Long, long ago in a land far, far away there were two friends named Matt and Theo. One day while hiking through the forest they happened upon a clearing. In that clearing, to their utter amazement, was a shiny red machine, which we moderns would know as a corvette.
Upon inspection Theo's reaction was to appeal to some sort of magic to explain the machine. Matt, however, held out for a further look and managed to find and work the door handle. Viola! It had seats in there! It must be a carriage of some sort. Matt then proceeded to discover the key and started it up. He discovered the pedals, the steering wheel, the gearshift: soon he could drive it!
Matt's confidence grew even while Theo invoked sorcery to explain each feature and effect. Matt even found the hood and began to unravel something of the workings of the engine. Theo was mystified and skeptical at every turn that a mechanical explanation could be found. Matt spent the next week reverse-engineering the car. He was quite pleased with himself and equally annoyed with Theo.
By this time Theo's skepticism had lost all credibility — so much so that Matt failed to see the gravity of his final concern. Asked Theo, "By what natural means did such a finely crafted machine arrive here? Surely there must be some creator, beyond the simple means of this world, that brought it here." But Matt dismissively offered all kinds of explanations, from popping out of nothing, to growing from a heretofore unknown seed, to the forces of nature randomly forming it. In Theo's mind some of the explanations seemed no less objectionable than the sorcery that Matt was hoping to avoid.
In the end, Matt was completely unconcerned with the question. He had been so successful in explaining the magical workings of the corvette that his faith was strong that he should never have to appeal to sorcery or fairies. Surely there is some natural explanation out there, even if he never finds it. On the other hand, Theo is humbled by all the wondrous knowledge and possibilities opened up by Matt's investigation, but he can't help thinking that there's actually something to his last question.
I admit…upon reading it, I thought, “THAT is supposed to be an argument FOR theism?” Am I missing something here? Do you notice how many times Matt turned out to have the correct answer using his methodology? Every time! Do you notice how many times Theo turned out to have the correct answer using his method? Not once!
Is the theist arguing, “Gee, I have been wrong in every other instance in the past, but surely this time I have it right when faced with the same question, using the same method to find a solution”? Would you accept this concept in any other facet of your life?
Imagine going to a doctor who says, “I am not sure what you have. So I will prescribe Medicine Theos. Now, I should let you know, every single time in the past when faced with an unknown ailment, I prescribed Theos, and it later turned out Medicine Matt was the proper medicine. But this time I think I may have it right.”
I don’t know about you, but I would be saying, “How about we try Medicine Matt first!”
Or if your lawyer said, “Not sure how the judge will rule. I am going to try relying upon People v Theos. Now every time I have relied upon Theos the judge has told me I should have used People v Matt. But this time, maybe Theos will work.”
Would you have any confidence in such a lawyer?
Can anyone point out anywhere else in their life where using the same method, getting the same wrong answer, means the next time they use the same method, it will work?
I understand why the parable might work on a theist who already believes in a god (trying to convince them there is a god is like convincing me chocolate tastes good!) but how is this parable supposed to convince a non-theist? How is it supposed to generate any reliance on a method with such a poor track record?