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Jagella
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:20 pm  The Christian's Grasp on Reality Reply with quote

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?
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 61: Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:29 am
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Hiyas,

The empty tomb is a belief, not a fact.
Can you see the difference ?

The Tanager wrote:

[Replying to post 47 by Jubal]
Most, if not all, historical and scientific 'facts' are beliefs of varying reliability about what actually happened or is the case.


I take that as a "no".

Muslims believe, according to the Koran, that Mohamed split the moon in two.

By your argument that is a FACT - it has the same level of evidence as the empty tomb - religious stories from long afterwards from unknown sources.

Do you agree that's a fact ?

Or do you only interpret Christian beliefs as facts ?

Jubal

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 62: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:36 pm
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The Tanager wrote:
But I'm asking you to give me the reasons you disagree, so that I can at least challenge my view, if nothing else comes of it.


I'm just skeptical about claims of the paranormal. You might call it a "gut instinct."

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As I'm sure you'd agree, I'd worry more about her health than the truth of the matter foremost since she maybe went through something very traumatic.


I'd worry about the mental health of any woman who said she was raped by Bigfoot. Do you consider the mental-health implications of people who make such claims? Mental illness can result in people seeing things like demons and gods.

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What would I lose in listening to the evidence?


I suppose nothing at all! Go ahead and listen to stories.

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This is still you just claiming that miracles are silly without giving reasons why.


It's just an opinion of mine that miracle-stories are ridiculous. I could be wrong, of course.

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No one claims that Jesus naturally walked on water, the claim is that Jesus supernaturally walked on water. It's the same with the resurrection and the ascension. If such a thing happens, it doesn't violate the laws of nature because the laws of nature talk about what naturally happens in our world.


In that case I can supernaturally swallow an elephant in one gulp. Do you believe me?

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Science cannot disprove the supernatural, by definition.


Maybe not, but science can be very handy to demonstrate hoaxes. James Randi, for example, used a radio receiver to expose faith-healer Peter Popoff as a fraud.

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No, it tells us that in an isolated or closed system, the total energy remains constant. If an external energy source is introduced to the isolated system, the total energy within that system can change.


Well, Jesus presumably used magic to turn water into wine. I'm assuming that there was no external energy applied to the water to change it into wine.

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There is a big difference between saying that miracles are unlikely to happen and that they CANNOT happen. I agree with you they are unlikely, but I'm asking you if you make the stronger claim that they CANNOT happen. In other words, are you ruling them out as possible in theory?


I'm really not sure if miracles are impossible. If they do happen, then they happen without my knowledge.

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The case I outlined does not rest on taking "superstitious" people at face value.


The disciples reportedly believed Jesus was a ghost when he walked on water. That sounds superstitious to me.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 63: Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:31 pm
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Jagella wrote:
I'd worry about the mental health of any woman who said she was raped by Bigfoot. Do you consider the mental-health implications of people who make such claims? Mental illness can result in people seeing things like demons and gods.


Mental health would be part of one's total health, yes. If such evidence showed itself in whatever case you are investigating, then of course we'd take that into account.

Jagella wrote:
In that case I can supernaturally swallow an elephant in one gulp. Do you believe me?


The one part of my post you didn't quote addressed this. I would say it is coherent, but not yet credible. It would be incoherent if you claimed to be able to naturally swallow an elephant in one gulp. Credibility must go beyond this. The argument for Jesus' resurrection doesn't say "The disciples claim it happened, so you should believe it." It goes beyond that. If that is the argument you've engaged in this regard, then you haven't investigated the claim much at all.

Jagella wrote:
Maybe not, but science can be very handy to demonstrate hoaxes. James Randi, for example, used a radio receiver to expose faith-healer Peter Popoff as a fraud.


And I never said otherwise.

Jagella wrote:
Well, Jesus presumably used magic to turn water into wine. I'm assuming that there was no external energy applied to the water to change it into wine.


Assuming this really happened, wouldn't Jesus have had to do something like add new molecules into the mix, creating something out of nothing and adding it to the water? That's external energy being introduced.

Jagella wrote:
I'm really not sure if miracles are impossible. If they do happen, then they happen without my knowledge.


So, at the least, you have no good reason to say they CANNOT happen. I am also unaware of any good reason to believe that stronger claim against miracles. Now, the next step seems to me to be what role our agreement that miracles are unlikely plays in this discussion. The low probability, or the unlikelihood...is it a reason to say something is untrue? Can true things have had a low probability of happening? What do you think? I think it would only come into play, if alternative views were equal in their credibility. In that case, it's probably rational to go with the more probable explanation.

Jagella wrote:
The disciples reportedly believed Jesus was a ghost when he walked on water. That sounds superstitious to me.


I shouldn't have put quotes on the term; I caused that confusion. The reasons behind me doing that speak to what I think is a tangent to this discussion, so I don't think it's worth pursuing. The case I outlined does not rest on taking the Gospel writers at face value.


Last edited by The Tanager on Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:07 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 64: Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:32 pm
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[Replying to post 61 by Jubal]

You are completely misunderstanding what I was saying. I was not saying that any belief is a fact. I stated earlier there are three supposed facts that become a part of a historical case for Jesus' resurrection. I clarified this once already in this thread. If, in referring to the same thing, I leave out "supposed," one should fill it in for themselves, instead of thinking I'm saying something different.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 65: Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:20 pm
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The Tanager wrote:
Mental health would be part of one's total health, yes. If such evidence showed itself in whatever case you are investigating, then of course we'd take that into account.


The very fact that people are saying that they are seeing dead people alive again should alert any person to their being mentally ill. Why do you ignore this common sense when it comes to your religion?

Quote:
It would be incoherent if you claimed to be able to naturally swallow an elephant in one gulp.


Actually, you'd be very gullible to believe I swallowed an elephant regardless of whether I said it was miraculous or not! So why believe there was a zombie invasion of Jerusalem around 30 CE just because somebody said a god did it?

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The argument for Jesus' resurrection doesn't say "The disciples claim it happened, so you should believe it."


Well, the disciples never left behind any testimony. But if you're referring to the New-Testament writers, they did claim Jesus was raised from the dead. So if as you say we need not believe their stories, then there's nothing left to believe!

Quote:
Assuming this really happened, wouldn't Jesus have had to do something like add new molecules into the mix, creating something out of nothing and adding it to the water? That's external energy being introduced.


I suppose we cannot say for sure. We don't know where the "external energy," if any, came from. All we have is a story involving water magically changing into wine. The story no doubt is a lie.

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Quote:
I'm really not sure if miracles are impossible. If they do happen, then they happen without my knowledge.


So, at the least, you have no good reason to say they CANNOT happen.


I have plenty of good reasons to think miracle claims are nonsense. Flim-flam artists get rich fleecing their flocks claiming miracles. That's a great reason to believe miracles don't happen.

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Now, the next step seems to me to be what role our agreement that miracles are unlikely plays in this discussion. The low probability, or the unlikelihood...is it a reason to say something is untrue? Can true things have had a low probability of happening? What do you think?


If I really told you what I'm thinking now about alleged miracles, then I'd be risking being banned. But if I censor myself, I'd say that it's just obvious to me that talk of miracles is a pack of lies that con-artists employ to take advantage of desperate people.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 66: Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:22 pm
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Jagella wrote:
The very fact that people are saying that they are seeing dead people alive again should alert any person to their being mentally ill. Why do you ignore this common sense when it comes to your religion?


It should give you pause, but I like to come to conclusions after looking at all the evidence, not just one part and discount the whole thing because it contradicts my worldview. If one is going to assume it must be mental illness without looking at any other evidence, then you are falling right back into the naturalistic assumption. I thought we were past that.

Jagella wrote:
Well, the disciples never left behind any testimony. But if you're referring to the New-Testament writers, they did claim Jesus was raised from the dead. So if as you say we need not believe their stories, then there's nothing left to believe!


I said we should not believe their stories simply because they are saying it is true. That doesn't mean we reject everything about their accounts. It means we look at the stories and the evidences more deeply to see what is reliable and what is not.

Jagella wrote:
I have plenty of good reasons to think miracle claims are nonsense. Flim-flam artists get rich fleecing their flocks claiming miracles. That's a great reason to believe miracles don't happen.


Once again you are confusing saying that a miracle did not happen or that miraculous things would go against what normally happens with saying that a miracle is logically impossible. I thought you agreed they aren't logically impossible.

Jagella wrote:
If I really told you what I'm thinking now about alleged miracles, then I'd be risking being banned. But if I censor myself, I'd say that it's just obvious to me that talk of miracles is a pack of lies that con-artists employ to take advantage of desperate people.


This would still be you just claiming miracles are silly and don't even need to be looked at without giving us rational reasons why. Is that the level of engagement you want with this issue? One that doesn't look at actual evidences? If you asked me what evidence I had that God existed and I said "it's just obvious to me..." you'd rightly say that's me not carrying my burden and remaining faith-based (or some such terminology).

If you want to have a deeper level of engagement, then I need to know what you think about the next step that I see. How would the low probability play into our discussion? I think true things often have a low probability, so that it couldn't be used as evidence against the truth of something. It would come into play if alternative theories were equal in their credibility as to which one it would be more rational for us to believe.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 67: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:07 am
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[Replying to post 66 by The Tanager]

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It means we look at the stories and the evidences more deeply to see what is reliable and what is not.


Okay, here's the thing, Tanager. Pretend we live in a world where we don't have the stories. The stories were never written down, or passed along. Other than that, it's identical to our world.
Now, please explain to me what, in that world, serves as 'evidences' for things like Jesus conjuring food, or rising from the dead multiple days after dying or flying off into the sky.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 68: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:13 am
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The Tanager wrote:
It should give you pause, but I like to come to conclusions after looking at all the evidence, not just one part and discount the whole thing because it contradicts my worldview.


So your worldview ignores obvious signs of mental illness? I don't need to consult my worldview to know that it's common for mentally ill people to think their deceased loved-ones are still alive. I've seen it. So unlike most Christians, I am able to conclude that stories of zombies are either fabrications or written by mentally ill people.

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If one is going to assume it must be mental illness without looking at any other evidence, then you are falling right back into the naturalistic assumption. I thought we were past that.


All we have are stories of Jesus and his alleged resurrection. There is no other evidence to look at.

Quote:
I said we should not believe their stories simply because they are saying it is true. That doesn't mean we reject everything about their accounts. It means we look at the stories and the evidences more deeply to see what is reliable and what is not.


Again, all we have are stories in which the authors claim truth. And as I demonstrated on my Telling Fact from Fiction: A Test thread, not one person was able to distinguish true stories from fables. So your claim that you can distinguish what is "reliable" in the gospels has not been demonstrated to be true. There's no way to fact-check the gospels because we have no facts but only stories.

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Once again you are confusing saying that a miracle did not happen or that miraculous things would go against what normally happens with saying that a miracle is logically impossible. I thought you agreed they aren't logically impossible.


That's not saying much. We don't know if the Easter Bunny is impossible either, but aside from kids, almost everybody knows better than to believe in the Easter Bunny.

So do you hold out the possibility that there is an Easter Bunny? Are Easter-Bunny skeptics only skeptical because their worldview does not allow for an Easter Bunny? Can you think of other reasons they may be skeptical?

Quote:
This would still be you just claiming miracles are silly and don't even need to be looked at without giving us rational reasons why.


I've seen miracles faked but never saw one genuine miracle. So I have indeed looked into these tall tales of cures and healings and saw the fakes.

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Is that the level of engagement you want with this issue? One that doesn't look at actual evidences?


Go ahead and show us all a miracle. I'd be happy to look at such evidence.

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If you want to have a deeper level of engagement, then I need to know what you think about the next step that I see. How would the low probability play into our discussion?


"Low" probability doesn't mean something can't happen, of course. However, if the probability of something is very low, then I think it's not prudent to pursue or consider it. It seems reasonable to me to only take seriously that which has a good chance of being true.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 69: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:17 am
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rikuoamero wrote:

[Replying to post 66 by The Tanager]

Quote:
It means we look at the stories and the evidences more deeply to see what is reliable and what is not.


Okay, here's the thing, Tanager. Pretend we live in a world where we don't have the stories. The stories were never written down, or passed along. Other than that, it's identical to our world.
Now, please explain to me what, in that world, serves as 'evidences' for things like Jesus conjuring food, or rising from the dead multiple days after dying or flying off into the sky.


That's correct, Rik. We have no evidence for Jesus or his miracles except stories. As a result, we cannot fact-check those stories. The claim of some apologists that the stories about Jesus can be judged true by appealing to "external" evidence is bogus.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 70: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:26 am
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rikuoamero wrote:
Okay, here's the thing, Tanager. Pretend we live in a world where we don't have the stories. The stories were never written down, or passed along. Other than that, it's identical to our world.
Now, please explain to me what, in that world, serves as 'evidences' for things like Jesus conjuring food, or rising from the dead multiple days after dying or flying off into the sky.


So, make a historical case for Jesus' resurrection without using historical sources? Why should this be "the thing"?

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