Recently I monitored one conversation and was engaged in another where the term “anti-supernatural bias” came up. It generally works as follows:
Christian: Here is a whole bunch of evidence for a miracle.
Non-theist: I am not convinced because of this, that, these and those.
Christian: You don’t believe because you have anti-supernatural bias.
(You can see its use here, here, and here at other popular Christian apologetic sites.)
This comes across as a whiney excuse for either lack of evidence, lack of persuasion or both.
Look, here is a simple fact in life. I don’t care what you believe—there is a person who holds a dissimilar position. Whether the field is politics, or economics or medicine or theism or food or countless other areas; there is a person who has “anti-your-position bias.” They believe differently than you. While sometimes it may be an area they haven’t investigated; other times the person has investigated as well as (and maybe more completely) than you and came to a contrasting conclusion.
I couldn’t imagine complaining to an opposing counsel, “Aw…you have a bias toward interpreting the facts favorably for your client and against my position.” Really? That would come as a surprise to…anyone? My job—my obligation—is to present the facts, evidence and argument so strongly to opposing counsel they recognize the danger of going forward and therefore become motivated to settle.
Or imagine a political debate where each side grouses how the other side has “anti-me” bias! We want to hear facts; we want argument. We don’t want to hear how the Republican candidate has “anti-Democrat” bias…I think we already know that! Let’s move on; let’s see the strength of the arguments!
Secondly, I am an atheist and a naturalist. Telling me I have a bias for natural explanations is about as informative as telling a bachelor they aren’t married. Kinda goes with the term “bachelor.” The reason I AM an atheist is for the lack of evidence of a God. The reason I AM a naturalist is because of the lack of evidence for the supernatural. If I thought the evidence sustained for supernatural intervention—I wouldn’t be an atheist! Telling me I have such a bias is patently ridiculous in light of my atheism.
Guess what? I have anti-alien bias. And anti-astrology bias. And anti-crystals-heal bias, anti-yeti bias, and anti-9/11-conspiracy bias. Why? Because I am not persuaded aliens, astrology, healing crystals, yetis and 9/11 conspiracy theories exist. If you want to remove my bias—give me convincing proof on these things.
If you want me to get over my “anti-supernatural bias”—present sustaining proof. Yes, it may be the proof does not persuade me, but persuades others. Perhaps I am blinded by my secret desire to snort cocaine off a prostitute’s butt. Live with it. Because when you retreat to “you atheists have anti-supernatural bias” it comes across as if even you don’t think the evidence is persuasive enough unless you already believe in the supernatural.
Further, having “supernatural bias” isn’t even enough. Protestants are not convinced of Catholic miracles (Fatima), even though Protestants certainly believe in the supernatural. Christians are not convinced of Hindu miracles, even though Christians believe in the supernatural. Jews aren’t persuaded by Christian claims; Christians by Muslim claims; even Christians question other Christian claims. See, it isn’t just bias against supernatural; the apologist is bemoaning the other person’s anti-apologist’s supernatural bias. They can’t even convince others who already believe a God interacts—why would they be surprised they can’t convince me with the same evidence I’ve heard before?
It sounds as if the person is saying, “No fair, no fair, no fair, no fair! If you don’t already believe supernatural interaction occurs exactly how I say it must occur—I can’t convince you with the paltry evidence and measly arguments at my disposal.” Doesn’t say much for the evidence, eh?
Lose the whine. Give it your best shot with the evidence and arguments you have, and if they aren’t persuasive...live with it. Whimpering about the other person’s bias makes you sound like your God didn't give you enough to work with.