Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 04:51 pm
What constitutes miracles? I think Hume got it right when he defined it as the transgression of the laws of nature, and that when in doubt of whether there really was a transgression or if an event can be explained without falling back on that transgression, favour the latter.

The miracle that most preoccupies me is the resurrection of Jesus; as claimed by the Apostles. The New Testament has records of the 12 Apostles witnessing Jesus' image after his death. But is it something that they all agreed to make up to inspire others to Jesus' teachings? Where is the proof other than the testmonies of Matthew, John, Paul, and the other 9?
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Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 05:16 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Quote:
The miracle that most preoccupies me is the resurrection of Jesus; as claimed by the Apostles.


I think we have to consider what sort of claim the authors were making. Scripture is not a history book; these are not accounts of particular events, they are not written to transmit statements of fact.

Try reading the accounts as allegory.

Quote:
But is it something that they all agreed to make up to inspire others to Jesus' teachings? Where is the proof other than the testmonies of Matthew, John, Paul, and the other 9?


What sort of proof could we ask for? Proof of what?

No one asks for proof that Dante traveled through Hell, Purgatory and then to Paradise. Such a question would miss the point.

I also think Hume was spot on in his treatment of miracles. The problem is that we, and even in Hume's day, read accounts of miracles, in the Bible for example, as modern people. We ignore the myth, and think of everything in terms of reason. When Homer speaks of the gods interfering with man, we do not object that such accounts defy reason. It doesn't matter that the accounts defy reason; the accounts are myth.
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 05:29 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I think we have to consider what sort of claim the authors were making. Scripture is not a history book; these are not accounts of particular events, they are not written to transmit statements of fact. Try reading the accounts as allegory.

Try telling that to the millions who assemble in Vatican City....

I've personally tried reading them as allegory, but with phrases like "I have seen him" and "on the mountain in Galilee, he appeared before us and spoke to us"; it's hard to read it as allegory. Or rather, it's hard to see that the apostles meant it as allegory
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 06:47 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Quote:
Try telling that to the millions who assemble in Vatican City....


Today? Yeah, it can be a tough crowd.

Quote:
I've personally tried reading them as allegory, but with phrases like "I have seen him" and "on the mountain in Galilee, he appeared before us and spoke to us"; it's hard to read it as allegory. Or rather, it's hard to see that the apostles meant it as allegory


Do you have trouble reading Dante or Milton, ect as allegory?

As for the apostles - I think their supposed authorship is another level of meaning. It's hard to imagine many of them even being able to write. As a matter of historical authorship, I do not feel comfortable saying that any of the apostles were authors of anything. But it is part of the mythology. Besides, the actual author's name is unimportant. We can still distinguish between the various authors without their personal identity.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 08:58 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I want to understand your view of the Bible Didymos, because, I mean, why read such stuff?

I think the bible is a joke.

Whats wrong with reasoning when it comes to religion with you. I mean spirituality is such a .. well... I just don't understand it.

I don't understand why people think the world is going to end in 2012. I don't understand why people fast as a tradition. I don't understand why people light a certain number of candles for such and such.

If the meaning originally has become obselete then why continue to hold a brittle concept. Why not create a new tradition with meaning like a titanium carbon alloy?

Is this some spiritual greatness? No, its fear of change!

The believe in spirits is kinda useless to me. Believing that they hold any potential upon us is crazy, and that we can influence them, lol.

Obviously I lack a spiritual side and you've found yours. So plz, elaborate.Smile
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 09:40 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Quote:
I want to understand your view of the Bible Didymos, because, I mean, why read such stuff?


There are many answers to this question. First, even if you see the Bible as a joke, you cannot deny the immense influence of the book on history and literature, the arts. It's a significant text.

Quote:
I think the bible is a joke.


There are elements of humor in the Bible.

Quote:
Whats wrong with reasoning when it comes to religion with you. I mean spirituality is such a .. well... I just don't understand it.


There's nothing wrong with reasoning when it comes to religion. The problem occurs when someone relies entirely on reason when approaching religion.

Just as someone would miss the point of Dante if they analyze the book with sharp scientific criticism, so too will a reader miss the point of the Bible if the reader uses scientific criticism.

For example, let's look at Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert. Our scientific mind immediately recognizes that someone cannot survive without food for forty days. So, we should gather that the story is not literal and that scientific concerns are moot. Now we can read the story and meditate on the deeper meaning of the tale - something to the effect of 'preoccupation with material wealth and power are detrimental to one's psychology'.

Quote:
I don't understand why people think the world is going to end in 2012.


Neither do I. Some people believe this because they have taken scripture and read the scripture in an insanely literal fashion. As a result, they take mythology as literally true and end up with silly beliefs - beliefs which will only hurt the believer.

A good case is the Millerites. Their leader read Revelations in such a literal way, and made calculations from the figures in Revelations to predict the Second Coming. Sure enough, the day came near, believers gave away everything they owned and went to the hills to await Jesus. Jesus never came.
They made the mistake of reading an allegorical document in a literal manner.

Quote:
I don't understand why people fast as a tradition.


For the most part, people fast in accordance with their faith tradition as a way to cultivate compassion for the people who go hungry every day. They fast to better understand that suffering, and to better appreciate the food they have on a regular basis. I mean, if you never go hungry, you never appreciate your food.

What's the line from Don Quixote? ''Hunger is the best sauce''. Something like that.

Quote:
I don't understand why people light a certain number of candles for such and such.


All sorts of reasons. It's part of the ceremony. A way to physically involve yourself in worship, in practice. Instead of just thinking, you are physically taking part in spiritual practice.

That's the general idea, anyway.

Quote:
If the meaning originally has become obselete then why continue to hold a brittle concept. Why not create a new tradition with meaning like a titanium carbon alloy?


Insightful question! The answer is one you may not have expected - there is no reason to hold onto an obsolete idea. This is why religion changes over time; religion adapts to meet different and new social circumstances.

But no idea is always obsolete, or obsolete every where at once. Some times ideas lose favor, only to reappear later in a new form. I do not think obsolete is the best word. It's just that some ideas or approaches to religion are more or less relevant to different people at different times.

Quote:
Is this some spiritual greatness? No, its fear of change!


Yes, fear of change often bothers people. But this is true in politics, in art, in everything, religion included. But certainly not limited to religion.

It's funny, really. The conservative spirit is all about looking to the past in an idealized way as the model for the present and future. But the conservatives who fear change so much are a product of the change.

Quote:
Obviously I lack a spiritual side and you've found yours. So plz, elaborate.


You do not lack a spiritual side. And I'm not sure I've found mine. I'm looking for it, though. Can't hurt to look, right?
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 10:09 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Well perhaps, and I do like the idea of the suffering. I think it is key to having a healthy mind. People lack that kind of thing at school. I'm not saying to punish, no. Suffering to me, is the potential to be punished for no apparent reason. Thats the idea that makes people see the light in other people and not act like jerks. Even the gifted students are arrogant, though due to their character, there is still the blatant stupidity.

There is only intellect on the mathematical scale for most gifted students, and the noticing of prestige evokes their arrogance. But suffering changes their perspective, in such a healthy way. I'm sure you understand how, it is difficult to explain.

But I do not see health or sanity in dedicating negative virtue to purposed customs. Rather such influences should be the course of nature. Let experience happen rather than try to make such happen.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 08:10 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:
What constitutes miracles?


When events take place who's underlying causes we don't fully understand, and their irony, wonder or meaning coincides with our emotions. We say "Woot! Look, a miracle!".

Throughout history, naturally-occurring events have been perceived as miracles (as if they've been divined by something supernatural). All actions/events have their causes.. What I find particularly interesting is that it appears as our knowledge of the physical world increases, so does the frequency with which the claims of miracles decrease.

Mix superstition and causes not obviously-apparent and poof: A miracle!
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 08:35 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
What I find particularly interesting is that it appears as our knowledge of the physical world increases, so does the frequency with which the claims of miracles decrease.


Woot! Look, a miracle!
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 11:25 am
@paulhanke,
Hi all!!Smile


I would take acception to the spiritual life as knowledge of the supernatural. Spiritual life is the result of your natural life, it is the relations you have in this life, it is the love, compassion and respect that comes to you as a result of meaningful relations. It is the vitality of the individual in relation to his physcial environment, his sense of wonder, his sense of awe and his sense of respect for his place in the natural order of things. A man with no sense of wonder is a poor man, though he might have material wealth. To negate the value of this world in favour of an imaginary world is truly a violation of life itself. When the great mystery of life, of being and being in the world is lost to a belief system, it closes the door to wonder, the door to spirituality. To entertain the idea of miracles is just one effort to close the door on wonder.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 11:39 am
@boagie,
Quote:
But I do not see health or sanity in dedicating negative virtue to purposed customs. Rather such influences should be the course of nature. Let experience happen rather than try to make such happen.


What's the trouble? If practice X cultivates compassion towards other human beings, practice X seems rather positive.

Quote:
What I find particularly interesting is that it appears as our knowledge of the physical world increases, so does the frequency with which the claims of miracles decrease.


Do they decrease? Or do we just use different language?

For example, people claim to be abducted by aliens. This is not a traditional miracle, but it is the same sort of event. Some strange occurrence far beyond ordinary experience, and more than likely, horribly misunderstood by the person having the experience.

Quote:
I would take acception to the spiritual life as knowledge of the supernatural.


Absolutely. If some event is supernatural we, human kind, could not experience the event.

Quote:
To entertain the idea of miracles is just one effort to close the door on wonder.


Not for a child. We allow children to entertain miraculous ideas in order to secure their sense of wonder.

But I do agree with your sentiment. Often, people use miracles, God, ect to explain away events they do not understand, which eliminates the wonderful scientific curiosity that should follow from the unexplained event.

Miracles can be applied on two different levels.
If we apply them literally, we have made an obvious mistake. Jesus, a human being, cannot walk on water. To believe that a human being literally walked on water is silly.
We can also apply miracles figuratively. Jesus didn't walk on water any more than Dante walked through Hell, but both accounts convey meaning in a valid way.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 12:16 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
"What's the trouble? If practice X cultivates compassion towards other human beings, practice X seems rather positive. "

:)In itself the way in which compassion is presented it is delusional, and attributes our compassion to the intervention of a superior being. It sets up a system of falsehoods, in which if you accept one absurdity it necessiates the acceptence of the following absurdities, which will be grandiose.



Do they decrease? Or do we just use different language?

For example, people claim to be abducted by aliens. This is not a traditional miracle, but it is the same sort of event. Some strange occurrence far beyond ordinary experience, and more than likely, horribly misunderstood by the person having the experience.

SmileI have to agree with you hear Thomas, my experience tells me that many people dispite an education, still believe in ghosts and goblins.



Not for a child. We allow children to entertain miraculous ideas in order to secure their sense of wonder.

:)This is a curious thing, this delight adults take in creating fantasies for children, instead of adapting them to the reality of their context. I often thought the creation of Santa Claus was a primer to the Christian god. Carried to far, which is often done, it is a pathology.



Miracles can be applied on two different levels.
If we apply them literally, we have made an obvious mistake. Jesus, a human being, cannot walk on water. To believe that a human being literally walked on water is silly.
We can also apply miracles figuratively. Jesus didn't walk on water any more than Dante walked through Hell, but both accounts convey meaning in a valid way.[/quote]

:)What is the meaning of Jesus walking on water that is not entirely pretentious?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 12:50 pm
@boagie,
Quote:
In itself the way in which compassion is presented it is delusional, and attributes our compassion to the intervention of a superior being. It sets up a system of falsehoods, in which if you accept one absurdity it necessiates the acceptence of the following absurdities, which will be grandiose.
Ritual fasting does not depend on the intervention of a superior being.

There is no system to going without food for a time; the sensation of hunger is not false, nor absurd.

To imagine yourself truly understanding hunger without having experienced hunger would be delusional. Fasting provides that experience.

Quote:
This is a curious thing, this delight adults take in creating fantasies for children, instead of adapting them to the reality of their context. I often thought the creation of Santa Claus was a primer to the Christian god. Carried to far, which is often done, it is a pathology.
Children do not invent their own fantasies? You are a father, so I imagine you have watched children play at some point. A stick becomes a sword, ect.

Santa Claus is Odin, by the way. The Norse God.

Quote:
What is the meaning of Jesus walking on water that is not entirely pretentious?
Walking on water shows up in many mythological traditions. Horus walked on water.
0 Replies
 
democritus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 07:03 am
@Victor Eremita,
Hello everybody,

In case you haven't read my comment on this subject in the similar debate on Philosophy/Metaphysic/Miracles pages I reprint it here for the benefit of other readers [with minor alterations to suit this debate]:

Let us call "Miracle" = a very rare event in a particular time and place and with intelligence or intend. [with "will" or ON DEMAND]

Some events are unheard of and called "very rare events". [it is true]

A very rare event may be just a "very rare event" . [if it happens by accident]

A very rare event may be called a "miracle". [if it happens on demand]

Let us say X = A man walked through the wall = a very rare event in particular time and location [let us assume]

Let us say Y = Red Sea crossing = a very rare event in particular time and location [let us assume]

Xa = Miracle [if there is a will]
Xb = Not Miracle [if there is not a known will]

Ya = Miracle [if there is a will]
Yb = Not Miracle [if there is not a known will]

In order to talk about miracles, which -by definition- requires intelligence/intend or "will", we need to prove that this "will" is the cause of that particular event.

Now, the onus on the claimer's shoulder to prove without doubt that, there is a miracle and in this particular miracle -the very rare event- happened because of the "will" of the instigator.

Until now, no reliable evidence have been provided to justify the claim that a "miracle" has actually happened.
0 Replies
 
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:53 am
@Victor Eremita,
Personally I am all for naturalism and believe that if we think some event is a miracle then we do not understand Nature. I can't imagine God thinking that miracles can happen.

To put this another way, if we believe in God we can hardly argue that He is not a natural phenomenon, and how can we call an event caused by a natural phenomenon a miracle?

Or is it heretical to see God as a natural phenomenon?
Zetetic11235
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 05:26 pm
@Whoever,
Miracle has aspects of subjectivity no matter the definition provided on this forum. I have been told that something as relatively common as having a child is miraculous in the eyes of the parents. What then is a miracle in that context? Clearly nothing rare and nothing necessarily divine and not even unexpected. It seems to me that what is denoted by a miracle in this sense is an unparalleled joy, a sensation unlike any other due to a singular happening.

On the other hand, one might consider something like a great stroke of luck a miracle, with or without the presence of intent.

I think that in some sense one might say that the experience of a miracle is simply an indication of a zest for life and appreciation of the sublime.

P.s. Boagie, Didymos, you guys have been dancing the same dance over and over. Boagie is set in this ways(way which you find ignorant and insulting) and you are trying to justify your position to him over and over in the same way. I think thak Boagie must have a reason to his assuming and staunch sense of proactive atheism, and I think that is is fear driven, which is understandable. There are indeed many things done in the name of religion. There are many religious conservative zealots. They are, fortunately, a minority among the religious. A boisterous minority, but a minority nonetheless.

What I find curious about you, boagie, is that you seem to focus more upon the Christian, rather that the Islamic fundamentalists. Perhaps you can clarify?
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:57 am
@Zetetic11235,
Miracles, tragedy, the lucky, the unlucky, the good, the evil...

Can we please just get over ourselves? Frankly, I'm surprised people still latch onto these simple-minded concepts. Well, I shouldn't really call them concepts, as the word "concept" usual implies some sort of rational order to the thought. There is no rationality here, it's just foolish.

Zetetic is absolutely correct - there will be subjectivity applied no matter what, as these thoughts are derived from feelings, feelings that are subjective. There is no objective miracle, good, evil, it's all fundamentally based on our personal desire. To believe that ANY of these things exist in an objective form is not only pretentious, but arrogant. The universe just is; it's not good or evil, it just is. And even though it's impossible not to apply meaning to all we are conscious of, I would think humanity would have matured. As I've muttered before, the sooner we realize our species isn't special, the better off we will be.

And don't let me contradict myself - my "better" is not objective, it too is a product of my desire.
Joe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 10:49 am
@Zetherin,
Im still sticking with the idea that miracles are events or objects that we just do not have the information to comprehend. Numbers and patterns my friends, numbers and patterns. oh and Energy relationships.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 10:53 am
@Joe,
Joe wrote:
Im still sticking with the idea that miracles are events or objects that we just do not have the information to comprehend. Numbers and patterns my friends, numbers and patterns. oh and Energy relationships.


The thing I'm concerned with is attaching the stigma "God-given, good implication" to the word.

If you want to define said word along the lines of an anomaly, I'm more inclined to support you.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 10:54 am
@Joe,
Whats a miracle? an observed demand from the faithful and answered by their god ? could someone please explain what the debate is about..
 

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