Archive | Contrasts RSS feed for this section

Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? – the power of a counter argument

9 Sep

Some people like to dismiss miracles or supernatural events with the demand for something MORE than the existence of an immaterial being.  They want decisive extraordinary proof to back up any claims they consider beyond the ordinary.

Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Intelligent Design all point to an intentional first cause responsible for the creation of the Universe.   That seems to be pretty ‘extraordinary’, but apparently the ‘doubters’ don’t accept the powerful cumulative case that points to a ‘big-banger’ who/that initiated our universe.

Before we go down the rabbit trail of trying to come up with evidence that would be extraordinary enough to satisfy skeptics, let’s consider whether their requirement for such sensational reasoning is justifiable.

The other day, in reading Psalm 84, I saw a counter-argument to the atheists/agnostics’ pushback.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

If it is true that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof’ then one might EQUALLY say:

  • Extraordinary beauty or loveliness requires an admirer/observer/lodger who is equally extraordinary

But look at the opening of the psalm.  The man who pens these words is overwhelmed with the beauty and the majesty of the Jewish sanctuary.  But is he, himself, majestic or lovely or beautiful?

Well he MIGHT be, you could argue.  And you’d probably be basing that reason on the fact that he is made in the image of God.  All reflectors of God are beautiful in that sense.  But if he is someone who has just offered an animal to be sacrificed and it’s around 970 BC, then he’s probably smelly and might even be splattered with ox or sheep’s blood!

Okay, so the man COULD be lovely or he could be smelly.  But who else or what else in this section of Psalm 84 considers God’s sanctuary good and fit to enter and stay?

  • the common birds, specifically sparrows and swallows

When the ordinariness of the ones coming into the temple, whether humans or birds,  are capable  and qualified to deem the setting “lovely’.  That beauty both satisfies the human soul and provides necessary shelter for God’s winged creatures.  The quality of loveliness does not require the beholder/user to be lovely.  It follows then that reactionary comeback to anything supernatural is NOT well founded.

So, no!!! Extraordinary places or events do not require extraordinary evidence.  They just call for evidence and reasons that are TRUE!

For further discussion of the ‘extraordinary objection’ visit this link

Logical Gal – distinctions lead to tension

14 Jul

Distinction

definition (Google) :  a noun indicating a difference or contrast between similar people or things

Distinction - pencils

To think through a concept in order to arrive at a more clear understanding requires grappling with distinctions.   I am VERY fond of distinctions because they tell me THIS and not THAT.  Knowing what something is not can lead to a more complete idea of what something is.

Today in Sunday School we were studying James, chapter 3.  Jesus’ half-brother warns against selfish ambition.  That caused me to wonder what OTHER kinds of ambition there might be!  I am beginning to ask more questions as I grow my logic and clear thinking skills.  This new habit encourages me!

We all know how concrete children seem to be, how they default to labeling the world either Black or White.  This tendency is forgivable in children, often the source of amused smiles in parents.  But for grownups to continue this view of life brings on smug criticism in others.  Moderns pride themselves in being ‘nuanced’.  Even entire nations criticize others for NOT living with ‘gray’.  The French accuse some American administrations of having been ‘Manichaean’ , that is dividing the world into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’.

Ronald Reagan

Criticized or not, I truly believe that for some issues, there is TRUTH and non-truth.  But as I continue to read, study, think and grow, I realize that some concepts just defy being pinned down and categorized separately because it is WE who are finite and cannot get beyond our God-given limitations.

Hence, my fascination with DISTINCTIONS!  Here are the top 4 in Christianity, as I see them:

  • the Trinity – God is ONE essence but THREE persons.  So although God the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit each enjoys different roles – they are one and the same.  God is both/and and very real!   We see God the Father clearly as the ‘person’ in charge.  God the Son submits to the Father.  The Spirit works with them both – they are all one God.  Enough to keep us thinking forever!
  • Jesus – fully human and fully man!  How can that be?  We don’t know HOW, but we do know it is TRUE.
  • Christians – we live in the flesh here in this present world, and we live in the spirit in the Kingdom of God where we actually are seated at the same time that we are walking on earth.
  • Free Will and God’s Sovereign Control – Yes!  They both exist and we can see the differences, but one doesn’t exclude the other.  Yet even though we can KNOW this, we can also not understand it.

Only someone who is still immature will fight this tension and want to come down on one side or the other. They will feel the need to go PAST making a distinction and to actually cause a separation. And they will try to force YOU to do so, too!

Fish or cut bait

But you don’t have to.  Just remember that it does take a lot of patience and humility and a degree of wonder to live with the fact that we won’t sort it all out.  No matter HOW smart we become!

Who knows – maybe being willing to live with that tension of the both/and might lead to a higher plane of insight?

Question – What do YOU distinguish but can’t separate?

 

 

 

Logical Gal and how contrasts help

3 Jul

contrast

How to understand a new concept – that is the question!

I heard a writer say that drawing CONTRASTS brings CLARITY.

This resonated with me, because intuitively I’ve picked up seeking contrast.  Living with a mathematical and analytical kind of guy exposes me to many new concepts I would probably avoid if I could!  So when Michael attempts to explain something like ‘standard deviation’  I have NO framework at all on which to hang this new idea.  My first question in all these kinds of conversations tends to be like the following:

  • ‘standard’ deviation as opposed to what? non-standard deviation?  and is there standard ‘pattern-following‘ as opposed to standard ‘deviation’?

Those 2 questions probably sound lame, but I’m trying to fill in the blanks and mostly all is blank when I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Knowing what something is NOT establishes boundaries.  And boundaries help the mind’s eye.

boundary lines

Back to those standard deviations…..I found out that the contrast to ‘standard’ deviation was ‘absolute’ deviation.  And that ‘deviation’ refers to the spread among gathered information in a group or set of data points.

What FURTHER brought clarity was not just this CONTRASTing information, but how standard deviations could be used. Never mind how one calculates it, but the information gained from determining the SD is satisfyingly useful, even to me, Miss Non-Analytical.

One quick example: if you record your daily weight for a month and calculate the standard deviation of all your numbers (or let the spread sheet do it for you!), you  learn that 95 % of your daily recorded weights will fall within the boundary or limits of the average weight (they call it the mean)  plus or minus 2 standard deviations.  That’s the green area under the red curved line below.

standard deviations - 2

So….???  The way this is helpful is that if I step on the scale after a big meal eating out and my weight is NOT within the green area, I can say to myself:

  • Self – don’t worry.  This is just an outlier, not your norm.  Give it a day or 2 and your weight will be back in the green.  No cause to panic!

Who would have thought that an analytical concept could bring some degree of peace of mind?  Now what else have I missed?

Question:  what do you do to begin to understand or grasp a new concept?  What questions do you ask?