Response to Depending on Ignorance

Sorry to any readers annoyed by these responses. This will probably be the last one until DD shows he understands my points. Anyway, from DD’s latest post:

You meet someone who claims that there are hundreds of millions of volcanic eruptions taking place all around the world. Hundreds of millions. And yet, suppose that somehow, you had never seen one. In fact, nobody you know has ever seen one. Even the person insisting that here are hundreds of millions of eruptions has never seen one.

But I know people who have witnessed a miracle, Keener has witnessed multiple miracles, Keener’s friends and family have witnessed miracles, and so on. The analogy is not apt. Also note that I am basing my statement on multiple surveys from around the world while he is basing his statement on, apparently, his personal experience and the experience of those he interacts with regularly.

But how have I misunderstood his position? . . . So determining whether or not any of these “miracles” actually happened is “straying too far off course.” We have “credible, modern witnesses,” but it doesn’t matter whether any of them is telling the truth or not.

Here’s a perfect example of how DD misunderstand things on multiple levels. (1) Determining whether a supernatural agent actually acted is irrelevant to whether strange (for lack of a better term) healings have been witnessed by modern people. (2) A witness can accurately tell us what they observed but still provide the wrong interpretation of events. The healing is what is observed. Claiming God healed you is the interpretation. (3) Obviously whether the witnesses of miracles are interpreting the events correctly does matter, it just isn’t relevant to the point of my original post.

If Jayman produced such a genuine miracle, it would overthrow my claim completely, once and for all, but he doesn’t want to “stray” into refuting me because… because…

Because the original post was long enough without trying to cover even more topics. DD hasn’t even addressed all the other points in it yet. If he can’t follow the argument to this point he isn’t going to follow it any further.

Ignorance is the best defense against having your preferred beliefs exposed as false, and that’s why looking too closely at the truth of these alleged miracles would be “straying too far off course.”

Here’s the dishonesty again. I say, “anyone can verify the accounts (directly if the witnesses are still living or through earlier documentation) but they have to do some work.” This is somehow read as telling the reader not to look closer.

Jayman quotes from a book by Craig Keener, a 2-volume set actually, in which the latter attempts to document genuine miracles happening in the real world.

Actually that is not the primary purpose of Keener’s book (see my review).

We’ll get to Keener in a minute, but first let’s ask, why did Jayman have to go to a third party in his search for a miracle with which to refute my claims? Hundreds of millions of miracles are supposedly happening, and yet my observation remains true: Jayman himself does not have genuine miracles, he has only stories, which he had to go to a third party to obtain.

I didn’t have to go to a third-party. Keener didn’t have to go to a third party either. He includes his own eyewitness testimony of miracles. Apparently I am at fault for pointing the reader to a valuable resource. Of course, even hearing directly from the eyewitness still involves the witness telling a story. To point out that miracle accounts are “stories” does not advance the argument. The American Revolution is a “story” but that doesn’t mean it’s fiction.

Now, what about this third party? Is he a “modern, trustworthy witness,” as Jayman claims? Does he know how to distinguish between rumor and fact? Can he properly document the stories he tells, so that other researchers can easily follow up on his research and fact-check his reports?

Keener traveled the world to interview people himself and obtained medical documentation in many cases. Footnotes are in the book for you to fact-check his reports. He has done more fact-checking than most of us could dream of. Who is talking from ignorance here?

Doctors, of course, are better off being pessimistic, because if they promise a full recovery and the patient subsequently dies, they can be sued for malpractice, whereas it only makes people happy when negative expectations fail to materialize.

This cuts both ways. Why do 55% of doctors say they have witnessed inexplicable healings when it risks a malpractice suit charging them with a wrongful diagnosis and associated treatments? Why are doctors more likely than “superstitious” laymen to say that they have witnessed an inexplicable healing?

Check it out, this one has a name. Where’s the contact information, though?

What good would the contact information do? Josiah Mataika would just tell DD his story and then DD would dismiss him because he told a story.

Jayman would like to send us all to China on a wild goose chase, looking for genuine miracles, mind you.

Or you could read Keener’s book and check his references. Two of the accounts I cited are from Lourdes and some information for them is online. You don’t even have to leave your house.

Jayman doesn’t want to “stray” into finding out whether any of these stories is really true. Far safer to throw up a huge wall of hearsay and rumor and superstition, and then send the skeptics on an endless snipe hunt.

Actually I recommend readers look into things themselves. However, I know the average self-proclaimed skeptic has no intention of investigating such matters with any seriousness.

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2 Replies to “Response to Depending on Ignorance”

  1. “(1) Determining whether a supernatural agent actually acted is irrelevant to whether strange (for lack of a better term) healings have been witnessed by modern people. (2) A witness can accurately tell us what they observed but still provide the wrong interpretation of events. The healing is what is observed. Claiming God healed you is the interpretation. (3) Obviously whether the witnesses of miracles are interpreting the events correctly does matter, it just isn’t relevant to the point of my original post..”

    But surely the objection is deeper than that. If we can’t establish that the events you describe are in fact miracles, rather than unlikely natural events (or false reports), you’ve failed to defend your premise that miracles still happen.

    Oxford offers two definitions for the word miracle: “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency: the miracle of rising from the grave,” but also “a remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences: it was a miracle that more people hadn’t been killed.”

    Miracles in the second sense obviously do happen in the modern world. If you want to claim that miracles in the first sense happen, natural explanations have to be conclusively ruled out. Surely it’s legitimate to ask whether your proposed miracles really meet that test.

  2. If the miracles in the Gospels are really just unlikely natural events that still means the Gospels could be generally historically accurate. It just means the events were misinterpreted. It overturns an argument that concludes the Gospels must be historically inaccurate because they include miracle accounts since miracles don’t happen today. Obviously we can ask further questions but my original point doesn’t rely on how we answer those questions.

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