So, we were discussing the hypothetical scenario of a limb generation, and how much supernatural credence we could assign to such a thing. The blog owner, jim, banned me, because his blog is, in his own words, "not a free-speech zone." He claimed I committed an "egregious breach of honesty above" and demanded that I apologize for it, yet 40 comments preceded his, and he refused to be any more specific than that. I felt such a demand was a bit strange coming from somebody who apparently has no problem calling others things like "mealy-mouthed prick" and "disputational pissant." Further out of line for a rationalist was that jim didn't even offer a testable claim: he never even said where this "egregious breach of honesty" occurred, that I could challenge it. He just deleted my next comment.
Continuing with the arguments, jim claimed that either "supernatural manifestation" or "alien technology" (hereafter SM and AT, respectively) were the only logically plausible explanations for something like the spontaneous regeneration of a missing limb. Although it's much more reasonable than the slothful inductors who wouldn't budge in such a case, I felt jim's position was odd for a rationalist and skeptic to take, and I wondered why jim didn't at least leave an "open option" for some hitherto undiscovered natural process that could account for the spontaneous generation of a missing limb. Sure, it sounds pretty counter-intuitive, but lots of things in science have been completely counter-intuitive, right?
"At the heart of science is an essential tension… [A]n openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counter intuitive they may be, and the most ruthless, skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new." —Carl Sagan
Anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong, but jim's argument paraphrased boils down to, "The only logical possibilities are SM and AT, because the regeneration represents an overt overturning of naturalism." Don't get me wrong: while I'm not as quick to throw in the towel on a natural explanation, I tend to agree with jim – spontaneous regeneration of a limb confronts philosophical naturalism head-on, and in that sense, of course it's evidence for the supernatural, or alien technology. I think we can all agree there, right?
Now, consider the ID claim that a supernatural explanation is the only logical possibility for the explanation of life. Why does the ID supporter make that claim? For the same reason jim makes his – because they claim the appearance of life confronts philosophical naturalism head-on. Of course, we all know science is closing in on this gap, but who's to say science couldn't one day close in on jim's? When I suggested that jim was essentially making a God of the Gaps argument, he disagreed strongly. I kept pressing my case, though, because as we all hopefully learned over at SI's recently, sometimes it takes four or five repetitions before an argument sinks in.
One final word before we move on: I made a technical mistake in my opening comment over there, because a God of the Gaps argument – although arguably ignorant – is not an argument from ignorance as used in logic. Sorry about that one. SI was correct about that.
Anyways, without further adieu, here's what I would have said to John Evo on Reason vs. Apologetics, if it were a free-speech zone, and comments from anyone are always welcomed.
When I told you "Way to read," it was because you either completely overlooked the "specifics don't matter" part of my previous comment, or if you did process it, then for some other reason you composed a response that didn't take it into account.
My point was that jim offered only SM and AT as logical possibilities, correct? Well, neither of those reasonably constitute a natural process, i.e. something like evolution. So I offered jim the "evolved transformative powers" argument as an attempt at offering something that was neither supernatural, nor alien technology, but a natural process. I wanted to know why some hitherto undiscovered natural process couldn't be plausible, I said that the specifics didn't matter, and that meant it didn't even have to be related to evolution. Still, your response was,
For one thing, it would completely destroy the theory as it currently stands. Remember, we aren't *just* talking about "regeneration". We are talking about it happening suddenly, if I correctly recall Jim's wording in the post. This is completely "out of nature". (bold mine)
I was aware that suddenly was part of jim's wording, and focusing on "the theory" avoids the question I asked. Take evolution completely out of your mind: why can't some hitherto undiscovered natural process be plausible as a logical possibility? We used to think lots of things were "out of nature" that turned out to be quite natural. Much of today's science would have certainly been considered "out of nature" 200 years ago. Nature's breadth expands alongside our knowledge.
If any definitive progress is to be made in MiracleQuest, we need an anchor, a rigorous set of criteria that would allow us to evaluate miracle claims with a reason-based methodology nobody can squirm around. Most all would say that praying for lightning in a lightning storm and getting a hit would fall in the "probably not" category. Why? Similarly, many would say spontaneous generation of a missing limb would fall into the "probably" category. Why?
I agree that a limb regeneration is plausible grounds for leaving the null position as regards the supernatural. Most anyone would. Knowing why a limb regeneration would persuade you is the first step in composing the criteria we need. Would you like to take it with me?