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Old December 1st, 2008, 10:31 PM   #1
shinsukato
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Default The Problem of Miracles

I am deep in the process of trying to deconvert someone. Over the past year I've managed to work them down from an extreme fundamentalist to a more calm christian. She is Russian Orthodox (and so was never all that fundamentalist in the first place) and I've found that arguing with a non-protestant is much, much more difficult. Eastern orthodox and catholics tend to be much more intelligent, and their beleifs much more complicated (though just as wrong).

Here is my dilemma. Her only remaining arguments are:

1) Her father was very sick with cancer but eventually got better against the odds. This has an obvious response and I don't need any help here, beyond maybe some good quotes to help drive it home.

2) Miracles.

Miracles are the real problem. The Miracle of Holy Fire and The Miracle of Myrrh Streaming Icons are the two main miracles in eastern orthodox faith, and NEITHER seems to have a very strong case against them. Yes, they violate the laws of physics and chemistry but beyond saying that, there is very little evidence against either of them, particularly the icons.

The wikipedia page for the Holy Fire miracle was informative, but the section on criticism of the miracle was entirely lacking in cited sources, rendering the article useless.

So I'm asking for help in two parts. Can anyone bring to light some information against these two miracles, and also can anyone offer an idea on how to approach the argument when continuing my deconverting process. The only idea I have at this point is to show her examples of miracles in OTHER faiths which have equally no current explanation, and to show her examples of miracles which have been shown to be false thus calling question to the authenticity of future miracles.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

I look into this tomorrow, because it's late over here and I'm already writing an email in German to my exchange partner.
Also, tell her that the guy who provided you with the infomation thinks that the Orthodox Church is the coolest church of all, because the churches do look awesome. (You don't have to tell her that)
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

They do indeed have the coolest churches, and I think they know it since the many Orthodox people I've met have been AWFULLY full of their orthodoxy if you catch my drift. They've got one hell of a superiority complex.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 12:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

and more ikons
than my 'puter.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 02:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

One thing I liked about Eastern Orthodox Sunday services was they weren't so much services, but people milling about and doing whatever it is Eastern Orthodox xians do. But, it made it easier to go inside the church and snap photos.

...I suppose I should try to stay on topic for a little bit since it's SD. I guess I would ask why you want to de-convert your friend. Secondly, I would head over to the library and, assuming they have a database containing scholarly articles, start from there on miracles, the rules of physics and nature, etc.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 06:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

Quote:
Originally Said by shinsukato View Post
So I'm asking for help in two parts. Can anyone bring to light some information against these two miracles, and also can anyone offer an idea on how to approach the argument when continuing my deconverting process. The only idea I have at this point is to show her examples of miracles in OTHER faiths which have equally no current explanation, and to show her examples of miracles which have been shown to be false thus calling question to the authenticity of future miracles.
Have you ever read any David Hume, shinsukato? You might find this helpful:
Quote:
Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history:
* People often lie, and they have good reasons to lie about miracles occurring either because they believe they are doing so for the benefit of their religion or because of the fame that results.
* People by nature enjoy relating miracles they have heard without caring for their veracity and thus miracles are easily transmitted even where false.
* Hume notes that miracles seem to occur mostly in "ignorant" and "barbarous" nations and times, and the reason they don't occur in the "civilized" societies is such societies aren't awed by what they know to be natural events.
* The miracles of each religion argue against all other religions and their miracles, and so even if a proportion of all reported miracles across the world fit Hume's requirement for belief, the miracles of each religion make the other less likely.

Despite all this Hume observes that belief in miracles is popular, and that "The gazing populace receive greedily, without examination, whatever soothes superstition and promotes wonder."
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_H...em_of_miracles
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Old December 4th, 2008, 12:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

I am trying to deconvert her because I feel one less theist in the world is a good thing. As she is, she will go on to raise her children as christians and produce more theists which will go on to spread more theists. I strongly believe in the power of conditioning, and the catholics/orthodox are masters of it. I like to consider it giving the gift of free thought to her future children.

Thank you very much for that hume excerpt. It will go to good use.

On the matter of going to the library to look it up; I have. The fact is that there is very little material available on Orthodox miracles (at least in english) despite the miracles themselves being HUGELY popular with their audience. The Miracle Of Holy Fire draws a huge crowd every year, and there so far has been no one willing to give a satisfactory explanation to prove it false. I think this should be a much larger thorn in the side of atheists than it is.

Although I know that the miracle defies the laws of nature and therefore is not possible, this will not stand as an argument as that is exactly the point she is trying to make (that her god is above nature)
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Old December 4th, 2008, 12:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

Just tell her:

Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you're moving too fast
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Old December 4th, 2008, 03:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

Alright, I'm going to rephrase my request and hopefully make it more obvious. Put yourself in my shoes. Craft a statement that will at the VERY least make her question the very roots of what she is stating to believe in. We hold these arguments via email to avoid it getting heated (as it probably would) and I may well just use your statement. I am really at a loss here for putting my ideas into words.

Go!
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Old December 4th, 2008, 03:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: The Problem of Miracles

"Google, have mercy; Wiki, have mercy; Google, have mercy."

Mercy on my desktop.
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