Miracles (for Meta)

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:16 am

Tyrrho wrote:I think Hume's attitude is the same as mine; you have to weigh the probability of an actual violation of natural law against the probability that the claim is mistaken.
Whenever I say the words "violation of natural law" HRG tells me that natural laws aren't laws, they are not violated they are just descriptions. He says "they are descriptive not prescriptive." That means you can't violate them. The only "violation" is the norm of observation. Since our observations are very incomplete becuase our sample of the universe is very tiny and not well observed, there's no reason to think there can't be a set of data that do violate the norms of our observations.

This doesn't mean that you are never justified in concluding that there has been an actual violation of natural law; just that the evidence has to be awfully strong. Or as Hume put it:
(1) I would argue that is not what Hume says. I would argue that Hume opposes that.
He wants to base rejection of future claims upon dismisses of past claims. He's saying "because this doesn't happen (enough?)" it doesn't happen. That's circular becuase it's assuming observation is 100% accurate.


"...no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish..."
that just begs the question becuase the atheist sees that and says "ok then there's no God becuase God is absurd and totally unobserved, so therefore there can't be any reason to assume it." The kight of faith looks at it and says "miracles are a way of life for me I've seen them over and over again so I have reason to assume the testimony for them must any more so than any other testimony.

It begs the question because it privileges the position doubt as the standard norm when in fact bleief is the norm.

that quote by Hume also opens it up to the basis upon which Lewis argued it's circular nature. If they don't happen they don't happen but saying they don't because we don't' observe them is not proof and there's no reason why it should should negate the claims of those who say they have seen them..


Now add to that the Lourdes argument. Scientific rules and medical confirmation through diagnostics. It's not just left to perceptions it's proved by Xrays and cat scans and other such scientific equipment. Yet the atheists still raise the bar "those are lies, there are no xrays I wont believe until I hold them in my hand." IF they do hold them wont they say "this could be fakes so therefore I must assume it is?"
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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:24 am

even though it probably wont include any new ideas from this thread I put up a thread on my attack on Hume that I did on my blog:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1457
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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:25 am

Tyrrho wrote:
mdsimpson92 wrote:Actually, from my perspective, the term "supernatural" has become so diluted from its original meaning that there really is not much point in keeping it. Of course, that may also detract meaning from "natural" but then perhaps it has become a false ditchotomy.

Also, what is meant by law of nature. Because many of the "miracles" does not seem to violate the laws of nature as described by science today. In fact some could be explained by them.
A "miracle" that doesn't violate the laws of nature can be accommodated by a naturalistic worldview. Such an event might be quite meaningful to theists, but generally not to atheists.
In my view miracles don't violate any laws. They are the effects of a higher law to which the natural law bends.
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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:27 am

Kane Augustus wrote:If I can interject, I have to wonder about the phrase "violation of natural law." It seems to me that if something occurs, whether highly improbable or not, that thing that occured is part of what is deemed "natural." I don't see any reason to believe that an overlapping reality pushes past the miniscus line (so to speak) of the reality we live in empirically day-by-day. I don't even see there being any reason to believe there is such a miniscus line. So saying, unusual things do happen, but that does not justify the highly connotative, and overloaded term "miracle."

Take care,
Kane
very good point. indeed that is line with my thinking, although I'm sure from a different perspective. I don't see "supernatural" as a second reality that violates natural real reality. I see Sueprnature as the arch of the one reality as it bends toward it's ground and end in God.
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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Tyrrho » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:25 am

Metacrock wrote:
Tyrrho wrote:I think Hume's attitude is the same as mine; you have to weigh the probability of an actual violation of natural law against the probability that the claim is mistaken.
Whenever I say the words "violation of natural law" HRG tells me that natural laws aren't laws, they are not violated they are just descriptions. He says "they are descriptive not prescriptive." That means you can't violate them. The only "violation" is the norm of observation. Since our observations are very incomplete becuase our sample of the universe is very tiny and not well observed, there's no reason to think there can't be a set of data that do violate the norms of our observations.
Tyrrho:Whether they are descriptive or prescriptive is a bit of a red herring. The fact is, they are so reliably consistent that we have very good reason to believe there are no exceptions.
The regularity of the law wouldn't make any difference if our observations of it are incomplete. There are ovations of other rising form the dead. But what difference should the regularity of events make f there's a transcendent cause that is not naturalistic? If our perceptions are incomplete then it's only supposed that there's no intervention!
This doesn't mean that you are never justified in concluding that there has been an actual violation of natural law; just that the evidence has to be awfully strong. Or as Hume put it:
(1) I would argue that is not what Hume says. I would argue that Hume opposes that.
He wants to base rejection of future claims upon dismisses of past claims. He's saying "because this doesn't happen (enough?)" it doesn't happen. That's circular becuase it's assuming observation is 100% accurate.
Hume says, "... no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless..." If you want to claim that he is saying miracles can't happen, you have to explain his use of the word "unless".
"...no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish..."
that just begs the question becuase the atheist sees that and says "ok then there's no God becuase God is absurd and totally unobserved, so therefore there can't be any reason to assume it." The kight of faith looks at it and says "miracles are a way of life for me I've seen them over and over again so I have reason to assume the testimony for them must any more so than any other testimony.

It begs the question because it privileges the position doubt as the standard norm when in fact bleief is the norm.
TyrIt doesn't beg the question. It makes the very obvious point that the prior probability of a miracle occurring must be balanced against the prior probability of the report of a miracle being wrong.
Yet if the observations are not complete the alleged probability of the report being wrong is just assumed based upon ideology. Everything evidence for the report is made it's denounced on basis of theory rather than actual evidence. when good solid evidence is made it's immediately swept under the rug on the assumption that it can't becuase we swept all the past evidence under the rug.

besides Hume never said that because he never took on anyone who argued that miracles really happened.

Tyrr::I will grant you that someone who already believes in God will quite reasonably allow a higher prior probability of a miracle occurring, and is more likely to accept the testimony. So testimony of a miracle might provide confirmation of what you already believe. I just don't think it works in providing an atheist with a good reason to believe.
then how do you explain conversion experience miracles? what makes you think that x-rays and cat scans care about prior events or belief systems?
that quote by Hume also opens it up to the basis upon which Lewis argued it's circular nature. If they don't happen they don't happen but saying they don't because we don't' observe them is not proof and there's no reason why it should should negate the claims of those who say they have seen them..
Tyrr:Keep in mind that Hume is thinking of miracles that violate the laws of nature, and is not claiming that they can't happen. His argument is epistemological rather than ontological, and is probabilistic, rather than deductive.
His reason for casting into doubt is based upon the assertion since prior reports have been swept under rug that it's safe to assume they haven't happened. Arguing that they can't happen for some reason would make more science logically than just arguing they don't because there's really no reason to think that once one becomes aware of the claims.
Now add to that the Lourdes argument. Scientific rules and medical confirmation through diagnostics. It's not just left to perceptions it's proved by Xrays and cat scans and other such scientific equipment. Yet the atheists still raise the bar "those are lies, there are no xrays I wont believe until I hold them in my hand." IF they do hold them wont they say "this could be fakes so therefore I must assume it is?"
Tyrr:I haven't heard of any Lourdes miracles that violate any laws of nature.
of course all of them do. The rules demand that they must have no naturalistic explanation or they are not chosen. Any time an incurable disease is cured and there's no sign of remission (remission is not ever the total over night disappearance of all traces of disease but a slow reversal of disease process) that is a violation of natural law.
Tyrr:A "miraculous" cure doesn't violate any conservation laws, or laws of motion, thermodynamics, etc. The human body is sufficiently complex that the fact that we can't explain the cure doesn't mean there isn't a natural explanation.
You are trying to say that there are no possibilities of miracles because nothing that happens in the human body can be opposed to natural law, that's foolish. Rising from the dead, eyes that were totally blind seeing again over night perfect vision, lungs growing back over night perfectly new (not saint making miracle) those are things that "can't happen" but did.

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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:39 am

Sorry, to interrupt, but what exactly is meant by "natural" or "nature?" Does it mean normal in this case. I wish for more clarification because I find its current use to be more than a little vague.
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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:54 am

Tyrrho wrote:It doesn't beg the question. It makes the very obvious point that the prior probability of a miracle occurring must be balanced against the prior probability of the report of a miracle being wrong.
Tyrrho wrote:
How would one measure that? would that be through our own inuitions mixed with some experience? I fear that it may be subject ot the prejudices of the person hearing, but then again that may be the point.

Though what would happen if you keep hearing of these "miracles" (Kane has a point the term like the word "supernatural" has way to much baggage and room for misinterpretation) would that lead to some kind of paradigm shift instead of this great "violation" of sorts. Furthermore what about those miracles that are reported for the first time. You have not experienced them but have heard of them and have yet to be proven wrong, hypothetically speaking, I would imagine there are different kinds of "miracles" so measuring probability may be difficult.
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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Tyrrho » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:05 pm

mdsimpson92 wrote:Sorry, to interrupt, but what exactly is meant by "natural" or "nature?" Does it mean normal in this case. I wish for more clarification because I find its current use to be more than a little vague.
Good question. To me, it only has meaning when contrasted with "supernatural".

In the context of miracle claims, it would mean something like "not all that improbable."

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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by Tyrrho » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:57 pm

mdsimpson92 wrote:
Tyrrho wrote:It doesn't beg the question. It makes the very obvious point that the prior probability of a miracle occurring must be balanced against the prior probability of the report of a miracle being wrong.
How would one measure that? would that be through our own inuitions mixed with some experience? I fear that it may be subject ot the prejudices of the person hearing, but then again that may be the point.
Yes, probability estimates are largely subjective. As I said before, if one believes in God, then the prior probability of a miracle will be higher.
Though what would happen if you keep hearing of these "miracles" (Kane has a point the term like the word "supernatural" has way to much baggage and room for misinterpretation) would that lead to some kind of paradigm shift instead of this great "violation" of sorts.
As the number of reports increases, the probability that they are all wrong decreases.
Furthermore what about those miracles that are reported for the first time. You have not experienced them but have heard of them and have yet to be proven wrong, hypothetically speaking, I would imagine there are different kinds of "miracles" so measuring probability may be difficult.
Certainly the details of the alleged miracle are going to affect one's estimate of the probability. And estimates of relative probabilities aren't the only factors determining how one reacts to a claim of a miracle. Another factor is the relative ease with which one can investigate the miracle.

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Re: Miracles (for Meta)

Post by mdsimpson92 » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:48 pm

Tyrrho wrote:Good question. To me, it only has meaning when contrasted with "supernatural".

In the context of miracle claims, it would mean something like "not all that improbable."
The former statement may be a problem with me due me not considering either the word "natural" or "supernatural" as particularly useful or meaningful. Probably Spinoza's fault on that (in a good way) :mrgreen:. Then again that is just me (and maybe Spinoza depending on how you interpret him).

On the latter statement I am assuming you mean as something (to use my own words) "very unlikely from our personal perspectives." I say from personal perspectives due to the example of the Indian man not believing in ice due to never experiencing it (I hope I am remembering it correctly).
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