Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Feb/09

22

How Many Miracles?

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Incidentally, as a resource for arguing about Christianity, I have found the Christian Think Tank website invaluable.

For example:  How many miracles did Jesus perform, according to the Gospels?  Answer: 36 … including three revivifications, which is two more than I can ever recall.   (A more interesting question might be: How many Christians could give the correct answer to that question?)

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17 comments

  • Danny · February 22, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    (A more interesting question might be: How many Christians could give the correct answer to that question?)

    Really Derb, that’s needlessly snide. Why on earth would it be important for a Christian to know precisely how many miracles are recounted in the New Testament? A more valid question might be to ask how many Christians could recite the Apostles Creed.

  • Roger Hallman · February 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    call me crazy, but if you’re gong to stake it all on one dogma, you ought to know a little bit about it. This is kind of similar to my idea that you could go into, say, a Presbyterian church and do a general survey of the congregation and only a few, other than the pastor, would be able to tell you what is different about Presbyterians from other denominations or why they’re Presbyterian as opposed to Methodist.

    But to your question, I’d also be interested in asking how many could tell the difference between the Apostles Creed and the Nicean Creed.

  • Donna B. · February 22, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    It is odd that the average non-believer knows at least as much, quite often more, about religion than so many apparently religious people seem to.

    (Have I included enough weasel words in the sentence above?)

  • Author comment by Bradlaugh · February 23, 2009 at 5:20 am

    JOHNSON. “…The heathens were easily converted, because they had nothing to give up; but we ought not, without very strong conviction indeed, to desert the religion in which we have been educated. That is the religion given you, the religion in which it may be said Providence has placed you. If you live conscientiously in that religion, you may be safe. But errour is dangerous indeed, if you err when you choose a religion for yourself.”
    MRS. KNOWLES. “Must we then go by implicit faith?”
    JOHNSON. “Why, Madam, the greatest part of our knowledge is implicit faith; and as to religion, have we heard all that a disciple of Confucius, all that a Mahometan, can say for himself?”

  • Gary McGath · February 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I doubt that different Christian scholars would agree on the exact number, given questions on whether two incidents were distinct and exactly what counts as a miracle. Besides, given that most of the alleged miracles were caught by only one Gospel, it’s reasonable (if those reports are accepted) to suppose Jesus performed a larger number of miracles that went unreported completely.

  • Caledonian · February 23, 2009 at 10:02 am

    “A more valid question might be to ask how many Christians could recite the Apostles Creed.”

    A parrot could recite the Apostles’ Creed. If you insist that a parrot is a sentient being that could potentially give credence to what it says, we may substitute a tape recorder instead.

    A better question is how many Christians could explain the Creed. An even better question is how many could justify their beliefs.

  • Author comment by Bradlaugh · February 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    The Apostle’s Creed / Nicene Creed business is one of those bits of arcana cherished by argumentative Christians, keen to prove that non-Christians know nothing about the faith. The champion in this context, though, at least in the Roman Catholic subdivision, is the Immaculate Conception. It is an article of faith (? oh, whatever) with every RC that only RCs know who was conceived immaculately; everyone else confuses it with the Incarnation. If you voice the phrase in an RC’s presence, you won’t get halfway through it before the knowing smirk appears on his face. Ha! You THINK you know what you’re talking about, you wretched heathen, but in fact … All right, all right, I wouldn’t deny believers their cherished bits of arcana, but their invariable presumption of one’s ignorance on this one is really irritating.

  • Zoe · February 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    As an ex-Christian (RC), there was Lazarus, the Roman officer’s wife (or was it kid?), and … who was the third?

  • Polichinello · February 23, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    The widow of Nain’s son. I believe the story is in John.

    The second one you refer to was a synagogue leader’s daughter. The centurion’s servant, IIRC, was seriously ill, but not dead.

  • Polichinello · February 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    It is an article of faith (? oh, whatever) with every RC that only RCs know who was conceived immaculately; everyone else confuses it with the Incarnation.

    There are a lot of Catholics who don’t know what it is. Hitchens had to educate a Catholic radio host on the doctrine’s meaning.

  • Author comment by Bradlaugh · February 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Come on, I posted a link to the Christian Think Tank’s list right there in my original. They give chapter & verse.

  • Stopped Clock · February 24, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I remember two resurrections. Lazarus is the easy one, and the “talitha koum” girl is the other (this is probably who Zoe is thinking of). And if you count Jesus himself then it’s three. But I assume there must be some other one.

  • harry flashman · February 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    How many miracles? How many Jesus genalogies? Matthew (1:1-16) or Luke’s (3:23-31)? Considering the errancy of the inerrant bible (NT), I would posit that the numbers of miracles would be whatever a beleiver desired them number to be.

    Does cursing a fig tree that is not in season to bear fruit count as a miracle as the tree did not miraculously sprout figs?

  • Caledonian · February 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    “The Apostle’s Creed / Nicene Creed business is one of those bits of arcana cherished by argumentative Christians, keen to prove that non-Christians know nothing about the faith.”

    Actually, the Orthodox recite it at every Liturgy.

    I’ll grant you that they cherish it for argumentative reasons, but that’s not the only reason they consider it important.

  • Mike · February 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    On the other hand, a surprising number of Jews could tell you that the Torah contains 613 commandments, though relatively few could name them all.

  • Polichinello · February 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    On the other hand, a surprising number of Jews could tell you that the Torah contains 613 commandments, though relatively few could name them all.

    That’s a result of polemics. Most Christians fixate on the Decalogue, so a quick and rather fatuous retort from Jews and others is to point out that there are actually 613 commandments. I say this is fatuous because the narrative does make something of a point of emphasizing these ten. A better gotcha is to ask Christians which Decalogue they prefer, as it’s recited twice.

  • Zoe · February 28, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Polichinello: The centurion’s servant, IIRC, was seriously ill, but not dead.

    Ah, thanks P. :-) Guess I only recalled one then!

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