Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Comment Thread for The Resurrection of Jesus - Apologiaphoenix vs Gary

Collapse
This topic is closed.
X
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Originally posted by psstein View Post
    God is not bound by natural law, and natural law is far from prescriptive. It describes what usually happens, without outside intervention.

    Hume famously denies induction, so he has no business discussing laws of nature.
    i dont care about hume, I was just talkin

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Gary View Post
      Medicine and the clinical judgments of doctors in treating disease and injuries is based on the scientific method (research based on evidence). Modern doctors do not treat people based on what an inner "spirit" tells us.
      Yes, they're much more likely to treat people based on samples sales reps give them, or guesses. Medicine is more like informed guesswork than an exact science. And unless you're doing clinical research, you're not using the scientific method; at best, you're applying knowledge gained from others using it.

      And this has nothing to do with proving or disproving miracles or historical events.
      Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

      Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
      sigpic
      I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

      Comment


      • Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
        Yes, they're much more likely to treat people based on samples sales reps give them, or guesses. Medicine is more like informed guesswork than an exact science. And unless you're doing clinical research, you're not using the scientific method; at best, you're applying knowledge gained from others using it.

        And this has nothing to do with proving or disproving miracles or historical events.
        doctors are a bunch of crooks - unlike proclaimed miracle working cult leaders, who are all well known for being completely honest and exceptionally rational.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by psstein View Post
          Doesn't acknowledging a creator of some sort make you a deist?

          I don't think the Creator/Christian God split is nearly as wide as people think. For Aquinas/Duns Scotus/Augustine/Maimonides, there is no difference between the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle and the Christian God. Aquinas and many, many others make the case an Unmoved Mover must logically be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.
          I'm fairly certain that Aristotle said nothing about the Unmoved Mover being omnibenevolent - and Aristotle's Unmoved Mover was not a Creator AFAIR, but simply one who organized preexisting chaos.
          Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

          Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
          sigpic
          I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

          Comment


          • Originally posted by William View Post
            doctors are a bunch of crooks - unlike proclaimed miracle working cult leaders, who are all well known for being completely honest and exceptionally rational.
            Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

            Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
            sigpic
            I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

            Comment


            • Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
              Yes, they're much more likely to treat people based on samples sales reps give them, or guesses. Medicine is more like informed guesswork than an exact science. And unless you're doing clinical research, you're not using the scientific method; at best, you're applying knowledge gained from others using it.

              And this has nothing to do with proving or disproving miracles or historical events.
              but with all seriousness, this is pretty cynical. Most pharmaceutical companies invest large sums of money and research into trials and research. Pushing the wrong medication to market could lead to significant settlements and costs, not to mention the harm to others.

              Doctors evaluate the pharmaceutical product information and can get the research documents to further sell them on it. Medicine is a business. People dont get well an/or die, they also risk malpractice suit, financial ruin, plus having to deal with harming those they meant to help.

              this is sort of like those who say the only ones going to church are hypocrites or that all preachers just want what's gathered in the collection plates. I dont think that's true, and I'd suspect you wouldnt appreciate the claim either.

              Comment


              • Can skeptics prove that miracles do not occur? Answer: NO! Absolutely not.

                Here is an example why: Mrs. Smith has a severe headache on the right side of her forehead above her eyebrow accompanied by nasal congestion and green mucous drainage from her nose. She suffers with the pain for five days but it becomes so bad that she is unable to work. She goes to see her doctor, who, based on the scientific method, diagnoses a right frontal sinus infection. He gives her prescriptions for a ten day course of antibiotics and oral steroids.

                By 7 PM that evening Mrs. Smith has seen no improvement, even after taking two doses of the medication.

                Mrs. Smith calls the leader of her church's prayer group and asks for prayer for the healing of her headache. Twenty members of the church pray for Mrs. Smith that very night to be healed of her headache. The next morning, Mrs. Smith wakes up with her headache mostly gone.

                Questions:

                1. Was Mrs. Smith's recovery/cure due to prayer? Answer: We don't know. Possibly.
                2. Are there any more probable, naturalistic explanations for Mrs. Smith's recovery/cure? Answer: Yes. The effects of the antibiotic and steroids did not kick-in immediately, but their effects were apparent by the following morning.

                Conclusion: The scientific method cannot determine if Mrs. Smith's "healing" was due to a miracle or to natural causes, but, the scientific method can help you estimate probabilities, and probabilities say that Mrs. Smith was healed by medication, not prayer.
                Last edited by Gary; 08-19-2015, 04:21 PM.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by psstein View Post
                  Doesn't acknowledging a creator of some sort make you a deist?

                  I don't think the Creator/Christian God split is nearly as wide as people think. For Aquinas/Duns Scotus/Augustine/Maimonides, there is no difference between the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle and the Christian God. Aquinas and many, many others make the case an Unmoved Mover must logically be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.
                  A deist believes there is a God, he just isn't sure who that God is. An agnostic says that there MIGHT be a God, but is not convinced the evidence is strong enough to be absolutely certain and therefore cannot be as confident in the existence of a God as is the deist.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                    Yes, they're much more likely to treat people based on samples sales reps give them, or guesses. Medicine is more like informed guesswork than an exact science. And unless you're doing clinical research, you're not using the scientific method; at best, you're applying knowledge gained from others using it.

                    And this has nothing to do with proving or disproving miracles or historical events.
                    You don't have to be the one conducting the experiments to use the scientific method. If you see a doctor who practices western/traditional medicine, then both your doctor and you are participating in the scientific method. If you don't believe in the scientific method, you should stop seeing doctors and see a faith healer.

                    Comment


                    • Apologists think they score big on the objectivity scale by insisting that skeptics and atheists do their own research into the claims for miracles that appear in Christian books. A large list of miracle-claim references may be found in Craig Keener’s two volume set “Miracles (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011)”.

                      But if we are realistic about the time and money required to be expended in the effort to properly investigate a single modern-day miracle claim, it becomes immediately clear that the apologist advice that skeptics should check out those claims, is irrational for all except super-wealthy super-single super-unemployed super-bored skeptics.

                      A proper investigation is the kind that guards as much as possible against fraud. For that reason, the investigation should attempt to authenticate as much of the evidence as possible. There is a very good reason why courts, for example, require evidence to be authenticated before it becomes admissible: authentication reduces the chances of fraud, even if imperfectly, and so authentication makes sense. Will any apologist seriously suggest that a good investigator will not worry about authenticating evidence? What’s next? Bigfoot is a real animal, because of all the videos and pictures of it on the internet?

                      What would authenticating evidence consist of? Easy: What sort of evidence is the miracle-claimant providing?

                      Her own testimony? Find her and interview her. Find people who have personal knowledge of her credibility and interview them too.

                      Pictures or video? Find and interview the photographer.

                      People who claim to be eyewitnesses? find them and interview them. Find people who have personal knowledge of these witnesses’ credibility and interview them too.

                      Medical documentation? Get a signed release of information permission form from the healed person, give it to the doctor who signed the alleged medical document, and get all of the medical history on the miracle-claimant you can, to make sure the document released to the public is authentic, and there is no “more to the story” that might challenge the assertion of miracle.

                      Some other author or investigator who has already written books or articles favorable to the miracle claim? Ask her for a copy of all her evidence. Ask them to explain if they failed to pursue a particular lead that might have produced a credibility problem.

                      Here is a reasonable hypothetical scenario that would likely occur in the event a skeptic chose to do a serious investigation into a single alleged miracle:

                      (Click here to read the rest of the article): https://porphyryredux.wordpress.com/...-explanations/

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                        I'm fairly certain that Aristotle said nothing about the Unmoved Mover being omnibenevolent - and Aristotle's Unmoved Mover was not a Creator AFAIR, but simply one who organized preexisting chaos.
                        We're getting way beyond the topic of the thread, but some readings of Genesis 1 see God ordering pre-existing material rather than simply creating ex nihilo.

                        I think the Hebrew is equally compatible with either reading.

                        Comment


                        • So was Hume wrong? I think not.


                          Hume expressed his most “accurate” definition of miracle in a footnote: “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity or…some invisible agent” (Hume, 1993, p.77, emphasis added). In other words, for Hume, a miracle is a violation of natural law caused by God.1 But throughout his writings, Hume narrows this definition by neglecting its latter half; he simply equates miracles with “natural law violations.”

                          Now, for the narrow purposes that Hume had, it seems that this narrower definition was perfectly appropriate. After all, he was responding to the claims of the Christians of his day, who suggested that biblical testimony provided sufficient justification for thinking that the miracles to which the Bible attested occurred—and they regarded the Biblical miracles to be natural law violations. Besides, Hume was an empiricist; since only the effects of invisible agents can be experienced directly (invisible agents cannot), for Hume the latter half of the definition is superfluous.

                          The problem is, Hume’s narrower definition has become the standard philosophical definition; but for the (wider) contemporary question of whether belief in the miraculous is ever justified, and whether such belief can ever provide justification for religious beliefs (and specifically for God’s existence), a wider definition is needed. After all, if some seemingly miraculous event is to serve as evidence for God’s existence, whether it was caused by God would be the most relevant concern. In fact, regardless of whether it violated natural law, if we knew a specific event was caused by God, its occurrence would be evidence that God exists (since God cannot cause an event unless he exists). Whether it violates natural law or not is superfluous.

                          So the standard philosophical definition needs an update. A miracle is simply an event caused by God. For any given event, if we knew that God took special care to cause it, we would (and should) call that event a miracle—regardless of whether it involved the violation of natural law.

                          Some might insist that such an update is unnecessary because divine action necessarily requires law violation; so even if miracles are defined as divinely caused events, all miracles would necessarily be violations of natural law anyway. This, however, is false. Not only would this make Hume’s above mentioned most “accurate” definition redundant, but divine action does not require law violation and knowing an event is caused by God is sufficient (and knowing that it violates natural law is not necessary) to call it a miracle. For example, God preventing the decay of a radioactive atom to save Schrödinger’s cat would not violate natural law, yet if we knew that God had done so we would classify that event as a miracle. (Indeed, the director of the Divine Action Project, Robert J. Russell, is a proponent of the view that God could cause miracles by causing indeterminate quantum events. See Silva (2014).) In addition, God causing someone to win the lottery so that they can pay their medical bills would not necessarily require the violation of natural law, and yet if we knew God had done so, we would call it a miracle.

                          Indeed, many philosophers have already embraced this definition—especially those who believe that miracles occur. For example, I heard this definition tacitly endorsed and defended many times over, in presentations and conversations, at the Ian Ramsey Centre’s conference on special divine action (Oxford, July 13-17, 2014). It was made clear that special divine actions should not be confused with general divine actions, like creating, sustaining or regulating the universe. But anytime the possibility of God making a particular event happen (i.e. a special divine action) was discussed, regardless of whether the event would break a law of nature, be merely improbable, or was just so important that God wanted to guarantee its occurrence, the event was called a miracle.2

                          Now, if we want to know whether belief in the miraculous can be justified, but a miracle is simply an event caused by God, the next question is obvious: when can we be justified in believing that an event was caused by God?

                          Attributing causation can be complicated, but at the least: to justifiably believe that A caused B, A must be the best explanation for why B occurred. If there is a better explanation for why B happened than A, one cannot be justified in believing that A caused B.3 Indeed, when someone claims that they are justified in believing that God caused an event, they are claiming that God’s intervention is the best explanation for why that event occurred. “How else,” they might insist, “can you explain it?” So now, we ask, how does one determine what is the best explanation for the occurrence of an event?

                          Fortunately, this question has already been settled. The logic of abduction, inference to the best explanation, is well understood and well defined. It is taught in critical thinking classes, lies at the heart of scientific inquiry and is our best (most successful) method for discovering the truth about the world—particularly for finding causal explanations. Its criteria are often expressed as such:
                          •Fruitfulness: the hypothesis that makes the most correct novel predictions is the most fruitful.
                          •Simplicity/Parsimony: the hypothesis that requires or posits the fewest number of entities, events and forces is the simpler, or more parsimonious, hypothesis.
                          •Conservatism: the hypothesis that coheres best with what we already have good reason to believe, and doesn’t conflict with established knowledge, is the more conservative.
                          •Scope: the hypothesis that most increases our understanding—that explains the most and does not raise more questions than it answers—has the widest scope (Schick and Vaughn, 2010).

                          When engaged in abduction, one prefers the explanation that is, all other things being equal, more fruitful, simpler, wider scoping and conservative. When dealing with new scientific developments, sometimes there is not a “clear winner.” And, unless a past event leaves physical evidence of its occurrence (that we could predict to observe), fruitfulness will not come into play. But when one hypothesis is clearly more adequate—say, by being the simplest, most conservative and widest scoping explanation—we should prefer it. We may choose to believe something else, but epistemically we will not be justified in doing so.

                          With this in mind, we can now see why Hume’s preference for his narrower definition was not a mistake and was not detrimental to his argument. He simply equated the definition of miracle with the conditions under which one is justified in believing in a miracle. Even if non law-violating events can be miracles, one cannot be justified in believing that an event was miraculous unless it violates natural law. Why? Because, if an event does not violate natural law, then it will have a natural explanation—and available natural explanations will always be more adequate than supernatural ones. When compared to supernatural explanations, available natural explanations will always…
                          •…be simpler: supernatural explanations invoke an extra entity or force that exists outside the universe that natural explanations do not.
                          •…have wider scope: explanations that invoke natural laws can also be used to explain other similar events consistent with the natural laws; supernatural explanations, on the other hand, essentially explain the unexplained with the inexplicable—which does not enhance our understanding.4
                          •…be more conservative: natural explanations will always cohere with what we have good reason to believe about the world: for example, that it is governed by laws, that it is causally closed, and that matter and energy are conserved. Supernatural explanations will not.

                          Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...zIWwwbQ5d63.99


                          Suppose relatives of yours are flying in and arrive safely. One may thank God, thinking their safe arrival was an event God wanted to guarantee, but the natural explanation for their safe arrival (that involves a sturdy plane, a competent pilot, etc.) will not invoke extra entities, conflict with causal laws and can help explain all other safe travel. So, the natural explanation is epistemically preferable. The other can only be driven by faith (i.e., belief without justification).

                          Suppose some unlikely event occurs—you win the lottery, your cancer goes into remission, or the USA beats the Russians in hockey in the 1980 Olympic Games. Again, the natural explanations for such events (that, on the large scale, such things are bound to happen) will not invoke extra entities, conflict with causal laws, and will help explain other unlikely occurrences. After all, someone had to win the lottery, many diseases remit, and there are plenty of true “David and Goliath” stories.

                          If, however, the occurrence of some event has broken natural law, then an event has occurred that our universe could not have produced on its own. When left to its own devices, our universe can only produce events that are consistent with the laws that govern it. So, if we know a law-violating event has occurred, we know that the universe has not been left to its own devices. Intervention from beyond the natural world—supernatural intervention—would not only seem to be the best explanation, but the only explanation. Assuming for the sake of argument that “God did it” will be the best among the competing supernatural explanations, belief that divine intervention has occurred would be justified.

                          So, in summary: Given that a miracle is simply an event caused by God, one is justified in believing that a miracle has occurred IFF one is justified in believing that divine invention has occurred. However, one is justified in the latter IFF one is justified in believing that a natural law has been violated. So now, we are left wondering, when is one justified in believing that a natural law has been violated?

                          Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...sjS7kTuUcOh.99
                          Last edited by Gary; 08-19-2015, 05:13 PM.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                            I couldn't disagree more. We have very good reason to trust God, and he has demonstrated time and time again that he keeps the promises that he makes.
                            What we have is an insistence that we should rely on nothing more than hearsay evidence in support of the claim that he keeps his promises.

                            The type of faith that you seem to accept most people around here would consider very weak. And in fact, it's that sort of blind faith that
                            the founding apostles had - except that blind faith means believing on the basis of no concrete evidence whatever.

                            eating at Christianity from within.
                            That would all manner of teachings that go unchallenged - as though the concept of adherence to full and proper doctrine is somehow an obsolete inconvenience.

                            The type of Christian who relies on such blind faith is easy prey to skepticism, because that person typically never thought to ask why he ought to believe what he believes beyond the shaky hope that God might keep his promises.
                            And then one day he asks what basis he has for his faith, and finds that it is no more than wishful thinking.

                            But in the patron-client world that the authors of the NT lived in, to have trust in one's patron to deliver was not merely wishful thinking, it wasn't a-hopin-and-a-prayin. It was trust based on the knowledge that the patron was more than capable of keeping his promises and that he had a strong record of doing so. As David deSilva puts it in Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity,
                            In short - the client and patron each had a reasonable body of experience underpinning their faith.

                            Source: Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity by David deSilva

                            It is worth noting at this point that faith (Lat. fides; Gk pistis) is a term also very much at home in patron-client and friendship relations and had, like grace, a variety of meanings as the context shifted from the patron's faith to the client's faith. In one sense, faith meant "dependability." The patron needed to prove reliable in providing the assistance he or she promised to grant. The client needed to "keep faith" as well, in the sense of showing loyalty or commitment to the patron and to his or her obligations of gratitude. A second meaning in the more familiar sense is "trust": the client had to trust the goodwill and ability of the patron to whom the client entrusted his or her need, that the patron would indeed perform what he or she promised, while the benefactor would also have to trust the recipients to act nobly and make a grateful response.

                            © Copyright Original Source



                            Yes - faith could mean faith as in belief, or as in faithful (or faithless) spouse, and keeping faith. And among the people who undermine the Faith, are those who insist that it means only belief.

                            Then also, there are those who claim that "blind faith" is a virtue - in defiance of such Biblical records as 1 Corinthians 2:4.
                            1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
                            Come to your senses as you ought and stop sinning; for I say to your shame, there are some who know not God.
                            .
                            "when the church no longer teaches its people why they believe what they believe, the world will often step in and fill in the gaps." Ryan Danker

                            "The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan and buried on the 14th day of Nisan:" Majority Consensus

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Gary View Post
                              So was Hume wrong? I think not.


                              Hume expressed his most “accurate” definition of miracle in a footnote: “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity or…some invisible agent” (Hume, 1993, p.77, emphasis added). In other words, for Hume, a miracle is a violation of natural law caused by God.1 But throughout his writings, Hume narrows this definition by neglecting its latter half; he simply equates miracles with “natural law violations.”

                              Now, for the narrow purposes that Hume had, it seems that this narrower definition was perfectly appropriate. After all, he was responding to the claims of the Christians of his day, who suggested that biblical testimony provided sufficient justification for thinking that the miracles to which the Bible attested occurred—and they regarded the Biblical miracles to be natural law violations. Besides, Hume was an empiricist; since only the effects of invisible agents can be experienced directly (invisible agents cannot), for Hume the latter half of the definition is superfluous.

                              The problem is, Hume’s narrower definition has become the standard philosophical definition; but for the (wider) contemporary question of whether belief in the miraculous is ever justified, and whether such belief can ever provide justification for religious beliefs (and specifically for God’s existence), a wider definition is needed. After all, if some seemingly miraculous event is to serve as evidence for God’s existence, whether it was caused by God would be the most relevant concern. In fact, regardless of whether it violated natural law, if we knew a specific event was caused by God, its occurrence would be evidence that God exists (since God cannot cause an event unless he exists). Whether it violates natural law or not is superfluous.

                              So the standard philosophical definition needs an update. A miracle is simply an event caused by God. For any given event, if we knew that God took special care to cause it, we would (and should) call that event a miracle—regardless of whether it involved the violation of natural law.

                              Some might insist that such an update is unnecessary because divine action necessarily requires law violation; so even if miracles are defined as divinely caused events, all miracles would necessarily be violations of natural law anyway. This, however, is false. Not only would this make Hume’s above mentioned most “accurate” definition redundant, but divine action does not require law violation and knowing an event is caused by God is sufficient (and knowing that it violates natural law is not necessary) to call it a miracle. For example, God preventing the decay of a radioactive atom to save Schrödinger’s cat would not violate natural law, yet if we knew that God had done so we would classify that event as a miracle. (Indeed, the director of the Divine Action Project, Robert J. Russell, is a proponent of the view that God could cause miracles by causing indeterminate quantum events. See Silva (2014).) In addition, God causing someone to win the lottery so that they can pay their medical bills would not necessarily require the violation of natural law, and yet if we knew God had done so, we would call it a miracle.

                              Indeed, many philosophers have already embraced this definition—especially those who believe that miracles occur. For example, I heard this definition tacitly endorsed and defended many times over, in presentations and conversations, at the Ian Ramsey Centre’s conference on special divine action (Oxford, July 13-17, 2014). It was made clear that special divine actions should not be confused with general divine actions, like creating, sustaining or regulating the universe. But anytime the possibility of God making a particular event happen (i.e. a special divine action) was discussed, regardless of whether the event would break a law of nature, be merely improbable, or was just so important that God wanted to guarantee its occurrence, the event was called a miracle.2

                              Now, if we want to know whether belief in the miraculous can be justified, but a miracle is simply an event caused by God, the next question is obvious: when can we be justified in believing that an event was caused by God?

                              Attributing causation can be complicated, but at the least: to justifiably believe that A caused B, A must be the best explanation for why B occurred. If there is a better explanation for why B happened than A, one cannot be justified in believing that A caused B.3 Indeed, when someone claims that they are justified in believing that God caused an event, they are claiming that God’s intervention is the best explanation for why that event occurred. “How else,” they might insist, “can you explain it?” So now, we ask, how does one determine what is the best explanation for the occurrence of an event?

                              Fortunately, this question has already been settled. The logic of abduction, inference to the best explanation, is well understood and well defined. It is taught in critical thinking classes, lies at the heart of scientific inquiry and is our best (most successful) method for discovering the truth about the world—particularly for finding causal explanations. Its criteria are often expressed as such:
                              •Fruitfulness: the hypothesis that makes the most correct novel predictions is the most fruitful.
                              •Simplicity/Parsimony: the hypothesis that requires or posits the fewest number of entities, events and forces is the simpler, or more parsimonious, hypothesis.
                              •Conservatism: the hypothesis that coheres best with what we already have good reason to believe, and doesn’t conflict with established knowledge, is the more conservative.
                              •Scope: the hypothesis that most increases our understanding—that explains the most and does not raise more questions than it answers—has the widest scope (Schick and Vaughn, 2010).

                              When engaged in abduction, one prefers the explanation that is, all other things being equal, more fruitful, simpler, wider scoping and conservative. When dealing with new scientific developments, sometimes there is not a “clear winner.” And, unless a past event leaves physical evidence of its occurrence (that we could predict to observe), fruitfulness will not come into play. But when one hypothesis is clearly more adequate—say, by being the simplest, most conservative and widest scoping explanation—we should prefer it. We may choose to believe something else, but epistemically we will not be justified in doing so.

                              With this in mind, we can now see why Hume’s preference for his narrower definition was not a mistake and was not detrimental to his argument. He simply equated the definition of miracle with the conditions under which one is justified in believing in a miracle. Even if non law-violating events can be miracles, one cannot be justified in believing that an event was miraculous unless it violates natural law. Why? Because, if an event does not violate natural law, then it will have a natural explanation—and available natural explanations will always be more adequate than supernatural ones. When compared to supernatural explanations, available natural explanations will always…
                              •…be simpler: supernatural explanations invoke an extra entity or force that exists outside the universe that natural explanations do not.
                              •…have wider scope: explanations that invoke natural laws can also be used to explain other similar events consistent with the natural laws; supernatural explanations, on the other hand, essentially explain the unexplained with the inexplicable—which does not enhance our understanding.4
                              •…be more conservative: natural explanations will always cohere with what we have good reason to believe about the world: for example, that it is governed by laws, that it is causally closed, and that matter and energy are conserved. Supernatural explanations will not.

                              Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...zIWwwbQ5d63.99


                              Suppose relatives of yours are flying in and arrive safely. One may thank God, thinking their safe arrival was an event God wanted to guarantee, but the natural explanation for their safe arrival (that involves a sturdy plane, a competent pilot, etc.) will not invoke extra entities, conflict with causal laws and can help explain all other safe travel. So, the natural explanation is epistemically preferable. The other can only be driven by faith (i.e., belief without justification).

                              Suppose some unlikely event occurs—you win the lottery, your cancer goes into remission, or the USA beats the Russians in hockey in the 1980 Olympic Games. Again, the natural explanations for such events (that, on the large scale, such things are bound to happen) will not invoke extra entities, conflict with causal laws, and will help explain other unlikely occurrences. After all, someone had to win the lottery, many diseases remit, and there are plenty of true “David and Goliath” stories.

                              If, however, the occurrence of some event has broken natural law, then an event has occurred that our universe could not have produced on its own. When left to its own devices, our universe can only produce events that are consistent with the laws that govern it. So, if we know a law-violating event has occurred, we know that the universe has not been left to its own devices. Intervention from beyond the natural world—supernatural intervention—would not only seem to be the best explanation, but the only explanation. Assuming for the sake of argument that “God did it” will be the best among the competing supernatural explanations, belief that divine intervention has occurred would be justified.

                              So, in summary: Given that a miracle is simply an event caused by God, one is justified in believing that a miracle has occurred IFF one is justified in believing that divine invention has occurred. However, one is justified in the latter IFF one is justified in believing that a natural law has been violated. So now, we are left wondering, when is one justified in believing that a natural law has been violated?

                              Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...sjS7kTuUcOh.99

                              Hume’s answer to this question is straightforward: if one is justified in believing that a regularity established by experience has been violated, then one is justified in believing that a natural law has been broken. Our experience of the world is quite regular: people are stopped by solid walls, people standing in water sink, and dead people stay dead. According to Hume, if one could justifiably believe that a person had passed through a wall, walked on water, or been resurrected from the dead, one would be justified in believing that a natural law had been broken.

                              Hume’s thesis was simple: Testimony can never justify belief that a miracle has occurred. And given the above assumption, Hume’s argument is straightforward. Testimony can’t justify one’s belief in a violation of an experienced regularity because experienced regularities have direct inductive evidence, whereas an attested violation can only have a single instance of indirect evidence. If so, testimony can never justify belief that an experienced regularity has been violated—and thus that a law violation (and thus a miracle) has occurred.

                              But even if Hume’s thesis is true, his argument was faulty. Objections aimed at his error usually take the form of a counter example. Most famous is the story of the Indian Prince who had spent his entire life in the temperate zone of India and had thus never seen water freeze.5 At first, he refused to believe the Northern European traveler who said the water in the lakes of his home country got so hard during the winter that elephants could walk across them. After all, this went against an experienced regularity—the Prince’s uniform experience of water. In India, even when water gets colder, it never gets harder (much less solid). But as more and more travelers independently attested to the same fact, the Indian Prince eventually came to believe in the existence of ice—and justifiably so. So, it seems, testimony can justify the belief that an experienced regularity has been violated.

                              Hume, in the second edition of his work, addressed this story and suggested that it does not contradict his thesis. Freezing lakes in northern Europe are not really “miraculous”—a violation of an experienced regularity—because they are not

                              “contrary to uniform experience of the course of nature in cases where all the circumstances are the same... [because the prince] never saw water in Muscovy during the winter…[he] cannot reasonably be positive what would there be the consequence” (Hume, 1993, paragraph 10).

                              In other words, because the Prince’s experience was not universal—he had never been in northern Europe during the winter—he can’t say that frozen lakes in northern Europe during winter are contrary to his experience. This isn’t an example of testimony justifying the belief that a universally experienced regularity has been violated, Hume suggests, and only if an event is contrary to our universal experience (like our universal experience that dead people stay dead) would one be justified in concluding that an event was miraculous.

                              But Hume’s mistake is likely clear. No one’s experience is universal, regarding anything—even death. So any supposed violation of one’s experience could be said to not really be a violation of one’s experience because—whatever the supposed violation—one has never had such an experience in exactly that same circumstance. We could say that Jesus’ resurrection would not be contrary to my experience, for example, because I’ve never experienced what it’s like outside Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning.6

                              Now, Hume was right that such stories were not counter examples to his main thesis. After all, the prince story is not one in which miraculous belief is justified by testimony; frozen lakes aren’t miracles. What Hume failed to realize, however, is that the prince story does falsify certain assumptions in his argument. Fortunately for Hume, the reason he was mistaken actually shows why his conclusion is true. How?

                              The prince story is one in which testimony justifies doubt of an established regularity, so Hume was wrong that testimony does not ever have the power to justify such doubt. However, even as the Prince justifiably doubted an experienced regularity, he was still not justified in believing that miracles occurred. Why? Because he was not justified in believing that a natural law had been violated. This is contrary to Hume’s suggestion that, if one is justified in believing that an experienced regularity has been violated, one is justified in believing that a natural law has been broken. Thus Hume was wrong about the conditions under which one is justified in believing that a violation of natural law has occurred; justified belief that an experienced regularity has been violated is not enough. This fact supports Hume’s thesis, however, because it means that being justified in believing that a natural law has been broken (thus that a miracle has occurred) is even harder than Hume realized. Simply realizing that a regularity one has experienced has been violated is not enough because our experience is not universal.

                              Consider a holistic medicine practitioner’s lifelong experience, which tells him that holistic medicine works; he recalls a lifetime of patients who got better after he treated them. Would repeated double blinded studies showing that holistic medicine doesn’t work justify him in believing that a miracle had occurred during those studies? Of course not; if he’s rational, he’d conclude that his experience had led him astray. After all, what’s the better explanation: that, (a) the laws of nature were violated during those studies or (b) “I don’t know everything and made a mistake.” If he thought about it further, he might even realize that it was confirmation bias and availability error that led him astray. He believed it worked, so it seemed to work.

                              And, as this example reveals, it’s not just the non-universality of our experiences that can lead us astray; it’s also their non-reliability. When I teach critical thinking and scientific reasoning, one of the main lessons I have to drive home to my students is that our senses and memories are not nearly as reliable as we assume they are. Because of the powers and limits of our perceptions, we often see what is not there. Confirmation bias and availability error make us see patterns and regularities that don’t exist. Wishful thinking makes us remember things that never happened. Wide-awake eyewitnesses can be completely wrong about an event they saw in broad daylight. Truth be told, we should expect the regularities of our experience to be violated now and again because our experience simply is not that reliable.

                              This is why science relies on well-controlled repeated experiments that guard against the limits and powers of our experiences. This is also why conservatism is only one of four criteria by which we determine the best explanation. If we always and only favored what coheres with what we think we already know (e.g., what’s consistent with experienced regularities), then we could never learn that we are mistaken. All things being equal, we should favor what coheres with our experience; but if I become aware that a non-conservative hypothesis is simpler and more explanatory, then it should be accepted.

                              And testimony can most certainly make one aware of this. For example, you likely think sugar makes kids hyperactive. But, it turns out, this is false—and your experience of such a correlation is likely due to confirmation bias. Controlled experiments have been done in which groups of children who have and have not been given sugar are assessed to be equally hyperactive (Yale Scientific, 2010). It turns out, this even coheres better with what we know sugar does to the body and brain—but just hearing about such studies is enough to justify your belief that a regularity you experienced has been violated. But, of course, you are not in turn justified in believing that a natural law has been broken.

                              But if a violation of an experienced regularity is not enough to justify belief that a natural law has been violated, what is?

                              Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...UpzeUCzW7YF.99

                              Comment


                              • Why justified belief in miracles is impossible

                                As we have seen, to justifiably believe that a miracle has occurred, one must first justifiably believe that a law of science has been broken. This is quite difficult to accomplish. Most certainly, the testimony of an eyewitness who says that he saw a law of science broken will be insufficient. The hypothesis that the testifier is either lying or mistaken will always be more adequate. Even in the case of multiple eyewitness reports, collusion, exaggeration, trickery and mass delusion will still be more likely. Supposed you even witness the event yourself; you will still not be epistemically justified in believing that a law of science has been broken. The hypothesis that your senses have led you astray, or that there is an explanation consistent with the scientific laws that you are ignorant of, will always be more adequate.

                                In short, personal experience—whether it be yours, someone else’s, or a group’s—will never overturn scientific consensus. Scientific laws are established in the most rigorous way—a way that does not merely rely on individual observations and guards against the limits and powers of our personal and collective experiences. So the personal experiences of no one person, or collection of persons, will ever be able to overturn them epistemically.

                                This is especially true if one is claiming that the law was broken because of divine intervention. Such a “miracle hypothesis” will never…
                                •be simpler: it will invoke supernatural entities—while the competing natural hypotheses work within what we already know exists.
                                •have wide scope: it will only explain the event in question—whereas the competing natural hypotheses (e.g., that the witnesses were mistaken) can explain any miraculous report.
                                •be conservative: it will not only conflict with the scientific law it says was broken, but also with well established causal closure and conservation laws—whereas the competing hypothesis will cohere with them and other things we know: people often lie and our experiences can easily lead us astray.

                                After all, when I see something seemingly miraculous, I am in the exact same epistemic position I am when someone claims to have magic powers. Even if they can do something that I can in no way explain—say, walk on water or float between buildings (like Criss Angel), catch bullets with their teeth (like Penn & Teller) or seem to read people’s minds (like Uri Geller)—it’s more likely that there is a natural explanation that I can’t detect. In neither situation am I justified in believing in supernatural powers.

                                That’s not to say that I can never justifiably believe that a scientific law has been broken; such belief has even been justified in the past. Take, for example, when Einstein’s Theory of Relativity overturned Newtonian Physics. Although Newton’s laws had been accepted for generations as scientific laws, it became possible to justifiably believe Newton’s laws had been violated. For example, such belief was justified after the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919, when we observed that the light from the Hyades star cluster did not bend the .86 seconds predicted by Newton. Of course, the justification was not the result of this single observation; had it not been for the development of Einstein’s theory of relativity in the preceding years, and the fact that it accurately predicted how far the light did bend (1.75 seconds), we might have justifiably thought there was something wrong with our detection method (The North Coast Journal, 2013). In fact, for many, the eclipse observation was not enough, and Einstein’s theory would not have been accepted had it not also proven its scope by, for example, explaining the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit. But the point is, at the time, it was justified to believe that a law of science had been violated.

                                Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...uYRGp2vavJ9.99


                                But this example demonstrates not only that (and how) the first criterion can be met, but why the second criterion can’t in turn be met and why justified belief in miracles is impossible. By becoming justified in believing that Newton’s laws were broken, we immediately and automatically become justified in believing that they did not accurately describe a law of nature—that they are wrong. When one shows that a law of science X has been broken, one in turn shows X is not a law of nature.

                                That’s not to say that we can’t justifiably believe that a law of science accurately describes a law of nature. By my estimation, I think we are justified in believing that Einstein’s law that nothing can accelerate past the speed of light is a law of nature. However, if we were to prove that Einstein’s law was violated by, say, discovering something that did accelerate past the speed of light, then—although we would then be justified in believing that a law of science had been broken—we would no longer be justified in believing that it was a law of nature.

                                Take, for example, the measurements made in 2011, with the OPERA particle detector, which suggested neutrinos travel faster than the speed of light. Even this well controlled experiment, by itself, could not justify the belief that Einstein’s law had been broken; the scientists realized that—even despite their best efforts to conduct a controlled experiment, and their failed efforts to find a mistake in their measurements—they could still be wrong. So instead of concluding that a scientific law had been broken, they asked the scientific community to examine their results and even repeat their experiments (Scientific American, 2011). It turns out that they were mistaken—put simply, an optical wire was not screwed in all the way (Of Particular Significance 2011). But had the experiment been successfully repeated, and no one anywhere could find a mistake, we then would have been justified in believing that Einstein’s speed-limit law had been broken. I could have even been justified in believing this based on mere testimony—say, by reading a peer-reviewed article on the topic. But, at the same time, I would have lost my justification for thinking that Einstein’s law was a law of nature.

                                This example demonstrates many things. First, it is extremely difficult to fulfill the first requirement for belief in miracles; establishing that a law of science has been broken takes a carefully controlled scientific experiment, successfully repeated by many others, and meticulously checked for mistakes. We can see why “They saw it with their own eyes” or even adding “I saw it with my own eyes too” is just never going to cut it when it comes to our first criterion. But it also shows us how establishing that a law of science has been broken immediately erases any justification we had for thinking that law accurately described a law of nature. Thus, we see why the conditions that are necessary for justified belief in a miracle are impossible to fulfill at the same time: fulfilling one criterion automatically “un-fulfills” the other. Consequently, justified belief in miracles is impossible.

                                Read more at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-...VHEZpKc4GJr.99
                                Last edited by Gary; 08-19-2015, 06:25 PM.

                                Comment

                                Related Threads

                                Collapse

                                Topics Statistics Last Post
                                Started by Quest82, 07-17-2022, 05:24 AM
                                2 responses
                                45 views
                                0 likes
                                Last Post Quest82
                                by Quest82
                                 
                                Working...
                                X