What I know

More comments from Jayman:

DD, nowhere in the first quote do I argue that God exists because there are things we cannot explain. My point was the hypocrisy in demanding extraordinary evidence only for some extraordinary claims but not others.

Regarding the cause of Bernadette’s cure, you’re begging the question (you know Bernadette’s cure has natural causes because events always have natural causes). We are dealing with Bernadette’s specific case, not some general case where the cure is unknown, so you can’t just pass this case off as ordinary for it apparently is not ordinary for her impairments to be reversed.

Finally, you are incorrect in assuming that God has not shown up in my life. Don’t assume other people’s “real-world investigations” go the same as yours.

Regarding the first point, I’ll grant that Jayman was not explicitly raising the issue of whether God’s existence is proved by the occurrence of unexplained mysteries, but the topic of miracles was too good a blog subject to pass up, and I was commenting in general on the fact that using unexplained phenomena as evidence is necessarily an appeal to ignorance, since if we were’t ignorant about the true causes of these phenomena, they wouldn’t be unexplained and we wouldn’t call them miracles.

I want to correct Jayman’s misunderstanding on his second point, though. We don’t know specifically what caused Bernadette’s cure, so I am not claiming that I do know what caused her cure. I am claiming that the specific cause is unknown. It’s true that our past experience has been that unknown causes, once discovered, have universally turned out to be natural causes. And it’s also true that we have no factual basis for supporting the conclusion that any supernatural cause was involved in producing Bernadette’s healing. And it’s even true that the stories men tell about God are extremely improbable, due to blatant internal and external inconsistencies, and on that basis we can be certain, beyond a reasonable doubt, that no such deity exists to have been the source of Bernadette’s healing. But I haven’t ever said that I know what caused Bernadette’s symptoms to disappear.

On Jayman’s last point, we come to a really interesting topic. I don’t just assume that God has not shown up in Jayman’s life, I actually know He has not. Truth is consistent with itself, and this allows us to learn much more than we can by first-hand experience alone. I know God has not shown up, tangibly and in person, in Jayman’s life, just like I know that no star in Orion’s belt is our sun, even without personally flying to each star in the constellation for an up-close inspection.

Now, granted, Jayman almost certainly has had certain experiences which he attributes to God. But because the truth is consistent with itself, I can know what the limits are on the types of experiences that are available to him. I know, for example, that he does not have any photographs or videotapes or audio recordings of God showing up in person to speak to him or to anyone in his hearing. I know he does not have any notes, letters, or postcards personally written to him by God’s own hand. I know that no one has ever overheard what God has “told” to him, nor has he ever overheard God “speaking” to anyone else. And I’ve never even met him!

The 25-words-or-less version is that God is limited to doing only those things that an imaginary friend can do. God cannot tell Jayman what is written on the piece of paper in my back pocket, because Jayman does not know, and therefore cannot imagine his Friend giving him specific and accurate quotes. (Hence the taboos against “testing” God.) Jayman can have some unexplained coincidences and happenstances, and can attribute them to God, just as any imaginary friend can be the passive recipient of credit for random unexplained phenomena. Under the influence of autosuggestion and peer influence, God can even move Jayman in subjectively powerful ways, possibly even producing psychosomatic manifestations.

But He can’t show up, tangibly and in person, in real life, because if He were willing and able to do it for Jayman, He’d be willing and able to do it for a lot more people that just him. A world in which there was a God Who showed up would be as different from our present world as night is from day, so I don’t even need to ask Jayman what the specific details are of the events he considers to be “showing up.” They’re going to turn out to be subjective, coincidental, and superstitious, because those are the only options that are available in the real world.

 
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Posted in Unapologetics. 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “What I know”

  1. R. C. Moore Says:

    Jayman said:

    “We are dealing with Bernadette’s specific case, not some general case where the cure is unknown, so you can’t just pass this case off as ordinary for it apparently is not ordinary for her impairments to be reversed.”

    This is getting annoying, for Jayman continues to persist on this “miracle”, but the facts of the case are readily available.

    Bernadette suffered from a medical condition known as tethered spinal cord. As a child, she had three surgeries to correct this condition. As is common after surgery, she complained of pain. After a period of healing, the pain went away. Her neurosurgeon was pessimistic about her outlook (as doctors commonly are), but he does not claim anything “miraculous” in nature.

    Bernadette now claims to be feeling much better, an expected medical outcome for this type of medical problem. As she ages, however, doctors would expect further issues, as the surgery in most cases is done to help during a child growth. It does not cure the underlying condition. And their is no evidence that Bernadette is cured — according to her own comments, her MRI shows exactly what one would expect after treatment.

    As to the “prayer” healing Bernadette — the facts are as follows: Mother Leone Aviat was short one miracle, Bernadette and the church knew it, and merely made the required connection between the novena and Bernadette’s medically expected recovery.

    No miracle, just the usual after the connection of independent events.

    And will believers follow Bernadette to see if she remains “cured”? No. If Bernadette progresses as most with condition do, will the Catholic church de-sanctify Mother Ariat? Never happen.

  2. melior Says:

    If Jayman insists on his right to say that God has “shown up in his life” based purely on his own unverifiable internal perceptions, then there is no way that he can be consistent without agreeing that God also showed up in David Koresh’s life (and incidentally, told David that he was the Messiah).

    Does Jayman believe David Koresh is the Messiah? Why not? Was God lying?

  3. Jayman Says:

    melior, what do you mean when you say that I insist on my “right to say . . .”? I assume you don’t have the right to free speech in mind. If you think that I think anyone has to become a believer in God showing up based solely on my comments here you are mistaken. I don’t claim to know David Koresh’s experiences and, consistent with that, I don’t think DD should claim to know my experiences.

  4. GaySolomon Says:

    Jayman -

    No one as far as I can tell has claimed to know what your exact “experiences” are. DD and others have simply pointed out that they not consistent with the stories that christians tell about their god.

    Don’t keep us in suspense Jayman…produce your evidence and let the scales fall from our eyes.

  5. Jayman Says:

    GaySolomon, DD may not have been exact in his descriptions of my experience but he certainly had something to say on the matter. A summary of my experience can be found here. If you really want to investigate supernatural/paranormal claims you’ll have to do more than search the internet.

  6. GaySolomon Says:

    Jayman wrote:

    “One night I prayed to God and perceived receiving a message from God containing information about future events. I did not immediately conclude that God must have spoken to me. I realized that if God really did speak to me the events in the message would have to come true. They did come true. The same basic prayer/message scenario played out multiple times, with the message always confirmed later. The most parsimonious explanation seems to be that God sent me those messages.”

    I would say that your experience matches the exact same pattern that we have seen for other “miracle” claims. In other words, it is a superstitous attribution (and I mean that in a non-condescending way). You seem like an earnest and decent person – surely you can understand that your “experience” would fail to convince many people of your god’s existence. We skeptics wonder why god(s) seem so incapable of constructing and executing a decent miracle. I mean really – if one can whip up a universe in a mere 7 days, then how hard is it to come up with a compelling and effective demonstration of your own existence?

  7. Jayman Says:

    GaySolomon:

    I would say that your experience matches the exact same pattern that we have seen for other “miracle” claims. In other words, it is a superstitous attribution (and I mean that in a non-condescending way).

    Would you mind defining superstition then? As far as I can tell, my account follows DD’s description of science exactly and does not meet his definition of superstition.

    You seem like an earnest and decent person – surely you can understand that your “experience” would fail to convince many people of your god’s existence.

    I said as much in that comment. The main point is that belief in the supernatural is not necessarily superstitious.