REPLY #68e TO|
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This is the fifth of a nine-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
Second, as stated above, the Bible also says that Satan can perform miracles.
Furthermore, Jesus states that his followers will also be able to perform
miracles. In addition, Exodus tells of the ability of the magicians of Pharaoh
to duplicate some of the "miracles" performed by Moses and Aaron (who, of
course, not divine in their own right).
(R) Some of this was already discussed above. The Bible indicates that one of
Satan's tactics in his effort to deceive humankind is to employ counterfeit
miracles (Rev. 16:14).
(MB) The verse actually says "For they are the spirits of
devils, working miracles, ..." There is not one single word that indicates that
these were "counterfeit" miracles or that there was any effort and deceiving
(R) Exodus 7:11 states, "But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers;
so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their
enchantments." Each of the other verses makes a similar claim. The passage
states that the feats of Pharaoh's magicians were performed "by their [magical]
(MB) "Magic" is something supernatural and you said before that miracles are
supernatural events. So, the two are synonymous.
(R) Some commentators assert that the feats of the magicians were merely
(MB) No doubt some have done so. Of course, they would never resort to saying
that Moses and Aaron were only performing tricks, would they?
(R) Perhaps the magicians had enchanted snakes so that they became stiff and
appeared to be rods. When cast down upon the floor, they came out of their
trance and began to move as snakes.
(MB) Why didn't Moses and Aaron do the same
(R) Some say these were acts of Satan, who actually turned the rods of the
magicians into snakes.
(MB) This is even less plausible. There is no indication from any Biblical
account that Satan was influencing the Egyptians in any way. If he was, why did
he do nothing to counter the bloodied waters, the locust, the frogs, the hail,
or any other plague?
(R) This, however, is not plausible in view of the fact that only God can create
life, as even the magicians later recognized (Ex. 8:18-19).
(MB) The verses say nothing of the sort. They only say
that Pharaoh's magicians could not duplicate the feat of bringing forth lice.
Then, they say to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God". Isn't that a rather
strange thing for worshippers of Ra to say? Of course, we can't forget that the
story is told from the Hebrew point of view.
(R) Whatever explanation one might take regarding these feats, one common point
holds for every account and is found in the text itself. It is clear that by
whatever power they performed these feats, they were not accomplished by the
power of God. Rather, they were performed "by their enchantments."
(MB) Why should it be any other way? How could the magicians have done anything
by any influence of God when they didn't even worship God and probably didn't
even acknowledge that he existed? Also, you are presuming that all supernatural
events must be a result of the influence of God when there is no reason to
accept this notion whatsoever. Why couldn't such events result from the
influence of any other entity (divine or otherwise)? In fact, why must any such
events require any outside influence at all?
(R) The purpose of these acts was to convince Pharaoh that his magicians
possessed as much power as Moses and Aaron, and it was not necessary for Pharaoh
to yield to their request to let Israel go. It worked, at least for the first
three encounters. However, when Moses and Aaron, by the power of God, brought
forth lice from the sand, the magicians were not able to counterfeit this
miracle. They could only exclaim, "This is the finger of God" (Ex. 8:19).
Although the magicians appeared to turn their rods into snakes, their rods were
swallowed up by Aaron's rod, indicating superiority.
(MB) You're forgetting whose side of the story is being told in the Biblical
account. Why would they not write the story to show how their side was better?
Why not even exaggerate a bit (or several bits) just for effect? Once again,
you're committing the circular reasoning fallacy of assuming the truth of the
Bible prior to quoting from it to try to prove that it is true.
(R) Although the magicians could turn water to blood, they could not reverse the
(MB) Neither could Moses or Aaron. So, what's your
(R) Although the magicians could bring forth frogs, they could not get rid of
(MB) Same song, second verse...
(R) Their acts were supernormal, not supernatural.
(MB) What's the difference between "supernormal" and
(R) Although the magicians could copy some of the miracles of Moses and Aaron,
their message was connected with error.
(MB) Oh? How so?
(R) Basically they copied the miracles of God's chosen men in order to convince
Pharaoh that the God of the Hebrews was no more powerful than the gods of
(MB) Sounds like a reasonable goal, eh?
(R) Although Pharaoh's magicians were able to copy the first three miracles
performed by God through Moses and Aaron, there came a point at which their
enchantments were no longer able to counterfeit the power of God.
(MB) This assumes that the Egyptian gods were even interested in continuing the
"battle". Perhaps they were angry with Pharaoh and abandoned him to the ravages
of Yahweh. If so, who's to say that they couldn't easily have countered
everything that was thrown their way had they so desired?
Therefore, miracles themselves are not sufficient cause to believe in the
divinity of the performer.
(R) Satanic miracles are not, divine miracles are. How do we know the
difference? As I said before, we need to test the spirit (1 John 4:2).
(MB) That verse does not prove anything except that believers believe and
non-believers do not. It says nothing about who can or can't perform miracles
and it certainly says nothing about how one is to look at a miracle and tell
from where it ultimately came.
Third, we only have the Bible's say-so that any miracles were actually
performed. There is no independent verification of any of the miracles
attributed to Jesus (or to anybody else, for that matter).
(R) If the Bible is the Word of God, then the miracles inside are certainly
(MB) That's *still* not true. The miracle stories could be parables or other
literary devices that are not supposed to be taken literally but which are
supposed to be used to illustrate some larger point.
(R) How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? It's unity and prophecy are a
(MB) I'll be interested to see if you still support that claim after reading the
rebuttals I've previously provided and the one I am about to provide to your
(R) Since I know you love prophecy so much, lets look at another example from
the Old Testament concerning the timing of the Messiah's coming. Around 537 BC,
Daniel received a prophecy from the angel Gabriel. Daniel 9:24-26
(MB) Outstanding!! You brought this one up before I preempted you by doing it
myself. This one is quite famous and quite easily devastated. Let's get to the
(R) "Seventy sevens are determined for your people and for your holy city, to
finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for
iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy
and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going
forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince,
there shall be seven sevens and sixty two sevens; the street shall be built
again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty two sevens
the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince
who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." (Daniel
(MB) OK, there's the "prophecy" (except for the curious omission of its final
phrase "...and the end thereof shall be with a flood"). Now, let's see how you
will try to torture it into an attempt to predict the coming of Jesus and
then we'll see just where the whole thing falls apart...
(R) This message pinpointed the time of the coming of the long awaited "Messiah
the Prince." At the time of Gabriel's visit to Daniel, Jerusalem was desolate.
Most of the Israelites had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The city of
Jerusalem, including the temple had been destroyed 70 years earlier. The Hebrew
people, however, were about to be freed by the Medo-Persian king Cyrus.
The prophecy states that "seventy sevens" are determined for the people
of Israel. In Hebrew the word translated as "sevens" is the plural form of the
word "shabua", which literally means a week of years; much like the English word
decade means ten years.
(MB) That word actually means what we understand as a "week" -- a
period of seven days. Apologists have to transmogrify it into a "week of years"
to make their harmonizations work. Unfortunately, as I shall show, they *still*
fail quite pathetically.
That same Hebrew word is used in Daniel 10:2 ("I Daniel was mourning three
full weeks") and in Daniel 10:3 ("I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh
nor wine in my mouth...till three whole weeks are fulfilled"). Are you really
going to try to claim that Daniel mourned and fasted for 21 years instead of 21
(R) The prophecy declares that Daniel should "know and understand" that from the
going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah
the Prince comes, that there will be sixty two sevens and seven sevens of years.
Therefore, if a seven (shabua) is seven years, then 69 sevens is 483 years (69 x
(MB) The math is good, but the history is terrible. The decree of Cyrus was
issued in 536 BCE. Jesus was born in 4 BCE. That means that there are actually
532 years between those two events and not 483 years. Pretty poor prediction,
(R) Some scholars believe that at that time in history most of the known ancient
calendars calculated a year as 360 days (Chinese, Mayan, Egyptian, Hebrew,
Babylonian and many others).
(MB) You're mixing lunar and solar calendars here. Solar calendars normally had
12 months of 30 days each, but also added on five extra days at the end of the
year to keep the calendar in synch with the actual dates of yearly events like
the vernal equinox and winter solstice. Lunar calendars have months of 29 or 30
days in accordance with the cyclic nature of the phases of the Moon. Since a
12-month lunar calendar has only 354 or 355 days, and extra month must be added
every now and then to keep the calendar somewhat aligned with the equinoxes and
solstices. The Jewish calendar adds intercalary months seven times within a
19-year cycle to keep things more or less straight.
None of this means that the Earth actually orbited the Sun in only 360 days
a few thousand years ago.
(R) Some scholars believe an astronomical event (e.g., a close passing of Mars,
a meteor or comet striking the earth) lengthened the time the earth takes to
rotate one time around the sun to the current 365.25 days per year.
(MB) That's the garbage posited by Immanuel Velikovsky, who also tries to use
close approaches of Mars and Venus to explain the plagues inflicted on Egypt.
His work has been lambasted and refuted so thoroughly that only a complete
scientific incompetent could still support it. The major problem for the
timeline you are proposing is that any event violent enough to change the
Earth's year from 360 to just over 365 days would have totally devastated the
planet to a degree that all life above the bacterial level would have been
obliterated along with producing a destruction of its surface to such a degree
that it would have taken millions of years to stabilize. Obviously, no
such things have happened at any time since Man has walked the surface of the
(R) Scholars also believe that for prophetic calendars the Jews used a 360 day
(MB) Why would they do any such thing? This would have no relationship to any
calendar system that they were using and would prove extremely difficult to
correlate with lunar calendars into coherent predictions that could have had
any hope of accuracy.
(R) Sir Robert Anderson, in his book THE COMING PRINCE, applied this principle
of a 360 day calendar year to the 483 years, and made an astounding discovery.
Anderson multiplied the 360 days per calendar year by the 483 years to get
173,880 days. Gabriel was telling Daniel that 173,880 days after the command is
given to "restore and rebuild Jerusalem" the Messiah would come.
(MB) Yeah, I'd say that this was an "astounding" discovery all right --
astoundingly *wrong*. If you divide 173,880 days by the actual length in days
of an Earthly year, you will get 476 years. Since I've already shown that the
483 year figure is quite wrong, Anderson's 476 years is even *more* wrong! Of
course, this should be expected since he is using a bogus methodology to
produce his figure in the first place.
(R) Remember, at the time this prophecy was given, the city of Jerusalem was
desolate. Is there a record of a command such as this recorded anywhere in
In the second chapter of the book of Nehemiah it
"In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of the reign of
Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took wine and gave it to the king. Now
I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore, the king said to me '
why is your face sad, since you are not sick?'"
(MB) Let me interject a historical side note at this point. We must assume that
the author of Nehemiah is referring to Artaxerxes I. There was another
Artaxerxes, but he reigned after Nehemiah was written. If this assumption is
correct, we can place the twentieth year of his reign in 446-445 BCE. This
would be approximately 90 years after the decree from Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem
and some 70 years after the completion of the Second Temple. At this time,
Jerusalem was having problems with a combination of Persians and Samaritans and
the city walls had been destroyed. The story of Nehemiah begins with his
audience before Artaxerxes in an attempt to gain the king's approval to rebuild
the walls. According to Josephus, Nehemiah got the king's blessings and arrived
in Jerusalem in 440 BCE to oversee the work.
(R) Nehemiah went on to explain that he was sad because he had heard a report
that the city of his people, Jerusalem, was still desolate.
(MB) The city could hardly be "still desolate" since the second temple had been
finished for about 70 years. It was only the walls that had been destroyed and
which needed to be rebuilt. Nehemiah tells Artaxerxes that the city "lieth
waste" (i.e., that it has been ravaged by the recent war with the Persians and
Samaritans) and that "the gates thereof are consumed with fire". The walls
would obviously bear the brunt of the initial onslaught and would need to be the
first thing repaired if the city within had any hope of being protected from
(R) The 1990 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica states that Artaxerxes
Longimanus ascended to the throne of the Medo-Persian empire in July 465 BCE By
Hebrew tradition, when the day of the month is not specifically stated, it is
given to be the first day of the month. So, the day of the decree by Artaxerxes
was the first day of the Hebrew month Nisan 445 BCE The first day of Nisan in
445 BCE corresponds to the 14th day of March. This was verified by astronomical
calculations at the British Royal Observatory and reported by Sir Robert
(MB) I doubt that the exact day will make much difference, but let's see where
you're going with this...
(R) Remember that the prophecy states that 69 weeks of years (173,880 days)
after the command goes forth to restore the city of Jerusalem the Messiah will
(MB) Remember that the command to restore the city was issued by Cyrus in 536
BCE, that "weeks" doesn't mean "seven years", and that there is no justification
for the use of a 360-day prophetic year?
(R) If we count 173,880 days forward from the fourteenth of March 445 BCE, we
come to April sixth, 32 CE Again, this date was verified by the British Royal
Observatory. Here are the calculations: March 14th 445 BCE to March 14th 32 CE
is 476 years (1 BC to 1 CE is one year. There is no year zero.)
476 x 365 days per year = 173,740 days
Add for leap years = 116 days
March 14th to April 6th = 24 days
Total = 173,880 days!
(MB) Wonderful! Sir Robert wins a cookie for his ability to do simple math! Too
bad several bogus assumptions have to be lumped into it in order to produce this
BTW, I almost hate to point this out, but March 14th to April 6th is 23
days, not 24. Count it out on your fingers if you have to. In addition,
remember that you already accounted for March 14, 32 CE in the first step of
(R) What happened on April 6th 32 CE? According to Anderson's calculations a
humble carpenter rode into the east gate of Jerusalem on a donkey while the
crowds cried "Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
Lord!" This man's name was Jesus of Nazareth and this was the first day that he
allowed his followers to proclaim him as their Messiah. He had previously told
them that his day had not yet come.
(MB) The day of his death, you mean. He had revealed himself to be the Messiah
at least as early as his visit to Samaria and his conversation with the woman at
the well (John, Chapter 4) and had at least suggested it back as early as his
(MB) Of course. As of yet, there's no reason not to
(R) Read on.
(MB) With increasing pleasure, I assure you!
(R) Is there any other way to check the accuracy of this date?
(MB) Depends on how much more strange math and stranger assumptions you have
(MB) I should have guessed...
(R) In Chapter three of the gospel written by the Roman physician Luke, it
states that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Jesus was
baptized by John the Baptist and began his ministry.
(MB) Out of curiosity, where did you copy this from? This is not your style of
writing and it would be appropriate for you to properly cite your source. This
would also enable those who read your arguments to check out the original source
material for themselves.
(R) The 1990 Encyclopedia Britannica states that the reign of Caesar Tiberius
started on August 19, 14 CE. Most scholars believe Jesus was baptized in the
fall season. Consequently, according to Luke, chapter three, the ministry of
Jesus started with his baptism in the fall of the fifteenth year of the reign of
Caesar Tiberius and (according to most biblical scholars) lasted four Passovers
or 3 1/2 years.
(MB) OK, sounds reasonable so far.
(R) The first Passover of Jesus' ministry would have been in the spring of 29
CE. The fourth Passover of his ministry was the day of his crucifixion and
would have fallen in the year 32 CE.
(MB) OOPS!! Here's the fatal flaw in the rhetorical
ointment. The fall of the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius would have begun
in September, 29 CE which is when Jesus would have started his ministry. Since
Passover is a springtime festival, the first Passover of Jesus' ministry would,
therefore, have been observed in the spring of 30 CE. This correllates with the
traditional date of the crucifixion of Jesus which is supposed to have happened
on the 15th day of Nisan, in the year 33 CE.
(R) The Passover in that year fell on April 10. Remarkably, according to Robert
Anderson and the British Royal Observatory, the Sunday before that Passover was
(MB) I guess that Sir Robert needs to recalculate his days based on the correct
year, eh? Gee, if only Tiberius had begun to reign in January instead of in
August. Then, Sir Robert may have had a better case (although it would still
suffer from the other problems mentioned earlier). But, as so often happens, a
cute story gets screwed up by an ugly fact.
(R) That day, April 6, 32 CE, was exactly 173,880 days after Artaxerxes gave the
decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem on March 14, 445 BCE! That day was the
first day that Jesus of Nazareth allowed his disciples to proclaim him as
(MB) This points out one additional problem with the calculation. You said
earlier that March 14, 445 BCE is equal to the 1st day of Nisan. If Jesus was
crucified on Nisan 15, then Palm Sunday (Sir Robert's April 6) was on Nisan 10.
That means that the lunar year equated with 32 CE was only 10 days old on Palm
Sunday. But, Sir Robert adds an additional 24 days to the end of his
calculation to end up with the proper total number of days after his new
calculation year began on March 14, 32 CE. So, in addition to the figuring
getting the wrong year (32 CE vs 33 CE), he also misses the day by 14 days! Of
course, this is all made a moot point by understanding that he started the whole
business off from the wrong starting point in the first place. It just gets
worse and worse, but I'll bet that you'll still hold this up as a triumphant
and transcendant proof, right?
(R) This prophecy is one of the many proofs that God transcends time and is
able to see the beginning of time from the end with incredible
(MB) Gee, look how I was able to predict your response! I guess this proves
either that I'm God or that I'm a divinely-inspired prophet, eh?
Seriously, I'm going to love to see how you'll try to wriggle your way out
of this one and still maintain any semblance of a coherent argument.
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