LIVING UP TO THE TRUTH, part 3: miracles


I.          Public revelation at Sinai - unique among all religions, in spite of the common life conditions which explain the common elements of religions, the logical strength of a public revelation as a foundation, and in spite of the need of Christianity and Islam for a public revelation. If the story is made up, why was it not made up more often?

II.          Kuzari Principle [KP]: the attempt to persuade people to believe in an event of which they should have known prior to the persuasion will fail. {If E is an possible event which, had it occurred, would have left abundant, easily available evidence of its occurrence [at the time of persuasion, available to the audience being persuaded], and it did not occur (and therefore the evidence does not exist [at the time of persuasion]), then [the vast majority of] people [in such an audience] will not be persuaded to believe in E.}

III.         Explanation of the uniqueness of the Jewish belief in public revelation: public revelation [or any equivalent national miracle] would create public memory of the event among the descendants of the witnesses, therefore by KP the belief cannot be fabricated. Note: if this explanation is correct, then the belief in public revelation must be true.

IV.        Analysis of content of KP

A.         correct applications: volcano in Manhattan in 1975, gold growing on trees in Romania in 1650, the American colonists conquering all of South America in 1720 all would be correctly rejected; public UFOs, dragons, blood libels, etc. all are correctly rejected  

B.         incorrect non-applications: non-public UFOs, Medieval belief in dragons, anti-Semitic beliefs, Christian "miracles" - these events are described so that even if they had happened they would not have been public knowledge at the time of persuasion, hence KP allows that people may be fooled

V.         Grounds for accepting KP: this is a principle of human psychology - people will not form beliefs in this fashion - the evidence [and counter-evidence if such there be] comes from the record of what real people have believed in history - imagined counter-examples are irrelevant

VI.        #9; An attack on KP: the possibility of gradual myth-formation [MF] - a natural event is gradually transformed into the story of a miracle

A.         to believe MF the details of the scenario must be plausible

B.         there must be real parallels: MF says the belief is due to a natural process of belief formation; if so, there must be demonstrated cases in which the suggested process caused other beliefs which violate KP otherwise, this is an appeal to imagination

C.         for the revelation at Sinai both A and B fail: there is no plausible scenario allowing belief in a natural event to become belief in a national revelation, and there are no parallels

D.         in particular, the Torah account of the revelation at Sinai includes instructions to teach the history to future generations - MF must assume that this too is accepted even though there is no memory of the event at the time of persuasion

VII.       Strong evidence for a few miracles [those implied by KP] reduces the evidence required to accept other miracles


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