Only uncertain ancient history? I want more reason to be Christian

Note: I have no money to buy books, little time to read them, and no English library from which to borrow them. This thread is more or less a rehash of other threads I’ve posted. The summary is: Give me reasons to be Christian. Explain to me why God is not communicating directly with me, and why God is not leading me to answers. Explain to me how God interacts with us as our Father. Explain how we know God is there and taking care of us.


I have been troubled recently by the thought that, apart from ancient history, there is nothing in my life that demonstrates God’s presence or activity. This point becomes apparent trying to explain Christianity to Japanese who have never heard of it, who know nothing about Christianity. You can try it yourself as a thought experiment: Imagine explaining to an adult who knows nothing about it, and who has no connection with the Middle East or Western Civilization, such that you must defend every claim of fact and justify every point.

The matter boils down to, “Why should I become Christian?” “Because of some uncertain and ancient history two thousand years ago in the Middle East.” It’s an absurd reply.

If you want to use philosophical arguments, if you’ll create or point to an open thread for each one we can discuss them, but I have yet to find one that isn’t false or uncertain.

Regarding alleged miracles, the problems I have been unable to overcome with each of them have been verifiability, statistics, and connecting God as the cause. Briefly explaining each point:
Regarding verifiability: The event allegedly occurred in a remote location at a remote time with insufficient documentation so I just have to take the word of a stranger who published a book. The Church does not publish miracle commissions’ data and findings for public scrutiny. There are rumors that they exclude witnesses who have a natural explanation (e.g. a “Dr. Ranjan Mustafi” in relation to a Blessed Teresa of Calcutta miracle).

Statistics: For example, when people report favors and miracles from Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, one must ask, “What is the probability of this occurring naturally? How many others are praying for the same thing who God is not healing?” That is to say, the real question: “How do we distinguish divine agency from chance?” (I’ve recently found a reviewer of Craig Keener’s Miracles raising this question. It is an important one that Christians should consider and have a good answer for, since the Church teaches that God expects us to use our brains.)

Identifying God as the cause: To go from ‘strange event happened’ to ‘God did it’ it seems you need some precise timing, some established message and context (as at Fatima or Akita), show that it’s not mere chance, and have some argument that it was God and not some other supernatural power, some other deity or demon.

Ultimately, it appears to me that when I attempt to see the foundation of my Christian faith, what I find is uncertainty. I cannot claim any intelligible personal experience with God (“eating what looks like bread” is not persuasive), and the times I have narrowly avoided death, God’s action and the presence of angels has been uncertain. Philosophical arguments appear uncertain at best. History appears uncertain. (See for example Dr. Bart Ehrman pointing out discrepancies in the Bible, e.g. whether Jairus’ daughter was ill or dead. He asks how we are to trust unknown sources that disagree on or change details.)

When I pray, or sit quietly in a church, I become uneasy by the silence: It reveals an apparent lack of God, and either my brain conjures up unrelated thoughts or my own thoughts, or else I fall asleep the longer I wait. I pray before bed, and my dreams are always random and unrelated – and, remarkably, as if my Christian faith and God did not exist. (My dreams tend to be of a kind where the question and presence of God are both completely absent.) Occasionally I’ll have Christian-themed dreams (e.g. the Rapture is occurring, when I was a Protestant child); recently I even had a dream that God had finally healed me and gave me a message to deliver about who was responsible, and I woke up suddenly and completely immediately after being given the message to deliver so as to remember everything – and then I discovered I was not healed, so it seemed again a random dream, and a particularly cruel one for God to allow.

So it appears to me the Japanese are completely justified in their atheism and eschewing Christianity. The problem I am now facing is how to justify remaining a Christian on a daily basis, when my Father is giving me the silent treatment and apparently doing nothing. I sometimes think, “I cannot point to any one thing because God is actually doing everything; God is responsible for literally everything here that exists, so it’s like being in a painting pointing at some ink and asking where the painter is and why the painter isn’t doing something.” The problem with this argument is that it raises more questions than it answers, e.g. it implies that God is responsible for holding Mohammedan warfare in existence and actively participating in every single evil act by holding it in being each moment and causing our physical laws to continue applying. In other words, if there is ‘divine providence’ whereby God brings about good, then its antithesis wherein God brings about great evil also exists. I suppose this has traditionally been called ‘divine wrath’.

Ultimately, I’m tired, and I just want this game to end.

Hi ethereality,

You are looking for certainty. But ultimately, you need to make a choice. You have to realize that no matter how much you research and how much you investigate, there will always be more doubts, more events to shake your confidence, more shocks and trauma.

The Japanese have a system for dealing with the ups and downs of life. Whether they are pureland or practice zen meditation, or follow a more philosophical form of Buddhism, this is what they are accustomed to. And so it is an easy choice for them to make. In addition, the Japanese have enormous cultural and historical pressures that keep them from embarrassing the Christian God. To become a Christian in Japan is to become, in many ways, a social outcast. So for them, it will take more than just philosophical arguments.

In the end, my faith is based on one miracle only. That of Jesus on the cross and the promise of the resurrection. And yes, this is a historical issue. I have spent a great deal of time researching the historical critical method, and looking at Catholic and Protestant authors. Dr. Bart Ehrman is just one voice, but are you looking exclusively at him? Have you read any counter arguments?

For example, do you realize that the reason we have so many different versions of the Gospels is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of manuscripts and fragments of the New Testament documents in existence from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries? And that each one of those was transcribed by hand? And that 99% of all the textual variants that historians count as variants are completely insignificant? Like the difference between **a **and an? Or minor typos that are easily discovered and corrected? And although that are a few real textual problems, these issues in no way impact the core of the Christian faith?

I can go on and on with this topic if you want, but again, I have to say, you are going to have to make a choice at some point, to move beyond the questioning phase and make a choice. And the choice looks something like this: “I have doubts Lord, but I accept you are my Lord and Master. The Lord of my heart and my mind.”

This is an act of faith. I freely admit that I may be wrong. And if I’m wrong, I will find out when I die. In the meantime, I follow my Lord and Master as creatively and joyfully as I can such that even if I am wrong, my life will have been in service and love of a higher ideal for the sake of others. Two things about this move: the self is in the third place below others, and then God at the top. Also, about the master - he is one who has suffered greatly in his life. There is no pain, either physical or existential, that I can experience that I cannot unite with him on the cross.

Finally, if you choose to follow Christ, despite your doubts, then you need to work on those feelings of yours. Its hard work, but the root of all change in behavior is the heart. In scriptural terms, your prayer to God must be for the purification of your heart. There is no better way of doing this than by reciting the liturgy of the hours. Especially the psalms. They are written by “the man after God’s own heart” David. That same guy who committed adultery with a woman and then arranged for the murder of a man. You will find expressions of every range of human emotion, from complete desolation “From the depths, I cry out to you” to the joyful praise and glorification of God in union with all creation “Frost and chill, praise the lord!, Stars in the heaves, praise the Lord!”

Its hard work. Its not easy. You can be cynical about it and see it as a sort of self-brain washing, but if you freely choose to follow the master, then you have to absorb it all and let your faith transform you. And make that choice something that transforms the world and makes it a more beautiful place. As written in Revelation 21 :He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” And remember also the warning in Revelations 3 “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

There is a peace that comes when you make a decision, one way or another. But Japan is a lonely place to be for a Christian. I’ve been studying the Japanese language for a few years, and I’ve become more and more aware of the deep cultural antipathy that they have towards Western culture and Christianity. I don’t think its primarily about philosophy though. But the beautiful thing about Christianity is in its willingness to change for the sake of others.

Check out Shusaku Endo’s Silence. Its a beautiful work from a local Japanese Catholic author who was considered for a Nobel prize. Its a difficult book because it expresses Shusaku’s doubts and struggles to understand the apparent silence of God.

PM me if you want to chat offline.

God bless,
Ut

You have it backwards.

Faith comes first. Everything else comes after that. You make a leap of faith first. Belief is a choice. You are seeking understanding so that you might have faith. That’s not the way God works. Faith comes first.

Choose to believe that God is who he says he is and that Jesus rose from the dead. Be willing to give up everything, including your life. You have to put everything on the table. God will do the rest, but you have to do your part first.

-Tim-

Just a few thoughts

Heb 11:1
faith
***[FONT=Comic Sans MS] is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.***
[/FONT]
Faith is not from ourselves, it’s a gift from God. Ask Him for it. He won’t deny you.

It follows from that

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” (Thomas Aquinas)

in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul uses faith in a more specific sense, as just one of the three theological virtues, with hope and charity. IOW, faith alone is not sufficient for salvation, hope and charity must be present also, and charity (love) NOT faith, is the greatest of these 3 virtues.

That said, in the next life faith and hope are no longer necessary because we see everything exactly as it is. That’s true for one in heaven as well as one in hell.

So, as for those who don’t believe in a next life, then as I’ve said to MY atheist friend, If you (name with held) are right and I’m wrong , then no harm no foul. We just die and that’s it. Neither of us even knows that one was right and the other was wrong. It’s as if we were never even here. But if I’m right and you’re wrong (name with held) then you’re screwed my friend for all eternity.

As an aside, my friend is a complete rationalist. So I gave him what I thought to be a reasonable real life example.

I said to him

[LIST]
*]take your entire net worth, down to the change in your pockets, and have this net worth notarized
*] take this notary to a casino of your choice and convert your entire net worth into one poker chip
*]Then go out into the casino and gamble your entire net worth
[/LIST]
He said to me that’s a stupid bet. To which I said why? You’re thinking you might lose it all. Yet you might also win. Winning is a possibility…right? Besides I said to him, you can’t take it with you, and I said whose going to get it all anyway when you’re dead? So what are you worrying about?

He obviously didn’t like the example

So I said to him, If you won’t bet your entire net worth which is temporary anyway, on something you CAN see, then how can you bet your immortal soul on something you can’t see, knowing the possible calamity awaiting you if you’re wrong is eternity in hell?

I asked him, where’s your sense of proportion here? You’re afraid of temporary consequences that you can see, yet eternal consequences you can’t see, and you aren’t 100% sure those eternal consequences aren’t there, you’re all in on THAT bet as if you know 100% that you are right.

I said to him now THAT’S a stupid bet!

Regarding verifiability: The event allegedly occurred in a remote location at a remote time with insufficient documentation so I just have to take the word of a stranger who published a book. The Church does not publish miracle commissions’ data and findings for public scrutiny. There are rumors that they exclude witnesses who have a natural explanation (e.g. a “Dr. Ranjan Mustafi” in relation to a Blessed Teresa of Calcutta miracle).

Good point. I suppose some of these are not part of the public domain yet. So there may be some confidentiality issues. What about reaching out to the Medical Bureau of Lords?

en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/medical-bureau-sanctuary You could send the guy an email.

Here is an example of what kinds of tests they go through: en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/danila-castelli

But at the end of the day, all they can say is that there is no scientific explanation for a cure. Still, when he says there were 100 doctors who voted on the case as to whether it was scientifically explainable or not and there was only one vote in abstention, that is pretty sound evidence. Pretty rigorous testing. And there must be a bunch of documentation backing this up.

About the limb issue, I’ve also wondered about that. But its not enough to damage my faith. Perhaps God has reasons why he does not heal amputees. I don’t know.

God bless,
Ut

Statistics: For example, when people report favors and miracles from Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, one must ask, “What is the probability of this occurring naturally? How many others are praying for the same thing who God is not healing?” That is to say, the real question: “How do we distinguish divine agency from chance?” (I’ve recently found a reviewer of Craig Keener’s Miracles raising this question. It is an important one that Christians should consider and have a good answer for, since the Church teaches that God expects us to use our brains.)

I look at the review. I haven’t read Keener’s book on Miracles, but Chris Hallquist’s objections seemed to be answered by the kinds of organizations we find in the Lourdes Medical commission I linked you to. But like I said, maybe you can email the director at that office. But I’m sure he would stand by the decisions made by the medical tribunal he gathered. It would be interesting to find out why that one doctor out of a hundred abstained - was it for philosophical reasons? Were the other 99 doctors all religious? But in any event, even if I had all the evidence at hand, because I’m not a doctor, how would I even begin the assessment?

At the end of the day, though, we could use a generally accessible book that summarizes the more interesting cases. Although I bet you they already exist. I see no reason not to truth the Lourdes Medical commission or whatever medical group reviews the cases for the cause of saints.

Anyway, Hallquist seems to be critiquing those warm and fuzzy type books that use anecdotal and philosophical arguments exclusively. And to that extent, I would agree with him. But I think there are many better organizations out there in the Catholic world that assess these kinds of cases with much more credibility and with better scientific and medical credentials.

God bless,
Ut

Identifying God as the cause: To go from ‘strange event happened’ to ‘God did it’ it seems you need some precise timing, some established message and context (as at Fatima or Akita), show that it’s not mere chance, and have some argument that it was God and not some other supernatural power, some other deity or demon.

Agreed on the context part. A message can’t be understood without a context. The kids at fatima had no idea they were talking to the virgin. Same thing with Bernadette in Lourdes. Does that bother you?

I think you can rule out chance, for example at Lourdes, when they are now on their 69th medically confirmed healing (not to mention all the ones that did not go through the process).

Your last point about the arguments that it was not some demon causing the healing. I think the church looks the the fruits of a healing or visionary event. Is there a marked chance in character within the persons for the better? Does the event bear good fruit. The question about other deities involves polytheism. And I think there are good philosophical arguments to rule out polytheism.

God bless,
Ut

So it appears to me the Japanese are completely justified in their atheism and eschewing Christianity. The problem I am now facing is how to justify remaining a Christian on a daily basis, when my Father is giving me the silent treatment and apparently doing nothing. I sometimes think, “I cannot point to any one thing because God is actually doing everything; God is responsible for literally everything here that exists, so it’s like being in a painting pointing at some ink and asking where the painter is and why the painter isn’t doing something.” The problem with this argument is that it raises more questions than it answers, e.g. it implies that God is responsible for holding Mohammedan warfare in existence and actively participating in every single evil act by holding it in being each moment and causing our physical laws to continue applying. In other words, if there is ‘divine providence’ whereby God brings about good, then its antithesis wherein God brings about great evil also exists. I suppose this has traditionally been called ‘divine wrath’.

Ultimately, I’m tired, and I just want this game to end.

For some reason, we are locked into this world full of contradictions and sufferings. And we seek answers. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a master. I will follow him, God willing, until the day I die. And even then, there may come new questions in whatever happens next. :slight_smile: I think not having all the answers is OK. In fact, Christ teaches that we must approach God as a child. The Catholic church teaches that we can know that God exists by reason, but this is only the preamble to faith. We must eventually make a choice.

God bless you ethereality!
Ut

Ethereality, I sometimes go through serious struggles asking the same questions you’ve asked. I realized I have to be Catholic or an atheist and I always come back to Catholic. For you it might be Christianity in general but these questions pop up for pretty much everything. The last time I went through the whole doubt agony I found this video that answered them directly, at least for me, from some random guy on YouTube. Maybe it will help you too. It’s somewhat long but it’s worth it if it helps even a little.

youtu.be/NAtEyopsuh4

The Catholic, Christian faith that I personally profess is not merely because I choose to believe it. Otherwise, I could also believe the Hindu religion, Buddism…or even atheism.

I do not believe that God asks us to a blind faith. The authors of the Gospels took great pains to put in detail (re: the geneology of our Lord Jesus Christ) in their writing. Additionally, the Church takes great pains to verify suspected miracles to make sure they are such, otherwise the Church will be discredited.

The question the OP poses is a legitimate one, one I must say I do not know how to satisfy in light of what s/he wrote other than to say that the ancient martyrs gave their witness to Christianity. I doubt they would have been willing to do it if they knew it was a lie, considering that lions, etc., and of course, cruxificion were often the Romans’ preferred method of execution. And while no Catholic is bound to believe miracles outside of Holy Scripture, I do draw the OP’s attention to the Eucharistic ones (approved ones, that is) and also the Shroud of Turin (read Dr. Pierre Barbet’s A Doctor at Calvary, which goes into detail as to why he thinks the Shroud is authentic).

fides quaerens intellectum

God certainly provides evidence but at the end of the day we all make a choice to believe that which we cannot verify with our eyes, with our sense of touch, with archeological or historical evidence. Yes, God does ask us for a blind leap. At some point, we have to trust and choose to believe. Jesus told this very thing to the father of the son possessed by a demon.

***And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” *(Mark 9:23-24)

Only after the father chooses to believe does Jesus act. Only after the father chooses to believe does Jesus “help his unbelief.”

We can try to figure out the faith or look for reasons to be Christian our whole lives. Wwhy make it so difficult? Choose to believe. Trust. God will do the rest.

-Tim-

Matthew Chapter 7, verse 7. Ask and you will receive; knock and doors will be opened to you. For me, this involves reading mostly. Books about lives of saints, archaeological experts, etc. Little things that you discover reinforce and make it more clear where the truth lies. Make an effort to get close to Mary also, and she will assist you in getting closer to her son.

You exist.

Firstly, even ONE miracle would be enough to prove God’s existence, yeah?

And let’s take the Biggie, the magnum opus of miracles–the resurrection.

If it didn’t really happen, the explanations for the missing body are even more incredulous–people lied, a mass hallucination… none of those make sense.

Sorry but why doesn’t the Japanese person you are talking to talk to existing Japanese Catholics. There are currently more than 500,000 Japanese Catholics in Japan.

Hi again,

Here is a link to the document governing the canonization process.

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/csaints/documents/rc_con_csaints_doc_20070517_sanctorum-mater_en.html

Art. 38 - § 1. Attached to the written request for the instruction of the Inquiry on an alleged miracle, the postulator must present to the diocesan or eparchial Bishop:

1 brief and accurate report on the particular circumstances of the case;
2 list of witnesses;
3 all the documents relative to the case (56).

§ 2. In the case of allegedly miraculous healings, medical and clinical documents as well as test results are necessary (e.g., clinical records, medical records, laboratory exams and analyses).

Art. 47 - § 1. The Bishop and all those who take part in the Inquiry must see to it with the greatest diligence and commitment that, in gathering all the proofs, nothing is omitted which in any way regards the cause. The positive outcome of the cause, in fact, depends to a great extent, on its good instruction (67).

§ 2. The Officials of the Inquiry are: the Episcopal Delegate, the Promotor of Justice, the Notary and, in the case of the Inquiry into an allegedly miraculous healing, the Medical Expert or, in that of the Inquiry into an alleged miracle of another nature, the Technical Expert.

Chapter IV
Medical Expert

Art. 60 - § 1. In the Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous healing, the Bishop must nominate a Medical Expert.

§ 2. In the Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous fact of another nature, the Bishop must nominate a Technical Expert.

§ 3. After he has sworn to fulfil faithfully his task and to maintain the secret of office, the Expert is to help the Promotor of Justice in preparing the Interrogatories for the witnesses (77).

§ 4. The Expert must participate in the Sessions that are held for hearing the witnesses, in order to ask, through the Episcopal Delegate, for clarifications in the area of his competency, according to necessity and circumstances (78).

I wonder what this secret of office is all about? I’ll have to look into this.

Title VI
Participation of the Medical Expert

Art. 92 - § 1. In the instruction of the Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous healing, the Medical Expert must swear an oath during the First Session of the Inquiry to fulfil faithfully his task and to maintain the secret of office (127).

§ 2. Furthermore, he must participate at all the individual Sessions in direct collaboration with the Episcopal Delegate and suggest to him, if necessary, specific questions to be asked of the witnesses that may be useful for examining the case more deeply (128).

§ 3. Should the Expert consider it expedient to ask specific questions of a witness who has already been examined, it is recommended that the witness be recalled to testify.

§ 4. The Expert may be absent only for grave reasons that are to be transcribed and inserted into the acts of the relative Session of the Inquiry.

Art. 93 - § 1. With a view towards the examination of the alleged miracle by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, it is recommended that the Medical Expert prepare a report.

§ 2. In the report he is to express a judgment on the quality of the medical and technical witnesses.

§ 3. The report is to be sent together with the letter that the Bishop or his Delegate will send to the Prefect of the Congregation (129).

Interesting. So the medical or technical expert is in charge of questioning the relevant medical or technical expert witnesses in the case. Then he fills out a report that presents his evaluation of the evidence these expert witnesses provide.

Continued.

Chapter I
Who can be a Witness

Art. 96 - The witnesses who must be called to testify in the Inquiry are:

those witnesses indicated by the postulator in his Libellus (132);
ex officio witnesses, especially if they are contrary to the cause (133);
corraborating witnesses, that is, those indicated by the witnesses during their depositions;
the experts in historical matters and matters that pertain to archives as ex officio witnesses (134);
in the Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous healing, also those doctors who treated the person healed and the medical experts ab inspectione (135).

Interesting. Included in those called to be expert witnesses to the healing, there are also those who are “contrary to the cause”. My goodness, it must make fascinating reading. I wonder if it is possible to get access to these proceedings? I remember, I think, that Christopher Hitchens was called as a witness against Mother Theresa.

Chapter V
Testimony of Attending Physicians

Art. 107 - § 1. If in the Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous healing the physicians who treated the person healed refuse to be questioned, they can prepare under oath, if possible, a written report about the illness and its course (148).

§ 2. This report is to be included in the acts of the Inquiry.

Art. 108 - § 1. If in the Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous healing the physicians who treated the person healed should refuse to prepare a written report about the illness and its course, the Bishop or his Delegate may nominate, by means of a decree, a third party, preferably an expert in the medical field, who may take the testimony of these physicians.

§ 2. This third party must take an oath to fulfil faithfully his task and to maintain the secret of office.

§ 3. The oath must be transcribed and inserted into the acts of the Inquiry.

§ 4. Once he has obtained the testimonies of the attending physicians, the third party is to be heard by the Bishop or his Delegate, assisted by the Promotor of Justice, the Notary and the Medical Expert (149).

Trouble getting the attending physician to cooperate in the process I guess.

Chapter VI
Medical Experts ‘ab inspectione’

Art. 109 - § 1. If still alive, the person healed must be examined separately by two medical experts, called experts ab inspectione (150).

§ 2. The Bishop or his Delegate must duly nominate these experts by means of a decree.

§ 3. They must swear an oath to fulfil their task faithfully and to maintain the secret of office (151).

§ 4. Their decrees of nomination and oaths must be transcribed and inserted into the acts of the Inquiry.

Art. 110 - § 1. With all the clinical and technical means available, the two experts ab inspectione must verify only the present state of health of the person healed. Particular reference to the pathology from which the person was cured is to be made in order to ascertain the present state of health of the person healed and the duration of the healing (152).

§ 2. Their written opinions, prepared separately, are to be handed over to the Bishop or his Delegate and inserted into the acts of the Inquiry.

§ 3. These experts must be called to testify as ex officio witnesses (153).

And I guess the medical expert referenced at the beginning is the one who judges the evidence provided by the two ex officio medical expert witnesses.

Art. 149 - In the case of an Inquiry on an allegedly miraculous healing, it is suggested that the Medical Expert prepare his own report on the course of the questioning of the medical witnesses of the Inquiry that is to be attached to the other letters (191).

Wow. Talk about due diligence.

God bless,
Ut

Hi ethereality,

Just found out about an author who has studied over 400 years of medical miracles. She is a professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World

Modern culture tends to separate medicine and miracles, but their histories are closely intertwined. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes saints through canonization based on evidence that they worked miracles, as signs of their proximity to God. Physicianhistorian Jacalyn Duffin has examined Vatican sources on 1400 miracles from six continents and spanning four centuries. Overwhelmingly the miracles cited in canonizations between 1588 and 1999 are healings, and the majority entail medical care and physician testimony.

These remarkable records contain intimate stories of illness, prayer, and treatment, as told by people who rarely leave traces: peasants and illiterates, men and women, old and young. A woman’s breast tumor melts away; a man’s wounds knit; a lame girl suddenly walks; a dead baby revives. Suspicious of wishful thinking or naïve enthusiasm, skeptical clergy shaped the inquiries to identify recoveries that remain unexplained by the best doctors of the era. The tales of healing are supplemented with substantial testimony from these physicians.

Some elements of the miracles change through time. Duffin shows that doctors increase in number; new technologies are embraced quickly; diagnoses shift with altered capabilities. But other aspects of the miracles are stable. The narratives follow a dramatic structure, shaped by the formal questions asked of each witness and by perennial reactions to illness and healing. In this history, medicine and religion emerge as parallel endeavors aimed at deriving meaningful signs from particular instances of human distress – signs to explain, alleviate, and console in confrontation with suffering and mortality.

A lively, sweeping analysis of a fascinating set of records, this book also poses an exciting methodological challenge to historians: miracle stories are a vital source not only on the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people, but also on medical science and its practitioners.

I’m thinking I may purchase this book. I’ll give you a review if I do.

Also, my cousin is a doctor who graduated from Queen’s. I will drop her a line to see if she has met the author.

God bless,
Ut

Some good advise above.
I don’t do advise well, but I’ll share some thoughts for what they are worth.

You write a lot.
And, you’ve written about this stuff before.
Wow!

Guess your mind starts going when you sit in silence.
Uncomfortable isn’t it?

I think you are doing it Japanese style.
Your not feeling God’s presence reminded me of one of their stories. I think it’s Zen. The one about the fish master saying to his disciple, Today will shall speak of the ocean and water." Yep, the disciple replied, “What’s that?”
Your mind is supposed to blow a gasket with all the nonsense it spews, the worldly thoughts, the complaining, the impatience. When it’s all burned out, you will be at peace. You will know because you will just be.

I will pray for you, but we are to approach God with humility and you sound a bit far from that space.

I can relate. I am very nuts and bolts practical and logical.

You can dig a long time for facts. I read a book “Seven Reasons You Can Trust the Bible”, and it helped get me started (not a catholic book, sorry guys). Gave me more factual reasons to trust scripture.

The real thing is when I spend time in prayer every day, I see things happen differently in my day and in me. If I miss a day or two, I see the difference. And when I apply what Jesus taught in the bible, it always works and always proves to be true.

C.S. Lewis gave a great perspective that Jesus was either who he said he was, or a lunatic or worse. I think there is enough history to show Jesus walked the earth, so it’s a matter of who He was (and is!).

There is no magic fact or formula that will get you there. I must say, it also took a really good Baptist pastor to help me get there. I talked to a Catholic priest and deacons and others, but they just didn’t connect the dots for me.

It’s really important to talk to someone that is truly saved and not just religious - and they can be Catholic or not - but those people are different. They are the ones that are following Jesus teaching and making disciples.

i believe in Jesus Christ as true God and true man; and, as Savior and Redeemer of the world.

any doubts i experience have, in more recent times, been fleeting and easily dismissed thanks be to the Goodness and Mercy of our Father in heaven.

however, despite the fact that i have been given the gift of faith, i pray every day the prayer of the father of the boy possessed in Mark 9, Lord i believe help my unbelief. i know it has never hurt me and my experience is that with perseverance and humility my faith has grown stronger, as it should under the auspices of the Holy Spirit through the RCC.

on a less ethereal note, what system of belief do you find drawing you away from the Lord Jesus and His Church?

i recommend meditating daily on st. peter’s words to Jesus in John 6. when Jesus taught the doctrine of the eucharist to his followers, some were unable to accept the idea of gnawing on Jesus’ body and drinking His blood. instead of trying to keep them by delving further in to the mystery, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked them if they too were going to leave Him. it was as that point st. peter replied, to whom would we go, YOU have the words of eternal life.

so, when doubts enter in to your thoughts, and i believe many believers encounter such doubts, some more strongly than others, pray for your unbelief and meditate on st. peter’s words, to whom would we go. then continue to educate yourself on the divine mysteries Jesus (no one else) revealed such as the Incarnation, the Holy Trinity, the salvation of souls, the resurrection of the body, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the efficacy of prayer, our Sonship in the Father through adoption. all of these doctrines and more are available to mankind only through our Lord Jesus Christ.

no other human being gave us these entries in to the divine mysteries. for what would we reject them.

also, think of the thousands of canonized saints, many from modern times such as St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Gianna Molla, who demonstrate the real effects of the Holy Spirit upon souls in this world.

My suffering combined with God’s apparent absence and silence is what is drawing me away. The system of belief I am tempted to adopt is naturalism, viewing this universe as a closed system, and agnosticism. (Agnosticism: It seems the only way to know God is through direct experience, i.e. private revelation.) Perhaps my problem can be summarized: I am facing the question, “Why isn’t God doing what I think a Father should do?” (e.g. communicate with me, comfort me) and the most likely answer appears to be, “Because He’s not there.”

The rest of this post explains why naturalism appears equally tenable, if not more than Christianity.

Which has more explanatory power: Christianity or naturalism?

Christianity fails to explain suffering. (I say “fails to” rather than “does not” because Christians do attempt to explain it, namely, as ‘a mystery’, ‘something to be lived’, ‘something God entered into to carry us through it’, ‘a blessing to help us grow’, but all of these responses ultimately do not resolve the problem; they only push it away temporarily – hence they are failures.) This problem is quite simply enormous. Moreover, it appears the Church has nothing more to say on the matter, that, apart from special graces to select individuals, suffering will remain not understood until the General Judgment when all is made known.

There are a number of points that naturalism currently does not explain, but might in the future: The past of the universe (currently we have a theory extrapolated back to the Big Bang, but know nothing prior to the singularity); the reliability of the universe (i.e. how we are able to do science, i.e. the apparent order of the universe); the appearance of free will.

The first and last examples I think might be understood by physical models in the future. The second I think is a metaphysical question, but first we must answer: Why must there be an explanation? Isn’t it possible that it’s simply a brute fact? We say God’s existence is a brute fact, i.e. that God being existence itself is a brute fact: Perhaps instead the universe’s reliability, and if it’s infinitely old prior to our extrapolated singularity, then its existence – i.e., perhaps the universe’s existence is the brute fact, rather than God’s.

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