Friday, October 22, 2021

On Medium: The Deeper Reason Why Skeptics Should Scoff at Christian Miracles

Read on about the difference between the profundity of authentic religion and the crassness of Christian literalism.


  1. Good article. While there have been traditions within Christianity that did place more emphasis on gnosis & spiritual transformation, it is telling that they were always persecuted by the mainstream. It would be unfair to judge a religion by its heretics & so your verdict stands.

    Miracles prove nothing but themselves since every religion has them. What is it to me (or anyone else) if Moses turned the Nile to blood? How will that answer the question of why we are here, where we came from, & where we will go, how should we live or how should we die? How will it help us to become better? To overcome our frailties or rise above our fate? How anyone can see a magic trick as sublime is beyond me. I feel more sublimity over reading a poem or watching a snowstorm than I do from David Copperfield (who, let's admit it, is a better magician than Jesus).

    According to numerous first hand accounts, the Rev. Jim Jones was able to cure terminal illnesses & even bring back those who seemed to have died; you can read about that in the book Stories from Jonestown. In No Man Knows My History historian Fawn Brodie reports that Joseph Smith regulary cured the first generation of Mormons of all sorts of ailments just by touching them & that the construction of the first Mormon temple in Kirtland was accompanied by signs that rivaled those that occurred at the first pentecost. Squeaky Fromm once claimed that Charlie Manson resurrected a dead bird by breathing on it (sorry, I don't recall the source). Certainly these are extraordinary phenomena, but unless we are to concede that Jim & Charlie & Joseph really were holy men, they were not miracles in any relevant sense of the word.

    1. My point about Christianity's hybrid content wasn't that one side (such as the official one) stands out as supreme in all respects, although that's of course what Christians will say to support their interpretations. What I wanted to say is that Christians are free to subtly waver between the various poles in the dichotomies, to avoid being falsified. That's exactly what Sentell did, by emphasizing God's love over his power. In other words, Christian theological conceptions are nebulous enough to be consistent with all possible data. The theology is obviously no better than a pseudoscience.

      And _that's_ the reason why skeptics should be confused about whether some crazy miracle today would warrant immediate conversion to Christianity. How could we know whether that would be warranted if Christianity is typically defined to be all things to all people, and thus is the least coherent or the most overtly political of the world's major religions?

      Generally, though, while miracles may mean little in themselves, they'd surely be evidence that some religion is on the right track if the religion predicts that the miracle would occur as it did. So the miracle doesn't help by itself, but it would point the way to the religion which would help answer the big questions. The problem is that if the religion's prediction is only pseudoscientific, the link between the religion and the miracle is lost.