Sunday, January 18, 2015

Historical evidence: The “miracles” of Morihei Ueshiba and…… Jesus?

I dabbled briefly in the martial art of Aikido, sometimes called “The art of peace”. Aikido is a strange martial art requiring its practitioners to extend compassion and consideration to the attacker by stopping the fight without injury to either party. As my instructor once said during practice “Your attacker is angry. There is something wrong with him. You want to help him, not hurt him”.

Aikido (ai - joining, harmonizing; ki - spirit, life energy, do - way, path) was founded by Morihei Ueshiba as the “path of harmony and love, unifying body and mind, self and others, humans and the universe”. Ueshiba is also credited with a number of improbable superhuman feats. I want to compare the types and quality of evidence for these feats with that of Jesus.

The miracle of Morihei Ueshiba bullet dodging.

What follows is an eye witness account by Gozo Shioda, a student of Ueshiba, which recounts the story of Morihel Ueshiba dodging the bullets fired by six trained army officers with ‘Olympic level shooting ability’:
The six men then positioned themselves, aiming at Ueshiba Sensei. While staring at him, I kept thinking helplessly that twenty-five meters is a considerable distance, and was wondering what on earth Sensei could do from there.
One, two, three. The six revolvers fired at the same time and a cloud of dust whirled around us. Then, suddenly, one of the six marksmen was flying through the air! What had happened? Before we could figure it out, Sensei was standing behind the six men, laughing into his beard.
We all were bewildered. I really and truly could not understand what had happened. Not just me, but everyone present was so stunned that we could not find words to express our shock. The six inspectors were not yet convinced and asked if Sensei could do it again. “All right” he answered indifferently.
Once again, the six barrels were aimed at Ueshiba Sensei and were fired. This time the inspector at the edge of the group flew into the air. In exactly the same way as before, Ueshiba Sensei was standing behind the six inspectors before we knew what was happening. I was dumbfounded. That time I had promised myself to watch carefully in order to see exactly what Sensei was doing. But even though I had tried very hard, I was completely unable to see how he had moved. [link]
The evidence.

Aikdio is a respected martial art taught to police officers worldwide where the emphasis on ending the fight without injury either party has obvious applications. Gozo Shioda, the eye witness quoted above, is himself a respected martial artist who founded his own worldwide form of Aikido, called Yoshinkan Aikido. Morihei Ueshiba was a spiritual as well as a physical teacher who sought to create a peaceful utopia upon earth. There are even those who claim the self defense techniques of Aikido are irrelevant and who practice the art only as a form of spiritual mediation.

Now, I don’t believe the story of Ueshiba dodging bullets. His quoted explanation in the source above is rather unconvincing to say the least:
God has said that I am necessary for this world and has decided to let me live. My period of purification is not over so I cannot die. When I am not necessary for this world anymore the gods will let me pass away.” Sensei seemed to be convinced, but of course we couldn’t understand what he meant.
 Given the incredible nature of the claim, most people would agree, quite reasonably, that further evidence is needed. A single eye witness account from a student written some time after the event (presumably as the story is taken from an autobiography) is not very persuasive. In historical terms, the source quoted above is a public secondary discursive source as it was published some time after the event occurred.

Now consider this story:
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.  (Matthew 14:22-33 (King James Version))
This is another eye witness account of a superhuman deed recorded some time after the event. My question is as follows: If a single recorded eyewitness account is not evidence enough to accept the spiritual teacher Ueshiba could dodge bullets, why should anyone accept Matthew's account of Jesus walked on water?

And if you believe Ueshiba dodged bullets and Jesus walked on water, well, I know some interesting investment opportunities that may interest you.
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