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51 Responses

  1. Bernardo says:

    Continuing the deconstruction of Christianity:

    Said “miracle” of the loaves and fishes is historically nil. e.g.

    Professor Luedemann [Jesus, 45] offers the following historical judgment of the account in Mark 6:

    “The formation of this story derives from the needs of the community. Its historical value is nil. Anyone is free to accept the table fellowship of Jesus and his followers as a starting point for the rise of this story. But that is rather different from the feeding of the 5000.

    John P. Meier- Theology professor at Notre Dame:

    Meier [Marginal Jew II,966] suggests that the Gospel stories of Jesus feeding a multitude preserves a tradition about “some especially memorable communal meal of bread and fish” but does not think it possible to offer a judgment on whether anything miraculous was involved in the meal event. See pp. 950-967 for his complete discussion.”

  2. Bernardo: I don’t know what to make of you. Sometimes you come across as human. Sometimes you come across as a textbook. LOL. 😛

  3. Bernardo says:

    As a professor once told me, you are not only what you read but also how fast you find the correct answers in said reading. For those interested in deconstructing their Christianity, I highly recommend JD Crossan’s book Who is Jesus? as an easy to digest starting point along with the studies reviewed at:

    o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the titles of their over 100 books on the subject.

    2. Early Christian Writings,
    – a list of early Christian documents to include the year of publication–to include a review of each.

  4. Robert Griffing says:

    Brenardo, oh good grief! The miracle didn’t happen because it couldn’t happen, eh? Spoken like a true modernist.

  5. Bernardo says:

    o Miracles do not happen since miracles violate natural law. If God were involved in our daily lives, cures would not be needed. .

  6. Robert Griffing says:

    Don’t you need a footnote citing David Hume on that one?

  7. Bernardo says:

    Indeed- Thank you David Hume- good to see I see eye to eye with a philosopher of yore.

  8. David says:

    Bernardo – have you read the C.S.Lewis book ‘Miracles’? I don’t claim to understand it all, but in it he argues that consciousness itself is the great miracle that we completely overlook. Thus, living constantly in the miraculous, that miracles are common, and the physical world we inhabit is just a subset of a much larger, much more wondrous place. He says it better than me 😉

  9. Bernardo says:

    C.S. Lewis, an Irishman blessed with too much blarney who should have stuck with writing fiction instead of branching out in trying to find his god without the education to do so.




    noun: consciousness

    the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.
    “she failed to regain consciousness and died two days later”

    •the awareness or perception of something by a person.
    plural noun: consciousnesses

    “her acute consciousness of Mike’s presence”

    •the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.
    “consciousness emerges from the operations of the brain”

    See the review at for an extensive update.

  10. Gary says:

    David, I love some of your humorous twists on things. Young Jesus standing on the bath water is another favorite of mine.

    As for whether miracles (anything supernatural) actually happen…I find those who dogmatically proclaim the impossibility of such to be even more blind than those who claim miracles out of everyday coincidence.

  11. Dogmatic fundamentalism is dogmatic fundamentalism in any clothes.

  12. Gary says:

    Yup…nailed it!

  13. David says:

    Wow Bernardo – that’s a strong reaction. I feel I must defend my fellow Irishman.
    Lewis was an undergraduate student at Oxford University, where he won a triple first, the highest honours in three areas of study. He was then elected a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he worked for nearly thirty years, from 1925 to 1954. In 1954, he was awarded the newly founded chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, and was elected a fellow of Magdalene College. Oxford is 3rd in the world for Nobel Prizes. The Times ranked Lewis eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.

    If anyone has a triple first and is a Prof at Oxford University, then they can call Lewis what they like.
    Others may have to recognise his significant contribution.

    Apart from his significant credentials – he also makes very interesting points 😉

  14. Gary says:

    Hey Bernardo. I’m curious as to what credentials you have to be so arrogantly dismissive of others…especially one so learned and well respected as C.S. Lewis?

  15. Bernardo says:

    If C.S. Lewis were alive today he would revel in the historic Jesus studies deconstructing his Christianity once and for all.

  16. Bernardo: You remind me of the god I once worshipped.

  17. Gary says:

    Why the dodge Bernardo?

    It is clear you believe yourself to be the expert on everything which now includes claiming that C.S. Lewis (who you just recently disparaged) would today agree with you. Come on don’t hold out…share with us your credentials for all of this arrogant bravado. Otherwise we are forced to conclude your bullshit is nothing but grand puffery. (Which is typical of hard line fundamentalists like yourself)

  18. Bernardo says:

    Three degrees, BS in ChE, MS and PhD in Polymer Science, five years in the US Army, 1st Lt, two years active,12 years of Catholic school education, Ten years reviewing and perusing the historic Jesus and associated studies.

    And I am up there with the all-knowing Christian god (as per David H.). Even C.S. Lewis didn’t claim that one :).

  19. Gary says:

    Well my experience has been that education either makes a person humble or turns them into an arrogant prick. (It’s pretty evident which category you have chosen) Sad that in the pursuit of education, you only seemed to have collapsed your mind rather than expanded it.

  20. David says:

    OK Bernardo – that’s good. I too have BSc, PhD & MBA, as well as Chartered Physicist & Member of the Institute of Physics status. I have chaired public bodies, and led large in country companies such as DELL. For me, the more I learn the less certain I am about most things. I would tend to express degrees of confidence in areas such as this rather than the sweeping rejection of a particular point of view.

    I always loved Christopher Hitchens reply when he was asked, ‘What if you die & you meet God? What will you say?’. He replied, ‘Well Lord, you didn’t leave much evidence for your existence did you!’ Which I think also applies to the area of miracles.

    There are few (if any) in the test-tube, repeatable, quantifiable, verifiable miracles . . . and that may well just be deliberate 🙂

    Peace to your tribe Bernardo 🙂

  21. Bernardo says:

    Gary, Gary, Gary,

    How Christian of you!!! Jesus would be so proud? Or should we make you the pride of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John and Constantine, the true founders of Christianity?

  22. Robert Griffing says:

    Lots of academic qualification here. Hat tips all around. While I would agree that it isn’t easy to scientifically verify most miracles, it does happen. Humanity has benefitted tremendously by the development of the scientific method. But my chief gripe is that along with that came a towering arrogance of many thinkers in modernity. It is one thing to say that we are now able to investigate ever more of the cosmos, but it is something else again to claim that because a claim cannot be scientifically verified it cannot be real. Science in modernity doesn’t stay in its lane, but wants to be the arbiter of all reality. But it is simply not equipped to deal with revelation (or the intangible aspects of humanity for that matter), except to deny its existence.

  23. David says:

    Robert, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Indeed, the whole philosophy of Physics has changed from its deterministic approach (If we can measure everything, we can determine the outcome of everything – hence no miracles & no surprises), to a tacit understanding that there some things we will NEVER understand. Indeed its impossible to understand them. Its called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

    I hugely enjoy science, and the strides we have made. The scientific methodology is super. However, it is good within its boundary, but poor when it attempts to cross those boundaries.

    There are many things that the scientific method cannot measure.

  24. Bernardo says:

    List your “miracles” and let us have at it with respect to their authenticity via the scientific method and rigorous historic testing.

  25. Gary says:

    Bernardo, Bernardo, Bernardo,

    In your ignorance you presume much. Seems to be the same level of care you take in reaching many of your conclusions.


  26. Gary says:

    On and your challenge to verifying the authenticity of a miracle via the “scientific method” is kind of cute. Of course it is totally irrelevant since the scientific method would have no means by which to measure the existence or absence of the supernatural, I totally agree BTW that the vast majority of claimed miracles are nothing of the sort. But I seemed to have learned with only a Master;s degree what seems to elude you with your doctorate. I recognize that what I do not know exceeds what I do know and perhaps what I “do know” may be suspect as well.

  27. Robert Griffing says:

    David, we agree. And that leaves us at the place where science and faith/theology can engage each other constructively.

  28. Bernardo says:

    Still waiting for that list of “miracles”.

  29. Bernardo says:

    And still waiting for that list of “miracles”.

  30. Gary says:

    And its still cute that you play the silly game…though its kind of loosing the cute factor and becoming another tired form of spam.

  31. Bernardo says:

    And still waiting for that list of “miracles” to be subjected not only to the scientific method but also rigorous historic testing.

  32. David says:

    Hi Bernardo …. I think it is virtually impossible to apply the scientific method to miracles. How do you reliably repeat a miracle, in controlled conditions, while varying parameters which you control? Even medical miracles are often categorised as a misdiagnosis, or the wonderful ability of the human body to heal itself, or psychosomatic etc.

    The best example is St Paul being bitten by a snake & not dying. His fellow travellers assumed that he was chosen by God. In our world, we would wonder if it was an old snake, or had bitten someone earlier that day, or a very young snake, or if St Paul had built up a resistance.

    Miracles are extremely hard to prove under the scientific method. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any 🙂

  33. Bernardo says:

    Paul and the snake bite (Acts 28: 3)? Let us analyze with rigorous historic testing.

    1. In two extensive somewhat recent biographies about Paul, said miracle was not mentioned. (Rabbi Paul by Professor Bruce Chilton and In Search of Paul by Professors JD Crossan and J. L. Reed.

    2. ” (Acts 28:3-8) Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake and yet lives. The “barbarians” who were shipwrecked with him thought he must be a murderer since he was bitten; but then they changed their minds and thought him to be a god since he didn’t die. (The snake story is especially interesting since there are no poisonous snakes on Malta, and there is no evidence of their existence in the past.)”. Read more at

    Conclusion: Lack of attestations and credibility gives this miracle story a thumbs – down. Simply another early Christian legend to get more peasants to sign up for Christianity.

  34. Well, no Bernardo. It doesn’t prove it didn’t happen. Just that it’s not well attested. There’s a difference. I’m not defending the voracity of the miracle. Just challenging the fault in your argument.

  35. Bernardo says:

    The argument is also handled quite well by many contemporary NT scholars who saw fit not to even mention the snake bite myth in their biographies of Paul. The perusing of these studies is highly recommended.

    Also please note that the myth conclusion is also based on the lack of credibility of the story i.e. part 2 of the commentary.

  36. David says:

    So NakedPastor quite rightly flips the argument the other way round. It is also extremely difficult, using the scientific method, to disprove a miracle. (In this context I’m using the term miracle for a situation that is extremely difficult to explain with our current understanding of science) You may make commentary, or assumptions, or doubt the veracity of any evidence presented to you. In the case of Pauls snake we could assume that he was bitten by a non-poisonous snake, although his fellow travellers didn’t know it wasn’t poisonous, and therefore assumed it was.

    There are many, many cases of unusual medical situations which have resulted in a good outcome for the person involved. Miracle? That’s really difficult to prove . . . or disprove. Hence the balance of confidence depending on your world view.

    You clearly have studied this Bernardo. Can you argue for the existence of miracles in your next post? It is always a good exercise to take the opposite view to your own, and see if you can form a coherent argument.

  37. Bernardo says:

    Tis good to review the elements of rigorous historic testing which would include the testing of the “miracles” listed in the NT since there was no forensic science in first century Palestine, rigorous historic testing is essential.

    Rigorous historic testing relies on the number of independent attestations, the time of the publications of said attestations, the content as it relates to the subject and time period, and any related archeological evidence.

    The NT has been subjected to said testing by the likes of Professors JD Crossan and Gerd Ludemann with their results published at no cost on line.

    For example: The “miracle” of the changing of water into wine by Jesus- John 2: 1-11

    From Crossan’s on-line inventory a t : #349 , (negative, historically nil conclusion based on a, single attestation in the second stratum (60-80 CE)

    Followed by more commentary and conclusions at

    “Gerd Luedemann

    While Luedemann [Jesus, 433ff] attributes the story to the Evangelist, he notes the following ancient parallels:

    ‘When one struck the rock with the thyrsos, immediately a cool spring arose, and on striking the narthex on the ground, the god’s sweet wine flowed out ‘ (Euripdes, The Maenads, 704-7). ‘… The priests bring three vessels to the count and set them down empty (viz. in a building) … The next day … they find the vessels filled with wine’ (Pausanias, Description of Greece, VI 26, 1-2). However, in the Old Testament there are narratives about the transformation of water into some other matter; cf. Ex. 7.19-22 (Moses turns water into blood); Ex 15.23-25 and II Kings 2,19-22 (each time undrinkable water is transformed into drinkable water). Moreover, it should be noted that according to many Old Testament texts the time of salvation will be marked not least by an inexhaustible supply of wine (cf. e.g. Amos 9.13f; Hos. 2.24; Zech. 8.12; see also Mark 14.25).

    John P. Meier- theology professor at Notre Dame University

    Meier discusses this epidose at some length [Marginal Jew II,934-50], before concluding:

    In sum, when one adds these historical difficulties to the massive amount of Johannine literary and theological traits permeating the whole story, it is difficult to identify any “historical kernel” or “core event” that might have a claim to go back to the historical Jesus. Put another way: if we subtract from the eleven verses of the first Cana miracle every element that is likely to have come from the creative mind of John or his Johannine “school” and every element that raises historical problems, the entire pericope vanishes before our eyes. Many critics would assign the origin of the story to the Johannine “school” or “circle” lying behind the Gospel. I prefer the view that the story is a creation of the Evangelist himself, using a number of traditional themes. (p. 949)”

  38. Again, not to say I believe the the miracles stated really happened, but to dissect the sources to expose their deficiencies in relating a supposedly historical event doesn’t negate the fact that unusual or inexplicable things happened or still do. I won’t use the word “supernatural” because I believe that’s a term we revert to to describe strange and inexplicable events.

  39. Bernardo says:

    For added perusal on the problems with the NT “miracles” like Paul’s viper bite et al, see the review of the Acts of the Apostles published at the well-reviewed Wikipedia site, especially the problems of the history noted in said Acts vs. the Gospel of Luke and Paul’s epistles.

    Composition and setting 1.1 Title, unity of Luke-Acts, authorship and date
    1.2 Genre, sources and historicity of Acts
    1.3 Audience and authorial intent
    1.4 Manuscripts

    2 Structure and content 2.1 Structure
    2.2 Outline
    2.3 Content

    3 Theology
    4 Comparison with other writings 4.1 Gospel of Luke
    4.2 Pauline epistles

    5 See also
    6 References
    7 Bibliography
    8 External links

  40. Gary says:

    I believe supernatural is exactly the term that not only describes what we are talking about, but also reveals why Bernardo’s methods are irrelevant.


    1.(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.
    “a supernatural being”

    Using the laws of nature as proof that nothing exists beyond those laws will always prove to be a futile effort. I do not dispute science rather I embrace it. But I am not quite prepared to state that nothing exists which does not fit within the boundaries of the natural physical laws.

    I do agree that the term supernatural is often used improperly. And I do not claim that that which is beyond present scientific understanding is proof of the supernatural The “god of the gaps” theories are less than convincing.

  41. Robert Griffing says:

    Bernardo, your citations, e.g. Crossan, all appear to be stuck in modernist materialistic presuppositions. As a theologian, I will never look to them as authorities on the mighty deeds of God. They simply do not have it in them to take a biblical account as genuine.

  42. Bernardo says:

    Supernatural? Those things of the past which had no real explanation but which now are declared natural or historically nil via science to include rigorous historic testing. e.g. the flat Earth, the Sun revolving around the Earth, the Resurrection of Jesus, the raising of Lazarus, angels, devils, jinn et al.

    Again, list your supernatural events and “miracles” and lets have at it.

    And Robert G, NT scholars such as Crossan and Ludemann have concluded that some of the NT is authentic. One example are the Beatitudes. Might want to read their analyses in the references previously given.

  43. Gary says:

    Again Bernardo…you completely miss the point. I’m not making a claim for or against the validity of biblical or other claimed miracles. If you would actually try to pay attention rather than continue to parrot your tired rhetoric you would recognize this.

  44. Bernardo says:

    Gary, I was responding the other members of this thread. .

  45. Gary says:

    Barnardo, I was speaking directly to you. LOL

  46. David says:

    Good comments all round folks.

    I suggest that historically the Church has four areas that inform its theology. Only within the last few hundred years we seem to have forgotten this. The four areas are
    1. The Bible,
    2. Nature,
    3. Tradition and
    4. Experience.

    I suggest that theology has for centuries been a moveable feast, and continues to be moveable to this day. Martin Luther through Sola Scriptura did us both a service and a disservice. Galileo was so poorly handled by the Church that a chasm between science and religion began to be created. Newton however was very religious and saw himself following in Gods footsteps. Indeed I think Science should inform our theology as much as the Bible, or Tradition or Experience.

    Again Bernardo I point out that exalting Science beyond experience, tradition & the bible is also an imbalance. One must humbly consider the other areas in building our world view.

  47. Bernardo says:

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, biology, biochemistry, archeology, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode cataclysmically at any time ending life on Earth.

    8. Many of us are part Neanderthal and/or Denisovan.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

    Search for Paul, book by Professor JD Crossan
    Rabbi Paul, book by worProfessor Bruce Chilton

  48. David says:

    Bernardo – what has this to do with miracles?

  49. Robert Griffing says:

    Bernardo, actually a huge majority of NT exegetes believe in the Second Coming. Thinkers like Crossan are a tiny, though influential, minority, even in the western church. In the the world-wide Christian movement, they are barely a blip on the radar. You will not arrive at a proper understanding of Christian faith by viewing it through the lens of materialistic modernity, or by applying the mind set of engineering to it. Your tools, powerful in themselves, will not serve you well in the realm of Christian faith/theology.

  50. Bernardo says:

    RG, In the realm of Christian faith/theology? Not to worry as I ejected from that a while ago and now am a member of the Nones ( Irreligious/agnostic/atheism ).

    And please support your contention that a huge majority of NT exegetes believe in the second coming. Paul believed it would happen in his lifetime. Darn another non-show!!!

    Religion………………………… Adherents

    Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

    Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

    Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion

    Hinduism 900 million
    Chinese traditional religion 394 million
    Buddhism 376 million
    Animist religions 300 million
    African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
    Sikhism 23 million
    Juche 19 million
    Spiritism 15 million

    Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

    Baha’i 7 million
    Jainism 4.2 million
    Shinto 4 million
    Cao Dai 4 million
    Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
    Tenrikyo 2 million
    Neo-Paganism 1 million
    Unitarian Universalism 800,000
    Rastafari Movement 600,000

  51. Bernardo says:

    Dave, I presented the list to warn folks that if they hear a big explosion, it is not the “miracle” of the second coming but a meteor, an atomic bomb or Yellowstone blowing its head off.