Atheists: Can You Discount Every Single Testimony of Miracles and Answered Prayers?


The following are compiled from testimonies of God-fearing Christians who are convicted to be truthful, as Jesus and the Bible demand of them. They were recounted first-hand to me.

Can the atheist or naturalist who deny the existence of God or supernatural phenomena claim that every single of these testimonies is false or mistaken, and that every one of the testifiers is a liar or misguided?

  • Hundreds of swarming Christmas beetles simultaneously fall to the ground on their backs and do not get up again, just as the pastor prays for the God-given authority of man over all nature in order to stop this disruption to the service. The entire church witnesses this miracle, including members of the church  executive committee who later sign the pastor on.
  • An elderly lady leaving church in tears because of the pain of her bent back of 38 years, is stopped by the pastor who proclaims that God is indeed faithful. He asks her if her pain is still there – “No”. And if she can stay on for the rest of the hymns – “Yes. I can.” And she stands straight up in full view of the entire church congregation.
  • A young man’s heart stops for over half an hour due to anesthesia. The doctors test him and predict that he will not live through the night, will not awaken from his coma, and will have massive brain damage to the point of being a vegetable. The very next day, he awakens with full control of his body. The ECG shows no heart problems at all. The doctors are flabbergasted.
  • A young woman, unsure of whether to accept her new suitor due to still having feelings for her ex, asks God for a speific sign: The suitor will give her something with an apple in it tomorrow. The very next day, he gives her a teddy bear… One that holds an apple.

  • After spending a whole night exorcising a possessed man (no 360-degrees head-turning involved outside of Hollywood), a Malaysian Christian studying in New Zealand seeks a sign froim God that the exorcism was successful: His wife in Malaysia will send him her very first letter to New Zealand from 9000 kilometres away, and it will arrive today. That very morning, the first person at the door was the mailman, with the letter in question.
  • Seeking advice about how to know God’s will about relationship and marriage, the young man is asked by a church leader what a suitable sign would be. He answers that it would be a clear sign if his next job, out of the dozen applications that have been stewing for a month, sends him to Johor Bahru where his love interest is teaching. That very afternoon, he receives the phone call. They want a Science-educated individual who is good in English and who has worked for a magazine before – which fits him to a T. Not a single other job apllication responds for 6 months more. And the job is in Johor Bahru.

That last testimony is by me myself… And the second last is my father’s. So I double know that it isn’t fake or fudged.

And those are just a handful of the miracle healings, directly answered prayers, and other coincidences so improbable that they can’t be due to chance alone… A fraction of a the divine interventions taking place in churches, prayer meetings and personal cries to God every single day across the world.

Can the atheist dismiss every single one of these occurences as psycho-somatic healing, pure luck or fraud?

————————–

PS. I anticipate that some commentors will jump in with the red herring argument “Oh but so-called miracles and answered prayers happen in other religions too. So are you saying that their gods are just as real as the Christian God?”

To this I reply: “That’s a whole ‘nuther blog post, meanwhile thank you for conceding that gods DO exist (no matter what stripe they may be).”


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162 Responses to “Atheists: Can You Discount Every Single Testimony of Miracles and Answered Prayers?”

  1. Dan Says:

    Each and every one of those is an example of a post hoc logical fallacy. Simply demonstrating a sequence of events does not demonstrate that those events had anything to do with each other.

  2. Dan Says:

    Here’s an example of a study trying to causally link prayer and miracles: Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer:

    NY Times (March 30, 2006) – Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

    And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

  3. Scott Thong Says:

    Ah, but in every one of those cases, the prayer stating what would happen was made before the event actually happened, not after. rather than a ‘post hoc’ fallacy, it is instead a ‘pre hoc’

    This contrast is what differentiates a winner in the stock market and a loser.

    And as for the scientific study on prayer, a major neglect of the study is whether or not God willed that the patients be healed faster. God can save a hardened criminal’s life yet let a 5-year old die of cancer – it is up to Him which mother’s prayer goes answered, for purposes known only to Him.

  4. Dan Says:

    Right – and that’s the same logic that self-professed “psychics” use in duping their clients.

    It’s called superstition.

  5. Dan Says:

    Quick question that’s related to miracles:

    You do realize that magicians don’t really do magic or spells or whatever – that they just use tricks – right??

    Or are you really just this gullible?

  6. Scott Thong Says:

    Which leads me back to the title of my post: Can you seriously disclaim every single testimony of every single Christian – a group of people who are supposed to seek the truth and be honest – as lies, fraud, hallucinations, coincidence, trickery or madness?

    Are you bluntly accusing me, my father, my friends and pastors I know of intentionally lying and cheating – something which we believe will earn us condemnation and hell?

    If I am gullible, you are shallow.

    Here’s some postings for you, read them (if you can sit still long enough to) and tell me that I am a gullible moron who has no understanding of the concept of logic and rationale.

    Easy 3 Steps to Why We Can Believe The Bible About Spirituality and Metaphysics

    Historically Corroborated: Jesus Fulfilled 129 Messianic Prophecies Made in Isaiah 335 Years Earlier

    Okay, now you can question my level of naivete with regards to magic tricks… If you still believe I am a foo’.

  7. Lucy Lowe Says:

    In each of the examples you gave there are a number of possible answers. Let’s take the first as an example. Either:

    The person who recounted the story to you was lying.
    The person who recounted the story to you told the partial truth but exaggerated the events.
    The beetles really did fall, coincidentally at the same time as the Pastor spoke.
    The beetles fell from the sky as the direct result of intervention from a higher being.

    Perhaps all of these possibilities seem unlikely, but we know one of them must be true. Therefore, we have to assume the most likely is the case. It might be hard to believe that the person exaggerated their story or got the facts wrong, but this is far more likely than a higher being intervening on the swarming of beetles.

    The mistake you seem to make is in seeing a miracle in every coincidence. Coincidences, by their nature are extremely unlikely, but they happen.

    You might find it useful to know the standard test for a miracle, devised by David Hume:

    “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 endeavours to establish.”

    If the beetles story is not a miracle, it means the person who told you either lied, exaggeratted, was mistaken or witnessed a coincidence. All far likelier than a miracle.

  8. Scott Thong Says:

    “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 endeavours to establish.”

    If the beetles story is not a miracle, it means the person who told you either lied, exaggeratted, was mistaken or witnessed a coincidence. All far likelier than a miracle.

    As there was a church full of eyewitnesses, including a board of church executive committee members who later signed the pastor on partly due to the miracle, the lying/exaggerating/mistaken explanation is discounted.

    As for coincidence… What is the probablility of all the beetles falling, all on their backs, and just when the pastor prays his prayer asking for a divine intervention along those lines?

    Thus, Hume’s test would establish this case to be a miracle – it is far more likely some unseen power influenced the spontaneous, simultaneous fall of hundreds of beetles at jus the right time, than they all fell by pure random chance.

    The supernatural intervention of a God is only ‘improbable’ or ‘impossible’ if one assumes from the start that God doesn’t even exist. Whereas Christians believe in a very real, active and listening God.

    —————————————-

    The mistake you seem to make is in seeing a miracle in every coincidence. Coincidences, by their nature are extremely unlikely, but they happen.

    On the contrary, I look for the non-supernatural explanation for every event. It is only when the odds of something happening by pure chance become too improbable, that I bring supernatural explanations into the account.

    As these intelligent, rational and educated scientists do: Physicists Believe in God (Or At Least a Creator or Designer): A Collection of Quotes

    I contend that your mistake is to explain away every claimed miracle as a coincidence. From the offset, naturalists discount the possibility of the supernatural as ‘impossible!’

    That runs contrary to the scientific method; whatever result an experiment gets, will be bludgeoned and massaged into fitting the pre-formed conclusion.

    As the finale of this skit demonstrates: The Locked Tomb Mystery – Whodunit?

  9. Dan Says:

    Okay – you’re gullible AND resort to baseless personal insults.

  10. Scott Thong Says:

    “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 endeavours to establish.”

    If the beetles story is not a miracle, it means the person who told you either lied, exaggeratted, was mistaken or witnessed a coincidence. All far likelier than a miracle.

    As there was a church full of eyewitnesses, including a board of church executive committee members who later signed the pastor on partly due to the miracle, the lying/exaggerating/mistaken explanation is discounted.

    As for coincidence… What is the probablility of all the beetles falling, all on their backs, and just when the pastor prays his prayer asking for a divine intervention along those lines?

    Thus, Hume’s test would establish this case to be a miracle – it is far more likely some unseen power influenced the spontaneous, simultaneous fall of hundreds of beetles at jus the right time, than they all fell by pure random chance.

    The supernatural intervention of a God is only ‘improbable’ or ‘impossible’ if one assumes from the start that God doesn’t even exist. Whereas Christians believe in a very real, active and listening God.

    —————————————-

    The mistake you seem to make is in seeing a miracle in every coincidence. Coincidences, by their nature are extremely unlikely, but they happen.

    On the contrary, I look for the non-supernatural explanation for every event. It is only when the odds of something happening by pure chance become too improbable, that I bring supernatural explanations into the account.

    As these intelligent, rational and educated scientists do: Physicists Believe in God (Or At Least a Creator or Designer): A Collection of Quotes

    I contend that your mistake is to explain away every claimed miracle as a coincidence. From the offset, naturalists discount the possibility of the supernatural as ‘impossible!’.

    That runs contrary to the scientific method; whatever result an experiment gets, will be bludgeoned and massaged into fitting the pre-formed conclusion.

    As the finale of this skit demonstrates: The Locked Tomb Mystery – Whodunit?

    So I want to ask frankly and honestly: Did you consider the evidence and arguments for and against the existence of God and miracles before deciding whether miracles can or cannot happen?

    I have, and you know my conclusion.

  11. Scott Thong Says:

    So Dan… Do point out where:

    A) I insulted your person,
    B) My perceived insult was baseless.

    And I bet you didn’t bother to read what I posted, or you’d be less quick to insult my person as being gullible.

  12. simon thong Says:

    Lucy Lowe opts for every other possibility except a miracle because they are far more likely than a miracle. Put the other way round, a miracle is the LEAST likely possibility. That is exactly what a miracle is: the least likely coincidence BUT IT HAPPENED.

    Dan, please don’t hide behind words like “superstition” and “gullible”. These are convenient labels that require little thinking apart from being able to remember how to spell them correctly. They don’t help in any discussion. Instead, it brings it down to the level of name calling.

  13. Lucy Lowe Says:

    Hi Simon,

    To quote your original post:

    “And those are just a handful of the miracle healings, directly answered prayers, and other coincidences so improbable that they can’t be due to chance alone… ”

    I disagree with your assertion that these “miracles” could be too improbable for chance alone. Improbable events occur all the time. If a lottery were held everyday, every day there would be a winner, despite how improbable winning the lottery is.

    The letter your Father received is a lovely story but to say “coincidentally, the leter arrived the next day” seems vastly more likely than to say “A God caused the wife to write a letter and a postman to deliver it the very next morning”. This story is certainloy not “so improbable that it can’t be due to chance alone” as you suggest.

    But I see where we disagree:

    “The supernatural intervention of a God is only ‘improbable’ or ‘impossible’ if one assumes from the start that God doesn’t even exist. Whereas Christians believe in a very real, active and listening God.”

    I would say that your position means you want to see miracles, and it is a very natural thing for people to do. When we miss an elavtor by a few seconds or drop a butter covered knife on the floor we have a moment of frustration, as if the inanimate objects and events are conspiring against us. But of course, they aren’t. It’s purely chance.

    None of the examples you have given here are miracles I’m afraid, but this isn’t something that should upset you. I assume you have faith in your God and faith requires no proof they say, so stop looking for miracles, have faith in your God and have a very lovely day 🙂

  14. Lucy Lowe Says:

    Correction to the last paragraph “none of the examples you have given here are proof of miracles”.

  15. hutchrun Says:

    Dan Says: March 21, 08 at

    Right – and that’s the same logic that self-professed “psychics” use in duping their clients.
    It’s called superstition.
    __________________________________________________________
    Some would. I can only talk of myself.
    I`ve had `strange xperiences` but I don`t claim to be `psychic`(it`s become acliche these days). To you they would be superstition.
    To me they were something out of the world. It just happens that I happen to be somehow `gifted` in this as you call `superstition`.
    But dammit, it`s too real. Things just happen as I predict they will. Give it whatever name you will, but it`s true.

  16. Dan Says:

    But dammit, it`s too real. Things just happen as I predict they will. Give it whatever name you will, but it`s true.

    All of the time?!

  17. hutchrun Says:

    All of the time?! – Emphatically YES including the earthquakes, twin towers, deaths of individuals and so on. Maybe I got the `giftie` or `curse` from my mum. I dunno but tis there.

  18. Dan Says:

    LOL Sure. Whatever you say.

  19. hutchrun Says:

    Want to LOL more? The mossies believe that `Mahdi` Obama will be in the White House soon.

  20. Do you believe in miracles? « A is for Atheist Says:

    […] Do you believe in miracles? A blog I happened to stumble upon  […]

  21. hutchrun Says:

    Miracle of sorts:
    http://www.rense.com/general13/koran666.htm

  22. Dan Says:

    Did you know that Charleton Heston performed all his own miracles? LOL

  23. hutchrun Says:

    Haha. That a good one by Charlie.

  24. wits0 Says:

    `Mahdi` Obama’ won’t make it. You may call me Edgar, Edgar Cayce, later. 😉

  25. Dan Says:

    If you liked that, here’s another good one.

  26. jedyoong Says:

    Hi Scott,

    Fascinating post.

    The miracles that Jesus Christ performed convinced many that he is God. Resurrecting the dead, walking on water and his own resurrection and ascension to Heaven.

    Some argue that miracles and supernatural experiences are just a perception of the mind. As in an event may be absolutely meaningless but because of the “programme” wired in your brains, you may interpret it as a miracle, act of God or coincidence.

    Over the years, many have tried to explain away the miracles in the Bible by attributing them to scientific or “natural” causes. But most fall short in explaining the supernatural causes behind these naturally explained events. For instance, one explanation for the parting of the Red Sea is that it’s a natural occurence due to the wind and depth of the sea. But it does not convincingly reasons why the wind blew at that particular time.

    Other critics have pointed out that Bible stories are hyped up in the tradition of holy books. A particular event is given a supernatural twist to show the power of an almighty. In ancient Egypt, it was common to only record the glorious victories of Pharaohs while ignoring the devastating losses and defeats.

    Personally, God is supernatural. And until one has a supernatural experience, one will never truly understand the amazing power and glory of the story of Jesus Christ, that’s unique in history.

    Although the story of a god coming down to earth to redeem a fallen man is also found in ancient religions. But the historical documentation of the life of Jesus Christ so far suggests that it is much more likely that He existed and did what He did as recorded in the Gospel.

    To answer a question that you replied on my blog. You said that Jesus came to fulfil the law. This is correct. It means that he came to die for our sins as the ultimate sacrificial lamb as the wages of sin is death and all has fallen short of the glory of God. In doing so, He also abolished the law, as we now live under grace, restored to our original state of communion with God in Eden, atoned….

    Happy Easter.

    God Bless.

    PS. I still can’t decide how to classify your blog and may start a new category under religion…. 😉

  27. Dan Says:

    More fun satire of God’s omniscience, miracles, and prayer:

    Atheists, prepare to be blown away with a high-power, semi-automatic assault of LOGIC. We know that God exists, because he can predict the future — he even knows what we will do with the free will he gave us. Plus: Why prayer works.

    The REALLY funny part is that I can picture Scott watching this video and not recognizing that it’s satire!! (oops, I gave it away)

  28. hutchrun Says:

    According to unofficial sources, in the past five years, one million Iranians, particularly young people and women, have abandoned Islam and joined Evangelical churches.

    This phenomenon has surprised even the missionaries who carry out their activities in secret in Iran.

    An Evangelical priest and former Muslim in Iran told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the conversions were “interesting, enthusiastic but very dangerous”.
    http://europenews.dk/en/node/8613

  29. wits0 Says:

    http://www.amazingchange.org/mormirapartredsea.htm
    Exodus 14:21-31

    “Moses held out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind. It blew all night and turned the sea into dry land. The water was divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides…..”

    I will always have to wonder why the wind has to be employed to part the Red Sea. And that it needed to blow all night. My opinion is that Almighty God needs no roundabout way to effect this. The Red Sea should have parted instantly the moment Moses raised his hands.

    That brings us to the question as to WHO was actually the “LORD” referred to in this ‘miracle’.

  30. hutchrun Says:

    We are building a religion
    He`s calling you DUDE

  31. simon thong Says:

    Lucy Lowe, I hope you haven’t got Simon and Scott mixed up.

    Dan, regarding “The REALLY funny part is that I can picture Scott watching this video and not recognizing that it’s satire! (oops, I gave it away)”: the only thing you have given away is that arguing against the person, trying to tear him down and using snide remarks is YOUR methodology. Don’t you have anything substantial? Btw, Scott was into satire even before he was ten, and wrote satirical stories before he went to university. Try to deal with the subject, won’t you?

  32. Scott Thong Says:

    Well wits0, God has a way of using natural means to accomplish His will.

    For example, if a family is in dire need of money to pay the rent or get kicked out, God might send a kind-hearted soul who just happened to feel the calling to donate a cheque. But I’ve never heard any testimonies of money inexplicably materializing on the table out of thin air, or the dishes becoming solid gold.

    Likewise, I see no problem with reconciling the Big Bang with God commanding the universe into existence.

    As the God-robot says to Bender in Futurama: “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godfellas

    Or as the Jewish sages put it: If God provided indispiutable evidence that He exists, He would have negated faith.

  33. Scott Thong Says:

    Lucy, do you personally believe that miracles actually possible or can actually occur? If so, what level of improbability or impossibility would it take to fit the definition of a miracle rather than a highly improbably set of coincidences?

    After all, if the science is advanced enough, anything can be discounted as ‘naturally occuring though unlikely phenomena’.

    (Inversely, if the faith is strong enough, anything can be counted as a miracle.)

    ——————–

    As for Dan… No serious arguments from him, so apart from the purposes of having some baiting and fun, we can just ignore him as a CLICK HERE

  34. hutchrun Says:

    The name Rowan Williams is now well known. It belongs to the typical British
    Muslim-Wannabe “bishop” of Canterbury, whose most recent headline-grabbing
    statement was that England should accept a parallel Sharia legal system. This
    is the same “bishop” who tried to debunk the Christmas story days before
    Christmas,…
    http://politicalmavens.com/index.php/2008/03/22/dont-hate-me-because-im-jewtiful/

  35. Dan Says:

    Sorry – I didn’t know that I had to present a serious argument when you weren’t.

  36. Dan Says:

    And besides, you did ask for responses from atheists, didn’t you?

  37. Scott Thong Says:

    And besides, you did ask for responses from atheists, didn’t you?

    You got me there.

    I should have specified that I was looking for intelligent responses. Thank goodness for Lucy Lowe.

  38. Dan Says:

    Hello, anyone home? Check out the first two comments on this thread.

    But yes, when I got responses back suggesting extreme gullibility, I gave up and just stuck around for my own humor. So sue me.

  39. Scott Thong Says:

    And I accused you of both shallowness and ignorance when you refused to even consider the fact that Christians are not all gullible, easily duped, totally unscientific morons who run screaming about doomsday at the slightest sign in the sky.

    Those are global warming hysterians.

  40. Dan Says:

    I didn’t say that Christians are all gullible. In fact, most Christians that I know wouldn’t conclude that your examples of miracles are so miraculous or believable at all. Oh they might believe that miracles are possible, but they also wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that such coincidences are more than just coincidences – that is, they still believe in the Christian God but aren’t gullible.

    Yet, some Christians are gullible. Take you, for example.

  41. Jamie Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Please provide your contact address. I’ve decided to take you at your word and sue you; my lawyer will contact you once you have provided your contact details.

    Best wishes,
    Jamie

  42. Dan Says:

    Neat – and then when you’re done, I can file a counter suit for you thinking bad thoughts at me. 🙂

    That would be fun.

  43. Jamie Says:

    You have to provide your contact address.

    Also, I intend to sue you for libel as you are insinuating, in a public domain, that I am thinking bad thoughts about you without proof.

    I await your correspondence.

    Best wishes,
    Jamie

  44. hutchrun Says:

    Haha suing for bad thots. Man this has to be sent to moonbattery.com. On that there`s this OT but related item:

    Ah, but there’s a problem with this “mutual respect of religions” idea, one which led the council overwhelmingly to vote down the resolution, 77-33. Critics pointed out that such a pact would recognize polytheistic religions, and that “would be unacceptable.” One opponent, Khaleel Al Khaleel, explained his vote against on the grounds that it would create a dangerous precedent for Muslims. “Some consider Buddhism, Qadianism and Baha’ism as religions. Can we make it obligatory for Muslims to respect these faiths and avoid criticising them?” Another member, Talal Bakri, noted that “if we approve the resolution it will be make it obligatory to recognise some religions and will facilitate establishing places of worship for them in Muslim countries.”
    http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/832

  45. Dan Says:

    Also, I intend to sue you for libel as you are insinuating, in a public domain, that I am thinking bad thoughts about you without proof.

    LOL

  46. Jamie Says:

    I am still waiting for your contact details sir.

    Best wishes,
    Jamie

  47. Dan Says:

    Right – and I’ll counter-counter sue you back for, um… oh who cares. I’ll make up something.

    You know, looking around on the other blog posts, I’m sorry I didn’t realize that this site was spoofing religion. I actually thought that you guys were the real thing. Shows you how slow I am to get a joke.

    On the other hand, maybe you’re not joking. That’s a scary thought.

    And the fact that I can’t tell says something profound about how absolutely stupid some parts of the Christian mindset are.

    🙂

  48. wits0 Says:

    Problem with discussing religion is that some people have to go for the jugular. Meaning, X must attempt to demolish Scott absolutely so that he is right. Hahaha! It can’t be done.

  49. hutchrun Says:

    `And the fact that I can’t tell…That’s a scary thought.`

    Conan gets angry when somebody else sits on his favourite spot.
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080324031036.hpe4uyox&show_article=1&image=large

  50. Scott Thong Says:

    Dan, why do you consider me as gullible or even stupid? The reason I quoted the testimonies above is because they are exteremely improbable.

    If I quoted testimonies of “Yesterday I saw a rainbow and I knew it must be God giving me a sign!” you could say I’m overenthusiastic and underwhelming.

    Or if I were all post hoc like you claimed I am, I would be quoting cases where something cool happened and AFTER THAT the pastor says “It’s a miracle!”. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about that.

    But what I quoted were all pre hoc, that is, the pastor says something AND THEN that exact thing happens.

    Can it really be pure coincidence the twentieth time he does something like that? I seriously doubt that most Christians would find the testimonies I listed completely mundane and un-special.

    This is why I said you are shallow – you assume that I am some head-in-the-clouds, starry-eyed brainwashed sheep just because I say I believe in miracles.

    You completely neglected to read any of my posts that I provided links to, where I demonstrate clear logic and rationale in accepting or rejecting something as a ‘miracle’.

    You completely discount the possibility that I am informed, skeptical, cynical and scientifically grounded when I make the conclusion that some things are just too improbable to be attributed to pure chance.

    So on that note… What could possibly pass as a miracle or non-coincidental answered prayer to you?

    I’m guessing NOTHING… Because in your mind, you’ve already decided that God and miracles cannot exist before even looking at the evidence. All the evidence in the world thus becomes wrong to your eyes.

  51. Jamie Says:

    Perchance it simply means that you as an individual are not particularly bright, Dan. It is okay to admit your failings 🙂

  52. Dan Says:

    Extremely improbable? Let’s take the first example you gave.

    Hundreds of swarming Christmas beetles simultaneously fall to the ground on their backs and do not get up again, just as the pastor prays for the God-given authority of man over all nature in order to stop this disruption to the service. The entire church witnesses this miracle, including members of the church executive committee who later sign the pastor on.

    This pastor was praying for a sign. Many pastors pray for signs, many times over. The fact that on one occasion out of thousands, something happened that could loosely be described as a sign, is not only not extremely improbable, it is reasonably following what might be considered statistically inevitable.

    That’s gullibility for you.

  53. Scott Thong Says:

    That assumes that the pastor prays for Christmas beetles to be smited on a weekly basis… Which the congregation would be quick to point out to him.

    That’s the clear difference between winning the lottery (low probability but eventually will happen because of endless repeating) and a divine answer to a specific prayer (low probability, yet manages to happen the one time the prayer is made).

    And what scientific device or natural phenomena, pray tell, exists that can knock hundreds of flying and crawling beetles on their backs within seconds and keep them on their backs with no visible, audible or smellable signs or effects on other living creatures in the vicinity?

    Just admit it – you patently refuse to believe that divine intervention can possibly exist.

    If God Himself appeared to you in burning cloud and rock-melting lightning and chided your stubbornness to your face, you’d dismiss it as a hallucination, a trick, an alien, a fairy, Karl Rove… Anything but God.

  54. Dan Says:

    No, according to your passage, the pastor wasn’t praying for Christmas beetles at all.

    This is the same thing as how psychic frauds work – they make extremely vague predictions, and the listeners then look for anything that could possibly make those predictions appear believable. Then, when they find something that loosely fits the vague prediction, they convince themselves that the psychic or pastor knew what they were talking about.

    Again, that’s gullibility for you.

  55. Scott Thong Says:

    just as the pastor prays for the God-given authority of man over all nature in order to stop this disruption to the service

    That doesn’t count?

    To be precise, the swarming disruption caused him to pray for the God-given authority of man over nature (Genesis 1) to stop the beetles from disturbing his sermon.

  56. Dan Says:

    just as the pastor prays for the God-given authority of man over all nature in order to stop this disruption to the service

    How many hundreds of times do pastors ask for “a sign,” and how many hundreds of ways could there be “a disruption to the service”? Many times many. That’s hardly miraculous.

  57. Jamie Says:

    I’d like to remind you, Dan, to provide your contact details. You still have not done so. We cannot proceed to court unless we have some way of contacting you, and also of determining where we should prosecute you.

    Best wishes,
    Jamie

  58. Dan Says:

    Jamie,
    Ha… no, whether you’re joking or you actually imagine that a judge or lawyer would refrain from laughing at you, I’m not sharing my contact details here. Not that they’re difficult to find if you know where to look on the web…

    Seriously though – that joke has grown stale.

  59. Jamie Says:

    Dan,

    Like I mentioned previously, perhaps you aren’t as bright you make yourself out to be.

    And I agree, your continued refusals to give proper answers is a joke that went stale many posts ago.

  60. Dan Says:

    Jamie,
    Are you by any chance special?

  61. Dan Says:

    Jamie,
    I “get” Scott and his gullibility. What I don’t get is you – I can’t tell whether we’re enjoying a joke together, or if you are serious (in which case I guess I’ve just been laughing AT you).

    Could you clarify please?

  62. Jamie Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Perhaps you don’t know enough not to discriminate against anyone just because they might have special needs. Do educate yourself in the anti-discrimination laws in your country.

    I cannot volunteer a free clarification; you have have not clarified anything in response to Scott’s post.

    Furthermore, you haven’t provided any contact information. Stop wasting my lawyer’s time.

  63. Dan Says:

    Okay – so joking WITH me it is.

    Where do you come up with this stuff though, and not break form? I could never keep the “really, I’m serious” shtick going for so long.

    For instance, pretending that I didn’t explain why Scott is incredibily gullible, as though ignoring my serious comments, and his closed-mindedness, would make them go away.

    Or pretending that my question of whether you had special needs was discriminatory.

    And it’s amusing (for a moment) how you’re not giving up the lawyer joke.

  64. Dan Says:

    Thinking it over for a few more minutes, perhaps the best one is the lawyer joke though:

    – I say “You were thinking bad thoughts about me, so I’m going to sue you.” Of course this is a joke since no one in their right mind would sue over what someone else was thinking, which is unprovable and ridiculous. Hence, I was making a joke.

    – You reply “I’m going to sue you,” and play along with the joke.

    – Then, you keep pretending that you’re serious, asking for my contact info. Aside from the fact that sharing personal contact info over chat discussions is very unwise, which isn’t funny, you were asking someone that you were joking about suing for their assistance in suing them. “Here, take my money, sir!” LOL That’s some damn good comedy right there.

    – And, true to form, you’re keeping it up. For a moment there I thought you were serious, which suggests that you would have zero clue as to how the world works. But of course it looks like you’re joking.

    Very funny!

  65. Scott Thong Says:

    How many hundreds of times do pastors ask for “a sign,” and how many hundreds of ways could there be “a disruption to the service”? Many times many. That’s hardly miraculous.

    That’s because you are unfamiliar with (i.e. totally ignorant about) Christian scripture.

    The pastor specifically quoted Genesis 1:28 – “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” He used the specific verse about living creatures against the living creatures that were disturbing the service.

    I will be as exact as I can be: The pastor specifically prayed against the beetle swarm, using the specific authority God gave man over nature, as specifically written in Genesis 1:28.

    Why do you assume this particular pastor prays against everything, everytime he steps onto the pulpit? I already said that if he launched ineffective prayers every Sunday, the jaded congregation would make the exact same conclusion as you do – that he finally ‘got lucky’.

    (And besides, you proud but ignorant atheists have no understanding of the fact that Spirit-led Christians do not simply pray for miracles on a whim, but are always led by God’s prompting to do so – when they try it on their own, they inevitably fail.)

    And you still cannot explain what techonology exists that is so incredibly advanced it can knock out every beetle as if by ‘magic’.

    And you still need to discount the other testimonies I included, and the testimonies of every other event more improbably than those, to prove that no such thing a answered prayers or miracles exist.

    On that note, it must be hard being an atheist – having to prove that God is not hiding in every corner of the universe, under every rock and tree, before you can know that God does not exist instead of believe by faith that God does not exist.

  66. Scott Thong Says:

    Jamie, maybe you should lay off of Dan. He’s one of those sorts who is an expert at mocking, taunting and insulting people… But not so great at taking what he dishes out.

    Come to think of it, why am I bothering to apply rational arguments when they bounce off his Armour of Not-Magical-But-Something-Else Logic Deflection? I should skip right to the sarcasm.

    Name: Dan
    Alignment: Whatever is the opposite of Christians
    Class: Completely lacks any
    Race: Baiter, if his religion baiting is anything to judge by

    Strength: 18 (all out offensive assault force)
    Intelligence: 12 (smart mouthed but no original arguments)
    Dexterity: 18 (able to avoid addressing any valid points aimed at him)
    Constitution: 1 (very thin skinned whiner who can’t take ribbing)
    Wisdom: 1 (automatically assumes everyone who doesn’t share his views is an uneducated moron)
    Charisma: 1 (resorts to insults and mockery by the third comment)

  67. Jamie Says:

    Once again Dan, I think I have to repeat that you might not be as bright as you make yourself out to be, but you are quite good at evading issues. It is not a good practice to jump to conclusions so quickly. I may not have been referring to you calling Scott gullible.

    Anyway, you haven’t properly answered the questions Scott has posed to you, and you are trying to evade the topic by claiming I am joking. Once again, you are jumping to conclusions.

    Dan, you seem to be showing that you really aren’t as bright as you make yourself out to be.

  68. Jamie Says:

    Dan,

    Why did you run away?

    Left behind,
    Jamie

  69. Dan Says:

    Sorry, I was a bit busy with work, and harassing you silly folks was getting boring. You see, I really do think that Scott’s posts are ridiculous – to the point where I only gave serious responses a brief chance here and there. And, Scott is right on one thing – after that, I’ve just been playing games with you.

    After a while though, even baiting morons gets old.

  70. Scott Thong Says:

    i.e. He admits defeat.

    To morons.

    That has got to sting.

  71. Dan Says:

    What, me upset for not getting through to you? Why is that not your loss?

  72. Dan Says:

    Actually, that too is pretty damn funny… I’ve been having a good laugh at your expense, not hiding it or anything, and you think that that means “you win.”

    Are you a clown or something, if “laughing at you” means “you win”?

  73. Jamie Says:

    Sigh…Dan ran away and abandoned the fight. He didn’t even provide his contact details so that I could sue him…

    Why did you have to run away and disappear, Dan? Why? Where have you gone?

    Left behind,
    Jamie

  74. Scott Thong Says:

    Are you a clown or something, if “laughing at you” means “you win”

    Works for me, if the laughing boy’s chortling sounds very hollow and forced.

    Otherwise, one could shake his head and laugh every time someone tries to bring up a valid point, then walk away and claim victory. I believe we politely call such people ‘nutters’.

    (Dan doesn’t get it – his continuous claims of ‘victory’ and being all merry and tickled over ‘winning’ make him sound desperate and impotent – in the non-Viagra way of course.)

  75. Dan Says:

    his continuous claims of ‘victory’ and being all merry and tickled over ‘winning’

    Haha… I didn’t claim that at all, just as the clown’s audience doesn’t claim victory at a show. LOL

  76. hutchrun Says:

    I like this one:

  77. Dan Says:

    Nah… this one is better:

    LOL

  78. Jamie Says:

    Dan…where have you gone? I know it is hard, but why did you up and run just like that?

    Left behind,
    Jamie

  79. Dan Says:

    What the heck are you talking about Jamie?

  80. hutchrun Says:

    Sorry that one isn`t as good as the book:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dice_Man

  81. Jamie Says:

    Dan…come back! We miss you! Where did you run away to?

    Sigh…if only Dan had not run away…please come back Dan!

    Left behind,
    Jamie

  82. hutchrun Says:

    Awww tis the weekend, sooo it`s Saturday Night Fever 🙂

  83. Dan Says:

    hutchrun,
    Dice Man sounds interesting, but it’s based on someone who does so because he’s bored and wants to make things interesting. Scott’s logic of prayer (spoofed in that latest YouTube clip) is much more funny, IMO.

    🙂

  84. hutchrun Says:

    Even funnier is this pious guy, who after praying fo God`s intercession came out of the temple and pumped his last dollar in the lottery. He won half a million. That`s from real life experience.

  85. Aquaria Says:

    Hm. They’re all true? Curious how not a single one of them has a link to a news story, or even to a church website. But let’s say that these miracles escaped every single bit of media/sectarian interest. Or that the churches in question are unable to have a website.

    Then provide details for verification: Names, dates, places. Just for the first one will do nicely: A pastor in some unnamed church asks for a sign. What pastor? What church? Who are the witnesses to the event? How do we contact these people? BTW, What do you call a swarm? Two? Two thousand? Where did these beetles land? How much time, exactly, elapsed, after the preacher asked for the sign before the beetles landed? One second? Two? A minute? More? What species of Christmas beetle was it? If that’s not known, what color were they? Where did the beetles fall from? Did they just appear in mid-air and drop, and die?

    Oh… And do you know if the church had been exterminated recently?

    Oh–the anesthesia claim. Sorry, but that’s not unusual. My maternal unit is an anesthetist, and people have weird responses to the chemicals all the time. A lot of things can put a wrench in the works, like unexpected allergic reaction to the anesthetic or latent drug/alcohol/food effects in the system. These things can be anywhere from an annoyance for the anesthetist to fatal to the patient, and everything in between. Sometimes, they can seem worse than they actually end up being–and would be worse if they’re not handled carefully. Notice there’s no mention of efforts the staff was making to counteract the problem, but I’m sure they were doing everything they could to save the person’s life. How insulting to millions of hard-working doctors and nurses to assume that they wouldn’t do everything in their power, look for every possible way, to do that.

    Those will do for now. Please provide the necessary information about the first story (or any of the others), so that the claims can be verified. This is necessary because the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim. A claim for miracles existing (a positive claim) has been made. It is up to the claimant in such a case to provide evidence supporting the claim.

  86. Scott Thong Says:

    Wll for the first story, i’d have to ask the pastor to recount to me all the details and contacts you asked for – I only heard it from him firsthand the last time.

    I’ll also record a video of him swearing its veracity on his life or ask him to sign a binding contract to the tune of $5 million if he turns out to be lying.

    Then I could search for and interview separately at least ten people who witnessed said miracle. I’ll repeat the video, sworn testimony and binding contract for them too.

    By that point, I’ll have exceeded the research for a News At Eleven type headline story by several orders of magnitude.

    Heck, by that point, I’ll have exceeded the amount of verifiable proof that the IPCC has for global warming!

    In the meantime, I’ll give you all the details about the last testimony:

    Name of witness: Scott Thong (me)
    Contact: This blog
    Place where prophetic utterance was made: Excel Point Community Church (Penang, Malaysia)
    Employer that made the call: Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn Bhd (Malaysia)
    Independent witnesses: Tan Hui Ping (at church) and Jovelynna (under employer)

    The reason that none of them have links to news stories is that they are either personal events (nothing for the enws crews to film) or happened decades ago.

    ———————

    How insulting to millions of hard-working doctors and nurses to assume that they wouldn’t do everything in their power, look for every possible way, to do that.

    Sorry, but doctors are already insulting their own profession by murdering perfectly save-able patients:

    If Abortion is Legal, So Should Infanticide and Child Murder Be

    In the Netherlands, 31 percent of pediatricians have killed infants. A fifth of these killings were done without the “consent” of parents.

    FIRST, Dutch euthanasia advocates said that patient killing will be limited to the competent, terminally ill who ask for it.

    Then, when doctors began euthanizing patients who clearly were not terminally ill, sweat not, they soothed: medicalized killing will be limited to competent people with incurable illnesses or disabilities.

    Then, when doctors began killing patients who were depressed but not physically ill, not to worry, they told us: only competent depressed people whose desire to commit suicide is “rational” will have their deaths facilitated.

    Then, when doctors began killing incompetent people, such as those with Alzheimer’s, it’s all under control, they crooned: non-voluntary killing will be limited to patients who would have asked for it if they were competent.

    And now they want to euthanize children.

    In the Netherlands, Groningen University Hospital has decided its doctors will euthanize children under the age of 12, if doctors believe their suffering is intolerable or if they have an incurable illness.

  87. simon thong Says:

    Aquaria:How insulting to millions of hardworking doctors…….. 3 decades ago, a lecturer in the Medical Faculty, Malaya University, commented “it doesn’t matter whether the medical student is Chinese, Indian or Malay. All are equally intelligent but most are in it for the money.” That was quite an indictment on the medical students (and by extension, the medical profession) of his day and his country (Malaysia). Doctors? Sorry, there are many dedicated ones but not enough. Not in my experience. Millions? lol

  88. Paul Says:

    This is real easy folks – let’s organise a ‘World Religion Challenge’! What we’ll do is get the leaders of all Religions/Belief systems to back-up their claims for both divine intervention & the rights to sell ‘the only ticket in town’ to eternal life. This will be a worldwide sensation. We’ll have the Pope, Dalai Lama, Islamic Caliph etc all lined-up to battle it out for sole (soul?) supremacy. The rules are real simple and totally fair to all participants. We’ll have six dice and each of the contestants, has to say the same mantra/prayer just before they throw them: “Oh god prove your existence and the only true religion is [insert name of religion] by giving me six sixes”. Oh yeah I almost forgot, the atheists will have a chimp as their representative, the chimp will just simple throw the dice (minus the prayer bit) What do you think will happen after 24 hours of throwing the dice?

  89. Scott Thong Says:

    The Pope will launch a Crusade, the Caliph will declare jihad, the chimp will evolve into an atheist and begin a Stalinist purge of millions, and the Dalai Lama will sit cross-legged to protest the violence (not in the studio, in Tibet)?

  90. aredvoice Says:

    Scott,
    I’m not starting a discussion, but just wanted to thank you for sharing your personal stories of miracles – The world needs to hear of miracles occurring today, whether or not they believe is their choice. I delight in the Lord’s mercies and miracles. I know that His tender mercies and His miracles, large and small, are real. They come in His way and on His timetable. I have had miracles in my life and know of many other miracles that have occurred to others. Fools make a mock of miracles.

    “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” –Galatians 3:5

    “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him” –John 12:37

    “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” — Mark 6:52

    “… O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken…” –Luke 24:25

    “6 A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth. 7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. 8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit. 9 Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.” — Proverbs 14:6-9

  91. Scott Thong Says:

    Ah, if only we knew when miracles would occur beforehand – then we could set up mutiple video cameras and PROVE that God works His wonders!

    But perhaps that’s not how God wants it… It has been said before by a Jewish theologian, that if God were proven then there would no longer be any element of faith left in believing in His existence…

  92. Dr.Manhattan Says:

    “Miracles by their definitions are meaningless. Whatever CAN happen…WILL happen.”

    Miracle? You want me to acknowledge a miracle? Show me a bilateral amputee who has both legs grow back overnight or AT ALL, and maybe ill acknowledge it as a miracle. But im sure science will take care of that, god is obselete. He’s the equivalent of santa claus, except no one ever bothered to tell you that god was made up too.

    –Dr.Manhattan

  93. Scott Thong Says:

    Yeah, right. If I were to bring that amputee to you and have it happen before your very eyes, you would discount it as a spontaneous regeneration – unlikely and surprising, but completely natural with no supernatural phenomena involved. Tell me that I am mistaken.

    – Mr. Scott

    By the way, you might like to attend any one of the many healing crusades or prayer rallies and confront any one of the healed persons (or go here). Try saying “YOU ARE JUST A FRAUD!” to their faces and come back and tell me what you find.

  94. Ron Says:

    1. Christmas beetles:

    A quick google search reveals Australian Christmas beetles have a short lifespan, most of which is spent underground. When the adults emerge from the ground after it rains, they mate, lay eggs, and die.

    They also have this strange propensity to fly into things and fall to the ground on their backs.

    http://kippetje.rocketfuelweb.com/194/beetles/

    Faulty Conclusions: 1
    Miracles: 0

    2. Elderly Lady Story:

    Sounds like your typical faith healer service where participants delude themselves into thinking they’ve been cured.

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/benny_hinn_healer_or_hypnotist/

    Wishful thinking: 1
    Miracles: 0

    3. Coma Recovery (aka ‘Delayed Emergence from Anesthesia’)

    As Aquaria already mentioned, this in not uncommon.

    Natural Occurrence: 1
    Miracles: 0

    4. Teddy bear story

    That’s one explanation. Here’s another…she fawned over the item during a shopping excursion with the ‘apple of her eye’ and he bought the item to impress her.

    Love-struck Woman: 1
    Miracles: 0

    5. Malaysian Excorcist

    Receiving mail from a loved one after initial seperation. Imagine that!

    Postal Service: 1
    Miracles: 0

    6. Job Offer

    – Malaysia discriminates against it’s Chinese population
    – Johor Bahru is near Singapore, a Chinese majority state
    – you’re of Chinese ancestry (according to your ‘About me’ page )

    …connect the dots.

    Common Sense: 1
    Miracles: 0

  95. Scott Thong Says:

    While I admire your dedication to actually research alternative explanations to each of the above cases, you also over-simply each one by removing specific factors and the timing that make pure coincidence much more unlikely.

    That said, your snarkiness in titling each of your final scores is to be commended.

  96. Ron Says:

    Occam’s Razor:

    One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.

    …or in modern parlance:

    KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

  97. Simon Thong Says:

    An atheist’s lot: explain AWAY anything and everything to do with the supernatural. Lots of words. Nothing short or simple.

  98. Simon Thong Says:

    In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not to be considered an irrefutable principle of logic and certainly not a scientific result (wikipedia)

  99. Ron Says:

    Simon muses:

    “An atheist’s lot: explain AWAY anything and everything to do with the supernatural. Lots of words. Nothing short or simple.”

    My answers were short and simple, though perhaps not as short and simple as throwing your hands up in the air and saying “God Done It.”

    “In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not to be considered an irrefutable principle of logic and certainly not a scientific result (wikipedia)”

    You missed the preceding sentence:

    “In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic (rule of thumb) to guide scientists in the development of theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models.”

  100. Simon Thong Says:

    The preceding sentence was missed out as it had no relevance to the subject matter.

  101. Ron Says:

    I beg to differ.

    The two sentences formed of a single two-sentence paragraph — a collection of related sentences dealing with a single idea or topic, in which the successive sentences build upon the first.

    In this particular instance, the first sentence states that science uses Occam’s razor as a guide when initially developing theories, but rejects it as a deciding factor when selecting between two competing scientific models. The second sentence amplifies that thought by stating that the principle is considered inferior to scientific evidence.

  102. Simon Thong Says:

    Keep begging. Occam’s razor is not relevant to the explanation of miracles. Scientific method is non-applicable to supernatural events.

  103. Simon Thong Says:

    Dr.Manhattan has not experienced the most important miracle that can happen to a man: conversion, being born again of the Holy Spirit.

  104. Ron Says:

    Simon states:

    “Scientific method is non-applicable to supernatural events.”

    Exactly! And Occam’s Razor is used to ‘shave away’ metaphysical concepts from events (like the ones listed at the top) which have natural explanations.

  105. Simon Thong Says:

    Used to explain away…it’s starting point is there are no miracles, no supernatural events. The approach of those who cannot see an event as both/and, only as either/or.

  106. Ron Says:

    That’s because by definition, science focuses exclusively on the natural universe. Things outside the physical realm are not within its purview.

  107. Robert Says:

    “Used to explain away…it’s starting point is there are no miracles, no supernatural events. The approach of those who cannot see an event as both/and, only as either/or.”

    In the past violent acts of nature were attributed to an angry god. Now we know better. The Atomic Theory is still a theory yet you feel the warmth and see the light of something occurring at an atomic level every day. Because you cannot explain how the above “miracles” or coincidences happened does not mean that a rational reason they occurred did not exist. You’re just not aware of nor have knowledge of those events and so, in your ignorance of such events, call it a “miracle”. Humans have been making that error for thousands of years and over time science has prevailed as it does today.

  108. Robert Says:

    One more thing, Simon. Don’t go flying off the handle and have a fit because I said, “…your ignorance..” It was not meant as an insult and every human on this planet is ignorant of something or other. I am apt to believe you will define my own ignorance in the field of faith, and you will be wrong….again.

  109. Ron Says:

    Why should he be upset?

    St. Paul admitted that ignorance is bliss when he said, “We are fools in Christ.”

  110. Simon Thong Says:

    And who created the reality that allows scientists to postulate the Atomic Theory?. Christians are fools for Christ, and we also suffer fools.

  111. Simon Thong Says:

    Atheists like to say that science is on their side, as though science and atheism were synonymous. The fact that Scott has a blog, “Physicists believe in God”, shows that atheists have no monopoly on science. How pretentious to claim that science is on your side, Robert…Which science is yours? The one that has amoeba to man (and crudely put, ape to man)?

  112. Ron Says:

    ‘…and we also suffer fools.”

    “But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” –Jesus

  113. Simon Thong Says:

    Scripture says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god’.” (Psalm 53.1).

  114. Ron Says:

    Footnote: The Hebrew words rendered fool in Psalms denote one who is morally deficient.

  115. Ron Says:

    Addendum: Thinking occurs in the brain. The heart is a muscle that pumps blood to the brain.

  116. Simon Thong Says:

    The heart is a muscle that pumps blood to the brain..Is that all it is? And when you gave your heart to someone?

    The fool that Jesus spoke of is my brother, another disciple. Are you my brother, or another disciple?

  117. Ron Says:

    The ancients believed the heart was the center of thought and emotions. The only way I can give my heart to someone is as an organ donor.

    Jesus was addressing a crowd and preceded his admonition with a reference to murder, so the word ‘brother’ is used here to mean one’s fellow man, not one’s immediate relative, or a disciple.

  118. Simon Thong Says:

    Nope, you may be under the impression that he was addressing the crowd, but he wasn’t. Thew crowd was around. When he saw the crowds, he went up a high mountain. His disciples came to him, and he taught them. The ‘them’ are the disciples. Not everyone, not you (not yet). Disciples. Know anything about context?

  119. Ron Says:

    It’s called the Sermon on the Mount because he was talking to the people around him. Luke 6:17 confirms this. Every pastor, priest and reverend I’ve heard has quoted this scripture in the context of an open-air sermon to a lard crowd. Not once have I heard it taught in the context of a private communique to his twelve chosen disciples.

  120. Ron Says:

    Correction: lard crowd should read large crowd.

  121. Scott Thong Says:

    Addendum: Thinking occurs in the brain. The heart is a muscle that pumps blood to the brain – Robert

    See, that’s what I was talking about, over-literal interpretation. Or snarkiness, either way.

  122. Ron Says:

    Actually, it was my quote.

    And the author of Psalms wasn’t using a metaphor; he really believed that thought processes originated from the heart. In any other ancient text that would be an acceptable error. Coming from a (purportedly) inerrant holy book inspired by the master of the universe, it is not.

  123. Scott Thong Says:

    And the author of Psalms wasn’t using a metaphor; he really believed that thought processes originated from the heart.

    How exactly do you derive what the author really believed from the text?

    If you apply the same methodology to other writers/speakers, then does that make this guy a biology flunker as well?

    In my heart I know you didn’t come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be. – BHO

    (IMHO you don’t really take half of the over-literal interpretations of Biblical verses seriously, it’s just snark bait. Am I correct?)

  124. Simon Thong Says:

    Ron plays fast and loose with scripture..that is apparent.

  125. Ron Says:

    “How exactly do you derive what the author really believed from the text?”

    May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19:14]

    May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. [Psalm 20:4]

    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. [Psalm 51:17]

    With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. [Psalm 62:4]

    I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart [Psalm 138:1]

    Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. [Psalm 139:23]

    See the pattern? There’s not one mention of the word mind in any of the Psalms attributed to David (c.1040–970 BCE). Barring evidence to the contrary, I think it’s safe to presume he meant it literally.

    “In my heart I know you didn’t come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be. – BHO”

    In contemporary times the term is used poetically.

    “IMHO you don’t really take half of the over-literal interpretations of Biblical verses seriously, it’s just snark bait. Am I correct?”

    I don’t take any of the Bible seriously. But when Christians dogmatically insist it’s God’s inerrant guide to mankind, I have no qualms in testing their mettle by pointing out the obvious contradictions and errors.

  126. Scott Thong Says:

    See the pattern? There’s not one mention of the word mind in any of the Psalms attributed to David (c.1040–970 BCE). Barring evidence to the contrary, I think it’s safe to presume he meant it literally. – Ron

    Why in contemporary times it is taken poetically, but not in ancient times – particularly when Psalms is a book of poetry, and when even back then, the word translated as ‘heart’ was used figuratively.

    You do realize that many of our modern non-literal sayings have their JudeoChristia roots due to the prevalence of Christianity throughout the past 200 years.

    I think that you are intelligent and think critically (no snarking, sarcasm or manipulation intended), so I maintain MHO you don’t seriously believe that the writers of the Psalms are being literal. I could be wrong…

  127. Simon Thong Says:

    Ever told anyone, Ron, “I give you my heart?” But you didn’t cut it out and place it at her feet, did you?

  128. John Says:

    Well….I’ve looked through a few of these…posts and I’m finding most the same unfortunate bashing that made me turn away from Religious debates in the first place.
    And also it seems that this hasn’t been touched in a few months…hope I’m not necro threading here…
    Something I read near the end caught my eye, however. And I am hoping that you can explain it to me Scott. Or anyone really. I’m open to reading anyone’s posts. So long as you be respectful.
    Back to the matter at hand.
    “Scientific method is non-applicable to supernatural events.”
    This right here.
    Perhaps I am ignorant. I’m only 19 so I highly doubt I know all there is to know. Truth be told I know I am ignorant. I haven’t tried to make sense of my…non faith? My atheistic ways in quite some time.
    Anyways, it is my opinion that Scientific method would be a way, not to outright condemn miracles, but rather to find natural explanations to them.
    I’ll use a very old, rather outdated, and not so great example.
    The sun.
    What did the ancient Greeks think that the sun was?
    Appollo riding through the sky, carrying the sun behind him.
    Now we know that it is a gaseous sphere that burns hotly. And the rising and falling of it in the sky is the Earth turning, instead of it being carted around by a god. (Once again please bear with my ignorance, I’m sorry.)
    Now is that using Scientific Method to find a natural?
    Frankly…I don’t know. I think it is, but by all means correct me if I’m wrong.
    Back to what I was originally getting at. If the above is an example of Scientific method, then I believe that using Scientific method to explain miracles is in fact appropriate and is not as was stated above.
    Um…if that post made any sense….
    Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely, a well meaning and confused Atheist

  129. John Says:

    edit:
    Now is that using Scientic Method to find a natural cause to a phenomenon that could not be explained before. (Much like what I, myself, consider Miracles to be.)

  130. Scott Thong Says:

    Well John, that’s one way to look at miracles. After all, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clarke.

    But here’s another take on it – C.S. Lewis writes in Miracles that we severely underestimate the intelligence and common sense of the ancients. These people were acquainted with the natural and ordinary every day of their lives – thus they are no fools when it comes to recognizing when something is NOT natural and NOT ordinary.

    Hence, when Jesus came and mutiplied food, transformed water, instantly altered weather – the fishermen and farmers of the day immediately knew that these phenomena had no ordinary explanation. They were not the sun rising every day, nor the wind blowing, nor the wheat growing.

    In fact, I have blogged before that modern man is TOO MUCH into science, the way the ancients were too much into magic. For instance, everybody assumes that if UFOs exist, they must be machines based on the laws of physics. But who is to say there is no possibility that UFOs are ‘spiritual’ or ‘magical’ based?

    Similarly, yes the ancients were wrong to say everything – from the sun rising to mental problems – is caused by gods or demons. But does that mean modern man is really so smart and all-knowing when he says that all miracles have ordinary, non-supernatural explanations? Or indeed, that nothing beyond nature exists at all?

    https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/why-does-arrogant-21st-century-man-think-ufos-are-technological/

    Read through my post above, and tell me what you think of my pondering.

  131. John Says:

    Well I can tell you this, if God were to come down in all his righteous fury and heal all diseases I wouldn’t dismiss it as a hallucination.
    I am open to the idea that miracles can exist, I just feel more comfortable being able to explain everything away. Perhaps I just can’t bring myself to take things on faith.
    Maybe it’s escapism. But as I said before I haven’t tried to assure myself of my own non faith in quite some time.
    I used to get into religious debates, but I did little but make a fool of myself. So now I do myself a service and stand aside from such things.
    As for your pondering, I find it very interesting. To think that we as modern man do not know all there is to know would be a real nice shocker. Personally I don’t believe in aliens visiting Earth.
    Aliens sure, life on other planets seems entirely possible, but to travel to another planet?
    I don’t think we’ve gotten humans past Mars.
    A quick question to you Scott, since we’re having a nice calm and civilized conversation.
    Where do you think man should be then?
    Not too far into the past, not to hung up in the present. Is there a time period where you believe we were best off?
    Just curious.

  132. Nasaei Ahmad Says:

    Scott, atheists are lost peoples I think. They only believe in anything that present before their eyes only. Beyond that, to them nothing exists !

  133. John Says:

    I believe in the possibilities of alien life, albeit not space travel, but life on other planets. I believe in certain cryptids. While I’m not behind miracles, I am willing to believe that such things could exist. I’ve had quite a few coincidences of good fortune in my life. Which could or could not have been miracles. It’s not that I refuse to believe them, rather, that I find more comfort in something I can hold on to.
    Does that make me a bad atheist? Haha

  134. wits0 Says:

    “Scott, atheists are lost peoples I think. They only believe in anything that present before their eyes only. Beyond that, to them nothing exists !”

    Example of monotheists trying to unite against Pagans. Claiming to solely own the moral compass like a monopoly! Ha!

  135. wits0 Says:

    ““Scott, atheists are lost peoples I think. They only believe in anything that present before their eyes only. Beyond that, to them nothing exists !””

    You show your islamo presumption of moral superiority, Nasaei, everytime you use that line and here, lets see if the Thongs will eagerly care to do that erstwhile unity thing with you!

  136. Scott Thong Says:

    A quick question to you Scott, since we’re having a nice calm and civilized conversation.
    Where do you think man should be then?
    Not too far into the past, not to hung up in the present. Is there a time period where you believe we were best off?
    Just curious. – John

    From a Christian standpoint, we will get better and better technologically and mentally as time passes. Meanwhile, we will become worse and worse morally and spiritually until the end of the world when Christ comes to clean up the whole mess and remake the world into perfection.

    From a secular standpoint, I believe that human civilization and achievements keep on improving. Just compare today with twenty years ago when there was no Internet, few cellular phones… And then to 100 years ago when there were few personal vehicles… And then to 1000 years ago when toilets and showers didn’t exist…. Etc.

    Barring global-scale destruction (e.g. nuclear war, meteor impact), I can quote Dan Quayle: “The future will be better tomorrow.” That is, every day that passes, our potential future becomes even better.

    On miracles, I don’t cite ‘supernatural causes’ as a lazy way to avoid trying to find an ordinary explanation for some strange happening. Rather, I begin with the assumption that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE and then rule out each explanation one by one. From that, I come to the conclusion that ‘supernatural causes’ is the explanation that fits best.

    Whereas atheists start with the assumption ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE EXCEPT THE SUPERNATURAL… So their conclusion of the best explanation of course will not be ‘supernatural causes’.

    Perhaps this post will explain it a bit better:

    https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/the-locked-tomb-mystery-whodunit/

  137. Scott Thong Says:

    “Scott, atheists are lost peoples I think. They only believe in anything that present before their eyes only. Beyond that, to them nothing exists !”

    Example of monotheists trying to unite against Pagans. Claiming to solely own the moral compass like a monopoly! Ha! – wits0

    As the Arab saying goes, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the stranger’.

    On the other hand, I’ve suggested before that atheists the irreligious and Christians focus on dealing with the existential threat facing them today (I’m sure you know which I mean), and once that is settled we can go back to our war of mere words. WWII saw the Christian-Capitalist Americans allied with the Atheist Irreligious-Communist Soviets to stop the Nazis, before turning their Cold attentions to one another.

    And again, I’ve bickered with Nasaei over matters of religion – while we both oppose the UMNOputras. He even managed to rile up AKUMELAYU aka UMNOselfpleasurer.

    So I guess it’s more of a free-for-all with temporary alliances based on contingency.

  138. Simon Thong Says:

    Pagans, I think, are polytheists. But you may be right to include atheists with their gods of evolution and science fiction 🙂

  139. Scott Thong Says:

    Nowadays, I make the distinction between secular-atheists along the lines of Ron and Robert, and religions which do not believe in a God (e.g. Buddhism). To simplify, I substitute ‘irreligious’ for the former, works well enough for most contexts.

    Example: “Atheists do not believe in the supernatural” seems correct, but becomes clearly inaccurate when Buddhism is included in the picture. Saying instead “The irreligious do not believe in the supernatural” avoids this problem.

    And arguing in favour of this distinction are none other than Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge – irreligious fanatics who massacred thousands of Buddhists.

  140. wits0 Says:

    Atheists like Ron and Robert love to denigrate Christianity like if Christianity does not exist, everything else becomes warm and cosy. Why this obsessive skew? When can they ever see the bigger picture?

    Fanatics and mass murderers like Pol Pot happens to be born in a Buddhist society ; they are not the least religious in the sense that they understand or observe the sanctity of life(especially human). In that sense they are of no benefit to humanity whatsover, no matter what nominal label they seemingly are wrongly attributed with.

    Buddhist accept “supernormal” forces though they don’t prefer the term. “supernatural”. In their understanding, there is nothing supernatural in “miracles”. The Taoists also understood the manipulation of such forces(as others from various traditions) which can be done within or without the boundary of morality and propriety.

    Powers of such nature are usually corruptive given the normal nature of Man wrt to exceptional Power of any sort. The normal temptation to misuse the Occult powers is only too great. “Miracles” are not the clear and absolute indication of purity or the veracity of a tradition/belief system. Goodness and Truth inspire via living examples, never less.

  141. Ron Says:

    “Atheists like Ron and Robert love to denigrate Christianity like if Christianity does not exist, everything else becomes warm and cosy. Why this obsessive skew? When can they ever see the bigger picture?”

    Not true. I denigrate any and all dogmas that attempt to suppress the individual. Christianity just happens predominate the society in which I live, so I tend to focus more on that religion, and specifically against those who use political means to impose their values on others. Also, the blog author’s self-imposed censorship practices prevent me from firing off nasty salvos against that ‘other’ Abrahamic religion.

  142. Nasaei Ahmad Says:

    Ron, as I see it, Scott rarely censored any of my comments. Just avoid sarcastic, vulgarity, libel etc, that’s it. I know, you have many bullets /arsenals with you. And your trigger is always at your pointer finger (..ready to shoot at any moment)?

  143. Simon Thong Says:

    Ron, no need to complain. You could always create your own blog and denigrate all and sundry to your heart’s content. I would surely visit.

  144. Scott Thong Says:

    On a micro level self imposed, perhaps. But not on a practical, macro level:

    http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/103070

    http://sloone.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/blogger-arrested-under-sedition-act/

    https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/jed-yoong-accused-of-sedition-harassed-by-police/

    http://www.laweddie.com/wordpress/3rd-malaysian-blogger-being-arrested-under-seditious-act/

  145. Ron Says:

    Not complainin’ — just explainin’.

  146. Simon Thong Says:

    Go ahead, create your own blog.

  147. Josh Says:

    Just from the previous comments:

    How can atheists believe in the supernatural?

    Its like one believing in stardust, but not stars
    Can one believe in supernatural events, but not the force behind them?

  148. Zack T Says:

    Allow me the share the miracles that happened throughout 2010 for me… particularly with regards to weather.

    My church have had several events (both indoors and outdoors) throughout the year. But practically all of them, we have been blessed with perfect weather for our events (especially the outdoor ones).
    (Please be assured, my church always prays for good weather long before our events, even more so for the ones with outdoor activities)

    1 – a family picnic/appreciation gathering at a well-known (and usually crowded) boat club at the beach (on a WEEKEND). Prior to day of event, rained like mad; morning of event, still raining (event yet to start, mainly preparations); from 2pm til evening, drizzled slightly but not enough to deter our outdoor activities…
    With the very slight drizzle, the clouds prevented the sun from shining its ub3r gamma rays upon us at the beach and we had a blast with the cool windy weather.. What’s more, with the slight drizzle (with dark looming clouds threatening heavier rain, which came only later that night), the only people at the boat club (and beach) were mostly those from my church or coming for the said event.

    2 – family camp at a hotel – on Saturday afternoon was supposed to be outdoor games/activities where the different groups will compete with each other to complete their ‘Amazing Race’-type race.
    Prior to that Saturday, it kept pouring and raining…. real badly too. The person in charge of the outdoor game session was telling me, “I think we really need to come up with Plan B.” And I recall replying, “Don’t worry about it. It’ll be fine tomorrow.”
    And lo and behold, that Saturday was bright and sunny… so much so, it got rather hot, actually. But we had a blast with our outdoor games and was able to enjoy our swimming at the hotel’s pool later that evening…
    Later that night, the rain poured once again.

    3 – end of year celebration organized by the Sunday School teachers for the children and their parents held at the church’s front compound… I wasn’t personally involved with the organizing of the event, but I did come to the event. Once again, great weather and it wasn’t even sunny. Clouds, but no rain nor drizzle.

    4 – Christmas parade in my city (involving many churches making a march around a set route around the city) – once again, great weather whole day (end of the year is usually rainy, I find) and also with cooling wind; as we gathered and waited at the center of the city til the time of the actual parade.. Not only was it fine weather throughout the day, but throughout the night, while we paraded around the city and had our concert performances at where we were gathered all the way til almost midnight… only to rain as soon as all of our parade props/costumes/etc were stored properly back at church.

    There were plenty of times and occasions when God had been gracious and bless my church or myself personally with not only good, but suitable weather (refer #1).
    Despite discouraging weather prior to the event, I’ve learned that I can trust God to do His thing according to His timing (refer #2).

  149. marty Says:

    so that’s why all those trillions of prayer requests to find missing children and end famine, aids, poverty, disaster, etc. went unanswered… dog almighty was stressed out providing nice weather for zack t’s sunday school outings.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vM5n8jESUEk

  150. Zack T Says:

    Yeah.. laugh at it all you want, Marty. Leave it to the good ol’ gods, ‘Coincidence’ and ‘Randomness’ explain away the miracles we have experienced personally.
    There are many reasons why bad things happen, that doesn’t mean only God is the reason for them to remain so.
    It’s sad how much God is misunderstood.

  151. nasaei ahmad Says:

    so that’s why all those trillions of prayer requests to find missing children and end famine, aids, poverty, disaster, etc. went unanswered… dog almighty was stressed out providing nice weather for zack t’s sunday school outings.- marty says.

    I don’t know much about other religions, but from Muslims’ view points, there is NO statement from Quran that says ALL prayers would be ALL answered. No such a thing. It is up to God to answer or not to answer any prayer. Secondly, Muslims believe if it is not met /answered, God may accomplish it in Hereafter in term of ‘hasanah’ (other better rewards)

    When a man approached Hamka (a well known Indonesian Muslim scholar) why God did not answer his prayers for his well being, Hamka asked whether the man prayed in a open field or at home, and in the dark or with light, the man said he prayed regularly at home and under the neon light, Hamka said, actually God already answered already. Many people did not even have a home or even proper light. Hamka said the man did not realize it. God gave many things, even beforehand.

  152. Simon Thong Says:

    marty’s got a teeny weeny mind that can’t cope with an ALMIGHTY God who is our loving Father; also, he thinks that ALL PRAYERS are answered in an evil sin-warped world.

  153. Scott Thong Says:

    This is such an old polemic, that there are literally 2000 years of apologetic responses already out there, if one is only not-lazy enough to look.

    I could cite how Jesus told us that if we pray according to the Father’s will our prayers will be answered , and how Paul reaffirmed that unanswered prayers are due to not being prayed according to the Spirit’s leading.

    Or how God knows best – how many of the apostles were sooooo disappointed that Jesus wasn’t saved from the cross? I even did a post on how we think we know what God should do about this and that, when we can’t even plan next week out with certainty – Red Alert Style Alternate History and God’s Wisdom.

  154. Katherine Says:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh’ evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    –Epicurus

  155. Simon Thong Says:

    A quote from Epicurus? This argument may have been wrongly attributed to Epicurus by Lactantius, who, from his Christian perspective, regarded Epicurus as an atheist. According to Reinhold F. Glei, it is settled that the argument of theodicy is from an academic source which is not only not epicurean, but even anti-epicurean.The earliest extant version of this trilemma appears in the earliest extant version of this trilemma appears in the writings of the skeptic Sextus Empiricus.

    Nevertheless, it’s old hat, a playing around with words. It merely demonstrates the paucity of human language, as in: If there is a beginning, what about the beginning of that beginning? The liar says, “I am lying.” Good enough for impressing Year 1 Philosophy students until the wiser ones among them realize that it’s all word games. The reality of life, evil, suffering, injustice and finally, death won’t go away simply because of clever words.

  156. Zack T Says:

    In other words, Katherine, your quote is not truly a fully thought out argument.. an argument that doesn’t take into consideration a number of things regarding God.

    That quote is only a truly effective argument against God is He was ONLY All-Just.
    That quote, regardless of who said it, does not take into consideration of God’s other attributes, All-Loving and All-Merciful.

  157. Scott Thong Says:

    Further, omnipotence is wrongly defined. God can not do anything – for example, He cannot be evil, cannot lie, cannot break His promises. God is able to do everything that is within the nature of God, and that nature includes respecting human free will to choose good or evil.

  158. Joe the Plumber Says:

    No supernatural explanation is required when a natural explanation will suffice, and I think that Dan, Lucy, Paul, Aquaria and Ron all offer satisfactory explanations for your so-called miracles and answered prayers.

  159. Simon Thong Says:

    Nope, not satisfactory answers; merely superficial retorts based on negativity. Obviously, no miracle has happened in your life, or theirs. If it has, you have failed to see it, sadly for you.

  160. Ron Says:

  161. I can prove it Says:

    Hello everyone

    There is a finite amount of stuff present in total. This statement proceeds from common sense.
    It is physically impossible for an infinite amount of stuff to be present in any place. If a particle could be divided or sliced in two infinitely then that would mean that all stuff would not be based off of a single indivisible particle which occupies certain dimensions.
    But wait, if something occupies certain dimensions it must theoretically be subject to division! Something cannot exist in space-time as material if it is not made up of an indivisible particle that takes up certain dimensions. The dimensions that we measure things by (heightxlengthxwidth) are all seemingly impossible on the macroscopic scale because they are impossible on the microscopic scale (as I said before, a particle must be indivisible yet have certain dimensions to exist in space time, and this is impossible). Indivisible is opposed to being of a perfect dimension, yet here we are. We are beings who can be measured on the macroscopic scale and seen, felt, touch etc… We obviously exist even though it is scientifically impossible for us to exist.

    Unless we are made of indivisible particles with no dimensions.
    But this is of course impossible.

    So how do we explain how we, and all that we see here exists?
    Take all that there is as a whole and count it as only one true indivisible, and perfect thing. The one things which encompasses all that exists is existence itself. Nothing can exist outside of existence. This one thing is all that there is, so therefore is perfect.
    This is the only definite fact that we can be sure of: We are part of one existence which does not depend on us, but rather us on it. I’m not a polytheist in thinking that we are all shattered fragments of this one perfect existence which we Religious call God. As I said before: “We are part of one existence which does not depend on us, but rather us on it.”
    Take away any of us out of existence and the whole still exists. God exists. God is existence.
    This is what the true Catholics believe.

    If there is any problem in my calculation then please tell me so I can fix it.
    A refined and simple version would be: God is existence. There is a finite amount of things even though science says it’s impossible. This says that it is impossible for all to exist independently. All exists in God as one.

  162. Ron Says:

    April 21, 2011 Texas Governor Rick Perry holds a three day prayerapalooza asking dog for rain.

    August 4, 2011 – Texas still hasn’t seen any rain and meteorologists predict the drought will last into October.

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