What is superstition?

Continuing with Jayman’s response from yesterday’s post:

(1) You call believers in miracles “superstitious”. Yet there have been atheists who aren’t superstitious who have come to believe they have witnessed a miracle.

(2) You say of believers in miracles:

[T]hey see something they don’t fully understand, and they ascribe it to some invisible, magical cause even though they cannot show any verifiable connection between the two. Most of the time they cannot even say what such a connection would consist of if it did exist. So people see something they don’t understand, and they ascribe it to God, and since they cannot tell us precisely how God would have done what they claim, then it must be magic (or in Christian terms, “miraculous”).

Most believers can explain how God might do something. For example, one could posit that God hears a prayer to be cured from a disease, decides to answer the prayer, and heals the person of the disease.

I’m glad Jayman brought that up, because I realize that the term “superstition” is unflattering at best, and I’d like to explain why I’m using it. It’s not out of a desire to insult or disparage believers, but because the action itself happens to fit the definition for “superstition.” And please note, I’m trying to be careful not to call the people superstitious, I’m calling the action superstition—it could be that people are simply being careless, and don’t realize the implications of what they are doing.

Superstition is when you encounter something you don’t understand, and instead of working out the chain of verifiable causes and effects that lead to what you see, you simply ascribe it to some kind of invisible or magical cause with no verifiable connection to the thing it is supposed to explain. Most of the time, the superstitious “explanation” cannot even describe exactly what this connection would consist of if it did exist.

Contrast this with a scientific explanation: the scientific explanation does trace the chain of cause and effect in sufficient detail that you can determine that cause X would indeed produce effect Y which in turn would cause result Z. Gravity does indeed compress the earth’s rocky core, compression produces heat, heat turns rock into molten magma under pressure, which escapes through faults, allowing magma to build up beneath the volcano, thus producing the eruption. Attributing it to a volcano god, in the absence of any verifiable connection to such a deity, is superstition.

Likewise with healing. A scientific explanation for Bernadette’s healing would be a very useful thing, because understanding the actual causes would allow us to apply those causes to other patients, thus healing them as well. If we merely attribute the healing to God, and say, “Well, God just healed her,” without being able to say how He allegedly affected this cure and without any evidence that it was indeed God and not the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a random SMERF, or voodoo witchcraft—that’s superstition: a magical attribution to an unverifiable cause.

Like I said, I realize that’s unflattering, but we need to be honest about things if we’re going to arrive at the truth. If we don’t want to be superstitious, then we need to refrain from “explaining” things by merely attributing them to unverifiable and magical “causes” that have no demonstrable connection to the thing we’re trying to explain. Which leads to Jayman’s next objection:

You also fail to note that atheists do the very thing you accuse theists of doing. For example, they see an answered prayer for healing they don’t fully understand, and ascribe it to some invisible, natural cause even though they cannot show any verifiable connection between the two. Most of the time they cannot even say what such a connection would consist of if it did.

The important difference is twofold: first and most important, when we don’t know what the cause was, we don’t claim to have explained what the cause was. Saying “I don’t know” is perfectly fine (though we don’t want to stay there, of course). Second, it is not superstitious to say, “I expect that the answer will turn out to be consistent with the laws of nature,” because in this case we are not merely ascribing things to magical and unverifiable causes, we are simply maintaining the principle that real-world truth is consistent with itself. I cannot see into the future; I cannot know that the sun will rise tomorrow. Nevertheless, it is not superstitious for me to say I expect the sun to rise tomorrow, because all I’m really saying is that I expect future developments to be consistent with what we’ve seen in the past.

The same is true with unexplained phenomena like healing. I do not know what the actual causes were (and I don’t claim to), but our experience in the past has consistently and universally been that whenever the answer has been found, it has turned out to be a natural cause. Like the sun rising every day without exception, the answers we’ve learned have all been natural answers, without exception, and therefore I can be just as confident that new answers will be natural as I can be that the sun will rise tomorrow, and for the same reason.

There’s another dimension to this, and that is the fact that the truth is consistent with itself. This means more than just that tomorrow is likely to have the same sort of things as yesterday had. It also means that truth is interconnected, that one truth implies others. If God were intervening in the lives of men and women to such an extent that 48% of them were able to perceive Him doing it, this would imply other truths that we ought to be able to detect as well. The incidental manifestations of divine interactions would have an impact on the evidence, and would provide us with corroborating evidence of His existence and activity—if it existed.

For example, if God deliberately healed Bernadette, this action would be connected to some motive for wanting to heal her. This motive, in turn, would lead to other manifestations, which we ought to be able to observe. If the motive were that He loved her and wanted her to know He was real, then it ought to lead to other, less ambiguous manifestations of His existence, like showing up in some tangible form to interact with her personally. Or if He wanted her healing to serve as evidence for the whole world, then again, this motive ought to lead to other manifestations that are less ambiguous.

Also, if God is truly interacting with the material universe, then He needs to draw His power from somewhere. If the source is something within the material universe, then we ought to be able to detect the energy flows, and if it comes from “outside” the material universe, then we ought to see discrepancies that would challenge the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy. Miracles ought to leave telltale footprints in the sands of reality, and we ought to be able to find them. But we don’t.

No real-world fact exists in isolation from other truths; everything is interconnected. We doubt the superstitious/miraculous “explanations” for things we don’t understand, because the corollary evidence which ought to accompany such things is conspicuously absent. Thus, the superstitious explanation fails on two counts: it fails to show a verifiable causal chain between the purported cause and the observed effect, and it exists in unrealistic isolation from the corollary evidence which ought to accompany it.

One last point:

(3) You assert that “miracles do not involve any actual non-natural phenomena” and that these miracles are “consistent with the kind of miracles that took place in New Testament times.” This attempted explanation fails since there are a number of miracles that go well beyond natural phenomena. For example, either Jesus rose from the dead or he didn’t, but there is no natural phenomena that explains how a person could be dead on Friday and alive on Sunday.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), the actual phenomenon that confronts us is not that there is a risen Savior whose existence is puzzling. When we look at the real world, we don’t find any such risen Savior. What we find instead is a much more mundane phenomenon: people telling us unverifiable stories about someone rising from the dead. These stories exist, but they are not supernatural, they merely make claims about the supernatural. And since no such resurrected being can be found in the real world, the only way we have of evaluating the truth of such stories is to see whether or not they are consistent with real-world truth. And they’re not.

If we choose to believe these stories, despite their inconsistencies, just because men say so, this action is not faith, but merely gullibility: believing whatever we are told despite the lack of supporting evidence and the presence of contradictory evidence. If Jesus were indeed risen from the dead, all he would need to do is show up, and we could have a faith based on the truth. Since he does not show up in real life, the only options available are gullibility and skepticism.

I started with the former and ended with the latter, and got a better God out of the deal, so I’m content. I would encourage all believers to do the same, and the sooner the better.

 
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Posted in Superstition, Unapologetics. 29 Comments »

29 Responses to “What is superstition?”

  1. cl Says:

    You said, “If we merely attribute the healing to God, and say, “Well, God just healed her,” without being able to say how He allegedly affected this cure and without any evidence that it was indeed God and not the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a random SMERF, or voodoo witchcraft—that’s superstition: a magical attribution to an unverifiable cause.”

    I can dig that. Who’s to say Satan didn’t cure Bernadette for some nefarious purpose?

    But here’s where you lose major credibility with me: You said, “…we need to be honest about things if we’re going to arrive at the truth.”

    Certainly, and excuse me, but how does this square with elevating your own subjective opinion to the level of “Undeniable Fact?” That is not being honest. That is being dishonest and biased. If you want to persuade reasonable believers that your position is rationally superior, this deplorable tactic is no more persuasive than deplorable Fundamentalist tactics. Is this what you want people to see?

  2. jim Says:

    cl:

    “Certainly, and excuse me, but how does this square with elevating your own subjective opinion to the level of “Undeniable Fact?””

    Where in this piece did he mention that his opinion was ‘undeniable fact’? Seems to me the whole gist is about what he finds unreasonable aka ‘superstitious’.

    “That is not being honest. That is being dishonest and biased. If you want to persuade reasonable believers that your position is rationally superior, this deplorable tactic is no more persuasive than deplorable Fundamentalist tactics. Is this what you want people to see?”

    What’s really being ‘dishonest and biased’ is rephrasing what others say in a way to change the obvious meaning and/or emphasis. I’ve seen you do this a number of times, and have called you on it. Deplorable tactics? Please! Methinks the sophist doth protest too much. :)

  3. cl Says:

    jim,

    Quite the cynical comedian you are. If you can’t remember things from one day to the next, don’t insult me, improve your reading comprehension.

  4. jim Says:

    cl:

    Just telling the truth, and the facts are in the record for anybody to see. Your tactics are misrepresentation, straining at gnats in disputes over definition, running past answers you don’t like as if you never received them, and just the general obfuscation of an apologetical con artist. Oh, and my favorite: insulting while pretending to be respectful.

    Oh, and as is par for the course, you ran right past the actual point of my response, which was that you’re once again distorting the facts to make Duncan say what he never said, or even inferred. (Pretty lame parting shot there, BTW… gradeschool).

  5. cl Says:

    “Oh, and as is par for the course, you ran right past the actual point of my response, which was that you’re once again distorting the facts to make Duncan say what he never said, or even inferred. (Pretty lame parting shot there, BTW… gradeschool).”

    “”The Undeniable Fact is that God does not show up in real life.” -DD to cl, February 4, 2009 at 5:25 pm”

    I wasn’t trying to maintain an appearance of respect for you, jim. I told you to improve your reading comprehension, and I meant it.

  6. jim Says:

    cl:

    ”The Undeniable Fact is that God does not show up in real life.” -DD to cl, February 4, 2009 at 5:25 pm”

    Ah, my apologies. I thought you might be referencing the article that you actually posted under. Especially since I prefaced my original remark with “where IN THIS PIECE?” So much for reading comprehension.

    “I told you to improve your reading comprehension, and I meant it.”

    Um…uh huh. Since we’re on the subject of reading comprehension, did you happen to figure out the difference between ‘sophistry’ and ‘solipsism’ yet?

    As far as Duncan’s ‘undeniable fact’ goes, I’m assuming an implied caveat that might go something like ‘inside the parameters of reasonableness’ or ‘within a coherent framework based on real-world observations’…something like that, anyway. After all, there will always be flat earthers, fake moon landing conspiracy theorists, and the like. So in theory, nothing is ultimately deniable. There’s always an ‘out’ through argumentation, though the same doesn’t hold true for the truth of the matter being discussed.

    So, let’s see. You actually did pretty well this time, your only deception being the overlooking of my original preface to make my remark more amenable to your polemic. Bravo!

  7. Arthur Says:

    For the love of Pete, the definition of a “miracle” that would satisfy everybody in the whole wide world is this one: “God shows up.” Let’s not pretend: if the God of the Gospels has a fraction of the power folks claim for him, then showing up UNAMBIGUOUSLY is not out of His reach. He could settle the score for everybody, including all the Christians (who, after all, have never even agreed with each other), if a fraction of the stories folks tell are true.

    Is it really dishonest to say that this event has not happened? Is it really possible to construe the statement “This event has not happened” as opinion?

  8. jim Says:

    Arthur:

    Agreed. And I’d even go so far as to say that God’s unambiguous ‘showing up’ is not only not out of His reach. It’s required according to the very claims of His interaction with His people. And I don’t think 20,000 more words defining the word ‘unambiguous’ are necessary, though I’m sure that at some point they’ll be demanded of you.

  9. Jayman Says:

    (1) I’ve already dealt with your definition of superstition (points 2-3).

    (2) Your confidence in natural explanations seems strange in two ways:

    (A) You have confidence that events that severely contradict the currently understood laws of nature will one day have natural explanations. This confidence is apparently based on faith in science. Yet the findings of modern science would have to be heavily modified in order to explain such events adequately. Some balance between confidence and lack of confidence in modern science seems necessary for you. Ironically, a believer in miracles could have more faith than you do in modern science and see events that contradict the currently understood laws of nature as clearly not having natural causes.

    (B) You have confidence that events that have remained inexplicable for all of human history will be found to have natural causes. One could just as confidently assert that a natural explanation for these types of events will never be found.

    (3) You are correct that “corollary evidence” may exist. Unfortunately you appear to think the examples you have chosen prove your point. They’d only prove a point if your assumptions were correct.

    (4) The believer in a past miracle would base the belief on historical inquiry. Your test for consistency with “real-world truth” seems to be nothing more than consistency with your own, personal life experiences for there’s no logical inconsistency in believing that Jesus rose from the dead. Moreover, judging past events based on your modern experience is error-prone since the past was different than the present.

  10. jim Says:

    Jayman:

    “You have confidence that events that have remained inexplicable for all of human history will be found to have natural causes. One could just as confidently assert that a natural explanation for these types of events will never be found.”

    Such confidence isn’t arbitrarily pulled out of a naturalist’s backside. It’s been mankind’s historical experience that things hitherto explained as supernatural acts were discovered to be natural processes. Meanwhile, supernaturalism has ALWAYS lost ground as an explanatory force. Seems like a trend to me.

    “Moreover, judging past events based on your modern experience is error-prone since the past was different than the present.”

    5 minutes ago was also different than the present. So by your logic, it’s error-prone to assume any continuity along the timeline, even from moment to moment. Sounds ridiculous, but these are the kinds of real-life absurdities your line of argument offers.

  11. cl Says:

    Arthur,

    “For the love of Pete, the definition of a “miracle” that would satisfy everybody in the whole wide world is this one: “God shows up.””

    How would you know it was God and not some other being?

  12. The Pied Piper Says:

    Jayman:

    I would say you are confusing “Laws of Nature” with scientific understanding. From my point of view a Law of Nature would be some fundamental property of the universe, e.g. gravity, conservation of energy, the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces etc. Sure there are gaps in our understanding but that doesn’t mean we need to insert God to fill them and we don’t see anything transgressing these laws.

    Scientific understand on the other hand is the body of knowledge based upon these fundamental properties. Rarely will this intersect directly with the basic laws for the reason that it would be too complex and the human mind is not capable of holding such a set of information at one time (damn why didn’t God make us a better brain).

    For example the process of disease could be understood through the action of the various biochemical processes going on in the human body (which rely fundamentally on things like the electromagnetic force). Yet even the most powerful computer would have a hard time simulating at such a level (just look at how complex something simple like protein folding is) and the result is so abstracted from the fundamentals that looking at it at that level gives very little predictive power. So we have more top level understanding of the process of disease.

    That however comes with a price, unless an easy bridge can be made between the current knowledge to a new observation it might not be immediately clear how it works and therefore might be outside our scientific understanding. This is made even worse if we do not have the whole facts to hand. That said it will still almost certainly be based on the fundamental properties of the universe.

    Perhaps an example of this relates to a previous comment from cl about a decapitated man reattaching his head and walking to the shops. From the scientific understanding of human physiology point of view yes this would make no sense, however in terms of the natural processes at work (at a fundamental law level) this isn’t a transgression as we are assuming that the person was human to begin with.

    Without examining the person in question how do we know that he isn’t in fact an space alien who is only mimicking a human form but has the powers of regeneration (and probably the head isn’t really a head). Or perhaps you completely imagined the whole scenario, the human mind is capable of playing the most intricate tricks. You might laugh but lets face it there is as much evidence for those explanations as for it being God in this scenario (and they have the advantage of not transgressing any fundamental property of the universe). On the other hand perhaps he was just an immortal dark wizard and magicked his head back on. Just saying…

  13. John Morales Says:

    cl:

    How would you know it was God and not some other being?

    Because God is defined as Omnipotent and Omniscient by Christians, hence if God wanted its presence to be accepted unquequivocally, it could.

    But it hasn’t.

  14. Jayman Says:

    Jim:

    Such confidence isn’t arbitrarily pulled out of a naturalist’s backside. It’s been mankind’s historical experience that things hitherto explained as supernatural acts were discovered to be natural processes. Meanwhile, supernaturalism has ALWAYS lost ground as an explanatory force. Seems like a trend to me.

    But the trend is so slow that one can be sure there will remain countless events that will never have a natural explanation. The fact that the trend can inspire confidence in both sides of this debate tells me it is not particularly helpful. Out of curiosity, what is the most recent supposedly supernatural phenomena that has been given a convincing natural explanation?

    5 minutes ago was also different than the present. So by your logic, it’s error-prone to assume any continuity along the timeline, even from moment to moment. Sounds ridiculous, but these are the kinds of real-life absurdities your line of argument offers.

    You’ve ripped that quote out of context and read far too much into it. The sentence you quote came right after a sentence where I mentioned that DD’s “real-world truth” seems to be nothing more than his personal experience. The “your” in the sentence you quote would refer to DD. I was pointing out that it is illogical to think he can dismiss a past event as historical merely because he has not experienced a similar situation. Nowhere did I say there is no continuity between the past and present.

  15. John Morales Says:

    Jayman:

    Out of curiosity, what is the most recent supposedly supernatural phenomena that has been given a convincing natural explanation?

    I guess you’re trying to ask “What is the most recently debunked supposedly supernatural phenomenon” rather than what you did ask, because, if so, I can only say I don’t exactly keep up with every new supernatural debunking. I dunno, do you exclude the merely pseudo-scientific or mysterious or not yet settled unexplained phenomena*?
    I guess that video of the woo-foo master getting punched for real that recently made the rounds explained that claim (qi-power at a distance by this guy) pretty naturally – he was bullshitting.

    Out of curiosity, why do you think so many people buy into woo and pseudo-science even when it’s been debunked?

    * e.g. Q-Bracelet, spontaneous human combustion, Pioneer anomaly in each category.

  16. cl Says:

    The Pied Piper,

    I found your comment February 6, 2009 at 12:55 am to be cogent. It echoed my question to Arthur: How would we know a miracle-worker was God and not some other being? I think the direction we are heading is towards the realization that perhaps there is no way to force an unwilling person to believe.

    John Morales,

    1) I imagine that if I made a sweeping generalization about atheists, you’d protest. Yet you make a sweeping generalization about Christians.

    2) Can you imagine any other way that we could know a miracle-worker was God, besides said miracle-worker forcing us?

    Incidentally, regarding your comment to Jayman February 6, 2009 at 9:21 pm, I opine that your paraphrase and Jayman’s original question are identical. Why do you claim otherwise?

    jim,

    People will make mistakes. My opinion is that you made a mistake in haste resulting from the desire to show me incompetent. It’s also ironic that you seem to have done to Jayman what you claimed I did to DD.

    “Especially since I prefaced my original remark with “where IN THIS PIECE?” So much for reading comprehension.”

    I find it amusing that this little jab is founded upon your presupposition that I didn’t read your preface carefully.

    “Since we’re on the subject of reading comprehension, did you happen to figure out the difference between ’sophistry’ and ’solipsism’ yet?”

    I’ve known the difference. I made an honest error in typing. People make mistakes. I’m a person.

  17. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    John Morales,
    [A]
    1) I imagine that if I made a sweeping generalization about atheists, you’d protest. Yet you make a sweeping generalization about Christians.
    2) Can you imagine any other way that we could know a miracle-worker was God, besides said miracle-worker forcing us?
    [B] Incidentally, regarding your comment to Jayman February 6, 2009 at 9:21 pm, I opine that your paraphrase and Jayman’s original question are identical. Why do you claim otherwise?

    A1. Yes. What is the cardinality of the set of Christians who do not believe that God is defined as Omnipotent and Omniscient?
    See, Christians are defined by what they believe.
    Atheists are defined by what they don’t believe.
    It follows you can make generalisations about the sets of beliefs of Christians (though they may individually have many different disbeliefs) that you can’t about the set of disbeliefs (cardinality: 1) that atheists share.
    Surely you don’t contend I’m misrepresenting Christians by making that claim of their belief?

    A2. No. I can imagine many other explanations than a God for any phenomenon I am aware of, so absent new categories of putative events that might convince me, only direct belief will do the job. Surely you’re not disputing my claim that, should your putative God care to, it could make me believe in it?
    Why do you have a problem with my skepticism?

    B. Do you really not see that it’s literally asking what is the most Recent Supposedly Supernatural Phenomena [sic] That Has Been Given A Convincing Natural Explanation [RSSP-CNE]? – i.e. it’s asking which specific RSSP-CNE was debunked the fewest number of seconds ago, rather than what I guessed to be the intended meaning, which category C of the set S of RSSP-CNE events has been debunked the fewest number of seconds ago?

  18. John Morales Says:

    Here’s one category of claims: weeping statues.

  19. John Morales Says:

    Of course, I should for cl’s sake* add I make Christianity a member of the set R of religions.


    * Consider it a “clarification”.

  20. cl Says:

    Arthur,

    “For the love of Pete, the definition of a “miracle” that would satisfy everybody in the whole wide world is this one: “God shows up.””

    While I agree in spirit, I think you conflate miracle and manifestation here. And I think that even with unambiguous manifestation, some people would still doubt.

    “Let’s not pretend: if the God of the Gospels has a fraction of the power folks claim for him, then showing up UNAMBIGUOUSLY is not out of His reach. He could settle the score for everybody, including all the Christians (who, after all, have never even agreed with each other), if a fraction of the stories folks tell are true.”

    I agree completely.

    “Is it really dishonest to say that this event has not happened? Is it really possible to construe the statement “This event has not happened” as opinion?”

    While DD and myself would probably agree that this event has not happened, you’ve taken my response to DD’s original comment just a little bit out-of-context. DD’s original comment is here.

    John Morales,

    “See, Christians are defined by what they believe.”

    Yes, and since you didn’t frame your statement with proper scope, you effectively claimed they all believe the same thing.

    “It follows you can make generalisations about the sets of beliefs of Christians (though they may individually have many different disbeliefs) that you can’t about the set of disbeliefs (cardinality: 1) that atheists share.”

    Ah, I see. An attempted mathematical justification by which we conclude it’s okay to make generalizations about Christians, but not atheists. Total nonsense IMO, and I disagree that the set of atheist disbeliefs has a cardinality of 1. I’ll gladly recant if you care to “clarify”.

    “Surely you don’t contend I’m misrepresenting Christians by making that claim of their belief?”

    Surely I do.

    “Surely you’re not disputing my claim that, should your putative God care to, it could make me believe in it?”

    I asked you if you could imagine any other way that we could know a miracle-worker was God, besides said miracle-worker forcing us. You’re getting a little ahead of yourself here.

    “Why do you have a problem with my skepticism?”

    I don’t have a problem with your skepticism. If God is real, you do.

    “…it’s asking which specific RSSP-CNE was debunked the fewest number of seconds ago, rather than what I guessed to be the intended meaning…”

    Why do you guess the intended meaning of your opponent in the first place? Why didn’t you just ask Jayman to “clarify” giving him the benefit of the doubt? And I still don’t think your defense parses at all. My opinion.

    Lastly, your last two comments didn’t mean much to me in terms of relevance, and I’m not sure why you included them.

  21. John Morales Says:

    cl, I can’t help that you don’t understand what I’ve written. Note I answered each of your two points with a ‘yes’ and with a ‘no’, before explaining.
    As to why I’m forced to guess is because I was being charitable and presuming the intent was not as inane as the literal reading indicated.

    My last two comments were examples of categories, by the way.

    Sheesh.

  22. Arthur Says:

    I’ve got to figure out how you folks make the bold and the italics and the little purple links. I am envious and covetous.

    If I’m being honest, I’ve got to admit that I’m only trying to keep things simple because I haven’t got the brain for the complicated stuff. For example, I can’t figure out the difference between a miracle and the manifestation of a miracle. I thought we were just talking about things happening.

    The definition I gave above deliberately includes the term “unambiguous,” by which I meant the opposite of “capable of being understood in more than one way.” My thinking was that a miracle (that is, “an event manifesting divine intervention”) would have to be unambiguous by definition in order to qualify as divine intervention (for me, an unbeliever). If it can be explained by other means–including all the many varieties of emotional human error we’ve been talking about–then, by definition, it’s an event manifesting something besides divine intervention (to me, an unbeliever).

    And anyway, it would be a miracle–imagine it!–if something happened that put everyone in the world on the same theological page. Wouldn’t that be something? What if the Catholics turn out to be right? Won’t all those Protestants be embarrassed!

    I formulated the above rather frustrated definition of “miracle” because the whole idea seems utterly bizarre to me. No offense intended to anyone (believe it or not), but the Bible, for me, is just one of a long list of illustrious ancient mythologies that are easier to read about than to read. I feel no motivation at all to try and reconcile any of those stories’ unworldly features with the world I see around me; so, to my ears, all miracle talk sounds like unnecessary, counterproductive, and futile intellectual contortion. Grasping at straws. It’s just…strange.

  23. John Morales Says:

    Arthur, it’s HTML tags.

    Use <b>bold</b> for bold.
    Use <i>italics</i> for italics
    Use <a> href=”URL here”>Text here</a> for a Text here hyperlink.

  24. Arthur Says:

    Thank you very much, Mr. Morales. But I don’t know…I want to believe, but…if installing little tags makes the things happen, how come you were able to type the little tags without anything happening?

    Don’t answer that, because I’m wasting the thread. Thank you again! I will perform experiments.

  25. jim Says:

    Jayman:

    Here’s your original statement-

    “(4) The believer in a past miracle would base the belief on historical inquiry. Your test for consistency with “real-world truth” seems to be nothing more than consistency with your own, personal life experiences for there’s no logical inconsistency in believing that Jesus rose from the dead. Moreover, judging past events based on your modern experience is error-prone since the past was different than the present.”

    Here’s my response, and your subsequent criticism-

    ” 5 minutes ago was also different than the present. So by your logic, it’s error-prone to assume any continuity along the timeline, even from moment to moment. Sounds ridiculous, but these are the kinds of real-life absurdities your line of argument offers.” (MINE)

    You’ve ripped that quote out of context and read far too much into it. The sentence you quote came right after a sentence where I mentioned that DD’s “real-world truth” seems to be nothing more than his personal experience. The “your” in the sentence you quote would refer to DD. I was pointing out that it is illogical to think he can dismiss a past event as historical merely because he has not experienced a similar situation. Nowhere did I say there is no continuity between the past and present.” (YOURS)

    Now, your claim is that I’ve ‘ripped’ your quote out of context. First, I’d note the expressions offered in contrast to one another in your last sentence…’past events’ vs. ‘modern experience’, ‘past’ differing from ‘present’. Also note the sentence header ‘moreover’, indicating another point is to be made.

    However, for argument’s sake, let’s accept your claim that by this last sentence you really meant “… that it is illogical to think he can dismiss a past event as historical merely because he has not experienced a similar situation.” Where does this leave us? Let’s take a look at the preceding sentence, the one that supposedly defines the context of the subsequent sentence-

    “Your test for consistency with “real-world truth” seems to be nothing more than consistency with your own, personal life experiences for there’s no logical inconsistency in believing that Jesus rose from the dead. ”

    Or in other words, he’s judging reality according to his own, personal experiences.

    Now, we return to the sentence in question. You say-

    “The “your” in the sentence you quote would refer to DD. I was pointing out that it is illogical to think he can dismiss a past event as historical merely because he has not experienced a similar situation.”

    In other words, he’s judging reality according to his own, personal experiences. So, what we end up with is something like this-

    You’re judging reality according to your own, personal experience. MOREOVER, you’re judging reality according to your own, personal experience.

    If this is what you meant to say, I heartily withdraw my criticism.

    cl:

    “Especially since I prefaced my original remark with “where IN THIS PIECE?” So much for reading comprehension.” (MINE)

    “I find it amusing that this little jab is founded upon your presupposition that I didn’t read your preface carefully.” (YOURS)

    If you did read it, then your subsequent critique and snarky rejoinders are all offered in bad faith. Come to think of it, makes more sense that way.

    “Since we’re on the subject of reading comprehension, did you happen to figure out the difference between ’sophistry’ and ’solipsism’ yet?” (MINE)

    “I’ve known the difference. I made an honest error in typing. People make mistakes. I’m a person.” (YOURS)

    Ah, then when it concerns yourself it’s never reading comprehension…it’s just typos! LOLOL! Let’s see…

    so-phistry
    so-lipsism

    Wow, sometimes them fingers really go off on their own, don’t they? *chuckle*. BTW, I BELIEVE you committed that same error twice in the same post (if memory serves…getting old, after all).

    I suppose I should also point out that the ‘little jab’ you refer to (the crack about reading comprehension) originated with you. I was just returning the favor. Please don’t get upset with me for bringing this up. After all, I’m ‘just a person’. *sniffle, sniffle*

  26. Jayman Says:

    Jim, I’m sorry to have confused you. My main point was that DD cannot claim a past event did not happen solely because he, personally, has not experienced a similar event.

  27. John Morales Says:

    Great. The Deacon explains himself:

    If we don’t want to be superstitious, then we need to refrain from “explaining” things by merely attributing them to unverifiable and magical “causes” that have no demonstrable connection to the thing we’re trying to explain.

    … and in the comments Jayman utterly ignores this and reprises:

    My main point was that DD cannot claim a past event did not happen solely because he, personally, has not experienced a similar event.

    Sigh.

  28. Jayman Says:

    John, I already commented on DD’s views on superstition.

  29. » Breaking the law(s) Evangelical Realism Says:

    [...] continues to press his case: Your confidence in natural explanations seems strange in two [...]