Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rabbis, Miracles, and Barbaric Beliefs

A reader, who can identify himself if he likes, emailed:

Recently you wrote a post arguing against miracles performed by Rabbis. I want to know how those differ from the miracles by Elisha in Kings.
Heheh. Newbie. I've written LOTS of posts on that subject.

But lets go again.

One important difference between bible miracles and the stories told around the mikva is this: I have a religious obligation to believe that what the bible says is true. I have no obligation to believe the same about the dumb stories people repeat around the mikva.

Additionally, the stories told about Rabbis are always fallacious. We never know the answers to important questions such as:

1 - How many times does the rabbi's blessing work? How many times does it fail? (If his success rate is 1 for 500 might there be another explanation for the so-called miracle?)
3 - What was the supplicant's diagnosis, and what's the usual prognosis for it? (Famous example: 99 percent of colds go away on their own; yet people believe that crystals and magic powders "work" as treatments. They don't. The cold goes away on its own.)

Its also never clear that the story is told exactly as it happened. People have a tendency to change facts to make their stories better, sometimes without realizing it, and there's a big difference between saying "I went for a bracha and was cured!" and "I went for a bracha, and a few weeks later after I started some new treatments I was cured."

Finally, if Rabbis really have the power to cure, why aren't they in hospitals 24/7 helping the needy? Why do they sit in their studies, guarded by gabbaim, unwilling to help anyone who doesn't come to begging, often with a large gift in hand?

The behavior of many bal mofsim is identical to the behavior of known non-Jewish frauds like John of God or your local gypsy lady. Moreover, the same types of stories are told about all of them If we don't believe in the non-Jewish frauds, what's the argument for believing in these rabbis?

[Posted with permission.]

- Why are people so eager to suspend their critical thinking and flock to the quacks? (by S)
- Why Quantum Mechanics can't explain miracles (by Barry Simon, Ph.D.)
- Must we believe?
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