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February 18, 2013

Comments

Just a thought, but doesn't bringing up miracles as evidence of reliability exactly what an atheist might use as a good reason to reject the Bible as reliable as opposed to the others?

In other words, it could be argued the other religious texts were just the 'self-help' books of their day - and we still have those today - so there's nothing wrong with them. They were simply the best 'how to' life-manuals of their age, but now we know better.

So, miracles, and all that 'magic stuff', is a good reason to reject the Bible as even more whacky, isn't it?

@ Peter -

While you may have a fair point, let's remember that atheists mock miracles (and those who believe in them) yet at the same time say that the only thing that would get them to believe the Bible is... a miracle!

Hi Mo. I agree.

I think the one thing that's almost guaranteed as doomed to failure is to debate with an atheist. He's simply got too much to lose, and so will never concede anything, even if he becomes irrational in the process (like initially ridiculing miracles then later in the debate, demanding them in order to believe), right down to simply name-calling, or stomping off in a huff if painted into a corner, even of his own making (through the 'Columbo' technique)...

Greg's made a very valid point elsewhere about not forgetting those 'listening in', or 'lurking', in 'net jargon. They don't have to defend a position and so can evaluate more dispassionately and more reasonably.

In debates, I agree with Greg's principles in 'Tactics' about graciousness and winsomeness as being almost more vital than the argument itself and that, by winning, the outcome can still be a loss in real terms.

Also...

...because I am a believer, miracles have never been in any way 'proofs' for me of anything, apart from God's wonderful providence.

If we need miracles to believe, we're not people of faith. And if we need them to come to faith, we need them to sustain it.

A 'faith' based on miracles is a weak one indeed - as Christ pointed out.

I see a lot of problems with this argument.

First, people who don't believe the bible are not always "flippant" as Greg describes. In my experience, much more often than not, those claims are sincere, spoken by individuals who are seriously asking the question.

Furthermore, the question is worth asking! Look no farther than Genesis 1 and the Enuma Elish. In many cases, the bible's literature isn't unique in the sense that it fits into a larger culture and genre. The flood narrative, and even Jesus as Messiah in the gospels have similar stories in non-biblical literature.

To ask why the bible stories are reliable while the other stories - that on their faces look very similar especially to someone who doesn't believe - is not necessarily flippant.

Second, is anyone convinced that appealing to miracles is going to convince a skeptic? By definition, they are likely to be skeptical of those miracles. This argument seems like a waste of breath. It is only persuasive to those who already believe.

Third, the miracles of the bible aren't "testable" in the way a skeptic would understand the word. The miracles of Jesus are not reproducable. They are not attested to outside of the gospels. And so on. So again, I have no idea who Greg thinks would be persuaded by this... but almost certainly not a skeptic.

Fourth, one way of "testing" miracles would be to see if they still happen through Jesus. But, depending on which evangelical group you ask, you might be told that miracles still happen, or you might be told that miracles have ceased! If you're told they still happen, you'll encounter a difficult time finding any proof. On top of that, whose argument should the skeptic entertain? Or would this schism merely reinforce further skepticism?

Finally, this seems like nothing more than a giant circle of reasoning. Why should we believe the bible is reliable? Because of the miracles of Jesus that verify his claims. Why should we believe those miracles actually happened? Because the gospels say so.

And now, I'm dizzy.

Mo,

While you may have a fair point, let's remember that atheists mock miracles (and those who believe in them) yet at the same time say that the only thing that would get them to believe the Bible is... a miracle!

How is that a problem or inconsistency?

We claim to believe in an omnipotent supernatural being. Jesus' own disciples didn't believe until they saw the miracle of the resurrection first hand.

@ brgulker -

I'm not getting your comparison. The disciples didn't mock miracles and then demand one from Jesus before they would believe in him.

@brgulker

I think your comments are thoughtful, but you may have missed the point. Both the title of the video and Greg's comments assume that you are talking to someone who believes in God but can’t decide which religion to believe because he/she thinks they are all on equal footing in that they require a leap of faith.

So if such a person asks: "Why should I believe the bible?” we can reply that many facts such as places, dates and figures have been confirmed through archeology.

Such a person might think that the Koran can make that same claim. Greg’s point is that unlike those other books, the bible shows, through the testimony of eye witnesses to His miracles, that Jesus had authority to make the claims He made and thus we should believe Jesus over Muhammad or Krishna.

We have the benefit of being able to respond that unlike those other books we can establish the historical reliability of a central claim in Christianity, which is Jesus’ resurrection.

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