I've had a little tour around this Christian website, and some of you may be aware, i've posted a few comments over the past week or so. Following on, I'd be quite interested to get some feedback on the subject of miracles.
One of the reasons that I lost my faith was coming to terms with the fact ( from what i'd observed), that god does not seem to intervene with the natural forces that govern us in any way shape or form, at least in a way that we can observe with any degree of certainty.
The term miracle I'm well aware has a very broad span in general use, .. "it was a miracle", says some person who survived a nasty car accident,.. yes, these incidents happen all the time. I dont regard these strictly as miracles in the true sense of the word, ..to me, that person had a lucky escape.
I'm talking more about the dictionary definition of "a supernatural occurance that defies the laws of nature". Do these "true miracles happen"?
For example, Could god heal an amputee?. To the best of my knowledge there are no former amputees in the world. Would we be pushing our luck to ask god to re grow lost limbs?
The New Testament is full of Jesus's miracles, .. As a child, learning about these wonderous events, I accepted them as fact unquestionably, it's only later in life I actually stopped and questioned myself as to the veracity of these wonders. With a skeptical head on, you begin to see a completely different story, though just as compelling.
So, in a nutshell, .. do miracles in their supernatural sense, happen, .. if so, what evidence is there?
Hi Simon, Thanks for that article.
You said it explains the supernatural very well. I found it rather confusing, regarding the subject of miracles, it contained very little. I was hoping to hear more from you're personal perspective on miracles rather than you directing me to a link. It spoke of the miracle of "Abraham and Sarah", when reading the bible, this isn't one of the great miracles that people talk about in biblical discussions. What evidence is there that these people actually existed? Do you then believe implicitly in the story of Abrahams nephew Lot and the whole Sodom and Gomorah story. ( the story of Lot is one that beggars belief). Do you believe the stories in the New Testament that Jesus turned water into wine? ( classic conjuring trick), or that he forced demons from demented humans, and drove them into pigs and over cliffs.? The bible is chock full of amazing stories like these, culminating in the best one of all, that he died and went to heavan. .. but who witnessed it, and how reliable is their testimony? Would their stories hold up in a court?. Is there any possibility that these supernatural events were written decades after the supposed event, and that maybe, .. just maybe, .. they are the work of fiction.. written by men with motives. If I wanted someone to believe my story in these superstitious times, yes, i might just add a supernatural element to grab the attention. It's funny how the Gospels, written in cronological order, starting with Mark, seem to increase in miraculous events as they go, culminating with John's gospel.. written long after Mark.
The link also mentioned the miracle of how birds are able to navigate their way over long distances to find their nests. I wouldn't put this in the miracle bracket, .. yes, it's an amazing feat, .. but it's not miraculous, .. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the magnetic force of the planet.
What about modern day miracles?, do they happen?, if so what evidence is there? I never see any supernatural events on news bulletins etc.
I noticed the link you gave was from Biologos, the website set up by Francis Collins, ..Although I do admire his contribution to the genome project, .. I do question his faith in Christ. How can you marry up billions of years of evolution with Christianity.?
At what point in mans long long evolutionary process did God embue us with his morals? .. we've been around in some form for millions of years
Confused of Swindon.
Thanks for the response.
Regarding Anthony's point "What would convince me"?. It's something I've pondered for many many years. Due to my skeptical nature, I have to say I'd take a lot of convincing. But I'm not beyond convincing, if I truly saw a supernatural event I would be happy to change my mind. Whats not to like about eternal life, it's an extremely comforting thought. But in the cold light of day, I'm not seeing, or being presented with much credible evidence. From my catholic background ,growing up, there were 2 miraculous events I was surrounded with , regarding literature and iconic paraphanalia, At the time, I took these as actual events that really happened.. such was my indoctrination ( i know you Christians hate that word). First, in my parents bedroom were several pictures of Lourdes, .. the scene of a miraculous appearance of Our Lady Mary, witnessed by some children in a grotto. As a child myself, i lost count of the number of times I saw things in shadows, our brains are conditioned to do exactly that, it's some form of warning mechanism. But Lourdes is now a massive money making franchise, seemingly on the say so of a few children with imaginative minds. Also, it's a place, dispite what the catholic church tell you, where miracles, do not happen. The 2nd looming image in our council house that seemed to take pride of place on the wall, was a large picture with a prayer under it, .. from Our Lady of Fatima. Again, I'm sure you're well aware of this amazing miraculous event which took place in the early 1900's in Portugal, .. it runs along the same line as the previous miracle, .. some children witness Our Lady etc. The local population got wind of this, and turned up en masse to see what was going on, .. The reports are that 30,000 people witnessed very strange activity in the sky, looking up, they all noticed the sun dancing and changing colour. This was proof again for the church that something very supernatural had happened. Now, again, in the cold light of day, you try looking at the sun for more than a few seconds ( not really recommended).. I can tell you, it will do 2 things, .. change colour, and move around erratically. Can 30,000 people be wrong?. Hmmmm. Ah, you're not catholics, so obviously you can see how easily we were duped. How silly to be fooled like that. But you're strong belief in biblical miracles are unshakable, .. there is no way these events didn't happen. It seems to me, you're not using the same critical eye that you use to dismiss all other gods and their supernatural claims.
I remain to be given convinced, it's highly improbable in my view. If your Christian God exists, he gave me the capacity to think skeptically, and I've used it accordingly. He gave me a brain to think and reason, and I've used it to the best of my ability regarding all claims of supernatural gods, including his own existence.
What would convince me?.. this would probably do it. .. If a group of commited born again Christians gathered around the bedside of a soldier just back from Afghanistan with his limbs blown off. They then prayed for him in a group, then, come morning, .. his limbs were restored to their former glory, there is absolutely no doubt, .. I would join them in prayer and praise the Lord and his glory. How wonderful and miraculous would such an event be. Praise be to Christ.
Anthony, .. Hmmm, would such a miracle then lead me to believe in the resurrection claim? .. I honestly can't say, first I would need to experience the miraculous event, and see where that took me, emotionally, spiritually and rationally, equally I could throw the same question at you, .. what if you found conclusively that the resurrection was a complete myth, how would you take it?,.. the truth is, we just don't know how we will react, there are so many variables thrown into the mix, you could react in numberous ways. You say you suspect God won't indulge me, .. I agree 100%. This is pretty much how life is. It appears to follow the laws of nature. You say ( regarding my amputee miracle).. And even if he did, there would be plenty of people claiming it would be a hoax. Absolutely true. Is'nt this Gods problem .. what could he possibly do that would make the entire global population believe in him?. There are many Christians who truly believe that Christ will make a return to earth in the second coming, .. I can envisage a few problems if that scenario ever happened.
I don't doubt for one second that believers in Christ are sincere. I'm just holding back. It's like that trust game you play, where you fall backwards, and your partner catches you before you hit the floor. You all have complete confidence that Jesus will catch you, .. I'm looking behind me, and I don't see anything there. Maybe you've all got that comforting faith, and I'm just to scared to let go. My senses are telling me not to close my eyes and fall backwards. I guess I just lack that faith.
ps, .. it's my birthday today, ..and the sun is shining!!!! Off to a good start!!
Thanks for the NT Wright clip, .. I have seen his work, .. yes, he's a very eloquent speaker, listening to him, it's easy to get convinced by his arguments. It seems to me, dispite his certainty, I still find his answers lacking in actual substance and true critical objectiveness, .. obviously, he's got a heavily vested interest in his view being correct. I'm much more convinced by the work of Bart Ehrman, along with his books, there are some very stimulating debates on youtube with highly rated Christian apologists ( type in Bart Ehrman debates). Bart started out as a totally commited Christian, who was keen to study the bible in it's original form so he could defend it's authenticity, he soon realised all was not as it seemed. Anyhoo, he does have a knack of asking those awkward questions, .. and coming up with seemingly very good rational answers. Yes, he's also got a heavily vested interest in HIS view being correct aswell, but it seems to me, he started out with a completely honest blank slate, and very quickly he saw problems that he could not solve using rationale and logic.
I've never sat easy with the resurrection story, .. a blood sacrifice to take away our sins? it all seems to simplistic to me, like God is using his son as a scapegoat,( the very idea that God would even have a son???) .. pile your sins on my son, he will take them away. What exactly was his sacrifice?.. he gets to spend eternity in heavan?.. If somebody told me he was burning in hell for our sins as a sacrifice, that would make more sense. ( albeit a sick sacrifice). I wonder how many mothers would go through similar torture to spend time with loved children that had been killed via a car accident, .. to have that child back, I'm sure plenty of mothers would endure torture, ..again, albeit a sick sacrifice. My own mother lost her son aged 13, I wouldn't ask her, but I've no doubt she would do anything to spend real time with him again. Within the 4 Gospel accounts of the death and resurrection stories there are quite a few glaring anomolies for which I've yet to hear convincing answers, .. I will let Bart ask them should you wish to hear/watch the debates, .. well worth a watch.
You say not trusting is not an option, i disagree Anthony, .. I'm keeping my options open like a good skeptic.
Thanks for the birthday shout out. My mum made me a wonderful oat cake.
Thanks for your comments, I can assure you, I wasn't deliberatly making a cheapshot at the resurrection/crucifixion, if thats how it came across It was not my intent. I was merely making a few pointers and thoughts that have whizzed through my mind on countless occasions. Thanks for the atonement wiki link, for me, this just highlights the complex maze of thoughts from a diverse Christian community that accompany the crucifixion story. I very much doubt the average Christian gives much serious theological or philosophical thought to the ramifications of the atonement, ..Christ died for their sins is the story thats been handed down to them, but when you take a step back and think critically, there are definate cracks that appear. Who were the eyewitnesses to this event that supposedy had such a cataclysmic effect on mankind? Why did this take place in such a tiny provincial state in the Roman empire? What physical evidence is left behind?.. and many many more questions, .. It seems to me ( no doubt you will strongly disagree), that critical thinking and religion dont go hand in hand. We come back once again to that old word "Faith".
Yes, I have faith in lots and lots of things, .. I know the sun will rise , the stars will shine at night, .. i have faith that when I switch my kettle on, it will give me boiling water, etc etc. But as regards faith or belief in a supernatural entity, I am highly skeptical. Dare I say we've come full circle, .. back to miracles.. is there any credible evidence anywhere in the world, past or present, that any miracle has ever occured?
Do any of you ever watch "The Big Questions" on BBC1 on sunday mornings, they have quite lively debates about religious matters each week. The two opposing sides strenuously put their cases, it can get quite heated at times, I dont think I've ever seen one person concede a point, but it's quite interesting to see how the differing opinions are defended to the hilt. Nicky Campbell does quite a good job as man in the middle.
It's never been my intention to change people's opinions in here..I know there is little chance of that, but I do like to try and see things from your perspective whilst expressing some of my own thoughts and getting feedback. So thanks very much for all the replies, much appriciated.
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