The Problem of Miracles
By John W. Loftus at 2/14/2011
I can think of at least seven problems with believing in the biblical claims of miracles.1) We live in a scientific era whereas the claims of biblical miracles come from a prescientific era. New Testament scholar Rudolph Bultmann just calls them “myths” and says:
“The cosmology of the N.T. is essentially mythical in character.
The world is viewed as a three-storied structure, with the earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beings—angels. The underworld is hell, the place of torment. Man is not in control of his life. Evil spirits may take possession of him. Satan may inspire him with evil thoughts.
It is simply the cosmology of a pre-scientific age. To modern man . . . the mythical view of the world is obsolete. It is no longer possible for anyone seriously to hold the N.T. view of the world. We no longer believe in the three-storied universe.
No one who is old enough to think for himself supposes that God lives in a local heaven. There is no longer any heaven in the traditional sense. The same applies to hell in the sense of a mythical underworld beneath our feet. And if this is so . . . we can no longer look for the return of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven.
It is impossible to use the electric light and the wireless and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in the N.T. world of spirits and miracles. The same objections apply to the doctrine of the atonement. How can the guilt of one man be expiated by the death of another who is sinless?” [R. Bultmann, in Kerygma & Myth: A Theological Debate, ed. Hans Werner Bartsch (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), pp. 1–7.]
My claim is that in our world miracles like a virgin birth, resurrection, and an ascension into the sky do not happen. What world are YOU living in? If miracles do not happen in our day then they never happened in first century Palestine either. And that's the end of it.
Jason Pratt made fun of me by saying this is a "category error":
Remember folks, if televisions and electric light switches didn't happen in first century Palestine, they couldn't happen in our day either. And that's the end of it.
But it's a category mistake to equate ordinary events with extraordinary ones. It's a category mistake to equate ontology (i.e., what actually happened) with epistemology (i.e., what we have reason to believe). And it's a category mistake to equate the results of science with the results of god-explanations which, to date so far, have always been wrong so the theist must continually move the goals posts as science solves the gaps of the past and uncovers new ones. 2) To believe that a miraculous event took place demands a near impossible double burden of proof.
What believers must show is that an event is not possible without a supernatural explanation (or at the very least very very very improbable). However, once they do that they must turn right around and claim such an impossible event probably took place anyway. On the one hand they must show said event is improbable, and on the other hand argue said event probably happened!!! Whatever they place in one hand they take away with the other hand. 3) Time itself is a problem. We are separated by 2000-3000 years from the biblical claims of miracles.
We cannot go back in time and interview eyewitnesses. To see this read about Lessing's Broad Ugly Ditch. I admit miracles might have happened in the past. But my claim is that even if they did there is no reason to think they did from a historian's perspective, which is the only one we have to know what happened in the past. In that sense if the historian does not see miracles in today's world then he cannot interpret the raw uninterrupted data of the past any other way but from his present perspective. 4) If believers provide a natural explanation for an event it is no longer miraculous, whereas if they don’t do this it’s very difficult to accept such an extraordinary claim. Once someone describes how it's naturally possible for there to be a virgin birth (if that could be done) at that point there is no longer a miracle. And if they cannot explain how it might have taken place it's simply unbelievable.5) Even if we agree with the Jews of Jesus' day that Yahweh exists and he does miracles this still does very little if anything to lead us in today's world to think Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead. Because a completely overwhelming number of Jews in Jesus' day did not think Yahweh did this particular miracle in this particular case. If they were there, and if they knew their Scriptures, and if they believed in Yahweh, and if they believed in miracles, but they didn't believe God raised Jesus from the dead THEN WHY SHOULD I believe? WHY SHOULD WE? 6) There is the intractable problem of how a God that is an immaterial spirit can actually interact with matter, unless they share something that allows him to act in the material world. If not, he can't act in our world. If so, then God must be at least partially a material being.7) Biblical miraculous claims can almost never be proof of the existence of God, for in order to accept such claim by a writer in the pre-scientific past, and having the double burden of proof mentioned above, a person must already believe in a miracle working God who works these kinds of miracles.
But where do we get those particular god beliefs--or Bayesian "priors"--from in the first place? We get those "priors" from our respective cultures. But that's not how we should justify why we believe. For each different culture provides its own different god "priors." We must defend our "priors" apart from how we we raised in our respective cultures. This is the adult way to examine our religion once we grow up and want to see whether we were taught correctly by our parents and significant others. My claim is that this cannot be done. And taking the Outsider Test for Faith is the best and only way to see this.
The Problem of Miracles
Published on Defaithed (http://www.defaithed.com/)
John 3:16: The expanded version
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16. It's one of the most widely-quoted Bible verses.
It's been called "the Gospel in a nutshell", for its succinct summary of the New Testament's "message".
A verse as vital and revered as John 3:16 deserves proper examination in the light of the rest of Holy Scripture. Let's place it into the wider context of the entire Bible:
"For God so loved the world, that he...
Decreed sickness, painful childbirth, and death for all descendants of Adam and Eve;
Drowned every man, woman, and innocent child on Earth, save a handful;
Had countless animals blood let and killed for atonement of sins, loves the smell of burning flesh;
Slaughtered every man, woman, and innocent child in Sodom and Gomorrah;
Murdered countless babies in Egypt to impress a Pharaoh;
Explicitly allowed and even commanded slavery, the beating and murder of slaves, and the rape of slaves;
Ordered the execution of homosexuals, disobedient children, stubborn sons, blasphemers, non-believers, "witches", adulterers, complainers, anyone ignoring a priest or judge, anyone working on the Sabbath, anyone touching Mt Sinai, any woman whose father cannot produce bloody sheets as proof of marriage-night virginity, and any betrothed virgin who is raped but doesn't protest loudly enough;
Repeatedly commanded his people to capture and rape women after battles;
Established a law requiring that rape victims marry their rapists;
Killed 24,000 Israelites by plague, stopping only when Phineas's pleased God by murdering an interracial couple;
Commanded the Israelites to slay all Midianites, including women and innocent children – except for 32,000 virgins, who were to be saved for raping;
Commanded the Levites to attack each other, resulting in the deaths of 3000;
Allowed Lot to give up his daughters to a mob of rapists;
Caleb to give away his daughter as a battle prize; and a concubine owner to give his concubine to a mob of rapists (after which she dies and is dismembered);
Allowed His various champions to rip the flesh off captives; kill 69 brothers "upon one stone"; bring down a building on 3000 men and women; massacre inhabitants of cities with saws and axes; and throw 10,000 captives off a cliff;
Commanded Joshua to kill all peoples of all lands he visited, including women and innocent children, as well as kill all livestock and burn all cities;
Ordered that all Samaritans be killed by the sword, with infants dashed to pieces and pregnant women ripped apart;
Commanded and aided massacres of men, women, children, and infants among the Caananites, Bethelites, Moabites, Philistines, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, Amelekites, Midianites, Succothites, Sihonites, Benjamites, Ammorites, Syrians, Assyrians, Edomites, Heshbonites, the city of Nob, the city of Ninevah, the town of Laish, the house of Jeroboam, the house of Baal, the house of Baasha, foreigners in Samaria, Hagarites, Hazorites, Jebusites, Ethiopians, Babylonians, and Israelites;
Directly murdered people Himself for reasons including masturbation; refusal to strike a prophet; believing a lying prophet; looking into the ark; attempting to save the ark from a fall; and "offering strange fire";
Murdered the wives, sons, and small children of men who argued with Moses, along with 250 bystanders;
Sent bears to slaughter 42 children who laughed at a priest's bald head;
Killed Job's children, slaves, and animals as part of a game;
Repeatedly punished children for sins of parents or even earlier generations;
Vowed to use lies and stumbling blocks to lure people into unrighteousness, then damn them eternally for it;
Inflicted various peoples with curses including pestilence, leprosy, fever, mildew, hemorrhoids, locusts, itching, blindness, dead livestock, slavery, madness, worms, burning, thirst, baldness, miscarriages, famine, hail, and fruitless olive trees;
Delivered a plague that caused women to boil and eat their children;
Welcomed human sacrifice, including Jephthah's burning of his innocent daughter; the Moab king's burning of his son; Josiah's offerings of burnt priests; and Abraham's willingness to slit a child's throat."
Yet let's not neglect the key message concerning Jesus in John 3:16. God showed us His Love in one more way:
"For God so loved the world, that he...
... gave his only begotten Son – to preach death, damnation, and eternal torment for disbelievers; to criticize Jews for not executing disobedient children; to defend Old Testament atrocities like slavery, massacres, and bloody thirsty laws; and to doom thousands of valuable pigs in a botched exorcism."
Why anyone in their right-mind would pretend to worship such a being is beyond me!
Special thanks to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible for aid in this post.
Source URL: http://www.defaithed.com/blog/defaithed/
We were all primararly raised by our mothers, whom where nothing more than cowards, she cowarded down to our fathers and she also coward down to the Jesus icon, whom was also nothing more than a coward himself.
Rather than bravely face down your enemies, you love them to death, turn the other cheek, do unto others, nothing more than cowardice bullshit.
Our mothers basically taught us all how to be cowards, backed by the teachings of the buybull.
"Whoever shall believe in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16 is the persuasive verse for calling in a free rein of so many mindless Christian converts! John 3:16 was a statement from John, not from Jesus, John's statement is not theology that Jesus supposedly taught.
It says, just believe in Jesus, no requirements just believe, never mind the lies, absurdities and the atrocities and the rest of the mindless nonsense and murdering filth written in the Bible.
John 3:16 Suggests to people to just believe, without question, nor to examine the veracity of the Bible. To just believe, leaves the door open for all kinds of religious charlatans, many different denominations, frauds, crooks, snake oil salesmen, false preachers, false prophets, false popes, bishops, false priests, etc. to just believe, means you can do no wrong as long as you just believe!!
Never mind that the Bible god drowned millions of innocent people and animals to cleanse the earth of all wickedness and evil and it failed.
Never mind that Lots wife was turned into a pillar of salt just because she turned around and looked back, while it was perfectly alright that Lot's two girls got him drunk to have sex with him.
Never mind that god came back looking for Moses to kill him and his wife cut off his son's foreskin and threw it towards god and he changed his mind about killing Moses.
Never mind that god spent all that time trying to change Pharaoh's heart when he would not even try to prevent Hitler from killing over six million of his favorite people.
Never mind that he had to have his own son murdered for him to save people from their sins.
Never mind that god calls men to preach his words to beg for money, but yet the Bible god will not save a single little girl or boy or children from getting molested or shot in the head or from starving to death or horrendous diseases.
The Christians say, I just believe, that's all they need to do is just believe, they never have to question their pastor, the Bible, nor never have to read another word of the Bible, with no qualifications needed, they don't even need the education to nor eye sight to read, the only requirement is to just believe to be a Christian.
The Christian says, all I know it's the word of god, because grandpa said it was, or grandma said it was, or uncle Joe said it was true or aunt so and so said it was true,
I blindly believe, because my neighbor believes!
I believe because Billy Graham believes!
I believe because George Bush believes!
I believe because Jim Bakker believes!
I believe because Benny Hinn believes!
If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me!
A christian can lie, cheat, steal, molest children, or murder and many of them have done just that, and Jesus will forgive them, but if you don't "believe in him" you will go to hell!
The Bible doesn't have to make sense to them, it doesn't matter to them what nonsense is in the Bible nor how or when it was written, all they have to do is sit back and believe.
The majority of people converted to Christianity from peer pressure and the threat of hell. No one had enough courage to stand up and say, Wait a minute! I want to be absolutely sure and investigate that the Bible is true before I join this church! And I want to know exactly how and when it was written, and by whom? Most people joined just in case it all happens to be true and out of mindless fear!
To this day, there's absolutely no evidence for the Bible being true.