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Your Thoughts On Miracles Please


spiritseeker20
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Hi everyone,

I know this is not an introduction section but I just wanted to say that my name is Brad and I live in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. I attend Quaker meetings which are fantastic for silent worship but I would love to start chatting with you all about miracles and where they sit for you.

I am trying to work with where they sit for me. Did the miracles written about Jesus in the Bible actually happen at all? Did some happen but maybe not others? I don't know where to go with this. Please allow me to think aloud for a minute and share the 2 thoughts that I have:

* Miracles did happen and then I wonder why they can happen for some and not others and it doesnt seem like a fair system. For example if God cures 1 person from cancer but not another.

* The miracles didn't happen at all.Then I wonder why are they in the bible and what are their significance?

I believe in a historical Jesus no doubt but I am trying to get my balance between heart and head in regards to miracles. Are there any books where people have really study and analyzed the miracles attributed in the Bible?

I really look forward to your comments and I hope to have some good positive discussion. Thanks for your help!

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Hi spiritseeker20,

 

I assume you are using this definition of miracle ... a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

 

Whether the miracles recorded in the Bible happened or not, i cannot say. How can anyone say merely from reading someone else's story whether it is fact or fiction? Personally, i find no need to believe nor disbelieve miracles as recorded in the Bible though i find many recorded extremely doubtful to my reasoning mind. Also, I don't find the Bible as the Word of God as is accepted by many fundamental Christians so i give it no more authority than any other religious text.

 

Having said all that, i for one have experienced a number of welcome events that at least at the time were not to me explicable by natural or scientific laws and so for at least the time being are classified by me as miracles. Perhaps they could be explained by science if not now at some future time. However, it doesn't really matter to me because existence itself to me is a miracle. Life is a miracle as are all the manifestations i see that are created from things i cannot see and i attribute them to divine agency , howbeit not necessarily with the same understanding as is common in Christian circles.

 

Since you posted this in the PC forum, only those who self identify as PC will be allowed to respond. If you want a broader response let me know and i will move it to debate and dialog.

 

Joseph

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Hi Spiritseeker20,

 

For me, I think the 'nature miracles' attributed to Jesus (walking on the sea, stilling the storm, multiplying loaves and fish, changing water into wine, etc) were inventions of the storyteller to lend credibility to their opinions about Jesus.

 

However I am less sure about the 'healing miracles' of Jesus. I doubt that he may have cured blindness as we know it simply with dirt and spittle, but he may have healed psychological issues that were having a physical affect on the afflicted. I don't think he was casting out demons because I don't think literal demons exist, but perhaps he was able to deeply touch some people which then helped them be 'healed' in whatever way.

 

I am not familiar with any books where people have really studied and analyzed the miracles attributed in the Bible, but I would have to say that I'd be pretty hesitant to accept that anybody may know the truth about these events that occurred about 2000 years ago and for which we have no original records.

 

Cheers

Paul

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As a Christian I feel enthusiastic hoping creates miracles in the awe and splendor of our lives if we are free from the mental worry, fear and antagonisms that block our observation of them in the tiny actions around us. This freedom does not mean that science is trivia but a miracle in itself as it explains these tiny actions to our mind. May we enjoy the awe and bliss of an open mind, relax in the silence and create the miracles we are waiting to happen.

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2K year old narratives do present challenges to belief. Two things to consider:

 

1) Many believed and willingly died to proclaim the truth of these narratives. What would it take for you to willingly sacrifice your own life? The blood of the martyrs is indisputable; they certainly believed in the miracles. No one endures torture and death for a fable.

 

2) If you wanted to create a false sect, would you base it upon acceptance of such logically impossible claims? Wouldn't your lie look more like Islam or Scientology?

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If you wanted to create a false sect, would you base it upon acceptance of such logically impossible claims? Wouldn't your lie look more like Islam or Scientology?

 

 

The question is about miracles and we compare ourselves with ISIS and Scientology, which makes me think the KKK is gaining popularity with this election and not miracles at all. I feel if we want to compare Christianity, our knowledge and desirable qualities with another religion we should pick one that we can learn from. The sad thing is we have many similarities with ISIS martyrs and suicide bombers or people so dedicated to the institution they become narrow minded.

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2K year old narratives do present challenges to belief. Two things to consider:

 

1) Many believed and willingly died to proclaim the truth of these narratives. What would it take for you to willingly sacrifice your own life? The blood of the martyrs is indisputable; they certainly believed in the miracles. No one endures torture and death for a fable.

 

2) If you wanted to create a false sect, would you base it upon acceptance of such logically impossible claims? Wouldn't your lie look more like Islam or Scientology?

Burl,

 

Your second point identifies the shortcomings of your first point. You say that nobody endures torture and death for a fable, but then call Islam a lie - however clearly many people are prepared to endure torture and death for their Islamic beliefs. Belief in something , no matter how committed one is to that belief, is no evidence whatsoever that their beliefs are correct.

 

Also, if you put yourself in the place of those authors who made the miracle claims, then you would realise there is nothing logically impossible about their claims (I don't think they were creating a false sect - I think they believed what they were saying about Jesus - it's just that they were wrong). You are talking about superstitious, desert-people who thought the earth was flat, that the sky was a dome whereby God opened up windows to pour through the rain, and where miracles were the order of the day!

Edited by PaulS
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Burl,

 

Your second point identifies the shortcomings of your first point. You say that nobody endures torture and death for a fable, but then call Islam a lie - however clearly many people are prepared to endure torture and death for their Islamic beliefs. Belief in something , no matter how committed one is to that belief, is no evidence whatsoever that their beliefs are correct.

 

Also, if you put yourself in the place of those authors who made the miracle claims, then you would realise there is nothing logically impossible about their claims (I don't think they were creating a false sect - I think they believed what they were saying about Jesus - it's just that they were wrong). You are talking about superstitious, desert-people who thought the earth was flat, that the sky was a dome whereby God opened up windows to pour through the rain, and where miracles were the order of the day!

Not really. Islam explicitly permits lying about belief in order to preserve life, which seems quite sensible. ISIS is a non-Islamic delusion but even the old style suicide bombers families were well paid.

 

Christianity at the time of the martyrs was a heretical sect of Judaism. Judaism was well respected by the Roman government. They were not superstitious desert people at all. They had a long history going back through Babylon and Egypt.

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I understand your error in thinking that I only mean suicide bombers when it comes to dying for Islam, but in fact I was referring to the millions of adherents who refuse to change sects or capitulate to ISIS because of their strongly held beliefs in their sect of Islam. Just like the martyrs you are referring to, millions of people from other religions are just as prepared to die (and do so) for their beliefs. Early Christianity is in no way unique for this.

 

Perhaps using the word superstitious is over-simplifying it, but my point is that people around that time commonly used wondrous stories to talk about their Gods. The Romans did it about their Gods, the Jews did it about their God, and then the proto-orthodox Christians began doing so about Jesus. It was the 'done' thing you might say..

Edited by PaulS
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Seeker

Being agnostically minded the short answer would be no.

 

We can't even be sure how much of the non supernatural "history" can be attributed Jesus, how many of the Jesus narratives are actual history.

 

But what we can think about is after later scribes redacted oral narratives, modified them and added their own what is the meaning of the scriptures we should take today,.

 

There is a whole continuum here. Three steps on the way would be atheistically we dump the whole lot, we could take a Joseph Campbell or a JS Spong view or we could we could take the whole lot hook, line and sinker.

 

edit

just noticed this is in Progressive Christianity .... my apologies.

Edited by romansh
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Thanks for all the replies. I apologise if my comments are shallow or very basic for some of you but I just want to try and find where Jesus fits in my life and if I believe he performed miracles or not. Is Jesus a human who was at one with God or is he God in human form?

I also wonder why did the writers of the gospels say that Jesus performed miracles if he didn't? What would be the meaning of this and is this something that is common for the time?

Again I apologise but I would just love to learn and understand more. I realise I wont get a definitive answer but with more understanding I may be able to see where Jesus fits for me.

Please feel free to move this topic to the debates section as it is broad but I just want to learn.

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Spiritseeker20,

 

There is no need to apologise. It is an excellent question and as you can see it does spark some discussion. But discussion is good and often we learn things from others that we never knew.

 

But we are having this discussion because of the lack of any evidence that such miracles occurred. Yes we have the Gospels, written by God knows who, and not written until between 40 & 110 years after the death of Jesus. Further to this we don't actually have any original copies of said Gospels (in fact the earliest copies of the NT are hundreds of years old). So have the gospels been adulterated or added to over those centuries - quite possibly so.

 

Why would people make up such stories? Well perhaps they thought they were relaying the truth, or perhaps they thought a little exaggeration was okay to make their point (note - don't think it is beyond the likes of such authors to tell a white lie. It was totally acceptable to pretend to be somebody else writing in those days (look up 'pseudepigrapha'), and several books of the New Testament are written by pseudo authors (which is hardly the epitome of honesty and integrity in our present day world).

 

As for your question "is this something that is common for the time?", indeed it was. There are a number of non-canonical writings that claim incredible miracles further to the ones which made it into the NT (e,g, Jesus creating clay sparrows as a child which then became alive and flew off). Also, check out these miracle workers around Jesus' time or shortly thereafter - Hanina ben Dosa, Honi the Circle-Drawer, Simeon bar Yochai, Apollonius of Tyana, Theudas and Simon Magus. Alleging performed miracles seemed to be a pretty common way of promoting your particular teacher of choice.

 

I hope you get a chance to read and research some more - there is so much out there to learn and consider.

 

Cheers

Paul

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I also wonder why did the writers of the gospels say that Jesus performed miracles if he didn't? What would be the meaning of this and is this something that is common for the time?

 

Well back then it was not uncommon for miracles (and supernatural stuff in general) to occur. If I remember correctly in some Buddhist traditions Buddha also performed miracles.

 

Even today in modern times people feel a need for miracles. ... Mother Teresa comes to mind.

Of course not everyone is convinced that praying to Mother Teresa resulted in miracles.

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