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Quote from: Garja
No, not a 100%/100% deal, but I think it's common enough to make for a useful hypothesis.
In the Bible record many Jews did not accept him as the Son of God.  However, the did not reject that the miracles occured.  They said "it's the devil", but they didn't deny they happened.  Why iare there no outside (of Christianity) records to set things straight?  Or at least I am not aware of any.  This does not make sense to me.

Nor am I aware of any contemporary accounts that dismiss Egyptian, or Chinese, or American Indian, or any other mythological miracles or supernatural happenings.  Does that mean we should give them the same credibility as Biblical miracles?  If not, why not?  What special standard is being applied to one particular book of tales that is not being applied to any others?

It could be said that religious flood stories originated because of local flooding so there would be at least some grain of truth.  On what grain of truth did belief in all these spirits originiate?

In the same way that a small local flood that destroyed crops and killed a few people and waterlogged the town grew over a few decades into a great flood.  Uncle Bob reports seeing a spirit in the marsh (actually marsh gas).  Auntie Evie reports the way the dog barked at the wall (it heard a mouse scratch).  Add them all up, and you've very quickly got the story of spirits that dogs can detect that sloat in the marshes and..... 

And lets not forget the way that adults lie continuously to children.  Tooth Fairy.  The "eat your dinner" monster.  Fairies.  Boggarts.  Monsters that eat bad little boys who don't do their homework.  And picture that into a world where lightning is fire from the skies, where there is no artificial light, no science, where people believe something is at work everywhere.  It needs only something people could not explain, and BAM - supernatural creatures.

Today, we know what marsh gas is.  We know what St.Elmo's fire is.  We know that pareidoial faces in trees are random lumps, NOT dryads.  Gradually, the natural and boring events that people centuries past took to be magic are being explained away.  THAT, is the "grain of truth" to those stories. 

And if, after we have critically examined the religious testimonies in the way we investigate a ghost, for example - without backing off for fear of offence, and without special treatment - then maybe we can determine how much weight this evidence should be given.

Yes but it is very hard to examine the experiences of people if they cannot reproduce the results on demand.  But that alone I don't think can be used to determine what is true with 100% accuracy unless you are maybe the one that experienced it.  In many cases it is said, "they saw something" or "something happened" but we're really just left guessing on what they saw or what happened.  And when you are talking about people and events that are long in the past, the problem multiplies.

Quite.  "we're really just left guessing on what they saw or what happened"  And so the best response, surely, is to say "I have no opinion as we cannot say", or "we can't prove it - but it sounds SO outlandish, and has never been seen since, and we can't recreate the event - so best assume it wasn't caused by gods and spirits".  Why land on the side of "we can'r prove it one way or the other - so I will accept the explanation that requires the most stretching of what we know exists and adds the largest possible amount of unknown"?
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