The Unexplained

Some people are more curious than others. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I don't know. But many people are interested in unexplained phenomena, and Live Science today carried an article on the "Top Ten Unexplained Phenomena". I like what it says on the opening of the slideshow: "Science is powerful but it cannot explain everything." Sounds like something I could have said myself!

A couple of the items were a bit of a surprise to me, like the #1 item: the Taos Hum. While it's something I've maybe heard of once or twice it probably wouldn't make my top ten list. I don't know if they're supposed to be in any particular order or not, but it was a bit of a surprise. If you don't what it is, you'll have to check out the article!

The ones that were most interesting to me were the Mind/Body problem (although interestingly they called it the "Body/Mind Connection" - perhaps a bit of materialistic bias there?) and near-death experiences (NDEs). Interestingly, NDEs was one of the factors that led former atheist Patrick Glynn to believe in the existence of God in his book, God: The Evidence. He cited studies that showed that the features of some NDE experiences simply could not be plausibly explained naturalistically, and the reluctance of some atheists to accept the evidence appeared to be more indicative of their anti-supernaturalistic prejudice rather than good reasons. Some people falsely believe that NDEs have all been satisfactorily explained scientifically, but that's just not the case. The mind/body problem is another area where materialistic researchers seem to be looking for love in all the wrong places. But die-hard materialism dies hard.

It was interesting to see that Bigfoot is on the list, but not the Loch Ness Monster. It seems to me like it's been a long time since the last reported Bigfoot sighting, but maybe I haven't kept up. I'm also not sure when the last reported sighting of "Nessie" was. What most people who aren't from British Columbia probably don't know is that we have our own version of Nessie, affectionately known as the "Ogopogo". The Ogopogo is rumored to live in Lake Okanagan, a beautiful lake in the Okanagan valley. Tricia and I took our honeymoon there, and still have a stuffed Ogopogo that we bought on that trip.

In a recent online debate with an atheist on the evidence for the Resurrection, he employed what I now refer to as the "Bigfoot defense." The apostles claimed to have seen Jesus, but so what? People have claimed to see Bigfoot also, so that proves that eyewitness testimony is unreliable.

I pointed out to him the many problems with his argument. First of all, this argument could be used to invalidate any eyewitness testimony of anything, which would basically undermine most of the judicial system as well as almost all historical inquiry. Eyewitness testimony, to put it bluntly, is the foundation of almost everything we know. Even scientific truths are based on eyewitness testimony. A scientist observes some phenomenon, he writes down his observations, develops a hypothesis to explain it, and so on. But it all starts with eyewitness testimony of some event.

Another problem, of course, is that the evidence for Bigfoot has absolutely no connection to the evidence for the Resurrection. It's not a legitimate argument to say, "people say they've seen Bigfoot and there is no Bigfoot (although he didn't say how he knew that), so therefore there was no Resurrection". In logic this is called a non sequitur, meaning it "does not follow". The conclusion does not follow from the premise. In this case it does not follow in any sense of the term.

The evidence for Bigfoot sightings that I've seen (granted, it hasn't been a big area of study for me) are always brief glimpses from a distance. There are a couple of reported films I guess, but it's hard to prove if they're authentic. By contrast, the disciples reported many encounters with Jesus after his Resurrection, which included personal interaction on multiple occasions with individuals and groups over a period of forty days. At least some of the apostles were put to death for their faith in the risen Christ, and some traditions report that all of them except for John were martyred, all without changing their stories or renouncing what they said they had seen. The evidence is just of a totally different quality.

Skeptics use a similar form of argument against the Resurrection by saying there are no UFOs, or no fairies, or no whatevers (I noticed ghosts were on the top 10 list of unexplained phenomena also along with UFOs, making it quite an interesting grab bag), so therefore there was no Resurrection either. Again, these are non sequitur forms of argument. The evidence for the Resurrection has to be taken on its own merits. It can't simply be swept under the rug along with everything else that the skeptic has decided not to believe in.

I also can't figure out why skeptics are so against Bigfoot and Nessie, or the Ogopogo. These are not reputed to be supernatural beings, but just different species which perhaps haven't been discovered yet (or have they?). Nessie and Ogopogo could be members of some family of "living dinosaurs." Why not? Scientists have discovered other species which were thought to have been extinct for millions of years, like the famed coelacanth. Actually, my favorite Ogopogo legend says that there is actually an underground waterway that connects Lake Okanagan and Loch Ness in Scotland, and that the two creatures are one and the same. Well, that would explain why sightings are so rare, what with all that time spent swimming in between British Columbia and Scotland. That's enough to wear any sea monster out!

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