Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Impossible Tasks in God Debate: Definitions Create Roadblocks

If I take a picture of Jesus sitting in my home tonight with an amazing glow around his head, showing me his scars, and telling me amazing stories and parables that would clearly identify him as having incredible brilliance and teaching skills, a naturalist would argue that this was great teaching, great acting, and doctored video to create the appearance of something supernatural.

If after careful analysis of the video, there was no doctoring, then it would be argued that there just wasn't enough science to discover how it was doctored, and that the illusions in the film had natural explanations. 

If I persuaded Jesus to come back on another evening, and invited 1000 folks to be there as well, and had five cameras with well know atheists manning all five cameras, and Jesus healed someone blind since birth by touching mud to his eyes, there would be claims of mass hysteria, the videos would be suspected of being altered before or after the fact, or replaced.  The fact of having 1000 folks agreeing on what happened would be further dismissed as a conspiracy by all in attendance.  And these would just be the contemporaneous skeptics.  100 years from now the skepticism would merely grow.  2000 years from now it would just be compared with other videos of the time. 

In other words, it doesn't really matter what kind or how much evidence is produced, the Bible cannot be proved to a naturalist to be supernatural, Jesus cannot have been other than man, and there is no afterlife, heaven, etc.

This also begs the question of what is natural.  If there is a God, then he would be the most natural thing of all.  If there is an afterlife, then it would merely be an extension of the natural.  The spiritual realm is certainly no more fantastic than quarks or black holes, just part of nature.

So I think we commonly end up with debates that can't be decided, much less won because the definitions of such things as truth, evidence, and natural differ between the debaters.

I come to all of these conclusions after spending 7 hours on Sunday reading about the shroud of Turin.  It cannot be explained by Science, and the historical evidence is that it really is the burial shroud of Christ.  That combination is pretty powerful.  However, the naturalists merely state, calmly, that they will eventually figure out how the image got there by some natural means, not by the transmutation of Christ.  So 1000 years from now, we could be no closer.  In the meantime, one "natural" explanation would be that this was the natural result of a man/God transitioning from human to spirit.

9 comments:

Jackie J said...

"...the shroud of Turin. It cannot be explained by Science, and the historical evidence is that it really is the burial shroud of Christ. "

Except that science explains it perfectly well, and the historical evidence does not in any way support the idea that it really is the burial shroud of Christ. But other than that, it was quite a good sentence. At least you got the comma in the right place. A lot of people can't even do that.

Page1Listings.com said...

Well, after having read an entire book on the subject, watched two documentaries from 2009 and 2010 that concluded otherwise, can you substantiate your twin claims.

Anonymous said...

Your premise, that regardless of how incontrovertible the evidence for the supernatural was in any given instance, there will be doubters, is likely correct. As would be the same statement that no matter how solid the evidence for fraud in supernatural claims there will be some believers. But what you have to do is look at the specific beliefs you have and see how much evidence really exists for them. When extraordinary claims are made the bar for evidence is higher. You want more proof if I claim I can fly than if I claim I can walk. So if you hold beliefs that are not supported by ordinary experience you need to examine how strong the evidence for them is, and the more improbable the thing you believe the stronger the evidence must be to make it compelling.

Page1Listings.com said...

Good thoughts all. However, which is more extraordinary? That something greater than man exists who was behind creation, or that all of this just happened?

Which is more extraordinary? That the shroud is a hoax or that it is real?

And your last thought is the most compelling of all. "If beliefs are not supported by ordinary experience..." I suspect one could make a pretty strong argument that the existence of God is one of the most universally experienced beliefs of man. The non existence or the possibility of just so ideation is the province of a very small minority.

Anonymous said...

In other words, it doesn't really matter what kind or how much evidence is produced, the Bible cannot be proved to a naturalist to be supernatural, Jesus cannot have been other than man, and there is no afterlife, heaven, etc.

Your story doesn't prove that at all. It DOES matter what kind and how much evidence is produced - and 'a video' plus 'eyewitness testimony' is no better today or in a thousand years than 'a manuscript' and 'eyewitness testimony' was then, or to us.

The point is you still need extraordinary evidence to back up your claims. Until then, mass hysteria and doctored footage is a much more likely explanation, based on the extremely *limited* evidence you've described.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that any one can prove that God exists scientifically. That's why Christians have to have faith. How ever, why would someone randomly make all this up?

Atheist said...

There are many reason to make all this up. Entertainment,Greed and Power comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Problem with this is that of course this is all just hypothetical. And it has to be because the bible is nonsense. If there was true evidence to back it up then science would embrace it. Think about this, what scientist could turn down the opertuinty to prove god real? They would be remembered forever.

James Romero said...

Most scientists or physicists are interested in proving the unbiased truth. I would consider myself agnostic. I beleive that we don't know yet because our technology is so primitive. I do not in any way at all believe the bible to be true. I also believe that a cristian cannot morally consider any other beginning of our existence without breaking faith. This also reinforces my belief because it seems unreasonable the force people to be close minded. However, I have more respect for the cristian who stands firmly than the indecisive one. I have heard many times "Well, I'm a cristian but anythings possible." This is the statement of an agnostic, not a cristian.