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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:20 pm
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The Christian's Grasp on Reality

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I think that the debate between Christian apologists and skeptics might boil down to the following exchange:

Apologist: We know that Yahweh and Jesus are a real god, and we know that they have performed miracles like parting seas and raising dead people back to life.
Skeptic: You are mistaking natural phenomenon for the supernatural.

Keeping this exchange in mind as a basic template, consider the real-life exchange I had with a Christian friend of mine earlier today (1/1/2019). Ginger (her real name) has told me for a month or so that she's been having trouble with fluid on her brain. She testified today that her head-trouble was miraculously healed by God. She is experiencing no more pain. Soon after she told me of this miracle she left my apartment using her walker.

Although I want Ginger to be in good health, and I hope she has no more problems with her head, I'm very skeptical that any miracle has happened to cure her head problem. First, aside from her improved mood, I cannot tell by seeing her that any change has occurred to her. There is no visible evidence that she is any better physically speaking. Second, Ginger is overlooking her body's ability to heal itself naturally, and that no miracle is needed to explain the apparent improvement in her health. And third, Ginger doesn't seem to understand that if God went to all the trouble to cure her head problem, then he would have went all the way and cured her need to use a walker!

In all probability Ginger is mistaking a natural improvement in her health for a miracle. These kinds of mistakes are extremely common among Christians. Consider, for example, how many Christians flock to see faith healers like Peter Popoff. Despite his being conclusively exposed as a fraudster by atheist James Randi, Christians still go to see Popoff expecting a miracle from God.

I could post many other examples of the Christian inability to see that supposed miracles done by the Bible god are merely natural events or outright hoaxes, but for now let me ask the...

Questions for Debate: If Christians today routinely mistake the natural for the supernatural with not one known case of their seeing any real miracle, then why believe Christians ever did see a real god performing real miracles? Are Christians even able to recognize the difference between the real and what they hope is real?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:48 pm
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Hey Jagella, I hope this finds you well!

Who is to say they are not one in the same? Can God not use natural means to heal someone? In the case of your friend Ginger, God could have very well healed her head, or caused the pain to cease. If I have a headache and take an analgesic and my pain is relieved, I would say the medicine helped, but it is not to say that God doesn't work through such things. God can be subtle and work among the pharmacists, physicians, and nurses. It doesn't have to be all or none.

Wishing you the best evening ever!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:04 pm
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Peds nurse wrote:

Hey Jagella, I hope this finds you well!

Who is to say they are not one in the same? Can God not use natural means to heal someone? In the case of your friend Ginger, God could have very well healed her head, or caused the pain to cease. If I have a headache and take an analgesic and my pain is relieved, I would say the medicine helped, but it is not to say that God doesn't work through such things.


If God worked through those things then he would be detectable in laboratory experiments. He isn't detectable.

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God can be subtle and work among the pharmacists, physicians, and nurses. It doesn't have to be all or none.


Or there could be no God and it's all just the result of human actions. How could you distinguish between these two scenarios? If you can't, why posit something which offers absolutely no explanatory power?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:51 pm
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Peds nurse wrote:
Who is to say they are not one in the same? Can God not use natural means to heal someone? In the case of your friend Ginger, God could have very well healed her head, or caused the pain to cease. If I have a headache and take an analgesic and my pain is relieved, I would say the medicine helped, but it is not to say that God doesn't work through such things. God can be subtle and work among the pharmacists, physicians, and nurses. It doesn't have to be all or none.


Peds, I'm not asking what some god might have done with Ginger. You might as well ponder if Mickey Mouse cured her. What I'm asking you to do is answer the question for debate. Did you miss it for some reason? Was the text too small for you to read? Was the red type too dull for you to notice? For your convenience I'll post it here:

Questions for Debate: If Christians today routinely mistake the natural for the supernatural with not one known case of their seeing any real miracle, then why believe Christians ever did see a real god performing real miracles? Are Christians even able to recognize the difference between the real and what they hope is real?

While you're composing a sensible, honest, and clear answer to this very important question, allow me to post my own answer. Since we know for a fact that modern Christians routinely mistake completely natural events for miracles, then we have no reason to believe it was ever different. The non-supernatural events described in the New Testament may have happened, but the miracle claims in the gospel tale, like the miracle claims of today, in all probably were either natural events mistaken for supernatural events or deliberate fraud. So Christians in many cases are not able to distinguish fact from fiction, and this limitation explains their faith.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:40 pm
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Re: The Christian's Grasp on Reality

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Jagella wrote:
Questions for Debate: If Christians today routinely mistake the natural for the supernatural with not one known case of their seeing any real miracle, then why believe Christians ever did see a real god performing real miracles? Are Christians even able to recognize the difference between the real and what they hope is real?


Your question assumes Christians have never seen a real miracle. You probably justify that with a specific definition of being a "known case." You certainly couldn't prove every miracle claim was wrong. Nor would I expect such a thing of you.

But the main point I want to make is that even assuming there are no other known miracles says nothing against any one individual miracle. Every event has to be considered on its own merit. A lack of known miracles will certainly make one more skeptical of a miracle claim, but they would not be acting rational if they discounted all future miracle claims simply because they didn't believe any past miraculous event has happened. If you see a black swan, you should believe in black swans in spite of the fact that up to that point you had only seen white swans. The point being that you should like at the evidence of every miracle claim on its own merit.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:34 pm
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The Tanager wrote:
Your question assumes Christians have never seen a real miracle. You probably justify that with a specific definition of being a "known case." You certainly couldn't prove every miracle claim was wrong. Nor would I expect such a thing of you.


If miracles happen, then why are there no known cases of them? I can say in all confidence that no miracle claim will ever be substantiated. Since we have such a lack of evidence for them when we should have evidence for them, the reasonable person will conclude that such claims have nothing to do with reality.

And many miracle claims have been demonstrated to be bogus as I mentioned in the OP. James Randi has done the world much good by exposing Christian faith healers as scammers.

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But the main point I want to make is that even assuming there are no other known miracles says nothing against any one individual miracle. Every event has to be considered on its own merit.


The same might be said of Santa Claus and his reindeer. Would you consider each present under the Christmas tree on its own merit to see if Santa really delivered it?

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If you see a black swan, you should believe in black swans in spite of the fact that up to that point you had only seen white swans. The point being that you should like at the evidence of every miracle claim on its own merit.


OK, then show us all one of those "black swans," and I will believe. I won't be holding my breath, though.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:56 am
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Jagella wrote:
If miracles happen, then why are there no known cases of them? I can say in all confidence that no miracle claim will ever be substantiated. Since we have such a lack of evidence for them when we should have evidence for them, the reasonable person will conclude that such claims have nothing to do with reality.


What do you mean by "known" and "substantiated"? And I'm not trying to be difficult here. For instance, substantiate can mean to provide evidence to support the truth of a statement or it can be used to mean provide evidence that proves the truth of the statement (and maybe other uses as well). And, even if the latter definition is used, "proof" is used in different ways. Are we talking about the proof of pure mathematics? the best explanation among alternatives? something else?

Jagella wrote:
And many miracle claims have been demonstrated to be bogus as I mentioned in the OP. James Randi has done the world much good by exposing Christian faith healers as scammers.


I agree many are bogus and have been shown to be bogus. But, demonstrating countless miracle claims as bogus does nothing to logically show that no miracle could be true.

Jagella wrote:
The same might be said of Santa Claus and his reindeer. Would you consider each present under the Christmas tree on its own merit to see if Santa really delivered it?


Do you really think Christian belief and belief in Santa Claus are parallel cases? If you think this is truly a rational analogy to make, then present the parallels that make it so.

Jagella wrote:
OK, then show us all one of those "black swans," and I will believe. I won't be holding my breath, though.


The "black swan" I would seek to discuss would be Jesus' resurrection. That's the miracle at the foundation of Christian truth. The falsity of other miracle claims would not disprove the claim at the center of Christianity. The first step there would be to see what you say above about the standard of "proof".

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:27 am
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The Tanager wrote:
What do you mean by "known" and "substantiated"?


No miracle claim has ever been verified under circumstances that can eliminate fraud. Not one. You may have heard of James Randi's One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. Simply put, if you can prove a miracle, then you would have been awarded one million dollars.

This prize never needed to be awarded. The reason why should be obvious.

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Are we talking about the proof of pure mathematics? the best explanation among alternatives? something else?


I've told Christians that if they can tell me information that I can verify that only a god could grant to them, then not only will I believe, but I will give them a large sum of money. If you can do it, then let me know.

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I agree many are bogus and have been shown to be bogus.


All faith healers are bogus. The faith-healing scam goes all the way back to the very beginning of Christianity and includes the fake magic in the stories of Jesus, Paul, and Peter.

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But, demonstrating countless miracle claims as bogus does nothing to logically show that no miracle could be true.


Well, sometimes logic fails us in practice. Yes, a million faked miracles does not prove that the next one will be faked as well, but I'd say it's a good bet that that next miracle will be fake. Most people are sensible enough to conclude that after an enormous number of failures, those failures will continue.

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Do you really think Christian belief and belief in Santa Claus are parallel cases? If you think this is truly a rational analogy to make, then present the parallels that make it so.


Santa, like Jesus, knows when we've been naughty and when we've been nice. We have no solid evidence for either Jesus or Santa, but millions of people still believe in them hoping they are real. I suppose this belief results from the hope that both of them will someday grant us some goodies.

Hmmm. Thanks for asking for the common ground between belief in Santa and Jesus. Now we see how much alike they really are.

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The "black swan" I would seek to discuss would be Jesus' resurrection.


I'm a doubting Thomas. Show me the resurrected Jesus, and I will believe.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:13 pm
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Jagella wrote:
I've told Christians that if they can tell me information that I can verify that only a god could grant to them, then not only will I believe, but I will give them a large sum of money. If you can do it, then let me know.


I still am not sure what standard of proof you are requesting. Pure math seems to me to give us 100% certainty about certain mathematical truths. Inferences to the best explanation (like in science and history) do not give us 100% certainty, but many feel it is most rational to accept the best explanation of the data, if there is one that brings us somewhere over 50% likelihood (so to speak). What is your standard for your beliefs about reality?

Jagella wrote:
Well, sometimes logic fails us in practice. Yes, a million faked miracles does not prove that the next one will be faked as well, but I'd say it's a good bet that that next miracle will be fake. Most people are sensible enough to conclude that after an enormous number of failures, those failures will continue.


I'm not saying one should not be skeptical, but if they simply discount all "future" (by that I mean ones they haven't considered before or in a new light, not what time period they chronologically happen in) claims without considering the specific evidence in those cases, then I think they are acting irrationally. If one never gets around to considering the actual supposed evidence, then one has not rationally considered the claim.

Jagella wrote:
Santa, like Jesus, knows when we've been naughty and when we've been nice. We have no solid evidence for either Jesus or Santa, but millions of people still believe in them hoping they are real. I suppose this belief results from the hope that both of them will someday grant us some goodies.

Hmmm. Thanks for asking for the common ground between belief in Santa and Jesus. Now we see how much alike they really are.


Even in your simplified account, only 1 of the 3 "parallels" are actually parallel. They both know the deeds of kids. The level of supposed evidence is vastly different. Santa is believed by kids because of the stories told to them by people who know these are made up stories for the intent of playing a cultural game. Adults do not. We have solid evidence that points to Santa stories as being made up. This is not parallel with Christianity. One may think all Christians haven't grown in their mental abilities beyond childlike thought (one may even want to throw in Biblical quotes out of context about having faith like a child here), or claim the stories are obviously made up, or talk about some Christians who are just playing a cultural game, but they are blind to reality if they think these things are true of all Christians.

While some Christians simply believe because they've been told or want some goodie or simply wish it is true, this does not describe a very large portion of Christians. They believe because of personal experiences that are backed up by thousands of years of serious philosophical and historical discussion. You may think it isn't sound, and it may not be, but very serious thinkers have disagreed. This is not parallel to belief in Santa.

Jagella wrote:
I'm a doubting Thomas. Show me the resurrected Jesus, and I will believe.


Are you saying that only seeing a resurrected Jesus would do it for you? Are you saying that you discount any attempt at a philosophical or historical argument in principle?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:18 pm
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Re: The Christian's Grasp on Reality

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Jagella wrote:

Questions for Debate: If Christians today routinely mistake the natural for the supernatural with not one known case of their seeing any real miracle, then why believe Christians ever did see a real god performing real miracles? Are Christians even able to recognize the difference between the real and what they hope is real?


Simple. Since when you witnessed history to tell that all parts of human written history are actually history.

You don't know what you are talking about due mainly to a failure in grasping on this very reality.

How ironic!

Just to give you another example. If you tell us that you had a turkey in your Christmas lunch, how do expect anyone to see it in order to believe?

Our this very reality is, we humans are incapable of seeing or detecting what you ate on a particular day. The only way we humans can get to possibly know what you ate is by trusting your words (or the words of a reliable eyewitnesses). This sometimes (most of the times) remains the only way for humans to get to a truth of this kind.

Now to go one step further. If you ate an unknown monster that day, and for the sake of argument that this is true, then how would you expect other humans to reach this piece of truth?

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