Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jewish Pharisees vs. Richard Dawkins

Jews See Miracle of Jesus, Blame it On Demons

Many skeptical scholars are willing to admit that Jesus performed deeds which his contemporaries viewed as  miracles. However, many of these skeptical historians are willing to grant that Jesus performed deeds which his enemies viewed as real miracles. (1) Here are some of the skeptical historians who think along these lines:

Bart D. Ehrman
Gerd Ludemann
John Dominic Crossan
Marcus Borg
Geza Vermez
James Tabor 
Paula Fredriksen 
E.P Sanders 

The Jewish leaders of Jesus day were fiercely opposed to Jesus for many reasons. He harshly criticized them and seemingly tried to undermine their social status among the people. This is what caused them to constantly try and trip Jesus up with difficult theological questions and ultimately seek his death. And of course, they vehemently disagreed with the idea that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Miraculous signs were especially important to Jews in establishing a message. Paul writes "Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom..." (1 Cor. 1:22) Every Gospel reports the Jews demanding a miracle from Jesus as proof of his teachings. After all, these were the same people that believed that God established the Jewish law and nation through a miracle...the parting of the Red Sea. 

Which makes it particularly unusual that these people would concede that Jesus could do miracles. The Gospels usually report increased aggravation on the part of the Jewish leaders when Jesus did a miracle. If you trust the Gospel of John, they even tried to kill a man whom Jesus raised from the dead, because it was so frustrating to them and harmful to their cause. (John 11)

But one thing they love to do when Jesus does a miracle is to blame it on demons. They liked to say Jesus was in cahoots with Satan in order to get the power for his miracles. Obviously, Jesus harshly criticized this alternative theory. 

......but wait a second...............

Richard Dawkins Sees a Miracle, Blames it On Space Aliens

Imagine if Jesus did miracles today, and performed one for passionate skeptics such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett or Richard Carrier. Imagine if they didn't challenge the miracle, but said that Jesus was able to do that because he is controlled by very powerful evil space aliens, who intended to deceive the whole world into becoming Christians. If this were to happen, it would be forceful evidence that A) it really happened B) whatever it was that happened is so incredible that they have to resort to blaming it on aliens. (cf. 2)

Someone may respond by saying that this comparison doesn't work, because Richard Dawkins doesn't believe in anything supernatural at all, whereas the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) did. But that is precisely why he has to blame it on aliens in the first place. Aliens are a purely naturalistic explanation. Dawkins would have no need to depart from rigorous naturalism to explain the miracle in such an ad hoc way. And the Jewish leaders didn't have to depart from their belief system either when coming up with an extremely ad hoc solution.

Dawkins and the Jewish leaders are both in similar situations in that miracles constitute an extremely high evidence for something...if proven to have happened. One real miracle would falsify naturalism almost immediately. And as we saw before, miracles carry a very strong weight in 1st Century Judaism. So their desire to disprove that a miracle occurred at all in the first place, is very strong. 

But once again, the Pharisees surpass Dawkins as far as passionate skepticism is concerned. Dawkins is not actively seeking the death of any Christian, nor would he try to execute Jesus if he were on earth today. The Pharisees did. The Pharisees have a greater hate for the message of Jesus than Richard Dawkins does. But again, even they are forced to concede the miracles. 

If I had to pick between seeing a miracle myself and Dawkins seeing one, I'd pick someone like Dawkins every day of the week!

Would you believe a miracle if Richard Dawkins told you he saw one himself? 

Then you should believe Jesus did miracles......



alien image


Dawkins image

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