If Pentecost happened today...
#11
Thanks for all the replies, guys. I am reading them carefully. Just FYI I'm not apostatizing... just trying to find out what my weaknesses are, in terms of apologetics.
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#12
One constant in almost all the replies in this thread - and elsewhere - is the position of miracles. Without dismissing them, it's interesting that they are treated as pretty much essential for confirmation of Truth. Where does that leave people who have never seen the "power of God" in this manner?

It seems that many millions of people were granted to see miracles in "simpler times", and believed because of this. No one in southern France listened to St. Dominic, until his prayer caused a young boy to rise from the dead. Would anyone have believed in Christ while He was on Earth if He hadn't done the "signs and wonders"?

This becomes a question of epistemology, almost. How do we know (Religious) Truth at the very foundation, before tradition or scripture even exist? Is it ultimately because we see inexplicable events?

In his imaginative book "Theophilos", Michael O'Brien writes of a Greek pagan who goes to interview various eyewitnesses and converts to Christ. At one point the protagonist meets a man who tells him that he witnessed the lowering of the paralytic through the roof, and his subsequent healing. When the protagonist questions whether this could've been prearranged as a fraud to glorify Jesus, the eyewitness says that man was his uncle, and one of the men who lowered the bed into the house was his father. The protagonist is shamed into believing the story. I find the act of shaming those who ask critical questions to be very sentimental and unhelpful.

Sometimes I think every person needs to witness a miracle done in the name of Jesus Christ in order to see the confirmation given by God. I wonder if God loves me because I've never witnessed anyone healed or visibly changed. All through the Gospels (especially John) Christ says His works confirm the Truth. Is that to be our religious epistemology? It doesn't seem like enough, in a world that is so void of public miracles.

Since nothing in our Faith is shallow, there is no way that the issue of miracles-creating-faith is shallow...
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#13
Well Jesus said that those who don't see and believe are blessed. I was pretty much a doubting Thomas.
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#14
(11-12-2014, 08:18 PM)Heorot Wrote: One constant in almost all the replies in this thread - and elsewhere - is the position of miracles. Without dismissing them, it's interesting that they are treated as pretty much essential for confirmation of Truth. Where does that leave people who have never seen the "power of God" in this manner?

It seems that many millions of people were granted to see miracles in "simpler times", and believed because of this. No one in southern France listened to St. Dominic, until his prayer caused a young boy to rise from the dead. Would anyone have believed in Christ while He was on Earth if He hadn't done the "signs and wonders"?

This becomes a question of epistemology, almost. How do we know (Religious) Truth at the very foundation, before tradition or scripture even exist? Is it ultimately because we see inexplicable events?

In his imaginative book "Theophilos", Michael O'Brien writes of a Greek pagan who goes to interview various eyewitnesses and converts to Christ. At one point the protagonist meets a man who tells him that he witnessed the lowering of the paralytic through the roof, and his subsequent healing. When the protagonist questions whether this could've been prearranged as a fraud to glorify Jesus, the eyewitness says that man was his uncle, and one of the men who lowered the bed into the house was his father. The protagonist is shamed into believing the story. I find the act of shaming those who ask critical questions to be very sentimental and unhelpful.

Sometimes I think every person needs to witness a miracle done in the name of Jesus Christ in order to see the confirmation given by God. I wonder if God loves me because I've never witnessed anyone healed or visibly changed. All through the Gospels (especially John) Christ says His works confirm the Truth. Is that to be our religious epistemology? It doesn't seem like enough, in a world that is so void of public miracles.

Since nothing in our Faith is shallow, there is no way that the issue of miracles-creating-faith is shallow...

I personally do not think that miracles create faith as ThomasTheDoubter has said. Faith itself is a kind of miracle since it has a supernatural quality.

Miracles seem to do two things. They either make faith reasonable but do not prove it in the sense of a deductive argument.

And the many miracles of Christ served a practical purpose--so that everyone of good will could recognize him as God. The reason why Christ used miracles is to visibly display his nature as God. The incarnation took place so that God could lead man back to Himself but to do so Christ needs to be both God and Man and he can only be recognized as God if he does things that only God can do like raise the dead.

Christ lives in the Church since the Church is his Body. So the Church is a kind of a continuing presence of Christ in the world which is why it offers the "miracle" of supernatural grace (its a miracle in a sense because it is not natural and miracles are things beyond the natural order).

Also, I have looked at some more modern miracles of saints and they seem quite convincing...

I'm not sure how helpful that was since I haven't though that much about this either...
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#15
I certainly don't think miracles are necessary to have faith (that was not my intention with my first post). But what is historical knowledge if not what witnesses tells us? I think this is more important, and in this sense I agree with formerbuddhist, and this is why I think its not a coincidence that martyrs have such high honour in the Church. We have faithful witnesses (the Church as a whole: not only the institution but the martyrs and Apostles) who tells us of these things and of their meaning (and I would say, strictly speaking, the meaning of the event if the object of faith, since the event is a given). So, miracles are not so much what produces faith (it might not even produce anything, as the Gospels attests), but in a sense, yes, they confirm some message—as S. Thomas said, while we speak with words, God speaks with things—which is very different.

Also, I would refrain from saying that miracles happened only in simpler times. This is an extremely arrogant and modern thing to say. In fact, I challenge you to find a philosopher of the same degree of Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, S. Augustine or S. Thomas today. Besides, there are modern miracles, like the miracles of Fatima or the miracles of Padre Pio (there was even an Eucharistic miracle attested by Bergoglio himself, where a host became human flesh).

Finally, while seeing God acting is the only way of “knowing” God (or knowing of God)--after all, He is not an object that we can study, so He can only be known as a real presence, so to speak-- He not only acts externally but also internally. This is what the Christian tradition teaches, that the knowledge of God is accessible indeed to those who have not being witnesses to miracles by way of prayer, by seeing the power of God internally, in one's self--this is actually how, most famously, S. Augustine knows of God, not by miracles, as he says in that most famous passage of the Confessions (which is quite beautiful, so repeating is excusable)
Quote:Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! too late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee. Things held me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not at all. Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstest my deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my blindness. Thou breathedst odours, and I drew in breath and panted for Thee. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy peace.

So, we know God by His forming us. Ask God to show you how much He loves you, etc., and if you have difficulties talk to some good priest about it.
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#16
I apologize for my arrogant-Enlightenment-modernist-rationalist words. In a sense I am always internally-echoing the hypothetical atheist who might desire to argue with me... and I fear that I'd have no answers. I fear that, amidst his barrage of scathing critique and angry questions, he would force me to collapse. My faith in God is weak indeed. I love to have answers for the hope that is in me; however, if my answers are not very strong, does this mean my hope is lacking?

The Resurrection is everything. Although he isn't Catholic, Mr. Craig has done an excellent job of showing that those events could not be anything but resurrection. ()
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