Evidence for the Resurrection: Why reasonable people might differ, and why believers aren’t crazy

Easter is approaching, but skeptic John Loftus doesn’t believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. What’s more, he thinks you’re delusional if you do. I happen to believe in the Resurrection, but I freely admit that I might be mistaken. I think Loftus is wrong, and his case against the Resurrection is statistically flawed; however, I don’t think he’s delusional. In today’s post, I’d like to summarize the key issues at stake here, before going on to explain why I think reasonable people might disagree on the weight of the evidence for the Resurrection.

The following quotes convey the tenor of Loftus’ views on the evidence for the Resurrection:

What we have at best are second-hand testimonies filtered through the gospel writers. With the possible exception of Paul who claimed to have experienced the resurrected Jesus in what is surely a visionary experience (so we read in Acts 26:19, cf. II Cor. 12:1-6; Rev. 1:10-3:21–although he didn’t actually see Jesus, Acts 9:4-8; 22:7-11; 26:13-14), everything we’re told comes from someone who was not an eyewitness. This is hearsay evidence, at best. [Here.]

The Jews of Jesus’ day believed in Yahweh and that he does miracles, and they knew their Old Testament prophecies, and yet the overwhelming numbers of them did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead by Yahweh. So Christianity didn’t take root in the Jewish homeland but had to reach out to the Greco-Roman world for converts. Why should we believe if they were there and didn’t? [Here.]

…[F]or [Christian apologist Mike] Licona to think he can defend the resurrection of Jesus historically is delusional on a grand scale.[Here.]

My natural explanation is that the early disciples were visionaries, that is, they believed God was speaking to them in dreams, trances, and thoughts that burst into their heads throughout the day. Having their hopes utterly dashed upon the crucifixion of Jesus they began having visions that Jesus arose from the dead. [Here.]

My natural explanation [additionally] requires … one liar for Jesus, and I think this liar is the author of Mark, the first gospel. He invented the empty tomb sequence. That’s it. [Here.]

Loftus is not a dogmatic skeptic; he allows that he can imagine evidence which would convince him that Christianity is true. However, it is his contention that the evidence of the New Testament falls far short of this standard. The problem, to put it briefly, is that evidence for the authenticity of a second-hand report of a miracle does not constitute evidence that the miraculous event described in the report actually occurred. This evidential gap is known as Lessing’s ugly broad ditch, after the 18th century German critic, Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781), who first pointed it out.

In this post, I will not be attempting to demonstrate that the Resurrection actually occurred. Rather, my aim will be to outline the process of reasoning whereby someone might conclude that it probably occurred, while acknowledging that he/she may be wrong. I’ll also endeavor to explain how another person, following the same procedure as the tentative believer, might arrive at a contrary conclusion, which would make it irrational for him/her to espouse a belief in the Resurrection.

The key facts required to establish the Resurrection

Before I begin, I’m going to make a short list of key facts, whose truth needs to be established by anyone mounting a serious case for the Resurrection.

Key facts:
1. The man known as Jesus Christ was a real person, who lived in 1st-century Palestine.
2. Jesus was crucified and died.
3. Jesus’ disciples collectively saw a non-ghostly apparition of Jesus, after his death.
N.B. By a “non-ghostly” apparition, I mean: a multi-sensory [i.e. visual, auditory and possibly tactile] apparition, which led the disciples to believe Jesus was alive again. I don’t mean that Jesus necessarily ate fish, or had a gaping hole in his side: many Biblical scholars now think that these details may have been added to the Gospels of Luke and John for polemical reasons. Are they right? I don’t know.

Readers will note that none of the key facts listed above makes any mention of the empty tomb. My reason for this omission is that St. Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15, which is the only eyewitness report, makes no explicit mention of Jesus’ empty tomb, although it seems to imply this fact when it says that Jesus was buried and raised. I won’t be relying on the Gospel accounts here, as they are probably not eyewitness accounts: most scholars date them to between 70 and 110 A.D. By the same token, I won’t be relying on the accounts of St. Paul’s encounter with Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles, which some scholars date as late as 110-140 A.D. St. Paul simply says of his experience: “last of all he appeared to me also.” That makes him an eyewitness.

It will be apparent to readers who are familiar with debates regarding the resurrection that my list of “key facts” is more modest than Dr. Willam Lane Craig’s list of minimal facts which he frequently invokes when he is debating the subject. Craig assumes that Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea, and that the following Sunday, his tomb was found empty by a group of women followers of Jesus. I make neither of these assumptions, although I happen to think he is right on both. For those who are inclined to doubt, Dr. Craig’s article, The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus, is well worth reading.

Two types of skepticism

I propose to distinguish between two kinds of skepticism: Type A and Type B. Type A skepticism casts doubt on people’s claims to have had an extraordinary experience, while Type B skepticism questions whether a miraculous explanation of this extraordinary experience is the best one. In the case of the Resurrection, Type A skepticism seeks to undermine one or more of the key facts listed above, whereas Type B skepticism doesn’t question the key facts, but looks for a non-miraculous explanation of those key facts.

Carl Sagan’s maxim that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs” is often quoted when the subject of miracles comes up. But we must be careful not to confuse extraordinary claims with extraordinary experiences: the former relate to objectively real occurrences, while the latter relate to subjective experiences. There is nothing improbable about someone’s having an extraordinary experience. People have bizarre experiences quite often: most of us have had one, or know someone who has had one. However, extraordinary occurrences are by definition rare: their prior probability is very, very low.

The distinction I have made above is a vital one. The key facts listed above imply that Jesus’ disciples had an extraordinary experience, but as we’ve seen, there’s nothing improbable about that.

On the other hand, the prior probability of an actual extraordinary occurrence (such as the Resurrection) is extremely low. So even if we can show that Jesus’ disciples had an extraordinary experience which persuaded them that he had risen again, one still needs to show that the posterior probability of all proposed non-miraculous explanations of this experience is less than the posterior probability of a miracle, given this extraordinary experience, before one is permitted to conclude that the miraculous explanation is warranted. And even then, one is still not home free, because it makes no sense to posit a miracle unless one has independent grounds for believing that there is a God, or at the very least, that there is a small but significant likelihood that God exists.

To sum up, in order for belief in Jesus’ Resurrection to be reasonable, what one has to show is that:
(i) the total probability of the various Type A skeptical explanations listed below is less than 50%; and
(ii) given the key facts listed above, and given also that there is a reasonable likelihood that a supernatural Deity exists Who is at least able to resurrect a dead human being, if He chooses to do so, then the total [posterior] probability of the various Type B skeptical explanations listed below is far less than the posterior probability that Jesus was miraculously raised.

What’s wrong with Loftus’ argument, in a nutshell

Basically, there are two errors in John Loftus’ case against the Resurrection: first, he overlooks the fact that the probabilities of the various Type B skeptical explanations are posterior probabilities, rather than prior probabilities; and second, he thinks that because the prior probability of a resurrection is very small, any Type A skeptical explanation whose prior probability is greater than that of the Resurrection of Jesus is a more likely explanation of whatever took place. The following excerpt from a 2012 post by Loftus illustrates these errors (emphases mine – VJT):

In what follows I’ll offer a very brief natural explanation of the claim that Jesus resurrected. Compare it with the claim he physically arose from the dead. You cannot say my natural explanation lacks plausibility because I already admit that it does. As I said, incredible things happen all of the time. What you need to say is that my natural explanation is MORE implausible than the claim that Jesus physically arose from the dead, and you simply cannot do that.

As it happens, I’d estimate the probability of Loftus’ preferred explanation for the Resurrection of Jesus to be about 10%. That’s much higher than the prior probability that God would resurrect a man from the dead, even if you assume that there is a God. However, I also believe that there’s a 2/3 3/5 probability (roughly) that Jesus’ disciples had an experience of what they thought was the risen Jesus. If they had such an experience, and if there is a God Who is capable of raising the dead, then I think it’s easy to show that the posterior probability of the Resurrection, in the light of these facts, is very high.

Type A skeptical hypotheses regarding the Resurrection

The following is a fairly exhaustive list of skeptical hypotheses that might be forward, if one wishes to contest the “key facts” listed above.

1. Jesus didn’t exist: he was a fictional person.

2. Jesus existed, but he didn’t die on the cross: either (i) he fell into a swoon on the cross, or (ii) it was actually a look-alike who was crucified in his place.

3(a) The fraud hypothesis: Jesus’ disciples didn’t really see an apparition of Jesus; their story that they had seen him was a total lie. For thirty years, they got away with their lie and attracted quite a following, prior to their execution during the reign of the Emperor Nero. (James the Apostle died somewhat earlier, in 44 A.D.)

3(b) Jesus’ disciples saw what they thought was Jesus’ ghost, but much later on, Christians claimed that the disciples had actually seen (and touched) Jesus’ risen body – either (i) because of deliberate fraud on the part of some individual (possibly St. Mark, in John Loftus’ opinion) who first spread the story of an empty tomb, or (ii) because Jesus’ body had already been stolen by persons unknown, which led Christians to believe Jesus’ body had been raised, or (iii) because the body had disappeared as a result of some natural event (e.g. a local earthquake that swallowed it up), or (iv) because a later generation of Christians (living after the fall of Jerusalem) was no longer able to locate Jesus’ body (or his tomb), which led them to speculate that Jesus had in fact been resurrected from the dead.

3(c) Jesus’ disciples initially thought they had seen Jesus’ ghost, but shortly afterwards, they came to believe that what they had seen was a non-ghostly apparition of Jesus’ resurrected body – either (i) because of the unexpected discovery that Jesus’ tomb was empty or (ii) because of the mis-identification of Jesus’ tomb with another empty tomb nearby.

3(d) Jesus’ disciples experienced individual (rather than collective) non-ghostly apparitions of Jesus, on separate occasions, which convinced each of them that he had risen, and which made them willing to be martyred for their faith in that fact.

[UPDATE: New hypothesis added.]

3(e) Jesus’ disciples experienced a collective non-ghostly apparition of Jesus, which they all saw, but only one of the disciples (probably Peter) actually heard the voice of Jesus. It may have been because Peter was able to talk to Jesus that they were convinced that he was not a ghost; alternatively, it may have been because Jesus was not only visible and audible (to Peter) but also radiant in appearance that the apostles concluded he had risen from the dead.

Type B skeptical hypotheses

Supposing that one grants the key facts listed above, I can think of only two skeptical hypotheses by which one might seek to explain away the disciples’ non-ghostly post-mortem apparition of Jesus, without having recourse to a miracle. Either it was a purely subjective experience (i.e. a collective hallucination), or it was an illusion, created by mind control techniques.

4. Jesus’ disciples had an apparition of Jesus after his death which was so vivid that they came to believe that what they had seen was no ghost, but a resurrected human being. In reality, however, their experience was a collective hallucination, caused by either (i) the grief they were experiencing in the wake of Jesus’ death or (ii) Jesus hypnotizing them before he died and implanting the idea that he would rise on the third day.

5. Jesus’ disciples had a collective non-ghostly apparition of Jesus after his death, but in reality, either (i) aliens or (ii) supernatural beings (demons) were controlling their minds and making them see things that weren’t objectively real.

The Resurrection: Varieties of skepticism

Broadly speaking, there are resurrection-skeptics who believe in a God Who is capable of working miracles, and then there are resurrection-skeptics who have no particular religious beliefs.

Resurrection-skeptics who believe in a God Who can work miracles disagree with the claim that the total probability of the various Type A skeptical explanations listed above is less than 50%. For their part, Jews have traditionally favored explanation 3(a) [fraud], while Muslims favor explanation 2(ii) [a look-alike died in Jesus’ place]. Personally, I find the Muslim explanation wildly implausible: try as I might, I simply cannot imagine anyone volunteering to die in Jesus’ place, and managing to fool the Romans, the Jews, and (presumably) Jesus’ family and friends into believing that he was Jesus. The mind boggles. The fraud hypothesis was put forward by the Jews back in the first century. In the second century, St. Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (c. 160 A.D.) records a Jewish skeptic asserting that Jesus’ disciples “stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven” (chapter 108). I have to say that I regard this explanation as a much more sensible one. If I had nothing but the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection available to me, I might be persuaded by it, but for my part, I find it impossible to read the letters of St. Paul to the Corinthians without becoming convinced of their author’s obvious sincerity. The man wasn’t lying when he said that Jesus appeared to him.

Non-religious skeptics who deny the Resurrection fall into different categories: there are both Type A skeptics and Type B skeptics. Among the Type A skeptics, there are a few Jesus-mythers (G.A. Wells, Earl Doherty, Robert Price, Richard Carrier) favor hypothesis 1, while swoon-theorists such as Barbara Thiering and the authors of the best-seller, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, favor hypothesis 2(i). However, most skeptics tend to either favor the Type A hypothesis 3(b) [the disciples saw a ghostly apparition; later Christians made up the resurrection – this is Loftus’ proposal] or the Type B hypothesis 4 [Jesus’ disciples had a collective hallucination, which was so vivid that it caused them to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead]. Hypothesis 3(c) has few proponents, and I don’t know anyone who advocates hypotheses 3(d) or 5.

My personal evaluation of skeptical explanations for the Resurrection

Reasonable people may disagree in their estimates of the probabilities for the various skeptical hypotheses listed above. However, my own estimates of the probabilities of these hypotheses are as follows:

Type A skeptical hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1 – Jesus never existed. Probability: 1%.
Pro: There’s no contemporaneous pagan or Jewish attestation for the amazing miracles Jesus supposedly worked (healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the 5,000), which is puzzling. Also, certain aspects of Jesus’ life (e.g. the virgin birth, dying & rising again) are said to have mythological parallels.
Con: No reputable New Testament historian doubts the existence of Jesus. Professor Graeme Clarke of the Australian National University has publicly declared: “Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ – the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming.” Indeed, there is pretty good attestation for Jesus’ existence from Josephus (Antiquities, book XX) and Tacitus. Miracle-workers were a dime a dozen in the Roman Empire; one living in far-away Palestine wouldn’t have attracted any comment. The mythological parallels with Jesus’ life are grossly exaggerated. In any case, the question of whether Jesus existed and whether most of the stories about him are true are distinct questions. Perhaps there was a small kernel of truth behind the stories: Jesus healed some sick people.

Hypothesis 2 – Jesus didn’t actually die from crucifixion. Either (i) he fell into a swoon on the cross, or (ii) a look-alike was crucified in his place. Probability: 1%.
Pro: (i) Some individuals were known to survive as long as three days on the cross. Jesus’ death after just a few hours sounds suspicious. (ii) Some of Jesus’ disciples appear not to have recognized him, when they saw him after he was supposedly crucified.
Con: (i) Jesus was flogged, and pierced in the side, if we can believe St. John’s account. That would have hastened his death. But even if Jesus had survived crucifixion, he would have been severely weakened by the experience, and his subsequent apparition to his disciples would have alarmed rather than energized them. (ii) What sane person would volunteer to take Jesus’ place on the cross? Also, wouldn’t someone standing by the foot of the cross have noticed that it wasn’t Jesus hanging on the cross? Finally, the appearance of a risen Jesus who didn’t bear any of the marks of crucifixion would surely have made the disciples wonder if he really was the same person as the man who died on the cross.

Hypothesis 3(a) – fraud. Probability: 10%.
Pro: The perils of being a Christian apostle in the first century have been greatly exaggerated. The apostles Peter and Paul, and James brother of the Lord, lived for 30 years before being martyred, and even the apostle James lived for 11 years. During that time, the apostles would have been highly respected figures. Maybe they were motivated by a desire for fame and/or money. And maybe the apostles were killed for political rather than religious reasons, or for religious reasons that were not specifically related to their having seen the risen Jesus. We don’t know for sure that they were martyred for their belief in Jesus’ Resurrection.
Con: The fact remains that some apostles were put to death, and as far as we can tell it was for their testimony to the Resurrection. St. Clement of Rome, in his (first and only) Epistle to the Corinthians (Chapter 5), written c. 80–98, reminds his readers of Saints Peter and Paul’s martyrdom: “Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most just pillars of the Church were persecuted, and came even unto death. Let us place before our eyes the good Apostles. Peter, through unjust envy, endured not one or two but many labours, and at last, having delivered his testimony, departed unto the place of glory due to him. Through envy Paul, too, showed by example the prize that is given to patience: seven times was he cast into chains; he was banished; he was stoned; having become a herald, both in the East and in the West, he obtained the noble renown due to his faith; and having preached righteousness to the whole world, and having come to the extremity of the West, and having borne witness before rulers, he departed at length out of the world, and went to the holy place, having become the greatest example of patience.” Additionally, there is no doubting St. Paul’s obvious sincerity when he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

There is little doubt among scholars that Paul is the author of this letter.

Hypothesis 3(b) – the disciples saw what they thought was Jesus’ ghost. Probability: 10%.
Pro: St. Paul writes that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” and it seems that his own experience of Jesus was just a vision. He never claims to have touched Jesus.
Con: St. Paul speaks of Jesus as the first person to be raised from the dead: he is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” If being raised simply means “being seen in a vision after one’s death,” this would make no sense. Post-mortem visions were common in the ancient world. Jesus wasn’t the first to be seen in this way. Nor would it account for St. Paul’s assertion that the resurrection of other human beings would not take place until the end of the world – “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” If a post-mortem appearance by a ghost counts as a resurrection, then many people are raised shortly after their death, and will not have to wait until the Last Day.

Hypothesis 3(c) – the discovery of the empty tomb tricked the disciples into thinking their visions of Jesus’ ghost were really visions of a resurrected Jesus. Probability: 10-15%.
Pro: It’s easy to imagine that people who’d had a post-mortem vision of Jesus might think it was something more than that, if they subsequently found his tomb empty. They might think he really had risen from the dead, after all.
Con: Despite its ingenuity, this hypothesis is at odds with all of the accounts of the Resurrection. In the Gospel narratives, the discovery of the empty tomb occurs before the appearances of Jesus, while in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, there’s no explicit mention of the tomb being found empty, and no suggestion that its discovery led to a belief in the Resurrection.

Hypothesis 3(d) – the disciples saw the risen Jesus individually, but never collectively. Probability: 3%.
Pro: It’s easy to imagine that over the course of time, the apostles’ individual post-mortem apparitions of Jesus were conflated into one big apparition, especially when many of them were being martyred for their faith in the Resurrection.
Con: The hypothesis assumes that the apostles (including St. Paul) were passionately sincere about their belief that Jesus had appeared to each of them, but that during their lifetimes, they did nothing to stop a lie being propagated: that they had seen him together. St. Paul himself propagates this statement in 1 Corinthians 15 when he says that Jesus appeared “to the Twelve”: are we to presume he was lying?

[UPDATE]

Hypothesis 3(e) – the disciples saw the risen Jesus collectively, but only Peter [and maybe James] were able to talk to Jesus and hear him speak. That may have been what convinced the others that Jesus was not a ghost; alternatively, it may have been because Jesus looked radiant. Probability: 10%.
Pro: There have been apparitions in which all of the seers experienced a vision, but only one seer was able to talk to the person seen – e.g. Fatima, where only Lucia was able to talk to Our Lady. (Jacinta heard her, while Francisco saw her but did not hear her, and did not see her lips move.) The hypothesis would also explain the pre-eminence of Peter [and James] in the early Church, since those who could actually hear the risen Jesus’ message would have been accorded special status.
Con: Seeing and hearing alone would not make a vision non-ghostly. Think of the Biblical story of Saul and the witch of Endor. The ghostly apparition frightened the witch, and even though Saul was able to communicate with the spirit of Samuel, that did not stop him from thinking it was a ghost. Appearing radiant doesn’t seem to have been enough either; in the Biblical story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9) it is interesting to note that even though Moses and Elijah were visible, radiant and heard conversing with Jesus, the apostles did not conclude that Moses and Elijah were risen from the dead. On the contrary, the early Christians expressly affirmed that Jesus was the first individual to have risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). [Please note that it does not matter for our purposes if the Transfiguration actually occurred; what matters is what the episode shows about Jewish belief in the resurrection in the 1st century A.D. Evidently, being radiant, visible and audible did not equate to being resurrected.] Finally, it is worth pointing out that St. Paul also claimed to have spoken to the risen Jesus – see Galatians 1:12, 2:2.

Total probability of Type A skeptical hypotheses: 35-40%. 45-50%.

Type B skeptical hypotheses:

Let me begin by saying that if one has prior reasons for believing that the existence of God is astronomically unlikely, then the evidence for the Resurrection won’t be powerful enough to overcome that degree of skepticism. (John Loftus is one such skeptic.) If, on the other hand, one believes that the existence of God is likely (as I do), or even rather unlikely but not astronomically unlikely (let’s say that there’s a one-in-a-million chance that God exists), then the arguments below will possess some evidential force. I have explained elsewhere why I believe that scientific knowledge presupposes the existence of God, so I won’t say anything more about the subject here. I would also like to commend, in passing, Professor Paul Herrick’s 2009 essay, Job Opening: Creator of the Universe—A Reply to Keith Parsons.

Hypothesis 4 – collective hallucination. Posterior Probability: Astronomically low (less than 10^-33).
Pro: Collective visions have been known to occur in which the seers claim to have seen and heard much the same thing (e.g. the Catholic visions at Fatima and Medjugorje). And if we look at the history of Mormonism, we find that three witnesses testified that they had seen an angel hand Joseph Smith some golden plates.
Con: There has been no authenticated psychological study of a collective vision where the seers all saw and heard pretty much the same thing. It stands to reason that after having had the experience of seeing Jesus alive again after his death, the apostles would have cross-checked their reports, to see if they were in agreement about what they saw, before accepting the veracity of such an extraordinary miracle as a resurrection from the dead. If we very generously calculate the odds of one of Jesus’ apostles having a non-ghostly apparition of Jesus on some occasion as 10^-3, the odds of all eleven of them (Judas was dead) seeing and hearing substantially the same thing at the same time are: (10^-3)^11, or 10^-33. [See here for a more detailed explanation by Drs. Tim and Lydia McGrew.] And for a longer message delivered by the risen Jesus, (10^-3)^11 would be far too generous.
Re Catholic visions: it turns out that the Medjugorje seers didn’t all hear the same thing: they got different messages. Additionally, there is good reason to suppose that they were lying, on at least some occasions (see also here). The Fatima seers, on the other hand, were undoubtedly sincere, but only two of them heard Our Lady and saw her lips move; the other visionary, Francisco, didn’t hear her and didn’t see her lips move. Of the two seers who heard Our Lady, Jacinta never spoke to her and was never directly addressed by Our Lady; only Lucia spoke to Our Lady. The parallel with the Resurrection is therefore a poor one. [See also my post, Fatima: miracle, meteorological effect, UFO, optical illusion or mass hallucination?]
Re Mormon visions: each of the three witnesses who saw the angel hand Smith the golden plates had experienced visions on previous occasions. Also, the angel who handed Smith the plates did not speak, whereas Jesus’ disciples spoke with him on multiple occasions. Not a very good parallel.

Hypothesis 5 – alien or demonic mind control. Posterior Probability: Far less likely than the Resurrection.
Pro: An advanced race of aliens could easily trick us into believing in a resurrection-style miracle, if they wanted to. And if demons are real, then they could, too.
Con: The key word here is “if.” While this hypothesis is possible, we have absolutely no reason to believe that aliens or demons would bother to trick people in this way. The straightforward interpretation of the events – namely, that they actually happened – is far more likely.

That leaves us with the hypothesis of a miracle.

Resurrection hypothesis – Jesus was miraculously raised from the dead. Posterior Probability: Well in excess of 10^-11. Arguably close to 1.
Rationale: The number of human individuals who have ever lived is around 10^11, and well over 90% of these have lived during the past 2,000 years. Given the existence of a supernatural Creator Who can raise the dead, then in the absence of any other information, the prior probability of any individual being raised from the dead is 1 in 10^11, by Laplace’s Sunrise argument. Given the evidence listed in the key facts above (a death, and a post-mortem apparition with many witnesses substantially agreeing about what they saw and heard), the posterior probability of a resurrection is much higher. But even if it were only 10^-11, that’s still much higher than 10^-33, as in hypothesis 4.

Conclusion

Since my estimate of the total probability of the various Type A skeptical explanations is less than 50%, and since the posterior probability of the Resurrection is much greater than that of the various Type B explanations, belief in the Resurrection is rational, from my perspective.

Based on the evidence, I estimate that there’s about a 60-65% 55-60% chance that Jesus rose from the dead. That means I accept that there’s a 35-40% 45-50% chance that my Christian faith is wrong.

However, I can understand why someone might rate the probabilities of hypotheses 3(a), 3(b) and 3(c) at 20% each, instead of 10%. For such a person, belief in the Resurrection would be irrational, since the total probability of the Type A skeptical hypotheses would exceed 50%.

Summing up: a strong case can be made for the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection. However, a responsible historian would not be justified in asserting that Jesus’ Resurrection is historically certain. As we’ve seen, such a conclusion depends, at the very least, on the claim that there is a significant likelihood that there exists a supernatural Being Who is capable of working miracles, which is something the historian cannot prove. In addition, estimates of the probabilities of rival hypotheses will vary from person to person, and there seems to be no way of deciding whose estimate is the most rational one.

What do readers think? How would you estimate the likelihood of the Resurrection?

Recommended Reading

“Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?” Online debate: Jonathan McLatchie (a Christian apologist) vs Michael Alter (an Orthodox Jew. Originally aired on the show, Unbelievable, hosted by Justin Brierley, on March 26th 2016.
The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry by Michael Alter. Xlibris, 2015. Meticulously researched, by all accounts. (I haven’t read it yet.) Probably the best skeptical book on the Resurrection available.
The Resurrection of Jesus by Dr. William Lane Craig.
The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus by Dr. William Lane Craig.
The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth by Drs. Tim and Lydia McGrew.
The odds form of Bayes’s Theorem [Updated] by Dr. Lydia McGrew. Extra Thoughts, January 6, 2011.
My Rebuttal to the McGrews – Rewritten by Jeffrey Amos Heavener. May 13, 2011.
Alternate Critical Theories to the Resurrection by Dr. John Weldon. The John Ankerberg Show, 2004.
Origen, Contra Celsum, Book II. Chapters 57-70 provide an excellent historical summary of pagan arguments against the Resurrection of Jesus in the late second century, and Origen’s rebuttal of those arguments in the mid-third century.
Good and bad skepticism: Carl Sagan on extraordinary claims by Vincent Torley. Uncommon Descent post, March 15, 2015.
Cavin and Colombetti, miracle-debunkers, or: Can a Transcendent Designer manipulate the cosmos? by Vincent Torley. Uncommon Descent post, December 1, 2013.
Hyper-skepticism and “My way or the highway”: Feser’s extraordinary post by Vincent Torley. Uncommon Descent post, July 29, 2014.
Is the Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Better Than Mohammed’s Miracles? by John Loftus. Debunking Christianity, March 6, 2012.
Oprah Winfrey’s Half-Sister and The Odds of The Resurrection of Jesus by John Loftus. Debunking Christianity, January 21, 2012.
A New Explanation of the Resurrection of Jesus: The Result of Mourning by Gerd Lüdemann, Emeritus Professor of the History and Literature of Early Christianity, Georg-August-University of Göttingen. April 2012.
Michael Licona’s Book is Delusional on a Grand Scale by John Loftus. Debunking Christianity, July 22, 2011.
Dr. John Dickson To Me: “You are the ‘Donald Trump’ of pop-atheism” by John Loftus. Debunking Christianity, April 2, 2017.

1,009 thoughts on “Evidence for the Resurrection: Why reasonable people might differ, and why believers aren’t crazy

  1. Rumraket:
    That just makes it worse, because any idiot can just sit there and erect the opposite hypothesis:
    I could play the same game and just say: It is my hypothesis that it is either my own worldview or absurdity. And my own worldview cannot possibly be internally contradictory, and everyone else must prove to my satisfaction that not only does theirs not, that it also cannot even in principle.

    If that’s how he thinks, I’m not going to do the same thing, because it makes me sick even thinking about “reasoning” like that.

    Yes, I’m in complete agreement with you here. That’s why trying to argue with presuppositionalists is a fool’s errand.

  2. fifthmonarchyman: we all have blind spots. The only way we could ever recognize them is………revelation

    peace

    Don’t you mean revelation based on your presupposition of the existence of a God with the logical ability and choice to reveal blind spots of other people in such a way that you can be logically certain even though you realize everything is based on a presupposition ?

  3. fifthmonarchyman: T
    By definition God can reveal so that I can know or knowledge is impossible.

    You keep claiming this, but never demonstrate that your conclusion follows.

    Further, you are ignoring all of the previous discussion where you admitted that you could be wrong about revelation. You could believe something is revelation when it is not and you could not believe a real revelation. Given that, it is clear that your god cannot reveal so that you can know it’s a true revelation. You simply aren’t the type of being that allows that to happen.

    Ignoring previous refutations of your claims is not intellectually honest.

  4. Patrick: You keep claiming this, but never demonstrate that your conclusion follows.

    Further, you are ignoring all of the previous discussion where you admitted that you could be wrong about revelation.You could believe something is revelation when it is not and you could not believe a real revelation.Given that, it is clear that your god cannot reveal so that you can know it’s a true revelation.You simply aren’t the type of being that allows that to happen.

    Ignoring previous refutations of your claims is not intellectually honest.

    Shouting into the wind

  5. newton:

    In all seriousness, of course it is a violation of the rules. I have made it clear, both here and in private communication to Lizzie, that the rule about assuming good faith cannot be unrestricted without handing full control of the site to people who are manifestly not participating in good faith. It should certainly be the default and initial assumption, and we should always be ready to re-extend it, but when people like FFM try to hide behind “presuppositions” it shouldn’t be against the rules to call them out on it.

    Perhaps since you feel this way and are unable to guano your own post which violates the rules as they are not as they shouldbe you should contact Neil or Alan and ask them to moderate your post and move it if they deem it as an violation. A level playing field

    Both Alan and Neil have Guano’d my comments before. I didn’t Guano it myself because I don’t think the rule is serving the goals of the site. If they other admins disagree with me, we’ll have to get a ruling from Lizzie.

  6. fifthmonarchyman:
    I agree that’s why God’s existence is a presupposition for me and not a claim

    In your case “presupposition” means “claim I cannot support but want desperately to be true.”

    Put up or shut up.

  7. Patrick: Perhaps since you feel this way and are unable to guano your own post which violates the rules as they are not as they shouldbe you should contact Neil or Alan and ask them to moderate your post and move it if they deem it as an violation. A level playing field

    Both Alan and Neil have Guano’d my comments before.I didn’t Guano it myself because I don’t think the rule is serving the goals of the site.If they other admins disagree with me, we’ll have to get a ruling from Lizzie.

    Still a pretty clear rule not to call someone a liar. The goals more ambiguous.

  8. Patrick: Further, you are ignoring all of the previous discussion where you admitted that you could be wrong about revelation.

    Yes again I’m not God. I’m fallible

    On the other hand By definition God can reveal stuff so that I can know it.Therefore since the Christian God exists knowledge is possible. And since I recognize that the Christian God exists there is justification for knowledge in my worldview.

    Whether there is justification for knowledge in your worldview is still an open question

    peace

  9. newton: Don’t you mean revelation based on your presupposition of the existence of a God with the logical ability and choice to reveal blind spots of other people in such a way that you can be logically certain even though you realize everything is based on a presupposition ?

    No revelation is based on God.
    He is Gödel’s axiom that is necessarily true and yet unprovable.

    peace

  10. Kantian Naturalist: This bit of reasoning turns on the premise that I am justified in asserting that I have knowledge only if I can eliminate the logical possibility that I do not.

    no you are still confusing singular knowledge and knowledge in general. Let me try again to explain to you

    You can be justified in asserting that you know X even if you don’t know how you know X.

    However if you want to claim that for some reason you have the ability to posses knowledge in general despite having no explanation of why or how that should ever be the case I am with in my epistemological rights to ask.——- “How do you know that?” ———-

    I’m not asking you to eliminate the logical possibility that you can be mistaken I’m asking you to give a justification for knowledge.

    I’m asking you to explain exactly why given your worldview you can have a realistic expectation of knowing at all.

    Get it?

    peace

  11. Alan Fox: No, it’s that you effectively accused him of lying. This is against the house rules.

    what?

    He said I made a bad analogy I asked him to support that claim. How is that effectively accusing him of lying?

    peace

  12. Rumraket: And when you and I have this conversation about my worldview, we are in effect testing your hypothesis, right?. If we fail to discover a contradiction, have we then falsified your hypothesis?

    We haven’t failed to discover a contradiction. We have discovered a huge contradiction that I keep pointing out, you are just unable or unwilling to acknowledge it.

    All I can get from you is acknowledgement that if there was a hidden contradiction you would have no good way of knowing it.

    That is enough for me to know that the hypothesis is not falsified

    peace

  13. fifthmonarchyman: He is Gödel’s axiom that is necessarily true and yet unprovable.

    It pains me to think that you don’t seem to realize that “Godel’s axiom is necessarily true and yet unprovable” is utter nonsense.

    Godel’s theorem has as its conclusion that any formal language sufficiently rich to capture the Peano axioms of arithmetic will necessarily contain statements that are true and unprovable within that system.

    Getting this stuff right is not hard, if one takes the time and actually cares about getting it right.

    fifthmonarchyman: Whether there is justification for knowledge in your worldview is still an open question

    I still don’t understand what this means.

    I don’t know what “justification for knowledge” means. I know what “knowledge” means, to some extent — I mean, there’s a lively debate about whether we need both justification and truth for knowledge, and there are also lively debates about how to think about justification and also about different theories of truth.

    Not that it matters, but in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a social externalist about justification (being justified is an intersubjective status constituted through involvement in social practices), a deflationist about the semantic concept of truth (“is true” is just a semantic device for keeping track of previous commitments and entitlements), and a neurophilosopher about the ‘correspondence’ dimension of truth (what used to be thought of as adaequatio rei et intellectus is better thought of as extended patterns of homomorphic mappings between action-guiding representations and the relevant affordances).

    I guess, maybe the question would be, what’s the basis of my views about justification and truth? Why do I accept the theories about justification and about truth that I do? What are the reasons for and against these positions about justification and truth?

    And for that matter, I still don’t understand what a “worldview” is. If a “worldview” is supposed to be some sort of unified, global systematic comprehension of all the things there are to be comprehended, internally consistent across all domains of application, then I don’t think that there are any such things as worldviews. I don’t think that’s how the mind actually understands anything.

    Rather, I think there’s very compelling evidence that something like ‘cognitive pluralism‘ is true: our understanding consists largely of domain-specific models, with little consistency internal to a model but lots of potential inconsistencies between models. Sometimes it’s necessary to resolve those inconsistencies (when they lead to incompatible actions, for example) but more often than not it’s easier to avoid them.

    All this is to say that I don’t think that I have a worldview and I’m not sure anyone does. So “how are things justified in your worldview?” is not a question that makes sense to me.

    Additionally, I have no idea what FMM thinks his “worldview” is. At times he’ll use “theism” so broadly as to include not only the polytheistic religions like those of ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica but also the animistic practices that hunter-gatherers have engaged in for hundreds of thousands of years, and which are perhaps older than Homo sapiens itself. At other times he’ll restrict himself to “Christianity”, and then at other times he’ll put the focus squarely on Calvinism.

  14. Kantian Naturalist: I guess, maybe the question would be, what’s the basis of my views about justification and truth? Why do I accept the theories about justification and about truth that I do? What are the reasons for and against these positions about justification and truth?

    Not exactly, I’m asking you to defend the claim that you can have a reasonable expectation of knowledge if the universe is as you claim it to be.

    Kantian Naturalist: Additionally, I have no idea what FMM thinks his “worldview” is

    My would view is Biblical Christianity. Full dead stop.

    I sometimes call myself a Calvinist because I think that Calvinism corresponds to what the Bible says and is therefore a more Biblical form of Christianity than Arminianism .

    Christianity can be seen as a subset of theism as apposed to Atheism.

    Theism includes any idea that god(s) exists. This category is very broad and includes the default beliefs of all most all humanity but is contrasted with the beliefs of most of the “skeptics” here

    hope that helps

    peace

  15. Kantian Naturalist: I think there’s very compelling evidence that something like ‘cognitive pluralism‘ is true

    How do you know this?

    forgive me if this sounds repetitive.

    What I want to know is how can you possibly know what is actually true given your world view.

    The best you can do as far as I can tell is say that it seems true to you.

    peace

  16. fifthmonarchyman: We haven’t failed to discover a contradiction. We have discovered a huge contradiction that I keep pointing out, you are just unable or unwilling to acknowledge it.

    Which contradiction?

    You keep saying this, but you quote nothing contradictory.

    All I can get from you is acknowledgement that if there was a hidden contradiction you would have no good way of knowing it.

    I actually did NOT say this at all.

    Please quote me directly.

    That is enough for me to know that the hypothesis is not falsified

    I notice that you elected to give this particular answer, instead of answering my many questions about what it would take to falsify your hypothesis. For example, how long do we have to keep going?

    Yes yes, I know that you’re now saying there’s a contradiction. You just never get around to pointing it out.

  17. Kantian Naturalist: Godel’s theorem has as its conclusion that any formal language sufficiently rich to capture the Peano axioms of arithmetic will necessarily contain statements that are true and unprovable within that system.

    Right, The system that I’m referring to is my worldview it is sufficiently rich to capture the Peano axioms of arithmetic and it contains one axiom.

    Kantian Naturalist: If a “worldview” is supposed to be some sort of unified, global systematic comprehension of all the things there are to be comprehended, internally consistent across all domains of application, then I don’t think that there are any such things as worldviews. I don’t think that’s how the mind actually understands anything.

    You think but you don’t know.

    Your idea that the mind does not understand in that way is part of your worldview. i.e. your global system for understanding all things

    peace

  18. Rumraket: Which contradiction?

    You keep saying this, but you quote nothing contradictory.

    It seems to you that I don’t quote something contradictory.
    You have already grated that “seems to Rumraket” does not necessarily correspond to what actually is.

    Rumraket: Please quote me directly.

    Just look for any time you say “I know” and then contrast it with the times you say that you could not know if the world is not like it seems to be and then don’t give a reason why the world should be like it seems to be.

    See basically our entire exchange on this thread

    Rumraket: For example, how long do we have to keep going?

    Just long enough for you to demonstrate that your worldview does not lead to absurdity.

    Keep in mind that I have already demonstrated that mine does not.

    peace

  19. fifthmonarchyman: what?

    He said I made a bad analogy I asked him to support that claim. How is that effectively accusing him of lying?

    peace

    Let me be of service:

    John Harshman: Let me note that I am not mocking and scorning god, as I don’t believe there is such a person.

    Fifth:
    Of course you are and of course you do

    Hope that helps

  20. fifthmonarchyman: what?

    He said I made a bad analogy I asked him to support that claim. How is that effectively accusing him of lying.

    My mistake, I linked to the wrong comment. I meant to the link to the comment where you said:

    [John Harshman:] Let me note that I am not mocking and scorning god, as I don’t believe there is such a person.

    Of course you are and of course you do.

    This, and I could find many other examples, breaks the rule that you must assume that people are making honest statements about themselves.

  21. @ FMM

    And I see you are still doing it. Please try and restrain yourself from stating that you know better than what other members are stating about their own thoughts.

  22. newton: Let me be of service:

    Oh, let me again point out that I’m not saying that he is intentionally lying. I’m saying that he is (perhaps subconsciously) suppressing the truth and therefore God has given him up to a αδοκιμον (unfit,worthless) mind.

    In other words he is being foolish

    peace

  23. fifthmonarchyman:
    No revelation is based on God.
    He is Gödel’s axiom that is necessarily true and yet unprovable.

    peace

    Your version of God is your presupposition , revelation therefore is based on a presupposition

  24. fifthmonarchyman,

    And still you continue. Please understand, this site has a rule that says we must assume that other members are posting in good faith. Also this site has a rule that we do not insult other members. This site also has a rule that we do not accuse other members of lying. Other than that, you are free to comment as you choose (within the law, of course).

  25. Alan Fox: Please try and restrain yourself from stating that you know better than what other members are stating about their own thoughts.

    What we know and what we think we know are not the same thing.

    I would never claim to know better what others think. I have no idea what is going on in other folks minds

    On the other hand If you claimed to not believe I exist while you are talking to me I would hope I could point out the apparent dis-junction between what you say and reality.

    I would hope this site would accommodate me expressing the obvious truth.

    peace

  26. fifthmonarchyman: I would hope this site would accommodate me expressing the obvious truth.

    Such a claim is unsupportable even by repetition. You express your beliefs and opinions. That’s fine. Don’t tell others what their views really are in the face of their express statements to the contrary. And this is straying into moderation territory. If you want to argue whether the rules are wrong or unfair, raise it in the moderation issues thread.

  27. fifthmonarchyman: fifthmonarchyman April 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm
    Rumraket: Which contradiction?

    You keep saying this, but you quote nothing contradictory.

    It seems to you that I don’t quote something contradictory.

    Yes, exactly. Then why the hell should I accept it to be otherwise?
    If, in fact, it seems to me that you don’t quote anything contradictory, then why should I believe that you do?

    Let me get this clear, are you actually claiming that there is a post you’ve made in this thread, where a contradiction between two beliefs I have, have been laid out explicitly by you, and that I somehow can’t see this post?

    Could you link that post for me?

    You have already grated that “seems to Rumraket” does not necessarily correspond to what actually is.

    Correct. But until I’m shown “what actually is” in a way so that I can see it, I’m not going to believe it. It would be ridiculous for me to just take your word for it. If the position was reversed, you would not just blindly accept it if I claimed that you’ve made a contradiction. So it would seem hypocritical to expect that of me.

    Rumraket: Please quote me directly.

    Just look for any time you say “I know” and then contrast it with the times you say that you could not know if the world is not like it seems to be

    That’s still not a contradiction. Remember how I defined knowledge?

    See basically our entire exchange on this thread

    I just did. I went back and read our exchange back when I first invited you to show the contradictions in my worldview. There’s still not been a contradiction laid bare.

    Too vague and childish of you to answer like that. You would only answer like that if you couldn’t meet my challenge. I think you’d be all too happy to point out a contradiction, if you could. Instead you wish to try to insinuate that because it is possible for me to have a belief that is mistaken, that means this is somehow a contradiction.

    I’m sorry, that’s not a contradiction. Which you know, of course. But that’s the best you’ve got, so you want to make it about that instead.

    It’s not going to fly. Please explain how belief X I have, contradicts belief Y I have.

    Rumraket: For example, how long do we have to keep going?

    Just long enough for you to demonstrate that your worldview does not lead to absurdity.

    That doesn’t tell me how long that is. You’ve told me what you think the goal is, but not how to get there or how long it will take.

    Keep in mind that I have already demonstrated that mine does not.

    Technically you merely asserted it, you didn’t demonstrate it. But I digress, you’re of course entitled to your deep religious beliefs. 🙂

  28. fifthmonarchyman:
    What we know and what we think we know are not the same thing.

    I would never claim to know better what others think. I have no idea what is going on in other folks minds

    I think I know that you did

    On the other hand If you claimed to not believe I exist while you are talking to me I would hope I could point out the apparent dis-junction between what you say and reality.

    Whose reality?

  29. fifthmonarchyman: What we know and what we think we know are not the same thing.

    I would never claim to know better what others think. I have no idea what is going on in other folks minds

    Riiiight. Haha, that’s just an amazing statement coming from you.

  30. Rumraket: fifthmonarchyman: What we know and what we think we know are not the same thing.

    I would never claim to know better what others think. I have no idea what is going on in other folks minds

    Riiiight. Haha, that’s just an amazing statement coming from you.

    At least it’s a good example of a contradiction.

    Not that I’d expect FMM to pick up on that.

    Glen Davidson

  31. fifthmonarchyman: What I want to know is how can you possibly know what is actually true given your world view.

    The best you can do as far as I can tell is say that it seems true to you.

    I’m not going to use the term “worldview” because I don’t really know what FMM means by it. (At times he seems to think that a worldview is something like an axiomatic formal system. I’ll leave for another time why this conflation of logical truth and empirical truth is fundamentally mistaken.) Additionally, I’m very much influenced by criticisms of the very idea of “worldview” as they appear in 20th-century German philosophy.

    Leaving that aside, I consider one’s beliefs to be true if they are useful for successfully navigating the environment and solving problems as they arise. When a problem arises that can’t be solved using one’s existing body of beliefs, then problem-solving involves figuring out which beliefs are false. This holds just as much for cultural environments as for ‘merely’ physical ones. The major differences between us and other animals are that the world as we experience it is a product of human activity to a far greater degree than for other animals, and also that we need to coordinate our respective experiences of the world in order for cooperative action to be successful.

    Is it possible that the world in itself has some fully determinate character radically different from how any of us take it to be, or even could take it to be? Of course! But that’s an idle threat that make no difference to epistemology, because merely logical possibilities only carry epistemic weight in contexts where one is purporting knowledge of necessary truths.

    fifthmonarchyman: Just long enough for you to demonstrate that your worldview does not lead to absurdity.

    I think you have misunderstood your own position in this dialogue. It was your assertion that any non-Christian worldview must lead to absurdity. That puts the burden on you to defend that claim, not on any of us to refute it.

    Keep in mind that I have already demonstrated that mine does not.

    Perhaps to your mind repeating the word “revelation” like a trained parrot counts as a ‘demonstration’, but it does not for anyone else here.

  32. fifthmonarchyman: What I want to know is how can you possibly know what is actually true given your world view.

    This presupposes that “what is actually true” has a meaning that is independent of people and their experience. I am unable to find any basis for that.

  33. Neil Rickert,

    In an important sense that’s true: we cannot compare what we can experience with what we cannot experience. Yet we can compare what we think about what we experience with what we do and can experience. It’s the relation between concepts and objects (as experienced) that furnishes us with what we need for critical reflection on the adequacy of our concepts.

  34. keiths:

    Also, your actual presupposition — the thing you assume without justification — isn’t that the Christian God exists.

    It’s that “the alternative to Christianity is absurdity”.

    fifth:

    nope that is not a presupposition that is a hypothesis.

    No, it’s a presupposition, but first let me explain why I think you aren’t actually presupposing the existence of the Christian God.

    It would be ridiculous to assume the existence of the Christian God, full stop, without offering any justification. Even you are bright enough to realize that. You can’t demonstrate that he exists, so that’s out. Instead you claim that we face a stark choice: either assume that he exists or accept absurdity. We’re justified in rejecting absurdity, and that leaves us with only one option: to accept Christianity.

    In other words, the assumption “the Christian God exists” is justified, in your scheme, by that stark choice: either embrace Christianity or embrace absurdity. Without the forced dilemma, we would not be justified in assuming the truth of Christianity.

    Yet you’ve failed to demonstrate that the dilemma applies. Having failed to demonstrate it, you’ve simply assumed it. It’s a presupposition, and the whole rickety structure of your faith depends on it.

    That must suck.

  35. Neil Rickert: This presupposes that “what is actually true” has a meaning that is independent of people and their experience. I am unable to find any basis for that.

    No God is a person and what is actually true is not independent of him.

    I do presuppose that what is actually true is independent of you. I think that is a reasonable assumption don’t you

    Although I’m agnostic about it and it’s irrelevant to my point I see no reason to say that what is actually true would have meaning if humans became extinct and were replaced by another conscious species.

    peace

  36. Alan Fox: Don’t tell others what their views really are in the face of their express statements to the contrary.

    Again I’m not commenting on what other’s views are. I’m speaking about what everyone knows.

    Anyone who can have a coherent discussion knows that the law-on contradiction is valid. This is true no mater what their views are.

    If someone was to claim that they did not know that the law of non-contridiction was valid while engaging in a coherent discussion. I would hope that this forum would allow me to point out the truth that they do actually know that the law of non-contridiction was valid.

    In fact to not share a truth like that would not be fair or edifying for my discussion partner.

    IMO If a forum prohibits the expression of obvious relevant truths like that is not conducive to the free exchange of ideas.

    Alan Fox: And this is straying into moderation territory.

    You are the moderator you will do what you feel is right.

    Alan Fox: If you want to argue whether the rules are wrong or unfair, raise it in the moderation issues thread.

    I would not presume to intrude on your domain.

    Thank you once again for the privilege of posting here for the time being.
    If and when you feel you must ban or censor me I will happily resign myself to that fate and chalk it up to cost of following my convictions.

    peace

  37. Rumraket: Yes, exactly. Then why the hell should I accept it to be otherwise?
    If, in fact, it seems to me that you don’t quote anything contradictory, then why should I believe that you do?

    Why shouldn’t you?

    Given your worldview what the heck makes you think what it seems like to you has any correspondence to how it actually is?

    This seems to be nothing but a leap of faith assumption on your part.
    What possible basis do you have for making it given your worldview?

    Why is it more likely that there are contradictions if it seems like there are contradictions and less likely if is does not?

    It’s seems like you are assuming you know that logic and reason and truth exist.

    God is logic and reason and truth.

    Yet you also claim that you don’t know that God exists.

    That is a contradiction 😉

    peace

  38. keiths: No, it’s a presupposition

    I believe it’s an hypothesis.
    Is it against the rules to tell my that I don’t believe what I claim to believe?

    peace

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