I think NHB did a good job of defining “special pleading”. Basically, it’s just a way of fending off logical debate/argument without actually providing any real information. When you argue that miracles are not commonplace because if they were they wouldn’t prove much, you are engaging in special pleading. You are setting up a criteria of your own for miracles, that claims they work in a special way. In actuality, there is no consensus on what makes a miracle. I’m sure different religious sects have their criteria, but those criteria don’t necessarily agree and they often serve special purposed for that sect, furthering some assertion they make. So, it’s not so much that I don’t have a “category” for miracles. I am aware of the almost infinite criteria that do exist. While 90% of the human race may believe in miracles, you couldn’t possible get a consensus of them to agree.
NP. That's your prerogative. You don't have to agree with me to be my friend.
Right, I totally agree. The point is that it isn’t logical or even rational to use a promised or prophesied claim as evidence. If Jesus does return and make himself known and demonstrate his power in a way that is convincing, then I’ll be right there with you. But until then, it behooves everyone to be skeptical of such claims.
Perhaps my language was unclear. When I said that "all gods aren't created equal," I meant YHWH≠Allah≠Brahma≠Baal. They are not just "different names for the same thing." The Muslim concept of Allah is different than the Christian concept of YHWH. Is that clearer?
Disappointingly, yes. This is not pluralism, which is where I thought you were going.
On that note, Christianity (perhaps with the exception of post-Vatican II RC) is incompatible with most other religions, since it argues that YHWH is the only true god.
This is my understanding as well.
…I do not believe that all gods are part of the true god (as in Hinduism). Nor do I believe that they are all legit (pantheism). Nor am I saying that they are all legit, yet subject to YHWH (henotheism). I am saying that we have to remain skeptical. (The difference between me and you, however, is that I have a category for the supernatural.) They could be legit. Baal has just as much right to claim supremacy as YHWH, and we have to weigh their claims. When their claims compete, only one can be right. But we have to keep an open mind about which one (if any) is right.
But how do we weigh those claims? What evidence or instruments do we have to measure them? And for that matter, how do we know that only one
can be right? What objective evidence do we have that one god exists or that many gods exist? This strikes at the very heart of the atheist’s thinking process. God may exist in some form, but we have no way of objectively determining this. Other than philosophy, which certainly yields some good arguments for why a god should
exist, we really have no evidence at all. We have holy books and oral stories, but these could have many sorts of faults and falsehoods; they cannot be verified. We have no physical evidence, no evidence of miracles or magic. The only other form of “evidence” we have are claims of personal experiences or “feelings” about their relationship with god/Jesus/Mohammad…etc. These, too, are inadequate because of their subjectivity. So, while I agree with the beginning of your logic, that if one god exists, many more could and we should look to evaluate them equally; I don’t see how you hope to do this. It’s like a sea sponge trying to evaluate the best computer operating system.
From a skeptics position, we have to keep an open mind that perhaps Baal's worshippers are right (or Thor's, for that matter, or YHWH's). Perhaps Elijah really called down fire, perhaps it was all smoke and mirrors. We have to be open to both possibilities.
I like that skeptical attitude, matt, but where’s the skepticism regarding supernaturalism and magic? Why do you consider that a given?
When I say that "Baal has a right to claim deity," I can say this because I don't know for sure that Baal is not the true god (or even that he claimed to be the exclusive god, but that's another matter). There is a chance that he is. I don't think he is. I think YHWH is. I don't know for sure, but the resurrection of Jesus made a great case for YHWH. If YHWH says that Baal isn't real, then I am comfortable taking His word for it. Even still I can't say for sure. When YHWH brings history to consummation, then I will know for sure that Baal is not real. Until then, it's only fair to talk about Baal as if he could be legit.
But why, matt? Why are you comfortable with YHWH’s word? Have you heard this word in your own ears or are you just working with the same biblical information the rest of us have?
There is a good chance that a lot of this is convoluted. This is because while I do believe in Christianity, I want to keep an open mind that I may be wrong. I have beliefs--even strong beliefs--even beliefs that I would die for. But any of these beliefs could be wrong and I want to be honest about that.
Again, your skepticism is good, but it seems arbitrarily halted at the question of a supernatural god. Why is that? Why are you so convinced that this, too, is not a figment of your imagination?