Friday, October 05, 2007

Comment for Angels book author's blog

Comment for Peter S. Williams' blog, which doesn't allow comments except from the blog owner and team members:

Charles Manson claimed to levitate a school bus in order to get it to the group's hideout at Barker Ranch in Death Valley in 1968. His followers claim he did it, too.

We know the school bus got there, because it was still there until a few years ago. The terrain up Goler Canyon Road is very difficult even for four-wheel drive vehicles.

I don't believe Manson levitated the bus (or that there was a single tree that bore twelve kinds of fruit, one for each month of the year, at Barker Ranch, as he also claimed). Do you?

There are also numerous eyewitness reports of remarkable phenomena, including levitations, occurring at Spiritualist seances. However, the most exhaustively documented ones show that eyewitness testimony is at odds with what actually happened--a phenomenon that magicians are quite familiar with. If demonic activity results in such things as levitation, why is it not documentable through video recordings or testimony from witnesses trained in illusion and trickery?

9 comments:

Reed E said...

Williams is concerned that we skeptics have an a priori bias against any evidence for demons and angels, where our assessment of the evidence is colored by our naturalistic views. Perhaps so.

However, I wonder if he's prepared to acknowledge that his weak standard of evidence (anecdotes, etc.) is driven by his need to justify his beliefs?

olvlzl said...

How many of the people who believe Manson levitated a bus could dance on the head of a pin? Do even a half dozen people really believe this?

Jim Lippard said...

olvlzl: I chose the Manson example intentionally because it parallels the demonic possession examples in that there are very few witnesses, the witnesses there are have a vested interest in the claim, but in this case is a claim that Christians are likely to reject. By what criteria can they accept demonic possession claims and reject the Manson claims? (Or will they accept the Manson claims, attributing the levitation to demons?)

olvlzl said...

Jim Lippard, I've known many thousands of Christians and have yet to meet more than a handful who believe in demonic possession. I know a lot of Catholics who don't believe in the devil and who find the presence of "exorcists" in the church to be embarrassing. The word "some" or even "a few" would make your assertion about "Christians" more realistic.

The question is, if Manson can do that, why can't he get out of jail?

Jim Lippard said...

olvlzl: I'm addressing the specific Christians whose claims are in the original post, and those who believe them. I suspect they are a minority (but a growing one) of Christians, and a majority of evangelicals and a vast majority of Pentecostals.

Einzige said...

The question is, if Manson can do that, why can't he get out of jail?

I have faith that he can. He just doesn't want to, because that would provide definitive evidence for the existence of an unknowable God.

We can't have that!

olvlzl said...

I have faith that he can. He just doesn't want to, because that would provide definitive evidence for the existence of an unknowable God.

Einzige, ah, but you see, in this case you could have physical evidence that could be observed and analyzed to see if there was a definite result. That makes all the difference in matters of science and empirical evidence. Just a tiny little distinction, apparently, though one that absolutely marks the difference between science and faith.

Einzige said...

That makes all the difference in matters of science and empirical evidence.

Does it? Really???

[tongue placed firmly in cheek]

olvlzl said...

It's your tongue, put it wherever you like. Just as long as it's only on you or a consenting adult. You see, I think adults get to decide things for themselves as long as they don't impinge on other peoples' rights.

Should I remind you that you're ignoring me?