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The Problem With Miracles (Sam Harris)

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Published on Apr 11, 2012

Sam Talks about how common miracle claims are in the modern world.

He references Sathya Sai Baba in this speech, a spiritual leader with millions of followers who died last year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sathya_S...

As for the stories of Jesus...The consensus of Christian scholars is that the gospels were written between 70 and 105AD. They were based on stories spread via word of mouth in one of the most superstitious parts of the world, before finally being written down in a different country and a different language (Greek) than the one they were originally told in. We don't have any original copies of these stories, but scattered fragments of copies of copies the originals, most from the 3rd and 4th century. So the time between when the events supposedly happened and the first scraps we can get our hands on is 200+ years! Moreover, the gospels are completely anonymous. We have no idea who wrote them, who their sources were, or how trustworthy their sources were.

Compare this with today; You can talk to not only 1, 2, 3, or 4 witnesses about Sai Baba's miracles, but *thousands* of living breathing people from all walks of life will testify to his healing powers, his ability to raise people from the dead, to conjure objects from thin air, etc. His following is in the millions, yet this doesn't even merit 5 minutes on the evening news. These witnesses are not anonymous, but citizens with names, faces, documentation about their life, and access to a breadth of knowledge about the world that dwarfs what was available in the first century, yet they are sincerely convinced that they've seen magic from a divine figure. Sai Baba died recently, so we are also much closer to the events of his life than the bible writers were to Jesus. Historians agree that the earlier sources are always better. So if Christians don't take Sai Baba's magic powers seriously, why should they take the gospel stories seriously? Why do such stories become particularly compelling when they are transferred to the desert thousands of years in the past, and when we have far fewer sources writing about them many decades after the events?

Here is an excellent lecture where NT scholar Bart Ehrman discusses some of the scribal alterations and additions that were made to the New Testament as it was copied and recopied over the centuries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfheSA...

And some problems with the resurrection accounts of Jesus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCdJT8...

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