Saturday, June 12, 2010

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

     On Dan's blog, Stormbringer gave a link to an mp3 file of an episode of the CARM broadcast he seems to like. I have stated before that call-in programs tend to act problematicly for dissenters. And this seems to hold true for that one as well. I listened to a small portion of the spot where people are calling in and found that it is arranged so that the callers are all but inaudible (the host can be heard clearly) and the host will speak over the callers.
     At any rate, in the section to which I listened, the caller was stating that the alleged resurrection of Jesus is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence to be believed. I found the host to be rather slick-talking; but, perhaps that is my own bias. The caller gave as an example of possible extraordinary evidence, the stars being rearranged to spell out the claim. Now me, when I think of this as extraordinary evidence, I am thinking of the stars arranged in patterns like the lights of electronic highway signs. When those lights are used to spell out a message, there is no mistaking the message indicated. If the stars were so arranged, it would establish the existence of a being powerful enough to do that and interested enough to convey such a message. The host twisted it in saying that maybe it's there in some connect-the-dots fashion. That would be something subject to confirmation bias and would be decidedly ambiguous.
     Ah, but the host was not done. His clear agenda was to take the ordinary evidence of the human-written bible and get it accepted as though it were the extraordinary evidence requested. Jesus making a post-mortem appearance would indeed be extraordinary evidence, for anyone who saw it. Unfortunately, the claim of such appearances is, itself, an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence to be accepted. We don't actually have his appearance as evidence. We have an anonymously written text that claims an appearance before several people, none of whom could be questioned by the time the text was written. That level of evidence is so weak that I would want independent corroboration even for otherwise plausible claims. Yet christians want me to accept it as conclusive for claims that look outlandish on their face. Sorry, but it is more likely that the text was written as a lie than that the events depicted really happened.


reeselane said...
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MinB2139 said...
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rhiggs said...

Yes, this is exactly what I thought when I listened to it. The host just kept making more extraordinary claims, as if they constituted evidence.

Unfortunately, the caller didn't pick up on this classic use of 'the bible is true because it says so in the bible'.