Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Here’s another attempt to explain the Biblical plagues without reference to the supernatural: global warming and a volcano eruption.  It’s always funny to me how—in an attempt to avoid the supernatural—people appeal to explanations that are so implausible that it takes more faith to believe them than it does to believe the Biblical account that God was responsible.  

For example, how is it that Moses’ could have known in advance that a plague of frogs would be produced by global warming?  What’s even more unbelievable is the fact that each of the natural phenomena just-so-happened to stop when Moses said it would stop.  And how is it that each of the ten plagues happened one after another, and never simultaneously?  Who do they think they are trying to kid? 

The National Geographic Channel will air a program on this April 4 (Easter day).

Atheists are fond of comparing belief in God to belief in Santa Clause, claiming that belief in one is as justified as the other.  But the two beliefs are not analogous at all.  There are plenty of positive rational reasons to believe God exists (the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, the origin of life, consciousness, the existence of objective moral values, etc.), but the same cannot be said of Santa.  Indeed, when it comes to Santa’s existence, not only are there no good reasons that favor his existence, but there is plenty of evidence against his existence.  If Santa exists we would expect to find his home in the North Pole, or have empirical evidence of flying reindeers or elves, and yet despite all the expeditions of the North Pole, we find none.  Furthermore, we have widespread evidence from both credit card receipts and personal testimony that the gifts appearing under millions of Christmas trees were purchased by regular human beings from retail stores, not made by elves in Santa’s workshop.  Finally, our knowledge of physics proves it impossible for one man to travel the globe in the amount of time allotted to Santa, carrying the number of gifts he would have to carry to supply gifts to all those .

Comparing belief in God to belief in Santa Clause may be rhetorically effective, but it is logically fallacious.  As Paul Copan wrote, “To place belief in Santa Claus or mermaids and belief in God on the same level is mistaken. The issue is not that we have no good evidence for these mythical entities; rather, we have strong evidence that they do not exist. Absence of evidence is not at all the same as evidence of absence, which some atheists fail to see.”[1]

I think it is also worth pointing out that while virtually everyone abandons their belief in Santa Clause even prior to reaching adulthood, the same cannot be said of belief in the existence of God(s).  The vast majority of people continue to believe in God(s).  Why is that?  Apparently they recognize that the grounds for believing in the one are not at all comparable to the grounds for believing in the other.  Belief in God’s existence is rationally justified, while belief in Santa is not.

[1]Paul Copan, “The Presumption of Atheism”; available from; Internet; accessed 13 February 2005.