Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Craig Keener on miracles

Here. 

94 comments:

Cal Metzger said...

Isn't there a simpler answer to the question "Why does god hate amputees?" than anything believers give?


Gyan said...

1) Do Catholics and Protestants accept the modern miracles of healing etc that are claimed to take place in Pentecostal churches?
2) Do Protestant accept the specifically Catholic miracles of Fatima, Lourdes etc where an apparition of Virgin instructs the beholders in specially Catholic doctrine. Indeed to believe in these specially Catholic miracles is to disbelieve in Protestantism. So, where are the Protestant commentaries in Fatima and Lourdes?
3) And what about the Old Testament miracles with their folkloric elements? Moses striking rock to get water, manna falling from heaven, plagues of Egypt, God that shows his back etc etc.

B. Prokop said...

You know, Gyan, I myself am a Catholic, and I can't recall ever hearing any sort of pronouncement either for or against the validity of Pentecostal miracles. I personally tend toward a skeptical position for most of them, but that's just me, and I certainly don't speak for the Church.

As to Protestants accepting Catholic miracles... well, they they have no Magisterium, so it's kind of an individual call there, isn't it? You'd have to ask each one individually. On an anecdotal note, there's actually a Protestant church in the District of Columbia named Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is about as "Catholic" as you can get.

Concerning miracles in the Old Testament, I guess it depends on how much of a biblical literalist one is. Again personally, I take a rather agnostic position on the historicity of large parts of the OT. I'm not really that concerned about how the sausage was made, but boy is it ever delicious! I have a default position of accepting the accounts as historically accurate, but it wouldn't upset me in the least to find out they weren't.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

It really is that simple

steve said...

i) I don't consider OT miracles to be "folkloric."

ii) I'm very Protestant. I read to discussions by Stanley Jaki on Lourdes. I thought the cases he cited were credible.

iii) Your question about whether Protestants accept reported miracles in Pentecostals churches is odds. Many Pentecostals are Protestant.

Some Protestants are charismatics or continuationists while others are cessationists.

Gyan said...

steve,
i) There are many folkloric elements e.g. Balaam's talking ass and Aaron's flowering staff (also present in Greek mythology). There is also great deal of magic numbers, 7, 12 and 40 keep recurring everywhere.
ii) If Lourdes miracles are credible then is the assertion of Immaculate Conception (spoken by the Marian apparition at Lourdes) credible or not?

Gyan said...

Ilion,
"What is the difference between the claim that "once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street" and the claim that an iron axe-head, rare and expensive in the time and place, which had flown off the handle into a body of water, was seen to float to the surface to be retrieved by the people who needed it?"

The key difference you ignore (and that makes the former a non-miracle, were it ever to happen) is that the former is formally calculable (that is, its probability of occurrence can be computed via a well-defined procedure) and the later isn't.

This is not to say that I believe in all the fantastic assertions of quantum mechanics, relativity and cosmology. But the difference between a natural event and a supernatural event needs to be appreciated.

Gyan said...

Prokop,
"they they have no Magisterium"
But they do have unofficial magisteria--theologians, bishops (for Anglicans), doctors of philosophy, preachers etc. What do they say? Just ignore these Catholic miracles?
Isn't that precisely what atheists do to the miracle stories of 2000 years ago?

steve said...

i) Asserting that these are folkloric elements doesn't make it so. Where's your argument.

ii) Numerical symbolism is hardly equivalent to "magic numbers".

iii) You act as if Catholic miracles are an all-or-nothing proposition. I can affirm miracles for which there is good evidence. I gave an example. That doesn't commit me to affirm poorly attested miracles.

I didn't say Lourdes miracles in general are credible. I was very specific.

BTW, a standard work on past and present miracles is Craig Keener's two volume monograph. He's also done a number of YouTube presentations.

Cal Metzger said...

@Steve, is it possible that the god you believe exists has never performed any miracles? In other words, could your god exist, but as it turns out all of the miracle reports are mistaken?

steve said...

Atheism posits a universal negative in reference to miracles. The onus on the atheist is to disprove every single reported miracle (not to mention unreported miracles). By contrast, the onus on the Christian is to prove just one miracle. A single miracle is sufficient to refute a universal negative. Your burden of proof is a whole lot tougher than mine.

And instead of floating fact-free hypotheticals ("Is it possible..."), why don't you engage the actual state of the evidence?

Cal Metzger said...

@Steve, is it possible that the god you believe exists has never performed any miracles?

Why is hard for you to just answer that question with a yes or no?

Edgestow said...

Well, I can answer your fact-free, hypothetical faux question: The God I believe exists performs miracles, so no - it is not possible. (Perhaps it's possible for the God someone else believes exists, but not mine.)

That was easy.

Cal Metzger said...

Hmm. I can understand how a question could contain a hypothetical, and if it's faux (by being rhetorical, etc.), but a "fact-free" question is new to me.

Thanks for answering the question, though. That's kind of what I thought, but I didn't know the answer for sure -- surprisingly, that's why I asked. :)

Edgestow said...

It is "fact free" because it's like asking, "Is it possible that your wife is being unfaithful?" in the absence of any reason to think so. It's just making stuff up in order to answer a frivolous question. I believe that's what Steve meant by "engaging the evidence."

There are purported miracles out there, and there is evidence for them. That's what you ought to be asking about.

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "It is "fact free" because it's like asking, "Is it possible that your wife is being unfaithful?" in the absence of any reason to think so. "

The question purposely avoids determining the facts -- that's what hypothetical questions do. Hypothetical questions don't ask what is -- they ask what if.

Are you saying that hypothetical questions are frivolous?

Edge: "There are purported miracles out there, and there is evidence for them. That's what you ought to be asking about."

I think from the answer to my question you aren't capable of examining the evidence for miracles, because you have already determined that miracles occur. And I have looked at miracle claims before.

Why don't you put forth your very best -- the most impeccable, etc. -- evidence you know of for a miracle. If I can show you how it's not very good evidence, would that change your mind?

I think I know the answer already about whether or not you would change your mind. So who do you think you're fooling?




Edgestow said...

I think the one I linked to is impeccable.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"Isn't there a simpler answer to the question 'Why does god hate amputees?' than anything believers give?"

I think the tougher question is "Why does God hate leprechauns." I don't know a single record instance where God healed a leprechaun. If that's not sufficient to disprove God's existence, I don't know what is.

steve said...

‪Cal Metzger‬ said...

"@Steve, is it possible that the god you believe exists has never performed any miracles? Why is hard for you to just answer that question with a yes or no?"

Here's a better question: Why is it hard for you just to engage the evidence?

Cal Metzger said...

Edgestow: "I think the one I linked to is impeccable."

I read the above as, Edgestow: "I am aggressively gullible."

Edgestow said...

That's OK with me, because I read your comments as "I am a giant phony when I ask others for what could change their mind, because nothing could possibly change mine."

You never even bothered to explain why the evidence for the miracle I cited was "not very good". Wasn't that the challenge you yourself laid down?

Cal Metzger said...

steve: "I think the tougher question is "Why does God hate leprechauns." I don't know a single record instance where God healed a leprechaun. If that's not sufficient to disprove God's existence, I don't know what is."

It appears that you don't understand the amputee problem (amputees exist). Or the burden of proof. Or the value of consistency. It's hard to know where to begin.

steve: "Here's a better question: Why is it hard for you just to engage the evidence?"

Um, I've been at this game for a long time now. Because I know what you mean by "the evidence."

But the invitation is out to you to, at any time, answer the most basic question you seem to like avoiding. (I really don't know why, it was just a baseline question that I was genuinely curious about.): is it possible that the god you believe exists has never performed any miracles?

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "You never even bothered to explain why the evidence for the miracle I cited was "not very good". Wasn't that the challenge you yourself laid down?"

To be clear, you mean the article you cited was the impeccable evidence for which you base your belief in miracles?

Edgestow said...

No, I mean that impeccable evidence exists for the miracle referenced in the article.

You can learn more about it here, here, and at other sites on the web.

Oh, but those are just "stories". I get it - you will demand "evidence" until you're actually presented with some. Then you'll conveniently declare it to be not evidence. Neat little trick there.

B. Prokop said...

I love it that the miraculous healing of Father Pytel is being discussed on DI! Holy Rosary is my home parish here in Baltimore, and the parish slogan is (appropriately) "Where Miracles Happen!"

The Divine Mercy Devotion is very popular in this church. It's prayed every day just prior to evening Mass, and at 3 PM on Fridays in the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament. (I try to attend Mass 4 times a week (Sun, Tue, Thu, and Fri), and I always arrive early enough to participate in the devotion.) Holy Rosary serves a large and very active Polish community here in Baltimore, and many of its services are in Polish. That's no problem, even for a non-Polish speaking person like myself, because the Catholic Mass is the same no matter what language it's celebrated in. I always know just what's happening. I've even managed to memorize a few prayers in Polish.

Holy Rosary is quite proud of its role in the canonization of Saint Faustina Kowalska, and there is a shrine containing relics of the saint to the left of the main altar.

Like it says in the first link in the posting above this one,

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "Oh, but those are just "stories". I get it - you will demand "evidence" until you're actually presented with some."

What was the evidence that some miracle occurred? Was it that an article tells you that someone said there was evidence? Because that's what I think it is.

Think about that for a moment. The reason you say you believe in miracles, the best reason, is because someone wrote an article, saying that someone else said something, which some other people decided was enough for them to declare that a miracle occurred. (That's quite a rock we get to lift on miracles, and that's quite a lot of ugly underneath.).

And that is apparently as impeccable as the evidence gets that miracles occur. Stories told by others about stories that others tell so that (surprise!) those with a vested interest can pronounce that your curiosity should be satisfied.

Man, I never saw that one coming...


steve said...

Cal,

As a matter of fact, I've discussed the "why doesn't God heal amputees?" taunt before, so your comment is ignorant of my demonstrable awareness of the topic.

What makes you think God never healed an amputee? Most folks aren't famous. They are quickly forgotten after they die. Most folks leave no trace of their existence in the history books. Many ancient and medieval books no longer exist.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: "As a matter of fact, I've discussed the "why doesn't God heal amputees?" taunt before, so your comment is ignorant of my demonstrable awareness of the topic."

Yeah, and this is me not tracking "steve" the internet to know whatever arguments you think you've made in prior comments; I can only judge your understanding based on our discussion, not every discussion you think you've ever had. And your comments here indicate what I wrote.

"What makes you think God never healed an amputee?"

The fact that there's no good evidence for any amputee, ever, being healed. That's what makes me think that. I don't even need to get to your explanation (god!) before I can see that there's no phenomena that needs to be explained. The non-healing of amputees is a problem for believers because their god is very good at curing things like headaches and pain (things that are not intersubjectively verifiable), and terrible at healing those things that (at least right now) nothing can heal.

If god is so good at existing, and doing miracles, then why does he stop short at healing the same thing that no medical intervention can yet heal? Why does god love people with chronic migraines, but just hate amputees?

We have lots of cases of medicine healing people. We have NO good evidence for medicine (or anything else) healing an amputee. And by evidence, I mean something more credible than a story.

steve: "Most folks aren't famous. They are quickly forgotten after they die. Most folks leave no trace of their existence in the history books. Many ancient and medieval books no longer exist."

So, amputees are healed all the time, we just don't have any good evidence for any of that? Sounds like a great way to know things to me. There's lots and lots of stuff I can know that way. Anything, actually.

Is it possible that the god you believe exists has never performed any miracles? Would that be an explanation for the problem with miracles only existing in stories -- that god exists, but he doesn't think that miracles would be a good way of demonstrating that (and that people who make miracle claims are mistaken about god)?

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"It appears that you don't understand the amputee problem (amputees exist)."

It appears you have a tin ear for satirical replies.

"The fact that there's no good evidence for any amputee, ever, being healed."

There's no direct evidence for billions of people who lived and died. Most of them left no record of their existence. By your logic, only a few famous people existed in ancient, medieval, and modern times.

"The non-healing of amputees is a problem for believers because their god is very good at curing things like headaches and pain (things that are not intersubjectively verifiable), and terrible at healing those things that (at least right now) nothing can heal."

You haven't demonstrated that you've even looked into the evidence. I already cited Keener's two-volume monograph. Another good source is:

Rex Gardner, Healing Miracles: a Doctor Investigates.

That contains medical documentation by a distinguished medical investigator.

There are also numerous presentations you can watch for free, by Keener:

http://www.craigkeener.com/craigs-miracles-lecture-at-spring-arbor-university/

http://www.craigkeener.com/medical-evidence-of-miracles/

http://www.craigkeener.com/miracle-reports-in-history-and-today/

http://www.craigkeener.com/does-god-raise-from-the-dead-today/

If you were a genuine truth seeker, you'd make a minimal effort to inform yourself. But you haven't.

"We have lots of cases of medicine healing people. We have NO good evidence for medicine (or anything else) healing an amputee."

Your objection is irrational. A classic example of the framing fallacy, where you act as if the only possible evidence for miracles is one arbitrarily selected example, which allows you to ignore all the other evidence. That's a mark of your intellectual evasiveness.

"So, amputees are healed all the time, we just don't have any good evidence for any of that?"

So you're telling me you don't know the difference between "never" and "all the time."

That lack of rudimentary sophistication would certainly help to explain your chronic confusion.

"Would that be an explanation for the problem with miracles only existing in stories,"

Stories? You mean like Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle? He didn't really visit Patagonia or the Galapagos islands, because that's just a story, right?

Cal Metzger said...

Steve (in his last comment): "That's a mark of your intellectual evasiveness."

This from someone who won't answer my first question, despite being asked to respond to it multiple times:

Me (5 times now): "Is it possible that the god you believe exists has never performed any miracles?"

Steve: I prefer to drone on and falsely accuse you of being the one who is avoiding a question. All evidence to the contrary.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "You haven't demonstrated that you've even looked into the evidence. I already cited Keener's two-volume monograph."

Is there good evidence for an amputation being healed?

Why not?

B. Prokop said...

Let me say up front that I do believe that miracles occur in the present day. However, I also believe that a non-believer will rarely be convinced by one, even if he himself were to be an eyewitness. Note how often in the Gospels, doubters will demand a sign from Jesus, even when He has just performed one moments ago. For instance, in the Sixth Chapter of John, Christ was asked, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?" right after He had just fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and two fish.

In my humble opinion, miracles are meant to be signs for believers, who are then themselves to be signs for the world.

Non-believers who pretend to be concerned about evidence for miracles would more profitably spend their time reading the life stories of people such as The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day, or Prison Writings by Alfred Delp. All of these are autobiographical, and therefore "eyewitness testimony".

Jezu ufam tobie!

steve said...

Cal,

It's not your prerogative to dictate the terms of the debate. You ask the wrong questions. I'm not obliged to answer an ill-conceived question. Your question demonstrates that you don't know (and don't care) how to properly frame the issue. I understand that you'd love to control the direction of the debate by unilaterally choosing which questions get to be asked and answered. But you don't have me on a string.

planks length said...

Steve,

I think Edgestow answered Cal's rather weird question adequately above:

Q: "Is it possible that the [G]od you believe exists has never performed any miracles?"

A: "The God I believe exists performs miracles, so no - it is not possible. (Perhaps it's possible for the God someone else believes exists, but not mine.)"

Victor Reppert said...

Cal: By what principles do you distinguish "just stories" from "something more than just stories?" Is there a non-question-begging principles you are employing?

Hint: no.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "It's not your prerogative to dictate the terms of the debate."

I didn't think this was a debate. I thought it was a blog discussion.

It's genuinely odd that you would consider some questions off limits, though.

Cal Metzger said...

Edge & Planks: " "The God I believe exists performs miracles, so no - it is not possible. (Perhaps it's possible for the God someone else believes exists, but not mine.)""

I meant is it possible for you to conceive of a god who created the universe, etc., but that this god doesn't perform miracles? Is that possible -- or is performing the occasional miracle entailed in any conception of all gods?

Why won't anyone answer this question?

Edgestow said...

Cal,

The question isn't "off limits" - it's just so oddly worded. I must confess that I myself suspected an ulterior motive behind it. It had all the smell of a "gotcha" question. I'm sure Steve felt the same way, figuring there was an "Aha!" just waiting to be posted no matter what he wrote. I decided to answer it anyway, after wording my response carefully so there'd be no possibility of anyone twisting my words.

Cal Metzger said...

Victor: "Cal: By what principles do you distinguish "just stories" from "something more than just stories?" Is there a non-question-begging principles you are employing? Hint: no."

Um, hint right back at ya: Yes, there are things that are more than just stories. They are things that real. For instance, I am not just telling a story when I say that the universe is consistent with itself. That's because anyone can go test to see if the universe is consistent with itself, and does't have to rely on just my story to "know" that this is true.

Same with all facts that examinable, in ways that reliable, verifiable, and objective. They are all true, and we can tell stories about them, but they are also more than stories -- we can check on them for ourselves, and when we check they are consistent with the stories we know about them.

Compare this to how Christians "know" about the trinity, the virgin birth, and Jesus's resurrection. The only way those things can be "known" is through stories.

Hmmmm.

planks length said...

So Cal, when I tell you that I took a walk yesterday and saw two squirrels chasing each other around a tree, that's not consistent with reality because you can't go out and verify it? There's no test you can run to prove it? You can't just rely on my story to "know" this is true?

steve said...

Cal,

You can ask any question you please, and I can refuse to answer any question I please. Two-way street.

I don't answer loaded questions. Only dumb people answer loaded questions. I don't play poker with someone who uses marked cards. Your "question" rigs the issue by acting as though the only relevant evidence for miracles is evidence for one arbitrarily selected example. That's philosophically preposterous.

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "The question isn't "off limits" - it's just so oddly worded. I must confess that I myself suspected an ulterior motive behind it. It had all the smell of a "gotcha" question. I'm sure Steve felt the same way, figuring there was an "Aha!" just waiting to be posted no matter what he wrote. I decided to answer it anyway, after wording my response carefully so there'd be no possibility of anyone twisting my words."

And thank you for at least trying to answer my question. But do you see what I meant by my follow up question -- if there could be such a thing as a god that did not perform miracles?

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "So Cal, when I tell you that I took a walk yesterday and saw two squirrels chasing each other around a tree, that's not consistent with reality because you can't go out and verify it? There's no test you can run to prove it? You can't just rely on my story to "know" this is true?"

I can verify the existence of squirrels, and trees. I can verify the existence of you.

Do you see the difference between a story about you seeing squirrels and trees, and a story about you seeing unicorns and magical bean stalks?

Do you think both stories are equally plausible?

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "You can ask any question you please, and I can refuse to answer any question I please. Two-way street. / I don't answer loaded questions. Only dumb people answer loaded questions. I don't play poker with someone who uses marked cards. Your "question" rigs the issue by acting as though the only relevant evidence for miracles is evidence for one arbitrarily selected example. That's philosophically preposterous."

Spoken like a true philosopher.

steve said...

BTW, since the topic of Lourdes came up, I'd say these are two credible examples:

https://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/VOYLOUR.HTM

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=2866

Edgestow said...

could there be such a thing as a [G]od that did not perform miracles?

No.

Edgestow said...

Do you see the difference between a story about you seeing squirrels and trees, and a story about you seeing unicorns and magical bean stalks?

This is a perfect example of what Steve was calling a loaded question. Of course there's a difference between such stories. But the funny thing is, we're not talking about such stories. So your question is (with, I believe, malice aforethought) intended to poison the well - to throw off the discussion. To score cheap debating points regardless of the cost. It is intellectually dishonest™ and just plain bad form. It makes your motivation for posting to this site highly suspect. An honest truth seeker without preconceived notions of what the outcome of a discussion ought to be would never stoop to such tactics. The question displays a lamentable absence of objectivity. If you were honest with yourself, you'd see this.

Cal Metzger said...

Edgestow: "This is a perfect example of what Steve was calling a loaded question. Of course there's a difference between such stories. But the funny thing is, we're not talking about such stories. "

Um, Planks was talking precisely about such stories. That's the example of a story he used. I don't know what your complaint is here.

Edgestow: "It is intellectually dishonest™ and just plain bad form. It makes your motivation for posting to this site highly suspect. An honest truth seeker without preconceived notions of what the outcome of a discussion ought to be would never stoop to such tactics."

What's obvious to me is that the majority of commenters on this site are apologists -- they would like to be respected for believing in things that are, at best, silly. That's not a preconceived notion, that's an observation.

The point of my posting here is to use rhetoric (backed with sound logic and facts and critical thinking) to expose those times when apologist arguments are built to disguise, not to illuminate.

In doing so, I also learn some things about human thinking, psychology, etc., and I also enjoy reconsidering my position from different vantages.

It's not "preconceived" to use rhetoric to expose poor thinking. It's Socratic, and it's probably the best method we have for exposing the problems with inconsistent beliefs.

As I've mentioned here before, if this is supposed to be a bible study where some ideas (like god belief) are not to be questioned, then I think that should be declared openly and I won't intrude. But I don't think this site and its commenters aspire to that, so, well, here I am.




Cal Metzger said...

Me: "could there be such a thing as a [G]od that did not perform miracles?"
Edge: "No."

Thank you for answering.

planks length said...

It's not "preconceived" to use rhetoric to expose poor thinking.

Cal, the only poor thinking being exposed here is yours. The fact that you cannot seem to distinguish between a belief in unicorns and magic beanstalks and an expression of confidence in the veracity of the Gospel narratives shows that you do not understand the meaning of the term "silly". (And that's the generous interpretation. It is entirely possible that you are purposefully confusing the issue for less than noble motives, but I won't go there just yet.)

Here we have two stories:

1. I took a walk yesterday and saw two squirrels chasing each other around a tree.

2. Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was given his sight by Jesus, while He was passing through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem. (Mark 10:46-52)

Now what is the difference between these two stories? Both are accounts of events which you, Cal, cannot verify. You weren't there. There is no "test" which can either confirm or deny the truthfulness of either. Hmm... The only difference that I can see is that one contains the account of a miraculous event, and the other does not.

So why not be intellectually honest, and admit that your objection is not to "stories" as such, but to the existence of miracles. That at least would have one positive effect. It would end your ridiculous objection to stories being presented as evidence. Because obviously, you're willing to believe some stories more than others. So the evidence being "stories" is not the issue here.

steve said...

Cal's myopic obsession with amputees is just a diversionary tactic. Let's begin with a definition. In his recent debate with atheist Zach Moore, Timothy McGrew defined a miracle as:

an event that would not have happened if the natural world was left to itself, as opposed to outside agency (i.e. divine intervention).

I think that's a good working definition. It's not a definition with Christian bias, but a neutral definition. Atheists define miracles in contrast to the natural order. Indeed, Zech never challenged McGrew's definition.

According to atheism, miracles never happen. They don't happen because they can't happen, and they can't happen because they require supernatural agency.

If we plug in the above definition, that means it only takes a single example of an event that would not have happened if nature was left to itself to disprove atheism. Atheism posits a universal negative regarding miracles.

Is healing amputees the only evidence for miracles? Absolutely not. *Any* event that would not have happened if the natural world was left to itself will falsify the universal negative posited by atheism. *Any* such event would suffice to establish the occurrence of miracles.

To act as if the regeneration of severed limbs is the one and only kind of event that counts as evidence for miracles is intellectually ludicrous given the definition of miracles. All you need is at least one event that fits the definition. There are innumerable kinds of events which are covered by that definition. All you need to establish is that *some* event like that has happened at least once in the course of world history. Just once is enough to disprove a universal negative.

steve said...

‪Cal Metzger‬ said...

"For instance, I am not just telling a story when I say that the universe is consistent with itself. That's because anyone can go test to see if the universe is consistent with itself, and does't have to rely on just my story to 'know' that this is true. Same with all facts that examinable, in ways that reliable, verifiable, and objective."

Does Cal believe Darwin's "story" about sailing to Patagonia and the Galapagos islands? Can he "go and test" whether Darwin went there? Does he have independent verification that Darwin went there?

"Compare this to how Christians 'know' about the trinity, the virgin birth, and Jesus's resurrection. The only way those things can be "known" is through stories."

The way to know about the Resurrection is through testimonial evidence. Most of what Cal believes is based on testimonial evidence. 

"Do you see the difference between a story about you seeing squirrels and trees, and a story about you seeing unicorns and magical bean stalks?"

That's a standard village atheist decoy. Instead of grappling with actual evidence for actual cases, they resort to silly hypotheticals. They try to shift the discussion away from specific evidence for concrete examples to imaginary cases.

"As I've mentioned here before, if this is supposed to be a bible study where some ideas (like god belief) are not to be questioned, then I think that should be declared openly and I won't intrude."

A disingenuous remark. We're drawing attention to Cal's deficient standards of evidence.

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "The fact that you cannot seem to distinguish between a belief in unicorns and magic beanstalks and an expression of confidence in the veracity of the Gospel narratives shows that you do not understand the meaning of the term "silly". "

The fact that you believe one with, and not the other, is what is silly.

Some stories involve unicorns and magic beans stalks. Other stories involve virgin births, magical healings, and people being resurrected. All of these are things that only happen in stories.

Planks: "So why not be intellectually honest, and admit that your objection is not to "stories" as such, but to the existence of miracles."

Let me be clear: if we believe in something that only, ever, happens in stories, then we are being inconsistent and foolish. I use the term silly, because it takes longer to type inconsistent and foolish.

Why do the things Christians believe -- the virgin birth, the resurrection, and similar events (unlike squirrels, and trees, and the Galapagos as someone mentioned) -- only ever happen in stories?



Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "That's a standard village atheist decoy. Instead of grappling with actual evidence for actual cases, they resort to silly hypotheticals. They try to shift the discussion away from specific evidence for concrete examples to imaginary cases."

This is rich.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"Let me be clear: if we believe in something that only, ever, happens in stories, then we are being inconsistent and foolish. I use the term silly, because it takes longer to type inconsistent and foolish."

That's a reflection of Cal's self-reinforcing ignorance. Consider some of the paranormal studies by philosophers and anthropologists, or consider what foreign missionaries encounter in cultures where witchcraft is prevalent.

No, it doesn't just happen in "stories".

steve said...

Carl Sagan infamously said extraordinary events demand extraordinary evidence. Pop atheists are very fond of that statement.

Unfortunately, it's terribly vague. What's the definition of an extraordinary event? What's the definition of extraordinary evidence? And why should an extraordinary event (whatever that means) demand extraordinary evidence?

Let's use an illustration. The odds of being dealt a royal flush are 649,740 to 1. As one source put it: "If you were dealt 20 hands of poker every night of the year, in 89 years you should only expect to see one royal flush."

So that's very rare. Extraordinarily rare, you might say. Yet it's also inevitable. Soon or later it's bound to happen.

In addition, the conventional odds of a royal flush depend on a randomly shuffled deck. But a cardsharp can drastically lower the odds. That's a crucial difference between personal agency and dumb luck.

Suppose you're dealt a royal flush. That's extraordinary!

Does it take extraordinary evidence to demonstrate that you were dealt a royal flush? Hardly. Ordinary evidence will suffice. Eyewitness testimony.

You don't need extraordinary evidence to establish the occurrence of an event. At best, you might need extraordinary evidence to establish the interpretation of the event.

For instance, your royal flush might be the luck of the draw. Or that might be due to funny business.

Does it demand extraordinary demand extraordinary evidence to determine which is which? No.

Suppose security camera footage, played in slow motion, shows the dealer using a riffle shuffle. Or suppose bank records show the dealer and the winning player splitting the jackpot. That's sufficient to establish a particular interpretation of the event. Extraordinary evidence is not required.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "Consider some of the paranormal studies by philosophers and anthropologists..."

Paranormal studies by philosophers?

Paranormal studies by anthropologists?

Oh, do tell.

Steve: "...or consider what foreign missionaries encounter in cultures where witchcraft is prevalent. No, it doesn't just happen in "stories"."

Which is why, when asked why these kinds of things only happen in stories, you point out that they don't just happen in stories -- because they also happen in stories. Got it.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "Carl Sagan infamously said extraordinary events demand extraordinary evidence.... Unfortunately, it's terribly vague. What's the definition of an extraordinary event? What's the definition of extraordinary evidence? And why should an extraordinary event (whatever that means) demand extraordinary evidence?"

Actually, you botched the quote. You should go look up the quote again.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "Let's use an illustration. The odds of being dealt a royal flush are 649,740 to 1. As one source put it: "If you were dealt 20 hands of poker every night of the year, in 89 years you should only expect to see one royal flush." So that's very rare. Extraordinarily rare, you might say. Yet it's also inevitable. Soon or later it's bound to happen."

To be clear, any set of five card combinations of the same suit (2s, 5's, 9's, 10's, and Jacks, e.g.) are as rare as a Royal Flush. Or any set of four 5 card combinations not of the same suit. Etc.

Steve: "In addition, the conventional odds of a royal flush depend on a randomly shuffled deck. But a cardsharp can drastically lower the odds. That's a crucial difference between personal agency and dumb luck. / Suppose you're dealt a royal flush. That's extraordinary!"

It's extraordinarily unlikely that you will be dealt a Royal Flush (or any predetermined 5 card set, as I mentioned) on any given hand. It's not extraordinarily unlikely that someone, somewhere, is being dealt a Royal Flush somewhere. So what?

Steve: "Does it take extraordinary evidence to demonstrate that you were dealt a royal flush? Hardly. Ordinary evidence will suffice. Eyewitness testimony."

The evidence for a royal flush is mundane -- it's five cards. The claim that the hand was dealt is also mundane -- it's the agreed testimony of those present that the dealer dealt the card (or, in the case of a modern casino, also the table camera). So, although the rewards for cheating should require heightened scrutiny, I wouldn't call this extraordinary either.

Steve: "Suppose security camera footage, played in slow motion, shows the dealer using a riffle shuffle. Or suppose bank records show the dealer and the winning player splitting the jackpot. That's sufficient to establish a particular interpretation of the event. Extraordinary evidence is not required."

I agree that the evidence needed to accept a royal flush being dealt somewhere is not extraordinary. But I don't think that being dealt a royal flush is an extraordinary claim -- as I said earlier, royal flushes are dealt every day. And the evidence we need to verify them -- the cards dealt, the techniques used by the dealer, etc. -- all these are entities or phenomena that exist in reality, and not just in stories.

Why do you suppose that the magical events that occurred in the New Testament don't ever happen in reality, but are only recounted to us through stories? Are there no events that you think only happen in stories, and aren't real?

planks length said...

Why do you suppose that the magical events that occurred in the New Testament don't ever happen in reality

I am genuinely curious as to why you say this. If the events described in the New Testament happened, then they happened in reality - regardless of what kind of record we have of them. Whether or not we know of them only through "stories" (a loaded term, if I've ever heard one - why not just call them "accounts"?) is irrelevant to their reality.

If a tree falls in a forest* and the only way you know of this is because someone told you, didn't it nevertheless fall in reality?

* In a forest, that is, which subsequently burned down, so you have no way of going there and confirming the story.

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "I am genuinely curious as to why you say this. If the events described in the New Testament happened, then they happened in reality - regardless of what kind of record we have of them. Whether or not we know of them only through "stories" (a loaded term, if I've ever heard one - why not just call them "accounts"?) is irrelevant to their reality."

IF the magical events happened in reality, they happened in realty. Sure.

Real events happen in reality, and events that happen in reality can be incorporated into stories.

But magical events have this clear, definite, lock-down pattern. They don't actually happen in reality, too -- they only happen in stories.

Squirrels sometimes make it into stories. And squirrels are in reality. (Squirrels are the best.)

But there's this thing that happens with imaginary, fanciful, and magical entities and events -- they only happen in stories, and we can't ever find them in reality.

Don't you think the fact above has a very, very, very obvious explanation?

planks length said...

Don't you think the fact above has a very, very, very obvious explanation?

No, but I do think it's a very obvious cop-out. You've prejudged the outcome before examining the evidence. And worse, far worse, you've prejudged the evidence itself without even considering it, for some unfathomable reason excluding all written or oral accounts as "stories", as though that were a disqualifier.

Yet you've already conceded that you have no quarrel with stories in and of themselves, as I demonstrated with my squirrel example. So it can't be the narratives ("stories") that you have a problem with - it must be something else. Well, you yourself have identified it; you will not even consider the possibility of the miraculous. It can't be anything else, because that is the only difference between my squirrel story and, say, the Gospel of Mark (other than their relative antiquities) Perhaps you just don't like old stories? Maybe you believe they're only true for a set time period, and then they expire? How long before we no longer need to believe in William the Conqueror? Or Columbus?

But the funny thing is... what you rather pejoratively label the "fanciful" element (yet another semantic indication of your biases) is the very subject under discussion in this conversation. "Does the miraculous occur?" Face it, you haven't been honest from the get-go. The outcome was predetermined in your mind before the first word was typed.

Not very objective of you.

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "You've prejudged the outcome before examining the evidence."

This isn't about me; it's the believer's problem. That makes it your problem.

I'll show you again (but probably for the last time):

Planks: "Yet you've already conceded that you have no quarrel with stories in and of themselves, as I demonstrated with my squirrel example."

I showed you why your squirrel example doesn't address the problem. You have yet to to show me that you even understand your problem.

Planks: "Well, you yourself have identified it; you will not even consider the possibility of the miraculous."

I have, and do consider it. I expect evidence. Do you have any, or do you just have stories?

Because if all you have is stories, take a number, and get in line with everyone else who tries to sell us what you're selling. Stories about how their magic stuff happens, even though their evidence is (no way!) stories about their magic stuff happening.

Squirrels happen in stories. Magic happens in stories. Squirrels exist in reality. Magic exists in....

Now do you see your (not my) problem?

planks length said...

Now do you see your (not my) problem?

Nope. All I see is your refusing to objectively look at the evidence, going so far as to not even considering it to be evidence.

And that's your problem, not mine.

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: " All I see is your refusing to objectively look at the evidence, going so far as to not even considering it to be evidence."

Does the evidence exist outside of a story?

The Believer: "All I see is your refusing to objectively look at the stories about mermaids, going so far as to not even considering those stories to be evidence that mermaids actually exist."

And still you can't see it.

planks length said...

You like changing the subject, don't you? You can't hold your own when discussing the Gospels, so you'd rather talk about mermaids or unicorns or beanstalks (of which no one except you seems to have the slightest interest).

Just ask yourself - why are you so afraid of the Gospels that you can't even discuss them?

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "Just ask yourself - why are you so afraid of the Gospels that you can't even discuss them?"

I thought you were the one who brought up squirrels.

I'm not afraid of the Gospels. I know what they are. They're stories.

I never thought I was afraid of them, but your accusation (projection, I presume) indicates that your afraid that the gospels might just be stories.

It will be okay. You can realize they're just stories, and nothing will be different. You'll just not be fooling yourself so much anymore.


planks length said...

You're too funny!

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"Paranormal studies by philosophers?"

Like Stephen Braude.

"Paranormal studies by anthropologists?"

Like Clyde Kluckhohn and Edith Turner.

You need to educate yourself.

"Which is why, when asked why these kinds of things only happen in stories, you point out that they don't just happen in stories -- because they also happen in stories. Got it."

Since you're intellectually challenged on this question, let's take you by the hand and walk you through it one more time. Apart from what you personally experience, everything else you believe about the world is based on testimonial evidence. Records, "Stories." I've pointed you to multiple resources containing well-documented miracles.

Calling them "stories" is unintelligent. Historical knowledge, including the history of science, is transmitted through "stories." Reported events.

Intelligent people distinguish between true and false "stories". You, however, have a circular, unfalsifiable position where no matter how much evidence is provided, you dismiss that as something which only happens in "stories".

"all these are entities or phenomena that exist in reality, and not just in stories. Why do you suppose that the magical events that occurred in the New Testament don't ever happen in reality, but are only recounted to us through stories? Are there no events that you think only happen in stories, and aren't real?"

Most of what you think you know about reality is based on secondhand information. You don't directly observe most of what happens in the world. You're in no position to distinguish between "reality" and "stories" when your information about "reality" is mediated through reports. Your posture is anti-intellectual and self-refuting.

However, my purpose is not to convince you. You're impervious to reason. I get that. I'm simply using you as a convenient foil. And you dutifully play the role I've assigned to you.

steve said...

Here are some examples of paranormal studies by a philosopher:

Stephen E. Braude:

ESP and Psychokinesis: A Philosophical Examination. Revised Edition. Brown Walker Press (2002)

The Limits of Influence: Psychokinesis and the Philosophy of Science. Revised Edition. Lanham, New York, London: University Press of America (1997).

The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations. University of Chicago Press (Fall, 2007).

Here are some examples from academic anthropologists:

Sidney M. Greenfield, Spirits with Scalpels: The Cultural Biology of Religious Healing in Brazil. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2008.

Edith Turner:

Among the Healers: Stories of Spiritual and Ritual Healing Around the World. New York: Praeger, 2005.

The Hands Feel It: Healing and Spirit Presence Among a Northern Alaskan People. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1996.

Experiencing Ritual: A New Interpretation of African Healing. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.

Clyde Kluckhohn. Navaho Witchcraft. Beacon Press, Boston, 1944.

In a similar vein, by an academic folklorist:

David J. Hufford, The Terror That Comes in the Night (UPenn Press, 1989).

Cal Metzger said...

Sigh.

Does "ESP and Psychokinesis: A Philosophical Examination" offer good evidence for ESP? If so, can you cite the best example of good evidence for ESP from within that book? If not, what's your point?

Does "Sidney M. Greenfield, Spirits with Scalpels: The Cultural Biology of Religious Healing in Brazil" offer good evidence for magic? If so, can you cite the best example of good evidence for magic within that book? If not, what's your point?

Do you know what they call alternative medicine that works? Medicine.

Do you know what they call stories about alternative medicine? Stories.

steve said...

It's not my job to do your reading for you.

What Cal has yet to figure out is that, part from logical contradictions, we don't have an inborn knowledge of what's possible. That's something to be discovered. We learn about the world through observation or revelation.

Most of what Cal believes about the world is based on secondhand information. Reported places, reported events, reported fauna and flora, &c. He can only call things "stories" if he can distinguish between reality and stories. He can only use reality as a benchmark if he has access to reality.

But he lacks direct access to most of what he believes about the world. He relies on records, reports, testimony, "stories".

He still hasn't figured on that his invidious contrast between "evidence" and "stories" is viciously circular.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "It's not my job to do your reading for you. "

I'll take that as the (predictable) admission that you can't provide what you insinuated the books you cited offered. Specifically, I asked you to cite the best example of good evidence for ESP, and the best evidence of magic, from the first of the two groups of books that you cited. It wouldn't surprise me if you own none of them.

Bluff much?

Steve: "But he lacks direct access to most of what he believes about the world. He relies on records, reports, testimony, "stories"."

Yeah, you're projecting. This is what I've explained is the problem for the believer, sooo many times here.

You have left a trail of pathetic comments here from which I think it will be very hard for you to backtrack.

Cheers.

steve said...

It's not my job to spoon fed you. I"m not your nanny. I point you to good resources. There's no one "best" example. And it's not incumbent on me to make that selection for you.

What I've left is a trail of evidence, multiple lines of evidence, which you studiously evade. I have no occasion to backtrack. My side of the exchange went just fine. You're the one who's been shooting blanks for start to finish.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "It's not my job to spoon fed you. I"m not your nanny."

It's your job to defend your comments. You're commenting. I will surmise why you cannot.

Steve: "I point you to good resources."

How do you know they're good resources. Do you own copies of them? What would you say of someone who commends a book, but doesn't own a copy and can't honestly say they've actually read the whole book?

Steve: "There's no one "best" example. And it's not incumbent on me to make that selection for you."

It's incumbent on you if you're going to back up your comments.

Steve: "What I've left is a trail of evidence, multiple lines of evidence, which you studiously evade."

This is rich coming from someone who doesn't own copies and hasn't read all the books he tells me to go read. Very, very rich.

Steve: "I have no occasion to backtrack. My side of the exchange went just fine. You're the one who's been shooting blanks for start to finish."

Yeah, that's how it's gone down.

I haven't made you look foolish; you have. Think about that as you try to grapple with the reasons my comment makes you angry. Try and do better. You've got time to become better.

steve said...

"This is rich coming from someone who doesn't own copies and hasn't read all the books he tells me to go read. Very, very rich."

An amusing example of how you make assertions for which you have no evidence.

"Think about that as you try to grapple with the reasons my comment makes you angry."

Another example of how you make assertions for which you have no evidence.

Reveals a lot about you, albeit unwittingly. I will now return to you to your little sandbox.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "An amusing example of how you make assertions for which you have no evidence."

An amusing example of your realizing that you've been caught dead to rights.

It's obvious (you know it, I don't know it but man oh man is it the best explanation) that you want to imply that you own copies of the books you recommended, and have read them all) even though you actually don't, and haven't.

You imagine, I suppose, that someone else reads what you've written here, and you want to maintain some dignity -- so you avoid the risky ploy of pretending that you own the books your recommended, and have actually read them all the way through, and retreat to a position that you think you can defend -- that I can't "know" what is obvious.

Your actions here speak volumes. You are outed.

Goodbye.

steve said...

Actually, I've quoted from many of these books on my own blog, so you lose.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: You should read these books! All the answers are in there!
Me: "... you want to imply that you own copies of the books you recommended, and have read them all) even though you actually don't, and haven't."
steve: "Actually, I've quoted from many of these books on my own blog, so you lose."

Let's see if you can spot the logical flaw (something apologists never cease to congratulate themselves at being sooo good at) in your statement above. Here's an analogy:

You: Toledo is the most awesome downtown in America.
Me: You've never been to Toledo, have you?
You: Actually, I've linked to pictures of Toledo on my own blog, so you lose.

Do you know one way to discover if someone's really an intellectual or not? If they think in terms of preserving an imagined pride, and show that they're afraid of "losing" in a discussion, rather than modifying their statements and correcting their thinking.

Also, if they won't answer direct questions. Etc.

rockingwithhawking said...

Actually, Steve Hays is extremely well read. This includes the topics under discussion in this very post. Anyone who has followed Hays' writings would know this. Cal Metzger is simply ignorant here.

Besides, I'm not even sure why Metzger is making such a big deal about Hays' reading habits and the like. It'd be far better for Metzger to just deal with the arguments Hays has presented in this very thread. Instead, Metzger responds in blinkered fashion. For whatever reason(s), Metzger doesn't seem able to grasp Hays' arguments well enough to intelligently interact with them.

Anyway, if in further doubt, people can check out what Hays has written on miracles in past years by browsing over to Triablogue. For example, see this post, and/or click on the "miracles" label. People can thus verify all this for themselves.

Cal Metzger said...

@rock, I was specific in my criticism of steve's reading recommendations. Please re-read them, and his non-denial denials. I stand by what I wrote, and he has given me no reason to think otherwise.

Also, when you get the chance, you should ask him if he ever plans on responding to how he botched the Hawking quote on "Extraordinary..." to begin with here.

steve said...

Since I was referring to Sagan rather than Hawking, you just "botched" the reference.

Moreover, I didn't "quote" him. That's why I didn't use quotation marks.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: "Since I was referring to Sagan rather than Hawking, you just "botched" the reference. Moreover, I didn't "quote" him. That's why I didn't use quotation marks."

Yeah, I'm not saying you made a typo; I'm saying you totally misconstrued the statement.

The original phrase you thought you were criticizing was: "Extraordinary CLAIMS demand extraordinary evidence."

But you commented here (you, Steve, with my emphasis): "Carl Sagan infamously said extraordinary EVENTS demand extraordinary evidence. Pop atheists are very fond of that statement. / Unfortunately, it's terribly vague. What's the definition of an extraordinary EVENT? What's the definition of extraordinary evidence? And why should an extraordinary EVENT (whatever that means) demand extraordinary evidence?"

You went on for some time after that. That's not a typo. That's running with the ball in the wrong direction for the length of several football fields, followed by your basically spiking the ball in the wrong end zone. And, as I pointed out, that's what happens when you think of discussions as competitions and yourself some kind of imagined hero, instead of approaching them as intellectual who can modify positions based on improved understanding.

steve said...

"Claims" about what? About "extraordinary events," that's what Sagan is using "Extraordinary claims" as shorthand for claims about extraordinary events (as he defines it), which is synonymous with reported miracles. That's what I've been discussing.

Your attempt to save face is desperate and uncomprehending. You keep digging a deeper hole for yourself.

You are laboring to change the subject from proving/disproving miracles to whether I can prove myself to you, which is a diversionary tactic. The question at issue isn't me or my credibility, but evidence for miracles and the burden of proof which an atheist shoulders by his universal negative.

You constantly dodge the evidence because you cannot deal with it and because you don't want to deal with it.

I have nothing to prove to you. I'm not here to impress you. Your approval is not the standard of comparison.

You are just a foil. What I post is for the benefit of other readers and lurkers.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: ""Claims" about what? About "extraordinary events," that's what Sagan is using "Extraordinary claims" as shorthand for claims about extraordinary events (as he defines it), which is synonymous with reported miracles. That's what I've been discussing."

Sagan is not talking about extraordinary events -- he's talking about extraordinary claims (explanations), and how it is that these extraordinary claims never, ever provide the thing that is claimed to explain something, only stories about the thing. The standard version is "aliens" as the claimed explanation -- something that's not known to exist. A light crosses the sky, and instead of a reasonable explanation involving known entities (meteorites), the claimant says "aliens," but instead of providing extraordinary evidence for the alien (the alien itself, or machinery beyond any known capability, or detailed videos and photos of the aliens interacting, all of which have left artifacts, etc.), the claimant only points to the event itself -- lights across the sky. But we have good explanation for lights across the sky that don't involve aliens, so the failure to provide the extraordinary evidence is all we need to surmise what is probable.

This is all so simple and obvious I would be embarrassed to explain it to a child. And I wouldn't be so blunt, but you have shown yourself to be a piece of work, so I will treat you in kind.

steve: "Your attempt to save face is desperate and uncomprehending. You keep digging a deeper hole for yourself. / You are laboring to change the subject from proving/disproving miracles to whether I can prove myself to you, which is a diversionary tactic."

You have no shame, and it's hard to know when to stop pointing this out. I feel like like my silence would convey my agreement to your assertions, and since you don't seem to know when to stop I'm kind of stuck.

steve: "The question at issue isn't me or my credibility, but evidence for miracles and the burden of proof which an atheist shoulders by his universal negative."

Do tell me more about this 'burden of proof on the shoulders of the universal negative." Make stuff up out of your ass much?

steve: "You constantly dodge the evidence because you cannot deal with it and because you don't want to deal with it."

I've pointed out, over and over and over, that what you call "evidence" is really just more stories, the same way that alien proponents point back to their stories about how they really saw lights in the sky (as if that supports their extraordinary claim).

steve: "I have nothing to prove to you. I'm not here to impress you. Your approval is not the standard of comparison."

You're here because you are trying to save an imagined pride, and because I have exposed how weak your arguments are. Because you have no evidence, and you act in bad faith. Anyone who doubts as much can read all my comments in response to yours.

You will probably continue to bloviate ad infinitum. Eventually, I will stop caring to respond. Don't take my eventual silence to your last screed as anything more than my having grown tired of repeating myself.



steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"Sagan is not talking about extraordinary events -- he's talking about extraordinary claims."

Sure he is. He's talking about reported miracles. Claims about extraordinary events. That's how he defines a miracle. That's what makes them extraordinary claims (according to him). It goes back to Hume. Pity you can't follow the argument.

"Do tell me more about this 'burden of proof on the shoulders of the universal negative.'"

I already did. Scroll up. I'm not responsible for your intellectual limitations.

"I've pointed out, over and over and over, that what you call 'evidence' is really just more stories,"

Which I corrected you on, but you lack adaptive intelligence.

"…my having grown tired of repeating myself."

People who can't think for themselves repeat themselves.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: "Sure he is. He's talking about reported miracles. Claims about extraordinary events. That's how he defines a miracle. It goes back to Hume. Pity you can't follow the argument."

I love the irony of someone who believes in miracles thinking I can't follow the argument for miracles. Yeah, I'm the one who doesn't understand the problem. That's rich.

Me: "Do tell me more about this 'burden of proof on the shoulders of the universal negative.'
steve: "I already did. Scroll up. I'm not responsible for your intellectual limitations."

I mean explain how the burden of proof should be placed on those who doubt a claim. I'm not saying a black swan doesn't disprove the claim that all swans are white; I'm asking for a black swan. Or do you imagine that repeating the obvious makes up for the fact that don't actually have a black swan? Because that's what I think you mean. What. Freaking. Tripe.

Me: "I've pointed out, over and over and over, that what you call 'evidence' is really just more stories,"
steve: "Which I corrected you on, but you lack adaptive intelligence."

By adaptive intelligence, I think you mean I lack aggressive gullibility. Which is what you need, to believe that stories are good evidence for something that (surprise!) only ever happens in stories.

Have you ever actually read a book by someone like Carl Sagan? Because it seems like you don't really understand the problem. At all.





steve said...

I've pointed you to multiple examples of "black swans". You shut your eyes and turn your back.

In addition, you weren't paying attention. I never said only one side has the burden of proof. Rather, I explained the radical disparity between your burden of proof and mine.

And, yes, I've read many books by atheists.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I mean explain how the burden of proof should be placed on those who doubt a claim. I'm not saying a black swan doesn't disprove the claim that all swans are white; I'm asking for a black swan."

An atheist who argues against whether it could ever be rational to believe in miracles has a very difficult to burden of proof to discharge. Just witness the recent debate between Tim McGrew and Zacharay Moore where Moore all but conceded the argument from the beginning. It'd be far more rational to be agnostic on the rationality of believing in miracles.

Not to mention, the problem isn't purely about miracles, per se, but miracles combined with atheism. Again, even if (arguendo) one couldn't point to a miracle, it'd be far more rational to be an agnostic than an atheist. Yet so many atheists or at least atheists online illogically move from "no miracles" therefore "atheism." That doesn't necessarily follow.

"Have you ever actually read a book by someone like Carl Sagan? Because it seems like you don't really understand the problem. At all."

As far as atheism and miracles are concerned, Sagan had no special expertise. Unlike, for example, Hume or Mackie. Sagan was speaking as a layperson. The same or similar could be said with regard to people like Dawkins, Coyne, the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, among others.

Sagan co-opted and popularized the bit about "extraordinary claims" from people like Hume and Laplace who were sharper skeptics than Sagan ever was.

Likewise Sagan co-opted and popularized the fire-breathing dragon in a garage in his The Demon-Haunted World from men like Arthur John Wisdom and Antony Flew and his parable about the invisible gardener. Again, both men were far keener skeptics than Sagan ever was. And Flew infamously became persuaded to become a theist in his later life.

Apparently online atheist apologists have a tradition of co-opting and popularizing from their intellectual betters (e.g. the FSM and Russell's teapot).

Steve Hays has dealt with both popular level atheists and their arguments against miracles including Sagan as well as the most intelligent atheists and their arguments concerning miracles (e.g. Hume). Just check out his weblog, Triablogue. There's a plethora of material on these and other related topics over there.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "An atheist who argues against whether it could ever be rational to believe in miracles has a very difficult to burden of proof to discharge. Just witness the recent debate between Tim McGrew and Zacharay Moore where Moore all but conceded the argument from the beginning. It'd be far more rational to be agnostic on the rationality of believing in miracles. Not to mention, the problem isn't purely about miracles, per se, but miracles combined with atheism. Again, even if (arguendo) one couldn't point to a miracle, it'd be far more rational to be an agnostic than an atheist. Yet so many atheists or at least atheists online illogically move from "no miracles" therefore "atheism." That doesn't necessarily follow."

I don't believe in any gods because all the evidence points to a universe without any. The exchange below should illustrate the problem for you (and other apologists):

Apologist: "God exists, and we know because he interacts with us in these specific ways."
Me: "That's funny. I tried it, and it don't work."
Apologist: "What I mean is, god exists, but not in ways that matter."
Me: "God sounds an awful lot like nuthin'."

But you keep on talking about Flew and Mackie and other obscure thinkers. As if they matter regarding the above.

Rock: "Steve Hays has dealt with both popular level atheists and their arguments against miracles including Sagan as well as the most intelligent atheists and their arguments concerning miracles (e.g. Hume). Just check out his weblog, Triablogue. There's a plethora of material on these and other related topics over there."

Writing stuff like this just makes you sound like a sock puppet.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I don't believe in any gods because all the evidence points to a universe without any."

An assertion without an argument.

"The exchange below should illustrate the problem for you (and other apologists): Apologist: "God exists, and we know because he interacts with us in these specific ways." Me: "That's funny. I tried it, and it don't work." Apologist: "What I mean is, god exists, but not in ways that matter." Me: "God sounds an awful lot like nuthin'.""

What's funny is there's nothing intellectually substantial to exchange in your "exchange." You're simply putting words in people's mouths and acting as if this somehow "illustrate[s]" some sort of "problem." Good job shadow boxing with yourself! Although try not to punch yourself too hard from now on; you already have enough bruises from people like Steve.

"But you keep on talking about Flew and Mackie and other obscure thinkers. As if they matter regarding the above."

Actually, Antony Flew and J.L. Mackie are hardly "obscure thinkers." They were highly renowned and indeed world class atheist philosophers (though as I said Flew became a theist late in life). And they do "matter" given the topic at hand.

Of course, I don't expect a village atheist like you to know this. Fortunately I'm just using you as a foil for people reading this at the present time and in the future. Good responses to you may help others in the present or future.

"Writing stuff like this just makes you sound like a sock puppet."

What's ironic is you sound like a sock puppet for Sagan.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "I don't believe in any gods because all the evidence points to a universe without any."
rock: "An assertion without an argument."

Um, no, that's exactly an argument. I give you my conclusion, and on what I base my conclusion. Ar-gu-ment.

rock: "Although try not to punch yourself too hard from now on; you already have enough bruises from people like Steve."

Sock-pah-pet.

rock: "Actually, Antony Flew and J.L. Mackie are hardly "obscure thinkers." "

You should look up the word "obscure." Not one in 1,000 English speakers would be able to identify either of the people you mention above. So, you protest... what, exactly? That you don't understand the term "obscure?" Okay.

rock: "Of course, I don't expect a village atheist like you to know this. Fortunately I'm just using you as a foil for people reading this at the present time and in the future. Good responses to you may help others in the present or future....What's ironic is you sound like a sock puppet for Sagan."

You're hysterical. And like steve, I have to announce ahead of time that eventually I'll have to stop responding to you. I'm confident you can keep on doing what you do ad infinitum, but eventually I will wise up and stop feeding you the attention you crave.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Um, no, that's exactly an argument. I give you my conclusion, and on what I base my conclusion. Ar-gu-ment."

Saying so doesn't make it so. But huff and puff as long as you like there, Cal.

"Sock-pah-pet."

Me Cal Metz-gah, you pain! Me ouchy, boo hoo!

"You should look up the word 'obscure.' Not one in 1,000 English speakers would be able to identify either of the people you mention above. So, you protest... what, exactly? That you don't understand the term 'obscure?' Okay."

Hello, world! Welcome to Cal Metzger's world of "logic" - obviously loosely defined! Let me share some of my hilarious antics with you:

Once upon a time I decided to define "obscure" in part by pulling an unsubstantiated statistic ("Not one in 1,000") out of my random number generator. On the one hand, I'm free to float fact-free "facts and figures" as I please, but on the other hand I demand others are far more scrupulous than I am when it comes to the facts and figures. This is how I think, and it's so "logical," at least as far as how I have decided to define "logic"!

Another time I decided to limit the definition to "English speakers" alone. You know, because according to me, Cal Metzger, "obscure" should mean what the average "English speaker" can or cannot identify, not what people in general can or cannot identify, not what the relevant groups in question can or cannot identify, etc. And certainly I have to remove "obscure" from the context in which it was brought up, i.e., this entire thread and the topic under discussion, because if I didn't do that, then I might suddenly become logical, and if there's one thing I, Cal Metzger, can't do, it's become logical!

"You're hysterical. And like steve, I have to announce ahead of time that eventually I'll have to stop responding to you. I'm confident you can keep on doing what you do ad infinitum, but eventually I will wise up and stop feeding you the attention you crave."

Translation: I, Cal Metzger, am signing off, because I have lost the argument. I have been defeated by these evil, no good meanies! (They're oh so mean to me!) I guess it's back to twirling moustaches for me - sigh! :-(

Cal Metzger said...

@rock, that was your funniest comment so far.

Keep it up!