Fake-Miracles1On the most recent Atheist Experience, at least as of this writing, they had a caller who was quite insistent that the claims of former Christians, including Dan Barker, of miraculous experiences while they were religious, somehow proves that miracles really happen.  My response?  Prove it.

See, I’m sure there are plenty of things that people who were once religious experienced while they believed but those supposed miracles weren’t enough to keep them from losing faith, were they?  Just because you identify an event as miraculous doesn’t mean it actually was.  The caller in question kept admitting that he couldn’t actually validate the details of any of the miracle claims.  Barker, according to the caller, said that he laid hands on a mute person and magically they could talk.  How is this verified by medical science?  I’m sure it hasn’t  been.  I don’t doubt that something happened to Dan Barker that, at the time,  he couldn’t explain.  I’m sure that, at the time, he thought it was a miracle.  However, he could never prove that it was actually a miracle and I’m reasonably sure that today, he would not consider it so.  How would you prove it was a miracle?  You’d have to take a person who was certified mute by a doctor, that they could not, through regular medical means, be made to speak.  You’d have to have a clergyman lay their hands on the person and have them begin to speak, then have them re-examined by a doctor to certify that whatever medical problem they had before is now gone.  Then, and this is the part that apologists seem to miss, you’d have to demonstrate that the malady was actually cured by a supernatural entity.  If you can’t, it’s not a miracle, at least not the religious kind.

Oh, and for the record, Barker was not talking about a mute person, he was talking about someone who showed up to preach, but who had a sore throat and after having hands laid on him, he could speak again.  That’s not terribly impressive, we know people recover from laryngitis without divine intervention all the time, in fact, I’d  be rather surprised if prayer was the only thing the sick individual tried, he may have been drinking chamomile tea or taking medication for his condition, both of which are more likely to explain the “miracle” than a couple of guys talking to themselves.

This goes straight back to my 30-second debate idea.  Just claiming that a god exists because you like the idea that a god exists does not, in any way, prove that a god exists.  The same applies to miracles.  Just claiming that a miracle happened because you like the idea of miracles and can’t come up with a better explanation does not prove that miracles happen. It’s yet another example of the argument from ignorance, a clear favorite among the religious.  Miracles cannot be simply defined into existence because the person or people involved declare it to be a miracle.  It takes significant evidence and without that, it’s just an event for which we cannot demonstrate a cause.  We don’t know.  That’s all we can say.

Of course, I’m sure the theist would never accept that their religious beliefs and religious claims actually need corroboratory evidence and demonstrable direct causal links in order for the skeptical to accept that it was, in fact, an actual miracle.  Since they have nothing to provide and no likelihood of ever getting such, I’m sure they’ll continue to call it unfair that we’d even dare to ask for such things, but that is how the real world works and all claims, no matter who makes them, are held to the same standard.

Put up or shut up.  That’s the way it works.

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