Debunking miracles
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16-06-2014, 11:39 AM
Debunking miracles
We're all probably aware that theists use the word "miracle" way too often, in situations that are not in any way miracles. More specifically, they'll label unlikely, but still entirely possible events as miracles.

What are some good ways to combat this line of thinking?


I recently got into a "debate" with some family members over whether or not my brother finding his glasses after dropping them in the ocean at the beach was a miracle. It pretty much just went in circles. "It was a miracle!" "It was unlikely." "It was a miracle!" "It was unlikely!" "It had a one in thousand chance, it was a miracle!" I'd like to be prepared in-case this type of "debate" comes up again.
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16-06-2014, 12:57 PM
RE: Debunking miracles
(16-06-2014 11:39 AM)CleverUsername Wrote:  I recently got into a "debate" with some family members over whether or not my brother finding his glasses after dropping them in the ocean at the beach was a miracle.

Hm.
Seems to me your brother found his glasses in the place he dropped them. Now... if he had found them somewhere other than where he dropped them say, on a roof of a parking garage... THAT might garner a "miracle" point or two. (I'd still be skeptical; someone could have found and discarded them on the way to their car.)
***
Just be the calm scientist ... with the scientific explanation. Nothing more is really necessary. If they can't or more likely, won't accept it then, the conversation is over. Cut them loose from that conversation by holding one hand up and stating emphatically: irrational notions have no immediate bearing on reality.

Your family goes to the beach yet, know nothing about tides....
[Image: neiltides.jpg]
... maybe it's a miracle they even know how to swim. Wink

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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17-06-2014, 02:09 PM
RE: Debunking miracles
(16-06-2014 12:57 PM)kim Wrote:  [Image: neiltides.jpg]

I was recently re-watching the "debate" between O'Reilly and Dave Silverman (American Atheists) from 2011 (roughly) in which BO'R used his line "tide comes in...". Unfortunately, Dave couldn't correct him - he didn't have the requisite knowledge. But sometimes there are other arguments you can use. If you go into any fishing gear supplier/ boat seller/ aquatic gear supplier in Australia, you can buy tide books which will tell you when high and low tide will occur at a specific location and how high and low these will be. I can't for the life of me imagine it would be any different in the US. And of course, the Navy and the Coast Guard would be interested in such information.
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18-06-2014, 03:25 PM
RE: Debunking miracles
(16-06-2014 11:39 AM)CleverUsername Wrote:  "It had a one in thousand chance, it was a miracle!"

It's a miracle squared every time someone wins the lottery.

It's a miracle several times over every time a golfer gets a hole-in-one.

In other words, somebody needs to decide what counts as a miracle. The ones in the Gospels involve events far more unusual than people finding their glasses.
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18-06-2014, 03:31 PM
RE: Debunking miracles
A miracle isn't just something that didn't occur through other explicable means; it must be something which couldn't occur through other means.

Yeah. There's a reason that's never happened.

... this is my signature!
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18-06-2014, 03:46 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2014 05:35 PM by Charis.)
RE: Debunking miracles
A one-in-a-thousand chance.

First off, how did your family come up with these odds? What factors did they take into consideration? As was mentioned previously, what do they know of tides? What was the time lapse between him dropping his glasses and then finding them? How far apart were these two locations? Does the last location jive with the strength and direction of the tide at the time and the mass/surface area of the glasses?

Second... I suppose it's pretty miraculous that certain people develop certain rare and horrifying medical conditions, are torn to shreds by sharks, or are struck by lightning. I mean, let's just praise Jesus!

Or that I'm right here, right now, with THESE particular events having happened in my life EXACTLY in the sequence that they have.

The miraculous is kinda normal, I guess. Drinking Beverage

A person very dear to me was badly hurt through a misunderstanding and miscommunication. For this, I am sorry, and he knows it. That said, any blaming me for malicious intent is for the birds. I will not wear some scarlet letter, I will not be anybody's whipping girl, and I will not lurk in silence.
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18-06-2014, 03:53 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2014 04:02 PM by Free Thought.)
RE: Debunking miracles
(16-06-2014 11:39 AM)CleverUsername Wrote:  We're all probably aware that theists use the word "miracle" way too often, in situations that are not in any way miracles. More specifically, they'll label unlikely, but still entirely possible events as miracles.

What are some good ways to combat this line of thinking?


I recently got into a "debate" with some family members over whether or not my brother finding his glasses after dropping them in the ocean at the beach was a miracle. It pretty much just went in circles. "It was a miracle!" "It was unlikely." "It was a miracle!" "It was unlikely!" "It had a one in thousand chance, it was a miracle!" I'd like to be prepared in-case this type of "debate" comes up again.

"it had a thousand to one chance"?

Living on a planet where million to one chances happen 295 times a day, and they think a thousand to one chance is even remotely significant?

The people closely associated with the namesake of female canines are suffering from a nondescript form of lunacy.
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18-06-2014, 03:56 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2014 05:36 PM by Charis.)
RE: Debunking miracles
(18-06-2014 03:53 PM)Free Thought Wrote:  "it had a thousand to one chance"?

Living on a planet were million to one chances happen 295 times a day, and they think a thousand to one chance is even remotely significant?


For instance... Free Thought substituted the word "where" with "were." Now, what are the chances that I would have read that right after reading someone who habitually does the opposite, replacing "were" with "where?" Laughat

Tallying up all these miracles becomes a bit tedious after awhile. Sleepy

Edit: ahhhh, you fixed it. Tongue

A person very dear to me was badly hurt through a misunderstanding and miscommunication. For this, I am sorry, and he knows it. That said, any blaming me for malicious intent is for the birds. I will not wear some scarlet letter, I will not be anybody's whipping girl, and I will not lurk in silence.
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18-06-2014, 04:04 PM
RE: Debunking miracles
(18-06-2014 03:56 PM)Charis Wrote:  
(18-06-2014 03:53 PM)Free Thought Wrote:  "it had a thousand to one chance"?

Living on a planet were million to one chances happen 295 times a day, and they think a thousand to one chance is even remotely significant?


For instance... Free Thought substituted the word "where" with "were." Now, what are the chances that I would have read that right after reading someone who habitually does the opposite, replacing "were" with "where?" Laughat

Tallying up all these miracles becomes a bit tedious after awhile. Sleepy

For the record; I'd like to thank Charis for my 3,666th like.

The people closely associated with the namesake of female canines are suffering from a nondescript form of lunacy.
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18-06-2014, 04:09 PM
RE: Debunking miracles
(18-06-2014 04:04 PM)Free Thought Wrote:  
(18-06-2014 03:56 PM)Charis Wrote:  For instance... Free Thought substituted the word "where" with "were." Now, what are the chances that I would have read that right after reading someone who habitually does the opposite, replacing "were" with "where?" Laughat

Tallying up all these miracles becomes a bit tedious after awhile. Sleepy

For the record; I'd like to thank Charis for my 3,666th like.

Haha, I would like this, but that would mess it up. Tongue

A person very dear to me was badly hurt through a misunderstanding and miscommunication. For this, I am sorry, and he knows it. That said, any blaming me for malicious intent is for the birds. I will not wear some scarlet letter, I will not be anybody's whipping girl, and I will not lurk in silence.
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