Which Part fits in Which Slot, Again?


In discussing miraculous occurrences as recounted in the Bible, we often see apologists swing back and forth as to what part of the miracle was actually supernatural, and what part of it was natural. Obviously, God could use both to his advantage, having the foresight to utilize an opportune moment and make it look like a miracle, yet there would be no way for us to tell.

How does a Christian come up with a system, by which we determine God just had good timing, as compared to God actually intervening? There is no way.



I was reading elsewhere as to a re-definition of the First Plague, that of turning the water into Blood. The author was indicating that “Blood” may actually have been a color, and that the First Plague may have been some sort of pestilence, red in color, that killed all the fish, and made the water undrinkable.

If I read this correctly, the author was arguing that instead of the water being Blood, which would be red, it was a pestilence that was red. Instead of the blood killing the fish, it was the pestilence killing the fish. Instead of the blood rendering the water undrinkable, it was the pestilence. I was trying to figure out, for the life of me, why it made a difference? About the only difference I could tell, that was not even addressed in the Biblical account, was that blood would coagulate, and the “pestilence” would not.

As if the author was attempting to explain away that it could not be Blood, so as to avoid people asking why the Nile did not turn into one big scab.

Excuse me? I thought the idea of the plagues was that God was doing something miraculous. If God could turn an entire river into Blood, He certainly could have made it blood without the ability to coagulate! Somehow, the author had no problem with God intervening with the entire water system of Egypt at once, but not creating something that is physically impossible to exist. Curious. If God made water into Blood, he was stuck with all the properties of Blood.

I have seen the argument that the crossing of the Reed Sea was done at the time of a tsunami, and the reason why the water had receded. Did God cause the tsunami? Or was it good timing? Or was it a natural event that people attributed to God? (The timing is all off, anyway. It would take more than 30 days for 2 Million to cross a sea, and no tsunami lasts that long.)

Probably one of the biggest contenders of this characteristic is the Flood. Christians talk about the supernatural aspect of enough water being produced to cover the entire earth.

Then they use the fact that all this water is there to give natural explanations for fossils, continents, and mountains forming. Couldn’t the fossils also miraculously appear? Occasionally we mix and match parts of natural/supernatural. Like God supernaturally calling all the animals into the Ark, but naturally fitting them in, and then supernaturally causing them to hibernate, rather than require food.

Even Christians understand the problem of fitting all the provisions and animals on the Ark, so they begin inserting “miracles” as necessary to resolve the problem. Re-define “kinds” so as to require supernatural evolutionary rates. Or have the animals all shrink. Or have “pockets” of fresh water for some fish to survive. As the natural explanation is being given, if there is a speed bump, simply interject a “miracle.” Shoot, the whole thing is a miracle, what is wrong with a few nudges of miracles along the way?

The problem comes in that we no longer can determine how much was a miracle, and how much was not. If it was ALL a miracle, why the silly charade of having a flood, a boat and a dramatic rescue? Easier to kill all but a few humans and animals with God’s laser-beam eyes.

For some reason (that the Christian enthusiastically admits they cannot even hope to explain) the God must be mixing and matching natural and supernatural events. Either there is some limitation in which he is bound by some laws, or the humans are picking and choosing which parts to label “miracle” and which to not by arbitrary means.

I wonder if even the Christian begins to understand how “it’s a miracle” begins to wear thin as an excuse.

“How did God get the animals to the Ark?”
“It’s a miracle.”
”How did God fit them in?”
“It’s a miracle.”

“How did Noah feed them?”
“It’s a miracle.”
“How did Noah exercise them?”
“It’s a miracle.”

“How did the Ark sustain the build-up of gases?”
“It’s a miracle.”
“Where did the water come from?”
“It’s a miracle”
“Where did the water go?”
“It’s a miracle.”

Yet that is not what we see. Instead we see blogs, and articles, and even entire books dedicated to explaining how a world-wide deluge could only supernaturally occur, but preservation of animal-life could naturally occur. Was God reduced to one miracle a year?

Or Joshua’s extra day, which was recently discussed. Again, a miracle. Yet Christians are often caught in attempting to explain how the earth rotated differently, or “time bubbles” were created or how the axis spun differently, or the earth’s crust stopped spinning. We have even seen the urban legend of astronomers attempting to account for the “lost day” as natural proof of a supernatural event! Natural explanations for a supernaturally claimed event.

Why not just shrug, and toss yet one more of millions of other things into the “We don’t know, but by labeling it as ‘God just did it’ makes it a more intellectually satisfying explanation than ‘We don’t know.’”

Another common natural/supernatural event is the Resurrection. We all agree that a person that is dead for 2 days does not come back to life. That is a supernatural event. But then Christians insist on Jesus having a very natural body. One that walks, talks and eats. (Luke 24:42-43) Not so natural to fly, so that one gets chalked down to the miracle bit. (Acts 1:9)

Or, more interestingly, Jesus having the ability to teleport in and out of rooms. (Luke 24:31, 24:36; John 20:19, 20:26) Again, we have arbitrary choices, as mandated by various books, attempting to claim that parts of Jesus were natural, and parts were supernatural.

“Visions” and supernatural ghosts appear in and out, without requiring open doors. “Physical bodies” require opening and shutting doors. Which was Jesus? Well, that depends on the moment.

If Jesus could teleport from room to room (and teleport from city to city) why did the Stone have to be removed from the tomb? Could you see Jesus coming back from the dead? There he was, in a tomb, the linens neatly folded. “Great. Here I am back from the dead. I can vanish, appear and even fly. But I can’t get out until somebody moves this blessed rock.” Talk about frustrating!

Why would the rock need to be moved from the tomb? According to the tales, Jesus convincingly no longer needed doors.

Mark recounts the women visiting the tomb, and the rock is already removed. The tomb is empty. An open door, a missing body—pretty clear how that body was supposed to get out. (Mark 16:4-6) Luke follows Mark’s lead with the same implication. (Luke 24:2-3) John also has a moved rock, and missing body. (John. 20:1)

Only Matthew recounts even how the stone was moved by indicating an angel moved it. An angel so bright that the soldiers fainted. Is that when Jesus escaped? (Matt. 28:2-3) Remember, this was Jesus that could vanish and re-appear at will. He just needed that rock out of the way! The angel even says, “Come see where he lay.” I am often told that just because one account doesn’t say something happened, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Hey, I can play that game too! Just because the angel doesn’t say it, the angel could have muttered under his breath, “Come see where he lay…(until about two seconds ago, when I had to open the stone, because Jesus forgot his key again. Had you come in here a bit quicker, you would have seen him teleport out of here naked!)”

By the time the Gospel of Peter was written, it was made even clearer that Jesus needed that rock moved to get out. The Gospel of Peter has the stone rolling away by itself; two angels come down from heaven, go into the tomb, and bring Jesus out. We know that actually happened, because it was recounted as something the centurion said, and early Christians would have been too fearful to quote testimony from a living Roman Soldier. (I hope you understand the sarcasm of that last sentence after reading such claims from apologists.)

In the very earliest elements of the resurrection story, Jesus can’t get out without that stone being moved. Now…it may be stated that it was not a question of inability, but of demonstration to his followers that the tomb was empty. I would hope one would seriously consider that statement, and recognize how unpersuasive it is.

Apparently having Angels appear at the tomb, and say “He is risen” would not be enough. Seeing Jesus would not be enough. Placing one’s fingers in the wounds would not be enough. Watching Jesus eat, hear him talk, watching him cook and clean fish would not be enough. Watching him fly off into the sky. Nope, all that would never quite convince the disciples that Jesus was resurrected. God needed to have that stone moved, so the Disciples could clearly see it was not a clever imposter. (‘Course a clever imposter could have also moved the body, once the tomb was open, but let’s not think about that.)

Moving the stone for a “look-see” would not make a whit of difference to his followers. There would not have been any need to connect an empty tomb to the miraculous personage appearing before them.

I imagine one of the earliest conversations between a Christian and a non-believer could have looked like this:

“Jesus is risen!”
“How do you know?”
“Oh…er…’cause his disciples said his tomb was empty!”
“How could they see that?”
“They must have looked.”

In order to look, the stone had to be out of the way. From this simple story, Mark incorporated the myth of the moving Rock. Only later, in order to add panache, did stories develop about how Jesus could teleport—never realizing it made the earlier stories of a moving rock unnecessary.

Again and again, we see an interesting mixture of natural and supernatural explanations, without a system for us ever to determine which could be miraculous, and which can be naturally explained away. Odd that Christians, in order to bolster their claims of miracles, often hinge the miracle’s effect and aftermath on natural events.

When my children were much, much younger, I had them largely convinced I could open doors with my mind. As we approached the grocery store I would call out, “Watch this. Watch this.” and would nod my head with emphasis, with my face contorted as if I was thinking very hard. At the correct moment of the nod, I would step into the radar, making the door swing open. “See? I can open doors with my mind.”

A few times of this, and they were almost (but not quite) firmly convinced. When they asked me to repeat this trick at home, they began to suspect it was not totally within my psychic ability.

Miracles are like that. At first, the stories sound fantastic, but upon inspection and contemplation, they begin to fall apart.

No, I do not assume miracles cannot exist. I am having a hard time, though, hearing Christians agree as to what is a supernatural miracle, and what is good timing, and what is natural. If Christians cannot agree what is a miracle, why should I assume that what some particular Christians claim is a miracle—really is?

Jesus needing a rock to move, because naturally he could not leave without it, and later teleporting sounds exactly as to how humans create myths.

47 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Dagoods: I wonder if even the Christian begins to understand how “it’s a miracle” begins to wear thin as an excuse.

“How did God get the animals to the Ark?”
“It’s a miracle.”
”How did God fit them in?”
“It’s a miracle.”

“How did Noah feed them?”
“It’s a miracle.”
“How did Noah exercise them?”
“It’s a miracle.”

“How did the Ark sustain the build-up of gases?”
“It’s a miracle.”
“Where did the water come from?”
“It’s a miracle”
“Where did the water go?”
“It’s a miracle.”



So, on the one hand, in order to defend their faith in God, the Christian must resort to multiple miracles in the Bible, but in order to defend the miracles in the Bible, the Christian must resort to their faith in God. Can Christians really see the circular nature of all this?

Professor Doktor Matthias Flay said...

First off, this is one of the best posts I've read here. Nice work.

I have to say, I've often noticed this same phenomenon, and find it quite funny. I have to assume that the Christian wishes to have their magical God-world but at the same time wants this belief to look as, well, 'not stupid' as possible. It's understandable.

What I find far more irritating is the presence of this view (or something like it) in the critical/skeptical communities. For example, we have this ludicrous story of the Red Sea parting, and some 'scholars', 'skeptics', or 'experts' will suggest that there was an extremely low tide at the time, allowing the Israelites to cross safely. One finds this crap in venues such as Time or Newsweek's quarterly religion issues.

Why the hell would you venture into the sea of absurdity that is Exodus, examine one ridiculous story for which there exists zero evidence, and give an alternative explanation for the event? How much of this story can you discard without questioning the reliability of the source entirely?

Sure, there may be some miracles in ancient histories that can be discarded without dispensing of the entire work, but these are records of people and events we typically know to have existed/happened. And they are not the miracle extravaganzas that we see in books like Exodus.

I'm curious to know where this inate conservatism comes from among 'scholars' and 'experts', and as Dagoods asks, what criteria are used to determine what should be salvaged. In terms of NT scholarship, it's perhaps a bit less muddy, the NT being more recent and containing some historical references. But the myths of the Torah? Why bother? Is it just the desire to step on as few toes as possible?

I guess the believers don't want to look stupid, and the 'experts' don't want to look mean or disrespectful. So we have this asinine and vague state of compromise.

paul said...

Jeez DagoodS,
You did it again, another great post. I kept waiting to be struck by lightning while laughing myself silly, especially at your word picture of Jesus looking for his key to the stone of the tomb!

Seriously, there I think is part of the key to why so many hold on. Where does that feeling of concern that I may be 'blaspheming' come from? Being willing to ask that question and look for the answer seems more helpful instead of just trying to justify the feeling (enter christian apologetics). 'Christian apologetics' seems to me an oxymoron. I know that many use the scripture directing one to study to be able to give an answer for the "hope within" (there's that feeling again)...still, there's also the scripture directing not to use the wisdom of this age trapping one in the faith box. I think many hold on not because it makes reasonable sense but because of the underlying emotional (or maybe even 'spiritual') sense that there is someone/something out there beyond our normal perceptions. But being reasoning creatures, we seek to identify the causes behind the sense, and often end up with so much nonsense. Our science just doesn't equal our questions, and with that lacking some invent notions like faith, instead of waiting for understanding/science to catch up. Many are not unlike the ancients trying to give a reason for the wind.

Daniel said...

I suppose it's a sort of twist on Ockham's Razor:
minimize the number of concurrent/attendant miracles to make the one "big" miracle more believable.

Just as God could've snapped its fingers and re-created all species on earth after the flood, but, this isn't written in the story, so apologists contort themselves into logical pretzels in trying to explain how animals departed from the ark onto a globe flooded for 1 year with water and somehow survived, and made it across oceans...

By minimizing the number of miracles that go along with the "imporant" ones, they are somehow supposed to make us less credulous. Somehow.

Daniel said...

PS: This is the exact reason that I said arguing science with a supernaturalist is like casting pearls before swine: they don't play by the rules.

Blogirony said...

`He who has ears, let him hear... The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables. Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand . In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this peoples heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' [Matthew 13.9-15 NIV]

Jesus said that. It's proven true for over 2000 years.

paul said...

Blogirony,
I guess that scripture doesn't really apply to most of us since it's addressed to those who "have ears," and apparently we don't. So, why do you write it? Just to rub our naughty noses in it?

Can you tell me why you are one of the ones that "the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom..." has been given to? Why to blogirony?

DBULL said...

Ok, I'm a disciple of Jesus, here's my response to what I've read:

If indeed God is all knowing and all powerful, which of your argumented points are impossible for Him?

You seek facts, the Lord seeks faith. If He decided to openly show Himself to all mankind or in some way enable fact to prove His existence, it would'nt require faith would it?

Does it take faith to believe what God says is true, yes. Will men be able to apply science to prove the Almighty's existence? No.

The bible says that the Lord purposefully frustrated the wisdom of this world in it's attempts to discover Him so that only those with faith would be successful.

You throw facts at me, I throw faith at you. Am I foolish for the faith I have? Are you foolish for your lack of faith? Time will certainly tell.

Bob3732 said...

Thank you, Blogirony, for speaking the Word to these infidels. It's hard being a Christian in these Last Days! But look on the bright side. As Jesus said in Revelations 2, "He who overcomes and keeps my words until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels."

I don't know about you, but I'm sure looking forward to ruling over these despicable infidels.

Oh, and also pregnant women. I never liked them either! When Jesus describes The Great Tribulation in Matthew 24, he says, "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!" Heck yeah! Time for some righteous vengeance on the most vulnerable. They were probably whores of Babylon anyway.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Keep the faith, brother!

"I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes." -- Matthew 11:25

Jason Hughes said...

DBull, I dare say, I think you missed the point. Whether you have faith or a pint of dill pickles, your simplisitc, "Well, I have faith" not only doesn't contribute to the nature of the discussion, it adds to the incredibility of anything you could add.

You can have faith and still analyze the contents of the post without an "I have faith" disclaimer. But aparently, since you have nothing to which you could add, you hide behind your faith instead of wearing it proudly alongside the brain god supposedly gave you...

IF there were a god, why would he need some miraculous event, which in turn would need several smaller miracles to justify the miraculousness? And why do Christains feel the need to justify smaller miracles in the wake of the big miracle? Could it all be just naturally occurring coincidence?


Awesome post, DagoodS...

Tommykey said...

THE BIBLE: God never said it. I don't believe it. And that settles it!

DagoodS said...

Thank you, Professor Doktor Matthias Flay, paul, Daniel Morgan, Jason Hughes, and of course John W. Loftus for the kind comments.

Blogirony, I am familiar with Matt. 13:9-15. Mostly from my study of the original Markan passage that the author of Matthew copied. Mark 4:9-13. I have dealt with this issue before. In reading the Markan parallel passage, do you see that even those that traveled with Jesus did not understand the parable until he explained it? It is not only the ignorant infidel, but actual followers of Jesus that did not understand.

Worse, can you explain why Jesus would deliberately speak in such a way so people would NOT turn from their sin and deliberately NOT be healed? The picture of Jesus is not often painted that he could have saved more, simply by speaking more clearly, and consciously, purposely choose to not. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and how much, to the letter, they could comprehend. He took them right to the threshold and left it.

If Jesus did not intend for us to understand, should you emulate him? Why would Jesus leave people that wanted answers, without providing them? Tough questions.

DBULL, you ask a good question, what is impossible for God? Can you answer your own question? Can God defy Logic? The classic question, “Can God make a rock he can’t lift?” would be a violation of logic. Can God do it?

Can God defy Time? Time being the measurement of change, if there was no time, there could be no change from an instant of non-creation to creation in order to create time.

Can God Lie? Can God commit an immoral act? Is that physically possible? Could God NOT create? Can God laugh, if he is all-knowing? (Humor’s basis being the unexpected.) Can God be surprised?

Unfortunately, with our complete lack of ability to verify, all of these questions have had a variety of answers. From Christians. All humans telling me what they think God can or cannot do.

I ask the same in this blog. Why argue that animals could all fit on an Ark of so many cubits, when God could shrink all the animals to the size of a pinhead, and they could fit in a plastic cup?

Is it probable that humans are creating God, and the limitation of a human’s knowledge results in the limitations of the manufactured God’s abilities? Hmmmm…

DBULL: You seek facts, the Lord seeks faith. Great Statement! Have you thought about this?

At one time a God is proposed. I don’t care which god—pick one. And a human says that this God has certain attributes and capabilities. After some time, another person comes along and questions this God. The theist dogmatically holds onto the proposition of this God in the face of contradictory facts. And then, because even to the theist it seems problematic, claims it is an element of faith. Faith being the specific INability to prove something and yet believe it. Because that doesn’t seem to bolster “faith” as trumping reason, the theist then claims that God holds faith in higher esteem than reason.

Why?

Do you see the Catch-22 of that three-letter word? If you even begin to respond, it is by attempting to reason with me. Even claiming experiences is an attempt to use words, in a logical form, in grammatical sentences to persuade me of the existence of this God. You claim that God holds faith higher than reason, but pragmatically, you use reason instead of faith.

Not that this is all bad, mind you, but it demonstrates a hole in the theory that faith trumps reason.

And the Christian God uses plenty of facts. What is the recorded Bible? A fact. What is God interacting with Humans? A fact. What is the birth of Jesus? A fact. What is the life and ministry of Jesus? A fact. What are the parables, healings, signs, miracles, journeys, statements, interactions of Jesus? Facts, facts, facts. What is the death of Jesus? A fact. What is the burial of Jesus? A fact. What is the Resurrection? A fact. (Note, obviously, I am stating this from a Christian perspective, not my own.)

The Christian pummels me with fact after fact after fact after article after website after book, all screaming, “FACT! FACT! FACT!” and when I dare have the audacity to even begin to question these facts; I am immediately informed that I should have had faith. Why? Because the facts don’t check out!

Then I am told that the reason I need faith is that, (mere coincidence, I am sure) since the theist cannot demonstrate this God, therefore their God holds the lack of demonstration in higher regard. If a Theist cannot prove a point on their God, remarkably their God does not want that point proven. It is a human tendency! We see it all the time. What do politicians do when they do not want a particular topic discussed? Easy, they claim that topic is not important, but some other topic (which they happen to be well-versed) is!

Christians do the same with faith. So do all theists. Why is it, I wonder, no God can figure out how to discuss with humans in the way humans discuss with each other? With reason, understanding and forthrightness.

I certainly do not think you are foolish for the faith you have. You have been informed by many, many people that it is fact, to the point of being firmly convinced. Believing what others genuinely state is not foolish. But can you question for yourself? Do you dare to take the steps and wonder—why DID that rock need to be moved? If Matthew was a disciple, why DID he copy the gospel of Mark? Why DIDN’T Paul quote Jesus? (Yes, yes, ‘cept the Eucharist.) Why DIDN’T Paul point out Jesus’ miracles?

That takes a certain kind of hard faith, that many choose to never employ.

Bob3732, you seem a reasonable enough fellow. Look forward to having you rule over me. Warning, I can be a handful! *wink*

paul said...

DBull,
"You seek facts, the Lord seeks faith. If He decided to openly show Himself to all mankind or in some way enable fact to prove His existence, it wouldn't require faith would it?"

"If He decided to openly show Himself to all mankind..."?? You mean like Jesus? Born of a virgin, turning water to wine, raising the dead, rising from the dead himself. You mean that kind of "open show?" Would you agree that the 'faith' it took a Peter, who watched Jesus raise a guy from the dead, might be a little different than your believing it because you read it in a book? Why did God do things like floods, lots of animals in a little space, fire from heaven, sun standing still (that's one of the really big ones, because afterwards He re-did stuff and made the earth rotate around the sun instead of how it used to be with the sun going around the earth) if "He wanted faith?"
You say "it takes faith to believe what God says is true..." Not really, I don't think one person here would have a problem believing "what God says is true." The problem is ascertaining that it was/is "God" who said/is saying it. Your faith is most likely in a book. Would your faith exist without the book? Are you following Jesus or are you following your perceptions of what a book tells you Jesus is? How do you know the difference between your imagination, your perceptions of who and what God is, and God showing you something?

Miracles would kind of help one know they were on the right path, like Israel following a pillar of fire, where everyone can kind of agree it's there. God did give these miracles at one time, and even said people who believed in Him having seen such miracles still had faith!

Miracles are supposed to be part of christendom, some members of the body are given "miraculous powers" (ICor.12:10). This is a "manifestation of the Spirit given for the common good"(V.7). So having miracles doesn't preclude faith. The bible is true, where are the miracles today? You'll silence many people if you can demonstrate the bible is true in this way.

Jeremy said...

Mr. Loftus posted that this article by DagoodS “demands a Christian response.” Well here is my attempt.

I would like to begin by stating that I do not consider myself an apologist. However, according to this definition perhaps we all are of one belief or another, “A person who argues in defense or justification of something, such as a doctrine, policy, or institution.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/apologist)

DagoodS writes:
“For some reason (that the Christian enthusiastically admits they cannot even hope to explain) the God must be mixing and matching natural and supernatural events. Either there is some limitation in which he is bound by some laws, or the humans are picking and choosing which parts to label “miracle” and which to not by arbitrary means.”

It is possible that God performed miracles within the realm of nature on earth. Why would he do this? Maybe because he created them in the first place and thought that they were good enough to do the job as opposed to “laser beams”.

I do not believe that it is possible to know the exact methods used in the miracles described in the Bible because none of us were there. In my opinion these miracles were written down in order for us to understand in some small way that God was involved in certain events. If some people want to hypothesize about the how of a certain miracle they have the right to do that, but in my opinion it is a waste of time. Mainly because we really have no way of knowing other than what the text tells us.

DagoodS wrote: “Is it probable that humans are creating God, and the limitation of a human’s knowledge results in the limitations of the manufactured God’s abilities? Hmmmm…”

Yes it is possible. How can I prove to you that there is a God? The short answer is that I can’t. I can tell you why I believe in a God, but then that doesn’t really help you out does it? We are two different people and my reasons for believing will be different than the next persons. Each of us has our own reasons for believing. Some people merely say “I believe in God because of faith.” I’m not one of those people. Yes I admit that faith is a part of my belief but it is no where near the majority. What facts do I have? Nature for one. But wait a minute, nature is strictly an evolutionary process and god was not needed in order for all of this to occur. Really? That doesn’t seem reasonable or logical to me, but it may to the evolutionist. A faith in evolution or any other scientific theory is no different than the faith that I have in my god. The evolutionist bases their belief on apparent facts as do I.

For fear of a lengthy response on my part I figured I would only elaborate in more detail if you want me to.

centuri0n said...

Dagwood:

Nice of you to post this.

I have a blog called DebateBlog, and you seem like a fine person with which to advance the next set of Q-and-A.

Details on the basic format are that that blog, and we can tweak them if you think there is a problem with some of the rules being too restrictive. e-mail me at caram.centuri0n@yahoo.com if you are interested. This particular question of the miraculous would make great subject matter.

John W. Loftus said...

I ask the same in this blog. Why argue that animals could all fit on an Ark of so many cubits, when God could shrink all the animals to the size of a pinhead, and they could fit in a plastic cup?

Dagoods, you are just too good!

paul said...

centuri0n,

Honest question: why would a calvanist want to debate with an unbeliever?

openlyatheist said...

Why argue that animals could all fit on an Ark of so many cubits, when God could shrink all the animals to the size of a pinhead, and they could fit in a plastic cup?

Because they didn't have plastic back then, OBVIOUSLY. :)

centuri0n said...

Paul --

I could answer, "evangelism", but I'll bet you don't think Calvinists believe in evangelism.

So the better answer is: "Because they ask questions like yours." It is important that, in the end, if you really do think Christianity is bunk, that you encounter it at least once.

There's no better way, intellectually, to encounter Christian theology than through Calvinism.

centuri0n said...

It also seems, btw, that I owe "Dagoods" an apology because I called him "Dagwood".

While it may seem funny, it was unintentional and I am sorry if it offended.

Kiwi Dave said...

Great post and follow up, DagoodS. JWL's summary of the circularity or miracles and belief is very apposite.

When I dropped out of Christianity into atheism many years ago, miracles were initially something of a problem for my unbelief.

However, one only has to look at the morally obtuse and scientifically illiterate responses to questions about Noah's flood and further notice that believers shy away from a really big in-you-face explain-everything miracle in favour of miracles simulating nature and using technology of the time to realise that miracles are an ever bigger problem for believers.

siehjin said...

hallo! =)

didn't c.s. lewis write something about miracles? erm, i think the book title IS miracles. what do u guys think of what he wrote? i think he kinda defends the idea of miracles from a big-picture point of view. dunno if the nitty-gritty details that DagoodS has pointed out can ever be explained though.

i'm inclined to take Bible stories like the creation account and the flood to be myths (hmm, that's probably c.s. lewis's influence again) that illustrate eternal truths rather than factual accounts.

but some defences of noah's ark i've heard are that:
1. the water didn't actually cover the whole earth, just the basin or plain where ppl were staying (they hadn't dispersed to cover the whole earth yet)
2. the animals were all the prototypes only, which eventually evolved into the myriad species we have today.
doesn't really save it though.=)

the ressurection story is different, it had to really happen otherwise christianity's a total sham. erm, doesn't josh mcdowell's 2 books 'evidence that demands a verdict' and 'more evidence...' defend it quite well?

paul said...

centuri0n,

"I could answer "evangelism," but I'll bet you don't think Calvanists believe in evangelism."

Heck, so it's a Calvanist thing, I wouldn't understand? Still, I wish you'd indulge me and try. I've "encountered Christianity" quite a bit actually, but why would it be important to you for me to encounter it?

Martin Lack said...

You guys are really in love with yourselves, aren't you... How is that you are able to devote so much time to this stuff... It is absolutely pathetic to suggest that Jesus could not get out of the tomb unless the stone was rolled away...

Assuming, of course, that you accept the historicity of the basic storyline presented in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ", is it so difficult to accept that God moved the Stone so that people could see in...

Oh, I forgot, you don't accept that God exists, so bang goes that argument, eh? Still, this is not exactly "shock news".. is it!

"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles".
(I Corinthians 1:22-23)

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. ".
(Romans 1:20)

Professor Doktor Matthias Flay said...

Lack:

I'm not sure you understand the post.

If Jesus can get beamed around all over the place, why move the stone at all? That's the whole point.

Why would God move the stone 'so people could see in'? They saw Jesus! It seems that if they saw Jesus and then rolled away the stone to find it empty, that would only be a more powerful argument.

But no, the stone appears to have been rolled away so that Jesus could walk out.

DagoodS said...

Jeremy, in one particular forum I frequent “apologist” is considered an insult worthy of moderator intervention. Some consider it a compliment, others not. You are free to consider yourself as you choose.

I do not believe that it is possible to know the exact methods used in the miracles described in the Bible because none of us were there.

Exactly. And once we concede that we do not know what methods or how the miracles occurred, how can we say that miracles even happened at all? Perhaps it was a natural event. Or perhaps the authors did not understand what was occurring and inadvertently attributed it to a supernatural, rather than a natural event.

Imagine a person in 1500 BCE seeing a plane cross the sky! What we know is possible naturally, they would presume was supernatural. Was it the same with earthquakes? Volcanoes? Unusual storms? Influx in the insect populations?

I appreciate your honesty in indicating it is not possible to know. However, once we enter that arena, then claiming something was a “miracle” as compared to natural must also be recognized as unknown. So why claim it is a miracle in the first place?

How do I, as in infidel, determine which miracles were written down for me to know that God was involved in certain events, and which ones are human creations? We know the story of Joseph Smith being informed by an Angel of fantastic gold plates buried nearby. Certainly sounds miraculous. Was God involved in that event?

Or those screaming preachers (*cough, cough “Benny Hinn”*) that claim to have turned fillings to gold, and straightened backs, and made people who limp run. Again, sounds miraculous. Was God involved in those events? Or every single Catholic Saint. A requirement is to perform a miracle. Was God involved in those events?

Or taking back to my blog. If this story of the rock rolling was written for me to understand that God was involved in some way, is it inappropriate for me to ask “How?” and not be satisfied with four different answers

1) God made the earthquake to roll the rock.
2) God sent an angel to roll the rock.
3) God rolled the rock.
4) We have no clue.

All of which make no sense for a teleporting Jesus.

Thank you for recognizing that we all believe in different ways, and with different forms of persuasion. What is curious is that the Christian God does not understand that. He only seems to be able to communicate in one fashion. A one-dimensional God.

And I can’t help notice that by sheer coincidence, the God only seems to communicate in the exact same way the theist feels a God should communicate. If a theist believes by faith, by golly God communicates by faith. If a theist believes by experience, God communicates by experience. If a theist believes by a still, small, internal voice, God communicates by a still, small voice. I have been informed countless different ways in which God communicates, but each theist seems to inform me there is only one way, and it happens to fit that particular theist.

Even you, as a human, recognize that we all communicate differently, and modify your interaction based upon my differences. If I use reason, people tend to reason with me. If I am visual, they provide illustration. If I speak in English, they don’t write to me in Spanish.

You would think that the creator of humans, at the least could figure that out. Some people need visual. Some need experience. Some need faith. Some need reason. Some need argument. Some need personal interaction. Heck, some need a hug! Yet over and over, I am told that how I desire communication is wrong, incorrect, unworthy, ridiculous, and the very last way in which God would ever, EVER communicate to humans.

At some point I would write myself off as an abhorrent anomaly—the only human that communicates in such a fashion, and just too tough for God to single out. Except I see a fellow over that that communicates just like me, and is just as questioning. A female over here that understands the difficult in communicating to a God that isn’t there. And over time, I have become convinced that it isn’t the fact that God can only communicate in one fashion—it is that the theist can only hear a God in one way, and for lack of ability to demonstrate said God, must claim that is the ONLY way in which God can speak.

A faith in evolution or any other scientific theory is no different than the faith that I have in my god. This is a common statement made because of the confusion of the English language using the word “trust” and “faith” synonymously. They are not in terms of a spiritual “faith.”

For example, I may claim that I have “faith” in my wife not having an affair. However, the more correct term is “trust.” I base my trust on the fact that I have no evidence to demonstrate an affair, she indicates she loves me, she has never had an affair before, there are only a few hours in which she could have an affair, and when she comes how with a boatload of groceries, it is more evidence of grocery shopping than affairs.

We have “trust” in the theory of evolution, because the facts support it, the fossil records support it, it has predictive abilities, and science based upon evolution has produced expected results.

Spiritual faith, by its very definition, is belief in the absence of facts. Not based upon reasonable conclusions from facts. That is trust. You may say you “trust” Christianity based upon certain facts, but once you bring in faith, the facts must hit the road.

Jeremy, I confess that evolution does not always seem logical or reasonable to me, either. Part of that is my infinitesimal knowledge of the subject, frankly. However, to posit something else, we might as well term “magic” and then wrestle with the concepts of this difficult “magic” that bring us no closer to a resolution as to how we came into being, and actually introduces contradictory conclusions seems to be even less logical and reasonable.

DagoodS said...

centuri0n,

Never fear offending me. Certainly not over something as silly as a name. In real life, I am called so many things, it makes little difference. I am difficult to offend.

On behalf of a client, I was once pursuing an elderly lady for money. The judge ruled against her (again) and it was apparent funds were to be removed from her bank account and provided to my client. After the hearing (imagine the nicest grandmotherly figure you can) she invited me over, and said in her soft-spoken voice:

“Sir.”
“Yes?”
“I want you to know that I will be praying to God every single day that this will be the day you die.”

Stunned, I could only mutter, “Er…hope that works out for ya.”

With that going for me, any name-changing, inadvertent or not, is pretty irrelevant, eh?

I am still weighing the debate idea. My initial reaction was to do so, more from the standpoint that 150 words/500 words would be an exciting challenge. I tend to be verbose—could I limit myself and still be coherent? However, it also would seem to be more of an interview than a debate, with that limitation.

And paul asked a good question. What is the point of the debate? If it is to “encounter” Christianity through Calvinism, I have already done so. I was born, bred, and raised in Calvinism. I have personally interacted with Pastors, Deacons, Elders, Teachers, Associates, Missionaries, and Leaders, all of whom chose to abandon our conversations.

Still thinking on the idea, though.

DagoodS said...

siehjin,

Part of the reason that Christians want to only look at the “big picture” of miracles, is that the story starts to break down in the details. All questionable stories do. That is why those promulgating them tend to waive their arms and block our vision from those pesky details.

If the water didn’t cover the earth, why have an Ark at al? Perhaps send Noah (and the animals) to higher ground? Traditionally (although it is unclear) it was claimed that it took 100 years to build the ark. Assuming a travel rate of 2 miles per day, and only moving 5 days a week, with a few directions, Noah could have walked out of a “basin” 100,000 miles wide in the same period of time!

And what exactly is a “proto-type” animal? What is a “clean” proto-type animal and an “unclean” proto-type animal? How fast would the rate of evolution be, given proto-type animals? When did this rate cease, or has it? This defense creates more problems than it harms.

I have read both ETDAV by Josh McDowell. (I don’t remember which edition, which is unfortunate. You do know, I presume, that later editions correct mistakes caught in the earlier editions.) A one-sided presentation that is heavily weighted. Not exactly balanced reporting. If you have read them, perhaps you can point out one or two things that you felt were sufficiently persuasive, and we can address them in a separate blog?

DagoodS said...

martin lack,

I apologize if my frivolity makes it appear as if I am “full of myself.” I do take these topics quite seriously, and study them with fervor. My personality is such, though, that I tend to see the humorous side of life, and interject with some lightheartedness in my writings.

It is a bit ridiculous to hold that Jesus, as a God, has the capability to create a universe, can flood the entire earth, come back from the dead, teleport from place to place, yet has to remove the rock to get out. Unfortunately, that is exactly the story portrayed in the Gospels, that Christians attempt to persuade me happened.

I addressed the fact that removing the rock so people could see was unnecessary. Did Paul need to see the empty tomb?

Further, claiming that a God created this entire universe and one human female in one moment of time, by eating one bite of fruit, screwed it up SO bad, that only by killing himself, God was able to save a select few from billions and trillions and quadrillions of years of excruciating torture, to be honest, seems a bit ridiculous to me. Perhaps we can discuss with each other and provide insight as to why it is not ridiculous?

I am glad that you mentioned 1 Cor. 1:22-23, but I am not sure you understand the full implication of that. Do you understand what Paul is stating?

“The Jews seek a sign…” What is a “sign” to a Jew? A Miracle. The Gospels consistently portray “signs” as Miracles. According to which Gospel you read, that generation will get no signs (Mark), one sign (Matthew and Luke) or many signs. (John.) Signs are always miracles.

“The Greeks seek wisdom…” Reasoning. Logic. Debate Rationale.

And what does Paul preach? He practically crows about the fact that he preaches neither! Ponder that for a moment. Paul is specifically stating that the Jews are looking for miracles, and the Christians aren’t providing any!

Paul never once mentions a miracle in Christ’s ministry in his writings. Not even when it would be helpful (like discussing resurrection, bringing up Jarius’ daughter or Lazarus?).

If Paul thought claiming miracles occurred was a stumbling block to people becoming Christians, why do you think so many Christians preach about miracles today?

1 Cor. 1:22-23 demonstrates admirably, that at the time Paul was preaching (i.e. before the stories of Jesus were fully formed) he did not hold to Christ performing any miracles. Paul, like you, would have found the question of Jesus and the rock equally pathetic, because movement of that rock would constitute a miracle, and that was not what Christianity was about.

Romans 1:20 is not much better. To demonstrate a God, Paul appeals to nature. Not Jesus. Not his ministry. Not death, burial and resurrection. Not miracles. Not all the things that make Christianity stand out from any other theistic belief. Just nature.

And there, Paul was writing to Jews, who would arguably have been in contact with the events happening previously. Christians would have a much stronger case if Paul had said, “Those pesky Gentiles really know there is a God, because we all can see the tomb where Jesus was, the rock, and the missing body. We all heard about his miraculous wonders, and how Peter immediately converted 3000 people.” Remember, he is writing to people that Christians must maintain knew about the resurrection!

Yet what does he pull out as his best argument to preach to the choir? Nature.

I devote so much time to this stuff, martin lack, as penance for all the years I swallowed it hook, line and sinker without truly devoting my time to this stuff.

Simon said...

DagoodS, you've got this all wrong. Jesus had a sense of theatre - that's why he had the angels come down and roll away the stone from his tomb. It's like a magician's "TA DA!"

RJ said...

"Ta-da!" LOL!!!

centuri0n said...

It's an open invitation, so take your time. Thanks for the thick skin.

As for the euthanistic prayer warrior (praying to put you out of her misery), sorry 'bout that. Both sides have kooks, though I will admit my side's are more entertaining but maybe less actually-harmful.

Well, except for Simon. You guys have a real gem in Simon.

centuri0n said...

The word limit, btw, is to maintain focus. It's hard to ask a preposterous question in 150 words, and it's pretty hard to make a preposterous answer in 500 words -- which is why the last contestant at D-Blog needed so many more words to make his point.

And you're right: it's a lot more like a mutual interview than it is like an actual debate. What I have tried to do in that blog is create the "cross" without all the mind-boggling hoppla that happens in most debates up to the cross.

The topic of the miraculous seems like a great topic for D-Blog. I hope your holiday brings you back in the right state of mind to say "yes" and ask some serious questions about what Christian theology (particularly reformed theology) says about miracles and the action of God in this time-space place.

Daniel said...

Jeremy,

A faith in evolution or any other scientific theory is no different than the faith that I have in my god.

This has already been well-addressed. I would simply add that with the presuppositions of science, we assume that we will not encounter some "magic" or otherwise unknowable event. By the definition of "miracle", then, we may as well throw our hands in the air. The point/philosophy of science is that we can know and understand the universe. If magic / miracles come in, not only are we rendered blind, but dumb and deaf as well. We cannot understand, or hope to, nor explain even that which we cannot understand. It is like a giant hole, or abyss, into which nothing can be perceived but darkness. How deep does it go?

How deep? Do you believe that magic is necessary to hold atoms together, or do the strong and weak nuclear forces suffice? Was Einstein right about the constancy of light, or are there magic ways to speed it up? How deep? How much of our beautiful and sane universe do we surrender to the darkness of ignorance? Are there goblins? Ghosts? Demons? In the room with you now? Floating all around? Leprechauns?

This sounds sarcastic, but I am trying to emphasize a point--ignorance knows no bounds. If we surrender our minds to "goddidit" we may as well go back to cave painting, because we will have no systematic way to apply the "give up" phrase. When do you know where to draw the line on what God is doing "magically"? And if everything, then we lose autonomy in every meaningful way, our bodies and souls are but part of this magical, cartoon universe, and the insanity of a boundless ignorance engulfs us.

DBULL said...

It was mentioned that I "hide behind my faith" and am contributing nothing meaningful here, but I would contend that I'm not hiding behind anything. I've already disclosed that I'm a disciple of Jesus, and as a disciple I attempt to represent the kingdom that I belong to in accordance with the guidance and laws of the King of that Kingdom, which is Jesus Christ. My King said we (believers) operate by faith, so as His disciple should I offer something else to you (fact)? Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned. For me to argue back and forth about so called facts or lack of facts with a person or people who cannot see with the sight that only the Holy Spirit gives, would be like me shouting to Stevie Wonder "Why can't you see what color my shirt is?" Someone also mentioned the fact that God did show Himself to mankind openly when Jesus came to this earth. What I find enlightening about this is that Jesus raised the dead, turned water into wine, fed thousands with a couple fish/loaves of bread, and He did this before their very eyes, AND THEY STILL DID'NT BELIEVE. If my Lord raised the dead in front of men's eyes and they still did'nt believe, and men like this still fill this planet, what argument could a man like me possibly offer to chage the minds of those men? So, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind here, rather I am attempting to clarify the position of how a man may approach God and verify His existence in this life: through faith. I already know this answer will not suffice for you. The arguments I've seen are quite intricate and display great worldly wisdom, which is precisely why they cannot detect or enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said that a man has to be like a little child, and have faith like a little child to enter this kingdom. I can hear the mockery and contempt already. Once again, my Lord's wisdom trumps the world's wisdom. Simple faith opens the doorway to heaven, but there's nothing simple, and no faith to work with in this discussion, right? I would be a liar if I said I had nothing to base my faith on, I have 37 years of experience watching love and faithfulness follow me everywhere I've been, but I can't "prove" a lick of it. As for the arguments of what God can or cannot do,I'll quote another brother:

"The atheist distorts the biblical definition of omnipotence in order to "prove" that God cannot exist. Contrary to their claims, omnipotence does not include the ability to do things that are, by definition, impossible. Neither does omnipotence include the ability to fail. By defining omnipotence as requiring one to have the ability to fail, atheists have defined omnipotence as being impossible. Of course, an omnipotent God would never fail, and this argument falls apart as illogical itself."

I think it's fair to say that nobody who visits your site will ever be able to prove the existence of God, but nobody will be able to prove He does'nt exist either. This leaves men with the choice to either 1. chase their own tails with arguments that will never amount to proof either way.
or
2. Give up trying to prove anything either way.
or
3. Choose the simple faith that saves men, because debate never saved a single soul.

I applaud you because I think you are reasonable men. I pray that the Lord will open the eyes of your heart so that you may see things as He sees them.
Cheers brothers~D

DagoodS said...

DBULL, Perhaps I was not clear in my first response.

You claim that your belief is based upon faith, but look at all the facts you allege in your post:

“My King said…”
“Jesus raised dead…”
“turned water into wine…”
“fed thousands…”
“did this before their very eyes…”
”they still didn’t believe…”

“Jesus said…”

Every one of these are fact claims. It is these—the basis of your faith—that we question. DID Jesus say? DID Jesus raise the dead? DID many not believe?

Or are you saying that you have faith in these claims, and even they have no proof? That is the basis of faith, remember.

What do you do about Paul, by the way? There was an individual that was more intimately acquainted with the events of First Century Palestine than any of us could ever hope to be. Yet he did not believe by “simple faith.” Quite the opposite. The only thing that made him believe was a cold, hard fact—a vision from Jesus. It took God himself to appear to Paul to get him to believe. Paul even talks about doing miracles in order that the Gentiles might believe. Rom. 15:19. Again, a cold, hard fact.

I would take your faith claim more seriously (and all the contributors to this blog are intimately familiar with living by faith—we did it for decades, too) if you didn’t keep throwing out facts as the basis of your belief. It is only when I want to examine those facts that, as another poster pointed out; you “retreat” to your faith.

Anonymous said...

What is so scary about those who operate by "faith" alone is their ability to turn so vicious when the faith is threatened. True logic doesn't turn vicious, it simply self corrects. If a previosly "logical" argument fails a later and improved test, it is discarded. But, faith never allows you to discard a failed hypthesis of truth. So, that becomes the problem, how to rescue a failed hypthesis?

Anonymous said...

DagoodS, it seems your post deals with quite a lot of issues related to "miracles": what do the Christians say a "miracle" is, should there be an explicit reason for a miracle occuring, some of the listed "miracles" in the Bible seem impossible given someone's calculations (by the way, where did you find that information? I can't find it on the web.)

I'd like to only focus on one issue for the moment: the definition of miracles.

You mentioned a few times that you searched out a definition of miracles from Christian sources which seemed to "disagree". Just because people disagree on a definition doesn't debunk the occurence of miracles.

My question is, if they disagree, do you have a definition of "miracle" to propose? After establishing a defintion, it may be easier to discuss whether a miracle can occur in the first place.
Thanks, -HR

Simon said...

Centurion, you believe in magic spells and you call me a kook...?

DBULL said...

Dagoods said:

You claim that your belief is based upon faith, but look at all the facts you allege in your post:

“My King said…”
“Jesus raised dead…”
“turned water into wine…”
“fed thousands…”
“did this before their very eyes…”
”they still didn’t believe…”

“Jesus said…”

Every one of these are fact claims.

Perhaps what I have'nt made clear is that these "fact" claims, require "faith" in order for them to substantiate as "fact". I have faith, and believe that they are facts, you do not have faith and claim they are not facts There is a 100% correlation between having faith and believing the fact, and not having faith and not believing the fact (in our discussion). Therefore the entire discussion hinges on faith or lack of it, which is why I go back to it as the starting and ending point of any discussion of the Creator. For a disciple of Jesus to attempt to represent the kingdom from any other stand besides one of faith is foolish. Faith comes before fact, once faith is established, we could talk about a great number of facts, but as things stand we cannot. I claim Jesus was the Son of God, and I do so by faith. I claim he is the Son of God as a fact, but can only believe this with faith. The same goes for everything else we could discuss regarding Christianity. Faith comes before fact. By faith I belive the Lord created mankind, without faith people believe that things like the human body developed from some single celled blob in the ocean. Considering the incredible complexity of the human body and the statistical probabilities against such things happening, which takes more faith brother? It all comes down to faith, which I do not hide behind, but stand on as a foundation. If anyone is hiding, it's my Lord, so that men cannot find Him unless they do so in accordance with His will, through faith.
~Cheers
BrotherD

paul said...

dbull,

Because one does not espouse your particular faith in God that does not mean they are automatically an evolutionist, which you seem to imply. There are other alternatives, for instance, "I don't know."

You state: "...these fact claims require faith in order to substantiate them as fact."
It seems to me that therein lies a problem. As I read it (in the bible), "faith" would be the substance in substantiate in the absence of what would be considered a "fact." So it seems that faith replaces fact, it does not subtantiate anything, rather it is a substance that enables one to believe in things not seen as facts.

So, why do you have faith? Where did it come from and how do you know where it came from?

DBULL said...

So, why do you have faith? Because I have heard the message through the Word of Christ and believed it.

Where did it come from?

Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

and how do you know where it came from? The Word of God tells me where it came from, belief in the message of the Word of Christ. Since the Word of God is literally Christ, it came from Jesus.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

My faith is based on believing what is written in the Word of God. To attempt to explain the mechanics of "how" a man has faith beyond what is written in the bible becomes speculative.

Each believer has a testimony. Our testimony encapsulates why each of us believes. In the end, proof seekers have a million and one "yea but's" in their arsenal to throw a believers testimony out the window so where does that leave us? How can we explain that Jesus performed His miracles in the sight of many, yet some believed in Him as the Son of God and some did not, when they all witnessed the same events? This is what impacts me so greatly, the idea that Jesus could raise a dead man before people's eyes and they still did'nt believe in Him. If that was'nt proof enough for men, what would be?

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[c] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

They won't be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!!!!!
Why? They refuse to listen.

paul said...

dbull,

I already know the standard reply. Most of the people here have pretty heavy backgrounds in bible, and have even quoted the same scriptures, which might give you pause...at least. That seems like a simple reaction to me rather than a considered response. From what you have said, you believe: in miracles because the bible tells you so, you believe in Jesus, because the bible tells you to. That's certainly your prerogative, I once believed that way to. I decided at one point that I could not reasonably say I knew those things to be true. It would seem you've relegated me, (us?) to the ranks of those who "refuse to listen," (though you say 'they,' your point is made). If we would but "listen," we would all believe as you...it's so simple.

centuri0n said...

Simon: I call you a kook because you think Christians believe in "magic spells". And because you are funny -- you make me laugh. You kook.

centuri0n said...

I also wanted to check in with DagoodS to see if he's up for some D-blog activity.

Just checking. it's the busy time of year where I work, so there's no time pressure, but I also don't want to leave the impression that I have lost interest.

Joseph said...

DaGoods; that's a great post and your rebuttals to comments are very well thought out. I agree that theists contend one must ignore reason and facts in favor of faith. At the same time, they cite bible passages, presented as fact, in order to make an argument. CSLewis tried to use logic in his apology. So it appears that facts and logic are OK only on one side of the debate.

Thursday said...

It's the reason-pushers, man! With their "gateway" facts:

"Go ahead, try one... Just a little fact, it won't hurt none. C'mon, the first one's free, how's about that?"

The question is: who's pushing who? Slip the possibility of natural occurence into the miracles so the Believers will start to question, or suggest the miraculous happening naturally so the Atheists will consider the mundane miraculous...?

It's the crystal meth of the masses!