The old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”
The following two stories are partly apocryphal and partly true.
One day I was talking to a stock broker. He started to get into the scene of hot tips on penny stocks. He told me about a company that had developed an “infinite compression algorithm.” Software that could compress information to a virtually infinite level. You could compress a video file with it, and then keep compressing the file further. He said that you could keep running the compressed file through the program over and over to make it smaller and smaller. I said to him, “That’s impossible. There are limits to how much data can be compressed.” He responded, “You are making an argument from incredulity, which is a logical fallacy.” I responded, “Just the same, I don’t think I’ll be buying that stock.”
As an aside, I’ve violated copyright laws by compressing the entire online catalog of videos from Netflix into this post. Here it is: “0” Hopefully you’ll be able to do a search to find the decompression program to extract this information from what I call an information singularity. Although it contains much less information, it works on similar principles as the singularity that existed before the big bang.
Another day, this same broker, told me about a device that had been invented for detecting oil deposits under the ground. He said, “With this device loaded on a truck, this company can drive around and detect oil deposits in the Earth while driving up to 55 miles an hour.” I said, “That’s impossible. I don’t believe it.” He responded, “You are making an argument from ignorance, which is a logical fallacy.” I responded, “Just the same, I don’t think I’ll be buying that stock.”
And the next two stories are completely apocryphal.
There was once a naturalist who believed everything could be explained by physical processes. He was an avid skeptic. His favorite phrase was, “Miracles can’t occur; therefore don’t occur. And anyone who says they can, is a bad reporter, because miracles can’t occur.” (1) He developed cancer, and as he lay in his hospital bed, he thought, “What do I have to lose? I don’t believe in miracles, but perhaps I will say a prayer.” He did pray for God to heal him, and that he would believe if it occurred. A week later, the doctor came into his room and reported that his cancer had virtually vanished, and told his patient that it was miraculous. The patient responded to the doctor, “That’s ridiculous. Miracles can’t occur; therefore don’t occur. And anyone who says they can, is a bad reporter, because miracles can’t occur.”
Another naturalist was avid in his quest to stamp out superstition and irrationality. He argued, “God can’t exist, because the world is full of suffering. I can’t believe there could be a God who would allow such suffering.” A believer responded, “You’re making an argument from incredulity.” The naturalist responded, “No, only superstitious religious types can do that. I am a scientist after all.”
(1). Back when Dr. Gene Scott was still living and I watched him on satellite, he would repeat the following over and over with a grin, “Miracles can’t occur; therefore, don’t occur. And anyone who says they can is a bad reporter, because miracles can’t occur. Miracles can’t occur; therefore, don’t occur. And anyone who says they can is a bad reporter, because miracles can’t occur. [refrain]”
Filed under: atheism, logic, Religion, science, theology | Tagged: argument from ignorance, argument from incredulity, argument from lack of imagination, atheism, Gene Scott, logic, miracles, naturalism, science |