Perusing the recent theist vs. non-theist arguments appearing in The Mensa Bulletin (Brainwaves, October p. 9) one is astonished to behold how many Mensan theists are seriously convinced they are the ones possessing logic and common sense. Perhaps the most assertive claim was made by Faith O'Brien - a self-professed Roman Catholic from Chicago. According to Faith (no pun intended):
“I always felt it was just logical and sensible for smart people to be believers”.
Why, when that implies accepting assorted, unverifiable claims without evidence? Is it not “smarter” to base acceptance on demonstrated evidence?
Consider the claim of a man (or claimed "god man") walking on water. How much common sense is there in believing that - given human properties, weight, surface area etc. - claimed to defy gravity – even for a nanosecond? What evidence is there for this? The answer is none, but “smart” Mensans are expected to believe it according to Ms. O’Brien.
Prof. Hugh Schonfeld, The Passover Plot, 1965) offered a simple, prosaic explanation: a scripture mistranslation of the Hebrew word “al” which can mean “by” or “on”. So, when a scribe supposedly wrote “walking by the water” it was translated to “walking on the water”. This is not a red herring at all. Especially given that textual analysis of ancient scripts is a learned skill not all scribes - ancient or modern - may possess. See e.g.
Here it is useful to consider philosopher Dav)id Hume’s principle to establish a miracle, any miracle:
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish
Is the simple claim of mistranslation more or less miraculous (or rational) than a man or claimed 'god man' (which also demands proof) actually violating the law of gravity and walking on water? The common sense answer is obvious!
Consider the alleged “miracle” at Fatima in 1917. By Ms. O’Brien’s template we are “lacking in common sense” if we (atheists like me) don’t believe it. That is, that the Sun actually spun on its axis visibly in seconds and alternately moved back and forth toward Earth. Why believe atheists are the 'illogical' ones when that implies accepting outlandish claims of solar activity without evidence? For reference let me give one of the accounts by a witness of the Fatima "miracle" from Richard Dawkins' essay, 'Unweaving The Rainbow':
"The rain ceased and the clouds seemed to part, revealing what one witness described as 'a disc with a sharp rim and clear edge, luminous and lucent, but not painful to the eyes.' Its color was 'as changeable as the luster of a pearl.' The 'sun' then began to spin on its axis like a pinwheel. As it whirled, streamers of light came from its rim and flashed across the sky, coloring the landscape and faces of the spectators with a variety of constantly changing colors.
After about four minutes, the 'sun' stopped spinning. Then, after a
brief rest, it resumed its spinning and its fantastic display of varicolored light. Again, it stopped, and then resumed spinning for a third time, again throwing off light of different colors. Then, retaining its rotary motion, this 'sun' departed from its position and boldly advanced on the earth, threatening to squash the people with its huge and fiery mass.
As the heat increased, the crowd began to pray. Just as it seemed that the orb was about to crash into the crowd, the disc retreated into the sky.