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Loch Ness Monster – A picture of Nessie? Well, yes and no… Heritage & Culture – Loch Ness Monster – A picture of Nessie? Well, yes and no…: “AFTER decades of blurred photographs, snatches of wobbly cine-camera film and centuries of myth, tourists cruising Loch Ness aboard the Royal Scot could scarcely believe their eyes when a 16ft plesiosaurus reared out of the water in front of them.”This is an amazing story. It is not what you think. . .but more about what counts as knowledge in our culture.This is a sophisticated assault on common sense and the belief in eye witness testimony in the case of the extraordinary.Are people supposed to doubt their own eyes because they “know” (on authority?) that science has shown that there is no monster in Loch Ness?Good question. The evidence against Nessie is pretty great. The chance of a hoax in the Loch is also great given past experience. It seems, therefore, that there is good reason for not thinking an eye witness account is good enough.The danger is when people move from this to dismiss all miracles or eye witness accounts of the extraordinary. There are some circumstances under which a theist expects a miracle (given her world view) and where an eye witness report of that miracle (where there is no reason to anticipate fraud) is good enough to adopt belief in a miracle. The reason believing in Nessie just based on this “sighting” is not rational is that many frauds of exactly this sort (though not as sophisticated) have been practiced in the past. In the case of a family member dying of a disease and answered prayer, where is no reason or motive to suspect fraud, an theist would be in her rights to see a “healing.” Are miracles extraordinary? I think not, if by extraordinary one means “rare.” Yes, if one means “out of the normal course of nature.” Common sense answers are usually right. . . and your eyes do not usually deceive. For some reason, some in our culture are intent on making people place the burden of proof on the obvious and not the less obvious.

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