A quick clarificationMarch 3, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
I’m a bit under the weather today, so I’ll just toss out a quick clarification. In his reply to my post on “How many stars are not the sun?”, commenter cl writes:
Thus, I can and do know that God does not show up in real life, just like I can and do know that none of the stars in the night sky is our sun.
Wow, really? Surely you’ve heard of Russell’s Teapot, right? If the above is your argument, then count me in with those who think Jayman has you on the ropes. Your analogy entails an irrecoverable category error. You contrast claims for which no empirical evidence exists with claims for which conclusive empirical evidence exists. The existence of a bona fide miracle is still in question, correct? That our sun is not our sun is not in question. Not very persuasive, IMO.
The point I’m making has nothing to do with Russell’s Teapot, which has to do with unfalsifiable claims. My point, by contrast, is that the preconditions that would give us a miracle-working Christian God entail other consequences so obvious as to make (unfalsifiable) miracles moot as a source of evidence for God’s existence. When our sun is in the sky, its glory so overwhelms the lesser glory of the stars as to leave them virtually invisible. There’s no debate over which star is our genuine sun, because no other contenders can even show up.
In the same way, when we read Biblical stories about God showing up, one thing we never read is any debate over whether that was really God or not. If God really were willing and able to show up in real life, it would be like the sun coming out. It would produce empirical evidence, and it wouldn’t be a category error to compare God’s presence to the sun’s presence.
That’s my point.