But it doesn’t fly. My point in critiquing Jody’s condescending “I don’t take the word of a pimply adolescent” dismissal of Rod’s story was not to say, “Rod said it. I believe it. That settles it.” It was to point out the hypocrisy of suggesting that a theistic adolescent’s testimony is not to be trusted, but that Jody’s adolescent atheist philosophizing is a solid foundation for a lifetime.
Look. It’s really quite simple. For a purported claim of the miraculous or the supernatural, it is the theist who is free to ask questions to find things out. The atheist, on the other hand, is bound to ask questions in order to keep from finding out that anything supernatural occurred. For the theist, it is quite on the cards that the reputedly supernatural event was really a fraud, or a funny noise in the drainage pipes, or hysterical blindness, or what have you. This is, after all, what the Church does in investigating stuff like Lourdes and other Marian apparations. The Church tends to be as suspicious of such claims as an atheist. And indeed most claims of miracles are rejected by the Church, not (as Jody appears to suggest) credulously believed because theists are too simple-minded to ask obvious things. So, if it turns out that Rod Dreher’s tale of flying Ouija boards is unsubstantiated, my faith can live with that. I don’t automatically believe every report of a miracle or supernatural event to be true. But if it turns out it’s not a fake or explicable by any naturalistic means, Jody’s faith is in ruins. For his dogma is much smaller. To avoid this desperate plight, Jody makes use of logic like this: “Miracle after miracle turns out to be bogus, confused or misunderstood.” Translation: some claims of the supernatural are fake, therefore they all are. Sound logic indeed.
What is really going on here, of course, is credo ut intelligam: Jody believes in atheism that he may understand. When confronted with the eucharistic miracle, or the healings at Lourdes which which are *not* explicable, he simply embraces an atheism of the gaps and passes over them in silence, pointing all the more vigorously to things which have been explained and hoping simple-minded dogmatic atheists will vociferously shout “Amen!” Open-minded people can acknowledge the possibility of mystery. For the atheist, the naturalistic explanation, no matter how preposterous, is better than acknowledging that atheism is an extraordinarily frail little system of order. The most delicious part of Jody’s post is the brassy final line: “He’s made up his mind, don’t confuse him with facts.” This is, of course, precisely the position Jody is in. I’m open minded. Rod’s story (or the others recounted below) might or might not have supernatural elements to them. I know I live in a universe with more than one floor, so I’m open to one or other or even both possibilities. But Jody is not open-minded. Questions must, even if it’s stupid, be simply and solely ordered toward denial of the possibility of the supernatural. Mass spontaneous hallucinations, lying on the part of witnesses who have nothing to gain, insanity, prodigies of naturalistic healing, spectacular concatenations of coincidence, etc. etc. are all to be preferred over the possibility that a supernatural event took place. And if none of these fly, then silence, which is why he passes over the Eucharist miracle I linked to. Why? Because Jody has a dogmatic little system of order and the supernatural must not disturb it. His mind is, indeed, made up. Do not confuse him with facts.