MiracleQuest Continues: On Post Hoc Reasoning & The Re-Captitated Man

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Logic, MiracleQuest, Religion, Responses, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 8 minutes | 26 Comments →

So it appears Deacon Duncan has accused me of post hoc reasoning regarding an objection I made to his elaboration on my re-capitation example. I'd like to take a moment to discuss why I feel his complaints are based on an overly-charitable interpretation of my objection, and I'm curious to hear what you think. The linked post is part of a lengthy ongoing discussion, so a little backstory might be helpful.

For the past month or so at EvangelicalRealism, we've been discussing the amount of credibility we can reasonably assign to miracle stories. Now, everyone has different definitions of a miracle and different thresholds of skepticism through which they filter observed events. Phenomena like the Marian apparitions at Zeitoun are obviously sufficient to convince some people, yet others remain skeptical. So how might we define a miracle objectively, in a manner that anyone can apply to any observed event?

I entered the discussion attempting to establish a rigorous set of criteria one could apply to determine whether or not any event might be considered a miracle. That didn't work out very well, so in further attempts to determine the 'miracle switch' in everybody's brains, I introduced the re-capitated man as a hypothetical example, asking skeptics how they would parse such an event. That is, if we observed a man get decapitated, then an hour later we observe the man's head re-attach after which he goes into the bar for a drink, would we have grounds to say something "miraculous" had occurred? 

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