UnkleE (Erik), a moderate Christian blogger in Australia:
[Quoting Gary] “Maybe we are speaking past one another.”
Yes, I’m afraid that’s true. But I think you are also talking past the evidence. Let me illustrate briefly.
”I will offer what I see to be the only evidence for one of Jesus’ alleged miracles, the Feeding of the Five Thousand, and let’s see if we can agree.”
I have never argued that the evidence for this particular miracle, or any other miracle, is particularly strong. I have simply said that it has two independent sources, not one as you have said again. (And despite all you say, the experts say they ARE independent sources. e.g. Bart Ehrman in Did Jesus Exist? makes this clear. One of many examples of you ignoring the experts and speaking confidently about something even though you are wrong.)
But most importantly, you are changing the subject. We were discussing whether there was historical evidence that Jesus performed miracles , especially healing and exorcism, not whether we have good evidence that he performed that particular miracle.
I have provided quotes by 8 eminent scholars, most of them not christians, which show that they believe there is good historical evidence of Jesus being a healer – some believe he actually healed with supernatural power, some believe he healed through natural means, and most simply record the historical fact without offering explanation.
You have offered your own ideas which are contradicted in many places by the facts and expert conclusions.
I suggest we leave it there. (I will try to summarise this whole discussion in another comment, and then I suggest we stop.)
“I have provided quotes by 8 eminent scholars, most of them not christians, which show that they believe there is good historical evidence of Jesus being a healer – some believe he actually healed with supernatural power, some believe he healed through natural means, and most simply record the historical fact without offering explanation.”
Erik, Erik. What I said is that there is no evidence that Jesus performed supernatural acts (miracles), other than the evidence that he had a reputation for being a miracle worker and four anonymous books which claim he did. If you want to declare victory because a handful of scholars believe that there is sufficient evidence to declare Jesus a “healer, in some fashion”, go right ahead. Declare victory and then walk away (which is your usual MO in discussions). An herbalist and a chiropractor can be considered ”healers”, but that in no way makes them worthy of our worship as gods nor does it prove that they possess supernatural powers.
Does the Gospel of John copy word for word material from the Synoptic Gospels? No. Are scholars certain that the author of the Gospel of John either witnessed this event himself, or, heard of the Feeding of the Five Thousand from a source completely independent of the Synoptics? No.
I rest my case.
Gary, I want to try to both summarise and to make peace.
This discussion has ranged over many related topics, as internet discussion tend to do. You have unfortunately made a number of statements that are contrary to the facts:
1. You spoke of the Buddha’s many miracles, but after I showed evidence that the experts say he despised miracles, you agreed you had overstated.
2. You spoke of thousands of miracle workers through history to compare to Jesus, but the only plausible one we ended up with was Apollonius, and there are considerable doubts about the validity of that comparison.
3. You said historians said “nothing” about Jesus’ miracles, but I showed you many reputable secular historians who said lots about his miracles and accepted the reports as good historical information (whether they believed supernatural events happened, or not).
4. You said there was only one historical source for the feeding of the 5000 story, but scholars like Bart Ehrman show there were two.
That is not a good record on your part.
So having made that point, I want to try to make peace.
You, like anyone else who stays within comment policy, are welcome to comment here. But false “facts”, like fake news on Facebook, are not welcome and actually do your cause harm. You say you are rational and evidence-based, and christians are not, and yet this discussion shows exactly the opposite. I presume this is due to your enthusiasm as a relatively new deconvert, but it isn’t helpful. I don’t enjoy the adversarial tone of our discussion, and I don’t like having to say “you are wrong” all the time, but your approach forces me into it for I will always focus on getting the facts right before I am willing to discuss opinions..
Surely it would be better for you to check your facts before you make such definite claims? Then it would be possible to have a much better discussion, or else have no discussion at all.
I’m not sure why you chose to come and engage on this topic, but for my part, I am not trying to change your view or reconvert you. I just want to get the facts straight before any discussion. It is quite possible to accept all the facts I have mentioned here and still be an atheist or agnostic – scholars like EP Sanders, Maurice Casey and Bart Ehrman are examples. But you seem to take every factual matter as a challenge to your unbelief when it doesn’t have to be.
Can I suggest you take a break from this discussion, consider these facts, do a little reading, and see if we can shift to a different footing if you want to discuss again? Thanks.
” You spoke of the Buddha’s many miracles, but after I showed evidence that the experts say he despised miracles, you agreed you had overstated.”
It is true that the Buddha despised the requests from the lay public to perform miracles to prove his powers (as did Jesus) , but the book I am currently reading, “The Book of Miracles” [a book which objectively compares the miracle claims of the world’s largest religions] makes it very clear that the Buddha’s disciples believed he performed some amazing miracles. My only misstatement was that: “the Buddha probably performed as many alleged miracles as Jesus”. The same book states that Christianity claims the most miracles of all the major religions.
“You spoke of thousands of miracle workers through history to compare to Jesus, but the only plausible one we ended up with was Apollonius, and there are considerable doubts about the validity of that comparison.”
That is the only plausible one that YOU ended up with and you excluded from the discussion all the many thousands of alleged Christian miracle workers for no good reason.
“You said historians said “nothing” about Jesus’ miracles, but I showed you many reputable secular historians who said lots about his miracles and accepted the reports as good historical information (whether they believed supernatural events happened, or not).”
Nonsense. The fact that a handful of NT scholars state that Jesus was some sort of a “healer” does not contradict my original statement.
“You said there was only one historical source for the feeding of the 5000 story, but scholars like Bart Ehrman show there were two.”
False. Show me a statement by Ehrman where he states that all the stories in the Gospel of John were obtained by the author from completely independent sources ( sources we are certain had not first heard these stories from one of the Synoptic Gospels or someone retelling a story from the Synoptic Gospels). You can’t do it. It is true that the author of the Gospel of John does not plagiarize the Synoptic Gospels as the authors of Matthew and Luke plagiarized the Gospel of Mark, but that is in no way proof that the author of the Gospel of John did not use stories he had heard from the Synoptics and incorporate his own version of those stories in his Gospel. Bottom line, neither side of this debate can be certain if the Gospel of John is or is not an independent source.
“That is not a good record on your part.”
And you wonder why so many people on “Finding Truth Blog” absolutely detest you, Erik. This statement is so obnoxiously rude. If it is your goal to piss off non-believers you do a great job, but if you are trying to convert any of us, your methods are very poor.