Magic vs. Technology

In the New Testament, Jesus does lots of impressive miracles.

More precisely, they were impressive for the time. Today we surpass them with technology so regularly that we often don’t notice. Let’s compare the miracles of Jesus with what modern technology can do.

Jesus walked on the water. We can’t walk on the water, but we can travel on the water in a vast array of boats, both large and small, powered and wind driven. For example, an aircraft carrier can carry 5000 people, sail at 30+ knots, and operate for 20 years without refueling. We can travel under the water with submarines. We can fly above the water with airplanes. We have even gone to the moon.

Feeding of the 5000. We can’t feed people with magic, but we can still feed lots of people. Norman Borlaug has saved perhaps one billion lives because of improved strains of wheat, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Haber process, which turns nitrogen into ammonia, produces fertilizer that is estimated “to be responsible for sustaining one-third of the Earth’s population.”

Cursing the fig tree. Jesus was hungry, but it wasn’t the season for figs. Nevertheless, Jesus cursed a fig tree, and it withered. While we can’t destroy trees with magic, we’ve got the destruction thing figured out. We have herbicide that kills plants. We have chain saws and bulldozers. We have dynamite and hydrogen bombs.

Miraculous catch of fish. We can’t catch fish with magic, but modern fishing trawlers do a good job at catching lots of fish. They do perhaps too good a job, and aquaculture now produces as much tonnage as wild capture to reduce humanity’s footprint.

Calming the storm. We can’t stop storms, but we have gotten pretty good at prediction. We’re able to minimize the loss of life from disasters like the 1900 Galveston hurricane. Technology can warn of tornadoes and tsunamis.

Prophecies. Jesus predicted his death and his second coming, but pause for a moment to consider this quote from Shakespeare:

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

Jesus made prophecies, and so can any man, but do they actually come true? His predictions of a second coming within the lifetimes of some witnesses didn’t come to pass. His prediction of his death is part of a story that we have little reason to see as history.

Healing miracles. Jesus did many of these (I recently explored the healing miracles here). For example, he healed lepers. We don’t heal lepers with magic but with antibiotics. Leprosy is no longer much of a problem, as is the case for smallpox, bubonic plague, and polio.

Jesus cast out demons. We don’t, because we know they don’t cause disease. We can’t cure all illnesses, but we do a better job now that we’re focused on the actual causes.

Jesus restored sight and hearing. Here again, we can’t prevent all such cases or cure all that occur, but medicine has made remarkable improvements in health.

Jesus raised the dead. We don’t use magic, but modern medicine has returned thousands from conditions that just a century ago would be considered “dead.”

What Jesus didn’t do. Jesus didn’t do any miracles against which we can parallel clean water and sanitation. Or civil engineering—roads, bridges, and buildings. Or communication—telephones and the internet. Or the energy industry or the chemical industry or the transportation industry.

What Jesus did was basically just party stunts. From helping God create the universe, he was reduced to doing magic for small audiences and today just appears in toast.

Some Christians will agree and say that Jesus didn’t come to improve the lot of people on earth but simply to spread his message.

Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. (John 10:37–8)

Okay, we can’t duplicate what Jesus did by magic. But everything that has been improved for humanity has been improved by humanity. Technology puts the claimed miracles of Jesus in perspective.

Religion may not be dying just yet,
but it’s sure getting feeble in this age of reason.
— comment at WWJTD blog

Photo credit: Wikimedia

William Lane Craig Misrepresents Christianity and Insults Islam
Christian Apologists Find No Meaning in Life
’Tis the Season!
Guest Post: Still Waiting for Jesus
About Bob Seidensticker
  • guest

    trust me religion isn’t leaving us anytime soon in fact all the major religions have increased their followers in the last 10 years. as feeding the 5000
    once a scientist can clone food to feed 5000 from only enough to feed 1and do this in less than a couple minutes then you can say that science has come close to replicating the works of Jesus not before.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Sorry, dude. The feeding of the 5000 was just a story.

      You say it’s history? OK–show me.

      • guest

        I can prove that Jesus feed the 5000 the same way I can prove that Caesar conquered Gaul! Eye witness wrote about it and their writing survive as histories. All of the people that saw Jesus’s miracle may be dead, but so our all the people that saw Caesar invade Gaul. But people at that time recorded the eyewitness accounts. If we accept that the count of Caesar invasion of Gaul to be accurate they we must do the same for Jesus’s miracles.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Uh, yeah, one small issue you’re ignoring is that that’s not how history works.

          Historians universally scrub supernatural claims out of history. The original accounts of Julius Caesar have supernatural claims (my favorite supernatural claim for Julius Caesar is from Suetonius), but historians don’t believe them.

        • guest

          I am suggesting that we not just “Universally Scrub” something because it doesn’t fit into are scientific model. Science is change all the time, what we believed about the world ten years ago and what we know are contrary to each other. Both Jesus and Julius Caesar claimed to be God. I am suggesting that instead of just throwing both arguments out we should exam the evidence for both and came to our own conclusions.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Can we at least agree that historians scrub the supernatural out of History? And that rejecting the supernatural stories in the Bible is actually in keeping with history (so, no, we needn’t discard Caesar)?

        • guest

          Agree. I am not say that historians don’t “scrub the supernatural out of History.” I am just saying that if a you find something in a historical account written by eyewitness and seen by many other Eyewitness than you should at least do some research before you declare if to be nothing be than a myth.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I do plenty of research, but thanks for your concern. If you find a specific point on which I’ve made an error, I welcome a correction. Bonus points for evidence supporting your claim.

          I declare the gospels legend (not myth) after much research.

          if a you find something in a historical account written by eyewitness

          What “something” are you thinking about? The gospel story? First, show that it’s history and show that there were eyewitnesses.

        • guest

          What “something” are you thinking about? The gospel story? First, show that it’s history and show that there were eyewitnesses.

          For histories you not only have the four gospels but you also have the historian Josephus ( a Jew not a Christian) who writes

          “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man [if indeed one ought to call him a man.] For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. [He was the Christ.] When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. [On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him.] And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”

          As for eyewitness you have the disciples, the 5000, The hundreds of thousands that were healed by him, Josephus, and the writers of gospels.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That passage in Josephus is widely understood to be a Christian addition. (Think about it: how could Josephus write that and not be a Christian? He was a Jew.)

          No, you have stories of the eyewitnesses.

          Search for “naysayer hypothesis” and “500 eyewitnesses” for more.

        • guest

          “That passage in Josephus is widely understood to be a Christian addition.”

          There is simple no evidence to support this comment there has never been a copy of Josephus found that did not have the passage about Jesus in it. No historical document give any indication that there ever was even a rumor of such a document existing.

          “Think about it: how could Josephus write that and not be a Christian? He was a Jew.”

          The Jew were not as apposed to Jesus as is popularly believed. True the Jewish religious leader hated him, but they were in the minority elite. With the exception of religious leaders most of Jew who didn’t consider Jesus to be the Christ believed him to be a Great prophet sent by God like Mosses. Josephus was most likely one of these Jews.

          To say that the passages in Josephus were add (when there is no evidence to support this) because it supports the biblical account. Is the equivalent to a D.A saying that if evidence supports the defense it must have been plated because it supports the defense.

          “No, you have stories of the eyewitnesses” No, I have stories written BY eyewitness. The writers of the new testimate made it very clear that they had seen the event they wrote about.

          “Search for naysayer hypothesis” If Jesus some how managed to “naysayer hypothesis” Thousands of people in to believe that they were cured from their sickness, the Jewish religious leader could have easily discredit him. They could have just pointed out that none of the people claim to be healed by Jesus were actually healed, the crucifixion would have been unnecessary.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          There is simple no evidence to support this comment

          “The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus without a reference to the execution of Jesus by Pilate which was then subject to Christian interpolation.” (Wikipedia)

          The Jew were not as apposed to Jesus as is popularly believed.

          ?? No one is saying that the Jews were opposed to Jesus. You, however, are saying that someone knew that Jesus rose again after being killed and yet wasn’t a follower of this miraculous man.

          most of Jew who didn’t consider Jesus to be the Christ believed him to be a Great prophet sent by God like Mosses.

          And yet you say that Josephus said that Jesus was the Christ!

          And expand on this claim that most of the Jews who knew of Jesus thought him to be a Jewish prophet.

          To say that the passages in Josephus were add (when there is no evidence to support this)

          Don’t tell me. Tell the scholars who argue precisely the opposite.

          I have stories written BY eyewitness.

          I don’t believe you. Show me.

          The writers of the new testimate made it very clear that they had seen the event they wrote about.

          Like who? The only example I can think of is in the second ending of John (ch. 21).

          If Jesus some how managed to “naysayer hypothesis” Thousands of people in to believe that they were cured from their sickness

          Did you read the post?

          You gotta get past the first obstacle: all we have is a story. Is it history? You must show that.

        • mrodr769

          If you read the quote from Josephus you know that he did not say that He thought Jesus to be the Christ he only said that Jesus was a teacher that worked miracle that he died, but witness claimed to see him alive. Not once is his personal beliefs mentioned. I find it unlikely that some past Christian would have destroyed all copies of josephus’ s work, kill anyone who might have read them, kill anyone they might have told about them, print new copies, yet leave no evidence behind! for that matter who was this Christian? the Pope? what exactly did he stand to gain? 90 percent of Europe was illiterate and it was unlikely that those that could read would have access to a copy of Josephus work anyway so what would be the point?

          Luke 1:2; 2 Peter 2: 16

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you read the quote from Josephus you know that he did not say that He thought Jesus to be the Christ

          Read it yourself: “He was [the] Christ.”

          Who but a Christian would’ve written this? Indeed, who but a Christian would have copied Josephus through the centuries? He was a Jewish turncoat, so the Jews had little interest.

          I find it unlikely that some past Christian would have destroyed all copies of josephus’ s work, kill anyone who might have read them, kill anyone they might have told about them, print new copies, yet leave no evidence behind!

          Me, too!

          Now, let’s return to the subject at hand. Tell me: what are our earliest copies? Why would it be surprising that we have no copies of an earlier-than-Eusebius copy without the Testimonium Flavianum?

        • gest

          “[He was The Christ]” again if you would have read the quote than you would have know that this is not a confession of faith but a reference to the previous comment “He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.” Josephus is explaining what Jesus won “many Jews and many of the Greeks” over to.

          “He was a Jewish turncoat, so the Jews had little interest.” again I addressed this earlier. Many of the Jews who didn’t except Jesus as Christ at least acknowledged him as a prophet (with the exception of the Jewish leaders). Besides Josephus doesn’t give his personal just what was reported. Why would Jews consider him a turncoat.
          It would be like calling someone a traitor because they wrote that some people believed that the Iraq war was all about oil.
          If the Christian’s destroyed all the other copies of Josephus work why did no one take notice of it? Why come they no historical documents mentioning that such a purge took place? surly some one would have taken notice?
          What would be the point even if they did? The Catholic church need to convince no one. People had to be Christian by law. Even if they were other option most people couldn’t read and wouldn’t have a copy of Josephus any way.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          this is not a confession of faith but a reference to the previous comment

          Huh? You said that Josephus didn’t think Jesus was the Christ, and yet that passage says that Jesus was the Christ. Seems pretty simple to me.

          Many of the Jews who didn’t except Jesus as Christ at least acknowledged him as a prophet

          Tell me more. I don’t remember reading about Jews who acknowledged Jesus as the Christ but who weren’t Christians.

          Besides Josephus doesn’t give his personal just what was reported.

          So Josephus qualifies this by saying, “Look—I’m just telling you what was being said at the time; I don’t believe this stuff”?

          Nope.

          Why would Jews consider him a turncoat.

          ?? Because he was. You do know his story, right?

          If the Christian’s destroyed all the other copies of Josephus work why did no one take notice of it?

          Who’s talking about destroying copies?

          surly some one would have taken notice?

          Seriously? Jesus is walking around and raising the dead and no contemporary historian documents this? You’re OK with that glaring gap in the historical record, but you pretend that someone would’ve taken the time to document the destruction of certain copies of a manuscript?

          A tip: go to some source besides JesusIsFabulous.com for your information. There’s a chance that they have an agenda besides historical accuracy.

  • guest

    the spiritual is not supernatural at all. it is merely a realm that predates ours. imagine if we created virtual realm. and filled it with super intelligent ai who would eventually become self aware. the virtual reality would have rules that we built and the AI living in the virtual reality would have no way to bypass these rules. however when we interacted with them it would be easy from our position in the physical realm to hack and therefore bypass the rules of the virtual realm especially if we were the ones who had set up the programming for the rules. the physical realm and the spiritual realm work in the similar way which is why no matter how advanced technology is it can never compare to the miraculous. because no matter how powerful technology is still based on a system of rules. The “supernatural” is by definition the superseding of those rules to a higher reality in much the same way the law of aerodynamics supersedes the law of gravity but on a much grander scale.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You’ve got a gift for storytelling. Or something.

      If you want to discuss reality, let me know.

    • adam

      The spiritual is a chemical state in the brain.

      It can be demonstrated at will.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayahuasca

      People who are ignorant of how the mind works confused this experience with a ‘higher’ reality.

  • guest

    Why the Supernatural will always be stronger than technology

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7apb7V9iXkE

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      That’s a pretty messed-up scene. I’m not sure what your point is–that people have great imaginations?

      It’s just pretend, bro. Y’know, Hollywood?

      • guest

        You miss the point read my earlier comment. In the matrix the one bypass the virtual laws though the physical plain which predate the creation of matrix. In the same way “Supernatural” is simply the by passing of physical law through the a spiritual plain. No mater how strong technology gets it is still limited to the physical laws like the AI of the matrix are limited by their virtual law, but the one is came from a high realty and can use that realty to bypass the laws of the matrix.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, perhaps I’m missing your point.

          The Matrix is fantasy. The Bible is myth and legend.

          If you want to argue that either is reality, you need to provide evidence, not just assertions.

        • guest

          I did not write the comment to prove the spiritual realm I merely wanted to counter Bob Seidensticker argument that Technology has surpassed the “Supernatural”. Bob Seidensticker did not argue a cause for the existence (or absence there of) of the Supernatural so I did not comment about it. However if you want to evidence of the miraculous then I have a suggest for you.
          Research the eyewitness accounts of the miraculous in both the past and present. While it is most likely impossible to measure the Spiritual realm just as it is for the citizen of the matrix to gain information about the condition of earth by studding their environment in the matrix. (If the matrix was a real thing that is). However It is possible to study the account of the spiritual dimension bypass our physical dimension. Just Like in the matrix (again pretend for moment that the matrix or something like it was real) the People inside the virtual reality could infer the existence of the physical plain from the interaction of physical humans in their virtual world.
          Research this and come to you own conclusion.

        • guest

          As for the bible been a legend. If you just assume that the Bible is a legend they you must do the same for any historical document since in essence they are the same thing, accounts written by eyewitness from thousand of years ago. You must do excessive amounts of historical research before you make such a broad statement.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Historians assume that the supernatural tales in the Bible are not history because that’s what they do with all of history.

          You argue for consistency. Sounds good to me–be consistent and treat the Bible like all the other accounts from history are treated.

        • guest

          All am suggesting is that instead of assuming that some is false because we can’t explain it. We look at the evidence and come to our own conclusion. We may discover something we had not considered.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re changing the subject now. So we’re in agreement about how history treats the supernatural?

          All am suggesting is that instead of assuming that some is false because we can’t explain it.

          I do no such thing.

        • guest

          Yes you did, when I mentioned that feeding of the five thousand. You immediately wrote “Sorry, dude. The feeding of the 5000 was just a story” you also said “The Bible is myth and legend.” Whether not the miracles of the Bible our true or not has to be decide on the individual bases, but(putting all claims of divine inspiration aside) the Bible is a historical account written by eyewitness. It should at least be consider even if you conclude that it to false, at least consider it first. I wasn’t writing about that in my comment anyway, I was only answering what you wrote about technology exceeding the Supernatural. I wasn’t debate the existence of the supernatural. That is something that must be researched and decide on by the individual.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You immediately wrote “Sorry, dude. The feeding of the 5000 was just a story” you also said “The Bible is myth and legend.”

          That was the conclusion based on analysis. If I understood your charge, you said that I dismiss some things out of hand, without consideration or analysis. I don’t do that, as I made clear.

          the Bible is a historical account written by eyewitness

          It might be, but I certainly don’t think that it is. I’ve written a fair amount about that in this blog. Look around—you’ll have a lot to critique.

          But in short, if you want to say that the Bible is history, you need to back it up.

          It should at least be consider even if you conclude that it to false, at least consider it first.

          Been there; done that. As we’ve established, I don’t reject the Bible because I don’t want it to be true or it offends me or you offend me or whatever. My analysis could certainly be wrong or incomplete, but I don’t dismiss this sort of thing out of hand.

          I was only answering what you wrote about technology exceeding the Supernatural. I wasn’t debate the existence of the supernatural.

          So you don’t claim that the supernatural exists, but you do know that technology doesn’t exceed it. I’m confused.

          But perhaps that was a tangent and isn’t something to spend much time on.

        • guest

          You didn’t put “I have fully analysis the event and don’t personally believe the account to be inaccurate.” You simply dismissed it with out any explanation. While your conclusion may be based on critical analysis, you gave no indication of this in your comment. I have nothing against people that come to a different explanation as long as they examine the evidence first.

          “It might be, but I certainly don’t think that it is.” That is your opinion, every one is entitled to their opinion as long as their examine the evidence first. That said, there is a lot of evidence to support that the bible was written by eyewitness.

          For example all the biblical accounts mention Pilate the Roman Procurator the governor of Judah. For many years Pilate was lost to history until his name was discovered on an inscription in Israel. It is unlikely that a later account would have know about the governor Pilate, this indicates that Gospels were written by someone who lived in Juda at the time of Jesus.

          In Corinthians Paul dares his reader’s to go to Israel and speak to the eyewitness still living. It is unlikely that he would make such a challenge if he knew that any who would accepted it would prove him wrong.

          The following eyewitness traits are the ones emphasized in common law, in law school, and in the Rules of Evidence.

          A reliable witness will evidence honesty by his/her sincerity of speech, and be clearly motivated by a drive to speak the truth. The quality of a witness’s observations can be observed by accurate memory, evidenced often by access to accurate records. The competency of his/her communication will be demonstrated by an ability to recall and describe observations, with accurate information and relevant details. Testimonial consistency is also a key factor in reliability.

          Though each witness will provide idiosyncratic differences (due to different perspectives and interests), all Scripture has perfect evidentiary consistency. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Moses, Daniel, Jude, and all of the other Bible’s co-authors qualify as impeccably reliable eyewitnesses. Many of the Bible’s writers suffered cruel treatment, even death, for their stand on their witness. To the obvious credibility of their writings is added the unshakeable belief that their testimony was so true that it was worth suffering and dying for.

          “So you don’t claim that the supernatural exists, but you do know that technology doesn’t exceed it. I’m confused.”

          Let me explain. In your article your seemed to indicate that you believed that even if the miraculous did exist in has been superseded by technology I comment that this couldn’t be because technology is still limited to this physical dimension. Were as the miraculous is the bypass of physical law through the spiritual dimension. Much Like in the movie the matrix The One bypass the laws of the virtual dimension though the physical dimension. No matter know powerful the enemy AI are they power is limited by the rules of the matrix they inhabit. But since the one inhabits the physical he has no such limitations. In the same way the supernatural isn’t limited by the Laws of this Physical dimension, and will therefore always be stronger than technology (assuming of course that the supernatural existed).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You simply dismissed it with out any explanation.

          How many times must I clarify? If I dismissed it without explanation, I’ve made clear that there was an explanation.

          While your conclusion may be based on critical analysis, you gave no indication of this in your comment.

          So you misunderstood. Stop beating yourself up about it and move on.

          For example all the biblical accounts mention Pilate the Roman Procurator the governor of Judah. For many years Pilate was lost to history until his name was discovered on an inscription in Israel.

          They got the historical and geographical places right. So did Wizard of Oz–Kansas actually exists. This is the minimum we’d expect. This gives no support for the supernatural claims.

          It is unlikely that a later account would have know about the governor Pilate

          Couldn’t have been passed along in the story? We can’t simply trust that they had good memories to remember a guy from a couple of decades back?

          I remember when Jimmy Carter was president. Is that remarkable?

          In Corinthians Paul dares his reader’s to go to Israel and speak to the eyewitness still living.

          You really must be more skeptical of the apologetics that you’re given. I’ve slapped that argument silly here.

          The following eyewitness traits are the ones emphasized in common law, in law school, and in the Rules of Evidence.

          Huh?? We don’t have eyewitnesses. We don’t even have claims of eyewitnesses! Even if we did, you just believe everything you read?

          And no, memory is outrageously unreliable. Confidence isn’t the same thing as accuracy. Search “memory” here for more posts on this.

          qualify as impeccably reliable eyewitnesses

          At best we have claims of eyewitnesses. We don’t have eyewitnesses.

          their testimony was so true that it was worth suffering and dying for.

          And that one I’ve slapped silly here.

          Let me explain.

          That would all be relevant if the supernatural actually existed.

        • mrodr769

          “who are the eyewitnesses” the 500 that Paul mentioned we’re early followers of Jesus or people connected it to followers of Jesus. most such people became church leaders and will be available at Jerusalem which was the headquarters of the Church in Israel. at the very least they could send you one of the 500′s. also the 500 we’re only Witnesses to his resurrection. there are hundreds of thousands of witnesses to his healing.

          “who they would they send ….. church had only a 100 people.” I don’t know where you’re getting your information but its just wrong! the book of Acts Records Corinth as one of Paul’s largest churches
          most scholars estimate the church of Corinth had several thousand members.

          “how could the church afford to send someone out” travel in the ancient world was expensive but not unattainable. Paul traveled all over the Roman Empire. in fact he would your ask to church of Corinth in 2nd Corinthians to send money needed not only pay for his trip to Jerusalem but also to get the church who are suffering from famine at the time (yet another indication that the church at Corinth was a large church).

          “who would spit in the face of the founder of their church” Paul may have found it to church Corinth but by the time he wrote 1nd Corinthians many other Christian and Christian and Jewish teachers had already pass-through Corinth, some were evenliving in Corinth at the time Paul wrote to them. in fact Paul spends much of 1st Corinthians and some 2nd Corinthians addressing accusation spread by what he called “false teachers”. these teachers could just as easily send one of their followers to Jerusalem as the rest of the church could send Paul, in factit would have been in their best interest since discrediting Paul would have solidified there control over the Corinth Church.

        • MNb

          “the 500 that Paul mentioned we’re early followers of Jesus”
          How do you know? Ah – because Paulus wrote it himself. Know what? I saw a hand coming from a cloud yesterday, it’s finger pointing at me. Then I heard a voice saying “God doesn’t exist!” I have 500 witnesses. I won’t give you their names, where they live, who they are. I just claim I have 500 witnesses. Here, I wrote it down. It’s right before your eyes.
          You are totally going to believe me, aren’t you?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wow–a plain English statement written just minutes ago vs. a claim written thousands of years ago, modified by who-knows-whom over the centuries, and coming from a language and culture that are foreign to me.

          No comparison! I’m now officially an atheist.

        • mrodr769

          If someone started to preach that he heard a voice from haven say “God doesn’t exist!” and this person attracted followers than leaves to go preach in Africa. Years latter new leaders come and try to discredit him. In his defense he writes “I have 500 witnesses. I won’t give you their names, where they live, who they are. I just claim I have 500 witnesses. Here, I wrote it down. It’s right before your eyes.
          You are totally going to believe me, aren’t you?’
          Now the leaders no longer need to discredit him. He has discredited himself. No competed teacher would use this defense. But if he were to right
          “I was in El paso Tx when a heard the voice. At least five hundred people heard it with me.”
          That is a much different statement. He still haven’t given you the names and addresses of these people but you know were the event took place. You can send someone to El paso Tx to enquire about the witness.

        • MNb

          How are we going to inquire the witnesses of the Bible, who are since long dead?
          Btw I live in Moengo, Suriname. You’re welcome to inquire.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The gospel authors didn’t know of that argument because none of the gospels used it! Hard to imagine that the 500 was a fact and yet the story in Jerusalem doesn’t have it.

          I don’t know where you’re getting your information but its just wrong!

          If you read the post, you’ll see where I got my information.

          most scholars estimate the church of Corinth had several thousand members.

          When? When did Paul found the church, and how old was it at the time of 1 Cor.?

          Show me the evidence for this claim of yours.

          travel in the ancient world was expensive but not unattainable.

          Sure, it’s possible, but who would even be motivated to do so? Who would conceivably challenge the leader of his church?

          The “500 eyewitnesses” is a toothless claim.

          Paul traveled all over the Roman Empire.

          So what? So it’s doable for every member of the Corinth church?

        • guest

          So what? do it’s doable for every member of the cotinth church’

          If you read my comment than you know that Paul asked the cornith church to send money to

          A. pay for his passage to Jerusalem

          B. supply the funds so the Jerusalem church could bye food.

          It is unlikly that he would have asked this if was not in thier power. So yes the Coritnh church had money to send some one to Jersealm to enquire about the witness.

          ‘Sure, it’s possible, but who would even be motivated to do so? Who would conceivably challenge the leader of his church?’

          If you read my comment then you know that paul was not the leader of the corthin church. infact he wasn’t even in corinth at the time(obviously or he would not have written the letter). The church of corthin had new leaders who were trying to slander paul (he adresses this slander in his letters to the cornithains). It was in thier best interest to prove paul a liar since with him discredted they would have full controlle of the corinthen church.

           

          Paul asked for corinth to give money not only to pay for his travel expressions but also to some to give for the starving beleivers in Jerusalem. both of these request would require a large amount of money. since paul begains his letter by statting that most of the cortian church were not of much wealth, the church must of been large enough for each person to give a little yet still have the amount required.

          Also the church at corthain got so large that Sosthenes , the chief ruler of the synagoue, feared a threat to his position and tried to have paul arrested. It is unlikly that he would have taken such desperate action if the corithain church only number a handful of beleivers.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So yes the Coritnh church had money to send some one to Jersealm to enquire about the witness.

          Paul would’ve been the worst steward of money if he’d allowed it to be spend on an expensive boondoggle so that some bad apple could go check up that he’s not a liar. Wouldn’t have happened.

          It was in thier best interest to prove paul a liar since with him discredted they would have full controlle of the corinthen church.

          Why bother? You don’t like Paul? Great—ignore him. Problem solved.

          Paul asked for corinth to give money not only to pay for his travel expressions but also to some to give for the starving beleivers in Jerusalem.

          Now that sounds like reasonable expenses. A junket to Jerusalem doesn’t.

          It is unlikly that he would have taken such desperate action if the corithain church only number a handful of beleivers.

          Interesting. Arm wrestle Prof. Philip Harland over this topic and get back to me with the results.

      • Fiona Deveney

        Hello Bob, I read some of your comments on your page but am just tagging this onto the top comment here, so there is no connection! I gather you are not a believer… that’s fine. We are all in a sea of varying information and feelings and life is quite a bombardment when we try and make sense of why we are here. I appreciate that you are an intelligent guy and think about things quite a bit.. but I can only only you what happened to me. Ive spent my whole life questioning and doubting, wondering etc. and trying to see things from every possible angle to eliminate any possible alternatives… and yet, now, years later – to my my own greatest surprise I have become a believer in Jesus. I studied philosophy at university. I also travelled and studied art and spent my life being a free thinker- I never thought I would become a christian!!!!!! But a few things happened which no matter how I looked at them they didnt make sense unless I saw it as being a real encounter with God. I did not give in easily and tried things out from every angle. A few of the things were that I was prayed for by christians and a ten month excruciating and disabling pain in my shoulder disappeared IMMEDIATELY as they prayed. I had tried every which way to rid myself of the pain but it was INSTANTLY gone after they prayed. I did NOT imagine this and it was quite dramatic. Another thing that happened was that for ten years after meeting occultic-practicioners I had what is commonly called poltergeistic activity in my home and around me. This included dreadful and overwhelming nightmares every night ( which caused a lot of fear in me and made me drink heavily at times to try and block them out) and things moving/disappearing. Strange things… so many In cant name them…But my family had me see psychiatrists who said I was mentally not ill, I saw a hypnotist who trued to suggest these things ( like lights coming on at night) would stop happening and I tried positive thinking, – you name it and I tried it- but then I was prayed for by christians and I am simply telling you the truth when I say that these things ALL stopped overnight after I was prayed for i Jesus’ name. I was totally amazed and relieved and the fear left and I stopped drinking ( I binge-drank- I did not drink al of the time and I was OFTEN sobre in these ten years ;- I only drank when the fear became overwhelming) … I later gave my life to the Lord Jesus because I realised that there was no way that it could have just stopped like that – especially because I DID NOT BELIEVE when they prayed and was skeptical- so saying my believe cased it is simply untrue. I realised there was an outside ( although unseen) force that was acting on my behalf. The force against me just stopped when they called on Jesus. I tried to see it everywhich way but the explanation made most sense. I am a christian now because I have experienced something of his saving supernatural power. I have met scores of people personally who have been physically healed by prayer in Jesus name of things that cannot be healed medically ( AIDS, cancer, parkinsons disease, complete paralysis) and seen some of their doctors become believers as a result of their healing. One question I would pose for you to ponder is this: If this stuff about Jesus is all a myth- then ponder the fact that Jesus said in His own name that people would be healed of physical ailments and set free from evil in the future ages to come- and if we are honest- these things ARE happening. People most definetly ARE being physically healed of the impossible when being prayed for in Jesus’ name. Also people ARE being set free from evil and oppression when prayed for in Jesus’ name. If its all a myth it is then a very strange phenomena that ties in with something that was said in this myth all these years ago. A good place to start is to look to what is happening tangibly and empirically around us today, where we can see and verify actual happenings. There are christians claiming healings on Youtube- thousands of them!! There is also a very likeable felloow on youtube called Torben from denmark who does ”healing on the streets” if you google that- and I think you will enjoy his manner and honesty. And the research will do you no harm because you really have nothing to lose by seeing these things. As a christian I can testify that what I have told you about myself is true and I believe the majority of claims you will find on the internet are also genuine and true. Thankyou for your time and if you would like my facebook name is fiona deveney and Im in Redditch, uk- please join me- I have lots of animal welfare blogs ( wen I have the time) as Im also a vegan ( another thing I also thought Id never be!!!-but Ive lost lost lots of weight so its pretty healthy so it wasnt a bad move!! Anyway please join me as Id love to carry on discussing… Thankyou and God bless x x :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I see that you’re from the UK. Do you listen to the Unbelievable radio show/podcast? It’s pretty good.

          Thanks for sharing your story. It’s good to hear that your shoulder pain is gone, but that isn’t very convincing for others. What we need are studies of prayer, and so far, they have shown zero benefit. Natural answers are more plausible since answered prayer is so incredible.

          As for the poltergeists, that one is even easier to imagine improving immediately due to your own improved mental state.

          But I don’t mean to rain on your parade. If Christianity is working well for you, with no downsides, and you’re an improved member of society, that’s great.

          Jesus said in His own name that people would be healed of physical ailments and set free from evil in the future ages to come

          Even more dramatic, Jesus said that his followers would be able to do what he did and more. I don’t see it.

          and if we are honest- these things ARE happening.

          I need scientific studies to validate these claims.

          If its all a myth it is then a very strange phenomena that ties in with something that was said in this myth all these years ago.

          What about supernatural claims from other religions? Are they true as well? Which ones should I believe if they conflict?

          As a christian I can testify that what I have told you about myself is true and I believe the majority of claims you will find on the internet are also genuine and true.

          (Reminds me of a Nigerian scam letter!)

  • guest

    A thousand years ago there was no scientific way to detected Germs. And no physical evidence of there connection to sickness. Just because we have no way to detect demons dose not mean that they do not exist any more than the Germs. All it means is that we have do not have the technology to detect them just as the doctor of the dark ages had no way of detecting Germs and would laugh at though of there existence.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Right. Demons might exist but have absolutely no impact on our world. Then we’d have no way of knowing. And we wouldn’t care, either.

      Given that we have no evidence for demons, we have no warrant to believe in them.

      • guest

        The same could be said about Germs a thousand years ago.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Huh? Germs had absolutely no impact on our world?

          The 1/3 of Europe who died from the plague would probably argue that they did.

        • guest

          They do, but some one live in dark ages would have no way of proving their connection to sickness, because no instrument to detect it. My point is just because you don’t yet have the capabilities to detect something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist or have a impact on our daily lives. Germs had a profound impact on humanity during the dark ages but doctors had knowledge of there existence. If you gave some one back than this information he would have one way to prove or disprove what you told him. Just because we cannot detect demons doesn’t mean that they don’t impact our live any more than the People lake of knowledge of Germs could protect them From the Black Plague.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your argument is a moving target.

          Do demons have an impact in our world? If so, that’s a testable claim. Science should, in principle, be able to evaluate that claim.

          Are you saying that at the moment we have no way to detect demons reliably? I’ll accept that. But then we have no warrant for hypothesizing that they exist.

          “Oooo! But I do so want demons to exist!!” is no argument.

        • guest

          I am not saying that demons do or do not exist( everyone must decide that for themselves). I am only saying that saying “demons do not exist because I can not detect them” is not necessary a valid argument. After all the some during the dark ages could just as easily said “Germs do not exist because I can not detect them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I am only saying that saying “demons do not exist because I can not detect them” is not necessary a valid argument.

          As I’m desperately struggling to make clear, this is not my point. Instead, I’m saying that, since we have no evidence that demons exist, the hypothesis “demons exist” is not supported. Therefore, we are not entitled to believe that they do.

        • guest

          Then we agree, I am not saying that people have to believe in demons (or that only ignorant people don’t believe in demons). (That is a belief that has to be that has to be decide on a individual basses.) I am only saying that what “M” is saying (That it is stupid to believe because Science has no way to detect them) is not necessarily a logical statement for the reason given in my comment.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Then we agree

          That sounds unlikely. I’m saying that, given that we have no evidence to support the claim “demons exist,” we have no warrant to accept that hypothesis.

          Do we still agree?

        • gest

          again I am not saying that you have to accept that demons exits. I am just saying to say that Demons cannot exits because Science can not detect them in a invalid argument. After all Science couldn’t detect Germs in the dark ages that doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist back then.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You need to respond to the argument I’m actually making, not one that would be convenient for me to make.

          I’m not saying “science can’t detect demons; therefore, demons don’t exist.” I’ve never heard a skeptic make such a claim. Instead, I’m saying that if we have insufficient evidence for demons, we have no warrant to suppose that they do.

        • adam

          No everyone must not DECIDE for themselves
          Demons EITHER exist or they DON’T.
          Which is it?

  • guest

    Just because we do not have the capability to detect something doesn’t not mean that it doesn’t exits.

    Scientist have only been able to detect Germs for the last couple hundred years. That doesn’t mean that Germs did not exist during the Dark ages, obviously. Just because we don’t have the ability to detect demons doesn’t mean that they do exist just as human inability to detect Germs during the dark ages meant that germs did not exist.

    As for this statement “You seem to think only humans have that kind of intelligence, and spooky spirits, but not animals. But how do you know what they’re thinking” I fail to see how Animals belief or unbelief in demons has anything to with their existence.

  • guest

    A doctor in the Dark ages had no way of detecting Germs that doesn’t mean that Germs aren’t real. Doctors to day have no way to detect demons that doesn’t mean their not real either. Saying that something isn’t real because I can’t detect it is an invalid argument.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X