I am redating this post, because of this comment:
So we have a guy who believes in ghosts and magic and an invisible superman telling me that my position isn't rational. It takes brass.
Still, before going any further, I promised that I would clear up why Mr. Carrier and some of his colleagues in their critique of miracles make the mistakes that they do. The answer is very simple: they confuse miracles and magic, and doing so is such a common practice that it seems to me that few people are ever even aware of it, though the distinction is not too hard to catch. I am using the term “magic” here in the technical sense, as one would in the study of comparative religion, not in the sense of sleight of hand for the sake of entertainment. Magic consists of the manipulation of spiritual forces for the sake of bringing about a certain end. A miracle is a free action by God, done by him as he sees fit, and never coerced by human beings, though it may be, if God so wishes, a response by him to human beings. This is not a distinction that I have invented just now (or for that matter, a few decades ago), but one that has been accepted in religious studies and the anthropology if religion, not to mention theology, for a long time, but it seems to be unknown among philosophical skeptics of religion, unless they deliberately ignore it. Its roots lie in another fundamental distinction, namely that of religion as rituals for reasons of personal gain and religion as the worship of a supreme being simply because of his exalted position. As anyone who has read some of my other works knows, I contend that a natural disposition of fallen human beings is towards magic and rituals, and that those procedures wind up infiltrating almost all religious cultures. Nonetheless, from an abstract, conceptual point of view, the difference between the two is crystal clear.