The Perfect Analogy For MiracleQuest?

Posted in Logic, MiracleQuest, Quickies, Religion, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 1 minute | 3 Comments →

So, I'm running a bit late on the next installment of the Atheist Universe series, but I happened to have an experience this morning that was quite an epiphany. The experience itself was nothing uncommon, grandiose or mystical, and it was something I'm willing to bet most all non-indigenous people experience quite frequently.

The weather is great today, which always makes the 5-mile skate to the warehouse that much more enjoyable. After I'd entered the front door, and as I was walking upstairs, I heard a very loud and unmistakable THUD coming from an adjacent room. Always naturally curious, I wondered what may have caused this noise, and no sooner than I'd finished wondering, the epiphany came on with such strong force that I subsequently wondered if somebody had slipped me a hit of ecstasy or something.

Can we deduce the specific attributes of a rock lobbed into a pond based solely on the ripples produced? Similarly, seeking to affirm or deny acts of supernatural beings puts one on the same epistemologically untenable level as seeking to affirm or deny the specific cause of the THUD one hears in an adjacent room.


  1. Lifeguard


    Methinks a better formulation is:
    “Seeking to affirm or deny THE EXISTENCE of supernatural beings puts one on the same epistemologically untenable level as seeking to affirm or deny the specific cause of the THUD one hears in an adjacent room.”

  2. cl


    Hmmm… why? What in the swapping of “acts” with “existence” improves the sentence in your opinion?

  3. Because the last paragraph of your original post seems to me loaded, perhaps inadvertently, with:
    (1) the assumption that the existence of supernatural beings has already been established and we are merely trying to determine whether such a being has acted in any particular instance and
    (2) the ready made fallback position that the failure to establish that such an assumed being has acted in any particular instance in no way disproves the assumption.
    The former strikes me as unfair to those in the debate who haven’t made such a concession, and the latter hits me as an end run around agnosticism or the purely skeptical objection that in the absence of any evidence that a supernatural being does exist, then why should one believe?
    The reason atheists and theists argue about miracles is because they would obviously constitute evidence of supernature, NOT to determine whether an already agreed upon supernature has manifested itself in any particular instance.
    It would be like saying “I can’t tell you anything about the man who caused that thud.” Well, who says it was a man? Who says it was a person that caused the thud and not an animal? Or even inanimate object poorly balanced on a mantle?
    I don’t necessarily think you’re being as unfair as either (1) or (2), nor do I think that, practically speaking, my formulation of the question even differs substantivley from yours. Either way, we’re trying to figure out whether an event is the act of a supernatural being.
    I just think your formulation fails to highlight the fact that it’s the existence of the supernatural being that we’re debating and not simply whether some types of events can be considered miracles while others not or whether or not a supernatural being can or does intervene in our lives or not.
    Or am I misinterpretting what MiracleQuest is all about?
    [Note: I love the title MiracleQuest, by the way]

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