Thursday, January 23, 2014

Playing with atheist matches

This is the third time I've seen Fred use this comparison. Clearly he's fond of this comparison. It's part of his cessationist toolbox. 

i) Twice I've corrected Fred on this comparison:

Unfortunately, Fred is impervious to rational correction on this issue. He repeats the same refuted argument. 

ii) Once again, we have a MacArthurite aping an atheist argument. Why does it not occur to Fred that he's giving Christians license to commit apostasy? Just as Fred cites the gullibility of ufologists to deny charismatic miracles, atheists cite the gullibility of ufologists to deny Biblical miracles. Why is Fred so shortsighted and irresponsible that he resorts to objections which boomerang against the Christian faith? If a Christian plays with atheist matches, what's to prevent him from burning the church down? 

iii) What, exactly, is Fred denying? That he's predisposed to disbelieve charismatic miracles? But Fred is a cessationist. So by definition, he's predisposed to disbelieve charismatic miracles. As a matter of principle, he doubts or denies them. 

iv) Or is Fred denying the comparison with naturalists? To begin with, that's ambiguous. Preferring a naturalistic explanation can mean one of two different things:

a) "Naturalistic" can be a synonym for "atheistic." 

b) "Naturalistic" can mean seeking a natural cause–in contrast to a supernatural cause. 

v) Apropos (iv), if E.T.s exist, they are natural (i.e. biological) creatures. If E.T.s visit the earth, they use natural (i.e. technological) means. Seeking a naturalistic explanation would be so explain the phenomena at the same level as the phenomena. Seeking a natural cause for a natural event or natural entity. In that case, interpreting the event by natural probabilities is fitting. 

But that's where Fred's analogy breaks down. For at least some miracles are supernaturally caused. Caused by supernatural agents or supernaturally empowered agents. To default to a naturalistic explanation for a reported miracle is atheistic. 

vi) In addition, his analogy breaks down in another respect. For it may be that some UFOs invite a supernatural explanation. 

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