Debate with Jerry McDonald: Jerry's Fifth Affirmative

Jerry McDonald’s fifth and final affirmative is now up; mine will appear shortly (a few days, at most). Those who can’t see the debate at FRDB (because they don’t have an account) can read his latest statement at Jerry’s website


Madeleine said...

How are we supposed to read your contributions to the debate if we don't have an account?

(Reading one side of a debate is hardly going to give one an accurate assessment of how the debate has gone.)

Spencer said...


You can also read both sides at Jerry's website:

Richard said...
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Richard said...

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but the entire disagreement seems to be about how we define 'natural law'.

Jerry McDonald seems to be using a definition like what might be used in the Randi-challenge. So, 'natural law' is at least somewhat related to the understandings of modern physics.

A resurrection would be so far outside of the bounds of our modern understanding of the world that we can reasonably call it 'supernatural'. (Similarly, Wizards, Werewolves, Ghosts and Vampires would be labeled supernatural)

The affirmatives seem to be using a different definition of 'natural law'. Under this definition, a violation of natural law is not possible, even in theory, since it would just indicate a misunderstanding of natural law.

So, if I showed up, and cast a Fire Ball or Magic Missile spell, it would be 'natural'. I'd be using exceptions to normal physics not yet accounted for in our current model of 'natural law'. Thurgamacy would soon become a course in graduate physics programs.

Is there a subtlety that I'm missing here? Because if not, the bulk of disagreement addressed seems to be about 'correct' definitions rather than the content of the events themselves.

The only part that I'm not following is the use of 'God'. Does that symbol refer to a singular, masculine, and vaguely Judeo-Christian being? Or, is it intended to be broader (god = set containing all existing supernatural powers)?

Because if it's the former, then McDonald's reply seem fundamentally flawed as he didn't link "a god" to "This particular God".

If it's the latter then his element 1 is entirely tautological.

"Only By The Supernatural Power Of God Could Jesus
Christ Have Been Raised From The Dead." becomes "Only By The [action] Of [an unknown force] Could Jesus
Christ Have Been Raised From The Dead."

And, this is merely a specific case of,

"Only the action of an unknown actor/force can do things that science can't currently explain."