Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mike Licona's demon haunted world

I know it's old news, but I want to comment on Mike Licona's interview with Luke Muelhauser. To anyone who hasn't watched the interview,  here is a link to it. To anyone who has watched it, watch it again. Watch it as many times as you need to until you get the joke in the title. Anyways, the reason I urge the viewer to watch this interview is not because of what it directly says- but because of what it indirectly says about the Resurrection and Christians in general. There is a specific point in the interview where Luke mentions the Hallucination hypothesis as a viable naturalistic explanation for the resurrection appearances. Mike Licona dismisses them instantly, as he believes that Hallucinations, as subjective projections, cannot explain away the visions to multiple people. Than, later in the interview, Luke mentions examples of events believed to be hallucinations, of which were experienced by multiple people, such as the Marian apparitions, and the dancing sun at Fatima. He presses Licona to explain them away in a reasonable manner. Than, it hits the fan for Licona, as he literally shoots his own foot in his answer.

So, what is his answer, you may ask? Well- he says that he doesn't know. He also states that, unlike a naturalist, he is open to supernatural explanations. Now this attitude seemed to really confuse me. I mean, I agree with the first part of his answer- I agree that we can be agnostic about these claims since we really don't know much about them. However, words cannot describe how much I disagree with him on his second point. Why does an event with an unknown cause have to be supernatural? How can you possibly make that judgement? And even if one is open to the supernatural, what would a supernatural hypothesis look like. Let's just say for arguments sake that our supernatural Hypothesis would be "God did it". Well, does that fit well with our evidence? For example, why would God cause sightings of the Virgin Mary if Protestant Christianity is the correct division (as Licona believes). Also, Why the hell would he make the sun dance around in the sky. Even if we further posit that we could never understand God's reason, it still seems to me like the explanation "gawdidit" is ad-hoc at best.

So, How does Licona avoid this problem? Easy- he uses a magicians trick called misdirection. He mentions a scary story about a demon that tried to strangle his friend because he was proclaiming the word of God. Now, how could a skeptic explain that away without recourse to a miracle, you may ask? Well, to be honest, I don't have a clue. It could be a hallucinatory experience, for all I know. After all, none of the Christian turned Muslims saw the event. A bigger issue to me, however, is how such a remarkable event could completely slip past the news. If that were to have happened, surely someone would have written about it. I mean, JP Moreland has no problem sharing his experience- why not this guy? Even if us hardheaded atheists were to ignore it, surely paranormal investigators would be all over it! Now, I am fully aware that this is an argument from silence- but honestly, this is a very damning silence that can't be ignored. All we have is the bear claim it happened by just one person- and that's really un-incredible evidence if you ask me.

Now, lets go back to the dancing sun and Marian apparitions; except this time, lets humour Licona and consider the demon hypothesis. Now, why would a demon want to fool people into seeing the blessed virgin Mary? Perhaps, as some Protestants like Ray Comfort believe (here), Catholics are so un-christian, they are comparable to Mormons- and likewise will not be saved. If that were the case, the Devil would be tricking believers into going to hell- kinda like how the Bible claims Satan will deceive many by "appearing as an angel of light". This explanation seems possible- although still I don't find it convincing at all. Considering that most Christians are Catholics, it seems silly to believe that God's plan would involve them being damned for all eternity alongside us atheists, wouldn't it? And yes, the Marian apparitions bring it's recipients closer to Catholicism, not Protestantism, so they never get that sacred "born again experience" so necessary for salvation (check this out for more). And last but not least, Demons have no reason to cause the sun to dance around in the sky supernaturally, as if that needs spelling out. So, it seems to me that an appeal to naturalistic explanations may be quite justifiable- and maybe even preferable in some circumstances to supernatural explanations like these ones

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