Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Miracle apologists


I don't have a clue at what the hell this guy is talking about. The only people who take miracle claims seriously are Parapsychologists- and it as a discipline has been on the decline since the 80's. Plus, even if we were to include their findings as evidence for the supernatural, we'd have to deal with contradictory claims that seem to be incompatible, such as Reincarnation and NDE's. Plus, many Paranormal enthusiasts cite angel encounters as evidence for new age beliefs, and don't even believe in exorcisms.

Anyways, out of curiosity, I visited the website they were affiliated with to check out some of their miracles claims. I'll admit, they have some interesting claims. I found this one in particular somewhat impressive, but that's about it. As usual, they put heavy emphasis on healing miracles and miracles from third world countries. In the end, I felt like I wasted my time. But then I had a valuable revelation. If these Religious miracles are so great, why hasn't anyone bothered to carefully document them. For christsake, the recipients of the supposed "miracles" would pretty much write it down for you themselves (or orate it if they're illiterate). Christians love miracle stories- especially in Charismatic denominations. All the missionaries would have to do is store the documents they receive in a sort of encyclopedia.

After that, we could subject these claims to all sorts of scientific tests. We could tell, for instance, whether the rate of miracle cures matches the rate of spontaneous remissions. We could tell whether or not most angelic encounters occur when the recipient is in a hypnogenic state. Hell, if we increase our efforts we can at least get some insight on the psychological profiles of these miracle recipients. All these miracle apologists have to do is organise their resources a little better. Just some paper and tape recorders should suffice. A few digital cameras wouldn't hurt either. They could really give a skeptic like me a run for his money- if, that is, these miracles really are going on everywhere.

Suddenly, I had another thought- what if the miracle claims just aren't that impressive. Maybe eyewitness testimony is more rare than apologists lead on. Maybe healing don't happen at an abnormal rate. Maybe a part of them knows that, if they try to organise, they will be wasting time and money. Or perhaps not- after all, Craig keener recently released a book documenting modern day miracles. I have heard of some rather impressive miracle claims myself just by using the Internet. For example, here are two cases in which a person not only claimed to have had witnessed a deceased person, but also were given a service by them.

A skeptic could say that these two cases were strange coincidences coupled with theistic expectations and invented memories as the experiencers retold their story. In the first case, the pastor may have just assumed the taxi driver was the father due to his emotional investment- for all we know, he could've been a family friend, or a bystander who had heard of the story and wanted to do a kind deed. Even more humorously, the cab driver could've given the preacher the wrong room number, causing him to enter another childs room instead. Perhaps in the second case, the mother merely told the doctors the name of the wrong hospital. After all, how well could she have known it if she wasn't aware that it closed? Or, again, it could've simply been a matter of getting dates wrong. What if the hospital closed down and the nurse died only a few days after the child used it, and a few days before the kid went to the hospital? I mean, most stiches are removed ten days after they are added- more than the "couple days" the man claimed. It seems a little far out to claim that 2 years may have been 2 days, and several months may have have been several days, but I'm just saying it's a possibility. Besides, this account came from when the man was 8 years old- hardly a reliable source.

Any of these alternate theories is certainly possible. It's just a shame that the recepeints never give us strong enough evidence. They never mention how long they spent looking for the Taxi driver after he "vanished", or whether the mother returned to the clinic and discovered it was, in fact, closed. Miracle apologists just never inculde important details like these- they just assume they re correct. And this really irritated me. So, in conclusion, I think it would be very interesting to see more apologists do what Craig Keener did and document these phenomenal events. I seriously doubt they will- but I hope they at least try,

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