Saturday, February 01, 2020


You are walking through the woods when you suddenly come upon a centaur staring back at you about 10 feet away. His eyes are fierce, his expression dark and stentorian. You pinch yourself and rub your eyes, but he's still there. Then he turns and gallops into the brush.

You're definitely not dreaming. You're not taking any medication or illicit drugs or are under undue stress that might suggest a hallucination. What do you conclude?

1. It's unclear where Rauser is going with this. His M.O. is to play both sides of the atheist fence. So the drift of the comparison may be the last-ditch position of atheists like Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins who say it's more reasonable to believe that you lost your mind than to believe in a miracle, even if you see it happen right before your eyes.

2. Suppose in response to Rauser's hypothetical, a Christian says it's more reasonable to believe he was hallucinating than to believe centaurs exist. Will Rauser then exclaim that this justifies an atheist taking the same position with respect to firsthand miracle reports? 

3. It's easy to set hypothetical traps, but they're just hypotheticals. The fact that you can contrive a hypothetical dilemma for Christians doesn't make that a reason to be skeptical. Having doubts about the centaur doesn't warrant doubts about miracles unless that's a realistic comparison. The analogy only works if we experience something analogous. Otherwise, it's just an imaginary wedge issue. 

4. It's naturally impossible for centaurs to exist. They could only exist under supernatural conditions. But even at that level, what kind of being would cause centaurs to exist? What purpose does that serve? Even supernaturalism has a plausibility structure. Supernaturalism doesn't open the door to just any kind of arbitrary postulate. 

Centaurs are fictional characters in Greek mythology. God isn't going to create a centaur. That would foster a pagan worldview. 

5. But a hallucination is not the only explanation. There's a middle ground. Something can be illusory without being subjective. Suppose by the power of witchcraft an observer is caused to perceive a centaur. It isn't really there, yet the illusion doesn't originate in the mind or imagination of the observer. An external agent is causing the illusion. An external agent is causing the observer to perceive a centaur. Even if the illusion is psychological, it could be telepathic. 

6. Here's another variation. Suppose by the power of witchcraft an optical illusion takes the form of a centaur. What appears in the observer's field of vision is something real, something outside the observer. A configuration of lightwaves that has the appearance of a centaur. 

7. Here's yet another variation. Suppose by the power of witchcraft, matter is organized into the shape of a centaur. A physical entity with empirical secondary properties. 


  1. I would tentatively (a la the Tentative Apologist) conclude Narnia is real! Aslan is King! :)

  2. If this happened to me, I would wonder if some gene lab was mixing species. Boundaries are being broken. True, I might suspect my own perceptions because it would be the easiest to influence.

    That Jesus was raised from the dead was an old boggle of the mind of all gentiles (Which includes our forebears).... It is good that testimony tells of the multiplex of reveal of the physical Jesus. This is also shown by signs of God's power separately asserting His divinity.

    That is my guess where Dr. Rauser is considering speculative creatures.

  3. He has to use the example of a centaur because it's so far out of feasibility. Very different responses would be returned if he used the example of 'Bigfoot while out in the Californian woods' or 'Nessie while diving in the Loch late in the evening'.

    To be closer in fuctionality to God, he could also instead use the example of 'A time traveler from 4000AD briefly making a toilet stop' or 'A transdimensional reality-warping entity passing thru this reality' or simply 'A noncorporeal spirit temporarily manifesting visibly'. Beings which can easily manipulate time and space to evade all detection by conventional science and observation, in a way flesh-and-blood-and-fossil-record centaurs cannot.