116 million case studies

Just a few more points from cl:

You said, “Airor, Jayman was quoting a statistic from Newsweek stating that 48% of the population claim to have seen a miracle. That’s 116 million sightings more or less, which is plenty of data for science to work with whether it’s one event with a huge impact or a huge number of events with a less perceptible impact.”

I disagree. The actual data surrounding Miracle X does not change whether 3 or 3 million people saw it. “Sightings” and anecdotes aren’t evidence.

You said, “The problem is that this huge body of data turns out to uniformly confirm the conclusion that the events themselves are not verified/verifiable miracles, but merely combinations of ignorance, superstition, exaggeration, misperception, and so on.” (bold mine)

Whatever data exists turns out to uniformly confirm the negative conclusion to you, and in this sentence, you are doing exactly what you denied doing earlier and accused Jayman of doing. You’re saying, “The data shows this was ignorance and superstition, not a verifiable miracle.”

How is that not treating the absence of knowledge as the presence of knowledge? If we truly don’t know, the answer is NULL, not negative.

Regarding whether or not statistics are evidence, I must say I’m a bit surprised at cl’s objection. If these 116 million case studies were actually instances of independent observers witnessing genuine miracles, why would they not constitute evidence that miracles are real?

Either way, my main point still stands: God does not show up in real life, and that’s why there is no evidence of genuine miracles.

I want to correct a misunderstanding on cl’s part, however. When I point out that the events in question are not verified/verifiable miracles, I am not being superstitious, nor claiming that knowledge is ignorance. I’m not even claiming to know that these events are not miraculous (whatever “miraculous” means). I do have other reasons for concluding that some unknown natural explanation is more likely, but that’s another matter. When I say that these alleged “sightings” are a combination of ignorance, superstition, exaggeration, misperception, and so on, I am merely stating the verifiable facts that we can observe about these events and people’s reactions to them.

Take Bernadette’s case. We don’t know what caused her to recover. That’s ignorance, the absence of knowledge. Bernadette (and many others) would like to give God credit for her recovery. That’s superstition: ascribing credit to a magical cause with no verifiable or describable connection to the cure.

Other stories have some of the other features. I knew a lady in a church I once attended who claimed to have been miraculously healed of cancer by God. She was quite vocal about it, to the point of being nearly charismatic (which stood out in the conservative Baptist congregation she and I were attending). One day I asked her for the details, and she suddenly became much less vocal. It turns out she had a tiny, early stage melanoma that her doctor found and removed in an outpatient visit. The usual survival rate was better than 98%, but to her, the (doctor-assisted) cure was a miracle. That’s exaggeration.

Misperceptions? Zeitoun, though that was very likely what you might call a deliberate misperception. The “apparitions” have fraud written all over them, but true believers are almost literally blind to the signs of deliberate deception. And so it goes.

Ok, you may say, but that’s only a handful of cases out of 116 million. Is it reasonable to extrapolate those few anecdotal instances to all 116 million cases? I think it is, because this is not a random sample. These are cases that are selected by advocates of miracles as being the best and most convincing cases available. These are the cream of the crop—if these “miracles” turn out to be cases of ignorance, superstition, misperception and so on, then it’s reasonable to assume that the lesser cases will also fail to qualify as anything more than just ordinary human fallibility.

I’m not claiming any knowledge based on ignorance here. Where we are ignorant, I agree that we are ignorant. There are unexplained phenomena, and it’s true that we do not currently have explanations for such cases (obviously). The fact is, however, that it is universally true that whenever we have discovered the correct answers to previously unexplained phenomena, these answers have turned out to be natural causes. We’re not saying anything unreasonable when we say we expect future answers to be consistent with the answers we’ve always found in the past.

It’s also true that we do observe the characteristics we do observe. Ascribing things to magical causes, in the absence of any demonstrable connection between the two, is superstition, so when we see people arbitrarily ascribing things to magical causes without any describable connection between the two, it is merely factual to say their “explanation” is superstitious. And when the data relating to an alleged miracle fails to provide you with any means of verifying whether or not a genuine miracle really occurred, you’re merely being accurate when you point out that this does not constitute a verifiable miracle.

I think perhaps where cl might be going wrong is in assuming that if a genuine miracle actually happened, it would necessarily be verifiable and non-superstitious. But a genuine miracle is not necessarily mutually exclusive with superstition and a lack of verifiability. If a sneaky deity performed a secret miracle, such that men could never detect the connection between the miracle and the deity that performed it, it would be superstitious for men to ascribe that miracle to the deity without having any evidence or explanation showing a verifiable connection. And if the same deity performed a miracle that was indistinguishable from the results of natural causes, it would still be unverifiable as a genuine miracle.

The catch is that if all miracles are superstitious and unverifiable, then men are left without a valid reason for believing that genuine miracles actually occur. A deity Who was performing clandestine miracles would know that He was depriving people of the opportunity to honestly and rationally conclude that miracles are real. Consequently, it would have to be the case that He was either unwilling or unable to give us a valid reason for believing in miracles.

But if there were some compelling reason for Him to be either unwilling or unable to give us a valid reason for concluding that miracles exist, then that same reason would prevent Him from performing any of the Biblical miracles attributed to Him. We can travel down the logical path that allows us to assume that miracles are real anyway, but at the end of the road we find that our modern rationalization is inconsistent with the ancient Bible stories.

And that’s just par for the course. Look for miracles, look for God to show up in real life, and you end up with ignorance, superstition, excuses, and inconsistencies. It is objective, observable, verifiable fact that God does not show up in real life, despite the best efforts of believers to find some valid real-world basis for believing in Him. Alethea shows up, but the Christian deity/deities seem unwilling, or unable, to do it.

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Unapologetics. 37 Comments »

37 Responses to “116 million case studies”

  1. rgz Says:

    More to the point, 116 million miracles an not one has been proved or provided predictable insights?

    I didn’t even knew about fairy rings, much less sighted them, yet, I found about them, saw pictures and can make the independently verifiable claim that they can be found in cooler regions of Europe.

    Yet 48% of the population claims to see miracles and not one is independently verifiable? This is enough evidence that people are driven to claim miracle where miracles are not, and if we know of this vulnerability, we have no reason to assume any claims of miracles is true, even by statistical indetermination.

    Plus of course of they were true they’d be obvious because of corollary evidence as Duncan as made clear enough.

  2. Jayman Says:

    DD:

    I’m not even claiming to know that these events are not miraculous (whatever “miraculous” means).

    A miracle is an act of a supernatural being, such as God. If you claim that God does not act then you must be claiming to know that alleged miracles are not truly miracles. You really need to explain how you can believe the above and believe that it is an “objective, observable, verifiable fact that God does not show up in real life.”

    The “apparitions” have fraud written all over them, but true believers are almost literally blind to the signs of deliberate deception.

    No, I just find the proposed natural explanations to completely disregard the accounts of the event.

    I think it is, because this is not a random sample. These are cases that are selected by advocates of miracles as being the best and most convincing cases available. These are the cream of the crop

    I selected the Bernadette case because it happened to be the first miracle story in an article stating how many adult Americans believe in miracles. The Zeitoun story was selected because it provides insight into how skeptics evaluate miracle stories even when vidoes, photos, and numerous eyewitnesses are present.

  3. Jayman Says:

    rgz:

    More to the point, 116 million miracles an not one has been proved or provided predictable insights?

    I get the sense that skeptics want even more than a theory and predictions. Perhaps you can tell me why the following theory and prediction does not cut it?

    One may theorize that ghosts are the spirits of deceased humans that generally inhabit a location known to them when they were alive. Such a theory allows one to predict that at certain locations ghosts will be observed and that one may be able to identify the ghost as a deceased person who lived at that location.

    Have at it.

    Yet 48% of the population claims to see miracles and not one is independently verifiable?

    The events are often verifiable. One can verify Bernadette’s medical condition or interview the hundreds of thousands of eyewitnesses at Zeitoun. The disagreement is over wehther something supernatural/paranormal took place.

    Plus of course of they were true they’d be obvious because of corollary evidence as Duncan as made clear enough.

    The expected “corollary evidence” is entirely dependent on one’s assumptions. Your pereceived lack of corollary evidence might just be a sign that you don’t understand things.

  4. Jayman Says:

    DD, I should have asked this question earlier. Why do you consider it superstitious for a witness at Zeitoun to believe they saw the Virgin Mary? It seems that such a belief is no more superstitious than me believing that a computer monitor is in front of me right now.

  5. Andrew N.P. Says:

    The disagreement is over whether something supernatural/paranormal took place.

    That such disagreement exists is itself evidence that these events are not verifiably miraculous. Hence the rest of DD’s post.

  6. Arthur Says:

    “Perhaps you can tell me why the following theory and prediction does not cut it?”

    I don’t know much of anything about the paranormal, but I ignore it anyway, so perhaps my example will be helpful. The basic roadblock in my head looks something like this:

    Interest in the paranormal has been around a lot longer than modern methods of scientific inquiry, and those methods have themselves been around for some time now. It is simply not plausible that no one has ever bothered to aim the powerful instruments of science at paranormal phenomena. And it isn’t any more plausible that some cabal of proto-scientists, back in the day, decided that the subject was off limits.

    It makes a lot more sense (for an ignorant layperson like myself) to assume that science has found nothing of substance in the paranormal realm, and that believers in the paranormal simply have more invested in their belief than they do in the principles of scientific inquiry.

  7. Jayman Says:

    Andrew N.P., using your apparent definition of verifiability would require us to conclude that many things we take for granted are not verifiable (I don’t think DD had your definition in mind). Following your chain of reasoning we can say that evolution is not verifiable science and that the Holocaust is not verifiable history. In fact, there’s far more disagreement over whether evolution is real than whether miracles are real. I think it’s fair to say that disagreement on a subject tells us absolutely nothing about the verifiability of the subject.

    Arthur, I don’t think the supernatural/paranormal are officially off limits among scientists but from my perspective they don’t seem to be studied much. Also, it is quite possible for skeptics to have more invested in their belief than they do in the principles of scientific inquiry.

  8. Arthur Says:

    I don’t get a lot of TV, but when I do… when I do… there’s a word for it…

    From my underexposed point of view, there are a surprisingly high number of documentary TV shows about the paranormal (“Children of the Paranormal” going home with the cake, if you ask me). This is sort of the opposite of convincing. It makes the subject look a lot like Intelligent Design: an idea over-represented in the popular media by people who really, really don’t want to give it up, in spite of the issue being more or less settled in the academic literature.

    Although I have to admit the paranormal is a lot more entertaining. In fact, TV and the paranormal kind of belong together.

    Anyone can fall too much in love with an idea, and become blind to all the ways it falls short of observable reality and deaf to all the arguments against it. It pays to have a skeptical and difficult crowd off which to bounce your favorite ideas–and make sure they’re skeptical for real, or you’ll wind up in a crowd of uncritical people patting each other on the back.

    (Cue all the folks who think the scientific community is a crowd of uncritical people patting each other on the back.)

  9. Zor Says:

    “Why do you consider it superstitious for a witness at Zeitoun to believe they saw the Virgin Mary?”

    It’s not superstitious for a witness to believe that they saw an image that was intended to be interpreted as the Virgin Mary – the superstitious part comes in when you assume that the manifestation actually *was* the Virgin Mary, or that the image was generated by God.

    These belief are superstitious because there is no link between the event itself and the ascribed cause. Sure, it might’ve been God putting on a really bad light show, but how do you know that? Even assuming that you couldn’t find a perfectly legitimate explanation using known quantities such as existing technology, might it not be something else other than God: aliens projecting the images from orbit, perhaps?

    So there are two non-superstitious approaches to the Zeitoun events. Accept that human technology was sufficient to enable people to perpetrate a hoax on that scale, or, if you really can’t swallow that, accept that we simply don’t know what the cause was. You can’t just go around shoving God into all the gaps in our knowledge and point to that as proof of his existence. Well, you can, but you look very silly doing it.

  10. Zor Says:

    Oh, and when I said that it might’ve been God – as in the omnimarvellous Christian God – that should in no way be interpreted to mean that I was suggesting that the events indicate that it was God. Quite the opposite – the very idea of such a wonderful God is contradicted by the ambiguity and general lameness of the Zeitoun nonsense.

  11. Jayman Says:

    Zor, it seems all the reasons you provide for calling believers of the apparition at Zeitoun superstitious could be applied to someone who believes they saw you walking down the street. In both cases an observer sees another person, identifies the other person based on that person’s characteristics, and cannot rule out a hoax of some kind. Perhaps the believer of the apparition at Zeitoun mistaken, but I don’t see how they’re superstitious.

    These belief are superstitious because there is no link between the event itself and the ascribed cause.

    You don’t think human sight is understood well enough to make a link between the Virgin Mary and her observers? Would it be non-superstitious to claim that Mary was at the church but to admit ignorance on how she got there (much as I might be ignorant of how you got to the street but I know you’re there now)?

    You can’t just go around shoving God into all the gaps in our knowledge and point to that as proof of his existence.

    I don’t think this is a Mary-of-the-gaps-argument any more than claiming I saw you on the street is a Zor-of-the-gaps-argument. Rather the identification of Mary (Zor) is only possible because of knowledge about Mary (Zor).

  12. Arthur Says:

    I’m having a hard time taking these analogies seriously. Seeing the image of a long-dead Biblical figure hovering in the air is not the same kind of thing as seeing a currently alive person walking down the street, or seeing a computer monitor in front of you (unless the monitor just appeared there, or is hovering in the air, or something).

    Surely you don’t really mean that folks skeptical of a Marian vision should therefore be skeptical of things they see every day? or that folks who don’t question things they see every day should likewise not ask questions about the appearance of a glowing religious icon on top of a church?

  13. Zor Says:

    Yeah, that is not a very effective comparison, Jayman, largely for the reasons already outlined by Arthur.

    Seeing a flesh-and-blood person whose existence can be verified and whose likeness can be confirmed by many different sources and claiming that person possesses a particular identity is light years away from seeing a glowy vision in the sky and claiming it’s the likeness of a long-dead Biblical personality sent by God.

    For one thing, we don’t even know what the Virgin Mary looked like – all we have are the symbols and conventions that have grown up around the legend. At the very best, you can say that the vision is a good representation of what the current wisdom says Mary looked like.

    For another, no-one’s claiming that they saw an actual person at Zeitoun. What they claim to have seen was some glowing light. Not even the Bible claims that Mary was actually some glowing lights in the sky.

    So for many reasons, a witness saying that they saw the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun is making a completely different claim to someone who says that they saw a person in the street. And that’s before you even get to the claim that God put the image there in the first place. It’s just a mess of wrong.

  14. Jayman Says:

    Arthur and Zor, gullibility and superstition are not the same thing. If seeing A and believing A exists is not superstitious then seeing B and believing B exists is not superstitious. You both seem to think that believing Mary appeared is gullible but you’ve provided no reason to believe it is superstitious (which is the very thing I asked about).

  15. cl Says:

    Sorry for the absurd length but I do think it’s an interesting discussion you’ve got going along..

    “Regarding whether or not statistics are evidence, I must say I’m a bit surprised at cl’s objection.”

    For the record, I’m not making a blanket statement about whether or not “statistics” constitute evidence. They can, but such does not entail that they always do. We were in the context of an arbitrary Newsweek statistic, correct? If those represented isolated cases of “independent observers witnessing genuine miracles,” each with its own respective body of evidence (data) we could evaluate, then of course they would “constitute evidence that miracles are real.”

    Without attacking the validity of the statistic which is certainly a worthy strategy, my objection is with the idea that “seeing” a miracle leaves us with any sort of reliable data we can study. I agree that the more people say they saw something, the greater the chance they did see something, but any good scientist knows anecdotes aren’t what we mean by empirical evidence. The amount of actual, physical data remains the same regardless of how many people witness an event.

    “God does not show up in real life, and that’s why there is no evidence of genuine miracles.”

    I had said in an earlier comment I disagreed, that the amount of evidence for genuine miracles and whether or not God shows up in real life are two related but fundamentally separate issues. You’re conflating miracles with God showing up in real life, and our hypothetical “recapitation” example proves this. If the victim re-attaches their head and goes off for a drink, that’s certainly evidence for the miraculous. However, you and jim correctly note that the particular source the observer attributes the miracle to is entirely subjective sans manifestation, and I agree, going perhaps even further – I say that even manifestation cannot be given a free pass as 100% conclusive. There’s always the possibility that what we saw was a neurological misfire, right? How about a “false flag” miracle? Certainly possible, no? So we see that we either believe or we do not.

    “I’m not even claiming to know that these events are not miraculous (whatever “miraculous” means). I do have other reasons for concluding that some unknown natural explanation is more likely, but that’s another matter. When I say that these alleged “sightings” are a combination of ignorance, superstition, exaggeration, misperception, and so on, I am merely stating the verifiable facts that we can observe about these events and people’s reactions to them.”

    It’s not that I misunderstand you, it’s that I disagree that these can be blanket-labelled as “verifiable facts” in any or all cases. Bernadette’s case? Perhaps. The lady at your church? Likely. And I’m agreeable with the idea of fraudulent apparitions. As for these being “cream of the crop” examples, please. I could tell far more difficult anecdotes to explain. You’ve simply accepted this Newsweek statistic as truth. Why? So far nobody’s even mentioned one of the more persuasive “healing miracle” cases I’ve come across in my armchair research, so I know for a fact that what’s discussed here isn’t the cream of the crop.

    “The fact is, however, that it is universally true that whenever we have discovered the correct answers to previously unexplained phenomena, these answers have turned out to be natural causes.”

    I agree in spirit, but this argument fails. It’s true that “natural” explanations have replaced “supernatural” ones for most any phenomena. For example, people thought rain gods brought rain, or that Thor brought lightning. Then they learned about clouds and storms. Problem is, if we’re being honest, we must admit something – that rain “naturally” occurs when moist clouds burst in no way dethrones or disproves the idea that rain gods might have had an occasional say in the weather. That self-perpetuating processes we describe as natural selection sustain biological life in no way dethrones or disproves the idea of a supernatural creation event or a supernaturally upheld creation.

    So this is an argument of false opposites. Knowing what happens materially during a certain phenomena does not mean that any or all potentially “supernatural” causalities have been proven false any or all of the time. In the case of the rain gods, if they were real and suddenly decided to drench us, we would never even know the better. We’d just think that it was raining a lot. If Thor really did throw down an array of lightning bolts, wouldn’t we just remark about what a nasty Noreaster we’re having? That earlier people attributed supernatural cause to all instances of things we today explain with science shows only their misunderstanding of supernaturalism, and not any inherent error or weakness in explanatory power on behalf of supernaturalism or its respective domain.

    Lastly, shouldn’t we expect that “natural” explanations for phenomena will always replace “supernatural” ones? Science doesn’t look for “supernatural” solutions. Science presupposes methodological naturalism, hence it will never discover a “supernatural” solution to a natural problem.

    “And when the data relating to an alleged miracle fails to provide you with any means of verifying whether or not a genuine miracle really occurred, you’re merely being accurate when you point out that this does not constitute a verifiable miracle.”

    I agree with that, but you go further from the NULL position than I think is justified. Although this is true, it’s not a free pass to place all instances in this category as you have.

    “I think perhaps where cl might be going wrong is in assuming that if a genuine miracle actually happened, it would necessarily be verifiable and non-superstitious.”

    Absolutely not, because that’s where I think too many skeptics and atheists go wrong! If a genuine miracle actually happened, it would not necessarily be verifiable and non-superstitious. In fact it’s reasonable to expect it not to be. Although miracles do interact with the natural world, such events represent temporary intrusions into the natural world from entities whose very nature generally forbids them to leave hard evidence, because they themselves are said to come and go from outside our limits of space-time. If God really did heal a little girl after prayer, as with the rain gods and Thor, we would just see a patient who experienced a “spontaneous remission.”

    “If a sneaky deity performed a secret miracle, such that men could never detect the connection between the miracle and the deity that performed it, it would be superstitious for men to ascribe that miracle to the deity without having any evidence or explanation showing a verifiable connection.”

    In a spirit of rational rigueur, I agree. However, this says nothing of cases that have reasonably verifiable connections.

    “It is objective, observable, verifiable fact that God does not show up in real life, despite the best efforts of believers to find some valid real-world basis for believing in Him.”

    Damn. Seems like a big waste of time only to get right back to where we started from. I disagree! You can’t possibly know that any deity hasn’t shown up to somebody in an unambiguous way! Unless you’re omniscient, and no I don’t agree with your star analogy! At most you can claim you’re justified to believe such on account of your own life experience, and not a scintilla more. And guess what? That’s the most any believer can claim, too.

    Arthur,

    Anyone can fall too much in love with an idea, and become blind to all the ways it falls short of observable reality and deaf to all the arguments against it.

    True. Anyone can also too strongly resist an idea, and become blind to all the ways in which the idea is corroborated throughout history and deaf to all the arguments for it. Whatever potential negative befalls belief conversely befalls skepticism. And I agree with you about Psychic Kids.

    Zor,

    I’m tending to agree with your comments here, especially February 21, 2009 at 8:26 pm.

    Jayman,

    In both cases an observer sees another person, identifies the other person based on that person’s characteristics, and cannot rule out a hoax of some kind.

    Although I usually agree with you, I’m with Arthur and Zor on this one. An apparition is better described as the likeness of a person. Don’t you think there is more justification for doubting the authenticity of an apparition in the sky or in our Doritos vs. flesh-and-blood right before us?

    If seeing A and believing A exists is not superstitious then seeing B and believing B exists is not superstitious.

    That’s fine when A and B are categorically similar. In Zeitoun, we don’t have that. Random cloud patterns could reasonably effect pareidolia. What random patterns could mimic a fully-formed being walking down the parkway?

  16. Arthur Says:

    There are “cases that have reasonably verifiable connections” to a deity? Why aren’t we talking about those cases? Why all this strangely skeptical talk about not being able to disprove a behind-the-scenes Thor, or about how no individual can ever know anything about another individual’s experiences, or whether or not God’s existence would even be proven by a verified miracle?

    More to the point, how can any of those points be useful– much less true– if there exist “cases that have reasonably verifiable connections” to a deity?

    And anyway

  17. Arthur Says:

    Um, and anyway… wow, I hope that wasn’t a really important thing I was apparently going to say.

  18. Jayman Says:

    cl, I agree that there is reason to doubt a Marian apparition. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether it is superstitious to believe a Marian apparition took place. Whether two things are categorically similar is also irrelevant.

    In order to meet DD’s definition of superstitious, two criteria must be met. First, no discernible link between the ascribed cause and the event can be postulated. Second, no reason can be given to suggest the cause. As far as I can tell a Marian apparition would meet neither of these criteria.

    Whether you should believe a specific Marian apparition took place is a different matter.

  19. jim Says:

    Jayman:

    “In order to meet DD’s definition of superstitious, two criteria must be met. First, no discernible link between the ascribed cause and the event can be postulated. Second, no reason can be given to suggest the cause.”

    And since ANYTHING can be hypothetically postulated about ANYTHING, and ANY reason can can hypothetically given to suggest ANY cause, and ANY discernment can be categorized as ultimately ‘subjective’, then really, there’s no such thing as superstition at all, yes?

  20. Arthur Says:

    This looks less and less like a rational discussion and more and more like stirring up mud to catch fish.

  21. cl Says:

    Jayman,

    I’m glad we both see more reason to doubt a Marian apparition than a flesh-and-blood person, and I see your point about superstitiousness. I would further agree that regarding superstitiousness, categorical similarity is not relevant. You’re saying that according to DD’s definition of superstitiousness, believing that we saw a man walking down the street could be called superstitious.

    In order to meet DD’s definition of superstitious, two criteria must be met. First, no discernible link between the ascribed cause and the event can be postulated. Second, no reason can be given to suggest the cause. As far as I can tell a Marian apparition would meet neither of these criteria.

    I would add a third: I think DD would also require that some “magical” or “supernatural” cause must be offered for the event, right? I don’t think DD was claiming it was supernatural to believe a Marian apparition took place. I think DD is claiming it is superstitious to ascribe a Marian apparition to a “supernatural” cause.

    So, take our man walking down the street. If you and I believe God created that man, perhaps DD would consider that superstitious? Probably. But I would imagine that in DD’s worldview, believing in a man walking down the street is not superstitious at all, because in his worldview, he’s just observing a product of natural processes of evolution. Perhaps, but two questions arise: Why can’t Marian apparitions and miracles in general also fall into the category of things that actually occur by natural processes? Who makes DD the arbiter of what can and should be explained naturally vs. what can and should be explained supernaturally? The word “supernatural” itself often has no real meaning and simply doubles as a euphemism for ignorance.

    What I’m getting is that DD seems to argue that ignorance of cause only entails superstition when we fill the gap with something like God; fill the gap with something “natural” and fancy-scientific sounding like “spontaneous remission” and you’re no longer superstitious. Personally, I think that’s bunk.

    jim,

    And since ANYTHING can be hypothetically postulated about ANYTHING, and ANY reason can can hypothetically given to suggest ANY cause, and ANY discernment can be categorized as ultimately ’subjective’, then really, there’s no such thing as superstition at all, yes?

    Sure, we can posit anything about anything, but don’t you understand the difference in degrees of an idea’s explanatory power? If so, quit chiding.

  22. R. C. Moore Says:

    “This looks less and less like a rational discussion and more and more like stirring up mud to catch fish.”

    Or trying to determine the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns.

  23. jim Says:

    cl:

    “Sure, we can posit anything about anything, but don’t you understand the difference in degrees of an idea’s explanatory power? If so, quit chiding.”

    Difference in degrees according to whom? Since we’re then out of the realm of categorical proof, omniscient knowledge and the like, we’re stuck with induction. You know, reasoning from the general to the specific? Which has been your sticking point all along; at least, when it hasn’t worked in your favor.

    As far as explanatory power goes, the point has been that naturalistic explanations have by far the best explanatory power; this is an observable fact even to most believers in all other areas of life; except, of course, when they abandon those explanations in favor of their magical biases.

    “Why can’t Marian apparitions and miracles in general also fall into the category of things that actually occur by natural processes? Who makes DD the arbiter of what can and should be explained naturally vs. what can and should be explained supernaturally?”

    In other words, you’ve again abandoned reasonable explanatory power for purely hypothetical explanations, whereby the idea of reasonableness again goes out the window. Gee, why can’t miracles and apparitions also fall under the category of UFO’s, or leprechauns, or magical sentient rainbows? When you open the door to imagined, hypothetical speculation, ‘degrees of explanatory power’ evaporate, replaced by ‘anything goes’. Meanwhile, God has still not shown up in real life; just like dragons, and unicorns, and magical pots of gold. Of course, there might be a realm where these things exist, but there’s absolutely no evidence that they do, and you don’t need to be omniscient to see that.

  24. cl Says:

    If it’s fair that people can tell me what they find patently absurd about my reasoning, surely I retain the right as well.

    R. C. Moore,

    Or trying to determine the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns.

    When skeptics toss out leprechaun and unicorn analogies, reasonable believers tend to view such arguments as pedestrian and lacking fair categorical scope.

    jim,

    As far as explanatory power goes, the point has been that naturalistic explanations have by far the best explanatory power; this is an observable fact even to most believers in all other areas of life; except, of course, when they abandon those explanations in favor of their magical biases.

    If you really doubt that legitimate degrees of explanatory power exist, if you really think “ANYTHING can be hypothetically postulated about ANYTHING,” tell me, why don’t you suppose little green gremlins run the nearest city bus system?

    I can’t speak for all non-atheists, but I don’t abandon “natural” explanations in favor of magical biases. I don’t believe in what I think you mean when you say “magic.” I do believe that possibly all but the greatest of laws can be overcome or temporarily superceded by greater laws. You conflate what is currently not proven with what is supernatural, magical and false. If the soul is real and we end up confirming it, then the soul is natural. I don’t suppose the soul is supernatural at all. We can’t classify things as “supernatural” and “natural” unless we want to have an overly-simplistic and presumptuous argument. Whether we take “natural” to mean “that which always was” or “the creator and that which was created,” what non-man-made thing exists or can exist that is not natural? In order to denounce the explanatory power of what you describe as “supernaturalism” you have to first assume that what you are describing is in fact “supernatural” and not natural. If dark matter or dark energy exist, are they “supernatural?” I don’t make that presumption. Why should you make it about the soul?

    Gee, why can’t miracles and apparitions also fall under the category of UFO’s, or leprechauns, or magical sentient rainbows? When you open the door to imagined, hypothetical speculation, ‘degrees of explanatory power’ evaporate, replaced by ‘anything goes’.

    Perhaps if you must look at things so either/or, but error is often in the extremes. There are several reasonable stops between “zero degrees of explanatory power” and “anything goes.” Do you really think that unicorns, leprechauns, Spontaneous Magical Entropy Reversal Fields, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the idea of God all share similar explanatory power? And are all categorically identical for accurate comparison in an honest intellectual discussion? Do you really believe that?

    Meanwhile, God has still not shown up in real life; just like dragons, and unicorns, and magical pots of gold. Of course, there might be a realm where these things exist, but there’s absolutely no evidence that they do, and you don’t need to be omniscient to see that.

    I can’t speak for every other person that ever lived on Earth, and I don’t see how it’s rational for you to presume you can. When you say “there’s absolutely no evidence” that God shows up, thus putting it on equal par with the Flying Spaghetti Monster or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, you invite yourself to not be taken seriously.

    Tell me how believing in something for which authentic bits of evidence are zero or effectively zero can be fairly compared to something for which myriad bits of cross-cultural circumstantial and anecdotal evidence exist? Sure, there’s no conclusive, repeateable, testable evidence we can show someone to prove God, and same with FSM. But picture a dual column with God on the left and FSM on the right. The rows contain criteria such as purported sightings, purported inspiration of texts, purported miracles, sightings across cultures, etc. No matter how many legitimate criteria we add, FSM is going to have zero or near-zero in just about every single instance, possibly even in all instances. On the other hand, God’s is surely far greater. Does that prove God? No. Does that disprove FSM? No, but we are certainly more justified in leaving the NULL position in favor of the idea with the most instances of corroborating evidence, right?

    There is no evidence that jim is willing to accept as proof of God showing up, and it’s correct that we don’t have to be omniscient to know that. We do have to omniscient to make the blanket claim that “there’s absolutely no evidence” for God or for God showing up ever. As it is, your worldview disallows a genuine instance of evidence for God or for God showing up by default. It creates a filter with which you might subliminally process further instances if not careful, and it’s not a very useful observation that the entire world is pink through rose colored glasses.

  25. GaySolomon Says:

    cl writes:

    “So far nobody’s even mentioned one of the more persuasive “healing miracle” cases I’ve come across in my armchair research, so I know for a fact that what’s discussed here isn’t the cream of the crop.”

    Ah hemm…I must admit that I have only quickly scanned through your responses, but nowhere do I see you present any “concrete” evidence.

    At best you and Jayman argue in favour of the possibility of miracles and the possibility of your god’s existence – all the while providing us with no evidence for either. Well, what are you waiting for? You claim to know of “more persuasive ‘healing miracle’ cases”. Don’t keep us in suspense. Proclaim it. Show us.

  26. cl Says:

    Ah hemm…I must admit that I have only quickly scanned through your responses, but nowhere do I see you present any “concrete” evidence.

    Correct. I don’t offer any. I don’t see any point in doing so if my opponents are already of the belief that God never shows up in real life. Did I claim to have offered any “concrete” evidence? No. I can’t even get a “concrete” definition of a miracle with which I could begin a preliminary presentation.

    At best you and Jayman argue in favour of the possibility of miracles and the possibility of your god’s existence – all the while providing us with no evidence for either. Well, what are you waiting for? You claim to know of “more persuasive ‘healing miracle’ cases”. Don’t keep us in suspense. Proclaim it. Show us.

    You assume I’m here to prove a positive claim of my own, when I’m really here to refute particular claims DD has made. Two different strategies entirely. Futile as I think the game is, I’m not at all afraid to play “show me a miracle,” but I want specific definitions agreed upon ahead of time so nobody can move the goalpost. Then maybe I’ll show some of my cards. By all means provide your definitions – it’s just that nobody’s had the patience for this part of the discourse yet.

  27. jim Says:

    cl:

    “There is no evidence that jim is willing to accept as proof of God showing up…”

    Again, you’re misrepresenting what I’ve said previously. Regarding evidence, I’ve given you several examples of what I’d conditionally consider to be miraculous, along with additional corroborating evidence that would put me on the path to believing in a traditional theistic god. Problem is, you’ve rejected my examples ( or in some cases, passed right by them). What more can I say? It’s one thing to acknowledge that, in the realm of any and all possibilities, anything is possible. However, I’ve not seen anything even remotely convincing. Now, you can accuse me of being biased in my interpretations, and that’s fine with me. I’m also biased against the existence ghosts, and fairies, and poltergeists, and a myriad of other things. Why? Because I’ve determined that these things are more easily explainable due to peoples’ imaginations, their needs to embellish according to local custom, and all sorts of other mundane reasons. In the same sense that I see no convincing evidence to budge me into the ‘null position’ in respect to alien abductions, crop circles, leprechauns or the Loch Ness Monster, I also see no evidence of an agent who can play fast and loose with natural laws the way I understand them.

    Of course, you can always posit that even though things happen according to natural laws, that doesn’t prove that there’s not a supernatural agent upholding those laws behind the apparent scenes (I saw you make that argument somewhere, but I really don’t have the interest to go digging). Yeah, and there’s also the possibility that said supernatural agent is itself being moved by a super-DOOPER natural agent, and so on. Talk about moving goalposts! You’ve put them on a freight train bound for logical infinite regress!

    As far as your column A/ column B approach, it’s fine as far as it goes. But it really doesn’t do anything for me, simply for the fact that an imaginary being is an imaginary being, barring a quality of convincing evidence that I just haven’t seen yet. The existence of Jehovah and the existence of the FSM are qualitatively equal absurdities to me, the only difference being that one of them is taken seriously by a lot of people. But since I understand the historical underpinnings and psychology motivating this belief, there’s absolutely no reason for me to move into the null position. Granted, all my beliefs are ultimately tentative since new knowledge might always come my way; and there are several ideas about which I don’t know enough to hold solid opinions. But the theistic gods of the various known religious traditions don’t fall into that category. They are simply inconsistent with the way I perceive the world. Of course, you can quibble about my perceptions and interpretations until the cows come home, all the while refusing to offer up your own definitions for the sake of allowing yourself wiggle room…”Who says that’s the God I believe in?” So be it. Personally, I find that to be a bad faith approach, but then…that’s my opinion.

    One more thing:

    “If you really doubt that legitimate degrees of explanatory power exist, if you really think “ANYTHING can be hypothetically postulated about ANYTHING,” tell me, why don’t you suppose little green gremlins run the nearest city bus system?”

    Once again, you’ve missed my meaning. It’s consistently been YOUR point that only omniscience suffices to make ultimate statements like ‘there is no god’. It’s YOUR argumentation that leaves the door open for ‘little green gremlins’…not mine. I’m afraid you’ve gotten hold of your own tail, Ouroborus.

  28. cl Says:

    However, I’ve not seen anything even remotely convincing.

    That’s exactly what I meant when I said, “There is no evidence that jim is willing to accept as proof of God showing up…” I’ve not claimed you claim there is zero evidence; I’ve claimed that there is zero evidence you’re willing to accept, and that claim is correct. So I’m not misrepresenting what you’ve said previously in that regard. I’m understanding it loud and clear.

    And it’s not that I’m necessarily rejecting your examples, either. I asked for specific clarifications that might allow me to identify your examples when I see them. Do you see the difference?

    Now, you can accuse me of being biased in my interpretations, and that’s fine with me.

    I’ve never even went there. It’s you who admits to being biased in the very next sentence.

    Yeah, and there’s also the possibility that said supernatural agent is itself being moved by a super-DOOPER natural agent, and so on. Talk about moving goalposts! You’ve put them on a freight train bound for logical infinite regress!

    Well sure, when you frame my argument like that and begin with a definition of God that I don’t necessarily accept. But that’s not how I define God, nor is that where I go with my argument.

    The existence of Jehovah and the existence of the FSM are qualitatively equal absurdities to me, the only difference being that one of them is taken seriously by a lot of people.

    I don’t think any truly reasonable person can make that claim in an intellectually honest manner, and I imagine you’ll disagree.

    And when you use the phrase, “move into the NULL position,” that’s another area where we fundamentally differ. In the total absence of any data, the most neutral place to begin is in the NULL position. You seem to begin at the false position, and I understand that rationalists call that rational. I don’t think such is rational at all.

    And I offered better and more comprehensive preliminary definitions regarding miracles than any of you. We never got to a point where we all could agree on what we were even talking about, so I’m not going to show you my cards if you can still say, “That’s not a royal flush.”

    It’s YOUR argumentation that leaves the door open for ‘little green gremlins’…not mine.

    If that’s what you really think, it is you who misunderstands me. My argumentation provides grounds to reject little green gremlins on account of the demonstrable superiority in the explanatory power of locomotion and combustion. That’s why I mentioned the differences in degree of an idea’s explanatory power – and you eschewed that with, “Differences in degree according to whom?”

    Tell me, what has better explanatory power for a fully functioning bus system – locomotion and combustion? Or little green gremlins? Why?

  29. jim Says:

    cl:

    “However, I’ve not seen anything even remotely convincing.

    That’s exactly what I meant when I said, “There is no evidence that jim is willing to accept as proof of God showing up…”

    If you say so, but the two statements seem qualitatively different to me. One simply states that I’ve yet to find any convincing evidence. The other implies that I’m adamantly not willing to consider anything.

    “And it’s not that I’m necessarily rejecting your examples, either. I asked for specific clarifications that might allow me to identify your examples when I see them. Do you see the difference?”

    I gave very specific examples. You skipped over them, and claimed none had been given. I repeated them. Cancer ward. Restored limb. Trapped miner. Supernatural rescue from a fire. Remember? Quite simple examples, really. Easy to follow. Easy to understand.

    ” Now, you can accuse me of being biased in my interpretations, and that’s fine with me.

    I’ve never even went there. It’s you who admits to being biased in the very next sentence.

    Yeah, and there’s also the possibility that said supernatural agent is itself being moved by a super-DOOPER natural agent, and so on. Talk about moving goalposts! You’ve put them on a freight train bound for logical infinite regress!”

    The paragraph you cite has nothing to do with my bias, but with your attempted ‘saving’ of supernaturalism through superimposition on top of an existing natural explanation.

    “Well sure, when you frame my argument like that and begin with a definition of God that I don’t necessarily accept. But that’s not how I define God, nor is that where I go with my argument.”

    Which speaks quite nicely to what I said about the ‘wiggle room’ you allow yourself…your ambiguity allows you to attack positions while giving yourself a free ride. It’s a tactic I don’t think much of.

    ” The existence of Jehovah and the existence of the FSM are qualitatively equal absurdities to me, the only difference being that one of them is taken seriously by a lot of people.

    I don’t think any truly reasonable person can make that claim in an intellectually honest manner, and I imagine you’ll disagree.”

    You’re right; I disagree, and have touched on my reasons for disagreeing.

    “And when you use the phrase, “move into the NULL position,” that’s another area where we fundamentally differ. In the total absence of any data, the most neutral place to begin is in the NULL position. You seem to begin at the false position, and I understand that rationalists call that rational. I don’t think such is rational at all.”

    Actually, I started from the null position, at some point moved into the positive position, then later moved back into the null position, finally winding up in the negative position. As for an absence of data, that’s pretty much what I’d expect for something which doesn’t exist. Of course, there’s plenty of data regarding claims…I just happen to interpret that data different from you. In the rarefied atmosphere of deductive proof for the existence of a deity, I’ll confess there’s no direct data. Unfortunately, as arguments go this one says nothing by saying too much; and, as I pointed out, can be used for the existence of leprechauns, unicorns and all the other stuff that I’ve mentioned before.

    “And I offered better and more comprehensive preliminary definitions regarding miracles than any of you. We never got to a point where we all could agree on what we were even talking about, so I’m not going to show you my cards if you can still say, “That’s not a royal flush.””

    Again, I gave concrete and easy to understand examples. With more time and incentive, I could offer a thousand more with little difficulty. And we’re not playing cards.

    ” It’s YOUR argumentation that leaves the door open for ‘little green gremlins’…not mine.

    If that’s what you really think, it is you who misunderstands me. My argumentation provides grounds to reject little green gremlins on account of the demonstrable superiority in the explanatory power of locomotion and combustion. That’s why I mentioned the differences in degree of an idea’s explanatory power – and you eschewed that with, “Differences in degree according to whom?”?

    No, your argumentation only provides grounds to reject little green gremlins when you’re justifying explanatory power in terms of anecdotal evidence in the aggregate. At other times, and according to convenience, you dump explanatory power altogether, and plead to the lack of omniscience to make your case vis-a-vis the ‘null position’. It’s to the latter position that my comment was directed…hoisting you on your own petard, as it were.

    “Tell me, what has better explanatory power for a fully functioning bus system – locomotion and combustion? Or little green gremlins? Why?”

    Well, if I was looking to justify greater explanatory power, I’d choose ‘locomotion and combustion. However, if YOU were to evoke better explanatory power in an attempt to thwart my belief in little green gremlins, I’d probably answer in this vein-

    ‘What do you mean by ‘locomotion and combustion’? Define your terms. But don’t ask me what I mean by those terms…it’s a secret! Anyhow, that locomotion and combustion are the real agents behind a working bus system is just your subjective opinion…are you omniscient? How do you know it’s not the devil running the buses, but he’s making it seem like he’s not, because then you might begin to believe in the supernatural realm where the little green gremlins live? Or maybe locomotion and combustion are real, but are actually only an empirical subset of the actions of little green gremlins working behind the scenes (and how can we know the motivations of little green gremlins, anyway, since they live in a realm that can’t be empirically studied?). The fact that you categorically deny the existence of little green gremlins simply because they don’t appear to exist is your rationalistic bias. Did I mention that you’re not omniscient? YOU’RE NOT OMNISCIENT!

    Yeah…somethin’ like that.

    And now, a little reiteration for the sake of emphasis-

    “My argumentation provides grounds to reject little green gremlins on account of the demonstrable superiority in the explanatory power of locomotion and combustion.”

    If this is true, then your argumentation also provides grounds to rejecting god sans omniscience, according to alternate and superior explanatory power (which Duncan has covered ad nauseam, so I feel no need to re-invent the wheel at this juncture).

    One more thing, regarding an exchange with Dominic on another post-

    ” I mean, really now. Just because you feel hungry doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually hungry?!?!

    That’s exactly correct. A whole range of impulses can be artificially generated by probing and prodding specific regions of the brain. Surely you follow neurology and brain studies at least peripherally, right? The feeling of hunger can be made to arise in a physically satiated person.”

    Absolutely ludicrous! The normative understanding of being hungry IS to feel hungry, and is only complimentary to physical satiation.

  30. GaySolomon Says:

    cl writes:

    “I can’t even get a “concrete” definition of a miracle with which I could begin a preliminary presentation.”

    So much bluster. So much whining. So much misdirection. If you have a favoured definition, state it. If you have a favoured miracle that conforms to that definition, reveal it.

    I don’t have the appetite to sift through your solipsistic meanderings.

  31. cl Says:

    jim,

    I’ll take this one first, since so many people seem to have pooped their pants about my statements regarding hunger:

    The normative understanding of being hungry IS to feel hungry…

    Yes, that’s correct, and I’m not arguing otherwise. I’m telling you plainly that one can experience the sensation of hunger sans an actual, physical need for food. That’s what I’ve been saying the entire time, yet you all tell me I’m wrong, which is no skin off my back and really keeps me laughing. So, are you of the opinion that people can’t experience the sensation of hunger, moments after eating to satiation? Because I know what hunger is and what people mean when they use the word.

    I gave very specific examples. You skipped over them, and claimed none had been given. I repeated them. Cancer ward. Restored limb. Trapped miner. Supernatural rescue from a fire. Remember?

    Yes I remember, and I acknowledged them. Do you still not realize that I’m not asking for specific examples of things person X, Y or Z would consider a miracle; I’m asking for specific criteria by which we might judge any alleged miracle? Do you see the difference? I have a file of case studies that I think warrant further examination. I’d be willing to discuss them with people, if we can agree beforehand to some reasonable criteria by which we might exclude likely non-miracles and isolate potential miracles. To say that they must be “unambiguous” and “stringently verified” doesn’t do much at all. The criteria are too loose and subjective as stated, and warrant further specification.

    GaySolomon,

    I happen to think all the whining and quibbling over hunger is quite solipsistic, so we have something in common.

    If you have a favoured definition, state it.

    I stated some preliminary definitions, I’m sorry you missed them, but you don’t have to be pissy to me about it. We, as a group, never developed a workable set of criteria by which we might reasonably judge any alleged miracle. I’m not asking for specific examples of things person X, Y or Z would consider a miracle; I’m asking for specific criteria by which we might judge any alleged miracle. Do you see the difference? If so, then do you see why jim and DD’s demands for a videotaped amputee regrowing a limb with God showing up in real life are as veridically worthless as the hypothetical dragon in Carl Sagan’s garage? What I’m saying is this: I have a file of case studies that I think warrant further examination. I’d be willing to discuss them with people, if we can agree beforehand to some reasonable criteria by which we might exclude likely non-miracles and isolate potential miracles. To say that they must be “unambiguous” and “stringently verified” doesn’t do much at all.

    I don’t have the appetite to sift through your solipsistic meanderings.

    I’m sorry you’re unwilling to dig through my comments.

  32. jim Says:

    cl:

    “I mean, really now. Just because you feel hungry doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually hungry?!?!

    cl- That’s exactly correct.”

    “The normative understanding of being hungry IS to feel hungry…

    cl- Yes, that’s correct, and I’m not arguing otherwise. ”

    One more time? Ok, since you’re twisting my arm…

    “I mean, really now. Just because you feel hungry doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually hungry?!?!

    cl- That’s exactly correct.”

    “The normative understanding of being hungry IS to feel hungry…

    cl- Yes, that’s correct, and I’m not arguing otherwise. ”

    Alright! But this is the LAST time!

    “I mean, really now. Just because you feel hungry doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually hungry?!?!

    cl- That’s exactly correct.”

    “The normative understanding of being hungry IS to feel hungry…

    cl- Yes, that’s correct, and I’m not arguing otherwise. ”

    Somebody MUST have pooped, ’cause somebody else is sure throwing the stuff around!

  33. jim Says:

    cl:

    “That’s what I’ve been saying the entire time, yet you all tell me I’m wrong, which is no skin off my back and really keeps me laughing.”

    I’m laughing right along with you tonight, cl…well, not WITH you. LOLOL!

    “If so, then do you see why jim and DD’s demands for a videotaped amputee regrowing a limb with God showing up in real life are as veridically worthless as the hypothetical dragon in Carl Sagan’s garage??”

    Not worthless to me, cl. You’re only spinning this little yarn because you know such evidence WOULD be a great starting point towards verifying God’s existence, only…well, you also know that such evidence doesn’t exist, and isn’t likely to turn up. Yours is an attempt to discount reasonable evidence beforehand, so that when people ask for it, you can just say “you wouldn’t believe it anyway.” And your call for coming to a consensus regarding definitions for evidence is just a red herring, another way to forestall the discussion of whether any evidence you have to offer is any good. What’s unambiguous to me might not be so to somebody else; however, there are obvious thresholds of evidence which, when crossed, would put almost everybody but the most devoted cynic on the same page. Some of these have been mentioned. Others can be obviously extrapolated from those.

    You’re forever circling the runway, cl, but you seem to have no real interest in landing and delivering the goods. (I could say that, unfortunately, you’re about to run out of gas…but that would be stretching the metaphor a bit too much, don’tcha think?

  34. cl Says:

    jim,

    regarding your comment February 24, 2009 at 10:41 pm – and you say I’m the one spinning yarn? I tell you clearly what I mean, and you devote another entire comment to some silly little hypothetical exchange. And you keep belaboring about a point that has nil to do with the original argument, all the while ignoring the original argument. I’m all for trying to get to some common ground here, jim, but you’re going to have to do more than just condescend and do what you accuse others of.

    Short version: It requires omniscience to know for a fact that God’s never shown up in real life. You cannot reasonably argue against that statement.

    As far as our miracle thing, I just find it funny that you’re more than willing to devote hundreds of words to mocking me about it, when those same words could be spent on trying to get somewhere with this discussion. And the whole “sophism” bit came about because you misunderstood what I meant when I denounced your criteria as subjective. You’ve literally built entire perceptions of me and my argument based on misunderstandings of words. You guys all keep whining, telling me to show my cards – but I won’t until we’re all agreed on what does and does not constitute a royal flush. There’s no point.

    Yours is an attempt to discount reasonable evidence beforehand, so that when people ask for it, you can just say “you wouldn’t believe it anyway.”

    No, its not. Again, mine is an attempt to secure non-negotiable criteria by which we can evaluate the authenticity of alleged miracles. Once that’s happened, I’m more than willing to test a few cases. But you can believe whatever you want.

    And your call for coming to a consensus regarding definitions for evidence is just a red herring, another way to forestall the discussion of whether any evidence you have to offer is any good.

    Gee, that’s funny, because I happen to see your taunting and mocking as the red herring in the matter. Go figure. And I really don’t care what you or anyone around here thinks of the evidence I have to offer, but I’m interested in the mental exercise at hand, so if and when you’re ready to pull the trigger, go ahead and let’s expand these criteria. Not specific examples (cancer ward, recapitation, etc.) but specific criteria that we can apply to any alleged miracle to exclude the unpersuasive and include those that merit further examination. If that’s not sounding good, well, we can always try to read each other minds. That’s always a hoot.

    You’re forever circling the runway, cl, but you seem to have no real interest in landing and delivering the goods. (I could say that, unfortunately, you’re about to run out of gas…but that would be stretching the metaphor a bit too much, don’tcha think?

    That whole statement is false and stupid and rooted in no other motive than to belittle me. That’s too bad because you’re an intelligent guy. What does that jibberish offer intellectually to this discussion? I’d rather you not say anything at all if it’s not in good faith. And forever circling the runway my ass. Although I don’t have to share anything with you or anyone in order to challenge a few statements DD made, instead of just responding with more mocking, why don’t you expand those criteria and let’s try to make something of this mental exercise.

  35. cl Says:

    jim,

    I should also have pointed out the irony in the fact that you chide me to high hell over this stuff but yet you concede the most essential part of my claim:

    What’s unambiguous to me might not be so to somebody else;

    Exactly. So, what do you wanna do? Insult me more? Or put our heads together and devise some real criteria by which we can have a real discussion? I could go on with my opinion of people who mock their opponent while agreeing with the most essential part of their claim, but I’d rather get to the bottom of these criteria.

  36. jim Says:

    cl:

    “Or put our heads together and devise some real criteria by which we can have a real discussion?”

    I think pretty much all that’s needed to be said has been said already (speaking for myself, not the other commenters, or the host). To tell you the truth, I’m more interested in further deconstructing your sort of tactics, maybe delving into those logical blindspots a bit… but I don’t think that would be very appropriate in this thread. I’m thinking I might tackle it over at my reason vs. apologetics blog. There’s some textbook barnumism going on here which deserves some attention. Of course, I REALLY need to spend some time on the antinatalism book, so I should probably pull my head out of these distractions for a while. We’ll see.

    BTW, I posted a comment over at your blog last night, on the article referencing the Giza pyramids, but I left some links for you, and I think maybe your spam filter ate it up. Did ancient astronauts really build the pyramids? I’ll ask Uri Geller and Sylvia Brown next time I see them. cya.

  37. GaySolomon Says:

    cl writes:

    “…I’m really here to refute particular claims DD has made.”

    Later cl writes:

    “We, as a group, never developed a workable set of criteria by which we might reasonably judge any alleged miracle.”

    I am confused. Why are you here? Are you here to beat the skeptics at their own game, or are you here to make some positive assertions and convincing demonstrations about your implied claims?

    Your aims strike me as contradictory. You seem more interested in tag team word games with other posters than positing a serious framework to discuss miracles. If it is the former – carry on by all means. Who am I to break up a jolly good session of rhetorical mud wrestling? If it is the latter – then I am still waiting. You do not need permission from me or anyone else to state your terms and provide your evidence.

    Sorry if I come across as “pissy”. When it comes to “god claims” (of which I regard miracles to be a subset) many skeptcis such as myself have already heard most (or all) of the arguments provided by religious apologists. Hell – many of us come from deeply religious backgrounds and we were once part of the very “god industry” we now question. It is from this place that my impatience and “pissy” mood emanate.