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Friday, September 24, 2010

Does God Really Want Us to Believe in Miracles?

Two days ago, I posted the slides that Matt McCormick, Professor of Philosophy at California State University, used in his first debate with his colleague, Russell DiSilvestro. Those compared the evidence for witchcraft at Salem, Massachuetts in the 17th century with the evidence for Jesus being raised from the dead in the 1st century.

Yesterday, I posted the slides used in his second debate with DiSilvestro. These compare the reports of miracles at Lourdes with the reports of Jesus' resurrection.

Today, I post the slides used in the third debate with DiSilvestro. These show that if God really wanted us to believe in miracles, he could have provided much better evidence.I

If the above will not load for you, you can access it here.


  1. Those slides were very helpful. Thinking about the audience of Jesus's day makes it really hard to believe. Like today, if you live out in the middle of nowhere with no tv, internet, radio, newspapers, you can't make a good evaluation of what's happened. Just as abusers in churches get away with a lot, yet it's getting slightly harder to do because of the internet. People can check with other people.

  2. I think my posts are making less and less sense-lol-but I'll keep trying. Think of the audiences of Ergun Caner. He told a different story to those in churches than he told to reporters, etc. Audience is very important.

  3. Lynn,

    No, I understood what you meant and I agree completely.

  4. Ken,

    I don't have time now to dig up all the verses, but doesn't the Bible have very inconsistent messages about signs and miracles anyway? It tells us, for example, that the way to find a true prophet (and not kill him) is to see if his predictions come true, but it also recognizes that false prophets can have real supernatural power and it gives no timeline for how long people should wait before the stoning begins. Matthew says no signs of Jesus will be given except the sign of Jonah, but John records many signs of Jesus all throughout his ministry.

    In some cases, God gives signs as evidence of his approval of some prophet. This lets everyone know that the prophet really spoke for God. In other cases, people are chastised when they ask for a sign as if they are not supposed to look for miraculous evidence of God's approval. Why?

    There must be some standard apologetic responses to these discrepancies, but are they reasonable?

  5. Robert,

    You are correct. The Bible does present contradictory teachings on this matter as well as most other matters.

  6. Robert,

    Matthew 12:39-40 He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. NIV

    If you follow the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus is not in the ground for three days and certainly not three nights. The gospel of John contradicts Matthew, Mark and Luke, but one might be able to make the case for three days and three nights.

  7. Judaism is not based on miracles. One reason is that some people might be able to fool others or even manipulate the laws of nature. The role of the prophet is not to foretell the future but to encourage and castigate the Jewish people to follow the Torah. Sometimes they do signs and wonders. But faith based on signs and wonders are a lesser form of belief. Maybe someone is tricking you, using advanced technology that you don’t understand or using slight of hand etc. The duty of the Jew is to follow the Torah.

    Deuteronomy 13:1-4 says, “The entire word that I command you, that you shall observe to do, you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it. If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he will produce to you a sign [a miracle that the prophet foretells] or a wonder [ a miracle that the prophet performs immediately] and the sign or wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us follow gods of others that you did not know and we shall worship them” - do not hearken to the voice of that prophet or dreamer of a dream, for the Almighty is testing you to know whether you love the Almighty with all your heart and with all your soul.”
    Stone Edition Chumash

    Jesus asks the Jewish people to believe the miracles which is a ridiculous statement. John 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

    Jesus also states that keeping kosher is no longer necessary and he changes the Passover Seder to be about him. Jesus breaks the rules of Sabbath so according to the Hebrew writings, he is not to be believed. He’s just a test for the Jewish people.

  8. On the notion of contradictory content ... libraries are like that. Thinking of it as A Book, just because it is one now, is part of the problem. We have different conceptions of what books are than we do of what libraries are. Just that one semantic turn makes a big difference.