It’s known as the Sagan standard and abbreviated ECREE. Carl Sagan, an American scientist, and agnostic, hosted the PBS program Cosmos in the 1980s. He said in the series, “I believe that the extraordinary should be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” He was talking about claims that aliens from space had visited Earth. But we can apply the principle to more than alien visitations.
The truth is that Sagan did not originate the ECREE concept. He just popularized it on television. The idea had been previously expressed many times by others. Even Thomas Jefferson described it in a letter he wrote in 1808 about the existence of meteorites, but he was much more wordy. (He used about three dozen words instead of Sagan’s five.)
What does the Sagan ECREE standard mean? It tells us that when we make an extraordinary claim, we must back it up with extraordinary evidence. How about the extraordinary secularist claim that everything we see came from nothing by means of nothing? If matter, energy, time, and space all originated at the “big bang,” and nothing existed before that, where is the extraordinary evidence to back up that claim? Could an eternal God existing outside of time and space be a better explanation for the universe?
If one claims that life originated from non-living chemicals without intelligent guidance, what is the extraordinary evidence for that? Even if science succeeds in creating life from non-living chemicals in the laboratory (and they are far from doing that), it would merely prove that intelligence can create life from non-life. That is what the Bible has said for thousands of years.
Once life got its start, what is the evidence that it evolved from species to species until it reached homo sapiens? We don’t see any extraordinary experimental or fossil record evidence of that either. To prove that natural selection acting on random mutations could accomplish a task that defies the second law of thermodynamics requires extraordinary evidence, which we don’t have.
We agree with the Sagan standard that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (ECREE). The question is, does all that we see in the universe and on our planet give extraordinary evidence of unguided random chance or design by an intelligent Creator?
— Roland Earnst © 2023