Paraphrased, the Argument from Religious Disagreement (ADR) asks: if an all-powerful, all-knowing God really does exist, why do we observe so much religious disagreement?
Indeed, many religions exist and not all of them are compatible. Even within a single religion like Christianity, many factions exist, and some of their tenets are mutually exclusive (e.g., Calvinism and Universalism can’t both be true). Atheists and skeptics attempt to use this disagreement as evidence against the claim that any given revelation is actually from God, but I believe the underlying premises are naïve. Further, when one looks more carefully, I believe we should expect the religious disagreement we observe—especially if the Bible is true.
A while back, I asked:
…shouldn’t an atheist limit themselves to belief in brains only?
John W. Loftus took a stab, and here’s what he concluded:
Is there anybody out there who hasn't heard some debater quip, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?"
I'm betting not.
How many people actually stop and consider the rhetorical device they're using?
I'm betting not that many, else we'd hear it much less!
At any rate, I've got a very simple and straight-forward example of an instance where the claim, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" can easily be shown false.
In light of recent discussion at SI’s, now seems like the perfect time to continue addressing Ebonmuse’s oft-trumpeted essay A Ghost In The Machine (AGITM) along with similar claims from SI’s. Before continuing, it might be helpful to briefly summarize my responses thus far.
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Well I think we can start by reviewing everyone who refused medical treatment instead of prayer and were healed. That list would be….. strangely unavailable.
Maybe all those who were healed by prayer never bothered reporting it to the newsies. I wonder why they kept their lights hidden under their bushels? It seems like their testimonies would be powerful stuff. Still, it seems strange that not even one person appears to have stepped up and told such a story.
Now, there's certainly some non-committal posturing on chaplain's behalf here, but someone who's looked into this stuff for even a microsecond has to wonder: Are chaplain and PhillyChief merely being rhetorically successful? Are they taking themselves seriously? Or have they really not looked into this stuff for more than a microsecond?
Although I certainly don't expect either of them to think any miracle story on the news is actually credible, that's a different story, and .22 seconds on Google disproves their claims. Accordingly, a rational person has to wonder: Are the chaplain and PhillyChief reliable? Like John Evo said about my last little soiree with PhillyChief: Is he even doing any research? Is the chaplain? Or are they just voicing their opinions?
So I locked horns with PhillyChief and John Evo, again, this time it was over the following comment from PhillyChief – who if I remember correctly – claims to be a scientifically-minded rationalist atheist:
Prayer helps no one but the one praying, providing a euphoria and calming effect, which could be comparable to ejaculating.
I felt that was an odd statement for a scientifically-minded rationalist to make, but was not surprised that it came from a sarcastic atheist who claims to be "almost always right", and so I replied,
How would you know? Where is that "demonstrable evidence" you're so fond of? Aside from being grossly unscientific, statements like the above appear contradictory alongside appeals to soft atheism as you've recently made on my site.
I will soon develop this into a detailed, point-by-point response to the source material, but for now, I would simply like to thank Professor Dawkins for providing me with the most easily refuted false argument in this series to date.
In a discussion concerning the "reconciliation" of science and theology, the following atheist sermon was ironically published in Free Inquiry Magazine, Volume 18, #2:
A dismally unctuous editorial in the British newspaper the Independent
recently asked for a reconciliation between science and "theology." It
remarked that 'People want to know as much as possible about their
origins.' I certainly hope they do, but what on earth makes one think
that theology has anything useful to say on the subject? …[T]he achievements of theologians don't do anything, don't affect
anything, don't mean anything. What makes anyone think that "theology"
is a subject at all?
The first sentence is Dawkins' subjective opinion entirely, and by implying that theology is not a subject in his second sentence, the Professor reasons in a circle. If our definition of subject is the study of an actual phenomena, that theology is not a subject begins with assumptions about the very questions at hand. As someone keenly points out in the thread, even if God is not real, theology can still be reasonably considered a subject – as much a subject as art or creative writing or music.
What do you think?
Often in discussions of (a)theism, an atheist or unbelieving skeptic will say, "We've learned tons of things from science. What have we learned from religion, revelation or prayer?"
I've heard several variants of this argument that are more or less categorically identical, and much like the first move of a pawn influences the outcome of a game of chess, the subsequent responses also tend to follow with a uniform predictability: The believer either answers unsatisfactorily or not at all, or if the believer does answer, the atheist or unbelieving skeptic will typically deny that what the believer offered was actually learned from religion, revelation or prayer.
This is where I've seen most discussions on the matter come to a screeching halt. This is unfortunate, as the believer need only to realize that what's going on is an rhetorical farce, then rebut the atheist or unbelieving skeptic with a few quick and sturdy replies.
There are two equal but opposite errors I see again and again in ostensibly educated discussions about evolution, and both of them involve ignorance about what scientists mean when they use the words macroevolution and microevolution, (hereafter Ma and Mi, respectively).
The creationist or believer who maintains that Ma is impossible or unproven shows an ignorance of science paralleled only by the atheist or skeptic who maintains that such is untrue because Ma is just cumulative Mi. These are what I call the sufficiency of microevolution tropes, and both of them distort scientific accuracy concerning the facts of evolution.
As genuine thinkers, we need to know what to look out for here, so first let's discuss the terms.
I don't know why I didn't peg this one as a false argument much earlier.
You can often tell when there's an amateur skeptic lurking around some random debate, because at some point they're bound to upchuck their own particular version of the unoriginal and silly Unicorns, Leprechauns and Flying Spaghetti Monster (ULFSM) arguments made prevalent by the New Atheists among others. Dawkins did it with the Gospel and the Knights of the Round Table in TGD, and if you're at all into these types of debates, you've likely seen it go down for yourself:
"I've got legitimate reasons for what I believe," proclaims some reasonable believer.
"No you don't," quips a flippant atheist. "Do you have legitimate reasons to believe in Unicorns, Leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster?" (Hehehe I the atheist outsmarted you the God-dummy! is the usual subtext).
Just for fun, let's take a look at this idea that ULFSM are accurately comparable to God in an intellectually honest discussion of things.