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120 Reasons to Reject Christianity

Lumpenproletariat

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How much of the historical record has to be flushed down the toilet in order to ensure that the gospel accounts are excluded as evidence?

How do we know the Jesus miracle acts never really happened in history? Because . . .

Because NO historical events ever happened. The entire historical record comes from sources we cannot trust. This is basically the reason for not believing the gospel accounts.

But we have similar multiple independent sources that corroborate the Jesus miracle events. Just because Luke and Matthew rely on Mark does not mean they are not independent sources. Josephus also relied on Philo for some of his facts, but this does not disqualify him as a separate independent source.

Yes, it does. If you have ever . . .

Whoops! Run that by me again. That doesn't disqualify Josephus as a separate independent source, does it?

Yes, it does. If you have ever played the game Chinese Whispers you will understand how this works. Please go and play the game now and report back on your findings. I guarantee your mind will be blown.

Note: Is not DrZoidberg here giving an argument which negates virtually ALL historical facts?

I.e.,

Josephus relied on Philo for some facts, and yet surely this does not disqualify Josephus as a legitimate source for history. ???

To which Zoid replies "Yes, it does."

So DrZoidberg here rejects Josephus as a source for history. And why? Because Josephus used another source for some facts, which disqualifies Josephus as a source for historical facts. Wouldn't this rule throw into doubt a huge amount of our historical record? Which historians did NOT rely on earlier sources?

And this reasoning is based on the Chinese Whispers game, which here means that if the information is received by one person and passed on to another, like Josephus took some information from Philo and sent it on in his own writing, the end result is that we get a distortion of what the original source said, thus making our later source unreliable, or not a separate independent source, thus casting doubt onto history transmitted from one source to another.

resuming the above post:

How do you know there's any such game as this? You probably misunderstood whoever told you about it. All facts of history are debunked, if you're right. Meaning you really don't know that this game ever existed.

According to your reasoning here, ALL communication is disproved, and no true information can ever be transmitted from one human to another. So you have to throw out ALL the history books and all history classes and everything we've ever relied on for information about past events. Including whatever you were told about this "Chinese Whispers" game. Or whatever you read about it or heard about it from anyone.


Please go and play the game now and report back on your findings.

. . . I can't even play the game, because my source about where to find the game being played is not reliable. . . . I can't rely on anything anyone tells me, if you're correct, including anything about this game.

You might have the wrong name for this game, because you might have misunderstood whoever told you the name of it, or they misunderstood whoever told them. So it's pointless to try to find this game or play it.


I guarantee your mind will be blown.

All knowledge of anything, or any communicating of any knowledge, is blown, if you're to be taken seriously.

Why is it that all arguments for not believing the gospel accounts and the Jesus miracle stories end up being an argument against believing any history at all? from any source?


Well, that's an adult way to deal with the failure of your evidence.

But the "failure of your evidence" means that Josephus is unreliable for historical events because he relied on Philo for some facts. The "Chinese Whispers" game not only rules out the Gospels, because they pass on something taken from earlier sources, but it rules out many historians and documents (maybe ALL). It rules out Josephus, according to DrZoidberg, about whose post I said,

"How do we know the Jesus miracle acts never really happened in history? Because . . . Because NO historical events ever happened. The entire historical record comes from sources we cannot trust. This is basically the reason for not believing the gospel accounts."

Or, to tone it down, if Josephus is tossed out simply because he made use of an earlier source, how many other historians have to also be tossed out?


If you don't like how history works, pretend that history doesn't work at all.

And "how history works" means Josephus cannot be used as a source, because he relied on Philo for some facts. And by extension then, ANY historian who relied on an earlier source cannot be used as a source for history. That's how the "Chinese Whispers" game works, according to Zoid, who says it rules out historians or sources who used any previous source.

So it's not just the Gospels which have to be tossed out as sources for history, but any documents written by someone who relied on an earlier source.


Have yourself a little tantrum and pretend you've got an argument-by-absurdity, rather than just a failure of your actual argument.

What "failure"? In the above post you're referencing, didn't Zoid say Josephus is unacceptable as a source for history?

Again:

Just because Luke and Matthew rely on Mark does not mean they are not independent sources. Josephus also relied on Philo for some of his facts, but this does not disqualify him as a separate independent source.

Zoid: Yes, it does [disqualify him as a separate independent source]. If you have ever played the game Chinese Whispers you will understand how this works.

Isn't Zoid saying here that Josephus is disqualified as a separate independent source?

Isn't it an "absurdity" to disqualify Josephus as a legitimate source for history? How many others must also be disqualified? Half or most of our sources for history? Isn't there something absurd about that?

Why shouldn't I throw a tantrum, if this is the reason given why the Gospel accounts are excluded as evidence? By this reason, shouldn't half or most of our sources for history be excluded?

Will you ever give a serious reason why the Gospel accounts must be excluded as "evidence" for what happened? If all you can do is just repeat this slogan, that they don't qualify as "evidence" because they relied on earlier sources, then you're not explaining how they are different than all the other documents which do qualify as "evidence."


Are you going to hold your breath, next, until your text turns blue?
Yes, and if I gasp and choke to death it will be YOUR fault, for not giving me a legitimate reason why the Gospel accounts have to be excluded as evidence. I'll keep whining and throwing a tantrum and making a fuss -- Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! -- until you finally give a real reason why these documents -- and ONLY these documents -- are disqualified as sources for what happened in the 1st century.

You're citing someone who said Josephus has to be disqualified as a legitimate source because he relied on an earlier source. Your reasoning ends up relying on the Chinese Whispers game fallacy which would rule out many or most of our standard sources for history.
 
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DBT

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Isn't it an "absurdity" to disqualify Josephus as a legitimate source for history?

Not disqualified as a legitimate source of history, just as an authority on the nature of Jesus;

Quote;
Many Christian apologists cite Josephus to attempt to argue that even the "pagan"/Jewish/etc. Josephus acknowledged Jesus as a savior/miracleworker/etc., and that one should therefore believe in Jesus' divinity. However, citing Josephus as a source on Jesus argument has numerous flaws. For some reason these facts almost always come as a surprise to Christians who cite him. It's almost as if they just look up quotes without any understanding of what constitutes valid sources for determining historical events. As a matter of fact, the only writings of Josephus with reference to Jesus had little to do with his alleged divinity. In those writings that do mention Jesus, Josephus seemed to treat him as a human philosopher with a sizable audience, like just about, every, other prophet responsible for the founding of a religion. Not being a Christian himself, which, at the time, was a mystical branch of Judaism, it would have been unlikely that Josephus would have even considered the actual Jesus of being divine.''


Is the Testimonium Flavianum authentic? There are several reasons to think not some of which have been pointed out since the 1600s:[4]

Scholarly consensus: Most scholars admit that at least some parts, if not all, of this paragraph cannot be authentic,[5][6] and some are convinced that the entire paragraph is an interpolation inserted by Christians at a later time.[7][8][9][10] Even Christian scholars consider the paragraph to be an overenthusiastic forgery,[11][12][13] and even the Catholic Encyclopedia concurs.[14] Finally, everyone who is saying some part of "Testimonium Flavianum" is genuine is ignoring examinations younger then 10 years old and in some cases using data from 50 years ago.[15]''
 

atrib

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But we have similar multiple independent sources that corroborate the Jesus miracle events. Just because Luke and Matthew rely on Mark does not mean they are not independent sources. Josephus also relied on Philo for some of his facts, but this does not disqualify him as a separate independent source.

Are you saying that these are independent eyewitness accounts of Jesus performing miracles...but of course not.

So what?!!!!

99% of the historical events we believe in (from before 1000 AD) are from

NON-eyewitness accounts.

These sources for our historical record are from NON-eyewitnesses.

How many times does this have to be repeated to you? These non-eyewitness accounts are our independent sources for most of the historical record. We believe them. YOU believe them, despite that they are NON-eyewitness accounts.

Hence they are not multiple independent accounts of the events being described.

Yes they are 4 (5) sources we have for the events. Independent just as surely as Josephus and many other historians are independent sources. Again, I-II Chronicles relies heavily on earlier documents, like I-II Kings etc., and yet it is a separate independent source for the events.

How many times do you have to be told this? There is nothing wrong with a source which quotes from an earlier source, or relies on the earlier source. That later source is still a separate independent source, and you can take into account that it relies on an earlier source, but that does not change the fact that it is a separate independent source. We rely on many such sources for our historical record.


These are various writers repeating things that they had heard or read.

OF COURSE, that's what ALL the ancient historians did. How else did they get their information if not by reading it or hearing it from somewhere?

There are a tiny few exceptions to this, like Thucydides and Caesar writing about the wars they experienced. But even they also relied on much which they did not witness directly, hearing or reading of it from others.

The vast majority of our historical record comes from sources who had no direct contact with the events but relied on what they read or heard from others.
The vast majority of our historical record [from 1000+ years ago] comes from sources who had no direct contact with the events but relied on what they read or heard from others.

The vast majority of our historical record isn't attempting to establish the events in question as direct proof of divine intervention.

Yes it is, or is attempting something similar, propagandizing in one way or another, including to prove divine intervention, or divine origin or superiority of this or that race or nation or dynasty, or divine favor, or to promote the author's personal status, or the status of a chosen hero, to promote a political or philosophical or religious agenda, etc.

The motivation of the writers -- what they're "attempting to establish" in their accounts -- does not nullify the credibility of the reported events. Much of it is propaganda that is biased politically and religiously, and yet it's what we depend on for the historical events.

Telling the unembellished factual truth was seldom the main purpose of most of the writings. If you can name one or two who had such an untarnished motive, they are the rare exception.

We can still believe the accounts, separating the fact from the propaganda, using all the writings as reliable sources for the events. There are no accounts which can be rejected simply because of ulterior/dishonest motives mixed in with the honest ones. The Gospel accounts cannot be singled out as the only ones to be rejected, of all the millions of documents, due to tainted motivation of the writers.


Are our accounts of, say, Sargon of Akkad second-hand? Sure. But historians generally aren't trying to back up the claim that Sargon was the offspring of a supreme being.

Whatever they're backing up or not backing up, there's nothing about the motivation of the writers which undermines the credibility of the reported events, except that normal skepticism is appropriate to ALL the writings, and the bias factor has to be considered.

That miracle events are reported does not automatically render the document unhistorical. What it means is that extra sources are needed, near the time in question and not dated centuries later than the reported events. This standard is higher than for normal events, which require less corroboration.


It is quite a leap from "historical figure existed" to "historical figure existed, and is therefore a god."

But that's not the "leap" here. If there's a leap, it's "historical figure did miracle (superhuman) acts" and therefore "had some kind of superhuman power source." The "historical figure" didn't just exist, but reportedly did those acts, and if there are multiple sources saying this, then there's credible evidence in this case which virtually always is lacking with miracle claims.

Even if the writers believed the historical figure was "a god" and presented the "events in question as direct proof of divine intervention," you don't know if they present those events in order to prove the "divine intervention" or if they claim the "divine intervention" because they believe those events really happened. If the latter, it's a legitimate report of what they believed was historical fact, regardless of their interpretation of it.

The credibility is not undermined unless the writers invented the miracle events in order to promote their "divine intervention" belief. But what's more likely is that they believed the events really happened, so they reported them legitimately, as historical, even if their interpretation of it as "divine intervention" is dubious, and even if they're mistaken because the events did not really happen.

We don't know if the writers are mistaken, because it's not known for sure if the events happened; but if the writers of the documents believed the events happened, then it's evidence that the events happened. (No? their belief that it happened is NOT evidence? -- Well then there's no evidence for ANY of the history, i.e., virtually NO EVIDENCE for any of the ancient history events -- which is your best bet for proving that the Gospels are unreliable as evidence for those events. I.e., just be done with ALL the historical events, by throwing out ALL the evidence from the documents (because the writers were biased, or their belief that something happened is not evidence that it happened.))

I can't believe you are still going with this line of bullshit.

1. Just because someone believes something, doesn't mean their belief is true, or that their belief should be considered as evidence to support their belief. If I believe I can fly from LAX to JFK simply by flapping my arms, it doesn't qualify as evidence that I can fly from LAX to JFK just by flapping my arms. You wouldn't believe that I could fly from LAX to JFK by flapping my arms even if you believed that I believed the story myself.

2. Just because someone wrote a story, doesn't mean its true, even if several other people copied the story and regurgitated it as their own. If I were to post a message on Facebook claiming I flew from LAX to JFK by flapping my arms, and 20 people either quoted my post or posted an unattributed claim similar to mine, it wouldn't imply I flew from LAX to JFK by flapping my arms, or that the story has any credible basis. You would not believe that I had flown from LAX to JFK by flapping my arms even if you read a hundred posts on Facebook repeating my claim.

3. Dead people don't rise up from the grave and fly off into space under their own power. People don't walk on water. People don't get healed of cancer just because someone prayed for them or touched their forehead. The Bible is full of extraordinary claims, claims that defy the laws of our universe. You would not believe these claims if you had not indoctrinated yourself into believing the Christian mindset, just as you don't believe that Brahma created the universe or that Hanuman was a flying monkey god. Or that I could fly from California to New York by flapping my arms.

4. Historians do not routinely consider supernatural claims to be credible, as you keep implying, just because someone wrote a story about it and a few people regurgitated the story later. In fact, I am not aware of historians considering ANY supernatural claims to be credible. None. Do you?

5. There is a substantial difference between the credibility of sources that describe natural historical events, and those that describe supernatural events. There are very good reasons to believe that Julius Caesar invaded Gaul, an act that did not require the laws of the universe to be broken, based on various historical records. There is no good reason that an adult, literate, presumably educated and sane human being should compare the stories of Caesar's invasion of Gaul to stories of dead people turning into zombies and flying off into space. And state that the stories are comparable and equally credible. None. So why do you keep repeating this untruth?

I know that you have been told all of this before, and that you will ignore everything in this post, and continue to pretend that your arguments make sense. Religion can severely fuck up people's minds, and with every post of these forums you keep reinforcing this fact. Keep going friend. :)
 

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1 rep lumpen , Enormous effort and research in your walls of text :)

So does that include the part where Lumpy detaches Jesus' association from the Lord, Father, Yahweh? What effort and research has he done to support that within those walls of BS? I haven't noticed any....
 

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Ive taken lots of notes ,which is quite useful. I think this is Lumpys calling. (for people like me especially, hence name)
 

Keith&Co.

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Ive taken lots of notes ,which is quite useful. I think this is Lumpys calling. (for people like me especially, hence name)
Then it would be better for you if he hit the high points here and provided you with links.

Hard to imagine this is a "calling." God can't be overly impressed by the wall of text approach, nor the effort to limit the actual gospels to healing miracles.
 

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Ive taken lots of notes ,which is quite useful. I think this is Lumpys calling. (for people like me especially, hence name)

Shouldn't learning be impartial and objective? If you only consider one side of an argument and only information relating to that side and that point of view/belief it is no longer a matter of learning, instead, it becomes confirmation bias.
 

funinspace

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Ive taken lots of notes ,which is quite useful. I think this is Lumpys calling. (for people like me especially, hence name)

Obviously you are free to spend the hours to read Lumpy's half baked shit if you like. But he is factually flat out wrong far far more than he ever hits it right; and that is regarding history and Biblical facts. Never mind that he essentially argues from a strange deist POV. If you are going to spend that much time taking notes/reading, I'd recommend a good Christian book on Christian history. Something like this is a pretty readable book and well done. Roughly the first third of the book covers the Jesus times to the Bible formation. The rest goes into later history. Paul Johnson is something of a light RC.

https://www.amazon.com/History-Christianity-Paul-Johnson/dp/0684815036
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Some miracle claims (e.g., the Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels) are more credible than others.

How much extra evidence is necessary? How do we know when a miracle claim becomes credible?

That actually is an interesting question. But it's a hypothetical question.

I should have worded it: "How does one decide when a miracle claim becomes credible?" The answer is not the same for everyone. As the evidence for a claim increases, the claim becomes more credible, but there's no agreed threshold volume of evidence at which point it becomes credible for everyone. Each person has a different standard for how much evidence is required -- for all claims, not just for miracle claims.

There is evidence for the Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels. One could reason that this evidence is not enough, depending on how high your standard is, but it makes no sense to deny that this evidence exists. There is more evidence for the miracles of Jesus than there is for a vast amount of beliefs people have about unusual events. Also more than for much of our normal historical facts, some of which are based on limited evidence, like only one source, compared to 4 (5) sources for the miracle acts of Jesus.


Because no one's ever produced enough evidence for professional historians to consider a miracle to be an historical event.

Which "professional historians"? There are many events considered "historical" by this or that professional historian which were "miracle" events, or at least believed by someone to be miracle events.

So, probably someone has produced enough, depending on which "professional historians" you arbitrarily choose to make the ruling. There's very little that 100% of them would rule the same way on. You can pack the supreme court of "professional historians" with whoever will rule the way you want.

We need "professional historians," but not as a College of Cardinals to issue rulings about miracle claims. Their realistic function is to supply us with millions (billions) of historical facts, accessible to us, which we can use to directly address the large questions and find the truth -- i.e., using those millions/billions of established facts to do our own thinking to determine the truth, rather than the historians doing the thinking for us, like Ayatollahs or priests with power to bind and to loose.

And those established historical facts -- the undisputed ones -- are where the evidence is derived for the miracle acts of Jesus. It's this historical record -- those facts from the "professional historians" -- which provides the evidence which Christ belief is based on, i.e., the evidence for the miracle acts of Jesus as historical events which really happened and are essential to Christ belief, establishing this singular event in history in written documents of the time, like mainline historical events are established as fact, and unlike ancient miracle claims generally, for which there is little or no evidence or written record, and which can be explained as fictional.

It's reasonable to conclude that miracle events have happened in history -- but also that they have not. Either is a reasonable conclusion. This is not determined for us by "professional historians" charged with making such decisions for society. One can reasonably believe either way.

It's possible that some miracle events have happened, and if they did, it does not contradict the findings of historians or scientists or other experts. There's historical evidence that the mad monk Rasputin healed the Czar's son who had a blood disease, whatever the explanation, or whether it was a "miracle" -- this healing event probably did happen.


"God" has to do more than just BE a "god" -- he (she) has to DO something.

No one is presented in history as an actual god, as a son or daughter of actual gods, . . .

You mean "presented" by historians? But it's not their function to "present" anyone as being OR NOT BEING a god.

Many educated persons "presented" Caesar Augustus as a god, or son of a god, and perhaps they were wrong. But even if they were right, or even if an official historian said he was a god, that doesn't mean he did any miracles, which is a different and more important question. Who cares if he was a "god" if he couldn't do any more than a normal human could do?

Whether someone did a miracle act, like resurrecting from the dead, or healing lepers etc., is more important than whether he was a "god" (or an "avatar" or "messiah" or "Brahma" or "Kwisatz Haderach" etc.). Even if there were some "gods" running around here and there, what good were they if they had no special power?

. . . or even someone who met one or more gods on the road.

On the road, at the beach, wherever they were, or whoever they met -- even if they had a beer together -- those "gods" don't matter unless they do something important, like demonstrating superhuman power.

What is "presented in history" are the miracle acts of Jesus, as actual events, at a particular time and place (or times and places), and reported in 4 separate sources (5 for the Resurrection).

Identifying superhuman acts which were done has more significance than claims of a "god" or son or daughter of a "god" or "gods" being encountered, even if one was mesmerized or felt vibes from the encounter. To be anything of consequence, the "god" has to do something more than just sit there being encountered by someone, or smiling at them or being chanted at by them.

So the "miracles" question has to be about what acts were performed -- what happened? -- not whether someone was a "god" or son or daughter of a "god" etc. Being something doesn't matter -- even being a "god" -- if this god has no special power to DO something.


Not without qualifiers like "the story is told" or "the people believed" or "his tomb claims."

The "qualifiers":

Did the writers themselves believe the miracle claims were true?

It's not correct to say that "professional historians" never believe the miracle claims they report. In some cases they did believe the claims -- maybe very few. Often, but not always, there were the "qualifiers" showing they doubted the claims.

Do these qualifiers matter? Did the writer himself believe the claims being made? We need to consider this in connection with miracle claims -- but, again, not claims whether someone was a "god," but rather, claims of a miracle EVENT, or miracle ACT which reportedly happened.

This will require more extensive Walls of Text. Or we could just dismiss the point about "qualifiers" as worthless (and poorly expressed) and not deserving the Wall of Text response. Let's take a vote: those in favor of the Wall of Text rather than dismissing the "Not without qualifiers" as nutball gibberish, say Ay; those opposed because it's nutball gibberish, say No. The Ayes have it.

There are many examples of such qualifiers.

E.g., the Roman hero Romulus: there was a claim that something miraculous happened with the disappearance of Romulus, whose dead body was not found. The writers about this say there was a claim that "the gods" took Romulus. But note: None of them says Romulus in fact was taken by the gods. They only report this claim which was made. And they imply that the Nobles who were present had a motive to murder Romulus and lie about it, claiming he had been taken by the gods.

So it's typical of the writers to report such claims which they disbelieve. In such cases we have good reason to doubt the miracle claims being reported, which the writers probably disbelieved, and which they reported as claims someone made, but not as events which really happened.

But one miracle claim reported by "professional historians" and apparently believed by them was the reported miracle of Vespasian, which both Tacitus and Suetonius report as fact, without any "qualifiers" to show their skepticism. So it's not true that "historians" always use the qualifiers in reporting "miracle" events.


(this Wall of Text to be continued)
 
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Keith&Co.

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It took you over a year to not really answer your own question?

In a willful but meaningless WallOfText?
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Some miracle claims (the Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels) are more credible than others.

(continued from previous Wall of Text)


The "historians"/writers sometimes believed miracle claims, without the "qualifiers" (in a few cases).


Not without qualifiers like "the story is told" or "the people believed" or "his tomb claims."

The miracle acts of Jesus are reported in the Gospels as real events which happened, and not with the qualifiers saying this was only a claim someone made. This adds to the credibility.

The Jesus miracle acts were events which reportedly happened 40-70 years earlier than the written account(s) we have. There are almost no other cases in the ancient literature of superhuman miracle acts reported less than 100 years later than the alleged events.

So this isn't mainly about stories of the ancient pagan gods, about Achilles being aided by Apollo, or about Zeus rising up against Cronos, or about Asclepius raising someone from the dead, and other hero myths. Those were ancient legends repeated by poets and other writers who often presented them as actual events without needing to say "the story is told" or "the people believed," etc. Maybe the writers believed the stories were literally true -- or, maybe it was just pious to tell them as true stories, in respect for tradition. Whatever the explanation, there was often no qualifier.

The reported miracle acts of Jesus in the Gospels cannot be placed in the above ancient myth category (even if you consider them "myth"), but were claims of RECENT events, only a few decades earlier than the written accounts, and so were not about the ancient gods. Almost all such recent stories appear with qualifiers "the story is told" or "people believe," etc., or especially "he claimed he could . . ." etc., showing that the writer doubts the truth of it, even suggesting it's a hoax.

R. Carrier's "Kooks and Quacks" ( https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/kooks.html ) gives examples where the writer did not believe the miracle claims:

Josephus tells us that the region was filled with 'cheats and deceivers claiming divine inspiration' . . . entrancing the masses and leading them like sheep, usually to their doom.

One "trickster" was "The Egyptian" claiming special powers:

. . . he would show them from hence, how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised that . . . -- Jewish Antiquities, 20.170

So Josephus reports only this promise of a miracle, not any actual miracle event, which would allow the rebels to invade the city, like Joshua at Jericho. But the real outcome was failure and subsequent slaughter of the rebels by the Romans. Obviously Josephus thought this "Egyptian" was a charlatan only, with no power as he claimed to have.

Another charlatan was Jonathan who attracted a gang of rebels:

. . . a mob of the poor and needy, promising to show them many signs and portents (Jewish War, 7.437-8). Again, it took military intervention to disband the movement.

And no "signs and portents" really happened, according to Josephus, but only promises from the charlatan.


Josephus also names a certain Theudas, another "trickster" who gathered an impressive following in Cyrene around 46 A.D., claiming he was a prophet and could part the river Jordan (Jewish Antiquities, 20.97).

Again, only claims by the charlatan, pretending they would relive some of the ancient battle scene miracles of Joshua. But no real miracle event.

But there are a few cases of a "miracle" event which Josephus did believe and reported as fact without the "qualifiers" -- so the "historian" sometimes (rarely) did believe the miracle claim he reported.


Miracles were also a dime a dozen . . .

No they weren't -- let's get it right. Only reported claims of miracles were "a dime a dozen," not miracles, and also very few believers in such claims. Just because a few wackos joined them doesn't mean there was "dime a dozen" anything: some of the joiners did not believe the miracle claims of the charlatan, while those who did believe are not representative of the general population, who mostly scoffed at such claims.

. . . were also a dime a dozen in this era. The biographer . . .

Which "era"?

Excluding the Jesus miracles in the Gospels, the pattern of miracles appearing in this "era" is as follows:

Prior to 100 AD the miracle claims were not "a dime a dozen" but were very few, virtually zero, unless you go way back several centuries, and we see an increase in them going backward. But going forward from 300 to 200 to 100 BC they become fewer and fewer. So there's virtually NO miracle claims after 100 BC and into the first century AD, up to about 100 (90) AD. And then suddenly, like an explosion they break out everywhere, and increase on into the Middle Ages.

So in the "era" of Jesus and the early Christ cults there are NO miracle claims, up to about 100 AD. We see a slight hint of them in Josephus, but the real beginning of the "dime a dozen" miracles are those of the Jesus disciples in the Book of Acts, 90-100 AD, and the reference to Simon Magus who did "magic" to impress people.

But the "era" of Jesus and the Gospels and the Paul epistles was an "era" of virtually NO MIRACLES (outside the Gospel accounts). You can search for them, but they're not there in any literature -- Greek or Roman or Jewish. (Even the Asclepius miracle claims don't really break this pattern, though these are more difficult to explain. But since they are virtually absent from 100 BC to 100 AD, they end up following the general pattern of miracle claims from this "era." This cult is dealt with in a later Wall of Text.)

In some writings there are repeats of earlier ancient legends, e.g., Ovid, and maybe some of these are modified from the earlier versions. All the pagan myths go back to Homer and earlier, some far back into prehistory. But nothing in the "era" of Jesus and the Gospel accounts, when new miracle stories had stopped appearing.

The alleged miracles of Simon Magus or Hanina Ben Dosa or other 1st century figures are absent from the literature until way past 100 AD. Everything in Plutarch and others, including the Vespasian miracle story in Tacitus/Suetonius, is later than 100 AD. For anything earlier, you have to go back to 600 BC to the Elijah/Elisha stories.

So first there's the "era" before about 500 BC, when some early miracle mythologies appeared through the centuries, then there's the "era" of these dying out, 300-200 BC, and then there's the "era" of NO miracle stories when Rome conquered most of the Mediterranean world, up to about 100 AD, followed by the "era" after 100 AD, where the miracle stories suddenly appeared and increased way beyond anything previously.

In the writings only reports of frauds or hoaxes were common. Note that there are extremely few writers who really believe any miracle claims or say such events really happened. Unlike the Gospel accounts, which say the miracle acts of Jesus happened as real events. The Gospels are conspicuous in this regard, not typical.

. . . this era. The biographer Plutarch, a contemporary of Josephus, engages in a lengthy digression to prove that a statue of Tyche did not really speak in the early Republic (Life of Coriolanus 37.3). He claims it must have been a hallucination inspired by the deep religious faith of the onlookers, since there were, he says, too many reliable witnesses to dismiss the story as an invention (38.1-3). He even digresses further to explain why other miracles such as weeping or bleeding--even moaning--statues could be explained as natural phenomena, showing a modest but refreshing degree of skeptical reasoning that would make the Amazing Randi proud.

I.e., reports of frauds. But nothing from any writers saying the miracle events really happened. You see the need to distinguish here: There were NOT miracles happening everywhere a-dime-a-dozen, NO! not even claims, except ones believed by only a tiny band of ignorant misfits. There were frauds, and false claims of such things -- the writers told us they were fraudulent. And the followers of these were few, not many, except in the case of worshiping an ancient deity, where many did believe the ancient miracle claims, not claims of recent miracle events, like the charlatans mentioned by Josephus.


Likewise, statues with healing powers were common attractions for sick people of this era. Lucian mentions the famous healing powers of a statue of Polydamas, an athlete, at Olympia, as well as the statue of Theagenes at Thasos (Council of the Gods 12).

But in both cases Lucian mentions the claims as fraudulent, stating his DISbelief in them. Lucian recounts no example of a healing miracle taking place, but only claims or alleged healings caused by these statues, and nothing to show a widespread belief in these claims.

Also, we need to note the difference between reports of RECENT miracle claims vs. the invoking of ANCIENT legends. E.g., mentions by Pausanias of superstitious claims are from centuries earlier than Pausanias wrote of them:

Both are again mentioned by Pausanias, in his "tour guide" of the Roman world (6.5.4-9, 11.2-9).

Possibly Pausanias is ambiguous here about branding these as fraudulent claims. But that's because the miracle claims date far back to 600 years earlier rather than to anything recent.

So, importantly, the writers sometimes did believe or affirm ancient miracle claims, or at least refrained from denouncing them as fraudulent. For the ancient legends, many of the writers -- poets and historians and others -- seemed to give credence to the superstitious beliefs, or miracles like instant healings at statues, etc. But not to miracle claims of their own time or claims of recent miracles. The ancient myths are sometimes given a pass, or granted credibility, without the derision typically shown by the writers toward the charlatans of their own time.

The pattern is: Some ancient miracle claims are reported as if they were real events which had happened -- but not CURRENT miracle claims, or claims of recent miracle-workers, which are only reported as false claims of a charlatan. So there was a respect or approval shown toward some of the ancient legends, as if they were true, but not to claims of a contemporary/recent miracle event. (The Vespasian miracle story might be an exception to this rule, but in this case the reported miracle was attached to an ancient deity. Where the miracle claims are humored by the writers, or given a pass, it's because of their attachment to an ancient deity which is invoked as the source for the miracle power.)

There are virtually no writers who give credence to any recent miracle claims. Not Lucian or Pausanias or Plutarch. Rather, all the contemporary or recent claims of miracles are rejected by them.


Lucian also mentions the curative powers of the statue of a certain General Pellichos (Philopseudes 18-20).

But he mainly ridicules the tradition that this statue had healing powers.

If the superstitious belief in question is from several centuries earlier than the writer, as in this case, then there is not the same ridicule. If Lucian is less emphatic in condemning this tradition, it's because the legend dates to 400-500 years earlier, having no connection to any claims during his own time (2nd century AD). But he does ridicule ALL the claims of statues having any power to heal. And he especially ridiculed the recent false prophet Alexander who created his own perverse version of Asclepius worship. So the norm was to condemn recent charlatans concocting their own miracle claims, but little or no condemnation of the ancient legends.


And Athenagoras, in his Legatio pro Christianis, polemicizes against the commonplace belief in the healing powers of statues, mentioning, in addition to the statue of a certain Neryllinus, the statues of Proteus and Alexander . . .

Of course this is the Christian polemic against the pagan healing myths, but the NON-Christian writers also ridicule these claims of healing powers attributed to pagan statues.

There are virtually no writings giving any credence to these miracle claims, such as to narrate them as real events which happened (as the Jesus miracles are narrated in the Gospels).

The references to the miracle claims, such as healing statues, or weeping statues, etc., are ones which only ridicule the claims. Any exception is only the kind which refers to ancient legends, centuries earlier, which gain some kind of status over the centuries and become respected and treated as though they were real historical events, accepted as literally true, and not subjected to skepticism.

Virtually no writers report anything favorable or give credibility to the claims of miracle power, and the belief in such claims was very limited, not widespread. If there had been any widespread acceptance of these claims, we would surely have some written account narrating some of their miracle acts and presenting these as real events which happened. This rejection of the claims by the writers is part of the evidence for disbelieving most miracle claims (i.e., claims of recent miracle events), as distinguished from accounts like the Gospels where the writers describe the (recent) events as real.

But this doesn't mean there are ZERO examples of the writers believing miracle claims. The Vespasian case is one presented as fact rather than ridiculed by the writers, giving credence to such a miracle claim, like the Gospel accounts reporting the Jesus miracle acts. I.e., the source, the writer (an educated person), actually believes the miracle claims being made.



The Vespasian miracle story

The Emperor Vespasian is said to have done a miracle cure for two afflicted victims. And since there are two sources, only 40-50 years later than the event, it has to be considered seriously, unlike most miracle claims for which there is usually no source close to the time of the event.


Suetonius version

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:abo:phi,1348,020:7 A poor man who was blind, and another who was lame, came both together before him, when he was seated on the tribunal, imploring him to heal them, and saying that they were admonished in a dream by the god Serapis to seek his aid, who assured them that he would restore sight to the one by anointing his eyes with his spittle, and give strength to the leg of the other, if he vouchsafed but to touch it with his heel. At first he could scarcely believe that the thing would any how succeed, and therefore hesitated to venture on making the experiment. At length, however, by the advice of his friends, he made the attempt publicly, in the presence of the assembled multitudes, and it was crowned with success in both cases.

That last sentence is a bit ambiguous, but we have to take it at face value as an endorsement by Suetonius, apparently believing the story.


Tacitus version

http://historum.com/ancient-history/57439-miracles-vespasian.html One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the Emperor's knees, and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the God Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superstitions, worships more than any other divinity. He begged Vespasian that he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eye-balls with his spittle. Another with a diseased hand, at the counsel of the same God, prayed that the limb might feet the print of a Caesar's foot. At first Vespasian ridiculed and repulsed them.

They persisted; and he, though on the one hand he feared the scandal of a fruitless attempt, yet, on the other, was induced by the entreaties of the men and by the language of his flatterers to hope for success. At last he ordered that the opinion of physicians should be taken, as to whether such blindness and infirmity were within the reach of human skill.

They discussed the matter from different points of view. 'In the one case,' they said, 'the faculty of sight was not wholly destroyed, and might return, if the obstacles were removed; in the other case, the limb, which had fallen into a diseased condition, might be restored, if a healing influence were applied; such, perhaps, might be the pleasure of the Gods, and the Emperor might be chosen to be the minister of the divine will; at any rate, all the glory of a successful remedy would be Caesar's, while the ridicule of failure would fall on the sufferers.'

And so Vespasian, supposing that all things were possible to his good fortune, and that nothing was any longer past belief, with a joyful countenance, amid the intense expectation of the multitude of bystanders, accomplished what was required. The hand was instantly restored to its use, and the light of day again shone upon the blind. Persons actually present attest both facts, even now when nothing is to be gained by falsehood."

So is this "the exception which makes the rule"? I.e., the rule that there are no miracle claims for which we have credible evidence, outside the Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels? and claims which were believed by the writers who are our sources for the claims?

Though this story meets a higher standard for evidence, we can reason that no real miracle took place (though there was a real event), and we can easily explain how this likely fiction healing story of Vespasian got started, and how the Jesus miracles cannot be similarly explained, by comparison:

• Vespasian was a famous widely-popular hero figure at the time, a celebrity with political and military power, known to millions throughout the Empire. This easily explains the legend-building which took place and might have produced this story even during Vespasian's lifetime.

• His reputed miracle act was done in the name of the ancient deity, Serapis, widely revered throughout the Empire, fitting the common pattern among miracle healing claims, which always invoke an ancient healing god as the Divine Source for the miracle power. Both the above accounts name Serapis as the revered healing deity, having a similar reputation to that of Asclepius, in whose name miracle cures were reported. This helps explain the popular acceptance of the story, of a supposed healing performed according to the ancient rites.

• No other miracle acts are attributed to Vespasian. So he was a one-time reputed miracle-worker, with no such reported power except on this one occasion.

• There are only 2 sources for this reputed miracle -- which is better than only one. But the Jesus miracles are attested to in 4 sources from the time (the Resurrection in 5 sources).

• This Vespasian story appears in the record after 100 AD, at a time when there was a sudden explosion of miracle stories, unprecedented, totally out of character to anything earlier. So it fits into a recognizable pattern beginning at this point, unlike anything before 100 (90) AD, where we see a jarring increase in miracle stories. During this period (before 90 AD) there were NO miracle stories, or reports of miracle healing acts, other than those of Jesus in the Gospels.

If there were several other miracle stories like this one, believed by the writers reporting them, and especially appearing earlier, like BEFORE 50 AD, then the case could be made that the Jesus miracle stories, appearing in the record from about 50-90 AD, are part of the general pattern of ancient miracle stories which some writers believed, probably continuing a superstitious trend of earlier times. But there is no such pattern of miracle claims in the written record.

Rather, this Vespasian case is almost the ONLY case of a miracle report which is believed by the writers or sources we have. And there's virtually nothing prior to 100 AD. -- I.e., the two written accounts of this appear after 100 AD, while the actual event -- whatever really happened -- would have taken place about 60-70 AD.

Also, Josephus is in this period approaching the explosion of new miracle claims beginning about 100 AD. He reports -- without the "qualifiers" -- battlefield visions or portents, and one exorcism event.


(this Wall of Text to be continued)
 
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DBT

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The only credible miracle claim - if there are any - is one that has verifiable evidence to support the claim. Whatever it happens to say in the holy books is not evidence that supports their claims of miracles and wonders.
 

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How much extra evidence is necessary? How do we know when a miracle claim becomes credible? .
That actually is an interesting question.
But it's a hypothetical question.
Because no one's ever produced enough evidence for professional historians to consider a miracle to be an historical event....

I should have worded it: "How does one decide when a miracle claim becomes credible?" The answer is not the same for everyone. As the evidence for a claim increases, the claim becomes more credible, but there's no agreed threshold volume of evidence at which point it becomes credible for everyone


Yep. And the threshold is the point at which the miracle claim is more plausible than its negation.
The claim that 'it' never happened, is itself a historical claim in the opposite direction.
And to say that a miracle, some miracles, ALL miracles, never happened despite the weight and volume of unbiased testimony to the contrary is really hard to believe - especially since that negation claim comes from people with a deliberate skeptical bias who are living thousands of years remote from the event.

...oh yeah, and since God exists, there's nothing all that extraordinary about someone reporting that they witnessed something supernatural. (Water turning into wine, leprosy being cured, multiplication of loaves/fishes.)
 

DBT

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Testimonials can be unreliable. Especially when it comes to faith, confirmation bias, willingness to believe, interpreting events in a way that reinforces one's beliefs.
 

funinspace

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I should have worded it: "How does one decide when a miracle claim becomes credible?" The answer is not the same for everyone. As the evidence for a claim increases, the claim becomes more credible, but there's no agreed threshold volume of evidence at which point it becomes credible for everyone


Yep. And the threshold is the point at which the miracle claim is more plausible than its negation.
The claim that 'it' never happened, is itself a historical claim in the opposite direction.
And to say that a miracle, some miracles, ALL miracles, never happened despite the weight and volume of unbiased testimony to the contrary is really hard to believe - especially since that negation claim comes from people with a deliberate skeptical bias who are living thousands of years remote from the event.
Therefore, we should believe Joseph Smith and all become good Mormons (or whatever they want to now be called).

Oh, and on that "weight and volume of unbiased testimony"...ROTFLMAO. Most of that testimony is anonymous...but sure...unbiased.


...oh yeah, and since God exists, there's nothing all that extraordinary about someone reporting that they witnessed something supernatural. (Water turning into wine, leprosy being cured, multiplication of loaves/fishes.)
RE the underlined: I think you have pushed your cart on to the road way, and the horse is still in the barn...
 

Jobar

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And to say that a miracle, some miracles, ALL miracles, never happened despite the weight and volume of unbiased testimony to the contrary is really hard to believe - especially since that negation claim comes from people with a deliberate skeptical bias who are living thousands of years remote from the event.

...oh yeah, and since God exists, there's nothing all that extraordinary about someone reporting that they witnessed something supernatural. (Water turning into wine, leprosy being cured, multiplication of loaves/fishes.)

So how do you explain why obvious miracles all seem "thousands of years remote" from our day? Has God gotten shy, or maybe less powerful?

The "deliberate skeptical bias" you speak of would be far less common if we saw the occasional mountain moved by prayer, or re-grown amputated limb, or any of the flashy miracles recounted in your holy book- or any other. Why does reality have a skeptical bias, hmm?
 

Keith&Co.

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So how do you explain why obvious miracles all seem "thousands of years remote" from our day?
Distance does seem to improve the miracle. Raises the threshold of the miracality, as it were.

Six thousand years ago, the entire magilla was created.

Four thousand years ago, God was reduced to curses that harmed Egypt, but fell short of just making Egyptians disappear.
Two thousand years ago, water got changed into wine. Some dead people got up again.

Six years ago, SelfMutation declared that cancer remission was a miracle. Healing, limited to only certain kinds of cancer, and not distributed with any apparent correlation to belief/nonbelief or particular flavors of belief. God's choice of healing appears indistinguishable from random chance...

Two days ago, Suzy Sunshine in my office declared it a miracle that she got here an hour late and found parking RIGHT OUT IN FRONT! Three rows closer to the gate than she usually parks! God didn't help her mother's blindness, but MADE SURE that Suzy made a Start Of Work meeting on time...
 

abaddon

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If the point about miracles is it's all ancient news, then I get the point.

It's wasted time to support the notion that God exists with the "testimony" in old books.
 

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And to say that a miracle, some miracles, ALL miracles, never happened despite the weight and volume of unbiased testimony to the contrary is really hard to believe - especially since that negation claim comes from people with a deliberate skeptical bias who are living thousands of years remote from the event.

...oh yeah, and since God exists, there's nothing all that extraordinary about someone reporting that they witnessed something supernatural. (Water turning into wine, leprosy being cured, multiplication of loaves/fishes.)

So how do you explain why obvious miracles all seem "thousands of years remote" from our day? Has God gotten shy, or maybe less powerful?

The "deliberate skeptical bias" you speak of would be far less common if we saw the occasional mountain moved by prayer, or re-grown amputated limb, or any of the flashy miracles recounted in your holy book- or any other. Why does reality have a skeptical bias, hmm?

Jobar, methodological skeptics - empiricists - respond to modern miracles the same way as they do to ancient miracles.

They want repeatability on demand. They claim people are lying. They claim people are deluded. They say the miracle isn't 'miraculous' enough. (Chop your leg off and make it regrow by praying while standing on your head juggling chainsaws)

They want a God who can be put to the test. Show me God in a microscope/telescope.
...I'll obey God but first I want God to obey me

3084038793_7e7dc5939f.jpg
 

Jobar

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Matt. 21:21- "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done."

It's not we modern skeptics that promised this, Lion- nor would we ask for it if it were not clearly offered. This, and others by the dozen, just as astounding- and yet we see not one being performed.

Okay, I grant you that there would be skeptics, including me, that would question the provenance of any miracle, no matter how flashy and incontestable. But I assure you that we would not deny that it happened- we would admit that this extraordinary and inexplicable event was real, if we witnessed it. And if the prayers of Christians caused these miracles but those of Muslims or Hindus did not, we'd admit that, too. Even something far less flashy, like a lost limb growing back after it was prayed over, would silence quite a large percentage of our objections to your faith.

But again, it's jam two thousand years ago, but never jam today. We never see the beef. All words, no actions. And your excuses make it worse, not better.
 

abaddon

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I don't expect God to do tricks. I expect that anything that exists will demonstrably exist.

'It doesn't work with skeptics in the room' is something psychics say. This way of blaming others for the non-evidence supports the idea it's only wish-fulfillment. Same with God and miracles. If it needs the special condition that people withhold skepticism, that is strong evidence it's not true.

And I wonder, what modern miracles? Jesus' face in toast?
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Some miracle claims (e.g., the Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels) are more credible than others.

(continued from previous Wall of Text)


Not without qualifiers like "the story is told" or "the people believed" or "his tomb claims."

But in some cases the "qualifiers" do not appear, in the writings of the "professional historians" (e.g., Tacitus and Suetonius reporting the Vespasian story). Did they actually believe the claims in some cases? or pretend to? Why might they sometimes believe the miracle story?


A "miracle" which Josephus believed

This might be the only reported EXORCISM event in the ancient record believed seriously by the writer.

There are many exorcism rituals mentioned in the literature, including narratives of someone consulting an exorcist, but virtually no cases of an exorcism account which narrates the actual healing of the victim. There is this one Josephus miracle story, believed by him, as opposed to the charlatan examples which he ridicules. He cites a contemporary event:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0146:book=8:section=42 God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man; and when this was done, the skill and wisdom of Solomon was shown very manifestly: for which reason it is, that all men may know the vastness of Solomon's abilities, and how he was beloved of God, and that the extraordinary virtues of every kind with which this king was endowed may not be unknown to any people under the sun for this reason, I say, it is that we have proceeded to speak so largely of these matters.

So here's another case of a source who believes the miracle claim, having witnessed it himself. So it cannot be said that all "professional historians" rejected the miracle claims they reported, or that they always used the "qualifiers" to show their skepticism. In at least a few cases the historian did believe the miracle claim.

But on close examination it's difficult to see a serious "miracle" here, other than a cup or basin of water which is knocked over when the demon supposedly exits the victim's body. Josephus says nothing about the victim actually being cured of anything. There is no recovery by the victim, no regaining his normal mind, seizing from convulsions, or any other healing, except the container of water knocked over to let the audience know that the demon had come out.

He saw the exorcist "releasing people that were demoniacal," but what does this "releasing" mean? What happened other than the cup of water being knocked over?

It's a very weak example of a miracle act. Yet it shows that even a "professional historian" might believe a miracle claim -- in this case, that a "demon" came out and knocked over a container of water.


Why do expelled demons engage in mischief?

Why this emphasis on a mischievous act by the demon, rather than on the victim being healed? Where else to we see such a description of misbehavior by demons being expelled?

Where else except in the story of the Gerasene Demoniac of Mark 5:1-10? Could it be that this story, in Mark and repeated in Matthew and Luke, is the first case historically of alleged misbehavior by demons being cast out of a victim? Where else is there any such reported phenomenon, in all the literature? or all the known record?

If no other such story can be found, then it's a reasonable hypothesis that this Jesus miracle story is the very first one describing a misbehaving demon, and Josephus was influenced by this Gospel story and used it as a model to create his own misbehaving-demon scenario. Or, the exorcist he observed was influenced by this Jesus story and tricked observers into believing him by doing this stunt with the water container being knocked over. He had heard of Jesus sending demons into the herd of swine and decided he needed something similar to show to his audience, to enhance his credibility.

Why isn't that very plausible, assuming that Jesus and the herd of swine is the very first reported case of this? i.e., assuming there are no previous stories of such misbehavior by demons being cast out?

But did demons really go into the herd of swine? A more likely explanation is that the demoniac really was healed by Jesus, and when it happened he screamed, and this startled some of the pigs, resulting in the stampede. Since the two happened together, it was simple for observers to connect the two, thinking the pigs were driven by the demons cast out of the demoniac. All that really happened is that the demoniac screamed in his confusion when he was suddenly healed.


The importance to Josephus of the ancient Solomon legend

Note the emphasis on Solomon: "making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed." The connection by name to the ancient hero or deity is a main factor in the writer's belief in the miracle claim.

We can suspect what drove Josephus to offer this oddball "miracle" claim. He is praising Solomon and so might not be the most honest source for objective reporting here, and yet he's honest enough to not make up stories about the victim suddenly recovering and becoming healthy again. So we can read between the lines to see that probably there was only a clever trick here, and no miracle event. But our historian Josephus says there was, because he wants to pay respect to his ancient Solomon hero.

So this is weakly comparable to the exorcism claims about Jesus releasing demoniacs who are described as recovering from their insanity or their convulsions, regaining their ability to speak, etc. In the literature there are many exorcism rituals described, e.g., in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but no accounts of anyone actually being cured, such as we see in the Gospel accounts. This Josephus excerpt might be the closest.

This is about all there is in the way of miracle healing accounts where the writer actually believes the miracle claim, without any "qualifier" to cast doubt on the credibility.

So, in this period when there's almost nothing by writers attesting to the truth of miracle claims -- in a period of "dime a dozen" reported frauds only, but no reported events or believers in such events -- we have the Jesus miracle stories popping up out of nowhere, with more than 30 distinct miracle claims, or superhuman acts by Jesus, not done in the name of any ancient healing deity, as all the others, but just done by him with no Source being named, in public places, with non-disciples usually present, unlike all the others which are done privately in the presence of believers only.

These are the facts about miracle claims, anywhere from 1000 BC to 1000 (1500) AD, in all the writings, as to whether the writers actually believed the miracle claims being made. There are some very early stories, before 500 AD, where such legends are believed by the writers, and then after 100 AD many miracle claims appear, which the writers believed, but nothing in the "era" of Jesus and the Gospels.

The only time they believed such claims is when those were claims about ancient gods, or legendary heroes and ancient myths from centuries earlier, but not about recent (charlatan?) miracle-workers who were current to the time of the writers. Such recent fiction-fraud-charlatan miracle-workers were NOT believed and recorded by educated writers, other than to denounce them as fraudulent.

It does make a difference whether the source/writer for the stories actually believed the claims. If he prefaced it with "according to the story," or "some people claim" etc. etc., then it's much more doubtful that the claims are true, with the author expressing his skepticism. But when it's reported as fact, without those qualifier clauses, as in the Gospel accounts, then the miracle claims have higher credibility.

So the presence of the qualifier phrases in the miracle claims is important. Which phrases do not appear in the Gospel accounts, but do appear in virtually all other claims about miracles or superhuman acts or miracle-workers throughout all those centuries, with the only exception being the stories of the ancient gods, or centuries-old legend, rather than recent miracle-workers appearing on the scene and claiming such powers.


Why did ONLY the Gospel writers "make up shit" about miracles?

So, what's the difference between the Gospel writers who never used the "qualifiers" and those writers who were skeptical of the miracle claims they reported using the "qualifier" language? It's that in most cases there was good reason to doubt the claims made, whereas in the case of the Jesus miracle claims there was little or no doubt.

The simplistic outburst, "Aww damn it, people make up shit!" explains nothing. Why did ONLY THE CHRIST-BELIEVER writers make up such shit? in 4 (5) sources, about a recent miracle-worker claim? Why is there ONLY ONE case of this rather than several cases, if it's true that people "make up shit" all the time? If people were doing this constantly, and seriously enough to record it in writing, why is there ONLY ONE case of it that you can name?

This pattern repeats again and again: The Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels are virtually the ONLY case of miracle claims which are believed by the writers who are our source for the claims. There are almost no other examples, as the writers reporting (recent) miracle claims typically distance themselves from the claims, saying it was claimed or believed, rather than saying the event really did happen, and even suggesting the claims were fraudulent.

Possible exceptions to this rule are easily explained. Both these cases -- the Josephus exorcist and the Vespasian healing miracle claims -- are explained partly by their attachment to an ancient healing god (Serapis), or healing Teacher (Solomon), illustrating how a miracle story is given credence by the writer if it is closely attached by name to an ancient hero legend.

Summation: The "qualifiers" (disclaimers) occurring so frequently in the writings but not in the Gospel accounts are further evidence for the historicity of the Jesus miracle acts. These "qualifiers" are not always in the "professional historian" accounts and others, who in a few cases did believe the miracle claims. And they did give a kind of respect or credibility to the ancient miracle legends, at least pretending to believe them, and reserving their ridicule mainly for the recent charlatan cases which were mostly scoffed at by everyone.

But special attention is needed for the Asclepius cult, in the next Wall of Text. Followers of this cult made claims of healing miracles at the Asclepius temples, and the written accounts of these are often close to the time of the alleged miracle events, rather than centuries later.


(this Wall of Text to be continued)
 

Keith&Co.

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Okay, so what you're showing is that people who already believe in magic willfind some tales of magic to be believable.

Not all tales, such as your dismissal of almost all the miracles that were not done in the name of Jesus. Such as your resistance to accepting the direct and well documented eyewitness reports of Joseph Smith as better evidenced than Jesus' efforts.

So, reporters filter out tales that don't match the reporters' beliefs.

But then, those reports would be worthless for your main reason for posting in this thread.

You want to pretend that the stories of the healing miracles of Jesus arevsufficient for skeptics to accept them as historical fact, but you're establishing that no sceptic accepts these fairy tales as fact. Just bleevers.

So, you're right back where we started. You believe what you want to believe BECAUSE you want to believe, and more power to you.

Just don't whine if the rest of us do not think your evidence is credible.
 

Keith&Co.

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I wonder if i should start a betting pool on when in 2019 Lumpy will address thar post?

Today is the 38th anniversary of my initial enlistment. I wager he'll figure out a reply by the 39th anniversary of my reporting to sub school....
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Some miracle claims (e.g., the Jesus miracle acts in the Gospels) are more credible than others.

(continued from previous Wall of Text)


Not without qualifiers like "the story is told" or "the people believed" or "his tomb claims."

Summation: The "qualifiers" (disclaimers) occurring so frequently in the writings but not in the Gospel accounts are further evidence for the historicity of the Jesus miracle acts. These "qualifiers" are not always in the "professional historian" accounts and others, who in a few cases did believe the miracle claims. And they did give a kind of respect or credibility to the ancient miracle legends, at least pretending to believe them, and reserving their ridicule mainly for the recent charlatan cases which were mostly scoffed at by everyone.

But it's necessary to consider the Asclepius stories here, which make miracle healing claims. In some of the testimonials, the miracle claims are stated as facts which are believed by the writer or source.


Do the ASCLEPIUS miracle claims have more credibility?

Carrier, in his "Kooks and Quacks" says:

But above all these, the "pagans" had Asclepius, their own healing savior, centuries before, and after, the ministry of Christ. Surviving testimonies to his influence and healing power throughout the classical age are common enough to fill a two-volume book (Edelstein and Edelstein, Asclepius: A Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies, in two volumes, 1945--entries 423-450 contain the most vivid testimonials). Of greatest interest are the inscriptions set up for those healed at his temples. These give us almost first hand testimony, more reliable evidence than anything we have for the miracles of Jesus, of the blind, the lame, the mute, even the victims of kidney stones, paralytics, and one fellow with a spearhead stuck in his jaw (see the work cited above, p. 232), all being cured by this pagan "savior." And this testimony goes on for centuries. Inscriptions span from the 4th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. and later, all over the Roman Empire. Clearly, the people of this time were quite ready to believe such tales. They were not remarkable tales at all.

For now, let's assume that the above entries 423-450 give the best evidence for miracle events comparable to the Gospel accounts of the Jesus miracle acts. We can draw conclusions from this listing, but of course the real list is at least 10 times longer, so that this special group here is only a good indication of the pattern of the miracle claims with this cult, which spreads out over many centuries, going back perhaps to 1500 or 2000 BC, and written testimonials back to about 500 BC.

These accounts, covering pp. 221-259 (Edelstein), are stories generally believed by the writers as real events of encounters with Asclepius and resulting cures. And the sources are not just that of low-class uneducated commoners, but in some cases of historians and physicians and other educated writers comparable to the "professional historians."

But above all these, the "pagans" had Asclepius, their own healing savior, centuries before, and after, the ministry of Christ.

But not during it, or anywhere near it. In fact, there's a blank space of about 200 years, 100 BC to 100 AD, during which there are no accounts of Asclepius miracles, or virtually none.

These entries 423-450 (pp. 221-259) throughout are virtually all from the period BEFORE 100 BC and AFTER 100 AD. Why is there a huge hole here, from 100 BC to 100 AD? What happened to the healing power of Asclepius after 100 BC, for which there is no testimonial, but then which comes roaring back about 100 AD and increasing then for another 100-200 years?

What happened to Asclepius during this 200-year inactive period? Was he "on a journey" (I Kings 18:27)?

This gaping hole cannot be ignored as insignificant. For centuries there evolved many Asclepius stories, in the inscriptions, beginning around 500 BC, and these began from earlier traditions of unknown origin, dating back many centuries. And a healing cult had evolved, with priestly rituals, of uncertain origin, and lasting up to the 2nd century BC. But by about 100 BC it fades away, leaving no trace from then until about 100 AD. Why?

Here's a good general history of the cult: https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/12602/wickkhiserbl032.pdf?sequence=2

We can see this hole, or blank space, by looking at the information provided in the entries 423-450, which are representative enough to use as an indicator of the cult's miracle claims.

There are 2 ways to identify the chronologies and the empty period: there are some dates given (years BC and AD), and names of authors who can be identified. These are sufficient to identify the quantity of quotations from each of the 4 periods:

1) prior to 100 BC,

2) 1st century BC,

3) 1st century AD, and

4) after 100 AD;
and also to identify the number of authors from these periods.


# of pages of Asclepius testimonials/quotes

prior to 100 BC: 17+ pages

1st century BC: 2 pages

"2nd-1st c. BC": 1 page -- i.e., ambiguous category

1st century AD: 0 pages

after 100 AD: 5+ pages

So there are zero Asclepius inscriptions in the 1st century AD, but a small amount of them in the 1st century BC. Do these fill in the hole from 100 BC to 100 AD? No, a close look shows that the real miracle healing stories of Asclepius are earlier than 100 BC. The pattern is very clear that these miracle stories were decreasing and had disappeared by the 1st century BC.

These 100 - 1 BC cases are short enough to give the English here. Consider whether these are serious miracle stories:

To Asclepius

Poplius Granius Rufus

When for two years I had coughed incessantly so that I discharged purulent and bloody pieces of flesh all day long, the god took in hand to cure me. . . . He gave me rocket to nibble on an empty stomach, then Italian wine flavored with pepper to drink, then again starch with hot water, then powder of the holy ashes and some holy water, then an egg and pine-resin, then again moist pitch, then iris with honey, then a quince and a wild purslane to be boiled together -- the fluid to be drunk, while the quince was to be eaten -- then to eat a fig with holy ashes taken from the altar where they sacrifice to the god. -- -- --[p. 252]

Sounds like a formula to induce vomiting.

"rocket to nibble on an empty stomach"? "a quince and a wild purslane" etc.? This is the "more reliable evidence than anything we have for the miracles of Jesus"? The "miracle" here is that this character was allowed to run around loose instead of being locked up.

This could easily be a satire from Mad Magazine, poking fun at some religious cult. The only reference to any healing here is the phrase "the god took in hand to cure me," which might mean this worshiper recovered immediately, but there were better ways to say it if that was the meaning. It's not clear that a "miracle" is happening here. This is no comparison to the list of earlier inscriptions of entry 423, with several serious miracle claims.

Here's the other entry indicated as from "1st c. B.C.":

To Asclepius

Poplius Granius Rufus

My right shoulder -- -- -- and -- -- -- and the whole from -- -- -- giving me unendurable pains, the god ordered me to be confident and gave me relief. I should apply a plaster of barley-meal mixed with old wine and of a pine cone ground down with olive oil, and at the same time a fig and goat's fat, then milk with pepper, wax-pitch and olive boiled together -- -- --[p. 253]

He says the god "gave me relief," suggesting a possible healing experience. If so, perhaps the cause was the exercise from all the work of collecting the above ingredients -- especially grinding down the pine cone and boiling the goat's fat and wax pitch -- after all that fuss who's gonna care about an aching right shoulder?

Many of the Asclepius cures have elements like this, prescribing various items for rubbing or ingesting, with procedures to follow, resulting in the recovery.

(Can you imagine Jesus in the Gospels scrambling around to put together such a concoction as this to heal the paralytic, and then saying "Take up your bed and walk!"? How could anyone walk after ingesting all that, let alone pick up a bed?)

So, there is this small amount of "testimonial" in the intermediate period, but let's get serious -- the real Asclepius miracles all fall into the very early period, before 100 BC, or the later period, after 100 AD, leaving the wide hole in the center. And these "1st c. BC" stories are much more like prescribed medical remedies than miracle cures. All the clear miracle healing stories date from before or after this empty period 100 BC - 100 AD.

The other quote, possibly of the intermediate period, has the ambiguous dating of "2nd-1st c. BC":

-- -- -- (a certain woman) -- -- -- at the head and -- -- -- gives thanks to Asclepius the Savior; having suffered from a malignant sore on her little finger she was healed by the god who ordered her to apply the shell of an oyster, burnt and ground down by her with rose-ointment, and to anoint [s.c., her finger] with mallow, mixed with olive oil. And thus he cured her. After I had seen many more glorious deeds of the god in my sleep and god ordered me to inscribe my visions -- -- -- in my sleep the god ordered -- -- --[p. 253-254]

Whoops! "in my sleep"? "visions"? Here the miracle element disappears altogether, as it's only someone reporting "visions" or scenes from a dream. Legitimate miracle claims have to be something more than "visions" experienced while someone is sleeping.

(Oyster shell, burnt and ground with rose-ointment? Oh, and don't forget the mallow mixed with olive oil.)

So, except for the above 3 dubious "miracle" claims, the entire list (423-450) is of inscriptions prior to 100 BC and after 100 AD, with nothing happening in the 200-year interval of 100 BC to 100 AD. Why did the miracles of Asclepius cease during this interval? Surely no one thinks the above 3 cases are any kind of serious "miracle" claims, comparable to Jesus healing lepers etc. The earlier and later reported Asclepius miracles do include serious claims of cures, and not just prescriptions for holy ashes and burnt oyster shell and grounded pine cone with goat's fat and boiled wax-pitch. So the period 100 BC - 100 AD is virtually devoid of any serious miracle claims, such as we see in both the earlier and the later periods.

These give us almost first hand testimony, more reliable evidence than anything we have for the miracles of Jesus, of the blind, the lame, the mute, . . .

You might say it's equally reliable evidence. The inscriptions apparently were written close to the events, maybe a decade or two later -- the dating is not precise, but probably less than 50 years, perhaps even contemporary to the time of writing.

But it's easy to explain why these worshipers of the ancient healing god believed the miracle cures happened: At all times and in all cultures there are ancient healing gods believed in by the general population, to whom they pray for miracles such as healing, to recover from their illnesses. Everyone in the culture gives respect to the ancient traditions without ridiculing them or poking fun at the worshipers who pray to be cured or to recover.

In modern times almost all those who pray for healing are Christians believing in the ancient Christ healing tradition from 2000 years ago. A few religionists of other traditions, like Hinduism, also believe in their ancient healing deities, whose names are invoked by the worshipers and also by their priests or gurus etc. The ancient Asclepius rituals fall neatly into this pattern of miracle claims of all cultures, which worship ancient healing gods.


When miracle claims are believed and when they are not

But this cannot explain why the Gospel writers believed in the Jesus miracle healings, which were not done in the name of an ancient healing deity. The ancient healing tradition is always very specific and the ancient healing god is always named by the practitioners and worshipers. There are no exceptions to this (except Jesus in the Gospel accounts where no ancient authority is invoked by name as the source of the miracle power).

The Gospel writers surely had no motive to omit such invoking by Jesus, if he did in fact name Yahweh or Moses or Solomon or Elijah etc. as the source of his power. He never does, in all the Gospel reports of his healing acts.

So this explains why fictional claims of miracles by Asclepius were believed, by worshipers and priests in the temples, where the written accounts we have might be dated near to the time of the reported events.

But also, isn't it strange that the miracles of Asclepius die out, before 100 BC, and that they are totally absent from then up to about 100 AD, where they suddenly appear again as the cult experiences a revival? Why this empty gap of 200 years of no Asclepius miracles?

. . . even the victims of kidney stones, paralytics, and one fellow with a spearhead stuck in his jaw (see the work cited above, p. 232), all being cured by this pagan "savior."

But isn't it interesting that all these serious miracle claims are back in the 4th century BC, and there are no such claims later, none from 100 BC to 100 AD? Why is it that all the serious claims about Asclepius miracles have to be limited to that earlier period, or later after 100 AD, and there are no such reported miracle events during that empty 200-year space?


And this testimony goes on for centuries. Inscriptions span from the 4th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. and later, all over the Roman Empire.

No they don't. They die out and are totally absent from 100 BC to 100 AD. They do not "span from the 4th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D.," but only to the 2nd century BC, where they die out, and are totally absent after 100 BC until about 100 AD.


Clearly, the people of this time were quite ready to believe such tales.

No they were not. I.e., not from the 2nd century BC up to 100 AD. Why were "the people of this time" not ready to believe such tales during this empty space of at least 200 years? i.e., this space during which the Jesus miracle stories originate? Why were they NOT ready to believe such tales, and yet all of a sudden were ready to believe it in this one case only and no other case, in the 1st century AD? Why this one case which stands out against this pattern of NOT BELIEVING during this time?


They were not remarkable tales at all.

But such tales were NONEXISTENT after 100 BC. If one case only stands out in contrast to this, of miracle claims appearing and being published in written accounts, and there is no other case of such a thing, then how is that not "remarkable"?


Surviving testimonies to his influence and healing power throughout the classical age are common enough . . .

No, not "throughout the classical age," but only during this age up to about 100 BC and then resuming after 100 AD, with a dead period in between. Not "throughout" the classical age.

. . . are common enough to fill a two-volume book (Edelstein and Edelstein, Asclepius: A Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies, in two volumes, 1945--entries 423-450 contain the most vivid testimonials). Of greatest interest are the inscriptions set up for those healed at his temples.

But why did the healing claims stop happening during the 200-year empty space, or slowly die out going into this period?

The listing of authors shows the same pattern of the near-empty 200-year space. For those earlier quotes, noted above, many are inscriptions with apparently no author named. But there are a few, and then several more after 100 AD:


# of authors cited

before 100 BC: 3

1st century BC: 1

1st century AD: 2

after 100 AD: 12

Let's look at the 3 in-between authors which are on the borderline to the empty 200-year period. The pattern is still clear, that there are no serious miracle claims during this period.

1st century BC (just after 100) -- The Poplius Granius Rufus quotes are already noted above, showing the prescription remedies for coughing and for pain in his right shoulder -- the "plaster of barley-meal" and "a pine cone ground down with olive oil" and of course the "goat's fat" with "wax-pitch" and so on. So here are 2 examples into the 1st century BC, but these are much more in the category of medical prescriptions than miracle cures.

1st century AD -- At the other end of the empty space, near 100 AD, we have Statius and Rufus (a different Rufus than the above), perhaps in the 90s.

Statius was a poet of that period, and in the passage here he only relates the ancient legend of Asclepius making a voyage from Greece to Rome to cure Romans of a plague at around 290 BC. I.e., about the time when Romans adopted this Greek healing god.

But the poem (p. 255) mentions a "lad" being treated:

To none else was trusted the power to unman the lad, but the son of Phoebus [Asclepius] with quiet skill gently bids his body lose its sex, unmarred by any wound.

This seems to refer to the castration of a eunuch named Earinus, who served the emperor Domitian. If there's any "miracle" or healing here, it might be that the procedure done on this boy was done according to a method to minimize the pain, and so the poet Statius is crediting Asclepius with doing a castration that didn't hurt too much.

Again, such "miracles" indicate a medical school rather than a miracle cure cult. Castrations to produce eunuchs were practiced with some procedures to minimize the damage. And Asclepius was credited with anything that had a good outcome, including good castration outcomes, apparently.

So obviously, the "miracles" of Asclepius during this period don't amount to much, in the empty space 100 BC - 100 AD. The serious examples are outside this space, before 100 BC and after 100 AD.

In the other inscription from the 90s AD, Rufus, a physician, relates a "cure" from Asclepius (p. 239), but the patient had to choose the lesser of 2 evils: he could get rid of his epilepsy, but only by taking on a new Quartan Fever illness. If he would accept the latter in exchange for the epilepsy, then he would be cured of the epilepsy. He agreed to this, so Asclepius gave him the Quartan Fever in place of the epilepsy.

So that's the miracle cure in this case.

So the Asclepius cult was transitioning from a religion into a medical school, partly legitimate, moving away from miracle claims, offering some relief from afflictions in some cases, or some standard medical remedies with partial effectiveness, but also negative side effects.

So, maybe a less painful castration, trading epilepsy in return for a Quartan Fever, and some pain relief by grinding pine cones and consuming boiled goat's fat with pine-resin and boiled barley meal etc. etc. -- These are the miracles of Asclepius during the 200-year gap. Otherwise it's clear that Asclepius was not doing his miracles during this period, i.e., not throughout the classical age, but only up to the 2nd century BC, at which point he took a long vacation, and then returned, after there were rumors of Jesus in Galilee healing lepers and the blind and raising the dead, at which point Asclepius was revived and put his priests back to work at the temples.

So the 200-year empty space contains no serious examples of miracle healing claims. Except for the above 3 dubious examples, all the authors named are either before 100 BC or after 100 AD. This pattern of the empty 200-year space is very obvious here, despite these 3 authors at the two ends of the 200-year empty space. So there is virtually no Asclepius miracle cult during this period -- no serious miracle claims coming from this cult.

There's a simple explanation for this empty period: The normal life of this cult was its very slow evolution over many centuries, and it was dying a natural death from 300-200-100 BC, along with several other ancient miracle cure legends, of which the Asclepius cult was the most widespread. All of them were dying, slowly disappearing during the period after 200 BC and into the 1st century AD. But then there was a sudden revival of the cult at around 100 AD, which was not normal and is difficult to explain, unless something irregular happened.

This coincides with a clear pattern of miracle stories appearing in the literature, from the very earliest writings, with a general decline beginning around 600 BC onward, dying out almost totally up to about 100 AD, but then suddenly starting up again and increasing into the Middle Ages.

The miracle stories which fit neatly into this pattern are easily explained, as to how they occur even though they are fictional. But any which do NOT fit the pattern are more difficult to explain as being fictional, and the possibility that they are fact increases. Or, since many of the stories are a mixture of fact and fiction, the element of fact becomes more probable as the stories are more inconsistent with the general pattern of such stories appearing in the literature, whereas the element of fiction becomes more probable as the stories fit in more with the standard pattern.

I.e., the recognized pattern of miracle claims appearing in the literature can clarify why the miracle stories were written and believed by readers, when the stories conform to the pattern. But where any of them appear contrary to the general pattern of such stories appearing in the literature, then it's more difficult to explain how the (fiction) stories came to be written and believed, and so their appearance in the writings becomes more easily explained by the possibility that the alleged events really did happen, and so the accounts of them become more credible as factual reports of what happened (even if there's still a fictional element).

The following shows approximately the pattern of the appearance of miracle stories in the literature, from the earlier to the later periods:
__________

Earliest known times
Many miracle stories in most cultures

600 BC

Approximate turning point where miracle claims begin to decrease in frequency.

500 BC

The frequency of such stories is slowly decreasing.
The stories are preserved by cults but are decreasing in importance.

400 BC

Slow decline in the stories. Skepticism toward claims of recent miracles.
Adherence to ancient traditions is the norm.

300 BC

Increasing decline in the stories and cults believing them.

200 - 100 BC

Major decline and disappearance of miracle claims.
Increasing skepticism of such claims.

100 BC - 100 (90) AD

BLANK! No new miracle stories anywhere (except the Gospel accounts).
Almost total rejection of charlatans, pretenders, messiah-types.

100 - 200 AD

Sudden outburst of new miracle stories in all the literature.
New charlatans start appearing.

200 AD - into the Middle Ages

Continuing increase in miracle claims, becoming more common than ever.
Increasingly more miracle-workers on a grand scale.

__________

The Asclepius miracle stories fit neatly into this pattern, except that the cult eventually dies and is replaced by Christian miracle claims which satisfy the demand.

So, whatever caused miracle claims to be more popular in 600-400 BC also inspired those of the Asclepius cult, and the disillusionment with such stories occurred in common between the Asclepius stories and the other pagan stories, all decreasing in popularity from 300-200-100 BC.

But by contrast, the Jesus miracle stories totally disrupt this pattern, appearing suddenly in the mid-first century AD, when no other miracle stories had been appearing for more than 100 years. So there was no miracle tradition leading up to the Jesus miracle claims appearing without warning some time from 30 AD and later, in contrast to the Asclepius cult arising as part of a tradition of miracle beliefs still going strong in 600-400 BC when the Asclepius cult appears along with the testimonials at the temples, and then slowly dying with the others, virtually disappearing until they are artificially given a boost after 90 AD and are revived to continue another 200-300 years.


No, miracle claims were NOT widespread or popular among the general population.

belief in the ancient gods/heroes -- YES
belief in the latest charlatan-messiah -- NO
belief in instant miracle-workers popping up -- NO
belief in any miracle-worker resembling Jesus in the Gospels -- NO

People believed in the ancient legends, but not in any new or sudden charlatans, all of whom were rejected and ridiculed. But priests doing healing rituals in the name of Asclepius or other ancient healing god were respected and not ridiculed as the instant miracle-workers were, and the writers often did not use the "qualifiers" when describing their miracle healing events.

But something happened in the 1st century AD to interrupt the pattern of the disappearing miracle cults. Because at about 100 AD we see a new explosion of miracle stories, and a revival of the ancient cults, producing a new period of miracle beliefs, going toward the Middle Ages into a new period where miracle stories became far more popular than in pagan Greece and Rome, or in the Jewish scriptures.

Our original question was: Why did the writers (historians and others) so often employ the "qualifiers" which express their skepticism about the claims, but also in a few cases did believe the claims and expressed no skepticism?

The pattern they followed was to give credibility to the ancient miracle gods/heroes, but not recent charlatans. And it's easy to explain how Asclepius and ancient gods were revived in response to a stimulus, which must have happened in the 1st century. It wasn't a new charlatan who caused this stimulus, as all the charlatans were recognized for what they were and were scoffed at by both the educated and uneducated.


Why are there no "qualifiers" in the Gospel accounts of the Jesus miracle acts?

best explanation: The events really did happen.

So the meaning of the "qualifiers" in the writings is that they show legitimate doubt by the writers, who disbelieved such stories without good evidence. But in the case of the Gospels there are no qualifiers in reporting the miracle acts of Jesus, so those writers must have had good evidence for believing the claims. There's no other explanation why these were believed and yet no other such claims were believed by any writers, even though many of them were ready to believe such claims if there was evidence.

They did believe in the established ancient miracle traditions dating from centuries earlier (or seemed to believe them) and they accepted some recent reports based on the ancient traditions, or on rituals done in the temples where the ancient traditions were practiced, honoring the ancient deities which the current priests invoked by name, thus gaining credibility for their claim to perform miracle cures.

This explains why many of the Asclepius miracle claims were believed even by people near the time of the reported events. I.e., 4th century inscriptions describing miracle healings reported at the Epidaurus temple, built earlier in the 4th century.


Asclepius cult priests and worshipers = Today's Christian evangelists and their followers

Every culture has its ancient religious tradition of praying for miracles.

Just as today, or any time in history, there are worshipers who pray and claim to have been healed by their ancient healing god -- if it's a popular ancient god being invoked, then the claims are far more likely to be accepted, including by historians and other educated writers. Like Josephus believing the exorcist cast out a demon which knocked over a container of water, which he attributes to the tradition of Solomon who prescribed the expulsion ritual. Or like Suetonius and Tacitus believing in the miracle healing by Vespasian, which was attributed to the ancient god Serapis.

When the writers believe the claim, or at least respect the ancient god which is invoked by name, they present the story as true, without "qualifiers," and refrain from ridicule or skepticism about the claim.

But there's no explanation why the Gospel writers believed claims of the Jesus miracles, unless it's simply that there was abundant evidence for these claims, as being of real events which did happen, in contrast to all the other claims about "messiahs" or god-men or prophets etc. having miracle powers.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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We don't need a 1st-century statue of Jesus to know that he existed and performed the miracle acts.

Most of the statues (Caesar) are not contemporary to his time.

Evidence please.

I think I was technically right, on the above point, but this was not an important detail to get bogged down on. Maybe there are some statues of Caesar which were contemporary, and also of some other historical figures. And what does "contemporary to his time" mean? What about 20 or 30 years later.

But for the vast majority of ancient historical figures we know existed there are no statues or other images. So the absence of them for a particular person says nothing about whether he existed or what he did or did not do.

Here's one site which seems to say there are no contemporary statues of Caesar:

http://www.sciencebuzz.org/blog/marble-bust-julius-caesar-oldest-known
Luc Long, the archaeologist leading the excavation, said the bust was probably thrown into the river after the assassination because “it would have not been good at the time to be considered a follower of his.”

"In Rome you don't find any statues of Caesar dating from the time he lived, they were all posthumous," Long added.

Even if he's wrong and there are contemporary statues, it's not based on these that we know of the historical figures. It's mainly from the writings, and these are usually 50 or 100 years later than the actual events. The cases where the writings are contemporary, or only 10 or 20 years later, are a small minority of our historical information.

Another important point, about statues or portraits, images, is that these may have been common for Greek and Roman historical figures, but they were not for Jews in Palestine/Galilee/Judea, of which there are no contemporary statues from the 1st century. Not for famous Jews like Hillel or Shamai or Josephus or Herod Antipas or John the Baptist, etc. Also not for Philo the Alexandrian or for the governor Pontius Pilate. These and other important historical figures existed, and we know facts about them, but no physical representations of them exist from the time.

So, with such an absence of physical images of anyone of the eastern Mediterranean world in the 1st century, how can you suggest that there ought to exist a statue of Jesus as evidence for his existence in order for us to believe anything about him reported in the writings?

He and other historical figures did exist and are part of our known historical record, which tells us facts about them, regardless that there are no images of them from the time. All the pictures or images we have are just imaginative creations of the artists.

josephusbust.jpg

There's a famous statue of Josephus, but almost everyone says it's fake. The real origin of it is difficult to figure out. Here is a message board page https://forum.christogenea.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8794 which pokes fun at this statue used often in presentations of Josephus. That it's used so much, and yet has no verification, tells us how rare legitimate statues are and so the publishers resort to fakes which become accepted out of desperation for a physical representation of an historical figure for whom there is no legitimate image from his time.

In the original post there were some points much more important than whether there were "contemporary" statues:

Aren't you arguing that multiple independent accounts in effect confirm the events in the gospels?

They add more credibility, yes. 5 sources for the resurrection goes far beyond what is necessary. For normal events even one only source is sufficient to make the reported event probable, if there's no other source contradicting it.

That the miracles/events described in the gospels happened as described because there are multiple independent accounts?

Yes, the extra sources = extra evidence that they happened. It's still only probable, not certain.

How many times must I repeat it? -- Virtually NONE of our historical facts for ancient history comes from eyewitness accounts. The gospel accounts have more corroboration from separate sources than most of our standard history. But virtually no history of that time is known to us from eyewitness accounts. I.e., none of our sources are eyewitness accounts.

Thucydides was a participant in the Peloponnesian War. Xenophon, etc, wrote about their experiences and the people and events, things that were happening around them, errors included.

Of course you can name these rare exceptions to the rule. But 99% of our ancient history comes from sources who were not eye-witnesses and who didn't even know directly the persons they wrote about. Much of it is from 100 years later than the events reported. Yet it's still reliable evidence which we rely on for our knowledge of the events, and frequently we have ONE SOURCE ONLY for the events, not 4 or 5.

(Presumably the accounts we have trace back to original eyewitnesses, but we have NO EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS today. No more for Tacitus or Plutarch or Herodotus etc. than for the gospel accounts. No eyewitness account of Caesar's assassination or virtually any other event.)

So all you have is hearsay . . .

Virtually all our standard history is based on hearsay, for the ancient period.

. . . unlike the existence of Caesar . . .

You're selecting perhaps the most famous and powerful figure in Roman history, so you're not choosing a typical example. For the vast majority of the historical figures we know of, the evidence is less than for Jesus. For a few major figures the evidence is greater than for Jesus, but not most of the historical figures we take for granted, often from ONE SOURCE ONLY.

. . . which actually has multiple independent sources confirming his existence, statues, inscriptions, Julius Caesar's name and/or image appeared on coinage from 49 BC until his death, . . .

Most of the statues are not contemporary to his time.

And most of our information on him is from 100+ years after his time.

We know of many people who existed at the time other than Julius Caesar, and for 99% of them we have less evidence than we have for Jesus. If your argument is that Julius Caesar and 2 or 3 other characters are the only ones who existed, and all the others are fictional characters invented by the writers, then you have an interesting point. And an enormous job rewriting all our history books.

. . . a coin commemorating the murder of Julius Caesar, and so on, . . .

What does "and so on" refer to? There's virtually no other example of such evidence, based on something contemporary to the event. There's no evidence like this for 99.9% of the events we know happened from the historical record.

If you're saying no events happened unless there's a coin depicting them, then you have a point: You're throwing out virtually all our known history, because there are no contemporary coins depicting the events, except this and perhaps 2 or 3 other major events. Don't you understand that there were also a few less-famous events going on?

So to eliminate the Jesus miracles from the historical record, you are also eliminating every event from the historical record which is not depicted in contemporary coins, meaning you are rewriting history to eliminate virtually all of it from having happened, because virtually none of it is depicted on contemporary coins.

. . . done by people living in the time responding to actual personages and events, not hearsay.

So you're eliminating 99.9% of our ancient historical record, because virtually all of it is hearsay only, in our sources, and is not depicted on coins or attested to by people living at the time of the reported events.

There is no comparison to be made. This has been pointed out numerous time, yet here I am having to point it out again.

Yes you continue to eliminate 99% of the historical record in order to preach your dogma that there's no evidence for the Jesus miracle acts. You continue to have no way to eliminate this legitimate evidence from the ancient record without also eliminating virtually ALL our evidence for the mainline historical events.

You are proving the point that we do have evidence for the Jesus miracle events, because you're so desperate to debunk that evidence and yet all you can come up with is something requiring us to throw out ALL our evidence for the ancient historical events.

If you had a real case, you would have presented it by now. Instead of continuing to only trash ALL our known history.

There's nothing wrong with believing based on the limited evidence. In a few cases there is much more than limited evidence. But when we have only limited evidence -- which is perhaps most of the time -- it's reasonable to believe the reported events happened.

Of course there are some major events for which there is greater evidence than we have for the miracles of Jesus. But also many important events (and zillions of minor events) we believe based on very limited evidence, including less than what we have for the miracles of Jesus.

Merely pointing out a few major events for which there is greater evidence does not diminish the significance of our knowledge of the many other events for which the evidence is less.
 
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Jobar

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For those who want to read long articles which refute Lump's walls, try the badnewsaboutchristianity.com site; the articles on Miracles as evidence of the truth of Christianity and Christian deceptions 3: Fabricating records are good places to start. You can find excellent refutations of every single one of Lump's points on that site, I think.

From 'Fabricating records'-
Trial records disappear. Original accounts of visions disappear. Books disappear. Paintings disappear. Records of clerical crimes disappear. Photographs disappear or are re-touched. Churches have become so accustomed to manipulating records that they sometimes forget that in the age of the internet it is not as easy as it once was. A photograph of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I posted on his website in April 2012 showed him wearing a watch worth at least $30,000. He had previously denied owning such a watch, and the photograph (below left) was quickly replaced by an edited version with the watch covered up (below right). Patriarch Kirill then insisted in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never worn such a watch, and that any photographs showing him wearing it must have been doctored to add the watch (anticipating the danger of of anyone having copied the incriminating photograph before it was doctored). But His Holiness had not realised that his photo-editor had failed to remove the reflection of the Patriarch's watch on the shiny table. When this was pointed out, a Church spokesman admitted that the photograph had been doctored through a "technical mistake" - declining to comment on the fact that His Holiness, champion of public morality, had been caught out in the most blatant deception.

A Breguet watch on the left wrist of Patriarch Kirill I, left, vanished in a doctored photo (right)
but its reflection on the table remained.
kirill.jpg

I just finished reading What did Jesus believe himself to be?; told from a historicist position, but with a respectful nod towards mythicism. Also quite good.
 

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I think I was technically right, on the above point, but this was not an important detail to get bogged down on. Maybe there are some statues of Caesar which were contemporary, and also of some other historical figures. And what does "contemporary to his time" mean? What about 20 or 30 years later.
.

Not so;


Caesar: Images from his own lifetime

An unflattering portrait of Caesar found near Tusculum, carved during Caesar's own lifetime. Later portraits invariably showed Caesar wearing a laurel crown – to hide his receding hairline.

caesar-real.gif

Julius Caesar on denarius from February/March, 44 BC.

caesar-coin3.gif

Caesar is proclaimed 'perpetual dictator' at the age of 55.

On the reverse of the coin the symbols represent various aspects of Caesar's power and political program.



Contemporary images of Jesus? Nothing!

Not only was no "from life" image ever made of Jesus, there is not even one word describing the godman in the entire New Testament.

The earliest Christian iconography was simply cribbed from traditional representations of the god Apollo. Over the centuries, the image of Jesus has been adapted and modified to reflect the tastes (and often the appearance) of earthly powers.


Fantasy Meets Reality

"... more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for anyone else ..."

Let's remind ourselves: Jesus Christ The Legend did some pretty remarkable things. His 'ministry' was a pretty public affair. Many of his tricks were of no particular value (cursing a fig tree?); some would have had disastrous consequences for innocent third parties (remember that herd of 2000 suicidal pigs into which he cast demons? Surely that ruined somebody else's living?).

But certainly, by such 'miracles' he convinced his disciples and the multitude that he was the Messiah, right? Turning a jug of water into wine may have been trivial but resurrecting oneself from death was no mean trick.

But if we are to 'believe' that these stories relate real events what is to be our criteria for acceptance? On what basis should we accept any of this as 'fact' rather than fancy?''
 

Cheerful Charlie

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The blasting of the fig tree miracle of the gospels has always made me laugh. So Jesus has magic powers but a bad temper. I'd have been more impressed if by a miracle he made the fig tree produce figs over night. After all, for trinitarians, Jesus IS God. He could do that.

Better yet, "Munch. Munch. Munch. Do any of you guys want some fig newtons?" The whole tall tale reeks of bad tall tale invention that views Jesus and God as idiots.
 

funinspace

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I think I was technically right, on the above point, but this was not an important detail to get bogged down on. Maybe there are some statues of Caesar which were contemporary, and also of some other historical figures. And what does "contemporary to his time" mean? What about 20 or 30 years later.
.

Not so;


Caesar: Images from his own lifetime

An unflattering portrait of Caesar found near Tusculum, carved during Caesar's own lifetime. Later portraits invariably showed Caesar wearing a laurel crown – to hide his receding hairline.

View attachment 17437

Julius Caesar on denarius from February/March, 44 BC.

View attachment 17436

Caesar is proclaimed 'perpetual dictator' at the age of 55.

On the reverse of the coin the symbols represent various aspects of Caesar's power and political program.



Contemporary images of Jesus? Nothing!

Not only was no "from life" image ever made of Jesus, there is not even one word describing the godman in the entire New Testament.

The earliest Christian iconography was simply cribbed from traditional representations of the god Apollo. Over the centuries, the image of Jesus has been adapted and modified to reflect the tastes (and often the appearance) of earthly powers.


Fantasy Meets Reality

"... more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for anyone else ..."

Let's remind ourselves: Jesus Christ The Legend did some pretty remarkable things. His 'ministry' was a pretty public affair. Many of his tricks were of no particular value (cursing a fig tree?); some would have had disastrous consequences for innocent third parties (remember that herd of 2000 suicidal pigs into which he cast demons? Surely that ruined somebody else's living?).

But certainly, by such 'miracles' he convinced his disciples and the multitude that he was the Messiah, right? Turning a jug of water into wine may have been trivial but resurrecting oneself from death was no mean trick.

But if we are to 'believe' that these stories relate real events what is to be our criteria for acceptance? On what basis should we accept any of this as 'fact' rather than fancy?''
Ah, Lumpy is trying to misrepresent history surrounding Caesar again...so not surprising.

A snippet from Lumpy's last summers attempt at shoveling buffalo chips..
Actually, I think you have inverted what is subject and what has clear objective meaning, but since you fail to grasp the meaning of “clear”, it is not surprising.

Some Julius Caesar independent and contemporary sources (none are anonymous either; nor are we trying to build a god upon a pedestal):
Several of his own writings including: The Gallic Wars, The Civil War
Cicero’s letters
Sallust’s account of Catiline’s War
Augustus, Caesar’s adopted son and successor, who commissioned many inscriptions and coins
Livy covers Caesar in his histories
Virgil, Ovid, and Catullus reference Julius in their poetry
 
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Rhea

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Jobar, methodological skeptics - empiricists - respond to modern miracles the same way as they do to ancient miracles.
Yes; using their reason, not their fears.


They want repeatability on demand.
That's how we test the world. It is a method that works beautifully to weed out bogus claims in medicine, fragrance, bridge construction, airplane design and food safety.

I expect you feel exactly the same about testing everything other than your god.


They claim people are lying. They claim people are deluded. They say the miracle isn't 'miraculous' enough. (Chop your leg off and make it regrow by praying while standing on your head juggling chainsaws)
You're saying your god couldn't make that happen? After parting the red sea? After creating DNA? He couldn't do a simple juggling act with appendage growth? There's an 11 year old kid who can solve three Rubic's cubes while juggling them in less than 5 minutes.


They want a God who can be put to the test. Show me God in a microscope/telescope.
The real puzzler here is why god's not volunteering, if that's what it takes to save souls...


...I'll obey God but first I want God to obey me
Funny how you jump from "believe" to "obey." Very Catholic of you.
But - and be honest here - do Christians reliably obey the god? Hmmm? "Every one of you falls short."
 

Rhea

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The simplistic outburst, "Aww damn it, people make up shit!" explains nothing. Why did ONLY THE CHRIST-BELIEVER writers make up such shit? in 4 (5) sources, about a recent miracle-worker claim? Why is there ONLY ONE case of this rather than several cases, if it's true that people "make up shit" all the time? If people were doing this constantly, and seriously enough to record it in writing, why is there ONLY ONE case of it that you can name?

? There are lots of written religions.
Oh, oh, oh... you're saying _simultaneous_ and you deftly say, "anything made up and recorded outside of this 100 year window doesn't count."

LOLz.

Says the religion famous for burning books.
 

couch_sloth

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The simplistic outburst, "Aww damn it, people make up shit!" explains nothing. Why did ONLY THE CHRIST-BELIEVER writers make up such shit? in 4 (5) sources, about a recent miracle-worker claim? Why is there ONLY ONE case of this rather than several cases, if it's true that people "make up shit" all the time? If people were doing this constantly, and seriously enough to record it in writing, why is there ONLY ONE case of it that you can name?

? There are lots of written religions.
Oh, oh, oh... you're saying _simultaneous_ and you deftly say, "anything made up and recorded outside of this 100 year window doesn't count."

LOLz.

Says the religion famous for burning books.

Doesn't Lumpy also reject miracle stories that spread too soon after the supposed event?
 

Keith&Co.

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Yes; using their reason, not their fears.



That's how we test the world. It is a method that works beautifully to weed out bogus claims in medicine, fragrance, bridge construction, airplane design and food safety.

I expect you feel exactly the same about testing everything other than your god.


They claim people are lying. They claim people are deluded. They say the miracle isn't 'miraculous' enough. (Chop your leg off and make it regrow by praying while standing on your head juggling chainsaws)
You're saying your god couldn't make that happen? After parting the red sea? After creating DNA? He couldn't do a simple juggling act with appendage growth? There's an 11 year old kid who can solve three Rubic's cubes while juggling them in less than 5 minutes.


They want a God who can be put to the test. Show me God in a microscope/telescope.
The real puzzler here is why god's not volunteering, if that's what it takes to save souls...


...I'll obey God but first I want God to obey me
Funny how you jump from "believe" to "obey." Very Catholic of you.
But - and be honest here - do Christians reliably obey the god? Hmmm? "Every one of you falls short."

Awww, the guy who thinks the evidence for evolution is insufficient is whining because people want repeatable observations for his skybuddy's power to fuck with reality.

I think that empiricists do NOT say 'you are lying,' so much as they point out, 'you could be lying, or mistaken, or just really gullible.' And after that, they ask, 'Why should we believe you?'

Then the claimant seems to tend towards blaming the skeptic for being a skeptic. But really, what else is supposed to happen?

Seriously? How else is this supposed to go down?

Someone says that disease is caused by tiny life forms, a zillion medical profesionals ask, why should we believe you? And they came up with evidence.

Someone says the continents move, we ask, why should we believe you? And they came up with evidence.

Someone says they came up with cold fusion, the world turned to ask, why should we believe you? And they came up ....with bupkes.

Someone says there was an event that can only be explained by the hand of the boodthirsty fuck in the Books, should we say, this might not be true, but for some reason we will pretend the story is more compelling than the last one you told us, for a while, anyway, because... um? Reasons?
 

Cheerful Charlie

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Cessation. The theist theory that the miracle working abilities promised in the Gospels etc were only effective for a short period of time some 2000 years ago. And for a short period of time during the days of Moses and Joshua. These theists don't really have a good reason for that to be so. We don't move mountains by faith, or work bigger miracles than Jesus as promised by Jesus. We do not see God appearing as a pillar of smoke or flame, or appearing to the 72 elders of Israel standing on a pavement of sapphire.

Of course the answer is simple. There were no miracles like this, just tall tales, so of course we do not see such tall tale type miracles like these now a days.

Big, grand, unmistakable miracles as per the Bible were tall tales told by lying priests, not any different than the lying tall tales of the miracles worked by the Greek Gods.
 

funinspace

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The simplistic outburst, "Aww damn it, people make up shit!" explains nothing. Why did ONLY THE CHRIST-BELIEVER writers make up such shit? in 4 (5) sources, about a recent miracle-worker claim? Why is there ONLY ONE case of this rather than several cases, if it's true that people "make up shit" all the time? If people were doing this constantly, and seriously enough to record it in writing, why is there ONLY ONE case of it that you can name?

? There are lots of written religions.
Oh, oh, oh... you're saying _simultaneous_ and you deftly say, "anything made up and recorded outside of this 100 year window doesn't count."

LOLz.
Yeah, Lumpy also requires his idea of a viable god to be some sort of miracle max healer. And it has to be possible that the people being healed and the witnesses were not followers of said cult at the time, notwithstanding that Joseph Smith still fits this narrative no matter how much Lumpy disassembled. Of course, from the NT no one can really know about the people who purportedly witnessed these events as any outside details are lost in the dust bin of time; but Lumpy insists it is so. But Lumpy never explained why a god needs to be a miracle max. It's all in his Mythical Hero Official Requirements Checklist (MHORC)...


Other opinions on sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-source_hypothesis

Says the religion famous for burning books.
Though Lumpy really isn't so much a Christian, as he is sort of a deist who is enthralled by Jesus as the mono miracle max god. Lumpy even said that he could have been the son of Quetzalcoatl...
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Did Jesus have to "beam down" only to Judea-Galilee and nowhere else?

Actually, Lumpy in the below (Readers Digest Condensed Version) post pretty much torched any connection to the Old Testament.

"connection"?

Have Jews "torched any connection" to the OT by forsaking the rituals of animal sacrifice which are central to the Mosaic Law?

How about this Old Testament "connection": the prophet Elisha summoned 2 she-bears out of the woods to rip apart 42 children who had mocked him for being bald-headed (II Kings 2:23-24), and yet Jews and Christians today do not apply this punishment to children who are disrespectful to bald-headed prophets. So have they "torched" the Old testament by not upholding this OT "connection"?

What are all the possible "connections" -- to this or that -- established as prerequisites to addressing the "Reasons to reject Christianity"?

Does the OP provide a list of all these required "connections" somewhere?


Lumpy seems to take the position that this Jesus is The God, making Lumpy more of a deist, but tied to the Jesus name for God.

To that particular person in 30 AD who did the miracle acts, yes. Not necessarily to the name per se, which was a common name in Judea-Galilee-Palestine. Isn't Christianity "tied to" that reputed founder of the Church (or the cults leading up to the Church) in the first century? Was there a qualifier in the OP disconnecting our topic from that 1st-century event, or that historical person? and saying "Jesus" and "God" should not appear together in the same phrase or sentence?


The Trinity, Yahweh, et al. are irrelevant.

You mean anything not mentioned explicitly is "irrelevant"? Are wars and famines irrelevant? It isn't necessary to enumerate all the things which might be relevant in order to make a point. That Jesus in 30 AD had power, which he showed, and is important does not imply that everything else is "irrelevant" because it's not mentioned. This one point does matter, that the Jesus person had power, but saying it does not then make everything else irrelevant.

If you want to emphasize the importance of something else, like Yahweh or the Trinity, then go ahead and explain its importance. There are many relevant matters I'm not mentioning, like global warming and so on. I'm not saying they are "irrelevant" by not mentioning them.


This Jesus God evidently chose to beam down to little old Judea to make its appearance to us earthlings. Evidently, it would be just as fine, if he were born son of Vishnu with of course his proof cum miracle healings.

Perhaps. You're saying it would have been wrong for him to have beamed down to India instead of Judea? I'm not saying where he should have beamed down to, but you seem to be saying it would have been inappropriate for him to beam down in the wrong place. How do you decide what is the right or wrong place for him to beam down to? Why are you making these dogmatic judgments about where the "Jesus God" should have beamed down to?

He had to be somewhere, didn't he? Can't we speak of someone and say he was important in some way without making a religion out of his location? Why is it necessary to insist that Jesus (or God) would have made a mistake to choose India as the location? Why couldn't that question be left unanswered, along with a few million other interesting questions?

If you're crusading for the superiority of Judea over India or Malaysia or Uzbekistan, as the location God must choose, you're free to expound on that and explain how God makes such choices. No doubt there are many theories about what God should choose, including choices more important than which location to "beam down" to. How many extended Walls of Text do you demand for taking account of all the possible choices God might make and explaining in each case why this choice had to be better than that one?


Which actually is kind of an interesting take on things theologically. I find it quite odd that he didn’t make this clear much earlier, like 2 years ago, . . .

It was made clear in my first and second posts, back on page one, when I refuted the first and second of the 120 (122) "Reasons." I referred there to the miracle acts of Jesus, in Judea/Galilee, in 30 AD, and why it's reasonable to believe these events happened.

. . . not that it makes his arguments any better. But it would allow ‘discussions’ to proceed with a little less confusion.

From the beginning it was clear that my discussion was about the event in about 30 AD, happening in Galilee-Judea, which event was essential to what "Christianity" is about. But my point does not include or exclude any requirement that it had to be at this location. I did speculate at least once about the possibility that it might have happened elsewhere, like India. So I don't rule out that possibility, but if someone else does rule it out and makes the Galilee-Judea location mandatory, it doesn't contradict my point.

So I'm not disagreeing with you that it was vitally important for God to choose Judea as the location. Maybe you're right that he had to choose that location. If there are reasons why he had to make that choice, you can give us those reasons. It's not my place to give reasons for your belief that God had to make a certain choice about something. Maybe God makes many choices without our knowing the reasons for them. But when you claim to know the reason for one of his choices, you can give it to us.

I'm sure (maybe just a basic instinct) that God does not ask us to believe anything irrational, i.e., something contradicted by reason or evidence or science. It's OK to "know" some of what God is thinking, or why he wants this or that, but there's probably much more that we don't know than what we know, and we could easily be mistaken in presuming to know what God thinks. But I'm quite certain of this one point, that he doesn't require us to believe anything irrational. But which geographical location he should choose at which to "beam down" to us is not something I feel certain about.


It really makes an even more muddled mess of notions of what is typically Christian heaven/hell theology, so . . .

Which "heaven/hell theology"? There are many of these.

What makes sense is to set aside the details of exactly what happens in heaven/hell, and seek the "eternal life" or "kingdom of God" he promised (hoping it's something good), and consider what he meant when he said "Your faith has saved you."


I’m not sure why he clings to the notion that one needs to grovel at the name of ‘Jesus’ to get the E-ticket to heaven (or possibly to avoid eternal torment).

His phrase "Your faith has saved you" says it better, less sloppily.


Though I think Lumpy has also waffled on whether he believes in internal torment, but I think he suggests even if it is only a permanent death, why not choose heaven.

I didn't deal with this interesting oddity early when replying to Lumpy novelette #3359, as I had bored of trying to filter thru the high SNR...

So then you prefer more noise and less signal?

How about the following:
:hysterical::horsecrap::hobbyhorse::hitsthefan::tomato::pigsfly::goodevil::coffeespray:beatdeadhorse::cheer::hooklinesinker::poke_with_stick::hysterical::horsecrap::hobbyhorse::hitsthefan::tomato::pigsfly::goodevil::coffeespray:beatdeadhorse::cheer::hooklinesinker::poke_with_stick::hysterical::horsecrap::hobbyhorse::hitsthefan::tomato::pigsfly:
 

funinspace

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"connection"?

Have Jews "torched any connection" to the OT by forsaking the rituals of animal sacrifice which are central to the Mosaic Law?

How about this Old Testament "connection": the prophet Elisha summoned 2 she-bears out of the woods to rip apart 42 children who had mocked him for being bald-headed (II Kings 2:23-24), and yet Jews and Christians today do not apply this punishment to children who are disrespectful to bald-headed prophets. So have they "torched" the Old testament by not upholding this OT "connection"?

What are all the possible "connections" -- to this or that -- established as prerequisites to addressing the "Reasons to reject Christianity"?

Does the OP provide a list of all these required "connections" somewhere?




To that particular person in 30 AD who did the miracle acts, yes. Not necessarily to the name per se, which was a common name in Judea-Galilee-Palestine. Isn't Christianity "tied to" that reputed founder of the Church (or the cults leading up to the Church) in the first century? Was there a qualifier in the OP disconnecting our topic from that 1st-century event, or that historical person? and saying "Jesus" and "God" should not appear together in the same phrase or sentence?


The Trinity, Yahweh, et al. are irrelevant.

You mean anything not mentioned explicitly is "irrelevant"? Are wars and famines irrelevant? It isn't necessary to enumerate all the things which might be relevant in order to make a point. That Jesus in 30 AD had power, which he showed, and is important does not imply that everything else is "irrelevant" because it's not mentioned. This one point does matter, that the Jesus person had power, but saying it does not then make everything else irrelevant.

If you want to emphasize the importance of something else, like Yahweh or the Trinity, then go ahead and explain its importance. There are many relevant matters I'm not mentioning, like global warming and so on. I'm not saying they are "irrelevant" by not mentioning them.
I wasn't even trying to debate your notions in the post you quoted of me. I was trying to help others better recognize that you aren't defending the construct that is generally contained within the word "Christianity". You are trying to defend an odd Lumpy mono-Jesus-god that doesn't reflect the notions of any major Christian sect. I see no reason that this shouldn't be pointed out and be made clear ('clear' as in the dictionary sense verses the Lumpy definition).

This Jesus God evidently chose to beam down to little old Judea to make its appearance to us earthlings. Evidently, it would be just as fine, if he were born son of Vishnu with of course his proof cum miracle healings.

Perhaps. You're saying it would have been wrong for him to have beamed down to India instead of Judea? I'm not saying where he should have beamed down to, but you seem to be saying it would have been inappropriate for him to beam down in the wrong place. How do you decide what is the right or wrong place for him to beam down to? Why are you making these dogmatic judgments about where the "Jesus God" should have beamed down to?

He had to be somewhere, didn't he? Can't we speak of someone and say he was important in some way without making a religion out of his location? Why is it necessary to insist that Jesus (or God) would have made a mistake to choose India as the location? Why couldn't that question be left unanswered, along with a few million other interesting questions?

If you're crusading for the superiority of Judea over India or Malaysia or Uzbekistan, as the location God must choose, you're free to expound on that and explain how God makes such choices. No doubt there are many theories about what God should choose, including choices more important than which location to "beam down" to. How many extended Walls of Text do you demand for taking account of all the possible choices God might make and explaining in each case why this choice had to be better than that one?
I don't need to crusade for any god, as I don't think any are real. But when you rip Jesus out of any of the atypical Christian contexts to suite your own fantasies, I will point out why I think your ideas are not even up to half-baked when compared to any normative Christian theology.


Though I think Lumpy has also waffled on whether he believes in internal torment, but I think he suggests even if it is only a permanent death, why not choose heaven.

I didn't deal with this interesting oddity early when replying to Lumpy novelette #3359, as I had bored of trying to filter thru the high SNR...

So then you prefer more noise and less signal?

How about the following:
:hysterical::horsecrap::hobbyhorse::hitsthefan::tomato::pigsfly::goodevil::coffeespray:beatdeadhorse::cheer::hooklinesinker::poke_with_stick::hysterical::horsecrap::hobbyhorse::hitsthefan::tomato::pigsfly::goodevil::coffeespray:beatdeadhorse::cheer::hooklinesinker::poke_with_stick::hysterical::horsecrap::hobbyhorse::hitsthefan::tomato::pigsfly:
Well that probably takes you less time to post than your walls of word salad you usually barf out...but it appears to actually be less noise than your typical word wall salad, so thanks for the lesser amount of noise.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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The first-century accounts of the MIRACLES OF JESUS are still the best explanation of what "Christianity" is about and . . .

. . . don't need to be replaced by more recent mystical hocus-pocus.


Though I think Lumpy has also waffled on whether he believes in internal torment, but I think he suggests even if it is only a permanent death, why not choose heaven.

That sounds right.

I do recall that he seems willing to jettison anything that's not a least-number-of-steps path to eternal life; he wants the carrot, you can say what you like about the stick, or the riding crop.

Christ belief does not have to be a program for regimenting humans toward desired social behavior, like an animal is manipulated toward the right or left or cattle are prodded to keep them from straying. Religion may often take this form, but there's no reason to assume Christ's program was to provide tools for herding humans like cattle.


But, if he'd made this all clear 2 years ago, there'd be no real reason to post it in a thread as a defense for Christainity.

On page 1, at the beginning, I showed reasons to believe, or not to "reject Christianity," and emphasized the "good news" about the possibility of eternal life, gained through faith. I.e., not "blind" faith, but belief based on evidence from history, especially the evidence of the miracle acts of Jesus, which I emphasized as central to Christ belief and legitimate to point out in a topic presuming to debunk all of Christianity.


All he really wants to defend are the Jesus Miracle Stories, and . . .

It matters whether those events happened, because if so it indicates that eternal life is a possibility. And we have evidence that those events did happen.

. . . and a very self-serving view of how History works.

The correct view is that we know history from documents written at the time, e.g., 2000 years ago. Like we know of the Greeks and Romans and others, from the ancient written documents. And like we know of the Jesus miracle acts, from the evidence, like we know 99% of our ancient history from written documents of the time.

Your riddles about "how History works" say nothing to show that "History works" other than by relying on the ancient documents, like a Christ believer relies on the ancient documents for the evidence of the Jesus miracle power to give eternal life.
 

Jobar

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Amazing the changes in appearance Jesus has gone through, over the ages.

Here's a 4th-century mosaic of Christ.
jc-constantine.jpg

Here's a bust of the emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire.
constantine-icon.jpg

Here's Jesus in his 'good shepherd' guise.
jesus_4thshepherd.jpg


However, for many centuries Apollo, son of Zeus, was also the god of shepherds.
apollo-6th-c-athens.jpg

In the time of the emperor Hadrian, his young male lover, Antinous, drowned in the Nile; it's thought he may have been a willing sacrifice in some ritual to extend the life and/or reign of Hadrian. Afterwards, the emperor declared Antinous a god, and his images were inscribed in many temples.
antin-stele.gif

Here's a 6th/7th century Egyptian Coptic image of Christ.
jc-coptic-6-7th.gif

In seventh century France, Christ looked remarkably like a Frankish warrior, complete with Woden's headdress.
jc-7th-Frank-woden-phallus-.jpg

Here's an image of Christ from 1520, by an Italian painter.
emmaus-christ-melone.jpg

Coincidentally- or maybe not- here's a painting of Cesare Borgia, Pope's son and bad-guy extraordinaire, by the same painter.
cesare-borgia.jpg

It would be amusing to make a collection of Jesus images on things like nuts, toast, pizzas, wall paneling, or whatever, and compare to see how similar the features were. :D
 

C_Mucius_Scaevola

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It matters whether those events happened, because if so it indicates that eternal life is a possibility.

It does? In what way? What's the causal connection between somebody performing a few tricks (or "miracles" if you must) and people living forever? Even if the one could be shown to be true, it doesn't follow that the other must also be true.
 

atrib

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It matters whether those events happened, because if so it indicates that eternal life is a possibility.

It does? In what way? What's the causal connection between somebody performing a few tricks (or "miracles" if you must) and people living forever? Even if the one could be shown to be true, it doesn't follow that the other must also be true.

Good luck with that. Lumpy doesn't respond to questions, he only posts walls of text that say nothing and explain nothing.
 

Keith&Co.

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What's the causal connection between somebody performing a few tricks (or "miracles" if you must) and people living forever? Even if the one could be shown to be true, it doesn't follow that the other must also be true.
Keeping in mind that Lumpy does not accept that the entire bible is divinely inspired, his logic is:

If those parts of the gospels where they say Jesus claimed to be representing God really happened, and he wasn't lying, he would have access to divine power.
If those parts of the gospels where they say the healing and resurrection miracles happened, then those can only be explained by Jesus having access to divine power.
And that means he's not a liar.
If those parts of the gospels where they say that Jesus offered eternal life really happened, then Jesus having access to divine power means he's in a position to back up that offer.

So Jesus is a non-liar with divine power who promised eternal life.

If those parts of the bible that say eternal life is conditional on certain behaviors (giving up all wealth to the poor, for example) are not divine, but added later by manipulative people, then maybe one need ONLY believe in the healing miracles in order to achieve salvation.

The Gospel According To Lumpenproletariat is a very efficient, very self-serving distillation of quite a bit of material into a very simple program for 'how do I get to live forever without changing much in my life on Earth?'
 

C_Mucius_Scaevola

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It matters whether those events happened, because if so it indicates that eternal life is a possibility.

It does? In what way? What's the causal connection between somebody performing a few tricks (or "miracles" if you must) and people living forever? Even if the one could be shown to be true, it doesn't follow that the other must also be true.

Good luck with that. Lumpy doesn't respond to questions, he only posts walls of text that say nothing and explain nothing.

Yes, I know. My post wasn't about getting an answer from Lumpy, it was just to highlight the fallacious nature of his statement, for other readers.

What's the causal connection between somebody performing a few tricks (or "miracles" if you must) and people living forever? Even if the one could be shown to be true, it doesn't follow that the other must also be true.
Keeping in mind that Lumpy does not accept that the entire bible is divinely inspired, his logic is:

If those parts of the gospels where they say Jesus claimed to be representing God really happened, and he wasn't lying, he would have access to divine power.
If those parts of the gospels where they say the healing and resurrection miracles happened, then those can only be explained by Jesus having access to divine power.
And that means he's not a liar.
If those parts of the gospels where they say that Jesus offered eternal life really happened, then Jesus having access to divine power means he's in a position to back up that offer.

So Jesus is a non-liar with divine power who promised eternal life.

If those parts of the bible that say eternal life is conditional on certain behaviors (giving up all wealth to the poor, for example) are not divine, but added later by manipulative people, then maybe one need ONLY believe in the healing miracles in order to achieve salvation.

The Gospel According To Lumpenproletariat is a very efficient, very self-serving distillation of quite a bit of material into a very simple program for 'how do I get to live forever without changing much in my life on Earth?'

It's all a bit "assuming the consequent", though, isn't it? Surely the thing to do if, say, the miracles were somehow shown to have happened, is not to declare "Water into wine? That means we can live forever!!!!111!!!", it's to then say, "Ok, let's figure out how and why, and what it means in the context of these other claims and statements". To immediately jump to the "eternal life" conclusion is to miss out several important steps in the inquiry.
 

Lion IRC

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It matters whether those events happened, because if so it indicates that eternal life is a possibility.

It does? In what way? What's the causal connection between somebody performing a few tricks (or "miracles" if you must) and people living forever? Even if the one could be shown to be true, it doesn't follow that the other must also be true.

He didn't say the other therefore "must also be true".
He said "a possibility".

Do you accept that if one supernatural (miracle) event actually DID take place, then it effectively opens the gate to the possibility of other phenomena?

Let me rephrase. Do you accept that if the existence of multiple universes (supernatural realms) is true, then one of those could feasibly be an afterlife destination? Death as a wormhole? The 'soul' as a quantum phenomenon?

Is it impossible for you to conceive of your coming into existence in this world as a 'singularity'?
 
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