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Old 01-15-2001, 10:17 PM   #1
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Post Modern optometry solidifies biblical miracle

In Mark 8:22-25, there is a story about Jesus healing a blind man through a double touch. The first touch enables the man to see "men as trees, walking." The second time Jesus touches the man he can see clearly.

The obvious issues are if he was blind how would he know what trees look like to make the comparison? Also, is Jesus' power waning? Why did it take the Almighty two touches and not one? Or, was the whole incident planned and acted out by someone who could see? Or, was the incident merely made up completely?

In the field of optometry, there are two main roots for blindness. Either there is a physical problem with the eye itself, or there is a nerve problem in the transmission and translation of the signals to/in the brain. In recent years we have come to a point where we are able to correct some eye problems, but still we can not correct brain problems. They have found that patients that have never seen or not seen in numerous years, when they have corrective surgery performed on their eyes, that their brains are not yet able to interpret these new signals. Over time their vision becomes better. Initially though, they have a hard time with depth perception and focusing on whole objects specifically. Stairs pose a pointed challenge and are described by patients as a flat surface of criss-crossing lines. They can see a leaf, and then a root, and then a part of the trunk, but not a whole tree. This interpretive function of the brain is attested by the fact that the brain eventually flips the upside-down image on the retina. This is not automatic though. It takes time.

The accounts his patients made caused D. Keith Mano to remember the Mark account. He then writes, "As far as I can judge this is irrefutable evidence that a miracle did occur at Bethsaida" (National Review, April 21, 1997).

Mano goes on to say that there were few if any eye surgeons in AD 30 and "seldom a decent miracle worker." Only someone recently been given his sight could have experienced something similar to the account of Mark. And if the entire account was fantasy, the fabricator could not have known about post-blind syndrome and would have had Jesus healing in only one touch.

Mano then states that the astonishing part of the miracle is rather the second touch that instantly trains the man's brain.

In context the passage is being used as an audio-visual for the disciples who finally realize that Jesus is the Christ, but define the Christ's purpose differently than Jesus. The gist is something like "you finally see that I am the Christ, but now let me re-educate what this really means. This passage separates Mark in half. The first have working up to the fact that Jesus is the Christ. The second half teaching about what the Christ actually will do contrary to popular ideas.

How can the lesson of the passage assume that the audience understands post-blind syndrome though? The surrounding passages show the gradual steps of the disciples' faith. The observable reaction of the blind man would be sufficient demonstration for the disciples to catch Jesus' drift. Modern understanding only helps to verify the physical/medical plausibility of such observations.

I submit this miracle for scrutiny and if anyone has contrary info to that which I have presented.

There only has to be one verifiable miracle to prove the supernatural. If the supernatural exists, then the skepticism about the Bible (or any other religious work for that matter) because it contains the element of the supernatural is unfounded. Then the incredible must be held in equal standing of evaluation as the credible. In my opinion, disbelief based on someone's inability to understand how something could be is irrational. While the incredible is not necessarily true, it is not to be dismissed biased on personal lack of experience.

Old 01-15-2001, 10:58 PM   #2
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Did you address how 'men as trees' relates to so-called post-blind syndrome? Does Mark address stairs or depth perception?

I think the scripture you cite is just saying he sees things 'shadowy.' And you didn't answer your own very relevant question:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Josephus: would he know what trees look like to make the comparison?</font>
Lastly - you're saying it must be a miracle because that's how blind people really get better, right? Maybe it's just evidence that it wasn't miraculous, instead.

I have a real problem seeing this as some kind of proof that the story has to be true.
Old 01-15-2001, 11:37 PM   #3
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Your right I didn't answer all my questions, I figured they would be assumed.

Ask a person blind from birth what a tree or some other object is shaped like. Most likely they can give a reasonably accurate picture of what a generic tree might look like. The ability of a blind person to refer to something he has felt, or heard described is not a far fetched idea. That's why I didn't mention it.

Secondly, the meaning "shadowy" does not ruin either the literary context, or the physical occurrence. The issue is seeing clearly vs. half-seeing. Even if seeing as trees only means "shadowy" this could also describe the less than 100% visual capability of a recently recovered blind person. Also, if you read what Mano wrote, it was the patient and his wife who first used the example of a tree, not the doctor. I did make an error though, in the case study cited, Mano is not the doctor. Rather the doctor is a Oliver Sacks who documented the recovery in An Anthropologist on Mars.

The only problem with your last suggestion is that the account does not have the surgery required, nor the extreme length of time needed to train the brain, and the extreme coincidental nature of it happening all at the same time as Jesus' unusual remedy is about the same odds as the complete evolutionary tree forming in say a 100 years.
Old 01-16-2001, 02:45 PM   #4
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The accounts his patients made caused D. Keith Mano to remember the Mark account. He then writes, "As far as I can judge this is irrefutable evidence that a miracle did occur at Bethsaida" (National Review, April 21, 1997).</font>
This is an interesting interpretation, but hardly "irrefutable".

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"The most ancient ophthalmologist known to have existed was Iry, a Royal Oculist who lived during the 6th Egyptian Dynasty (2400 BCE)."

"The Ebers Papyrus (1500 BCE) is much more complete than the Smith Surgical Papyrus and reveals a depth of ophthalmological experience which could only have been attained after many years of observation and empirical practice.[6-7] In this papyrus a section is devoted to diseases of the eye and appears mostly to be a pharmacopić with advice on treatment of various ocular problems. There are few anatomical references, such as that four vessels from the temples supply blood to the eyes. However, large numbers of pathological conditions are described and their treatment suggested -- blepharitis, chalazion, ectropion, entropion, trichiasis, pinguecula, leucoma, staphyloma, iritis, ophthalmoplegia, dacryocystitis, and so on."
History of Cataract Surgery
It appears that opthamology existed for milennia before the bible. It's not so surprising, therefore, that there is some verisimilitude in the story of Jesus healing the blind.

[This message has been edited by SingleDad (edited January 16, 2001).]
Old 01-29-2001, 11:57 PM   #5
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This sounds like a "just so" story to me.

There are plenty of examples of healing blindness with one touch.

If the two-touch method were medically or scientifically necessary, then why would such examples exist?

MAT 9:27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.
MAT 9:28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
MAT 9:29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
MAT 9:30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.

MAT 20:30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.
MAT 20:31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.
MAT 20:32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
MAT 20:33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
MAT 20:34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
MAR 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.
MAR 10:48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
MAR 10:49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
MAR 10:50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
MAR 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
MAR 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Old 01-30-2001, 02:15 PM   #6
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These 'miracles' 'happen' within the Bible, reported by preachers with vested interests in spreading the cult of Christianity. Outside the Bible, there are no historical proofs.
Old 01-31-2001, 09:39 PM   #7
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SingleDad:
It appears that opthamology existed for milennia before the bible. It's not so surprising, therefore, that there is some verisimilitude in the story of Jesus healing the blind.</font>
If you mean that someone might understand how blindness works, such that they could make a reasonable sounding story, I could agree, even if I feel that that is reaching a little bit. At best, you say that we have a miracle that at least sounds convincing but that you just don't believe in miracles.

Still, I want to know how much they knew when about ophtamology? I don't recall anything about proper glasses until some time later, though I admit that I don't have a full knowlege of history. I also have to wonder how many people were healed of blindness via any other means? Perhaps their bodies healed naturally, but I seriously doubt that they were able to do neurosurgery way back when [i.e. reconnect nerves properly, I'm not too sure that we can even do that :] In other words; it'd be rather hard for them to have other accounts to draw from...
Old 02-01-2001, 09:01 AM   #8
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">At best, you say that we have a miracle that at least sounds convincing but that you just don't believe in miracles.</font>
No. Josephus is claiming that the apparent versimilitude of the story is itself evidence of its truth, presumably because the bible authors would have had no medical experience to gain such an understanding. My point is that the medical study of eye diseases predates the NT, and constitutes an obvious naturalistic explanation for the versimilitude itself.
Old 02-01-2001, 12:57 PM   #9
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Are there any accounts of the reversing of the blindness of people in the ancient world through medical means? Knowledge of function does not mean knowledge of recovery necessarily. I would be interested in your findings.


Differing aliments cause blindness. A person may have more than one. Some might need a double touch, others might not. Also, the function of Jesus miracles were more than random acts of grace upon needy people. Rather they are used to teach a lesson. The way it is preformed matters as much as what is done. In this case the miracle provides a bridge between the disciples "seeing" that Jesus is the Christ and Jesus having to reeducate them about their false notions about what the Christ would do.

For another example, look for the times Jesus is breaking Jewish oral law when he does a miracle. At those times he is making a statement about Jewish religious law rather than the miracle itself.

Miracles teach theology (especially the way they are aranged in the gospels).
Old 02-02-2001, 08:58 PM   #10
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Jesus also spit in mud and rubbed it in a blind man's eyes. If anything, I think this proves that Jesus followed old wives tails. I think I should go to a center for the blind and try this remedy on them. How many years in jail do you expect me to recieve?

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