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Are Miracles Valid Evidence Of God?


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In the Bible Jesus states that "false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible." While Jesus is throwing stones in a glass house, he is absolutely right. A miracle manifests as an unexplained event (e.g. a decaying corpse reconstituting itself and coming back to life, or a man walking on water, or the parting of an ocean). But it's a non-sequitur to regard that unexplained event as being caused by God. it could very well be caused by Satan, or an advanced alien species, or any number of mythical beings. In fact, there's not really anything useful you can say about it at all, except to say that it's unexplained. A miracle-worker that demanded worship would simply be bamboozling his audience into the belief that he was a god, without offering up any real evidence.

There are some pretty impressive miracles in the Bible. My favorite ones are the one in John 14:12 that say that Christians will be able to do the same miracles Jesus did, and Mark 16:17-18 which lists specific miracles Christians are able to do, including drinking deadly poison without hurting themselves and being able to speak foreign languages. These would indeed be impressive miracles, if they were true, but standing here right now I would have to say that any god-man that worked miracles in an attempt to convince us of that fact would be either stupid or dishonest, and in either case would disqualify himself as a valid representation of a god.

Thoughts?

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In the Bible Jesus states that "false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible." While Jesus is throwing stones in a glass house, he is absolutely right. A miracle manifests as an unexplained event (e.g. a decaying corpse reconstituting itself and coming back to life, or a man walking on water, or the parting of an ocean). But it's a non-sequitur to regard that unexplained event as being caused by God. it could very well be caused by Satan, or an advanced alien species, or any number of mythical beings. In fact, there's not really anything useful you can say about it at all, except to say that it's unexplained. A miracle-worker that demanded worship would simply be bamboozling his audience into the belief that he was a god, without offering up any real evidence.

There are some pretty impressive miracles in the Bible. My favorite ones are the one in John 14:12 that say that Christians will be able to do the same miracles Jesus did, and Mark 16:17-18 which lists specific miracles Christians are able to do, including drinking deadly poison without hurting themselves and being able to speak foreign languages. These would indeed be impressive miracles, if they were true, but standing here right now I would have to say that any god-man that worked miracles in an attempt to convince us of that fact would be either stupid or dishonest, and in either case would disqualify himself as a valid representation of a god.

Thoughts?

 

 

There really isn't any evidence of God unless you consider writings to be evidence. I don't really consider an old book to be evidence. Maybe more like a story. Since we are unable to corroborate any of these miracles with something that exists today I'd say these miracles are bogus. Regarding drinking poison, I don't really see the usefulness. Speaking in a foreign language might be useful. :) Someone more cynical than me remarked once that while yes, Jesus, we are told resurrected Lazarus, Lazarus died again later on . Not much of a miracle. :) But none of this stuff can be proven now. It is just writing in a book. A recurring theme in Christianity is that we have to look back 2000 years to see what Jesus supposedly has done. Even further for OT events. What's been going on in the world of Christian miracles since Jesus' death? Nothing. At least nothing that the great mass of Christians would find holy or miraculous enough to add to the bible about. Oh wait, the book of Mormon. Sorry, I almost forgot. But seriously, what miracles are happening today that are verified to be originating from god?

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Evidence of what "god?" Define "god." What that "god" should be like and so forth. Everyone just tosses out some magical nice thing. But why not a bunch of things? Of varying types? And maybe mean things? Or flat out indifferent? The universe is big. We are very small. So god(s) would treat us like insects? Is that nice? Mean? Indifferent? Depends on perspective. But we're more on the scale of atoms to the universe or even smaller. So what should we expect then? Anything personal becomes ridiculous. So any "attitude" towards us would be projection on our part. So we desire something nice. We project that "out" into the void and hope that if anything is truly there then that is what is returned. But it doesn't have to be so.

 

Once you're done inventing your own flavor of a god (or gods) then you can figure out if it does anything and what those things might look like. Maybe they'll throw a lightening bolt or they'll show up in your grilled cheese sandwich or maybe they're that feeling you got last Tuesday around 9:32 that came and went suddenly.

 

So now you've invented your god(s). And you've figured out its magical powers and how they're demonstrated amongst us mere mortals. So now we can finally answer the question of if these things, these miracles, are evidence of god? The answer is, without a doubt, yes. They have to be. By definition. Your god acts in these ways. If these things occur then it must be your god doing them. Other explanations may well be offered for these "miracles" but it is a given that your god does these things and when your god does them then they are miracles. Simple.

 

Take comfort in knowing that miracles are signs from god. You just need to work out which god and the like as I have explained.

 

mwc

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Good point. Even if you conceded the validity of miracles, the church still wants to control your interpretation of what those miracles mean - if they don't somehow affirm the rubber stamped, sealed and approved dogma of the church it's not from god.

 

"The Church" is not the assembly of believers. It's the organization that tries to control the narratives of belief. The assertion of miracles is just one target of their spin control machine.

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Miracles? Where?

 

True Believers will twist lucky coincidence and anything that is so far unexplained into their definition of "miracle." They seem to need validation that their belief system isn't just wishful thinking.

 

Get back to me when you find a True Christian who can literally or figuratively move mountains as promised in the manual. Find me an amputee who grew a new limb after prayer, not a tortilla with scorch marks that resemble what people imagine to look just like Jesus or Mother Mary.

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Miracles of biblical proportions still exist today. But god wants us to have faith, so they only take place in remote Indian villages and in Papau New Guinea. He's a real stickler on this faith thing you know. Thomas was just lucky he was in a good mood that day.

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I recently had a "paranormal" experience that I can't explain. The possible explanations are so many and my ability to narrow it down so poor that I simply conclude nothing, because I can't.

 

People can't stand the tension of sitting with uncertainty so they attach the inexplicable or unknown to god or whatever. I prefer not to explain things that there aren't clear explanations for. This experience will remain firmly on my back burner unless and until I have more data so that I can actually do something with it.

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People can't stand the tension of sitting with uncertainty so they attach the inexplicable or unknown to god or whatever.

I wonder if true "faith" is learning to do just that - learn to live with and live on in the awareness that uncertainty, ignorance, and impending death surround us at all times. We don't have to explain away the uncertainty by making up stories. We don't need to invent gods and call the dogma about these gods "knowledge." And we don't have to pretend that we can somehow conquer death by performing the right rituals and being "good" so the gods we invent won't annihilate us or torture us in some form of existence that lives on after we die.

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Miracles are by definition and in essence something we can't explain, so they can't be evidence for arbitrary explanations. If they explain something or prove something, then they're not really miracles.

 

Rain is a miracle, unless you know how the water cycle works...

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Miracles are by definition and in essence something we can't explain, so they can't be evidence for arbitrary explanations. If they explain something or prove something, then they're not really miracles.

 

Rain is a miracle, unless you know how the water cycle works...

Well we toss the words around pretty casually. Rain is "miraculous" but when we say that most of us most of the time just mean it's really cool, maybe exhilarating, or we're just grateful for it.

 

True miracles could be evidence for something. The New Testament claims that "signs and wonders" "followed" believers to "confirm" the truth of the message. If someone were claiming God's approval and demonstrated it by, say, causing a missing limb to instantly grow out of someone's body (preferably mine or that of someone I know well), it would tend to at least improve the credibility of their claims with me. But that's the thing, it has to be clear and unmistakable. It can't be a "rationalized" miracle to fill that office of providing creds. The dead must rise, the sea must part, that sort of thing. Miracles that always happen far away in distance or time or that could be readily explained naturalistically or that require rationalization or willful discounting of alternative explanations in order to be accepted, aren't miracles at all.

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A miracle to a Hindi is proof of Vishnu.

A miracle to a Muslim is proof of Allah.

A miracle to a Christian is proof of Jesus.

 

But a miracle to a Freethinker is a reminder that there are still things we don't understand.

 

Miracles, if they exist and can be called that, come without explanation. People attribute it to whatever God or supernatural being they believe in, but in reality it doesn't prove anything.

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I was taught in high school that the miracles written in the gospel of John were put in so that Jesus could compete with Pagan myths, so the Pagans could be impressed into converting. It was written late in the first century when Christianity was expanding but not yet accepted by the empire.

As for any possible miracles in modern times, I've been thinking about them recently, and I'm reminded of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (different Lazarus). It ends with "He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'" People are going to look at a "miracle" and compare it to what they already believe. If it agrees with them, it's a sign from God; if it doesn't, then it's a hoax, or Satan is at work. People with to much time on their hands, yet cannot take a moment to comb their crazy hair, will blame aliens.

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Miracles are by definition and in essence something we can't explain, so they can't be evidence for arbitrary explanations. If they explain something or prove something, then they're not really miracles.

 

Rain is a miracle, unless you know how the water cycle works...

Well we toss the words around pretty casually. Rain is "miraculous" but when we say that most of us most of the time just mean it's really cool, maybe exhilarating, or we're just grateful for it.

 

True miracles could be evidence for something. The New Testament claims that "signs and wonders" "followed" believers to "confirm" the truth of the message. If someone were claiming God's approval and demonstrated it by, say, causing a missing limb to instantly grow out of someone's body (preferably mine or that of someone I know well), it would tend to at least improve the credibility of their claims with me. But that's the thing, it has to be clear and unmistakable. It can't be a "rationalized" miracle to fill that office of providing creds. The dead must rise, the sea must part, that sort of thing. Miracles that always happen far away in distance or time or that could be readily explained naturalistically or that require rationalization or willful discounting of alternative explanations in order to be accepted, aren't miracles at all.

 

Early Christians distinguished the miracles in their tradition from non- Christian miracles by calling them semeia or dynameis rather than terata,l1 which carries with it from its pagan setting connotations of magic,11 the "miraculous,"t he mythical, and the "conceptual abstraction"o f Greek physis thought.12

...

Semeion emerges, then, as the term to designate early Christian miracles in a way that distinguishes them from non-Christian miracles. Both kinds would seem to be extraordinary,22 but the former, being worked by the Christian God or his agents and ordered and subordinated to the Word,23 are "signs," with none of the offensive pagan (or modern?24) connotations associated with the word "miracle."

...

By "miracle" Moule means "marvel" (235) or "wonder" (237), something that causes "mere surprise" (237). This "mere surprisingness or portentiousness" (237) is designated by terms such as thaumasion (235; 237) and paradoxon (237).30 Teras "may have meant, at first, a mythological and purely irrational' portent' (which was often a 'monstrosity')"( 236), "the unnatural and monstrous" (237).31 It is a "disconcertingly 'pagan"' word (235).

 

With "miracle" Moule contrasts "significant manifestations of power" (238),32 or "signs of God's power" (237), for which the Greek terms are dynamis and semeion respectively (235; 237). Although the phenomena thus designated are extraordinary,33 they are not viewed by the evangelists as "wonders," i.e., as causing "mere surprise." By implication, the extraordinary phenomena designated by other miracle terminology would not seem to manifest divine power; Moule's meaning, apparently, is that phenomena thus designated cause surprise because they are inexplicable but not necessarily because of inexplicable or awesome power associated with them.

...

For the distinction between semeion and teras and the use of the latter some examples from Origen are instructive. Commenting on John 4:54 (sPmeia) and comparing 4:48 (sPmeia kai terata), Origen defines terata as "incredible and wondrous manifestations of power where the incredible exceeds the ordinary and the marvelous comes about beyond human capacity."112S emeia, on the other hand, can denote both the ordinary, such as circumcision,113 and the extraordinary.114 But in scripture there is no teras that is not a semeion and symbolon of something else beyond the perceptible

(a typically Origenist view), and this is why the word terata does not occur by itself in scripture.115 On the other hand, a semeion that is not also a teras, i.e., extraordinary, cannot awaken faith.1l6 Origen thus distinguishes the two terms but concludes that semeion can designate the extraordinary and that in scripture teras points beyond itself, as a semeion does. For Origen the phrase "in scripture" (en tp graphP) would serve to distinguish terata in the Christian tradition from those outside it. The terminology itself would not seem to do so: Origen has no compunctions about using the word teras and, indeed, regards it as an honorable word which he found in his Bible and in the gospel on which he was commenting.

 

Cast in Aristotelian logic: every teras is a semeion, but not all semeia are terata. Formulated in terminology used earlier: the combination semeia kai terata is not a zeugma but a hendiadys which Origen found (and found significant) in the Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible.

...

Attention to two factors helps to clarify the issues. One is the general Greek usage of semeion, as indicated in the foregoing, namely, "identifying mark"o r "sign"and "extraordinary phenomenon."T he other is the social component in the demarcation of miracle, which calls for a hermeneutic that takes account of this element. Some recent Johannine studies are suggestive here.

...

The gospel provides an aetiology of the origin of the community and a legitimation of its continuing existence. The members of the community are those who perceive Jesus as the man who has come down from heaven and, in the cross and its aftermath, has reascended. The gospel annihilates other ways of viewing reality, and joining the community entails an intensive resocialization. "If one 'believes' what is said in this book, he is quite literally taken out of the ordinary world of social reality."129 The gospel is addressed to insiders130w ho perceive the true identity of Jesus, recognize each other as sharing in this belief, and possess the premises essential to understanding the allusions, enigmas, and double entendres of the gospel.

 

In this framework the semeia can be seen as one of these double entendres mystifying not only the characters in the narratives and the dialogues but modern students as well. On the one hand, semeion functions in the gospel in its common Greek sense of "extraordinary phenomenon."131 Jesus' semeia are extraordinary, as measured by the canons of the ordinary of that time and as assessed by characters in the gospel itself, including outsiders (3:2) and enemies (11:47). His semeia and his erga (a synonym of semeia) produce the amazed reaction (6:14; 7:21; 9:32) common in miracle stories. In this there is nothing that a pagan would have found particularly surprising. On the other hand, there is also a polemic in the gospel against just pedestrian understanding that is, misunderstanding-of the semeia. These are also to be understood as "identifying marks"-the basic meaning of semeion-of the man descended from heaven. The crowd asks for a semeion, a spectacular feat like the manna granted their fathers (6:30-31), but fails to perceive that the miraculous feeding of 6:1-14 is a semeion, a sign identifying Jesus as that bread from heaven132 -an identification that 6:35 makes explicit and, for the evangelist, ultimately renders the semeion itself superfluous.133N

 

Does Terminology Distinguish Early Christian from Pagan Miracles?

Author(s): Harold Remus

Source: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 101, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 531-551

"Miracles" are pretty much in the eye of the beholder. They could be rain or a regrown limb but it's up to interpretation. I didn't quote it above, since it was from pagan literature, but I may as well add it:

In a Plutarch passage regarding a genetic malformation, a mare's foaling of a creature half human and half horse[...] The reaction to this strange event is an effort to determine "whether it occurred fortuitously or is some kind of semeion and teras"[...]. Did the malformation occur "fortuitously" (allos),79 or was it some message from deity (ti semeion esti kai teras)? The dialogue contrasts the reaction of popular cultic diety-horror followed by expiation (149D)-with that of natural philosophy, represented here by Thales, who suggests a third, more natural explanation: the young men who take care of horses fathered the creature (149E).

A sign (rather monstrous in this case) or something more naturalistic? It's open to interpretation.

 

mwc

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Miracles of biblical proportions still exist today. But god wants us to have faith, so they only take place in remote Indian villages and in Papau New Guinea. He's a real stickler on this faith thing you know. Thomas was just lucky he was in a good mood that day.

I just lolled!

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God does have a strange way of revealing himself exclusively to people in remote parts of the world and to the mentally ill. I met a schitzophrenic man once who had messages from God for me every day. I was disappointed rather than speaking to me directly, God kept delivering me messages through a guy who was so loaded on antipsychosis meds, he couldn't control his bowels. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the messages. I just didn't care for the smell.

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