Wednesday, September 22, 2010

McCormick vs. DiSilvestro at CSUS (Debate #3)

This time, McCormick leads off with the question of whether the historical evidence of Jesus' miracles could be much improved over the current state of affairs. Here are a few suggested improvements in the historical evidence:

10) Use objective impartial observers
9) More evidence
8) Go big (bigger than withered figs and empty tombs)
7) Take human fallibility into account
6) Act Almighty, rather than tribal or provincial
5) Good fortune does not make for a miracle
4) Powerful feelings are not evidence of miracles
3) Pick a literate and educated audience for miracles
2) Avoid the placebo effect
1) Miracles should not look like magic tricks

Obviously, some of these are redundant and are meant to round out the list.   It seems that 1, 6, 8, and 9 could all readily be filed under the single heading "Make your miracles incontrovertible and accessible to all humankind."  For example, a massive Tetragrammaton flashing forth from dozens of supernovae might easily satisfy all four of these criteria, especially if the Lord were to put one over each celestial pole.

In any event, McCormick's conclusion is that we are reasonable in expecting far more convincing miracles from an Almighty God who really wants to get His Holy Word out to all the masses of humanity.

DiSilvestro contends that God probably has good reasons for failing to provide more persuasive miracles than those we find in the Christian Scriptures.  His first reason is that people will not find necessarily more persuasive miracles more persuasive.  His second reason is that providing indubitable miracles might "break a person or damage them in other ways."  In support, he quotes a passage from the Screwtape Letters.  Finally, DiSilvestro argues that the miracles and scriptures that God has revealed really are enough to allow for rational belief therein, especially when augmented by direct personal experience of God.  He then closes with yet another glurge tale, this time from India. I suppse he has no idea how silly this makes him sound to skeptics.

After these openings, they go straight to Q&A, which wasn't that bad.

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