The Miracle Myth


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The Miracle Myth : Why Belief in the Resurrection and the Supernatural Is Unjustified.

The problem with this is that he later accuses theists of begging the question by assuming God Of course, on his understanding, the theist must assume a supernatural entity, so naturally this accusation makes sense. Yet if we consider contexts, our ability to identify a specific agent has improved significantly. Historical Argument. Instead, he evaluates the historical evidence for miracle claims. In these chapters, he considers what type of evidence is needed to establish that a miraculous event has occurred.


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Next, he examines various historical tools written records, assent of enemies, physical evidence, reliable accounting, and implicating consequences used by historians when they assess historical claims. It is significant that Shapiro repeatedly acknowledges he is not a historian 54, 91, , As will be shown, it was unwise for him to base his second of only two arguments against miracles on an area in which he is a newcomer. While there are a multitude of mistakes in these chapters e.


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He states that most of what he has learned about the New Testament is from two skeptics, Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier After all, if one is seeking to determine if Jesus was really raised, then presumably one might want to present at least some arguments from those who believe the resurrection occurred, and what evidence led them to that conclusion.

Many brilliant scholars today believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and do so based on historical facts that are agreed on by most critical scholars of all theological backgrounds. Second, Shapiro fails to understand not only the ancient sources but also his own sources. For Shapiro, the NT, which he seems to describe as one work instead of a collection of twenty-seven writings, is wholly untrustworthy Such outright rejection of the entire NT is a prejudicial move, not a historical one.

Even if one believes the NT to be generally unreliable, historians still believe that there is historical information found in the NT writings. Third, and most incredible , is that Shapiro completely overlooks one of the central witnesses, the former persecutor Paul. For example, the early Christian creed found in 1 Corinthians ff. Thomas Aquinas , a prominent Doctor of the Church , divided miracles into three types in his Summa contra Gentiles :.

These works that are done by God outside the usual order assigned to things are wont to be called miracles: because we are astonished admiramur at a thing when we see an effect without knowing the cause. And since at times one and the same cause is known to some and unknown to others, it happens that of several who see an effect, some are astonished and some not: thus an astronomer is not astonished when he sees an eclipse of the sun, for he knows the cause; whereas one who is ignorant of this science must needs wonder, since he knows not the cause.

Wherefore it is wonderful to the latter but not to the former. Accordingly a thing is wonderful simply, when its cause is hidden simply: and this is what we mean by a miracle: something, to wit, that is wonderful in itself and not only in respect of this person or that. Now God is the cause which is hidden to every man simply: for we have proved above that in this state of life no man can comprehend Him by his intellect.

Therefore properly speaking miracles are works done by God outside the order usually observed in things. Of these miracles there are various degrees and orders. The highest degree in miracles comprises those works wherein something is done by God, that nature can never do: for instance, that two bodies occupy the same place, that the sun recede or stand still, that the sea be divided and make way to passers by. Among these there is a certain order: for the greater the work done by God, and the further it is removed from the capability of nature, the greater the miracle: thus it is a greater miracle that the sun recede, than that the waters be divided.

The second degree in miracles belongs to those whereby God does something that nature can do, but not in the same order: thus it is a work of nature that an animal live, see and walk: but that an animal live after being dead, see after being blind, walk after being lame, this nature cannot do, but God does these things sometimes by a miracle.

Among these miracles also, there are degrees, according as the thing done is further removed from the faculty of nature. The third degree of miracles is when God does what is wont to be done by the operation of nature, but without the operation of the natural principles: for instance when by the power of God a man is cured of a fever that nature is able to cure; or when it rains without the operation of the principles of nature. In Hinduism, miracles are focused on episodes of liberation of the spirit. This is a typical situation in Hindu mythology wherein "wondrous acts are performed for the purpose of bringing spiritual liberation to those who witness or read about them.

Hindu sages have criticized both expectation and reliance on miracles as cheats, situations where people have sought to earn a benefit without doing the work necessary to merit it. The scientific explanation for the incident, attested by Indian academics, was that the material was wicked from the offering bowls by capillary action. It rather uses the term 'Ayah' literally meaning sign.

To defend the possibility of miracles and God's omnipotence against the encroachment of the independent secondary causes, some medieval Muslim theologians such as Al-Ghazali rejected the idea of cause and effect in essence, but accepted it as something that facilitates humankind's investigation and comprehension of natural processes. They argued that the nature was composed of uniform atoms that were "re-created" at every instant by God. Thus if the soil was to fall, God would have to create and re-create the accident of heaviness for as long as the soil was to fall.

For Muslim theologians, the laws of nature were only the customary sequence of apparent causes: customs of God. Sufi biographical literature records claims of miraculous accounts of men and women. The miraculous prowess of the Sufi holy men includes firasa clairvoyance , the ability to disappear from sight, to become completely invisible and practice buruz exteriorization. The holy men reportedly tame wild beasts and traverse long distances in a very short time span. They could also produce food and rain in seasons of drought, heal the sick and help barren women conceive.

Examples include prophets, such as Elijah who performed miracles like the raising of a widow's dead son 1 Kings —24 and Elisha whose miracles include multiplying the poor widow's jar of oil 2 Kings —7 and restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem 2 Kings — The Torah describes many miracles related to Moses during his time as a prophet and the Exodus of the Israelites. Parting the Red Sea , and facilitating the Plagues of Egypt are among the most famous.

During the first century BCE, a variety of religious movements and splinter groups developed amongst the Jews in Judea. A number of individuals claimed to be miracle workers in the tradition of Moses , Elijah , and Elisha , the Jewish prophets. The Talmud provides some examples of such Jewish miracle workers, one of whom is Honi HaM'agel , who was famous for his ability to successfully pray for rain.

There are people who obscure all miracles by explaining them in terms of the laws of nature. When these heretics who do not believe in miracles disappear and faith increases in the world, then the Mashiach will come. For the essence of the Redemption primarily depends on this — that is, on faith [42]. Most Chasidic communities are rife with tales of miracles that follow a yechidut , a spiritual audience with a tzadik : barren women become pregnant, cancer tumors shrink, wayward children become pious.

Thomas Jefferson , principal author of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, edited a version of the Bible in which he removed sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists. The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, etc.

John Adams , second President of the United States, wrote, "The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles? American Revolutionary War patriot and hero Ethan Allen wrote "In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue".

Robert Ingersoll wrote, "Not 20 people were convinced by the reported miracles of Christ, and yet people of the nineteenth century were coolly asked to be convinced on hearsay by miracles which those who are supposed to have seen them refused to credit. Elbert Hubbard , American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher, wrote "A miracle is an event described by those to whom it was told by people who did not see it.

Biologist Richard Dawkins has criticised the belief in miracles as a subversion of Occam's razor.

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Mathematician Charles Hermite , in a discourse upon the world of mathematical truths and the physical world, stated that "The synthesis of the two is revealed partially in the marvellous correspondence between abstract mathematics on the one hand and all the branches of physics on the other". Baden Powell , an English mathematician and Church of England priest, stated that if God is a lawgiver, then a "miracle" would break the lawful edicts that had been issued at Creation. Therefore, a belief in miracles would be entirely atheistic.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. An event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. For other uses, see Miracle disambiguation. The entire nation of Japan was able to view the tears of the statue of the Virgin Mary on national television. Main articles. Death and culture Parapsychology Scientific literacy.

Main articles: Law of truly large numbers and Littlewood's law.

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See also: Epistemic theory of miracles. Main article: Of Miracles. Main article: Miracles of Gautama Buddha. Main articles: Miracles of Jesus and Gift of miracles. See also: Marian apparition , Eucharistic Miracle , Stigmata , Weeping statue , Moving statues , Visions of Jesus and Mary , Incorruptibility , and Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena. Main articles: Islamic view of miracles and Miracles of Muhammad. See also: Occasionalism. Small Miracles.

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The Miracle Myth : Lawrence Shapiro :

Systematic Theology. Retrieved Retrieved 31 July Thelogico-Political Treatise. On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despirers.

Medjugorje: Myth or Miracle? (Miracle Documentary) - Real Stories

London: Paul, Trench, Trubner. Shapiro's accessible and thought-provoking book will appeal to fundamental theologians, philosophers, and intelligent laypersons for establishing the epistemic warrants for believing in miracles. After explaining the differences between justification, explanation, knowledge, and belief, S. When garnering the evidence for a purported event, one must test the available hypotheses that can account for the data. Hypotheses are strengthened or weakened by the assumptions that affect them.

Because miracles should be understood as improbable "events that are the result of supernatural, typically divine, forces" p. Undoubtedly, S. There are two weaknesses in the book, both of which relate to assessing the merits of competing hypotheses as they pertain to the evidence for Jesus's resurrection. The first is that S.

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Contemporary defenders of miracles not only provide arguments for the existence of God; they also show why God is likely to communicate with humans in a publicly accessible way. It is fitting that God will reveal meaningful answers to questions about human origins, purpose, identity, morality, and destiny. Indeed, if that god were omnipotent, I would say it raises the probability of the resurrection to one" p. Unless S.

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