Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yeah, You Didn't Prove Anything There

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence (hereinafter "ECREE") is something of a credo for atheists. There is a reason for that. Having never seen anyone raised from the dead or turn water into wine or walk on water, and knowing what I know of reality, I find the claims of Christians to be extraordinary. By definition, just look at the word: extra-ordinary.

Christians* will occasionally, and very annoyingly, respond with, "Oh yeah, well prove that you own a sweater. Hah!" Hence, ECREE. Owning a sweater is ordinary. While I certainly could prove that I own a sweater, and am in fact currently wearing a sweater, it's such a mundane thing that asking me to prove it is ridiculous. Raising the dead is just not in the same category as sweater owning. The only way sweater owning could rise to the level of ECREE is if I claimed my sweater was the sweater Elvis was wearing when he died, or that my sweater cures cancer. (It's a nice argyle in a wool blend, nothing more.)

As you might imagine, Christians get really frustrated by this, primarily because, outside of the Bible, there really is no proof of these claims. So then they engage in sophistry:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence or ECREE is nothing but an illogical catch phrase used by skeptics devoid of logic to judge religious claims. What constitutes an extraordinary claim is entirely subjective and relative to the person, for example; a man living his entire life in the amazon jungle might find the entire concept of an airplane to be an extraordinary claim, whereas you or I will find the concept of an airplane to be a mundane claim. Which leads me to my next point, there is no such thing as extraordinary evidence.

Sophistry is funny. On the surface, it seems like Theological Discourse (hereinafter "TD") has a point. There are tribes in the Amazon who have had no contact with the rest of the world, and I have no doubt they would find an airplane to be an extraordinary claim. However, this does not make ECREE illogical or meaningless. In fact, it proves the purpose of ECREE. I can provide evidence of a plane, very easily, in fact. I would merely have to drive that person to the airport and point. (Edited because I forgot to add) This person would have every right to dismiss the existence of planes if I simply said, "Airplanes: they exist". I wouldn't have provided any evidence, extraordinary or otherwise.

What TD seems to be missing is this: it's the receiver of the claim who decides whether or not that claim is extraordinary and demands equally extraordinary evidence. That's how ECREE works. You might find it annoying to have to provide proof for what you consider self evident, but that doesn't make that demand of proof less sincere or reasonable.

This is, by the way, ludicrous:

You might think certain claims from a Christian are extraordinary claims, but to the Christian they might not be, just like how an the guy living in the amazon might find the existence of airplanes an extraordinary planes, but to you they might not be.

Look, whether or not you believe in God or Jesus or the story of Jesus as contained in the Bible, you have to admit that turning water into wine, walking on water and rising from the freakin' dead are extraordinary events. You've never seen those things happen, have you? You don't live in a physical reality that allows for those things, do you? In fact, that's what makes the story of Jesus so remarkable, isn't it? If rising from the dead isn't extraordinary, then what's so special about Jesus anyway? That's just painting yourself into a rhetorical corner right there.

*By no means, not all. I doubt some of my own commentors find it unreasonable that I find these claims to be extraordinary.


  1. Gotta love a person who has discourse in their name but refuses to allow it.

  2. I'd forgotten how much I dislike TD until this post. Thanks!


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