Thursday, November 30, 2017

Goldilocks atheism

All Keener's work can ultimately do is to get us to the level of belief in miracles being present. A leap of faith is still required to confirm that there is a supernatural agent behind  such purported miracles and this cannot be proven by a historian. "It could have been something else" is just as valid or invalid, just as speculative, and has obvious limitations for the historian. The only firm evidence the historian has is that people claim miracles happen" Graham Twelftree, ed., The Nature Miracles of Jesus (Cascade Book 2017), 89.

Beyond a certain point the mere piling up of examples starts to look more problematic than convincing: if miracles are really so commonplace, perhaps they're not so miraculous after all. Or perhaps Keener's examples tell us more about social anthropology, social psychology, and the sociology of knowledge than about what can actually happen. What is needed is not the piling up of further examples, but a closer analysis of a selection of the better-documented ones to see what they do in fact establish... (202).

No matter how many independent attestations of feeding miracles there may be, the use of multiple attestation of sources only shows the popularity of miracle stories (including "nature" miracles) in certain contexts… (206). 

Here's a brief sequel to my previous post:

In that post I offered detailed responses to their specific objections, but now I'd like to comment on something they share in common. Ironically, the complaint is the abundance of testimonial evidence for miracles. 

Suppose we only had a few reported miracles. Wouldn't atheists exclaim that the paucity of independent corroboration is reason to discount the reports? It's easier to dismiss a few random cases as luck. Odds are, coincidental events are bound to happen. 

But now they turn around and say, in the face of a veritable avalanche of well-documented, contemporaneous reports, that the very abundance of the testimony is a problem. That just means miracle stories are popular. 

From their viewpoint, there's either too little evidence or too much evidence. There can never be just enough. These are clearly people who don't want to believe in God, miracles, or Christianity. If you point to lots of evidence, they say that's too much. If you pointed to less, they'd say that's not enough. They've arranged things so that you can never strike the right balance. 

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