Originally posted by epiphinehas
So I take it that you do not consider something like a religious experience or revelation to be a legitimate means of determining whether or not nature is purposeful?
Apart from religious experience or revelation, what kind of evidence might suffice?
No, no personal experience classes as evidence for god.
If I were to tell you that I had had a vision, in which it was revealed to me that dragons existed,
and wanted us to worship them, nobody would take me seriously, they would think I had had too
much to drink, or had drugs, or was delusional, or had an over-active imagination, or was overstressed,
or any one of the myriad ways in which the human brain can trick itself and cause people to see hear smell
and touch things that just don't exist.
If on the other hand I were to show you pictures of dragons flying over some remote mountain range,
and show you bits of discarded dragon skin, and burned areas of ground around certain caves, and
then take you into my back room where I had a set of giant eggs, one cracked open, and a tiny baby dragon
in a cage in the corner... Then you might start to take me seriously about the existence of dragons and want
to organise trips to their home to verify what i claim to have seen and taken photos of, and also have the
eggs and baby dragon tested to make sure its not some sort of elaborate hoax or trick.
And then when those tests were done and showed that hey actually dragons do exist then you would not just
be able to believe in dragons but know that they existed.
People can imagine anything, personal experience and eyewitness accounts are not considered valid scientific
evidence for this reason.
Now of course we do use eyewitness testimony for all sorts of claims. However we allow eyewitness testimony for claims
that are not out of the ordinary or extraordinary.
We know people commit bank robberies or murder people, and so if we have a bank robbery or murder and somebody
claims to have seen who did it then that's a valuable piece of evidence. However even then the eyewitness is scrutinised
and the story checked (or it should be) to make sure it matches up with what the physical evidence tells us about what
happened and is self consistent and the like. We all have seen the tv shows with the court cases where the eye witness
gets taken apart and shown not to be reliable.
God is the most powerful and extraordinary being ever conceived.
It violates all the known laws of physics by definition and has unlimited power.
to have evidence for such a being you need evidence that could only have been created by such a being and not by anything
lesser than that being.
If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence then impossible claims require impossible evidence.
It's impossible to violate the laws of physics (the actual ones not necessarily the ones we have discovered) and yet god is supposed
to be able to violate the laws of physics at will... to be able to do the impossible.
Thus you need evidence that is impossible, to be evidence of god.
People having visions, dreams, or just making stuff up, is not impossible... it's not even improbable.
So no vision or dream or personal experience is, or can ever be, evidence for the supernatural or god.
Even if you are the person who has had the experience.