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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 71: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:47 am
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The Tanager wrote:

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"?


It's me calling you out when you said
"It means we look at the stories and the evidences". You said that there are these two things, 1) stories and 2) evidences. So I'm asking you for the evidences, asking you to focus solely on them by removing the stories from the equation.
What are they? Without the stories, what do you have left?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 72: Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:34 pm
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Here is a summary of what I see in our discussion so far:

Step 1: Are miracles logically impossible?

I think everyone agrees here that they are not.

Step 2: Does the rarity of miracles count against it as a good explanation?

Whether God exists or not, miracles would be rare. That rarity says nothing against the credibility of miracles. I think we are agreed there.

Step 3: Whether claims of Jesus' resurrection is so low in probability to even warrant consideration of the supposed evidences.

If God does not exist, then the probability would be low (if not zero). If God exists, then the probability is not low at all. So, to rationally maintain this claim, one would need to prove God does not exist. I don't think anyone has tried this here. One may ask why the atheist needs to do this, isn't the burden on the theist to prove their position? Not in this specific context

The Christian must bear the burden of proving Jesus' resurrection plausible. Step 3 is a critique from the non-Christian that if true, contradicts the Christian claim. As such, the atheist needs to support it for the critique to rationally go through. All the Christian would need to do is show that God's existence is possible because, if it is, then we cannot know that the probability of a miracle is so low to stop us from warranting consideration. With this critique out of the way, the burden for the positive case for Jesus' resurrection is back on the Christian's shoulders.

What Jagella has done here is make analogical arguments between Christian claims of Jesus' resurrection and the existence of Santa or the Easter Bunny, without supporting how these are good parallels. Well, one response was offered in support, but I already shared why I felt it wasn't a good support and nothing else was said in response as far as I could tell. If you all think otherwise, we can bring the arguments back up. I've also given reasons that they clearly aren't parallel and can bring those back up.

Jagella has also claimed that known fakes give us reason to discount any miracle claim as genuine. I've stated how that is clearly flawed. Every claim must be taken on its own merit.

Step 4: What supposed evidences are there?

rikuoamero wrote:
It's me calling you out when you said
"It means we look at the stories and the evidences". You said that there are these two things, 1) stories and 2) evidences. So I'm asking you for the evidences, asking you to focus solely on them by removing the stories from the equation.
What are they? Without the stories, what do you have left?


Oh, I see what you mean now. That was unclear wording on my part. I mean that we need to look at the historical sources and see what evidences we can glean from it, rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach to the texts. When we do, I think we end up needing to explain at least (1) the discovery of Jesus' empty tomb, (2) Jesus' port-mortem appearances, and (3) the origin of the disciples' belief in his resurrection.

I've possibly missed other steps in this summary. I ask that others suggest adding steps, if I've missed any, or say what steps they stop on, and why they stop there (if they think I haven't addressed their reasoning there).

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 73: Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:36 am
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[Replying to post 72 by The Tanager]

Quote:
Oh, I see what you mean now. That was unclear wording on my part. I mean that we need to look at the historical sources and see what evidences we can glean from it, rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach to the texts. When we do, I think we end up needing to explain at least (1) the discovery of Jesus' empty tomb, (2) Jesus' port-mortem appearances, and (3) the origin of the disciples' belief in his resurrection.

I've possibly missed other steps in this summary. I ask that others suggest adding steps, if I've missed any, or say what steps they stop on, and why they stop there (if they think I haven't addressed their reasoning there).


You haven't given me the evidences. I'm pretty sure you can't even mention (1) the discovery of Jesus's empty tomb (2) Jesus's post-mortem appearances, and (3) the origin of the disciples' belief in his resurrection because those would be from the stories.
Unless these evidences that you have yet to show me do in fact mention them?

Quote:
Whether God exists or not, miracles would be rare. That rarity says nothing against the credibility of miracles. I think we are agreed there.

Are you saying that miracles can happen in a God-free world, that a God-less world could still have miracles, albeit rarely, the number is not zero?

Quote:
If God does not exist, then the probability would be low (if not zero).

If God exists, then the probability [of Jesus's resurrection] would be low, but not necessarily zero...?
So you're positing that there could still be a resurrection, but it doesn't necessarily HAVE to be God who is responsible for it? Hmm...are you sure you want to go down that route? Seems to me you'd be shooting yourself in the foot.

Quote:
If God exists, then the probability is not low at all. So, to rationally maintain this claim, one would need to prove God does not exist.

These two sentences don't make sense together. Did you mean to say one would need to prove God does not exist, is that "not" a mistake? Unless I'm misreading, and the "maintain this claim" refers to claiming God does not exist?

Quote:
I don't think anyone has tried this here.

If you mean the specific God entity as posited by Christianity and its Bible, then that has been done, successfully in my opinion (albeit maybe not on this thread? I'm not rereading all the posts). That creature has contradictory qualities - powerful enough to speak universes into existence, but not able to defeat tribes with iron chariots, for example.

Quote:
The Christian must bear the burden of proving Jesus' resurrection plausible.

Which would mean you would need to prove the God agent exists, correct? Although you seem to be taking a different approach in this latest reply, and implying that a resurrection of Jesus does not need to have been caused by a God, it could have some other cause behind it.

Quote:
As such, the atheist needs to support it for the critique to rationally go through.

Wouldn't pointing to all the graveyards and tombs throughout history, with a grand total of zero rising bodies satisfy this?
Once a person dies, that's it. Their body ceases to move. I've seen a dead body. My grandmother died nearly twenty years ago, and I saw her body in the funeral home. It didn't do anything. It was inanimate.

Quote:
All the Christian would need to do is show that God's existence is possible because, if it is, then we cannot know that the probability of a miracle is so low to stop us from warranting consideration.

So just possible, you don't need to show an actual God? Methinks you've made quite a mistake here.

Quote:
the burden for the positive case for Jesus' resurrection is back on the Christian's shoulders.

Yes it is.

Quote:
Jagella has also claimed that known fakes give us reason to discount any miracle claim as genuine. I've stated how that is clearly flawed. Every claim must be taken on its own merit.

If ten salesmen ring your doorbell in a row, only you find out each and every one of them are scams, can you be blamed for not giving time to look at the eleventh, who may or may not be a scam?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 74: Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:37 pm
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[Replying to post 73 by rikuoamero]

rikuoamero wrote:
You haven't given me the evidences.


No, I have not talked more specifically about the supposed evidences. We haven't gotten the actual argument because we are trying to find agreement on the earlier steps. Without agreement there, there is no point in going further. In some of my other discussions on this issue, I have found that some people, when confronted with the support for the supposed evidences, go back to saying things like "but miracles have a low probability, so it doesn't matter about this support" rather than dealing with the supposed support. And I'll address that and then they'll bring up another critique and later we'll circle back around. I've seen the roles reversed on other arguments, so I'm not claiming only atheists do this sort of thing or that all atheists do or that you or Jagella necessarily would. I'm just trying to be as methodical as possible because, regardless, I think that is a good way to go about thinking.

rikuoamero wrote:
I'm pretty sure you can't even mention (1) the discovery of Jesus's empty tomb (2) Jesus's post-mortem appearances, and (3) the origin of the disciples' belief in his resurrection because those would be from the stories.
Unless these evidences that you have yet to show me do in fact mention them?


This is the all-or-nothing issue of historical investigation that we've touched upon (or maybe that was another thread recently?). Why can't we look at a case for why some aspects of these stories seem accurate, while not necessarily accepting others?

rikuoamero wrote:
Are you saying that miracles can happen in a God-free world, that a God-less world could still have miracles, albeit rarely, the number is not zero?


If God does not exist, but other supernatural powers do, then miracles could still happen. But my real point there was that even if God exists, miracles (especially resurrections) would still be rare. However, this rarity says nothing against them being true. This was part of splitting out two points that we've been using the terminology of 'probability' with, for clarity's sake. The other...

rikuoamero wrote:
If God exists, then the probability [of Jesus's resurrection] would be low, but not necessarily zero...?
So you're positing that there could still be a resurrection, but it doesn't necessarily HAVE to be God who is responsible for it? Hmm...are you sure you want to go down that route? Seems to me you'd be shooting yourself in the foot.


I think it would definitely be overwhelmingly more probable that the God Jesus had talked about was the power behind his resurrection as a confirmation of his teachings, but I don't think it's the only logically possible conclusion. A power that resurrects a being who is teaching a completely different message then truth about it would be doing a silly thing, it seems to me, but I don't think it a logically impossible thing for it to do. This would hardly be shooting one's self in the foot. I'm okay with non-certainty. We probably only get that in pure mathematics, anyway.

rikuoamero wrote:
These two sentences don't make sense together. Did you mean to say one would need to prove God does not exist, is that "not" a mistake? Unless I'm misreading, and the "maintain this claim" refers to claiming God does not exist?


"To rationally maintain this claim" referred to Jagella's claim (that I called step 3) that "Jesus' resurrecution is so low in probability to even warrant consideration of the supposed evidences." I could have worded it clearer, but the paragraph is all centered on that claim. So, it reads that if God doesn't exist, the probability of Jesus' resurrection is very low, if not zero. But if God exists, the probability of Jesus' resurrection isn't low at all. Therefore, one would need to prove God does not exist to maintain their claim that the probability of resurrections are low.

rikuoamero wrote:
Quote:
I don't think anyone has tried this here.


If you mean the specific God entity as posited by Christianity and its Bible, then that has been done, successfully in my opinion (albeit maybe not on this thread? I'm not rereading all the posts). That creature has contradictory qualities - powerful enough to speak universes into existence, but not able to defeat tribes with iron chariots, for example.


I was saying it hasn't been attempted on this thread. Nor do I think it's been done successfully anywhere. How, exactly are the above qualities contradictory? There seem to be some hidden premises.

rikuoamero wrote:
Which would mean you would need to prove the God agent exists, correct? Although you seem to be taking a different approach in this latest reply, and implying that a resurrection of Jesus does not need to have been caused by a God, it could have some other cause behind it.


My burden is to provide the historical case. Jagella offered a critique saying that the probability of a resurrection is too low to even warrant listening to that case. Jagella has the burden of supporting that critique. That critique requires one to prove God does not exist because if God exists, then the probability is not low at all.

rikuoamero wrote:
Wouldn't pointing to all the graveyards and tombs throughout history, with a grand total of zero rising bodies satisfy this?
Once a person dies, that's it. Their body ceases to move. I've seen a dead body. My grandmother died nearly twenty years ago, and I saw her body in the funeral home. It didn't do anything. It was inanimate.


Not in any way whatsoever. It proves that bodies don't naturally resurrect. The Christian claim is not that Jesus' body naturally resurrected, but that it supernaturally resurrected. If Jagella is critiquing my view, then that means arguing that a supernatural resurrection has low to zero possibility. You could do that by arguing that the supernatural does not exist at all, or even just the specific supernatural being of the Christian God does not exist.

rikuoamero wrote:
Quote:
All the Christian would need to do is show that God's existence is possible because, if it is, then we cannot know that the probability of a miracle is so low to stop us from warranting consideration.


So just possible, you don't need to show an actual God? Methinks you've made quite a mistake here.


Mehopes you are just messing up the contexts being talked about. The claim being discussed in this specific context is that "Jesus' resurrection has a low probability." For that claim to be true, one needs to show that God does not exist, because if God does exist, then Jesus' resurrection has a high probability. All the Christian needs to do here is argue for the possible existence of God.

Now, of course, once this critique is rejected as unsound, then the burden shifts back onto the Christian to prove her case. At that point she needs to show not just that Jesus' resurrection is possible, but that it is the best explanation, as well as a good one.

rikuoamero wrote:
If ten salesmen ring your doorbell in a row, only you find out each and every one of them are scams, can you be blamed for not giving time to look at the eleventh, who may or may not be a scam?


I wouldn't blame you. But, can the eleventh salesman be blamed for you not getting the deal of a lifetime? Even more so, what's at stake if the eleventh salesman is not a scam is a bit different than if Jesus resurrected.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 75: Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:46 pm
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Re: The Christian's Grasp on Reality

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Jagella wrote:
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!


Ginger visited me again today, and sadly she told me her symptoms have returned. But she does not seem to realize that she got it wrong: she was never miraculously healed.

So again I have powerful evidence that miracle claims have little to do with reality, and Christians are unable to tell that their miracles are not real.

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