As a puppy, she chewed shoes. Many shoes. She especially liked strappy sandals that she gripped and tossed around like vanquished prey.
Now that she’s older she doesn’t chew shoes, but she knows how to use them. When we leave her alone in the house for a time that she believes to be a little too long, she goes to the front door, picks up a shoe, carries it into the family room and leaves it in the middle of the floor as a sign. “I didn’t chew the shoe,” she says. “But I could have if you had pushed me even a little bit farther.” Without saying a word, she talks to me.
At least, I think that’s what happens.
I have no scientific evidence to prove that Sasha is the force that moves the shoe from the door to the family room. But it seems a reasonable conclusion.
I have no scientific evidence to prove that Sasha’s intention is to remind me to keep my outings short and sweet. But it seems a reasonable conclusion.
On hearing this story, people smile and acknowledge that Sasha is, in fact, a very cute and clever dog. They would be unlikely to challenge my conclusions—conclusions based on no scientific proof whatsoever.
Filling in the gaps
The wonder of natural selection means that our brains have evolved to fill in the gaps when there’s an absence of measurable evidence. We have to in order to function in our world and preserve our species. There are just so darned many gaps in measurable evidence that without that ability, we would flounder.
This leads to friction between people of faith and scientific materialists. At what point does a conclusion drawn in the absence of evidence become unreasonable?
There doesn’t seem to be a clear place to draw that line.
A man is out of work and getting desperate. Just when he thinks he may have to declare bankruptcy he meets an old friend who offers him the perfect job. The man believes that his coincidental meeting with the friend was no coincidence—reasonable or unreasonable?
A tree fell in the forest when no one was around, and I believe it made a sound—reasonable or unreasonable?
Someone sees an image of the Virgin Mary in their toast—reasonable or unreasonable?
My dog puts a shoe in the middle of the floor and I conclude that she can talk—reasonable or unreasonable?