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What’s the value in having faith in a myth?

February 9, 2011

In this week’s primary lesson, “Lesson 7: Faith in Jesus Christ,” the teacher is asked to invite someone into class to bear testimony of Jesus. After the visitor leaves, the teacher is instructed to ask the children whether someone who was not in the class saw the visitor. If not, how could that person know that there was a visitor in class?

The lesson states, “Help the children understand that the person not present did not see the visitor here. However, if the class explained that the visitor came, the person would probably believe it.” And “Help the children understand that we can have faith that Jesus lives and loves us because of the scriptures and the testimonies of truthful people.”

What is wrong with this argument? It ignores the shading of probability.

Is it probable that Brother So-and-so visited the class? Sure, because we know that he exists. We’ve seen him and we’ve talked to him.

But is it probable that someone who lived 2,000 years ago in the Middle East actually survived his own death, is now immortal, and that he actually knows my kids, Joshua and Ethan, right here in Ames, Iowa? No, this is not at all probable.

It is a fallacy of false equivalents.

The teacher is also expected to share the story of how Jesus restored sight to the blind Bartimæus.

When the Roman emperor Vespasian (69-79 CE) heals a blind man with his spit, we understand this as myth.

When the early Roman god Quirinus heals the blind, we understand this as a myth.

When the Spartan king Tyndareus heals the blind, we understand this as a myth.

When the Greek god Hyppolytus heals the blind, we understand this as a myth.

When the Indian messiah Krishna heals the blind, we understand this as a myth.

When Hercules (Alcidesheals the blind, we understand this as a myth.

When Pythagoras heals the blind, we understand this as a myth.

So why when Jesus is said to have healed a blind man, this isn’t a myth?

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One Comment
  1. Carrie permalink

    The standard LDS response to that is that men were inspired with those myths so when the real thing came along (Christ) he would be accepted. Along those same lines, people like Mohammed and Buddha were given inspiration to develop “preparatory religions” so people would be prepared to accept the “true’
    gospel. I know that’s a lot of bs, but when you’re Mormon you have to justify in your mind why of the 24 billion people that have lived on the earth, only 13 million have joined the church (and we’re not talking about the amount that are active!) and not many more than that have actually heard of the church!

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