Saturday, March 1, 2014

Of miracles and debates, Part II

This is Part II. Read Part I just two posts down.

It's hard to believe how quickly the wheels come off my sister-in-law's civility, and I think that has to do with a few contributors. I think she got frustrated with me for questioning her beliefs, especially in public, even though she brought it on herself, plus I think some of it was lingering frustration from our past debates, and I think apologetics always start with a strike against it by needing to rely on faith, so those not entirely comfortable defending the indefensible resort to name-calling and deflection.

We pick up the exchange after I asked her to prove the miracle and, as you will see, she proceeds to try to shift the burden of proof and completely forget what burden of proof is.

HER: You can't prove that it wasn't a miracle so why would I try to prove that it was. There is no scientific evidence that you can show me that says this is why this man picked this particular time to place this particular book in that particular pocket. Even if he knew in the back of his mind that maybe this stack of paper will protect him from a bullet in case he got mugged, which btw, anyone who has watched any crime tv show since the 70s could tell you. When you can scientifically prove that, then I'll play. But let me help you out, you can't scientifically prove that because there is no explanation for those events happening in that particular order or at that particular time.

(Her sarcasm is starting to increase, as is her cognitive dissonance. And I don't even know what to make of the crime show reference. She's using fiction to prove a scientific fact for me. And here's the funny thing: She is the only one who interpreted the fact this guy started carrying the bible the week before as the miracle, when clearly the producers of the news story and the witnesses felt the bible stopping the bullet was the moment of divine intervention. But whatever, none of it was a miracle anyway).

ME: You just wasted a lot of your time and mine by typing that non-sequitur. When you state you believe something is a miracle, it is completely on you to prove it. You're absolutely right, I can't prove it's not a miracle because I don't have to; you're the one making the claim. People don't need to prove universal negatives, because it can't be done and they aren't the ones making the affirmed statement. It's like asking someone to prove green elephants with wings don't exist. You would have to search every inch of the universe looking for one, which can't be done, and why would it? I can't believe you are arguing against burden of proof when we both know you are wrong here as any basic debate student would confirm. I'm asking you to prove divine intervention since you (and most people, according to your argumentum ad populum fallacy) believe that happened. You can't because you have none. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and those claims that are asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. And BTW, divine intervention kinda shoots a huge whole in your free will, huh? Your god made sure he carried that bible so he could get credit for this miracle, so the guy had no choice but to carry it. God's plan kinda kills free will, too. This is so much fun, and thanks to my brother having so many friends and not censoring me like so many others on here, I get to appeal to a large audience and show them logic and reason are their friends.

HER: That was my point and I agree with you, neither of us can prove such an argument, so why ask me to? I'm going to quote Edward Feser, "the so-called 'war between science and religion' is really a war between two rival philosophical world views, and not at bottom a scientific or theological dispute at all." Biologist Richard Lewontin, wrote, "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism… It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door."  Brian Casey

(She basically just gave up using her brain here and copied two quotes, which by the way has three names attributed to them so I can only assume she used someone else's argument here or didn't attribute correctly as Brian Casey didn't say either of these quotes. And the best part, Lewontin's quote completely proves my point, that miracles are absurd. Creationists use just this portion of Lewontin's quote and leave it out of context for their own benefit, which I don't find surprising at all as Christians always lie to prove their point. Here is the link to the entire quote. I didn't have time to get into all of this with her, and I regret it now, because I would have made her look even more foolish and desperate, but that's water under the bridge now.)

ME: I don't need to prove your argument, I'm not making the claim. And to quote Richard Dawkins, "Science works, bitches." Not one miracle has ever been verified by an indifferent third-party observer. Zero, zilch, nada. Why? Because everyday evidence and science can explain everything that believers claim are miracles. You can wish it were true, you can have a biased faith-based hope, you can cling to childish pareidolia when you look at a burnt piece of toast or a cloud in the sky, but it all comes back to you can't prove your claim, and I don't have to because I'm not making one. Nice story? You bet. Miracle that he carried a bible in his pocket? Not so much.

HER: "Science works, bitches!" Great argument.

(Notice how she completely ignores the fact that miracles have always been explained? I can only imagine she would have dismissed or ignored my points about Lewontin, too, had I made them.)

ME: Nice misdirection and avoidance. Here's the bottom line: You said you can't prove it's a miracle, when in fact that's wrong and you know why. To prove this is a miracle of divine intervention all that has to happen is to get your god to show up and tell us he implanted the thought in this guy's head to carry that bible in that specific pocket for this specific reason, which will be proof enough for me. But since we both know you can't prove god exists, another claim of yours, you're forced to do mental gymnastics to reconcile your miracle claim, which can't be proved.

(In Part III, you'll see her try to prove god exists.)

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