Wild-Card Trump Cards: Hate ISIS? Rethink Revelation
"Revealed supernatural truth" is a bad card to play even for a good cause.
Posted Dec 15, 2015
Picture this: You're negotiating with someone about things that matter a lot to your future. You're not seeing eye-to-eye and the person declares:
"Well, I have access to the supernatural reality beyond the senses where I got confirmation that you're wrong and I'm right."
How would you feel about his claim?
Would you feel better about it if he was on your side and used it to trump someone who disagrees with you both?: "Well, I have access to the supernatural reality beyond the senses where I got confirmation that you're wrong and we're right."
How would you feel if instead he said, "I don't have direct access to the supernatural reality beyond the senses but I've read a lot of the teachings of someone who did, and they prove I'm right."
Or if he said, "I've read a lot of those teachings which are really really, old which means they must be right and they prove I'm right."
None of those variations would make a difference to my response. My response is a rejection of the whole wild-card, trump card play whereby someone can claim the last word (trump card) on anything (wild card) by claiming access to supernatural truths beyond the senses. Citing the supernatural is a wild card and a trump card, since by definition the supernatural is beyond the natural and therefore inaccessible to any kind of objective testing. You can't kick the tires on ideas about the supernatural because it's got no tires, no physical reality, it's beyond the senses and therefore its anyone's guess.
I'm not saying the senses reveal absolute truth. I'm saying that you can't pull truths out of thin air by revelation.
Revelation: The divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world.
I find many people are happy to claim to embrace revelation so long so they think the truths it supports are virtuous as though it's OK to use wild-card trump cards so long as it's for a good cause.
I disagree. I think wielding a wild-card trump card means anyone can use them as last word support for whatever supposed truth they want to support, and we end up with wasteful, escalating, unresolvable wild-card trump card wars. The wars are unresolvable because the wild-card, trump cards are based on the supernatural and therefore beyond the senses, so nothing can be proven for or against any position.
I don't believe there are supernatural realms. I think it's all nature. But even if you do believe there are supernatural realms, your claims about what goes on in them can have no grounding precisely because they are beyond nature.
You can imagine what goes on in them but so can anyone and people imagine radically divergent things not worth fighting over, especially now that we have so many practical concerns here in the natural world.
So I propose the Supernatural Fallacy. One employs the supernatural fallacy when one claims to have evidence or confirmation from a supernatural realm when, by definition the supernatural is beyond us to know anything about.
And to be clear, a fallacy doesn't prove an argument wrong but irrelevant. If you say God wants people to love each other. The supernatural fallacy doesn't mean that God doesn't want us to love each other, it means that whether He exists or doesn't, and whether he does or doesn't want us to love each other is an argument from the supernatural and is therefore irrelevant. As would be an argument that God wants us to kill the infidels or that the supernatural realms of heaven or hell will be our eternal residences if we do this or that, or that Buddha nature reveals to the enlightened the great mystery of being. All supernatural; all irrelevant.
Some supernaturalists half-acknowledge the fallacy by admitting that nothing is knowable about the supernatural. They half-acknowledge in that they then make claims about it. They talk about the unknowable supernatural realm and then tell you everything they know about it. They turn the mystery into the trump card. "The supernatural is unknowable. Now let me tell you what I know about it."
There would be no greater Xmas gift for anyone than a wild-card trump card, whether it is based on the supernatural or anything. After all, what could be better than having a way to win any argument hands down in support of anything you believe?
Before science, when revelation was the only way we could guess anything about how things work, the wild-card trump cards were all based on claims about the supernatural.
Now that we have science, we might wish for scientific wild-card trump card instead of a supernatural ones. What could be better in modern culture than a wild card trump card that enabled you to say "Science proves me right" about anything?
The difference is scientific trump cards aren't really wild cards since science is about what goes on in the natural world. Science can demonstrate that we're wrong. And it isn't a trump card either since science is eternally a work in progress. Unlike revelation which claims to already have the last-word best interpretation possible, science claims to only have the best interpretation so far, to be beaten by a better interpretation if one comes along.
I encourage those of you who claim to be spiritual to reconsider. Are you resting your case on supernatural wild card trump cards? If so, consider the possibility that you're part of the problem not the solution no matter how wholesome and virtuous you may claim your revealed truths to be? You're relying on the same fallacious argument used by those who claim the truths you find so appalling.