Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ten Notions for which I Require Extraordinary Evidence

Greetings, all! Although I am not ready to end my blogging hiatus, I have written two pieces since I have been away. I decided to share those pieces presently, rather than wait until I once again blog full time. I hope everybody enjoys them, and has a wonderful holiday season, full of family togetherness and appreciation for what we have.—Ed.

Dr. Carl Sagan, eminent among thinkers and scientists, famously observed that extraordinary assertions require extraordinary substantiation. This profound truth, in my estimation, is a key that frees us from religion’s shackles, because each faith lacks the requisite evidence to substantiate its fantastical claims. Dr. Sagan’s oft-quoted observation is self-evident (a First Principle or worthy maxim, if you will) given humankind’s abundant, demonstrable fallibility. Mindful of this, ten simple requests for the Christian faithful follow....

1. Please present extraordinary evidence in support of Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

2. Please present extraordinary evidence that, after wandering about for awhile, Jesus rose bodily into the cosmos.

3. Please present extraordinary evidence that Jesus was born via mammalian parthenogenesis. It should be noted that parthenogenesis is not possible in the human species, which makes evidential demands even more pressing.

4. Please present extraordinary evidence that the following biblical characters attained the following ages:

(4a) Adam, 930 years.
(4b) Noah, 950 years.
(4c) Abraham, 175 years.
(4d) Sarah, 127 years.

5. Please present extraordinary evidence that immaterial, immortal “souls” haunt our fleshy carcasses.

6. Please present extraordinary evidence that it would be possible to torture and torment such an immaterial, immortal soul. To me, it seems rather like trying to persecute a tank of helium.

7. Please present extraordinary evidence that Yahweh exists, while the myriad competing god characters do not exist.

8. Please present extraordinary evidence that a cataclysmic flood—covering the entirety of our planet and exterminating all living things, save Noah, his family and his zoo—actually occurred in the real world.

9. Please present extraordinary evidence that evolution—the cornerstone of modern biology—is incorrect. As a corollary, please utilize extraordinary evidence to demonstrate that immediate special creation of all species is a better explanation of, for example, the neatly ordered geologic strata.

10. Please present extraordinary evidence that serpents and donkeys have spoken in human language, as portrayed in the Bible. Here, I do not request a generally applicable principle but rather evidence to support singular biblical instances.

Bonus Question

11. Please present extraordinary evidence that Lot's luckless wife was turned into a pillar of salt.

Three Notes of Import

a) If a particular belief is not applicable to you, as a Christian, feel free to pass it over. One is not obligated to substantiate that which one rejects.

(b) I am not interested in generalized evidence but rather extraordinary evidence for the particular claims that I have cited. Evidence for a major flood “of some type” is not sufficient to establish Noah’s flood in particular. I am open to the idea of a localized catastrophic flood in historical times, but I dismiss a global cataclysm that destroyed the entirety of life. Use evidence to dissuade me.

(c) Bear in mind Hume’s maxim: No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish. In short, say-so does not amount to extraordinary evidence, nor has it ever, nor shall it.