The Hindu Milk Miracle

Since there is much less evidence to support a belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus than there is to support a belief in the Hindu Milk Miracle of 1995, why do Christians not believe in the reality of the Hindu Pantheon? Cultural bias?

The Hindu Milk Miracle:

Never before in history has a simultaneous miracle occurred on such a global scale. Television stations (among them CNN and BBC), radio and newspapers (among them Washington post, New York Times, The Guardian and Daily Express) eagerly covered this unique phenomenon, and even sceptical journalists held their milk-filled spoons to the statues of gods - and watched as the milk disappeared.

It all began on September 21st when an otherwise ordinary man in New Delhi dreamt that Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Wisdom, craved a little milk. Upon awakening, he rushed in the dark before dawn to the nearest temple, where a skeptical priest allowed him to proffer a spoonful of milk to the small stone image. Both watched in astonishment as it disappeared, magically consumed by the God.

What followed is unprecedented in modern Hindu history. Within hours news had spread like a brush fire across India that Ganesha was accepting milk offerings. Tens of millions of people of all ages flocked to the nation’s temples. The unworldly happening brought worldly New Delhi to a standstill, and its vast stocks of milk - more than a million liters - sold out within hours. Just as suddenly as it started in India, it stopped in just 24 hours. –

Many liters of milk dissappeared through this tiny Ganesh murthi in Mumbai. Note the sluice around the stone and the towel beneath the statue (and the cricital gazes of the witnesses). A unperceived draining of the milk is impossible. Source: India Today, 26.5.1995

Video [Windows Media Player required] →

Dear friends,

 Well I am in an upbeat mood.  I have been going to the
 temple regularly where the milk miracle has been
 happening. The last few times I went, nobody had said
 anything about it, or made any offerings, and I was 
 beginning to wonder if it was still happening -
 especially if the people there had stopped showing an
 interest in it. It was also my perception, the last
 time I gave, that the milk was dissapearing more and
 more slowly, as if the energy 'allocated' by the Powers
 That Be was running out.
 Well I was wrong!
 I went on Friday night, to the evening pooga
 (ceremony). It had been ten days since I last gave milk
 (and watched it dissapear of course!). I was also
 feeling a bit down because I had been having a rather
 hard week (karma and all that). After the pooga fin-
 ished, and people had finished singing bhajans (hymns),
 I didn't want to go - because of the way going to
 something like a church service makes you feel better 
 inside, and you don't really want to leave the comfort-
 able presence that you feel, and go back to the cold
 world waiting outside. 
 I was just about to leave, when I was asked if I wanted
 to give milk - well it was like asking a child if you
 want candy. My face lit up and I was feeling a quiet
 kind of excitement inside, at the anticipation of it. 
 I was also anxious that it might not happen this time,
 and that the miracle really had stopped.
  I have had this same kind of experience every time I
 gave - there is this moment of holding your breath, as
 you hold the spoon to the statue,and initially nothing
 seems to happen - then suddenly it starts! And you 
 can see that the milk is dissapearing.
 Same thing this time. the person who had asked me, as
 usual, went first. Immediately you could see the milk
 being sucked up the side of the spoon that was touching
 the trunk (Ganesha is the elephant-headed god),however
 the level of the milk did not visibly appear to be
 going down - it seemed like this time it was going to
 be a very slow process.
 I started reciting a prayer under my breath, and
 inwardly appealing to the Lord, especially in connect-
 ion to His manifestation as the Hindu avatar Lord
 Krishna. Almost immediately the milk started to visibly
 dissapear ( oxymoron?!) - and extremely quickly, as if
 there was this sudden downpour of energy from Up 
 Above. The milk drained down to the last few drops
 within say 10 seconds or so.
 Then I had my turn. Then about 3 or 4 others, then I
 had a second turn (call it spiritual greed!). The milk
 dissapeared very quickly in all cases - about 10 or 20
 seconds each. Then somebody else had the final go - 
 this time it was a very slow start, as if the energy
 was once again running out. But once the spoon was half
 empty, you could easily see the milk disspapearing
 before your very eyes.
 So the miracle has been happening here for nearly 8
 weeks now, and may be one of the few, or only places
 where it still continues.
 As I said above - it put me into a very upbeat mood,
 just to experience with my own eyes, this subtle but
 engaging sign of the Lord's Presence among us, and the
 reality of his Return to our world.
 with much love,
 Jeremy Traylen        
 Quote from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita ( 4:7 )
 yada yada hi dharmasya  
   glanir bhavati bharata        
 abhyutthanam adharmasya 
   tadatmanam srjamy aham         
 Whenever and wherever there is a decline in
   O descendant of Bharata
 And a predominant rise of unrighteousness
  At that time I Myself will come

Um, well from the picture you display I can give you a reasonable explantion but, since I am not physically there it could only be an assumption. Certain stones can absorb fluids and in the temperatures that India reaches the fluids can be displaced readily. Certain stones can absorb much more than their size would seem to allow. The cloth underneath is interesting as is the sluice but, those can be diversionary.

yet … without being allowed to examine I can only claim that it is truly unusual.

Wow, I didn’t know you believed in the supernatural, Reality Check. Learn something new every day. Was your interest in this phenomenon sparked by seeing it happen yourself, or was it a friend of yours?

I’m not asking you to assign any meaning whatsoever to this miracle. Maybe we can discuss that issue later in this thread or in a separate thread. All I’m asking is this: Since the alleged eyewitness testimony of a few largely anonymous dead persons seems very persuasive to you in the case of Jesus’ resurrection, do you believe that this miracle – a miracle which was witnessed by millions, many of whom are still living today – also occurred?

Seems like a simple enough question but I can certainly understand your reluctance to answer it.

Here’s the gist of the thread, Kris. Lots of Christians believe that Jesus was literally resurrected from the dead largely on the basis of alleged eyewitness testimony from a handful of mostly, if not entirely, anonymous dead people.

If the hearsay evidence from a few people is convincing in the case of one miracle then why isn’t first-hand eyewitness testimony of thousands of people convincing in the case of another miracle?

Reality Check

Jeez, I dunno- I haven’t spent nearly as much time studying it. Maybe! Is there something terribly wrong with all these millions of accounts such that I ought not believe it? Seems like if what your saying is true, this is way more damning for a materialist than it is for a Christian. I mean, do you know some super secret reason why a person ought not believe in the Hindu Milk Miracle that justifies your atheism/materialism, and you just aren’t going to tell me what it is, because you think that supernatural stuff happening in the context of other religions undermines Christianity? That would be pretty duplicitous, not to mention goofy.

So which is it, does the Hindu Milk Miracle utterly defeat non-supernatural world views, or is there some reason why this miracle isn't really miraculous at all, and you're holding out on us?

No, not at all, at least not according to your epistemology. If you are consistent, then it seems that you should believe it. You should believe in the Hindu pantheon, too. To not do so, and even worse, to not give a reason for not doing so, kind of leaves you open to the charge of hypocrisy, doesn’t it?

Sorry, I edited my post after you started replying, it looks like, so I’ll keep it brief. We’re agreeing, then, that the Hindu Milk Miracle utterly defeats supernaturalism and a person ought not be a materialist, then?

What we’re agreeing upon is that if one believes that eyewitness testimony trumps the evidence provided by well-established scientific conclusion then it ought to do so in every instance in which such eyewitness accounts are available.

I don’t believe that eyewitness accounts do trump the evidence provided by well-established scientific conclusion, so I’m not obligated to accept the so-called Hindu Milk Miracle as factual.

You, OTOH, well, it seems as if you are so obligated.

Reality Check

\It would be most handy to have an epistemic rule that allowed me to ignore the testimony of millions of people if it contradicted what I wished to believe. How fortuitous for you!

Yes, quite so. Unfortunately, my epistemology requires me to re-examine my beliefs when things occur that seem to contradict them, so I am in a weaker position with regards to this than you are. It’s a burden I’ve taken for myself by justifying my beliefs the way I do.

Are you familiar with the story of Moses turning his staff into a snake? It seems him and a bunch of Egyptian priests were having a sort of miraculous showdown.  They all turned their staves into snakes, but Moses did the same, and his ate all of theirs.  But I mean, they [i]did[/i] turn their staves into snakes, just the same.  You suppose Moses was obligated to accept the reality of the Egyptian pantheon?

Does this mean that we should add the belief “The earth is flat” to your collection of nutty beliefs that you accept just because some people believe it?

BTW, this is nothing that I “wish” to believe. Who wouldn’t want to believe in an eternal paradise in which one might be reunited with long lost loved ones. And I did believe that for a long time. It broke my heart when I found out that it was a lie. As much as I hated it accepting it (and still do), I had to. Intellectual integrity demanded it.

I mean, if eating nothing but candy and ice cream were actually a healthful diet, I would have no trouble whatsoever believing that proposition to be true. It would be a wonderful world for me if it were true. Unfortunately, as much as I may wish it were true, it isn’t. And I live with that truth.

Unlike you apparently, I’ve learned that scientific conclusions are about the most reliably true descriptions of reality that we have. They are not absolutely true, no, but they are reliably true; much more reliably true than, say, human testimony – and it ain’t even close between the two.

. . . except in the case of your faith. And when it is a case of your faith you have one simple rule: the bible tells me so. You believe that a man walked on water. Why? the bible tells you so. You believe that man was born of a virgin. Why? the bible tells you so. Etc.

The least you could do, it seems to me, is to be honest about this. You hold your religious beliefs as articles of faith, not by evidence. Don’t try to justify them or make them seem to be something that they are not, i.e., reasonable beliefs. It’s only been since the advent of science that Christians like you have taken on this terrible burden of having to justify your faith. Before then, Christians admitted quite candidly that they accepted their beliefs on sheer faith. It’s a real shame that Christians don’t have that kind of faith today but I suppose it’s understandable that they don’t.

Just for argument purposes, say Moses did believe that the Egyptian priests’ staves turned into snakes. How might he have rationalized that event to himself?

One possibility is that he in fact did accept the reality of Egyptian gods.

Another possibility is that he believed his own god turned the priests’ staves into snakes (but OTOH would the priests have thrown down their staves in the first place unless they were fairly certain that their god would turn them into snakes? Doubtful.)

Another possibility is that the entire story is apocryphal. (<-- My theory based on the apparently little known fact that staves don’t turn into snakes on command.)

Reality Check

Sure, if you like! I mean, I believe something somebody told me, so I must believe everything everybody ever told me.

 What you're missing is, if you create enough threads that serve no purpose other than to say "Your belief system sucks" and don't actually ever advocate anything positive, then your process of discovery isn't anything like the above in appearance.  It's just rude criticism.  That's why I'm giving you the kind of response I'm giving you, because you aren't asking a question, you're just trying to beat something up. That's a valid aspect of philosophy, but it's all you've ever done. Whether this question you've raised in this thread gets answered or not, you'll just launch some other cruise missile the day after tomorrow.  This is another consequence of claiming that atheism doesn't have a burden of proof- when you absolutely refuse to defend anything ever, then you loose all credibility in having experience  of what counts as a valid defense.  

Hooray for you and what you’ve learned. What is it that you want? To get answers on why other people believe the things they do? Ask questions. To prove that a system of belief other than your own must be false, probably is false, or is irrational to believe? Your arguments aren’t good enough, and you’d be taking a burden on yourself that you say doesn’t exist. Besides, why?

Ooh, you zinged me! Uccisore: Exposed! Did your belief system just become more credible now? Did a hundred thousand fence sitting theists just take the plunge into skepticism, and are you getting a commission? What are you doing?

The least I could do? No, the least I could do is go play video games.   Something slightly more than that would be for me to engage this issue you've presented in a straightforward and honest fashion.  What makes that more preferable than video games?  Let's say I explain to you why your argument here doesn't work.  What happens? The thread ends, and you make another slightly different one on Friday. 
Something more productive would be to take a positive step, and actually create a thread on why theism is a justified thing to believe.  Then what happens?  Almost all the atheists pretend it's not there, and then create threads like this. 

Do you understand the paradigm? "You tell me what you believe and why, and I'll tell you why it's stupid.  If I succeed, then you're obligated to change your mind and your belief is defeated.  If I fail, then we play against next week." Heads means I win, tails means do-over? 
 That's the nature of discussing with somebody who owns no burden of proof, and yet provokes conversation anyway.  You've already acknowledged that the game is pointless, because when the tables are turned, you utterly refuse to play.  So now, we both know it's a lark.  If you think I'm giving you a hard time, consider that there's plenty of skeptics here that I wouldn't bother explaining this to. 
So then, the answer to why Christians accept the miracles of Christ and not the miracles of milk-drinking statues is..maybe they accept them both, but interpret the latter differently than the Hindu do. 
If they approached that way, they'd still have this wonderful evidence you've provided, in the form of millions of eye witnesses, I guess, against the truth of materialism. Now, your epistemology may free you from the obligation of considering this evidence, and I guess that's cool. But for those that take it upon themselves to do so, milk drinking religious statues certainly make atheism even more unlikely than it already was!

The Gods were thirsty.
They need their nourishment and calcium.
Seems pretty straight forward to me. :laughing:

Everybody knows Jesus drank wine… not milk! DUH! :laughing:

HA HA HA!! :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
The video of the milk miracle is FANTASTIC!
You can see the milk poring down the from of the statues!
Then the guy comes on and says he doesn’t believe in God but then is amazed at someone slowly poring the spoon of milk all over the f*cking statue.

PRICELESS! Truly a good outloud laugh for me. :laughing:

Thank you RC! You made my day!

I’m only here to serve. :slight_smile:

Yeah, the video really is priceless. I like the guy who says that he doesn’t believe in gods, that he is agnostic. And then five minutes after he’s seen one of these little statutes supposedly gulp down a teaspoon of milk, he’s gone all Hindu on us! Now the guy is a true believer.

The funny thing is that even in this video if you look closely you can see milk trickling down the front of the statutes. You can also see milk pooled around the bottom of them. But people see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe, we all know that . . . um, well, most of us know that. If they want to believe that a statue drank milk then they’ll believe that a statue drank milk. If they want to believe that a man arose from the dead, then they’ll believe that a man arose from the dead. Rational thought goes right out the window.

Christians have their little miracles. Muslims have theirs. Hindus have theirs. And the one thing that they all have in common is that they depend on faith, not on evidence.

I don’t see that your statement follows particularly well. There is no statement of “wishing to believe” in Reality Checks post.

His statement should be interpreted along the lines of

“I accept the verifiable scientific process as being a better indicator of truth than simple eyewitness accounts”

There is no suggestion of “wishing to believe” aka “deciding before the facts”

No, sir. I don’t believe that you are giving me a hard time at all. Personal attacks generally don’t bother me. I view them as a sign of desperation. You’ve hardly responded to my criticism of your epistemology, specifically to your faith in alleged eyewitness, to hearsay testimony, at all.

A ha! At last, an honest, legitimate response directed toward my argument and not toward me personally. Thank you for that.

I’ll reply to your response by citing a few possible interpretations that I can think of that Christians might give to this miracle and then criticize those interpretations:

  1. Perhaps they attribute this miracle to the God of Christianity.

But then why would the Christian God perform miracles of this sort that He knows will be taken by hundreds of millions of Hindus as confirmation for the reality of the Hindu pantheon?

And that in fact is just what happened.

Here is part of an article run in “Hinduism Today” back in November of 1995:

This “milk miracle” may go down in history as the most important event shared by Hindus this century, if not in the last millennium. It has brought about an instantaneous religious revival among nearly one billion people. No other religion has ever done that before! It is as if every Hindu who had, say “ten pounds of devotion,” suddenly has twenty.

If the Christian God did perform this miracle then he seems to have performed it in order to strengthen belief in Hinduism . . . which would seem to be an odd proposition for Christians to accept.

  1. Perhaps they attribute the miracle to the gods of Hinduism.

If so, then they admit that other gods exist. Christians, of course, may still claim that their own god is the most powerful of all the gods, but even at that they would then seem to be committed to the acceptance of a sort of pantheon of gods which itself contradicts Christian belief.

Obviously those interpretations are not exhaustive. Christians might give this “miracle” other interpretations that I’m overlooking, and as soon as someone comes up with a few of them we can look at those, as well.

Why is this evidence against physicalism? There are perfectly rational, natural explanations for what occurred here just as there are for every other so-called miracle. You don’t have to believe these explanations but you shouldn’t pretend that they do not exist.

Many people, especially in our own culture, believe that widely accepted conclusions reached by the scientific community are the most reliable form of knowledge that we have yet found. Now, you don’t have to agree with this. You can believe that the conclusions reached by science are just as likely to be mistaken as are the conclusions reached by fortune tellers. But IMO, if nothing else, you should try to be consistent in holding that belief. You shouldn’t believe scientific conclusions only when those conclusions agree with your worldview and then arbitrarily reject them when they do not. That seems to be irrational.

Not at all. I do believe that it is evidence. But I recognize it for the kind of evidence that it is and don’t believe that it terms of credibility it compares favorably with that of well-established scientific conclusion.

If that were true, you would be correct. Since it is not true (since it is extremely likely that those statues never “drank” an ounce of milk) you are mistaken.

What the Hindu “milk miracle” shows is the power that our biases have to affect the interpretation that we give to our experience. Thank goodness science understands this notion completely and strives rigorously to account for it when it methodically reaches the conclusions that it reaches. It’s a big reason that science has been so successful in describing our world to us and that religion has not.

To be clear, what I’m saying is this: Science is FAR from unbiased. The trick is that science is well aware of this fact and has safeguards built into the methods that it uses to come to conclusions to account for this bias as much as is humanly possible; safeguards like the reproducibility of experiments, double-blind and even triple-blind studies, the requirement that claims be corroborated and that they cohere with all other scientific truths, etc.

We are tainted, skeptic, we are jaded, we have magicians that entertain us with slight of hand too well… We have a hard time trusting each other’s words…Need I go on why such a wonderous event is not accepted?

I could possibly come up with a couple of non miracle ways if I had to how it is done and even then one of them would at least be a natural phenomenon which is awesome anyway. The other involves a tiny surgical tube for veins, which the sheer patience of it and genius deserves respect.

For me a miracle is a natural phenomenon. Gods are natural people are natural, the power of gods would be natural too. If it is a godly miracle than I hope it helps those that it should.

It is a sad day when it is so obvious that trust has fallen from man’s collective heart.

Reality Checks

There weren’t any personal attacks in what I wrote, but if you didn’t like the tone, I apologize. I still think it’s true that once it’s established that a person’s function is to criticize, answering the criticisms ceases to be important. That’s why I didn’t answer your ‘points’ about my faith- it was largely you making stuff up about how I handle my beliefs on the grounds that that’s just apparently how you assume Christians do it, and if you don’t know better by now, you’re never going to, so why rebut? You’ll just say it again later.

Because whatever. It doesn’t matter. The answer to your question is, “they accept the miracles and interpret them differently”. Once we’re haggling over what some particular definition is, the argument is already watered down and useless, because your in the position of trying to defeat every little scenario that comes into someone’s head. If you do think it’s more important to examine this synthesis more than all the others that will come along, I suppose the answer would be that moving these people towards their faith is a step in the right direction, and that God ‘meets people where they are’, so to speak.

Well, you could call that admitting the Hindu pantheon exists, and many Christians do so, they just think of them as demonic influences, and not divine.  It's not anything wildly out of place for a Christian to attribute supernatural occurrences to demonic influence. 

For the same reason and to the same extent that it’s evidence against Christianity, or evidence of the Hindu pantheon. We’re both looking at the same facts, if the Christians have to take it seriously, then so do you.

I’m not pretending they don’t exist. I’m assuming that there’s a perfectly good one, or else you wouldn’t have brought it up (why undermine your own position like that)? So whatever the reason is why, according to you, the Hindu Milk miracle wasn’t really miraculous at all, that would be another reason why a person could let this not affect Christianity so much. Christians are allowed to give natural explanations for things, too.
But it is important to note that if the Christian does think this is a supernatural event, it can be reconciled as well using your same method as above. A Christian can just wave it all away with “There are perfectly rational, theological explanations for what occurred here” and not actually bother to defeat it in any particular way.

If I did reject scientific conclusions when they didn’t agree with my worldview, that wouldn’t be arbitrary at all, it would be because ‘it didn’t agree with my worldview’. Very similar to how you reject eye-witness testimony when it doesn’t agree with your worldview. Not arbitrary, you have your reasons.

Like I said, the entire thrust of this argument is based around you holding out. If you simply presented why or how it is that the statues didn’t actually drink milk, there would be no argument against Christianity to be found here. There’s nothing counter-Christian about non-Christians claiming that something miraculous happened. It’s only a problem (and even then, not really) if it actually did happen, or rather, if we ought to believe it did. But then of course, atheism is defeated much more soundly than Christianity.