Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Atheist Incredulity and Eyewitness Testimony

  1. #1
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Corryton
    Faith
    Trinitarian
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    6,375
    Amen (Given)
    295
    Amen (Received)
    3019

    Atheist Incredulity and Eyewitness Testimony

    Are there double-standards when it comes to eyewitnesses?

    Link

    ----

    How should we handle eyewitness testimony? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Earlier this week I wrote a piece on atheist incredulity. In response, I got asked a question about eyewitness accounts of things like UFOs. Should we believe in those? Itís quite amazing to me that itís taboo apparently to suggest that skepticism should be held in an unquestioning way.

    This isnít new. Hume had the same skepticism to eyewitness claims of miracles and sought any chance he could to dismiss them. Today, we do have a sort of doublespeak going on in the atheist community. How does that happen?

    Go to the Gospels and what are you told often? These Gospels were written decades after the event! It means either the story of the original viewers of the event, otherwise known as the eyewitnesses, were changed, or that the writers never got to speak to any eyewitnesses.

    Then, if you go and show that eyewitnesses were involved, well, eyewitness testimony isnít always reliable. Sometimes you get told that itís notoriously unreliable. So if the Gospels do not contain eyewitness accounts, we canít trust them. If they do contain eyewitness accounts, we canít trust them.

    So letís look at the above topic of UFOs as an example. Should we trust them? In some cases, yes. All a UFO is is an Unidentified Flying Object. Do some people see such objects? Yes. Does that mean an extraterrestrial craft was sighted? No.

    Keep in mind also that for those who hold to science, science itself has SETI set up about the question of extraterrestrial intelligence and this is an active question in the scientific community. If we have an active question and we have an eyewitness of an event, should we not at least listen to them?

    Note that this is a fine line to walk on. Should eyewitness testimony be believed blindly? No. Should it be dismissed arbitrarily? No.

    Itís important to realize that many of us will measure what we see in the world against our own worldview and background. If you are an atheist, you will have a natural tendency to question any claim of a miracle. If you are a theist, you will be skeptical of naturalistic explanations of events you deem to be miraculous.

    This is why each of us must rise above our own skepticism. I think atheists, for example, would do a lot better in convincing on evolution if they did not make it be the case that it is to be seen as evolution vs. God. Many theists could be more open to an evolutionary creationism, but if you tell them going the route of what you say is science means abandoning God, they wonít, because God is much more important in their lives.

    On the other hand, those of us who are theists could bear to be more skeptical of some miracle claims and many other claims. When we share claims easily as golden proofs that are easily disproven, then we do ourselves a disservice. We should test all the claims we encounter like that.

    Note also with eyewitness testimony, I have no problem with taking the character of the person into consideration. Many of us would be skeptical of the words of a stranger. What if itís a close family member that you know to be trustworthy? Do you just dismiss it?

    At this, I want to also answer one other claim about miracles. Would I accept eyewitness testimony for a miracle outside of Christianity? Well, why not? If a miracle happened, then it happened. I canít give my faith tradition a special exception on the rules of evidence. I think the atheist has more at stake here because if a miracle did happen, well, atheism is in trouble.

    Which brings me to a fun little saying of Chesterton on miracles which I will paraphrase. The theist believes in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because of the evidence. The skeptic disbelieves in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because he has a dogma against them. Consider a work like Craig Keenerís Miracles. If just one miracle in that book is a bona fide miracle, naturalism has a lot of explaining to do. If everyone of them is fake, theism can still be true and even Christianity. Who has more at stake?

    The solution is really simple. Donít believe blindly, but donít dismiss blindly either. Try to put aside your own biases every time for the investigation. Follow the evidence where it leads.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  2. #2
    tWebber ReformedApologist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Faith
    Reformed Baptist
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    253
    Amen (Given)
    37
    Amen (Received)
    84
    I find it interesting that those who dismiss eyewitness testimony don't do so with all of history. History is mostly written by eyewitnesses ie the Holocaust, Civil War etc . If we take Hume's radical skepticism to its conclusion we would hardly know anything about history.

  3. #3
    tWebber firstfloor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Faith
    invalid value
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    4,365
    Amen (Given)
    23
    Amen (Received)
    402
    It is impossible to witness an impossible event, by definition. People are easily fooled, or willing to fool you, and therefore it is relatively common that a person will claim that they witnessed an impossible event. This is simply the nature of our imperfections. God and miracles have to be understood as a product of those imperfections.
    ďI think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.Ē ― Oscar Wilde
    ďYou can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.Ē ― Anne Lamott
    ďAnd if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existenceĒ ― Bertrand Russell

  4. #4
    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Near my best friend (see photo above)
    Faith
    Catholic XPian
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    683
    Amen (Given)
    1941
    Amen (Received)
    135
    ISTM that the testimony of alleged witnesses has a right to be heard and believed, until and unless there are solid reasons to suspect it.

    The question is not whether testimony by past writers is ever reliable - as an historian, Hume, like Gibbon about 20 years after him, had necessarily to rely on such testimonies. Testimony and its use is not the problem. The problem is whether, given the extraordinary character predicated of miracles, their miraculousness as events can be established by human testimony. They are said to be more than ordinary events - so what kind of testimony is adequate to make claims of their occurrence worthy of belief ? And how may that testimony be recognised when offered ?

  5. #5
    tWebber
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Faith
    Agnostic
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    14,114
    Amen (Given)
    1763
    Amen (Received)
    1505
    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    Are there double-standards when it comes to eyewitnesses?

    Link

    ----

    How should we handle eyewitness testimony? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Earlier this week I wrote a piece on atheist incredulity. In response, I got asked a question about eyewitness accounts of things like UFOs. Should we believe in those? It’s quite amazing to me that it’s taboo apparently to suggest that skepticism should be held in an unquestioning way.

    This isn’t new. Hume had the same skepticism to eyewitness claims of miracles and sought any chance he could to dismiss them. Today, we do have a sort of doublespeak going on in the atheist community. How does that happen?

    Go to the Gospels and what are you told often? These Gospels were written decades after the event! It means either the story of the original viewers of the event, otherwise known as the eyewitnesses, were changed, or that the writers never got to speak to any eyewitnesses.

    Then, if you go and show that eyewitnesses were involved, well, eyewitness testimony isn’t always reliable. Sometimes you get told that it’s notoriously unreliable. So if the Gospels do not contain eyewitness accounts, we can’t trust them. If they do contain eyewitness accounts, we can’t trust them.

    So let’s look at the above topic of UFOs as an example. Should we trust them? In some cases, yes. All a UFO is is an Unidentified Flying Object. Do some people see such objects? Yes. Does that mean an extraterrestrial craft was sighted? No.

    Keep in mind also that for those who hold to science, science itself has SETI set up about the question of extraterrestrial intelligence and this is an active question in the scientific community. If we have an active question and we have an eyewitness of an event, should we not at least listen to them?

    Note that this is a fine line to walk on. Should eyewitness testimony be believed blindly? No. Should it be dismissed arbitrarily? No.

    It’s important to realize that many of us will measure what we see in the world against our own worldview and background. If you are an atheist, you will have a natural tendency to question any claim of a miracle. If you are a theist, you will be skeptical of naturalistic explanations of events you deem to be miraculous.

    This is why each of us must rise above our own skepticism. I think atheists, for example, would do a lot better in convincing on evolution if they did not make it be the case that it is to be seen as evolution vs. God. Many theists could be more open to an evolutionary creationism, but if you tell them going the route of what you say is science means abandoning God, they won’t, because God is much more important in their lives.

    On the other hand, those of us who are theists could bear to be more skeptical of some miracle claims and many other claims. When we share claims easily as golden proofs that are easily disproven, then we do ourselves a disservice. We should test all the claims we encounter like that.

    Note also with eyewitness testimony, I have no problem with taking the character of the person into consideration. Many of us would be skeptical of the words of a stranger. What if it’s a close family member that you know to be trustworthy? Do you just dismiss it?

    At this, I want to also answer one other claim about miracles. Would I accept eyewitness testimony for a miracle outside of Christianity? Well, why not? If a miracle happened, then it happened. I can’t give my faith tradition a special exception on the rules of evidence. I think the atheist has more at stake here because if a miracle did happen, well, atheism is in trouble.

    Which brings me to a fun little saying of Chesterton on miracles which I will paraphrase. The theist believes in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because of the evidence. The skeptic disbelieves in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because he has a dogma against them. Consider a work like Craig Keener’s Miracles. If just one miracle in that book is a bona fide miracle, naturalism has a lot of explaining to do. If everyone of them is fake, theism can still be true and even Christianity. Who has more at stake?

    The solution is really simple. Don’t believe blindly, but don’t dismiss blindly either. Try to put aside your own biases every time for the investigation. Follow the evidence where it leads.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    It isn't even known who the actual authors of the gospels were, never mind that the so called eyewitnesses therein even existed. The gospels were written some 40 to 60 years after Jesus death. The authors, whoever they were, nobody knows anything about them other than there first names, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, weren't eyewitnesses. So, we don't know who these so called historians are, and we don't know if any of the characters in their stories are real people. So, who are the eyewitnesses?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •