Monday, May 25, 2009

The limited miracle argument

Sometimes, you will see a person arguing against some religious record by claiming that the events as presented would have lead to disasters not addressed by the texts, and that since the book in question does not address how these disasters were prevented, the record of the book must be wrong. Basically, they are trying to disprove miracles by claiming they would have created too much havoc or damage. The unstated, and probably unrealized, assumption in these arguments is the notion that the extent of a miracle is limited to the scope of the text. I find this to be an ineffective method of argument, because once you posit one or more effectively omniscient beings, miracles no longer have a scope or limitation.

One common example is the global flood myth. It is ineffective to say that certain types of fish would have died due to the mixing of salt and fresh water, various plants would have drowned, etc. Any omnipotent deity can easily create vast pockets of preserved salinity levels, or just recreate them all from scratch, for that matter. Note that this is not to say all arguments are ineffective. Any argument that requires currently observable evidence to be wrong (like geological continuity) require either a trickster deity or just flat-out denial of the reliability of observations, and both lead to nonsense.

Another common example is the story of the sun holding still in Joshua. Any claims of disastrous effects from stopping the rotation of the earth just beg the question of why some putative god can halt the inertia of the earth, but not of a person standing on it, a curious limitation. Such a deity could even lessen the effects of gravity to compensate the loss of acceleration from "centrifugal force". It's much more difficult to explain that there was no notice taken of the stoppage of the sun in other places in the world.

I'm not completely sure why I care so much about topics like this. I just generally hate bad arguments, I suppose.


Anonymous said...

"I just generally hate bad arguments, I suppose."

Really, Eric? My own damn self, I LOVE bad arguments, ya know!?

Speakin a bad arguments, and all, I stopped in Jazzfanz for the first time in a long while, and what do I see?

I see our old homeboy, Write4u, announcin that you and me is the same damn perv, eh? He aint the onliest one to think that any ole half-baked conclusion he comes to justifies a pronouncement of fact to the world, but he's gotta be one of the more better ones at it, ya know? Cracks my ass plumb the fuck up.

One Brow said...

He has also claimed Jazz2814 is you, both times based on the presentaion of legal-sounding arguments. I'm having a decent amount of fun at his expense.