A: You don't need to listen beyond the 5:02 mark because he makes and assumption based upon his belief miracles don't exists therefore the rest is based upon that faulty assumption
B: No, he doesn't. He says that the notion of a Christian LEGION is absurd. Maybe you misheard what he said.
C: Assuming miracles do not happen is based on everything but belief. But that's not relevant in this case, because he said no such thing. You need to refrain from commenting until you obtain the necessary clarity of thought to follow a presentation.
Right, right. Only way to tell if Richard Carrier bases his argument on principled rejection of miracles is by hearing whether he said the actual words "I am basing this on the assumption that miracles do not happen".
Like, he could not wait with stating that (which he does later) and let the hearers, already favourable to that position, sip it in without quite noticing what they are doing?
But there is one other possibility of what he is basing his position on: he could mean that even Christians admit absurdity of miracles in any and every case except the Christian ones that are recorded in the Bible. And arguing from there he would not be presuming but arguing by parallel that everyone admits the extreme improbability of miracles. There he is simply wrong about the Christians he has to deal with, at least about me.
I do not reject the factuality of the miracle of the Christian legion. I do reject the total factuality of the Pagan explanation, namely I think it quite likely, given that Marcus Aurelius has surprisingly a Christian legion, that he would try to hide the fact. Also given that Christians were likely to blurt out who prayed to whom, it is likely he would try to push the praise on for instance an Egyptian magician. As well as begin persecuting those who would not buy that. And, yes, Marcus Aurelius intensified the persecution of Christians just after this happened.
D: Why would it be a faulty assumption to believe that miracles don't exist? I'd say that this would follow as the only rational belief given that one has never experienced miracles and that nobody seems to be able to substantiate claims of miracles.
Or are you saying that you can prove that miracles happen?
There's another aspect to denying miracles as well. If it was the case that miracles occur, then this means that both the historical and scientific methods are invalid ways to know things about reality and that for all we know, the universe could have been created miraculously 2 minutes ago with false history. This view is so problematic (and useless in the face of us not having any indication that miracles happen) that we're forced to abandon it and employ methodological naturalism.
That is a pretty idiotic inference, but most likely something like the one Richard Carrier uses without exactly telling us in this video, in order to bias the historic method - which basically he did right apart from this bias - in disfavour of miracles happening. As you see later in the video, he uses a list of most to least likely, and he is either putting likelihood of miracles very arbitrarily (except for atheists and other miracle-rejecters) at very close to zero or using a similarily falwed inference like that.
Now, Piggy made a similar inference against the Monster really being such (and it wasn't such, in the book, but his inference remains idiotic) by saying "if monsters exist, television and elevators wouldn't work". Newton never ever said his Physics only work in the absence of spirits and miracles. Neither did Aristotle, though he was on the same idiotic anti-miraculous line. He was also a necessitist, unless Averroës got him wrong and Thomas attributed Averroës' misunderstanding to him: he believed all on earth is ruled by the stars.
Except for that bias against miracles in the historic method as used by modern historians, very many miracles are proven historically. Like:
- Resurrection of Christ as well as a few other miracles
- Rain miracle of the Legio Fulminatrix
- Temple miracles announcing God left the temple in Jerusalem (and unlike his comment, God actually HAS tried to make the Jews see some sense before this happened, a try that led up to a crucifixion at Calvary).
I also hold that demons are able to do some miraculous seeming things, in so far as God permits it. And that accounts for:
- Delphic statues going out to fight the Persians (see Herodotus), unless that was done by guardian angels, temporarily masquerading as Pagan gods because the time for Paganism to cease was not come yet
- Glykon, the "god" with a human, talking head and the body of a serpent (very clearly demonic).
Also, not mentioned in this video, the demonic accounts for the dragonlike creature summoned by a Ceres priest to frighten the Christians, it ran amuck and St Front had to deal with it. This happened in Perigueux. In France it is known as La Gratusse.
Also, hinted at in the video, Simon Magus' initial success at levitation before the prayers of St Peter stopped him.
Now, if Simon Magus levitated and St Peter stopped him and all the city saw it, why have we no Pagan Historians saying it? Well, it happened when Nero ruled, he was not a man whom it was quite safe to contradict.
The Roman Historians of his time, except the Christian ones, are gone and survive only as quoted by later historians, such as Tacitus or Suetonius. A little the same thing that happened under the somewhat more lenient Marcus Aurelius. He could for a time tolerate a Legion where the Christians were leading - probably recruited as Pagans but converted - and pretend sacrifices to Jupiter Optimus Maximus were made when the legion really prayed to Christ, but he could not tolerate that they became known for having prayed to Christ for a miracle. So, when persecution had done its way to stop non-Christians from commemorating this Christian miracle, all one had to do was to bring in an Egyptian magician who existed at the time but who really had nothing to do with the miracle.
This is enough to answer Richard Carrier's allegation: "Clearly completely false legends of completely ridiculous miracles could arise very quickly and no alternative account survives."
Now, sometimes people do make inferences about what the world would be like if there were a God, but omit his logical step of asking whether the world as the atheist asking the question sees it is actually both accurate (it is inaccurate about miracles, if we are right) and also if the things the atheist sees rightly cannot be explained if there is a God (like existence of evil, by the way exaggerated in extent in one direction at least by the way atheists see miracle allegations as proof of an evil in the human mind). Let's ask the question the other way around: What would the world be like if there was NO god?
The universe would not have been starting with a mind. And in that case there would not have developed any minds later either. And in that case we would not have the minds that discuss these things.
I dealt with this in more detail in this post:
somewhere else : Atheism Very Shortly Stated - and Refuted
There are some fishy things about Richard Carrier and the Academic process (which I am out of anyway, as a drop out living on the street, but I know some of it) and about the process of debate too:
E: If your book really passed peer-review, why did you publish it at Prometheus and not a scholarly press?
F: Why didn't Richard Carrier bring up the column of Marcus Aurelius in any of his debates with Michael Licona? That seems suspicious.
G: Why won't Richard Carrier tackle the following?
1) The Miracle of Calanda
2) The Miracle of the Sun. [At Fatima in Portugal, 1917]
3) Our Lady of Zeitoun.
4) The Miracle of Lanciano.
5) The NDE of Pam Reynolds.
H: What do you mean "won't"? Has he said he was going to talk about specific miracle claims?
Actually the talk on Skepticon 5 starts out with a debunking of specific miracle claims a lot less easy to check than the better and more recently documented ones commenter G refers to.
I: Makes no sense, why would God help the Romans who supposedly were also killing xians . Shouldnt God be punishing the Romans ?
Not before some sufficiently important Barbarians sufficiently civilised are ready to become Christian.
... miracles are claiming things with extremely low prior probability.
What Richard Carrier refers to as prior probability or in a case of miracles rather prior improbability, is either a case of inherent improbability (the standard western atheist view of miracles) or of statistic improbability (the standard western atheist view of being present at a great battle or the signing of a peace treaty or the discovery of new technology like penecilline discovered because Fleming left bread to mold close to a bacterium culture, or the Christian view of all of these, but of miracles too).
In RC's view, miracles are very much below all the "usual suspects" (list provided below) and of causality he puts Martians or other Aliens or Matrix as number 4 but God as number 8 and the God of a specific religion as number 9, as least likely. There is very clearly a real prejudice against God and against specifically a God doing miracles if a thing like Matrix can be four or five where God is only eight and nine.
This is all a very great hotchpotch of confusing the two issues. How "the God of a particular religion" could be statistically less likely than "God" is clear, since any probability at all that God exists would give probability to share between more than one religion and each of them have only part of it. But even that is flawed, since the distinction is flawed.
When it comes to "God" the concept usually refers to - especially among Platonists (when explaining one meaning of Zeus=Jupiter=Ra, for instance), Christians, Jews, Mazdeists, Moslems, Mormons - the God of the universe, the Creator, Ruler and Judge of it all. Even a certain school of Hindooism has such a concept.
But each "God of a specific religion" among those (not to be confused with deities like Sea gods or Rain gods or Hermes=Thot=Mercurius) includes the concept of being "God" as such. They are not alternatives to God as such, they are more specific ways of identifying God as such. And if there is such a thing and He does miracles, it is very possible that He made one religion stick out too, both by the kind of miracles it includes and by the atmosphere, as Christianity does, see this earlier post:
ibid. Adam's Sin, Christ's Sacrifice, a Few Glosses
It's enough you have someone believe Jesus rose from the Dead to get Christianity, you do not need Him actually resurrecting.
That is claiming the "usual suspects" cannot be ruled out:
The Usual Suspects:
- Memory Sucks
- People Lie
- Speculation Gets Conflated with Fact
- (Or Fallacious Inferences Do)
- Mythmaking (Allegorising Story Making)
Now, let us rule them out each in order:
- Memory Sucks
What can bad memory do, really? I would be somewhat of an expert.
I recall Mull of Kintyre as being played in radio stations of Malmö either before Grandpa died or just after. But that would have been 76-77. And it seems Mull of Kintyre is from 78. OK, that could be fraudulent to gaslight people who recall it from 76/77 in any way, but assuming the hit is really from 78, this means I heard it later and conflated that with earlier memories. But this does not add any miraculous dimension (except in hindsight: "it would have been a miracle if you heard it in 76") to my memory of the song. Probable reason for bad memory if such: I was not often in that café after early 77, since I only came back on visits up to Easter 1980, in between I lived in Vienna. BUT the song was far better music than I actually heard in that café when I was going there on a less irregular basis, like once a month or once every two months.
Or another example, amusing to historians. I very long conflated the Boulgaroktonos emperor Basil II with the other Emperor who burnt one heretic, because that heretic was called Basil the Physician. But that emperor was not Basil II, and Basil the Physician may have shared tenets with Bulgarian Bogumils but was not clearly Bulgarian himself and his judge who condemned him to the stake was Alexios I Komnenos. And Bulgaroktonos was not so clearly concerned with burning heretics at all. Reason for my conflating these into Bulgaroktonos fighting Bulgars to fight and punish Bogumil heresy: I was seeing a parallel (and seeking a closer parallel than there was) between Byzantium and the Albigensian Crusade.
So, if I approached Gospels as a merely human document, I might not be sure that Jesus really fed thousands of people miraculously twice, it could theoretically (if they had not been guarded by the Holy Spirit) have been one gospeller recalling one number and another one recalling another one. Fourthousand vs fivethousand, twelve baskets vs seven baskets of leftovers ... could just humanly speaking have been one or two mistaking memories of mathematical non-miraculous aspect of the miracle. But will not do at all as an explanation of remembering a miracle if none such happened.
Read the accounts of the Resurrection: what plausible scenario could they be a badly recalled memory of, especially as it seems pretty definite from them that the memory of one helps the other?
- People Lie
And sure, even good people lie, if they think good will come out of it. Usually against, say, someone's sanity, or to put people on guard against someone they think a blackguard even if they cannot prove it. And sure, martyrs are not infallible witnesses to the truth of their religion BUT martyrs are not likely to be martyrs for their own lies. That is the point about the moral impossibility of Apostles being liars.
Nor are martyrs likely to be people who became Christians for mere bread and then pretended to see miracles even if they saw none, as going along with nice people: such adherents fall off pretty quickly in persecution, if they can.
- Speculation Gets Conflated with Fact
Like Richard Carrier's speculation about the inherent improbability of miracles or of God being a cause of specific events?
- (Or Fallacious Inferences Do)
Like Richard Carrier's one commenter's fallacious inference that if miracles could happen neither scientific nor historic method would work?
- Mythmaking (Allegorising Story Making)
Euhemerus thought that certain divine figures were kings of the remote past. Maybe he had specific evidence we have lost or have interpreted otherwise. Maybe he was right about some, like Hercules and Romulus, who certainly had an earthly existence and interacted with persons related to certainly real ones (Romulus was first of only seven kings, Hercules was grandfather of Heraclids leading Doric invasion). It is not all that likely, it is not likely in the least, that a pure allegory gets a life on earth among men for free. Osiris did hardly walk among men, since the Pharaos after him are very probably mere myths too. Woden seems to have tried the same stunt as Simon Magus did, but since no St Peter prayed for him to be stopped, he succeeded in Upsala. Krishna may very well have been charioteer of Arjuna and Pantheistic philosopher on top of that. That makes none of these a real god but some clearly real men. All this is much likelier than three stages: 1) solar allegory, 2) placing it on earth, 3) mistaking it for real history.
All three of last, but without the ad hominem: for speculation or fallacious inference to be conflated with fact or for a story to make all the way through the stages allegory, euhemerised allegory (if there ever was such a thing), mistaking that for real history, we need several stages of transmission.
We do not have them. Textual Critics will serve them on a plate to Atheist or other Non-Christian Historians, but they use their own fallacious inferences from antimiraculous prejudice in order to get there.
And Eyewitness account cannot be fifth after "physical necessity." Richard Carrier said, Caesar had to cross the Rubicon in order to get where he wanted. Fine enough, but it is not a physical necessity, it is from eyewitness accounts, that we have that he got there or existed in the first place.
Now, I saved (at first unconsciously) the reference to the "ridiculous" miracles in the life of St Genevieve to the last. It is her day today and I am in Paris.
Now, I do not find one single of the miracles attributed to God in connexion with her unbelievable.
I do not find it ridiculous that her mother stopped her from getting to Paris to be a nun and went blind and regained her eyesight only as she allowed her fourteen year old daughter to get in and become a nun. Certain ugly modern minds might think "how ridiculous, they are saying God supported the tantrum of an immature teenager" - but we are saying that. We are perhaps not of your mind about what constitutes irrationality in a tantrum or mature enough age to get to become a nun, or for that matter to marry.
In Roman Law, a boy might marry as soon as he was fourteen and a girl as soon as she was twelve - just as legally as GB has it 16/16, and as France had it 18/15 up to 2006. Imperial Austria had 18-21(if I recall correctly)/14-21 with younger ages for each sex depending on parental consent. Spain one hundred years ago had 14/12, just as Roman Civil Law and as longstanding Roman Catholic Canon Law.
No, I do not find it ridiculous that God supported her ideal of becoming a consecrated virgin that soon, or that He punished her mother for delaying it. God created teens and might not like parentla tyranny, even when modern psychology supports it.
I do not find it ridiculous that once or twice she raised a drowned boy from the dead. Or levitated a ship, if she did - though I cannot recall that one from my reading of her lives (two of them) in Acta Sanctorum by the Bollandists.
The antimiraculously prejudiced Richard Carrier finds it worthy of ironic snicker that her biography was written only ten years after her death (if it was, I do not know when it was written) by someone who knew her.
Now, if we go to another saint with very many miracles, like Severin of Noricum, his biography was written by Eugippius. And Eugippius did not write it in Noricum, but in Naples. He also wrote it clearly after Severin died. This has been used to indicate that a man in Naples cannot really have known a man in Noricum, alias mid Austria of our times, and therefore the account is bullshit.
However, we know from same biography that St Severin negotiated with Odoacar the peaceful exile of the Romans of Noricum, and that their goal of exile was precisely Naples. It stands to reason Eugippius was close to Severin in his latter days (but not his early carreer, which would have coincided with Eugippius' childhood) and that he had been in Noricum before the negotiated exile, i e up to when St Severin died. So much for an Eugippius who freely invented what he had no reasonable knowledge about!
Now, as a general rule, biographies are written by people who have known them. Or, earliest biographies are. Belloc wrote about Richelieu and Louis XIV, whom he did not know, but he based his work on much earlier biographies. And sure enough, Agricola's biography was written by his son in law Tacitus, and Chesterton's biography apart from the Autobiography (obviously not updated till his death) was by Maisie Ward, who had connections both by social status and by common implication in Catholic Apologetics, plus access to archives to go by. Humphrey Carpenter has colaborated extensively with Christopher Tolkien. The common procedure is not that some important person lives and dies and then someone else writes nonsense about someone he never knew, the ordinary procedure is that people - except Atheists on Arguing Business - know what they write about before they start writing.
I therefore argue it is supremely improbable that St Genevieve's biography was not written soon, that Eugippius did not know St Severin of Noricum, and that Gospels (except the fourth) are from fifty years later rather than by Matthew (eyewitness), Mark (having access to at least eyewitness St Peter plus to Gospel of St Matthew), Luke (having access to several eywitnesses, including the Blessed Virgin) and John (eywitness, as he states himself), though he wrote some sixty years after the facts.
The only thing Richard Carrier has to show against this is antimiraculous bias, and Textual Criticism based on such bias, the socalled Higher Criticism, which Popes such as Leo XIII so rightly, not just for the faith, but even for reason, condemned as a sham.
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
in Paris (Lutetiae Parisiorum
St Genevieve's Day