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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 41: Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:20 pm
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The Tanager wrote:
You talk of the evidence being the 'written testimony of the New Testament writers," but that could mean different things. I would say there are at least three pieces of evidence one needs to consider, with none of them relying on the overall reliability of NT texts: the discovery of Jesus' empty tomb, Jesus' post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples' belief in his resurrection.


Like many apologists you are misrepresenting the evidence. You have no empty tomb, and you have no post-mortem appearances of Jesus. All you have are stories of an empty and post-mortem appearances. All stories prove is the creativity of their writers.

As for the origin of the early Christians' beliefs, you don't need any miracles or gods; all you need are fertile imaginations and superstitious predispositions on the part of those early Christians.

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But from another current thread here it appears you look at historical sources as all-or-nothing. That approach cuts you off from a full historical investigation concerning any event.


You're misrepresenting my position on historical sources. My position is that it is improper to cherry-pick the contents of historical sources choosing what supports Christian beliefs and discarding the rest.

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Your naturalistic presuppositions close you off from even considering something that goes against those presuppositions, regardless of the evidence. You are holding things outside of your philosophical worldview to a different standard of truth than things that fit within your philosophical worldview.


Actually, I started out as a Christian believing the miracle claims of the Bible. While I was yet a believing Christian I discovered reasons to doubt those claims. So I had to overcome my pro-Christian-miracle bias to arrive at my current opinion on the viability of miracles.

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...if you could prove a resurrection was logically impossible...


I'd say that a resurrection is physically impossible for practical purposes. If you want to posit a miracle-working god to raise people from the dead, then you can have your resurrections, but I don't assume any gods exist to raise anybody from the dead.

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Could you give the second law of thermodynamics (since there are various formulations)? And then show exactly how a resurrection would violate that?


For the purposes of this discussion, the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes it extremely improbable that the decomposing body of Jesus would recompose assuming it is closed off to external energy sources. To make your case for a resurrection, you need to identify an external source of energy that would be directed to recompose the body of Jesus and make a good case that such a directed source of energy was applied to the body of Jesus.

Good luck on that one!

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I'm open to any miracle claim, but I start off as a skeptic, whether they come from within my religion or not. I have looked into Joseph Smith's claims some and I remain skeptical.


In that case your attitude is just like mine. I've "looked into" miracle claims and have yet to find any that convince me, and we only differ by the miracles of Christianity that you believe by Christian faith.

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...how do apologists recognize error and correct it?


The same way anyone does, through philosophy, science, history, etc. All are helpful ways in coming to our beliefs about reality.


What errors have apologists ever recognized and corrected? I have noticed that some apologists are starting to accept the evidence for evolution.

Quote:
If all you are saying is that there are some clear fakes out there and some Christians who are fooled by them, then I agree. Your OP question seemed to ask why one should believe any Christian claim of the miraculous. That seemed to be based on your belief that not one claim has been proven so far. That would be a positive argument that you have the burden to support and which I was critiquing. Do you not believe this?


It seems obvious to me that miracle claims are flim-flam. How many fakes do you need to see until you wake up and see these claims for what they are? If my skepticism bothers you, then just show me a miracle--just one little miracle--and that would go very far in changing my mind.

In summary, you have no miracles at all but just attempts to prove that my reasoning is fallacious. In so doing you have misrepresented both my position and the evidence for Jesus, This tact is very common in Christian apologetics. The effort is to make skeptics look foolish and impress believers that to doubt is "irrational."

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 42: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:17 pm
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Jagella wrote:
Like many apologists you are misrepresenting the evidence. You have no empty tomb, and you have no post-mortem appearances of Jesus. All you have are stories of an empty and post-mortem appearances. All stories prove is the creativity of their writers.

As for the origin of the early Christians' beliefs, you don't need any miracles or gods; all you need are fertile imaginations and superstitious predispositions on the part of those early Christians.

Quote:
But from another current thread here it appears you look at historical sources as all-or-nothing. That approach cuts you off from a full historical investigation concerning any event.


You're misrepresenting my position on historical sources. My position is that it is improper to cherry-pick the contents of historical sources choosing what supports Christian beliefs and discarding the rest.


I haven't even represented the evidence at all, so I'm not sure how I could have misrepresented it. I summarized three important supposed facts the case for the historicity of Jesus' resurrection is built on, nuancing the general statement that the evidence is "written testimony of the New Testament writers." You said you met my "goal of investigating the resurrection" and I was clarifying what my "goal" would be, so that you would more exactly now if you met my "goal." I have no idea what level of engagement you've had with this because your previous comments were too general to tell. That's not a knock, I hope you see. Neither am I trying to misrepresent your position. Thank you for clarifying that you agree it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. We can believe one thing a source says about an event or person, but not believe another thing it says about that same event or person.

Jagella wrote:
Quote:

Your naturalistic presuppositions close you off from even considering something that goes against those presuppositions, regardless of the evidence. You are holding things outside of your philosophical worldview to a different standard of truth than things that fit within your philosophical worldview.


Actually, I started out as a Christian believing the miracle claims of the Bible. While I was yet a believing Christian I discovered reasons to doubt those claims. So I had to overcome my pro-Christian-miracle bias to arrive at my current opinion on the viability of miracles.


And I converted to Christianity at the age of 18. I could still have presuppositions, although I try my best not to and welcome any challenge thereof.

Jagella wrote:
For the purposes of this discussion, the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes it extremely improbable that the decomposing body of Jesus would recompose assuming it is closed off to external energy sources. To make your case for a resurrection, you need to identify an external source of energy that would be directed to recompose the body of Jesus and make a good case that such a directed source of energy was applied to the body of Jesus.

Good luck on that one!


Well, clearly, the 'miracle-working god' would be the external source of the energy. I still haven't even started to make a case for the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. We've just been talking about what sorts of things would need to be done. The way I see that shaping up right now is that you aren't closed off to the possibility but are very skeptical. I like taking things one step at a time and there are at least two ways we could discuss this. One, we could look at the possibility that a 'miracle-working god' could exist (thereby providing the external source of the energy). If that is even a possibility, then we would move to looking at the actual supposed evidence in Jesus' resurrection. Or, two, we could come at this from the other direction. Assuming for the moment, the possibility of God being the external source, we look at the supposed historical evidence and then, if that is a good case, we look at what the external sources of the energy could have been.

Of course, you don't have to partake in this discussion at all. That's fine. But you wouldn't have given me any reason to change my mind on this issue, if you chose that path, or allowed me the opportunity to challenge your own thoughts. We both think the other isn't properly looking at the evidences. I'm open to such a discussion with you (and whomever else joins back in...or we can't start a new thread), if you want to have it. If not, no judgment from me. Just let me know if you want to and, if so, which part I named above (or a further prior step, if you think one is needed) you would want to start with.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 43: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:24 pm
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[Replying to post 42 by The Tanager]

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Well, clearly, the 'miracle-working god' would be the external source of the energy.


Are you going to supply evidence that this 'miracle-working god' even exists? I can say that my TV runs forever off of magicolium but simply saying I have magicolium is not the same thing as actually demonstrating it, showing that it is a real thing.

Quote:
One, we could look at the possibility that a 'miracle-working god' could exist (thereby providing the external source of the energy).

Is this all that is needed for resurrection? Simply hooking up a dead body to the equivalent of a high capacity battery?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 44: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:37 pm
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rikuoamero wrote:
Are you going to supply evidence that this 'miracle-working god' even exists? I can say that my TV runs forever off of magicolium but simply saying I have magicolium is not the same thing as actually demonstrating it, showing that it is a real thing.


I agree with you. I've highlighted two areas that go together in this discussion: whether God exists and the historical case for Jesus' resurrection. Both would be needed and we could start with either issue. It would be unhelpful to do them both at the same time, I think. As the starter of this thread, I think Jagella should choose, should Jagella want to have such a conversation. Or we could start a different thread and I'd be fine starting with either issue.

rikuoamero wrote:
Quote:
One, we could look at the possibility that a 'miracle-working god' could exist (thereby providing the external source of the energy).


Is this all that is needed for resurrection? Simply hooking up a dead body to the equivalent of a high capacity battery?


Jagella said resurrections would contradict the second law of thermodynamics unless one could identify an external source of energy. The case for Jesus' resurrection does identify such a source. Obviously, we must do more than just identify a logically possible source. I won't start making a case here until I know how people want to go about it, if they even do. And I will try to do so as methodologically as we can.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 45: Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:46 pm
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The Tanager wrote:
I haven't even represented the evidence at all, so I'm not sure how I could have misrepresented it. I summarized three important supposed facts the case for the historicity of Jesus' resurrection...


OK, as long as you use the modifier "supposed" then you are not misrepresenting the evidence. I'd suggest that you point out that Christians are doing the "supposing" regarding the various elements of the gospel in question. That way you clarify that to state as fact that there was an empty tomb, for example, is mostly what Christians insist is a fact. Many skeptics, like myself, do not accept as fact any empty tombs.

Quote:
Well, clearly, the 'miracle-working god' would be the external source of the energy.


That's a start. What reason do we have to believe that any gods are around to distribute energy to corpses breathing life into them? What evidence do we have that a god can put out energy that the god directs to raise dead people back to life?

Quote:
Assuming for the moment, the possibility of God being the external source, we look at the supposed historical evidence and then, if that is a good case, we look at what the external sources of the energy could have been.


Keep in mind that no historical case for any event can credibly violate a law of nature. Neither can any historical case be justifiably built on anything that is unknown to science.

So sure, you can go ahead and make your case for the resurrection of Christ. I'll be kind and assume that Jesus existed and was crucified. You'll need to establish that the hypothesis that Jesus did rise from the dead is more probable than competing hypotheses. For example, you'll need to convince me that the resurrection of Jesus is more probable than the hypothesis that his followers either made up the story or mistook misidentifications or hallucinations for Jesus.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 46: Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:37 am
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Jagella wrote:
OK, as long as you use the modifier "supposed" then you are not misrepresenting the evidence. I'd suggest that you point out that Christians are doing the "supposing" regarding the various elements of the gospel in question. That way you clarify that to state as fact that there was an empty tomb, for example, is mostly what Christians insist is a fact. Many skeptics, like myself, do not accept as fact any empty tombs.


It's not just Christians who believe in those facts, but yes, of course, many skeptics disagree. However, it doesn't matter who is doing the insisting. Perhaps it gives you greater pause if you distrust a certain person, but to reject something because of who says it is a textbook fallacy.

Jagella wrote:
Keep in mind that no historical case for any event can credibly violate a law of nature. Neither can any historical case be justifiably built on anything that is unknown to science.


Why do you think this is true? Can you prove it is true? Or is it just a presupposition?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 47: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:38 am
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The Tanager wrote:


It's not just Christians who believe in those facts, but yes, of course, many skeptics disagree.


The empty tomb is not a fact.

It is a BELIEF.

Can you see the difference ?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 48: Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:55 pm
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[Replying to post 36 by The Tanager]

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I'm trying to figure out why you only quoted Jagella in a post replying to my post. Could you rephrase your point to help me clear up my confusion?


Okay - sorry about that Tanager.

I have been following the interaction between you and Jagella and when she gave the example of physical evidence for a miracle might be a one-hundred foot-high solid gold statue that Jesus conjured.

I replied;

Quote:
As with all things physical, such a conjuring would have to be explained scientifically as anything except evidence for the miraculous.


I am not sure as to how I made the mistake in replying to your post. Being a physical mishap there is bound to be some scientific explanation for my doing so. Smile

All in all my impression of the interaction between you and Jagella is that Jagella appears to know what you are getting at but is being non-committal in her responses.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 49: Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:49 pm
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The Tanager wrote:
It's not just Christians who believe in those facts...


I think at least one Rabbi who is not a Christian believes that the tomb of Jesus was found empty. Generally, though, the "empty tomb" is a sectarian, Christian belief.

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Perhaps it gives you greater pause if you distrust a certain person, but to reject something because of who says it is a textbook fallacy.


You're referring to the "genetic fallacy." This rule of logic tells us that the truth of a claim cannot be reasonably judged based on the origin of a claim. So regarding the issue of the story of the empty tomb, it would be illogical to conclude that the empty tomb story is false because it appears in Christian writings. I'm not skeptical of the empty tomb story because Christians make the claim; I'm skeptical because I know that dead people stay dead.

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Quote:
Keep in mind that no historical case for any event can credibly violate a law of nature. Neither can any historical case be justifiably built on anything that is unknown to science.


Why do you think this is true? Can you prove it is true? Or is it just a presupposition?


It is my opinion that no presumed event can be said to have happened if the story of that event involves violations of known laws of nature or if that story posits things unknown to science. I think it would be more likely that the story is not historical than that laws of science were violated or that unknown things in that story really existed.

So do you disregard scientific laws when judging the historicity of a story? Can a credibly historical story involve things unknown to science?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 50: Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:23 pm
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Jagella wrote:
It is my opinion that no presumed event can be said to have happened if the story of that event involves violations of known laws of nature or if that story posits things unknown to science. I think it would be more likely that the story is not historical than that laws of science were violated or that unknown things in that story really existed.

So do you disregard scientific laws when judging the historicity of a story? Can a credibly historical story involve things unknown to science?


Above your words make up two distinct answers to a question we've talked about. (1) Miraculous events could theoretically happen (i.e., a credibly historical story could involve things unknown to science), but if they did, they would still happen rarely and (2) Miraculous events cannot happen. I believe (1) is true, but (2) is a stronger claim that I am skeptical of. If (2) is true, then nothing else I would say would be a reasonable belief to hold. The burden to show (2) is true is on the one who asserts that it is true. Do you think (2) is true? If so, what reasons do you have to believe this is so?


Last edited by The Tanager on Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:30 pm; edited 1 time in total

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