Harvey

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The miracle case for Christianity survival
« on: July 27, 2020, 12:16:52 am »
I'd like to lay out the case for a miracle of history. In this case the historic miracle of Christian survival during the early days of the Roman Empire. Given that the fine-tuned constants are often cited as a case of being in a universe well-suited for life, it seems next to impossible that the main religion necessary for science itself came into existence due to fine-tuning, which in my opinion casts severe doubt on the anthropic principle altogether. Anyway, here's the history:

1) 4 BCE According to the Gospel of  Matthew (2:16) Herod tried to kill Jesus as an infant. While most scholars do not think this account is historical, it would certainly count as the first attempt to destroy the Christian religion if it ever proved to be historical.

2) 27 CE (?) According to the Gospel of Luke (4:6) the devil told Jesus to jump off a mountain to prove God's love for him. Again, it is perhaps a fictional account but if true then it would be the second legitimate threat to the Christian religion (assuming God didn't interfere).

3) 27 CE Luke also captures an event that happened shortly aftee where the villagers of Nazareth tried to push Jesus over a cliff. Luke 4:29. Perhaps this is a fictional account.

4) 30 AD (?) Jesus is executed by Pontius Pilate. This was thought by the Roman governor that the Christian religion would not exist beyond this point. This event is historical.

5) 31 AD (?) Saul of Tarsus began rounding up Christians (e.g., Stephen) and having them killed with the attempt to destroy the fledging religion. Soon afterwards Saul said he saw Jesus and immediately converted to the Christian faith.

6) In 41 AD King Agrippa I began persecuting the religion with hopes of destroying it (e.g., killing James the son of Zebedee in Acts 12:2 and tried to kill Peter--but Peter escaped). A short while later Agrippa died in a "supernatural type death" where he people were exclaiming he was a god but died immediately afterward. From what we can gather the Christian persecution stopped immediately with Herod Agrippa's death (maybe out of fear of God)?

7) Persecutions of Paul (44-55 CE) He was stoned and carried out of the city thinking he died. Three times shipwrecked. Paul and Acts mention many close calls with death. Maybe it's fair to say that Paul more than any other was key to the Christian religion's early survival.

7) Annas II a high priest had Jesus' brother executed in Jerusalem (in 62 CE?). We believe that the Church left Judea soon afterward (cf. Mt 24:16). Eusebius and Epiphanius provide a tradition where the Church fled to Petra in Jordan.

8 ) 64 CE: Nero blamed Christians for burning down large areas of Rome and this led to the first Roman Empire persecution of the Christian religion. Most small religions couldn't perhaps survive such an assault. It is traditionally held thst Nero had Peter crucified (cf. John 21:18-19) and tradition holds that Nero had Paul decapitated. But, the churches had already been founded so it was too late to just kill the leaders of the church to stop the religion.

9) Domitian (93-96 CE?): The Roman emperor: Rev 2:13 and 6:9 suggest that there was strong Roman persecution by this emperor. Eusebius also records it.

10) Trajan (98-117 CE) Talks matter of factly of executing Christians in a letter to Pliny the Elder.

11) Marcus Aurelius,(~165 CE): Saints such as Justin Martyr, a philosopher convert from Plato's school, was executed for winning a religious debate against a pagan philosopher.

12) Septimius Severus (193-211): Eusebius records severe persecutions by this emperor. Ireneaus was supposedly martyred during his reign (around 202 CE).

13) Maximinus the Thracian (r. 235-238): Church leaders such as Hippolytus and Pope Pontian were exiled around 235 CE but not necessarily by the emperor.

14) Decius: In 250 CE the most deadly persecution against Christians began with his edict to "make Rome great again" by sacrificing to the Roman gods (Jews were exempted). Babylas of Antioch, Alexander of Jerusalem, and Pope Fabian were killed along with many others. Perhaps coincidental to the atheist mind, Decius died a year later by the army of the Goths in battle, and as a result the persecution ended. Christianity survived another day.

15) Valerian in 257 CE by letter ordered Christians to sacrifice to the gods, and in 258 CE he ordered all bishops and higher to be put to death. He also ordered any government official who was a Christian to lose their property. Christians executed included , Bishop of Carthage, Sixtus II, Cyprian, Saint Lawrence et al. Perhaps fate is not without its sense of irony. Unlike Decius he was not killed in battle. Apparently he was betrayed during a peace negotiation and taken captive where he was made to be a horse mount. He tried to offer a reward for his release but the Persians opted to instead to flay him alive by having him skinned and his skin was stuffed with straw so as to preserve him as a trophy in their temple. It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Let that be a lesson for everyone!

Well, apparently Valerian's son thought the persecution thing was a bad idea and put a stop to it. Ya gotta wonder why. Lol.

16) Diocletian 303 CE: He was weary of following a recomendation to persecute Christians but following the advice of an Apollo oracle he set about doing so. Two years later he had to resign because he was too ill to be emperor.

Constantine took over and immediately removed the persecutions under his co-reign territories. In 313 CE he became the sole emperor and made Christianity a favored religion. Christianity was now in position of converting an Empire "to the ways of the Force."

17) Alaric died shortly after sacking Rome in 410 CE. This, apparently, later scared Attila in sacking Rome.

17) Attila the Hun met Pope Leo (the Pope) at Mincio and seems to have talked Attila out of sacking Rome. In addition there is the assertion that the sudden death of Alaric in 410 CE was a bad sign. It is known that Atilla had more invasion plans into Christendom in 453 CE but he suddenly died so that put an end to those plans. Evidently he died from a nosebleed or some kind of medical issue. A revolt by Ardaric of the Gepids collapsed the Huns.

This takes us to the collapse of the Roman Empire. There were many more miracles of history to follow.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 07:55:48 am by Harvey »

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kurros

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2020, 12:53:58 am »
I don't think you can accomplish anything this way. Basically every single event in history is "miraculous" in that it has a very low probability of happening. Thus all the movies and sci-fi about going back in time and accidentally changing the world completely by stepping on a random bug or some such.

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Harvey

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2020, 06:29:21 am »
I don't think you can accomplish anything this way. Basically every single event in history is "miraculous" in that it has a very low probability of happening. Thus all the movies and sci-fi about going back in time and accidentally changing the world completely by stepping on a random bug or some such.

Ah, but there were predictions not just for the Christian church surviving but the survival of the Jewish people.

Quote
I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [Matt. 16:18]

This was written around 80 CE.

Quote
[Speaking of Christ]...and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.[Luke 1:33]

Written around 90 CE that quotes a dozen passages of scriptures dating no later than 500 BCE.

The scriptures detailing the survival of the Jews are also well documented. While your account can perhaps explain the success of one prediction and journey of survival through history (considering the many dire cir instances both encountered -- the Christian church converted an empire that tried to destroy them dozens of times and then multiply converted the ones who toppled that empire!), but you have two such stories.

Now, lest you think this is just another example of living in a multiverse, there are already horrendous coincidences coming from the factors of how narrowly chosen the physical constants are, it is more than incredulous to add Jewish and Christian survival to that anthropic criteria given that their survival presumably had nothing to do with our being here. Now, in my opinion, Christianity played an extremely important role in the existence of modern science. So, our knowing about physical constants and knowing they are fine-tuned values are indeed linked to the survival of the Jews and Christians (i.e., the Jews had to survive at least until the Christians took the stage). (I might add that the Muslims alse played an important role in the development of science which are the third leg of the Abrahamic religions. )
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 06:54:50 am by Harvey »

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kurros

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2020, 06:32:31 am »
I'm not sure that any of that makes any difference to my point. This is basically just a variant of survivor bias.

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Harvey

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2020, 06:38:09 am »
I'm not sure that any of that makes any difference to my point. This is basically just a variant of survivor bias.

Survivor bias only applies if only a few unusual events took place. It doesn't apply if a whole string of unusual events took place (not once but twice and the survival being predicted). You're just erecting a common bias known as atheist bias.

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shoyt

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2020, 07:26:12 am »
(4) is not an historic event.

The entire list lacks objectivity while being chalked full of credulity.

I'm also generally amused that those who wrote the Hebrew Bible reject Jesus ... maybe because those "predictions" are about Messiah and Jesus wasn't.

Their objection generally starts: first, he died, second, nothing about Israel changed.

In fact, there were other better candidates in their mind around the time.

In any case, Messiah hasn't come as far as God's chosen people are concerned.

You know, the folks that wrote the book.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 07:28:09 am by shoyt »

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Harvey

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2020, 07:44:40 am »
(4) is not an historic event.

Rofl.

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wonderer

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2020, 07:47:32 am »
(4) is not an historic event.

Rofl.

I know, using "an" before "historic"!
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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Harvey

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2020, 07:52:07 am »
I know, using "an" before "historic"!

I was referring of course to the ridiculous statement that Jesus' crucifixion is not historical. 😉

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shoyt

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2020, 08:12:21 am »
I know, using "an" before "historic"!

I was referring of course to the ridiculous statement that Jesus' crucifixion is not historical. 😉

Apparently wit escapes you?

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kurros

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2020, 08:20:07 am »
I'm not sure that any of that makes any difference to my point. This is basically just a variant of survivor bias.

Survivor bias only applies if only a few unusual events took place. It doesn't apply if a whole string of unusual events took place (not once but twice and the survival being predicted). You're just erecting a common bias known as atheist bias.

No no, it applies perfectly well after a string of events. See for example the "Wyatt Earp" effect. If Christianity hadn't survived then one of the religions that it replaced would have, and they'd be making the same kind of argument that you are now.

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Harvey

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2020, 08:51:10 am »
No no, it applies perfectly well after a string of events. See for example the "Wyatt Earp" effect. If Christianity hadn't survived then one of the religions that it replaced would have, and they'd be making the same kind of argument that you are now.

That's what I was referring to wrt fine-tuning. Atheists have already applied the Wyatt Earp effect (WEE) response when they said that fine-tuning could occur if we lived in a multiverse where physical constants vary among each universe. Life and consciousness are statistically inevitable in such a multiverse because there are a sufficient number of worlds where life is bound to occur. But, now, we find ourselves in an even more rare universe where Christianity and Judaism both predict their survival (doing so in a very unlikely survival circumstance with following events that would make such twin survivals very remote indeed). Hence, you need a double or triple dose of WEE responses. One WEE response to account for fine-tuning, another WEE response to account for Jewish survival, and yet another to account for Christian survival. A far more parsimonious solution is to give up atheism and admit that atheists have been historically wrong in the amount of design and miraculous intervention needed to account for the present world. But, due to the natural attraction that full independence has on the human mind, many people are not willing to give that up and thus are, despite all the evidence tp the contrary, plunge full faith into their atheism when the circumstances certainly call out for disbelief in atheism, or bare minimum agnosticism with respect to atheist beliefs.

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Lucian

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2020, 09:19:52 am »
I'd like to lay out the case for a miracle of history. In this case the historic miracle of Christian survival during the early days of the Roman Empire. Given that the fine-tuned constants are often cited as a case of being in a universe well-suited for life, it seems next to impossible that the main religion necessary for science itself came into existence due to fine-tuning, which in my opinion casts severe doubt on the anthropic principle altogether. Anyway, here's the history:

Nothing of what you've listed (some of which is disputable, of course) strikes me as miraculous on anything more than an everyday sense of the term.

As for science, that was going on long before Christianity came on the scene.

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Harvey

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2020, 10:03:39 am »
Nothing of what you've listed (some of which is disputable, of course) strikes me as miraculous on anything more than an everyday sense of the term.

1) Jesus of Nazareth is crucified and more than 500 of his followers miraculously see him alive thus kicking off the new religion.
2) Saul of Tarsus tries to destroy the early Church, sees Jesus and miraculously becomes the key convert making longterm success of the Christian religion possible.
3) Paul is stoned to death and shipwrecked three times and miraculously survives anyway.
4) Agrippa attacks the Church threatening its survival and miraculously dies ending that persecution.
5) The persecution of the Church by Jewish authorities ends in 70 CE with the invasion of the Romans.
6) Decius in 250 CE starts an empire wide persecution of Christians (and anyone not accepting sacrifice to the Roman gods) but miraculously dies in battle before he can eliminate Christianity.
7) Valerian in letters in 257 CE and 258 CE goes after Christians but is miraculously captured and skinned alive for, in retrospect, was his attack on the Church
8 ) Diocletian in 303 CE began a persecution but miraculously fell ill shortly after and resigned.
9) Constantine takes over and miraculously becomes the strongest supporter of the Christian faith one can possibly imagine.
10) Alaric miraculously dies shortly after sacking Rome in 410 CE potentially seen as a red flag to Attila.
11) Atilla miraculously dies before continuing his raid into Christendom.

If one of those events lack a miraculous outcome then it's doubtful Christianity survives.

Quote from: Lucian
As for science, that was going on long before Christianity came on the scene.

Yes, but only in Christian Europe did it explode. There are a lot of reasons why 200 centuries had passed prior to this why science, as obvious as it is, didn't get going until Christians became engaged with natural philosophy once exposed to Aristotle.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 10:08:15 am by Harvey »

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Lucian

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Re: The miracle case for Christianity survival
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2020, 10:59:15 am »

If one of those events lack a miraculous outcome then it's doubtful Christianity survives.

Reproducing the series of events you're referring to doesn't help me see how they're miraculous in anything more than a fairly mundane sense.

Yes, but only in Christian Europe did it explode.[There are a lot of reasons why 200 centuries had passed prior to this why science, as obvious as it is, didn't get going until Christians became engaged with natural philosophy once exposed to Aristotle.

I'm not too sure what you mean by 'explode'. Scientific discussion was already well underway long before then in Greece.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 11:51:01 am by Lucian »