Miracles, Thomas Jefferson and Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Thomas-Jefferson-9353715-1-402I am teaching a class on Miracles at a local college and in my adult class.

Notes are here – MIRACLES Teacher Outline

As I was preparing this talk, there was a story of a man found after being lost at sea for 13 months in a small fishing boat.  Is this even possible?  How could one survive that long without fresh water and food?  It occurred to me that you can choose to decide before you consider the evidence or after.  So I found some discussions of the possibility of living all that time on a boat.  see

http://www.canada.com/health/Adrift+Human+survival+expert+says+tale+months+could+true/9477491/story.html

I remembered in Spanish class reading a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez about a man lost at sea for a shorter time and how he survived – “Relato de un Naufrago” or “Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_a_Shipwrecked_Sailor

One has to examine the historical evidence in a case like this – interview witnesses, check his story where it is verifiable, check if eating turtles could sustain a person for that long, ask how he traveled from point A to point B if his story is false.  In short, check the evidence.  Instead of deciding on pre set opinions, consider the evidence.

When it comes to miracles, it has been common since the Enlightenment to discount their reality.  David Hume said that no reasonable man can believe such an exception to the universal experience of the human race.  Anthony Flew said that the talk of miracles in inherently nonsensical.  Thomas Jefferson, a good Enlightenment Deist, actually took his scissors to the New Testament and kept what he felt was the good teaching and eliminated such matters as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.  His version can be found here

http://www.pattonhq.com/links/uccministry/jeffbible.pdf

Thomas Jefferson did not and could not go back and see if such things happened. He decided that they could not have happened.  So he, like many, tried to recreate the historical Jesus according to his edited edition of the Gospels.

The New Testament as we have it claims that these events we call miracles happened and that they were attested by a great number of eyewitnesses. So one has to consider the credibility of these witnesses.

Just as you can not recreate the unlikely events of Napoleon’s life, or see if in fact 300 men held off the armies of Persia, so you cannot recreate Jesus’ miracles. But you can evaluate the historical record.

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