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Evidentia Vincit Omnia?

"Evidentia Vincit Omnia?"
"Evidence Conquers All?"

Over all Facebook, someone was talking about how they are looking for concrete proof for prayer. Well, anyway, I decided to post this in response:

But then, there is the difficulty of determining what exactly "concrete proof for prayer" really means not because we couldn't think of what observations to look for, but because of the lack of consensus of antecedent beliefs about standards of evidence.

Now I originally didn't have the "not because we couldn't think of what observations to look for" part in there.

But I have watched debates of this kind so often that I knew that someone could respond to the initial version of my response by mentioning things like "miraculously" cured amputees and whatnot. So, I went ahead and posted what I posted above in its entirety.

And, like clockwork, the person responded exactly how I thought he would. I believe amputees was his example. Then I pointed out that the example doesn't address the rest of what I said.

Augh, why on earth do people treat religious claims as if mere empirical observation is enough to vindicate them, while totally ignoring the presuppositions implicitly prefixed to them?

Seriously, the thing about religious claims is that they are not contingent upon what we happen to observe. That is why they are religious claims. If those who promote religious claims were in the business of revising their ideas in relation to observation and rationality, if religious claims were all about what works and what does not, then they wouldn't be religious claims.

They would be science! And their proponents would be scientists!

Religion is not a enterprise comprising a series of claims that are free-floating and discrete from previously accepted beliefs and ideas. The very things the proponents of the religious claims claim to happen cannot be fully separated from the presuppositions and antecedent beliefs held by those proponents. Something like prayer is not just a mere claim about what might happen if things are done in a certain way. It is laden with the theistic theory of reality. The religious claim of prayer is coherent only so long as you have already bought into that theistic theory.

Sure, we could very well test prayer and get positive results, but at best we have not vindicated prayer, but rather prayer-ishness -- a scientific and empirical phenomena that is as real as gravity. But such an event has not at all addressed the theistic presuppositions behind the religious claims. We can always call into question the religion's presuppositional theories behind what we have actually witnessed. And we can reject all of it.

And this gets into the whole, "Well, what would you do if we had empirical evidence for angels, devils, and magical events?" Here, we are getting dangerously close to the "Well, Mr. Atheist, what if you're wrong?" question that we get so often.

Well, I could be completely wrong, and I may not have any good answers, but that does not make the theists right at all.


Plus, even with 'miracle cures' how do you know it was caused by God? We still don't understand the mind vs body dynamic in healing. Just giving a person a placebo and convincing them it's medicinal can produce results. So it may not be a 'miracle' just the mind convincing the body to fix itself.
Sailor Saturn/Hotaru Tomoe

November 2013



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