You meet a genuine miracle worker. Do you give her moral/metaphysical musings any special weight?

Back at work at last. Let’s see what kind of absurd hypothetical I can whip up during lunch. Incidentally, I have had my brain transplanted into a kryptonite-powered robotic body so that that I can (a) get off insulin, (b) murder Captain Marvel, and © tell people who read these only to complain about them can bite my shiny metal ass.

First the short version. Imagine that you meet an authentic miracle worker, who, in the process of saving someone you love from a grisly death, demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that she can perform Nazarene-like wonders. The MW ascribes her power to God. A philosophical movement is growing up around her. You agree with some of the MW’s teachings and disagree with others; a few you would judge to be bullshit if they came from any ordinary mortal. Does you give her teachings any special credence because of her supernatrual power?

That’s enough to vote on, I think. The poll will be up in a moment. If you want more detail, check the next post, which should be up 60 seconds after the poll is.

On a sunny, cloudless day, you go to visit a loved one–best friend, favorite sibling, whatever–to find their house has become a raging inferno. Fire fighters are attempting a rescue. As you watch the roof collapses. Just then, a woman you’ve never seen before rushes up and raises her hands. Instantly a thunderhead appears and a clouseburst begins. Once the fire is doused, the woman lowers her hands, and the rain stops. The fire fighters bring out your loved one and two of their own, all three badly injured. The strange woman lays hands on your loved one, whose burns and fractures heal in seconds. She heals one of the fire fighters just as quickly; the second dies before she can get to him. She apologizes, cries briefly, and slips away.

Not surprisingly, this makes the news, though most people don’t believe the miraculous parts. But you’ve seen too much to doubt, and your loved one confirms what you saw. The news coverage includes one good picture of the strange woman. Through the much-less-impressive magic of crowd-sourching, you discover that the miracle-worker’s name is Anne, that’s she’s a woodworker and handyperson, and she has a webpage dedicated to her moral and metaphysical musings. She claims that her powers come from God (whom she refuses to identify as male or female), though denying that she herself is divine.

Most of Anne’s writings are about social justice and charity, and there’s also a space to ask for help and healing. She emphasizes that she has limits that prevent her from helping everyone who deserves it, and that she cannot raise the dead. There’s also a good bit about her philosophy too. Some of her teachings are things you agree with; some are matters you find debatable; a few are notions you actively oppose. None of it is hateful; she opposes violence and discriminationin in all forms. There is a small movement growing up around her. Once a month she and her followers meet at a local lake to (a) gather needfuls to the impoverished, and (b) talk about her teachings. Anyone who wishes to support or repay her work is invited to bring donations to this event–but only food, clothing, and so forth, not money. She won’t accept more than a pizza and six-pack even from people whose lives she has saved. Anyone who tries to collect money on her behalf, Anne emphasizes, is lying, as is anyone who suggests that she be worshipped or that she wants any two particular people to become romantically or sexually involved.

Do you give any special credence to Anne’s teachings because of her miraculous powers? Why or why not?

Welcome back, Skald! Hope the robotic body is working out well for you.

Commendable that Anne’s not trying to cash in or to develop a cult around her. I might give her views a little extra credence - she does seem to be channeling supernatural powers, after all, suggesting God actively favors her - but not so much that I’d turn off my own brain. If she can’t persuade me intellectually and logically that what she says is so, then she can do as many good works as she wants and I still would not feel bound to follow her teachings.

I can complain about how I hate these and still answer right? Because I can’t look away! (Glad you’re feeling better.)

My stance is: Just because Anne is pretty fly at casting Call Storm and Cure Moderate Wounds, that doesn’t mean she knows what the hell she’s talking about when it comes to anything else. I’m certainly not going to start talking to her about it, because she’ll probably get all new agey and start rambling about crystals and ask to do my star chart or whatever. I have things to do.

The OP says that your loved one and the fire fighters all were “badly injured,” including burns and fractures; that doesn’t sound like “moderate wounds” to me. But I don’t know how D&D spells work.

Anyway, your position doesn’t seem entirely reasonable to me. I’m assuming that you disbelieve in magic and miracles, or rather that the hypothetical you did until Anne performed her miracles right in front of you. Doesn’t she, at a minimum, know more about the supernatural than you, and have more credence on, say, the issue of whether God exists?

Yes, but then I’ll mock out, threaten to beat you with my walking stick, and go into a a coughing fit when I try. :wink:

“Miraculous” powers may well be the result of tech. I give her philosophical natterings no greater weight because she can do some some things I cannot at the moment explain.

Miracles alone are not enough to earn credibility.

For starters, there’s always the possibility that it is faked in a way I can’t detect. Just because someone is a really good fraud doesn’t mean they’re right. Even if she convinced James Randi and claimed his monetary prize, that only reduces the odds that she’s faking it.

Many of the people faking it are also convincing themselves. I know a lot of people who claim all kinds of ridiculous powers, and confirmation bias is their best friend. They just use free association and/or dreams to generate random ideas until one is confirmed by events or people, thereby “proving” their psychic ability.

Then there’s the issue that just about every belief system that allows for miracles also allows for some kind of false prophet, evil spirit or demonic equivalent. So even within the teachings of a particular religion, you are usually cautioned not to believe any random person just because of miracles.

Unless I missed it, she never said (or, you never said that she said) that her teachings come from God.

If she doesn’t claim to have any special insight or revelation from God, I’m not sure why I should give her opinions any more (or less) weight than anybody else’s.

Tough call. This would apparently force you to believe in a loving God who allows a house to burn down and three people to be gravely injured, but at the same time empowers an agent to stop the house from burning down (futher) and to heal (two out of three) of the injured. That’s inscrutable even for God.

So I’m going to say that healing and weather control powers are indicative of some powerful intelligent agency, but not necessarily an omnipotent or omniscient one or even an ethical one. That said, unless some of your miracle worker’s teachings are actively abhorrent, it seems worth listening to them, if only because being attentive to powers that can hand out weather control and healing abilities is not a bad idea.

No, for all we know she was raised in some crazy cult and learned her beliefs at the knee of an old man who was diddling the children in the cult. Maybe in actuality she’s some X-men type mutant who emanates, er, healing rays. Maybe she’s got some power to unleash the healing powers that are, um, latent in ALL of us. She needs to be tested.

No. Her powers do not confer or imply wisdom. Her ideas stand or fall on their own merit.

Yeah, this. That she ascribes her powers to God means nothing more than do football players who ascribe their physical abilities to God. That’s nothing more than what we’d expect from a theistic person raised in our society.

If the powers truly do exist, and can be tested, we may find out that it was God all along, but there’s a multitude of other possible explanations, and it would be wrong to immediately conclude that God did it.

Note that the OP asks about her metaphysical opinions as well as her moral ones. Why don’t Anne’s supernatural powers give credence to the idea of God?

I’m an atheist, pretty much. But my atheism is the result of a total lack of evidence for the existence of deities. Seems to me that Anne’s powers and claims would BE such evidence, in the exact same way that nuclear bomb is evidence of the correctness of atomic theory.

Football players are not smacking around the laws of physics the way Anne is.

Say you met a person with a talisman of the Green Lantern power ring type who, in your presence, used it to put down a kaiju that began its rampage by eating the International Space Station and clearly flew in from beyond the orbit of the moon. If, when asked the ring’s origin, he replied, “I got it from a race of superficially-humanoid aliens who run an interstellar police force, and, incidentally, the galaxy is chock full of intelligent alien species, some of which are violent assholes, so my employers issued me this gizmo to protect the Earth as necessary,” wouldn’t he have more credibility than people who claimed that FTL is impossible and humanity is alone in the universe?

Well, you’re wrong. It would be evidence of something unknown. Period. To ascribe an explanation to a total unknown would be an act of faith. Without testing – blind faith.

This is a whole lot more evidence than you present in the OP. First, a physical object that can be examined and tested. Second, actual evidence (radar tracks, kaiju pieces, etc) that some kind of extra-terrestrial civilization in fact exists, which is at least minimally supportive of the ideas espoused by the talisman guy.

I think you are unnecessarily multiplying entities. If the hypothetical were set in the Marvel Universe, where there’s at least two women wandering about telling the storm clouds what to do and when and countless other superpowered but not-deity beings, calling her a mutant would be reasonable. But in “our” world, Anne would be unique.

And she’s acting very unlike any cult leader. “No, you don’t need to worship me and certainly don’t have to give me any money; I’ve got a job, thanks. And anybody who says they’re collecting money on my behalf is full of crap. If you want to be helpful, please gather up your gently used clothes and toys so we can donate them to this homeless shelter.”

I didn’t write that Anne’s powers were PROOF of God’s existence, just that they were heretofore-unavailable evidence.

My father believes in faith healing. I don’t, because there’s tons of occasions when it’s prayed for but doesn’t happen and no verifiable instances of it actually happening. But Anne, if she existed, would be such an instance, even if her powers are fairly limited (as I intended when writing the OP but did not specify for reasons of space).

She could be mistaken or lying about the source of her powers. Maybe she got bitten by a radioactive spider. Maybe she got a magic thingy from a talking lion in the back of her closet. Maybe she’s an alien who totally groks sharing water. Maybe she’s evil and running a false flag op to build her rep before dumping a bucket of kittens into a sausage grinder.

How is getting her powers from Aslan not consistent with Anne’s claims?

Hear, hear. An unexplainable effect cannot be used as a bootstrap to hoist a bunch of other unsupportable claims. Maybe the guy can cure diseases, or part water, or fly through the air like Superman: how the hell does that suggest “God?” There’s a gigantic middle step missing!

I interpreted you as saying evidence of deities. Was that your intent? If so, that’s simply wrong, IMO.