Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Heisenberg Principle of the Standards of Evidence

Chipmunk on a piece of wood
Have you ever noticed that believers' standards of evidence shift radically, depending on the topic?

I'll go ahead and point out that I've talked about how this can be normal and appropriate. The standards required to demonstrate the claim that you have $1 is significantly different from demonstrating that you have $1 billion. In short, the skepticism is directly proportional to the absurdity of the claim. That's fine.

What would you think about someone who requires significantly more evidence, at a much more stringent and strict level, to demonstrate your claim that you have $10,000, to the point where you can't possibly meet his/her evidentiary requirements, and little to no evidence required for you to demonstrate that you have $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000?

This person thinks it's proper to believe your claim about owning $100 octillion without any evidence, or in the face of contrary evidence. In order for you to demonstrate that you own $10,000, the person requires that you have it all on hand, in the form of pennies, each one of which has a certificate of authentication from the Department of Treasury.

That'd be sort of odd, wouldn't it?

We have a name for these strange and bizarre entities that shuffle through society - creationists.

They require no evidence for the existing of a God, which is a stupendously extraordinary claim, but as soon as you suggest that a mundane natural mechanism - evolution - occurs, suddenly no amount of evidence is sufficient. Despite the mountains of evidence from multiple cross-confirming lines, such as genetics, the fossil record, phylogeny, the geological column, dating methods, etc - nope, you must demonstrate that an amoeba evolves into an elephant right in front of their eyes.

It's a very convenient stance to take - heads I win, tails you lose.

A great example is the call to the right. A caller calls in, and at a point, asks the hosts "were you there?" when the Big Bang (or evolution - I can't remember) happened. The hosts asked him how he knows Jesus was real and resurrected - was he there, the hosts asked?

All of a sudden, the special pleading blasts forth as to why he didn't have to be. Now, all of a sudden, the requirements for demonstrating claims are a lot more lax.

This same group of people think that textual evidence alone (i.e. the Bible says miracles happened) is sufficient to demonstrate that Jesus broke the laws of physics - and yet, we have to demonstrate "macro evolution" in a lab (specifically, a laboratory), in order to demonstrate there's anything to it.

Sometimes, being honest is difficult path.

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