He talks about taking a neutral approach towards miracles, but he wants to begin by declaring that anyone who observes the lack of verifiable miracles is merely assuming that miracles do not happen. . . . In this case, we do not assume that miracles cannot happen, we simply observe that they do not.
The problem with this response is that the atheist’s argument is invalid. The argument appears to be: I personally have not observed a miracle, therefore no one has observed a miracle. If this is not obviously fallacious reasoning to you then consider another argument of the same form: I have not personally observed a volcano erupting, therefore volcanoes do not erupt. Recall from the last post that hundreds of millions of people claim to have directly witnessed or experienced a miracle. One person’s experiences do not dictate the experiences of others or what is possible.
Moving on, he writes:
Since we are comparing the stories in the Gospel with real-world observations, he can easily debunk the observation that the long-dead are not raised and the congenitally-blind are not supernaturally healed by simply providing us with the name, address, and phone number of a modern day individual who was brought back to life after having been lifeless (no heartbeat, respiration, or brain activity for 72 hours or more), or who was born blind and then in early adulthood was miraculously (and documentably) restored to full vision. He does not do so, despite his desire to debunk the skeptical observation and despite the effectiveness with which this would indeed revolutionize the whole discussion.
In the last post I included a few quotations of modern miracle accounts. It is true that I (really Keener) did not provide addresses and phone numbers, but I did include names and Keener personally contacted many of the people mentioned in his book. There is nothing stopping the atheist from from reviewing Keener’s sources. For the interested, Keener documents numerous cases of the blind gaining sight and the dead rising (although I only recall the one cited case of someone dead for more than 72 hours but brain damage should set in a few minutes after death anyway).
Thus, it is fairly obvious that he himself is among those who, if they were truly neutral, would have to admit that they do not observe such miracles happening in real life.
Let me be clear that my neutrality towards miracles in the last post was done to prevent the post from straying too far off course. The main point I was making was that the kinds of miracles narrated in the NT are narrated by credible, modern eyewitnesses and, therefore, the presence of miracle accounts in the NT is not sufficient reason to doubt that the NT documents are rooted in eyewitness testimony. DD is drifting into a discussion of whether miracles actually happen but not addressing the thrust of my post. What the neutral observer must admit is that strange (for lack of a better term) healings have occurred and been documented even in modern times. Skeptics who ignore this fact and blithely assert miracles do not happen are shielding their readers from relevant evidence.
What he does offer is hearsay: unverifiable stories that some third party (or fourth party, or nth party) has reported about certain situations that “might” be miraculous (or else just urban legends—there’s not enough information given to allow fact-checking).
If you read Keener’s book and have the desire to investigate individual miracle claims contained inside you certainly could. Many of the stories have been verified first-hand by Keener himself and there is no reason, in principle, that the skeptic could not do the very work Keener himself did. DD should just admit he has not read the book and has not attempted to investigate any of the miracles.
In the process, he kindly documents for us just how low Christian standards are when it comes to what kind of “evidence” they’re willing to accept as a basis for believing in miracles.
What kind of evidence is Keener providing? While each case varies, there are healings that: (1) are witnessed by multiple individuals, including skeptics; (2) documented by medical professionals; and (3) inexplicable given our current understanding of science and medicine. Perhaps the skeptic will insist that this is still too low a bar to accept miracles, but I think it is clear that it is not a particularly low standard. Again, keep in mind the main purpose of the previous post mentioned above.
Jayman himself will only commit to the possibility that these stories claim miracles that “may still happen today” (emphasis his). He can’t verify them either, but other Christians still report them as true.
What I actually wrote was: “Craig S. Keener catalogs modern eyewitness testimony that suggests, at the very least, that the healing of those blind from birth and the raising of the dead (among other miracles) may still happen today.” I intentionally stuck with a conservative claim so that the post would not go off course as noted above. Anyone can verify the accounts (directly if the witnesses are still living or through earlier documentation) but they have to do some work. It is much easier to assert miracles don’t happen than to explain well documented cases in a purely naturalistic manner.
But if we’re truly neutral, we ought to admit that such fanciful speculations do not change the fact of our real-world observations. And that fact is simply that we do not see miracles happening in the real world.
Who is “we”? As noted in my previous post hundreds of millions of people would vehemently disagree with DD and state that they have witnessed miracles. He doesn’t examine a single claim and just dismisses them all out of hand. A witness to the miraculous could make a basic argument like so: I have witnessed a miracle therefore miracles are possible. Unlike the atheist argument above, this is at least valid (though the skeptic will doubt the first premise is true).
P.S. He also ignores other points I made in regard to his previous post. Perhaps he is saving them for another post but you may want to check my previous post if you have not already read it.