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Disproving “Proofs”: Miracles and Prophets

September 20, 2010

Apart from purely philosophical arguments usually provided to show how there has been a first cause for our world to exist, believers use the existence of miracles and prophets as one of the main arguments to lead us to a very personal and compassionate god who cares about all of us. To inexperienced audiences who don’t bother to get into the depths of such forms of “evidence”, and to those who actually want and need to find such claims satisfactory, miracles and prophets are more than enough to show how what they’ve always believed in is right. That is not the case, however.

Believers usually argue “how is it possible for prophets to perform such extraordinary miracles? We have no choice but to accept God is behind these miracles, and He sent the prophets with such clear signs to guide us.” Jews and Christians are armed with this argument. They say their books which are handed down to them through ages describe the prophets and their wonderful miracles. If one suggests that the Old and New Testaments contain nothing but mythological stories, they usually claim the fact that these books contain predictions of the future which have come true is proof that those who wrote the books were guided by the all-knowing God. I don’t want to get into the details of these claims; I don’t need to.

Muslims are equipped with a stronger claim. They say the Quran not only contains such predictions, but it also is a miracle in its own right. The Quran challenges everyone to bring just one Surah like one of its own. Muslims say that no one has been able to beat the Quran in this challenge; God himself promises to disappoint anyone who undertakes the challenge. Muslims also claim that the Quran contains scientific facts revealed 1400 years ago, before any man could possibly know them. They also say that the Quran has a number of wonderful features like some numeric laws discovered only recently. Although there are numerous objections to all and each of these claims, especially by the followers of the religions before Islam, let’s assume all these claims are true.

Summing up the believers’ argument, we reach the premise that holy books are either created by:

1. Man, or

2. God

Then they use the miracles and predictions (assumed to be true) to show that option #1 is unacceptable, therefore option #2 has to be the right one.

Those who are a bit familiar with common fallacies quickly recognize what is going on here. This argument contains the infamous False Dichotomy or False Dilemma fallacy. Only two options are provided, when in reality there could be many more options to explain the observed phenomena (predictions, challenges, scientific facts, numeric laws, etc.) I would like to add a third option to the list:

3. Aliens

It may seem ridiculous at first; that’s because aliens have only been shown in sci-fi and horror movies, but God has been injected into our brains as an undisputable fact since we were very young. Logically speaking, the third option actually makes more sense than the second one. I am not going to pretend to be an alien story nut; I’m just going to show you how the alien story nut’s approach is in fact equal to and even better than that of the religious believers, only as an example.

Suppose there is an alien race, perhaps 50,000 years older than humanity.  They’ve observed us for the last few thousand years and decided to conduct an experiment. They contacted some of us – those who we call “prophets” – hypnotized them, and imprinted messages on their minds. They commanded the prophets by creating an illusion of angels, to preach the message which they pretended to be from a supernatural being called “God”. They also telepathically “guided” some of us to write books about those prophets describing all the wondrous things they did.

Perhaps they wanted to know how human minds work, how it reacts to different types of evidence supporting an idea, and how it gets tricked into believing in God; who knows. Maybe they predicted events that were under their own control, and talked about those events in their books and messages. They also filled the books with some scientific facts regarding the universe before any human being knew about them. They had enough knowledge to incorporate into the books, ranging from human fetuses to the color and shape of exploding supernovas. They may not even be just experimenting with us. Maybe they are malicious beings and are actually preparing us for a plan that ultimately leads to the extermination of all life on our planet.

Although I provided some details on what the alien plans are, they were my own conjectures. As a matter of fact, we can never know what their motivation is and what they are going to do with us. We don’t know why they sent the prophets and equipped them with miracles. Maybe they talked about their reasons while still pretending to be God, but we don’t know they are lying or not.  Even if we manage to find an alien race, interrogate some of its members and find out that they are not responsible, we can never rule out the fact that there could be other alien races capable of planning all this. Even if we find all alien races in this universe, we can’t guarantee there are no other universes with other alien races, just as mischievous as we thought.

At this point I challenge believers to provide a distinguishing reason separating aliens from God. Try to find proof that holy scriptures are in fact from God and not from some other, crooked beings having a weird plan for us all. Somehow support the case of a truthful god against dishonest aliens. While I leave that to believers, I’d like to point out that I’ve been unable to do so, because of one reason: Both God and aliens dwell in the realm of “unknown”. When we know nothing about them, we can’t distinguish them from each other. When they are not available to us for testing, we can’t be sure what they can and can’t do.

Now I’m going to show you how what I call the alien alternative hypothesis is indeed scientifically stronger than the God hypothesis. Firstly, science agrees that it is possible for other intelligent beings to evolve just like we did. Science can say that because there is evidence such a phenomenon has already happened once without needing supernatural intervention; the fact that we can ultimately access and test our ideas regarding intelligent aliens, and that it is not impossible for science to eventually find the alien race behind this scheme, gives the alien hypothesis scientific superiority. Secondly, using Occam’s Razor, we can argue a lot of God’s properties are unnecessary to justify the existence of miraculous scriptures and prophets. Aliens don’t need to be all-knowing, self-sufficient, omnipotent, omnipresent, compassionate, merciful, and so on; much fewer assumptions are needed for the alien hypothesis to be as convincing as that of God’s. Therefore it is possible to produce a more acceptable hypothesis involving a fewer number of useless and truly extraordinary assumptions. Even if you – for whatever reason – don’t accept the superiority of the alien hypothesis, you can’t deny that it stands on par with the God hypothesis.

In conclusion, let’s assume all the claims made regarding miracles, prophets and holy scriptures are true. Let’s assume it is possible to consider them “evidence”. Then, let’s ask the question: “evidence for what?”

P.S. A friend recently pointed out that numerous assumptions present in the God hypothesis aren’t there only to justify prophets and miracles; they have other uses in explaining other observed phenomena and therefore the principle of Occam’s Razor can’t be used here to strip those assumptions away (I still maintain that many of those assumptions are unnecessary to explain even what they are there to explain though, but that requires a separate discussion). This argument is logically sound so I can’t say that the alien parallel hypothesis is better than the God hypothesis in regard to the number of employed assumptions. Moreover, neither the God nor the alien hypotheses are scientifically falsifiable so they are equal in this aspect as well; but the alien hypothesis is still superior in terms of verifiability; i.e. it is possible to find and physically access the alien race responsible for sending prophets and performing miracles while God can never be accessed in this manner.

One Comment
  1. No one permalink

    I just wanted to add some points:

    Let’s say there is a creature or creatures who could contact with prophets. They know a few things about future and could do a few extraordinary things. Yes, this is enough for having evidences like miracles and messenger like prophets. Those creatures could be cruel, crazy, selfish and bad bad creatures who had their fun at that time and we are not sure that they still exist.

    Let say, if you practice some ,I don’t know, moves or actions, you can perform miracles and see the future.
    Like thing that David Copperfield (illusionist) do. Then, you can lie about anything and we will believe you, right?

    Let say there is a god which is all-mighty. (S)He can bother himself and TALK to us, or send an email. EVERY DAY. Do not say it is impossible. Do not say he do not want to fill your mail box because those who don’t like it can mark them as spam. But, at least we will have some clear interactive instructions about what we must to do in order to make him LEAVE US ALONE!!

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