How many of us have said, “I’ve been meaning to do [something], but [this] got in the way.” I’ve been guilty of that many times, especially around the house. I keep “meaning to,” but something else happens.
Wives are pretty forgiving here–or at least mine is. Provided that [this] is reasonable, and not, “I just had to beat my high score at Yahtzee, and after 10 hours of rolling those dice, I finally did it!”
Supervisors at work are much less forgiving, even if [this] is extremely reasonable. “I meant to get that paperwork faxed over, but four people called off for lunch rush and of the people that showed up, no one knew how to run the drive-thru register except for me!” Those who have worked in fast food know that what I just said is a very legitimate reason for missing office work, but they also know that no district manager would actually accept that excuse.
In the world of blogging, “I’ve been meaning to write a post on [something], but [this] got in the way” has far less severe consequences than it does in the corporate world. Usually, another blogger ends up writing the post, generally making the exact points that you would have raised. Then comes the inevitable internal groan, “Why didn’t I just write the post sooner?”
Today, as I read over the usual blogs, I discover that the post I’ve been meaning to write on the so-stupid-it-burns talking point that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” has already been written by Dr. Randal Rauser. Although I’ve disagreed with Dr. Rauser in the past, in this particular post he is 110% spot on. This paragraph sums up my own points to people about this claim:
The problem starts with this: who decides what is “extraordinary”? Without an absolute, objective standard this principle collapses into “Anything that appears really implausible to me requires extraordinary evidence” and that in turn collapses into “No evidence will be good enough to convince me of something I find really implausible”. In other words, this is a recipe for an irrational dismissal of any evidence counter to what one already accepts.
Literally, all the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” talking point ever does is allow the atheist to dismiss with a simple hand wave anything that he doesn’t want to believe–the existence of God, the Resurrection, any miracle in the Bible, or whatever else they don’t want in their worldview. All they need to do is class whatever their opponent says as “extraordinary,” and whatever evidence or argument offered in support as “not extraordinary.” BAM! Case dismissed faster than a pothead’s lawsuit on Judge Judy.
All that is required to believe any claim, extraordinary or not, is sufficient evidence. Period.
I have a friend who read the title and thought of a great Taco Bell story immediately. One that involved a cellphone, a rude customer, and me expressing my anger in an unhealthy way. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss.
Rude cellphone use, when it interferes with one’s ability to properly interact with people physical present in one’s environment, is one of my pet peeves still today. But the pet peeve under discussion goes by a few names. I think the most common one is spin.
Spin is when you’re asked a fairly direct question and your answer to it fails to actually answer it. It’s commonly employed by politicians. People who use it generally come off as having something to hide.
An example of spin can be seen in this video. William Lane Craig asks Christopher Hitchens a simple question: “What variety of non-theist are you?” Hitchens won’t answer, because none of the choices are convenient for his argument.
Spin isn’t limited to unbelievers. Christians do it to, especially where soteriology is concerned. Religious pluralism is a fairly hot topic right now, and many Christians, fearing reprisal from the culture, don’t want to adopt the “wrong” view according to culture. Yet we want to adopt the right view according to God, not the view that is going to win us the most points in the culture.
Dr. Randal Rauser, in this article, has been asked a direct question about soteriology: “So… what is it one must believe or trust [to be saved]? And how does it lead to works?” But does he answer it? Nope. He spins. Read the rest of this entry