Friday, October 11, 2013

Responding to Hays' Fallacious Poisoning the Well Argument

Some typically confused comments from Ed Dingess:Steve Hays is at it again with his at-a-distance pie-in-the-sky non-falsifiable theory that God continues to work miracles in a manner not at all materially different from how He has always worked miracles. Hays’ argument is really an argument from silence. What I mean by that is that Hays’ argument appeals to claims of miracles far, far away, in a distant land in order to defend his position.
 i) I've never said modern miracles only occur in Third World countries. Rather, I've objected to how MacArthurites dismiss reports from Third World Christians out of hand. ii) Notice, though, how Ed's argument is indistinguishable from how atheists attack Biblical miracles:  at-a-distance pie-in-the-sky non-falsifiable theory...claims of miracles far, far away, in a distant land
 Isn't that exactly how secular debunkers discount Biblical miracles? "You Christians appeal to conveniently unfalsifiable miracles from the distant past."  If someone claims to be a miracle worker, we simply demand some form of clear and acceptable proof. Had someone been able to supply such a certification, perhaps the contours of the debate would shift.
 Even when medical corroboration is provided, MacArthurites fold their arms say that's not "on the level of undeniable miracles in the NT." 

I offer just a brief response because that is really all that is required. First of all, note that Hays engages in the logical fallacy of poisoning the well by interjecting Hume and attempting to claim that cessationist borrow from Hume's skepticism. He also accuses my of using atheist tactics, which I think is a real howler. No one should be able to read what I have said or how I have argued and conclude that there is any hint of atheistic or Humean tactics or doctrine.

i) I never said that Hays only points to third world countries. What Hays needs to do, quite simply is offer some proof. If miracle workers exist, produce one. Give us a name and let us carefully examine him. That is the very best way to end this debate. If Hays is so confident that we are wrong and that this argument is not one of theory and abstractions, give us a real, flesh and blood miracle worker here in THIS country then or any country as far as that goes, and let us move the debate down the road. I am willing to admit that I could be wrong about this. But, you see, I just have not been given a single solitary reason at this point, to think I am. The burden of proof on those who claim miracle workers are real and still moving around in society is squarely on them.

ii) This challenge stands. I will not back off from it. It is nothing like how atheists attack the Bible because they begin with a God-less presupposition and without good reason (anti-supernatural viciously circular reasoning) they reject solid historical claims while accepting others. In other words, the atheist method is violently inconsistent. They pick and choose what they will accept from history based on their anti God bias. They allow their atheism to set the standard for what is historical and what is not.

It is true that we cannot show the miracle claims of Scripture to be empirically verifiable. But not everything that is true can be empirically verified. I feel no obligation whatever to accept such silly nonsense. The claim that everything should be empirically verifiable is not itself empirically verifiable. Do we really need to go down this road? Is this the same as modern miracles? Not at all. We do not place the claims of Scripture in the dock of human reason. But we can, we do, and we should place modern claims of men who say they speak for God in the dock and test them with both Scripture and human reason. Can we test these modern claims empirically? You better believe we can. Should we? We most certainly should. Were the miracles of Scripture empirically verifiable at the time? The most certainly were. The way in which Jesus and the early Christian leaders performed miracles left no doubt whatever that a miracle took place. The miraculous phenomena of the ushering in of the New Covenant message and gospel was undeniable and indisputable. Hays seems to equivocate and confuse methods for testing truth claims. He seems to want to apply empirical testing to ancient claims and historical testing to modern claims when he should be doing it the other way around. I know that Hays realizes this. I just don't understand why he argues the way he does. It really is pretty simple how those of us in this camp argue.


Once again, my hope is that some readers will take these comments and carefully examine them. That they will look at these modern claims differently or at least launch an objective investigation of the matter in search for the truth. I hope the result is a new and fresh appreciation for what it means to publicly stand in Christ's place, claiming to represent Him, and how what we say and do everywhere, to include on the internet, is a reflection on Him. When we claim to be a mirror of Christ and we slander one another, we tell others that slander is ok. We tell others that Christians slander each other when they cannot agree on these issues. I hope we grow to the place where we can passionately defend the truth and call a lie a lie without calling each other names or engaging in obvious fallacies designed to paint our detractors in the worse possible light.

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