lacking in evidence, such as the need for more than one source and the need for something near to the time the alleged miracle event happened.

    I've considered the Asclepius miracle claims, which are similar to healing miracle claims throughout all cultures based on ancient folk religious tradition, in which the ancient healing gods are credited with healing sickness as a result of religious rituals and prayers offered for the sick. In such practices the local priests or prophets do the ancient rituals and prayers and sometimes a sick person recovers, and so the gods are given credit for the healing, and in some cases they imagine something sensational/miraculous.


    "every other miracle claim" out there?

    Give examples (or at least one) so we can look at them one-by-one to consider what the evidence is in each case. And not just a laundry list of names you copy-and-paste from your debunker guru, but a serious example accompanied by the ancient written text describing the alleged miracle which happened. You cannot automatically assume that ALL the claims are equally lacking evidence and credibility. You must be willing to consider each case individually instead of just pretending that ALL miracle claims are equal and must be fiction only because that's your ideological bias taught to you by your Jesus-debunker guru pundit.

    So there are reasons to discount the miracle claims when they are a result of the widespread devotion to an ancient miracle tradition, which is different than the Jesus miracle acts which were not part of any ancient religious healing rituals or prayers offered in the name of the ancient healing god. The ancient tradition explains why people sometimes believed these claims of messiah cult leaders or reports of healings by priests in the temples. And without the ancient traditions established in the popular mind, the normal response was to disbelieve miracle claims from a charlatan instant miracle-worker "messiah" or magician using some kind of trickery.

    "preferred claim" -- It's appropriate to prefer a claim for which there is the extra evidence, i.e., Jesus in the Gospels, which cannot be explained as ordinary mythologizing and religious tradition established in the popular culture.

    . . . your preferred claim, which points to considerable bias on your part.
    What's wrong with "bias" in favor of a claim for which there's extra evidence? The extra evidence for the Jesus miracle acts is very conspicuous, making this case stand far apart from all the other reported miracle claims.


    Fail!
    Yes, you fail to give an example for which there's evidence for comparison to that of Jesus in the Gospels. All you can do is toss out phrases like "every other miracle claim" as if there are others for which there is evidence, and yet you never give the examples and the evidence, such as written accounts from the time saying those miracles happened.

    All you can do is copy-and-paste a list of "miracle messiahs" from the ancient world, without ever citing the ancient text which documents them. You keep insisting there are others for which there's evidence, but can't come up with any evidence or documentation, other than to quote your 21st-century guru-debunker propaganda pope as your infallible source which is never to be questioned.

    Fail!
    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 11-23-2019 at 10:29 AM.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    If Harry Potter did not do the magic, then there's no explanation why the Philosopher's Stone was written. Or the Prisoner of Azkaban.

    Unless, of course, people make shit up. All. The. Time.

    Then there's plenty of obvious reasons why the Gospel accounts were written. Or the Paul epistles. Or the Harry Potter series. That have fuck all to do with reality.

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    Super Moderator Atheos's Avatar
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    It takes lots of words to explain why you can see the emperor's winkie dink in spite of the fact that he is fully clothed in royal apparel. It only takes a few to say "The emperor has no clothes."

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    [F]or Joseph Smith we would need at least 20 or 30 sources reporting his miracle acts, to be a legitimate comparison to Jesus in the 1st century when virtually nothing was published.
    Do you even read your own bullshit? This has gone beyond pathetic and into psychosis.

    And yet there are really only 2 or 3 sources reporting a J. Smith miracle, and they are laughable
    Petard. Hoisted.

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    The SPECIAL PLEADING rebuttal -- What about all those other "messiahs" who did the same miracles Jesus did?

    The example of Sai Baba and other reputed miracle-workers


    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    No point. Your entire response boils down to nothing more than special pleading.
    What is your problem with explaining the "special pleading" fallacy and the connection to the miracles of Jesus and the evidence we have, from the written record of the events? Once again I have to do your homework for you.

    Is it SPECIAL PLEADING to argue for the miracles of Jesus based on the 1st-century evidence (written accounts)?

    "Special Pleading" -- blogger debunks Christ-belief "argument from miracles": http://www.jefflewis.net/blog/2019/0...other_pur.html

    Jeff's Lunchbreak

    A skeptical blog discussing evolution, aviation, religion, and anything else I feel like.

    The official blog of jefflewis.net

    Comparing Jesus to Another Purported Holy Man

    The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism

    In discussing religion with Christians, there seems to be this blind spot about the vast array of different religious beliefs out there. Many seem to see religion as a dichotomy - either Christianity is true, or religion in general is false. In many of their arguments, they just don't seem to even consider other religions (Pascal's wager is an obvious example of this blind spot). It results in many of their arguments being special pleading, but since they seem to be so unaware/dismissive of other religions, I'm not sure they even realize it's special pleading. But the end result is still that the arguments aren't particularly persuasive.
    He mentions "special pleading" here twice, so this debunker can pick up for Koyaanisqatsi who only knows how to blurt out "special pleading" jargon without knowing what it means.

    This "skeptical blog" item relates to the MIRACLES OF JESUS and our "argument from miracles" topic, with no need to get bogged down in other kinds of arguments about God and the Cosmos and theology and religious doctrines, etc.

    So this is about OTHER JESUS TYPES or "messiahs" who are just as legitimate as Jesus, because, it's argued, they all did the same things he did:

    So, for some context, let's consider a different purported holy man besides Jesus. This man began a ministry and attracted many followers. According to his followers, he was prophesied in scriptures, and was God in the flesh. They claim he performed many miracles, including healings, levitation (somewhat similar to Christ's walking on water), making objects appear, changing water into other drinks (very similar to turning water into wine), physically emitting brilliant light (similar to Jesus in Matthew 17:2), and other miracles less analogous to Jesus (such as being in more than one place at the same time). His followers believe he will come again (through reincarnation). People who had never met him personally had visions of him, and he purportedly continued to visit his followers in visions after his death. There are many claimed eye-witnesses to his miracles and these visions, and a written account of his life, including many of the miracles he performed.
    Notice (above and below) that he doesn't cite any text or report or original source for any of this. Whenever these Jesus parallels are cited, we're never provided with the original reports. Instead we always have to rely on the debunker's paraphrase of what the Jesus parallel -- the "holy man" -- supposedly did. Why can't they ever give us the original source for the claim? i.e., for just one such claim? They mention "miracles" but never give any example or tell us what is claimed to have happened or give the original source for it.

    If they cannot give any particular example for us, to do the comparison, this itself refutes the refuter/debunker, because we're entitled to have the original sources for the claims in order to establish that they are real examples to which the Jesus case can be compared.


    Now, lest you think I'm referring to some ancient figure whose reputation grew legendary over generations, this man was born in 1926, and he only died in 2011. His biography was written while he was still alive, and many of the eye witness testimonies are available on the Internet (such as https://www.quora.com/Has-anyone-fel...aba-personally ).
    There are no serious miracle claims made in this web page -- only claims of how someone felt inspired by him, and this is said to be a "miracle" from him.


    His name was Sathya Sai Baba, and he still has devoted followers.
    Obviously there are thousands of modern holy men or charismatics/gurus/messiahs etc. who are worshiped by followers and are promoted in the millions of publications and modern media platforms available for promoting a cult, or promoting a philosophy.

    This particular one had a long reputation, developed over several decades, built upon his charisma which influenced hundreds of disciples directly and thousands of others through the media. None of this was the case for Jesus in 30 AD whose public life was only 1-3 years long and who had no modern publishing industry or modern mass media in which to promote himself. It's difficult to find a real miracle claim about Sai Baba (though there's probably a few, somewhere), about a superhuman act he performed, other than an ability to mesmerize some of his followers, perhaps causing them a feeling of ecstasy.

    Here's a video claiming to present his "most astonishing miracle" of all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b8H4MZTJe8

    What is the "miracle"? The speaker explains that he touched her life and that of her friends with his "beautiful smile" causing them to change "from within." How touching. Are you feeling the vibes? -- And this is his "most astonishing miracle"! Of course there are others too, from among the thousands/millions of devotees who have seen him on TV and YouTube and hundreds of publications, none of which existed in the 1st century AD. It's true that we do not have 1st-century YouTube testimonials to the miracles of Jesus. So does that mean the evidence for Sai Baba miracles is stronger?

    There are also millions of disciples of Elvis Presley who claim to have been inspired and moved to tears by his aura, including having visions of him long after his death, but is that evidence of having miracle power comparable to Jesus in the 1st century? For 2000 years now there have also been millions of testimonials to "Jesus" inspiring people's hearts. This is not what is meant by the Jesus miracle acts for which we have evidence, from the historical record.

    If Sai Baba is another case comparable to Jesus in the Gospels, we must see the original miracle claims, saying what actually happened, from the closest existing source. We need more than the mere "SPECIAL PLEADING!" outburst unaccompanied by the other examples (of miracles or miracle-workers to compare to).


    Is it really a "miracle"? and Did it really happen?

    Just because claims are made, or the word "miracle" is tossed around, doesn't mean a miracle or act of power happened.

    Let's anticipate a possible Sai Baba miracle claim (something like this probably exists): There is testimony from a Sai Baba disciple, probably reported in a recent published book, saying they went to the guru in India and got healing from him for some medical condition. These are the best cases, not just someone who claims to have received good vibes from his "smiling face."

    Probably no one was present at the event other than direct disciples of the guru who had been influenced by his charisma over many years of listening to him or experiencing his aura, etc. This strong influence over them by the guru can explain why they would believe a miracle healing happened when in reality it was a normal recovery which would have happened anyway. We cannot trust the reports if they come from disciples only who had been influenced by the guru for a long time, and if no non-disciples were present.

    We have to be suspicious if the events are attended by disciples only who are already committed devotees of the guru. Are there no cases of someone present who was not already a believing disciple? Why?

    How many published reports are there? And how many published reports are there of skeptics or disbelievers who said the claims were fraudulent? like Lucian in the 2nd century says the miracle claims of Alexander of Abonoteichus were fraudulent? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_of_Abonoteichus Any negative reports have to be subtracted from the positive ones. How many reports are there of someone accusing the guru of fraud or quackery? These have to be factored in, along with the positive reports.

    Until this information is provided, we have no reason to believe that Sai Baba did miracles. We have specific references or texts in the Gospels relating individual cases of victims who were healed by Jesus. We need to see similar reports about Sai Baba before we can believe he did similar miracle acts, or superhuman acts. Of course we can believe someone was touched by his "beautiful smile" or by his radiance, etc., but that's not a superhuman act comparable to Jesus curing the blind or lepers, or his Resurrection.



    To deal with the "special pleading" charge, we need to first put "miracles" into some kind of chronological context. Here is a vertical timeline/listing, beginning from thousands of years ago and up to the present. This timeline notes just a few high points in the history of miracles, not all-inclusive, and with some conjectures on the dating. Note the "period 1" and "period 2" and "period 3" categories. These have to be distinguished, in comparing 1st-century to 21st-century claims about miracles, e.g., comparing Jesus to Sai Baba.


    prehistory -- the Creation -- Zeus -- Elohim -- Prometheus -- etc.
    ________________________________________________
    |
    period 1 -- before 3000 BC
    |
    No written records yet
    |
    Apollo
    |
    Krishna
    |
    Historical Hercules and other heroes (if they existed)
    |
    3000 BC
    |
    First written records
    |
    Gilgamesh legend
    |
    2000 BC
    |
    Historical Asclepius (if he existed)
    |
    Historical Moses, Joshua (the sun standing still, etc.)
    |
    1000 BC
    |
    Elijah/Elisha miracles
    |
    Asclepius testimonials/inscriptions first appear
    |
    Historical Gautama Buddha
    |
    500 BC
    |
    Krishna miracle stories begin to appear
    |
    Continued Asclepius testimonials/inscriptions
    |
    300 BC
    |
    Asclepius inscriptions decline and disappear
    |
    200 BC
    |
    No new miracle claims anywhere
    |
    100 BC
    |
    Dead Sea Scrolls mention NO MIRACLES -- zip
    |
    Virgil & Ovid mention only ancient miracles, nothing new
    |
    0
    |
    Jews and Greeks and Romans show no interest in miracles -- zip, zero, nada
    |
    Some Buddha miracle stories start appearing
    |
    30 AD
    |
    Historical Jesus
    |
    55 AD
    |
    Jesus Resurrection claim appears in literature
    |
    70 AD
    |
    Jesus miracle healing claims
    |
    -- 4 Gospels rash of miracle claims unlike anything ever before
    |
    Elijah suddenly becomes a famous Jewish prophet, previously ignored
    ____________________________________________
    |
    period 2 - 90 AD to 1500 AD
    |
    90 AD
    |
    Some new miracle claims start appearing
    |
    Honi the Circle-Drawer, Eleazer the Exorcist (Josephus)
    |
    "messiah" charlatans (Josephus)
    |
    Jesus disciples doing miracles (Book of Acts)
    |
    100 AD
    |
    Many new mentions of miracles
    |
    Plutarch (weeping statues and other deceptions)
    |
    Tacitus & Suetonius report the Vespasian miracle
    |
    Revival of Asclepius inscriptions/testimonials (after 300-year interruption)
    |
    150 AD
    |
    Religious charlatan frauds (Lucian)
    |
    Simon Magus (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Acts of Peter)
    |
    Apocryphal "Gospels" flood of new Jesus miracles
    |
    200 AD
    |
    Apollonius of Tyana (Philostratus)
    |
    Increasing flood of new Jesus miracles
    |
    Gnostic Gospels
    |
    Hanina Ben-Dosa is finally mentioned (Talmud)
    |
    Explosion of miracle stories on into the Middle Ages
    |
    St. Genevieve
    |
    St. Patrick
    |
    etc.
    |
    700 AD
    |
    Too many to enumerate
    |
    Miracles of Charlemagne
    |
    1000 AD
    |
    So far ALL copying is by hand only.
    |
    St. Francis of Assisi, etc.
    |
    1500 AD
    ___________________________________________
    |
    period 3 -- 1500 to 2020
    |
    Modern publishing appears
    |
    Finally copying is by machine, hand-copying ends.
    |
    Thousands of new sources which didn't exist earlier
    |
    1800
    |
    Industrial Revolution -- mass production/publishing
    |
    Joseph Smith
    |
    Hundreds of new reported miracle-workers in literature
    |
    1900
    |
    Broadcasting
    |
    Demagoguery on a grander scale than before / mass audiences
    |
    Thousands of new reported miracle-workers, Sai Baba and others
    |
    1950
    |
    Mass media
    |
    Millions of new publishing resources, outlets
    |
    Millions of new gurus, "messiahs" and prophets reported doing miracles
    |
    The Internet reaches billions of viewers
    |
    2020
    _____________________________________________

    A simple summary of the above timeline:

    period 1 -- prehistory to about 400/300 BC: various miracle claims here and there

    300 BC to 100 AD: decline and total disappearance of miracle claims
    (i.e., total disappearance except for the miracles of Jesus, 30-100 AD, for which there is no explanation)
    _____

    period 2 -- 100 AD: sudden explosion of miracle claims (about Jesus and others)

    to 1500 AD: extreme increase in miracle claims, vastly greater than ever before
    _____

    period 3 -- 1500 AD to 2020: extreme increase in publishing and media

    millions, even billions of new miracle claims enabled by modern technology


    Any serious comparison of different miracle claims, to measure how much evidence there is for each, must take account of the vast increase in the available sources over the 4000-year period of recorded history. We can believe the ancient events just as we can the modern events, citing evidence for both, but recognizing the far greater scarcity of published sources for events 1000 or 2000 years ago. The extra sources make a claim more credible, but this cannot require us to discount the ancient claims just because there are so few sources during that time. That the same sources did not exist does not mean the ancient events did not happen or are less credible than the modern events. There are ways to adjust for the increase in the publishing and quantity of sources.

    When we make adjustment for the much fewer ancient sources, we can't fail to recognize the high number of sources for the Jesus miracle acts, for that time, in comparison to that for modern miracle claims. There's nothing comparable up to 1000 or 1500 AD, for sources reporting miracle claims. There's an avalanche of miracle stories during this period, but virtually nothing reporting one case for which there are extra sources near the time of the reported miracle events. Rather, there are hundreds of new miracle-workers, mostly "saints," for none of which there is comparable evidence.

    A few medieval saints, monks, etc.: You might claim some exceptions, which are arguable, like perhaps St. Francis of Assisi (whose career was shorter than normal and might be more difficult to explain). But in all cases there is an obvious explanation for reported miracle claims, based on normal mythologizing, about a figure who had a career of 20-50 years or longer, probably an inspiring and unusually charismatic personality, and of course grounded in the established Christian tradition and rituals tying the saint to Christ as the ancient miracle hero from whom the miracle-worker derives his power.

    Factors like these explain how the miracle-worker legend becomes a celebrity in his/her time and wins popularity, being credited with "miracle" acts which are probably fictitious (or 99% fictitious). It's only rare cases where the miracle stories are from sources near the time of the reported events, but there are cases of this after 100 AD when such stories became fashionable and started appearing and being recorded and believed without question.

    Obviously in modern times, 1800 or 1900 to 2020, there is a vast increase in sources, and so one can name a greater number of publications or platforms, documentaries, TV shows, etc., as sources near the time of the claimed miracle events -- greater in number than the 4 (5) sources we have for Jesus in the 1st century.

    4 (5) sources in the 1st century AD is a vastly greater amount of evidence for that time than the same number (or several times as many) in the 21st century. How can anyone honestly claim to not see this? It makes a difference what the availability of publishing sources was. This distinction matters -- an honest truth-seeker can see that we have a conspicuous explosion of evidence, in about 50-100 AD, for this one case of miracle claims, making this case stand apart from all others.

    Prior to 30 AD: For generations leading up to this historical point there were NO miracle stories in the literature, but then there follows this sudden explosion of miracle stories in the Gospel accounts only -- nowhere else -- and then following this there is an unprecedented explosion of miracle stories at about 90-100 AD and after. How can this be explained? How can it be ignored if it's recognized that the ancient context sets the stage for the appearance of such claims or beliefs about the events happening?

    Debunkers who discount this, and who are thus dishonest, want to pounce onto modern examples, like Joseph Smith or Sai Baba, and others, for which modern publishing has provided an abundance of publishing sources, and then say with glee: "see, there's more 'evidence' for this prophet or that guru than we have for Jesus in the 1st century." This obviously is not skepticism, but prejudice and dishonesty.

    To be really honest the debunker has to offer at least one example FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD for the comparison, instead of insisting on only modern examples to use for comparison. Why can't they find any example from before 500 or 1000 AD? Why are they forced to resort to only modern examples, even from 20th-21st-century TV and YouTube videos, to make their case? If this is the only comparison they can find, they're admitting that the case of Jesus in the Gospels is the only one for which there is evidence before modern times.

    How is it that before the 19th or 20th centuries there were no other serious reported cases of miracle-workers for whom there is evidence? Why is there only the one, sticking out conspicuously in the 1st century? Why the total absence of anything earlier, and anything later until modern times?


    (this Wall of Text to be continued)
    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 12-05-2019 at 10:55 AM.

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