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Re: [XTalk] Re: Miracle and History

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  • turton
    ... Grondin s analysis is correct. There is no way that a methodology that presupposes suspensions of natural law are possible could ever be useful. Collins
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 24, 2003
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      > One could hardly expect such an event not to impact on further events, >so if Josephus's (hypothetical) account stood alone without any >corroborating evidence then one could be virtually certain the event it >described never took place. If, on the other hand, references to >Jerusalem's mysteriously collapsed walls and to a change of regime in >Jerusalem seemed to borne out both in all contemporary accounts
      >and, even better, by surviving archaeological evidence, one would surely >be forced to give Josephus's account some credence.

      Grondin's analysis is correct. There is no way that a methodology that presupposes suspensions of natural law are possible could ever be useful.

      Collins and Pinch discuss this in either _Natural Order_ or _Changing Order_, I've forgotten which. They are talking of the impossibility of doing controlled psychic research, but the arguments apply to any miracle. Imagine the usual psychic experiment where a seer in Seattle nails a deal of 25 cards dealt in NY. Now, what has happened? Has the psychic looked into the future to predict the order of the cards? Has he used "remote viewing?" Has he altered the order of the cards to suit his guess through telekinesis? Has he altered the witnesses' perception of the event by re-arranging the data in their minds? Has someone connected with the experiment done so? How would you ever prove the psychic had a particular power, when there is no way to control for the effects of other powers? The same problem applies to any miracle.

      Let's consider your example. In the hypothetical you've laid out, the Egyptian knocks down the walls of Jerusalem by an act of will (I personally always think of the "supernatural" as the idea that some entity or consciousness can act on reality outside the mind through an Act of Will). The problem is that we do not know *what* miracle has taken place. Has the Egyptian actually knocked down the walls of Jerusalem? Has he simply reached across time and space to make us *think* he has done so? Has some other entity done that? Etc. One starts with a putative miracle, but ends with the idea that the universe simply exists in some mind somewhere. Once you argue that Will can end the rule of natural law, you don't stop 'til solipsism.

      >capacity. I seem to recall that Isaac Asimov once remarked that any
      >sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic;

      This is usually attributed to Arthur C. Clarke.

      Michael Turton
      AFL
      Chaoyang University
      Taichung, Taiwan
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