Signs & Wonders (Part 3)- Miracles Debated with Robert L. White (Christian) & Matthew Taylor (Atheist)

Anchor Audio Link = https://anchor.fm/real-seeker-ministries/episodes/Signs–Wonders-Part-3–Miracles-Debated-with-Robert-L–White-Christian–Matthew-Taylor-Atheist-eahkrj

YouTube Video = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vppWtD4g1-E 

Intro/Blog:

Well, it has certainly been a long time coming, back in November of 2019, I had a Round Table discussion on the topic of Miracles with 3 Atheists, including Matthew Taylor (from the Proscenium/Ask an Atheist Anything & Still Unbelievable podcasts); let’s just say that the convo did not go according to plan and neither Matt nor myself were satisfied with how the discussion turned out (see that Skeptics and Seekers Podcast here = https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/11/29/the-plausibility-of-the-miraculous-refuting-the-skeptical-presumption-of-scientism-naturalism/ ). 

As both Matt and I were not pleased with how things turned out, Matt reached out to me to do a Round 2 in the hopes of having a more substantive and productive conversation, this time around we were joined by Robert L. White (from The Robert L. White Show podcast) and this time, I believe we have finally achieved what Matt and I set out to do originally the first time 😊

There are 5 major areas of topic discussion include;

a) Introduction– get to know who each of us are and our conversion/deconversion stories (Timestamp: see Start to approx. 19-min mark)

b) Default Prior Probability (the BlankSlate):  My notion of starting out with a Default Prior Probability/Blank Slate Position of 50/50% or 0% both ways (default state without any relevant background knowledge or evidence).  (Timestamp: approx. 19-43 min mark)

c) Post Prior Probability of Miracles(Proper- Post BackgroundEvidence):  Then I want to go into the Post-Prior Probability Issue, namely the plausibility or equal probability of miracles after considering relevant background evidence (Reasons present for the plausibility of miracles and reasons present for their implausibility [i.e. against their plausibility].  (Timestamp: approx. 43 min- 1 hour 6 min mark)

d) Identifying the Miracles of God: Here we can discuss how one might go about identifying any hypothetical miracles this is about general criteria or ways one can theoretically identify one, not about proving that miracles have actually occurred. (Timestamp: approx. 1 hour 6 min- 1 hour 31 min mark)

e) Actual Examples:

Here, I will let Rob provide some actual examples of provable miracles.  Perhaps the case for the Resurrection and/or miracle healings or any other examples.  I will let Robert and Matt have most of the time here to maximize discussion time on this issue.  However, see some of my own examples on this front in my 21-page blog in the sources below or here = https://realseekerministries.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/signs-wonders-part-2-identifying-evaluating-the-miracles-of-god/ (Timestamp: approx. 1 hour 31 min to the End of the Show).

Recommended Sources (for further study);

 

a) Show Agenda Breakdown (Attached below);

b) Matthew Taylor Sources:

See Matt’s main website (with free Still Unbelievable E-book- Matt wrote Chapter 1) here = https://www.reasonpress.net/ (also see my and David Johnson’s Miracles blogs here = https://www.reasonpress.net/Home/MiracleBook ).  To see Matt’s podcast Proscenium/Ask an Atheist Anything here = https://anchor.fm/reasonpress  & Still Unbelievable podcast here = https://anchor.fm/still-unbelievable

 Also, see Matt’s old blog called Confessions Of A YEC: Confessions Of A (former) Young Earth Creationist = https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/

Finally, see the two S&S shows where Matt speaks on Miracles mentioned by the guests during this show here = https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/11/29/the-plausibility-of-the-miraculous-refuting-the-skeptical-presumption-of-scientism-naturalism/ (with Dale, Matt, Andrew Knight & David Johnson) & also https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/evaluating-and-identifying-the-miracles-of-god/ (Teddi Pappas, David Johnson, Andrew Knight, Matt Taylor and Sarah).

c) Robert L. White Sources:

Robert’s main blogsite = https://www.robertlwhite.net/ .  Main links to the Robert L. White Show podcast = On Anchor = https://anchor.fm/the-rlw-show/ or on Stitcher = https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/anchor-podcasts/the-rlw-show .  Main YouTube channel = https://www.youtube.com/user/JoeCool1986/videos .  Finally follow Robert on Twitter here = https://twitter.com/robertlwhite_II

 

Robert’s sources related to miracles = https://www.robertlwhite.net/philosophy/miracles-robert-ryan/ (blog) or the Anchor Audio Podcast = https://anchor.fm/the-rlw-show/episodes/Miracles-A-Robert-and-atheist-Ryan-discussion-e4sb0d YouTube video = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWD1JV74MNY&feature=emb_logo .  

Robert also has some sources on specific miracles that he has posted on his own blog;

See Robert’s Blog Post here = https://www.robertlwhite.net/philosophy/miracles-debate-real-seekers-podcast/

Or pasted below;

“I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Real Seekers podcast and discussing / debating miracles with Matthew (atheist) and Dale (Christian) last week. After a quick intro, the episode plays in full.

Let me know what you think!

When I lay out the evidence for the (alleged) miraculous phenomena in the latter half of the episode, I blitz through various case studies, scientific studies, and quotes which I said I would post references too here. That is directly below. Feel free to reach out if you want more specifics on a given quote or study.

Sources:

  • Lee Strobel’s Miracles talk (25 minute segment)
    • I highly recommend starting with this since it delves into at least three of the sources I discussed. In particular, it includes an interview with Barbara Snyder, who was instantaneously healed from advanced multiple sclerosis, as also attested by her two physicians. It also includes the audio recording of Duane Miller as he is being spontaneously healed of his permanent, severe vocal chord damage. If you have the time, watching everything from the 35 minute mark (it should auto-start there) to the 60 minute mark is very much worth it.
  • Miracles by Craig Keener
  • The Hinge Podcast (see in particular episode 8 on miracles)
    • Contains an interview with Bruce Van Natta, the mechanic I referenced who lost most of his small intestines in an accident and was later healed
  • The Case for Miracles by Lee Strobel
    • Contains the quotes I read aloud about Barbara Snyder (healed from M.S.) and Duane Miller (healed from irrevocably damaged vocal chords). Both cases are discussed in Strobel’s video linked above as well.
  • Scientific studies
    • Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique
      • The study mentioned by Strobel in the video above, and the one I mention in relation to healings of deafness and blindness and how it compares (very favorably) to hypnosis studies
    • The following is a section from Strobel’s book that references some of the “gold standard” scientific studies that show the effectiveness of prayer, which I briefly mentioned in the podcast. Note that the STEP study mentioned below is not the one linked directly above (which is STEPP), but it is the one I mention in the podcast that skeptics sometimes use to try to disprove the effectiveness of prayer, even though it has a flaw its sample (namely that one of the prayer groups they used for the study belong to a church whose theology explicitly teaches that miracles don’t happen!). The context of the quote is Lee Strobel interviewing Dr. Candy Gunther Brown who conducted and published the linked research above.
      • “Let me start by saying that there have been ‘gold standard’ studies before and after STEP that reached the opposite conclusion: that the group receiving prayer had better outcomes,” she said. “Really?” I asked. “Can you give me some examples?” “One of the first widely publicized studies was by Dr. Randolph Byrd, published in 1988 in the peer-reviewed Southern Medical Journal,” she said. “It was a prospective, randomized, double-blinded, controlled study of four hundred subjects. …Patients in the prayer group had less congestive heart failure, fewer cardiac arrests, fewer episodes of pneumonia, were less often intubated and ventilated, and needed less diuretic and antibiotic therapy. …Then a decade or so later, a replication study by Dr. William S. Harris and colleagues was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.” “Were the results similar?” “This was a ‘gold standard’ study of the effects of intercessory prayer on almost a thousand consecutively admitted coronary patients. Half received prayer; the other half didn’t. And again, the group that received prayer had better outcomes than the control group.” (p. 127)” 

 

d) Dale’s Miracle Sources See my own 21-page blog as well as Podcasts on the issue of Miracles see here = https://realseekerministries.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/signs-wonders-part-2-identifying-evaluating-the-miracles-of-god/ or in the attachment below;

e) Miscellaneous:

Drew Sokol and Corey Markum from Hinge Podcast was mentioned during the show, see here = http://hingepodcast.org/

Also, I interviewed Drew Sokol on the Skeptics and Seekers podcast, see here = https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/drew-sokol-functionally-atheist/

5 thoughts on “Signs & Wonders (Part 3)- Miracles Debated with Robert L. White (Christian) & Matthew Taylor (Atheist)

  1. Hi Dale, Matthew and Robert,

    Just finished listening to the podcast – very nice job! Thanks!

    With respect to the specific examples given by Robert, Matthew kept saying that he didn’t have enough information to make a decision – and I rather suspect that is often the case – especially when getting the information 3rd hand. The person, whether Matthew or Robert, has to rely upon those who did the investigation and their conclusions. It is frequently hard to get all of the facts – people tend to leave certain things out or to embellish things. I think the example of the Miracle of the Sun which, some claim, was witnessed by up to 30,000 people, including respectable journalists. Many say it was a miracle but other say different. It seems to have been studied to death – but still very informed people have different opinions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun

    Makes it hard for me to think there will be much agreement on even less documented cases.

    But, again, a nice show – thanks for sharing why each of you feel miracles happen or don’t happen.

    Dale, at the end of the show you mentioned that your next show will be on whether the Bible is true. Sounds fascinating! I hope you will spend a little time on how different definitions/ways people define truth with respect to the Bible. Seems to me that some take a more literal view as if it was a news report. Others say there are different genres in it, such as poetry and parables, and each genre might be telling truth in its own way. I know a number of people who feel one has to go back and look at it through the eyes of the authors and try to determine what the authors meant. Recently I’ve found it interesting how some read the Bible as an allegory and find the truth of the Bible in allegory. St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived in the 300’s, wrote a book called “The Life of Moses” in which he does this. In fact, he goes so far as to say that the Bible can be true even if the historical and literal facts don’t line up with the Biblical story. For example, with respect to the killing of the first-borns in Egypt he wrote:
    “Do not be surprised at all if both things – the death of the first-born and the pouring out of the blood – did not happen to the Israelites and on that account reject the contemplation which we have proposed concerning the destruction of evil as if it were a fabrication without any truth. …”

    Anyways, thanks for a very good podcast and looking forward to your next one,
    Brian

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Brian,

      Glad you enjoyed the show and all of our takes, it was a great show to be a part of and I know David was very impressed with Robert himself, so perhaps there may be an upcoming S&S show with Robert and David at some point as well (if all sides agree) 🙂

      In terms of the miracle examples- Yes I told Matt that perhaps that was my failing as the host as I should have gotten some of the examples Robert wanted to speak on in advance so that Matt had a fair shot to do some research and speak more intelligently on them during the show- live and learn I suppose 🙂

      Brian, I find I like your suggestion and yes I will definitely make sure to mention the issue of how to read the Bible in light of the different senses of truth, that said as this is a guest show, the topic was picked out by Robert Stanley and so I’m not entirely sure what he has in mind as “Is the Bible true” can mean wide variety of things and he didn’t specify to me what exactly he has in mind- so to some extent I will be finding out tomorrow what he meant myself lol. On my end though, I think this is a critically important issue to know if the Bible is true or false and so I will be making some of the points you bring up here for sure 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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