SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
Miracle-makers are guilty until proven innocent
We cannot believe every magic or miracle report. When people report miracles, it is most likely they are making a mistake or lying. Which is the most likely: mistake or lying? Lying.
According to Christianity, miracles are supernatural events that God does to indicate that he exists and as signs to show that his doctrines are true. He never gives amputees back their limbs which is odd. Anyway, miracles are evidence that his revelation to man is really his revelation and is not a man-made delusion. Suppose for example a missionary is preaching the Bible to unbelievers. God might make a man instantly sprout legs when they were amputated to verify that the missionary teaches the truth. A miracle can be broadly defined as whatever is not naturally possible. That is not the same as saying it is impossible. It is saying the supernatural performs it.
Miracles are so serious and strange that they must be believed only as a last resort because the evidence forces you to believe. So says the Roman Church. Yet this is the Church that leaves the bishop not the evidence or the investigation to decide if a miracle happened! Oh the hypocrisy! Anyway, back to the last resort point. It implies that miracle claims are bad at least until they are verified. We must be reluctant to believe in them. Miracles then must be evil. They invite people to evil. In that case, all the verifying in the world isn’t going to make them good or entitle anybody to say they come from a good God.
What we believe about things is controlled by what assumptions we make. What should we assume when we get a miracle report?
We must assume that people are innocent until proven guilty. Why? Because it is serious to accuse somebody of something unless you are sure. It is very serious to condemn a person as a murderer without proof of their guilt.
* It is serious to say something so big happened if it didn't.
* It is serious to harm somebody by saying they did something so bad unless there is sufficient justification for saying it.
Suppose the evidence says X was there when Y was murdered on a lonely country road. We assume X is innocent until proven guilty. The more evidence we get for his guilt the weaker our assumption that he is innocent becomes.
Suppose people report a miracle and there is no reason to doubt that they intend to tell the truth.
Should we operate a policy of "Assume they are lying until you see the proof yourself or get the proof!" Or assume that they are telling the truth until proven otherwise? Or just be neutral?
Innocent until proven guilty only applies on natural grounds. For example, you assume that there are laws of nature. You assume that knowing these laws will enable the jury to find out if the person is guilty, not guilty or if the case should merely be dismissed. The defendant can be cleared if it is shown for example that he never touched the murder weapon. The defendant cannot be cleared if he says a demon possessed him and forced his hands to use the weapon. The law works by naturalistic assumptions and does not consider the supernatural. The law might be wrong in this but it has no choice but to assume the natural.
Clearly the right attitude towards miracle claims is, "Guilty of fraud or error until proven innocent."
It's not fair you may say. But if you say a murderer is innocent until proven guilty you are assuming that his accusers are liars. So if you say a miracle worker is innocent until proven guilty you are saying that sceptics or neutral people are in error or lying. If you err, you become bad in so far as you do so. Intention doesn't necessarily come into it.
If God does miracles then he wants miracle workers to be declared innocent and reliable until proven guilty or unreliable. He wants the disbeliever or the unbeliever to be the one that suspicion is directed towards. He wants them emotionally blackmailed. He wants a bias established that is in favour of the miracle-maker. He wants the frauds to have free rein either partly or fully. It depends on the situation. Miracles give implicit worship to evil.
The right thing is to make, "Guilty of fraud or error until proven innocent" the law.
That alone indicates that people should only claim a miracle happened if it is an extremely important miracle for some reason. The resurrection of the saviour could be such a miracle if his rising from the dead enables him to be the eternal friend and king of the world and to continue his saving work.
Those who say minor miracles have happened such as speaking in tongues or seeing angels or having prophetic dreams are asking to be mistrusted. We demean ourselves by responding to them in faith.
Unbelievers in miracles are accused of saying, "We don't care about the evidence for miracles. We believe they don't happen."
Believers say that is a very unfair and biased attitude and implies disrespect towards belief in miracles. They say the unbelievers are not as devoted to evidence as they say they are. If the accusation against unbelievers is false then it follows that encouraging belief in miracles in yourself or others is sectarian and deplorable. Why? Because then the believers are forced to keep saying what they say. They cannot admit that it is irrational to believe in miracles.
The believers in miracles are the worst dogmatists even if what they say about unbelievers is true.
They have to increase their scepticism about evidence in general and the methods of examining evidence in order to believe in miracles. For example, if magic happens then how do we know that the doctor who verifies that somebody's cancer vanished was not tricked by a miracle to think that there was cancer in the first place? Maybe there was no cancer. Clearly if something magical happens, you cannot really know where the magic happened. You cannot speak of the doctor's evidence. It is not evidence.
If miracles happen where are the people who have lost limbs and who grew them back instantly at an alleged shrine? Why are there no miracles that are good enough to be reported all over the world as in breaking news? When the miracles are not that impressive, some would ask why we bother looking for the evidence for the ones that are reported.
The Christians reply to this that some miracle testimonies are of excellent quality. That is not good enough. It's dodging the problem. Let them show their lack of integrity if they want to.
We assume the universe will behave in a natural way. For example, we assume that the sun will not turn into cheese tomorrow. This is natural to us. And yet miracle believers insinuate that we are narrow! Nobody is narrow for assuming what is natural to assume! The believers assume and so do the sceptics of miracles.
Sceptics say that we must assume nature works in a regular way. People who are dead for centuries do not appear in luminous apparitions to anybody. Princes cannot be turned into frogs.
Sceptics are not saying that these wonders are impossible but only that we have to put the assumption that nature is regular first.
Religion says there are exceptions to the rule. Sometimes we experience events that are not naturally possible.
All seem to agree that "Whatever happens that is not naturally possible is a miracle or magic. The only difference is that a miracle is a supernatural event that takes place to make us better people and show us God loves us. And magic is just the supernatural happening for the hell of it." But God doing a miracle to tell us he loves us is magic. He can work in our hearts to tell us that he loves us. Why do something external to tell us when as a spirit he can tell us inside or internally?
Sceptics will argue as follows. "We need to assume that nature works in a regular way. For example, that magic forces don't take over people and make them commit murders so that they should get a not proven verdict in court. We need to assume miracle and magic are not real."
The believers in religion say, "That is correct but there are some exceptions. Exceptions then must not be too common. Exceptions would need to satisfy the following rules. The miracle is like something God would do. It does not contradict anything he has already revealed. The evidence must be excellent. You must also have excellent evidence to show why they happened because as with all exceptions, they must prove the rule."
Miracles are supposed to be exceptions to the way we see nature working. For example, the sun rising is not a miracle but the moon rising instead of the sun would be. The exception can only prove the rule for an extremely grave reason. No miracle is that important. If it were it would not have just evidence behind it but actual proof. The miracle when understood as an exception can never prove the rule if there is a God.
Miracles are said to be exceptions to the rule. By definition that is what they are. If we say that a miracle is so unusual we need amazing evidence such as video evidence and so on religion answers that we don't really know what is likely. In other words, don't be sceptical or suspend belief because the miracle is unlikely. But that denies that a miracle is an exception to the rule for it says there is no fecking rule!
The believers assume that the universe will behave in a natural way just as much as sceptics do. For example, we all assume that the sun will not turn into cheese tomorrow. What hypocrites they are!
If God is as good as people say, then if he is loving, we must owe him all our love, not some of it or most of it but all of it. Would we suffer everlasting torment to do his will? No - no matter how justified it was. Despite the devotion that many have, this devotion is far from adequate. Human nature is biased to deceive itself that it has God's favour and loves God albeit imperfectly. If miracles encourage this then they are not from him.
Though we cannot be expected to suffer forever at God's hands for an inadequate reason, we should be willing to if we love God and because we want to obey.
We continually violate the law of absolute love for God - and this law can only be proven if we sacrifice all our happiness forever in a place of torment. We want miracles to verify the God we invent for ourselves as an imaginary friend - not the real God, if there is one.
Believers say that God lets nature go on as if he wasn't there. But he sometimes makes exceptions to this and does miracles.
They say he does not intervene when we are about to torture babies to death. They say it would be chaos and would take away our freedom if he for example made our limbs miraculously freeze when we were about to do such a thing. This really is saying that the order of nature is far more important than the babies' wellbeing and health. It's a hideous thing to say.
If nature being allowed to act as if it were independent of God - it is not really if God exists but that is irrelevant - excuses God letting us do such evil then this independence is so important that he will never do miracles. The Christians say that it is not our place to decide what miracles God should or shouldn't do. But they don't believe this answer. First of all, it can be used to make any silly miracle claim seem possibly true. Secondly, we may be able to decide what kind of miracles God can do and have no right to decide when or where he does them. Christians themselves do not believe that all alleged miracles are from God. They reject some that seem to be well substantiated. And you can't blame them for that. They hold that a miracle should only be investigated and believed if it promotes the dignity of God and man. If we really believe we cannot decide what kind of miracles will happen or won't happen, we will never be able to tell a fake miracle and a true miracle apart.
Worse, if God is our almighty creator then there is no such thing as him ever interfering or intervening. Why? Even our free will if we have it exists because of him and not in spite of him. He is intervening all the time anyway! The excuse for why he lets us hurt the innocent so terribly is an utter failure.
Miracles that few want to believe in are soon forgotten. If people want to believe, that is when the miracle gets attention. And the Church and the investigators may come along to check out the miracles if the attention is great enough and publicised enough. The more people want to believe or the more people who want to believe, the greater the chance of self-deception. Even the most honest of people sometimes want to fool themselves and be fooled. You can never even partly tell if a person is telling the truth about experiencing a miracle. All you can do is assume. You can't just assume a miracle report is true. You need evidence.
If I am poor and poorly educated:
I will want there to be a God to solve my problems and bring about change.
Or I will hope for good luck.
I will want God to help my sick baby for I cannot afford treatment.
I will try anything supernatural or religious to help for I don’t see what else I can do.
The government will not protect me for if it acts against all who fraud the poor and the sick on religious or occult or spiritual grounds, it will have to effectively abolish religion. If you live in a nation where you are say not protected against crooked insurance companies it stands to reason that you should trust none of them without proof. When people are scared and vulnerable and needy they will want to ignore the problems which adds to the fraudulent activity.
Miracle beliefs pay homage to fanaticism and credulity despite the scientific robes those beliefs sometimes take on.
Miracles have been conclusively refuted as signs for centuries now and new disproofs are appearing by the day and yet the Church plods on and just ignores the progress made. It is no better as regards its obscurantism and ignorance than the Old Testament God who in the Law of Moses who demanded belief in miracles and dared to say that the testimony of two witnesses was sufficient to verify any claim! If the religious world accepted that, it would be dead easy to create rivals to Jesus Christ. All it takes is for some obscure person to die and then at least two people to start claiming he rose from the dead giving them new doctrines. The resurrection body acts like a spirit so it doesn’t matter too much if the physical body is still in its grave as long as they are not saying the whole body rose. This was never said in the case of Jesus Christ though there was a mystery reported about the body not being in the tomb. But the gospels do not worry about what really happened the body.
Miracles only open up the way to chaos.
If religion is man pretending to have the voice of God, then man needs people to imagine miracles in order that he can convince you God must approve of his teachings. If enough people imagine or invent miracles, some of the accounts will seem very plausible indeed. Coincidence will see to it. It is only when you look at it statistically that you see the plausibility vanishes.
It is better to presume fraud or error when you hear a story. Give the believers no encouragement.
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