Scientific evidence for the supernatural

Sure. I am talking about ‘normal’ events that would be reported similarly by any number of observers on the scene.

The first question would be if they are independent testimonies, or are they simply repeating what they heard from someone else. We also have to ask if they are actual observers, or are second or third hand. If they give a written testimony and there are obvious instances where one of them copies from another, that’s a problem. Also, if testimonies are written down many years after the event when there is plenty of time for a communal story to emerge that they could all be consistent with, that is a problem.

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Just a quick example of the types of observations that instill trust.

I am sure that everyone is aware of scientists at CERN confirming the existence of the Higgs boson. The interesting part is that there were two different teams working in two different labs with two different detectors, and they were both looking for the Higgs. They didn’t share data, and they didn’t talk to one another. They reported their results at the same time, and their data showed the same evidence for the Higgs at the same (within statistical significance) energy. Completely independent experiments arrived at the same answer. That’s what strong and valid observations look like.

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That’s a huge stretch to suggest that means global warming. Not least because it says absolutely nothing about warming.

Nor have you got anything to suggest that anyone considered it to mean climate change, as opposed to seaquakes or tsunamis before we started seeing signs of climate change. You’re retrofitting. This is no different from Nostradamism, and no more convincing.

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I am making a reasonable inference from something pretty obvious, not unlike noticing the little correlation between Genesis 1:1 and big bang cosmology. It also sounds like an ongoing condition, not just an isolated tsunami. You also neglected to address megacryometeors. I would suggest not being among those who curse God because of them (note the latter part of the verse cited). It’s not a surprise that you call it ‘retrofitting’ – what else do you do with prophecy, and you would, anyway, not believing in it.

We were talking about one of God’s primary M.O.s, namely his providence for his children (recall George Müeller ← linked if you don’t or missed it). That pretty much will make any evidence for the same automatically dismissed by those not qualifying for that description, so I’m not sure if there is any point in continuing and exposing myself to insults and less than subtle innuendos here on Peaceful Science.

None of us is a perfect observer.

However, my comment was about “observation” in the technical sense (“scientific observation”), and you seem to have taken it in the ordinary language sense.

Please articulate the difference.

Yes.

The avalanche itself was objective. The observation was the observation by one subject, so is subjective. The assertion “there was an avalanche” might be a statement of fact or it might be a report of a subjective observation. We cannot tell at this point.

Observations by many subjects is subjective. You still have not distinguished ‘scientific observation’ from ‘ordinary observation’.

A scientific observation is often something like writing down the readings of instruments. An ordinary language observation is something like a remark such as “that’s a colorful bird”.

How is ‘an avalanche occurred’ either scientific or ordinary?

That needs more context.

Whether it was a geometeorologist reporting it or a skier on the other side of the valley observing it, for instance, it would still count as a scientific datapoint recordable for quantifying avalanche frequencies and locales.

The point being, simple facts and observations are legitimate, regardless of the observer. Take the George Müeller example – there is no reason to doubt that the events transpired as recorded. (The cynical skeptic, of course, will be generous with insults and accusations of lying.) What is in question is not the events themselves (they were pretty simple and straightforward), what is in question is the cause. The Christian will infer God’s providence (or ‘Providence’) while the unbeliever will say “Nah, that’s just a coincidence” when actually it is several, a grouping of apparently unrelated events – at least four, by my count, infused with meaning.

@jim,

At the heart of science is the ability to control for variables.

So how do you do that with metaphysics? How do you control for ghostly activity, or God’s actions?

Can you design an experiment where you ask the angels to please participate with the procedures by only assisting with rats wearing tiaras… and to ignore the rats wearing devil horns?

How do you ask God to ignore the lab flasks labeled “Not Divine”?

Your fixation on the super-natural has a very low threshhold: “if it was spooky it was probably real”.

Okay… how do you get any further?

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No, you’re retrofitting current events to an existing prophecy.

Fine, I’ll address them. This is the passage cited:

17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail;

There have been no unprecedented earthquakes, missing mountains, falling cities or great voices from the heavens. Nor have there been any plagues of sores, seas turning to blood, dried up rivers or any of the other signs from the first six angels which the prophecy says will happen first.

You’ve taken one line from an extensive list of events and ignored almost all of the rest of them. You’re quote-mining the bible.

What else would I do with prophecy?

How about:

  1. Work out what the prophecy foretells
  2. See if that happens
  3. Determine whether the prophecy came true.

You and lots of other prophecy advocates do this:

  1. Assume all the prophecies will/have come true
  2. Look at what has happened
  3. Try to match actual events to prophecies, discarding accuracy, context, consistency, phrasing, and anything else from a square prophecy that you can’t force to fit in the desired round hole.

That approach can be used to support anything, and hence supports nothing.

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Could this be tested? Orphanages across the world could pray for food and see if someone miraculously appears with food. What would you expect to be the result of this experiment?

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No, but it is evidence of one the Perpetrator’s primary M.O.s. That is something you cannot test but can only recognize as it is happening or in retrospect. I have mentioned ‘hypernatural’ miracles here on PS before, miracles that do not break any natural laws, so they are not detectable ‘scientifically’, in the sense that they can be reproduced upon demand, but that do involve supernatural timing and placing and maybe extent or degree (if your worldview and belief system will allow it). Otherwise, you can only attribute them to random chance, even if there are multiple seemingly disconnected events, but taken together are full of meaning. Of course, you don’t have to believe there is meaning, either, since maybe your worldview disallows it.

That makes for some really bad confirmation bias. It also raises some serious moral questions about why God would help sometimes but let people suffer other times.

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Some confirmation biases are correct, others (yours :slightly_smiling_face:) are not.

The Perpetrator is not a vending machine that you can plug your prayer quarters into and expected the demanded product. He is personal, and a Father. Fathers, wise ones, don’t give their children everything they ask for. Sometimes they give them difficulties, perhaps to strengthen, perhaps to prove their strength, perhaps to chastise. We cannot always know his purposes, but he is trustworthy.

The problem of pain has been pondered deeply and extensively by many. By an ex-atheist: The Problem of Pain*.