Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Other Stories of Miracles

Do accounts of miracles by other beliefs prove the Christian accounts are false? Do particular falsified Christian accounts of miracles prove the rest are false? Before we can deal with this, we need to put it in perspective. Not only in the supernatural but in the natural realms we are continually confronted with stories that have different degrees of probability. There are various opinions on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, reaching from the single bullet theory, to the government conspiracy theory, to the story he continued to survive somewhere on a desert island theory, most of which do not involve the supernatural. But that does not make them equally plausible. To reject the moon landing as historical does not require the supernatural, but that does not mean we should give it credence. History is full of stories and anecdotes, some of which are true, some of which are false, and some of which may be argued both ways. Is it surprising the same thing is true in regard to the supernatural? The truth is that if you want to know what the truth is, you need to weigh the evidence. But to assume the supernatural must be dismissed as dubious is circular reasoning unless you have already proved the supernatural cannot happen. And if you can do this, there is no need to argue from questionable instances of the supernatural. The usual argument here is that science disproves the supernatural, but science cannot really deal with this issue.

While it is certainly not definitive, the existence of miracles and stories of miracles in many belief systems is an argument in favor of miracles. If you believe in a supernatural world, there may be a variety of supernatural beings. There may be demons out to fool us into following the wrong beliefs. Even if almost all accounts of miracles are false, we have to ask where they got the idea from. It is more reasonable they are imitating something that was known to exist. The fact that counterfeit currency exists does not prove that real currency does not. In fact, it suggests the existence of real currency. Now if the fundamental miracles that undergird Christianity (or even the important related ones) can be shown to be false, we have a problem. If it can be shown that the Christian miracles are no better substantiated or no more indicative of the power of God than any others, we have a problem. But the fact there are false stories of miracles does not prove anything (beyond calling into question the individual who worked them). My father was a taxidermist, and liked to try to convince the city slickers that jackalopes (the offspring of a jack rabbit and an antelope) were real. Because this is false, does that mean jack rabbits and antelopes do not exist? 

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