Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable (part 2)

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 19, 2011 in Historical Jesus

Richard Carrier, author of Sense & Goodness Without God, wrote “Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable” for The Christian Delusion. After comparing the miracle stories of Herodotus to the miracle stories of the Christian gospels, he explains why extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

It’s quite simple, really. Imagine I told you I own a bed. You wouldn’t need much evidence to believe me, because you know people like me usually own a bed.

What if I told you I won the lottery? People win the lottery all the time, but it’s pretty rare in the population in general, so you’d need a bit more evidence to believe me.

But what if I told you I own a nuclear missile? You know people like me don’t own nuclear missiles. You would need some really good evidence to believe that I own a nuclear missile.

And what if I told you I owned a spacecraft capable of traveling to another star? Not only do you know that people like me don’t own interstellar spacecraft, but also you have good reason to believe nobody owns an interstellar spacecraft. If some government had spent $100 billion to design and build such a thing, you’re pretty sure you would have heard about it. You would need truly extraordinary evidence to believe I owned an interstellar spacecraft.

But interstellar spacecraft are, at least, possible. Traveling at 10% the speed of light, faster than any spacecraft has ever traveled, a ship could arrive at the nearest star in 40 years. There are proposed models of how one could be built, though at the moment they are beyond our technological abilities.

Now, imagine I told you my friend had been stone cold dead for three days and then came back to life.

Would you believe me?

Hell no.

My claim that my friend came back from the dead after three days would be even more extraordinary than my insane, ridiculous claim about owning an interstellar spacecraft. You would need even more evidence to believe that my dead friend came back to life.

But our evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, like most ancient literary evidence, is pretty bad. It’s not even the kind of evidence we would need to justify the claim that somebody owned an interstellar spacecraft, let alone the evidence we would need to believe that somebody broke all the rules of biology and came back from the dead after three days.

That’s why the resurrection of Jesus is unbelievable.

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas January 19, 2011 at 4:12 am

Here´s what Tim Grew wrote to Routledge Companion to Epistemology: http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/search?q=routledge+companion+to+epistemology

I myself take McGrew as more of an expert here than Carrier.

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BenSix January 19, 2011 at 4:24 am

After comparing the miracle stories of Herodotus to the miracle stories of the Christian gospels, he explains why extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

A speculative criticism: if somebody made a host of extraordinary claims and went on to spectacularly justify a few of them would it be horrifyingly credulous to accept the others (on the basis that this entity clearly defies all common expectations of what’s probable/possible)?

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Taranu January 19, 2011 at 4:41 am

Luke,
“My claim that my friend came back from the dead after three days would be even more extraordinary than my insane, ridiculous claim about owning an interstellar spacecraft. You would need even more evidence to believe that my dead friend came back to life”

I think this paragraph needs a little more clarifying by outlining the differences between the spacecraft claim and the resurrection claim. Also, I think I heard somewhere that Carrier used Bayes at the end of this chapter to show the differences between his claims. Is this true?

Thomas,
If you want to pursue this matter further I suggest you also take a look at what Peter Millican says about Earman’s work in his “Hume, Miracles, and Probabilities: Meeting Earman’s Challenge”

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Reginald Selkirk January 19, 2011 at 6:38 am

Thomas: I myself take McGrew as more of an expert here than Carrier.

What does it take to become an expert on miraculous resurrection? How many such events does one have to witness to qualify?

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Rob January 19, 2011 at 7:34 am

Any Christian:

My dog died last February, and I buried him in my backyard. But just now he crawled out the ground and is chewing on a bone.

Do any of you believe this story? If not, why not?

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Ben January 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

Luke,

I don’t necessarily blame you for being lazy, but a more in-depth look of what evidence there is for Christ and his resurrection would have been nice.

You basically said there isn’t enough evidence for the resurrection, but you didn’t explain what evidence we have and why such evidence is inadequate.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

Ben,

Notice, I’m summarizing somebody else’s work, not writing my own.

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Garren January 19, 2011 at 7:49 am

To be pedantic about this again, the conclusion that “the resurrection is unbelievable” does not follow from a completely successful argument that the historical evidence is not in favor of the resurrection. If there are other reasons for believing the resurrection occurred, this wouldn’t even weigh against them.

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plutosdad January 19, 2011 at 7:51 am

“But I have 500 friends that saw my spacecraft, you can talk to any of them”
“Really? Give me their numbers and I’ll contact a few of them”
“Like I said, they are around, you can talk to any of them”
“Well, give me some names”
“They are out there”
“One name then”
“Just talk to any of them, why are you bothering me? I told you I have 500 witnesses”

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Ben January 19, 2011 at 7:53 am

Ben,Notice, I’m summarizing somebody else’s work, not writing my own.  

Fair enough. I’ll admit I was wanting such a post after I myself had recently written a piece on the topic of lack of evidence ;)

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Haecceitas January 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

Given the existence of a personal creator who is morally good, the occurrence of some kind of divine revelation and/or intervention in human history becomes quite likely. The most obvious way to confirm a revelation is through some kind of a miracle. I would think that the prior probability of a miracle as a divine stamp of approval for the career of someone who matches certain prior criteria as a plausible candidate for being a person who speaks for the creator is going to be just low, not extraordinarily low. If we also happen to know that this supposed miracle happened in a context that gave rise to a movement that has had a profound influence in the course of human history and has gained the following of a significant part of the world’s population, then it would seem that the idea of a divine miracle as a key link in the chain of events that brought about this particular movement is somewhat plausible.

So returning to the interstellar spacecraft analogy, let’s suppose that I have prior knowledge that you are a billionaire with a degree in aerospace engineering and you have a special interest in interstellar space travel. You also seem to be the kind of person who could be willing to invest plenty of money on spectacular projects that fit your interests. I would still need quite a bit of confirmation for your claim to own an interstellar spacecraft but it seems that a reasonable amoung of reliable testimony (rather than direct observation) could suffice to bridge the gap.

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Thomas January 19, 2011 at 8:27 am

Reginald,

I was actually talking about extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence -slogan. So I take McGrew to be more of an expert in epistemology than Carrier. After all, Tim McGrew is an expert in epistemology. That´s why he is writing chapters in Companions publisned by Routledge, while Carrier is writing chapters to Loftus-edited books published by Prometheus.

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Martin January 19, 2011 at 8:52 am

Haecceitas is correct.

You have to take into account the background information as well. This is why Craig argues the way he does: first for the existence of a Creator, and then for the resurrection.

Likewise, if I first argued that Luke is an eccentric billionaire with an extreme interest in interstellar travel, and owns his own massive space engineering group that rivals NASA, then his claim might be less extraordinary.

Or if I first argued that Poseidon actually exists and is a cranky individual, and then argued that he wiped out a Persian army with a flood after they desecrated an image of him, the claim might become less extraordinary.

Implicit in Carrier’s reasoning is metaphysical naturalism. Which is fine, but that’s the background knowledge he is operating from. Which could be seen as just as much of a philosophical/religious assumption as Christianity.

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Hendy January 19, 2011 at 8:53 am

@Thomas:

Here´s what Tim Grew wrote…

And from that article:

…an event that is antecedently extremely improbable, and in this sense extraordinary, may be rendered probable under the right evidential circumstances.

This seems to be the finale conclusion to that short article. What are the “right evidential circumstances?”

Also, the article presents the idea of Aunt Matilda winning a game of scrabble with a score of 438 while drinking mint tea as highly improbable, but not highly unbelievable and would require only one eyewitness testimony.

Great — but while 438 is a pretty high score, a quick check reveals that it doesn’t even touch recorded high scores. Mint tea is commonly had and available. This is a common tactic: take the precise occurrence of ordinary events, combine them, and tout the extreme improbability.

But we’re taking extraordinary events for which there is no known probability and trying to establish whether they happened.

Lastly, for many of these events… who cares? I’m hardly compelled to check up on Auntie Matilda’s scrabble game. If she tells me she won with 438 sipping some rare Chinese imported tea… I’ll congratulate her and move on. Heck, you can choose to believe me or not that I played 7 letters on the word “nickles” not two months ago playing against my parents!

But what of it when someone brings out a claim that is impossible to witness, recorded only in ancient books, has never happened in the history of mankind, has no precedent, and relies on knowing the intention of a divine being… and your life depends on it! Obviously you’ll think twice before moving on in the conversation if Aunt Matilida tells you that.

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Rob January 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

So I take McGrew to be more of an expert in epistemology than Carrier. After all, Tim McGrew is an expert in epistemology. That´s why he is writing chapters in Companions publisned by Routledge   

And that is the problem. “Expert” my ass.

http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Trout-The-Pathologies-of-Standard-Analytic-Epistemology.pdf

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 9:20 am

Haecceitas, Martin,

This is all fair enough, but to use this defense you have to give up the Resurrection as an argument (or evidence) for God’s existence. To do otherwise would be inconsistent and/or circular. I’m sure you see why.
Just making sure we keep our theologies straight…

Quibble: One DOES wonder why God would perform the miracle proving his existence in such a poorly-documented manner rather than, say, etch 2-mile high ever-burning letters into a mountain. That would not change your basic point on the prior (God’s existence) dramatically raising the probability of the Resurrection of one pertaining to speak for him.

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Martin January 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

Polymeron,

The resurrection could be used to identify the Creator at that point, though. For instance, Craig first argues for a generic God. Then he argues that “God raising Jesus” is the best explanation of the resurrection events. Therefore the God that was argued in the first place is the God of the Bible. Therefore the God of the Bible exists. There is nothing circular in that particular case.

One DOES wonder why God would perform the miracle proving his existence in such a poorly-documented manner rather than, say, etch 2-mile high ever-burning letters into a mountain.

One possible Christian answer is that Jesus’ purpose was not to prove the existence of God per se, but to tell people to be nice to each other for a change. That seemed to be the core of his message. A message that is lost in all the ritualistic religious nonsense that the Church layered on.

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Thomas January 19, 2011 at 9:39 am

Polymeron,

it´s not circular. Lydia McGrew explained this at some point in the interview with Luke. Theism just contributes to the prior probability of the resurrection, but it is enough that theism is possible, so the argument doesn´t presuppose that theism is probable.

Swinburne’s 2003 book The Resurrection of God Incarnate is an outstanding contribution at this very topic. He does a great job explaining the inductive logic behind the historical argument.

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Rob T January 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

So returning to the interstellar spacecraft analogy, let’s suppose that I have prior knowledge that you are a billionaire with a degree in aerospace engineering and you have a special interest in interstellar space travel. You also seem to be the kind of person who could be willing to invest plenty of money on spectacular projects that fit your interests. I would still need quite a bit of confirmation for your claim to own an interstellar spacecraft but it seems that a reasonable amoung of reliable testimony (rather than direct observation) could suffice to bridge the gap.  

Haecceitas,

But isn’t all of the background / prior knowledge you ask be considered in your counter-example involving Luke well within the boundaries of what is naturalistically probable? Sure, adding that Luke may be a billionaire with a keen interest in space travel would slightly increase the probability that he does indeed have an inter-stellar spacecraft; but none of what you’ve asked to be considered as prior / background knowledge seems to violate what is naturalistically possible (i.e. it’s not miraculous)

However, what if we also added that he got his billions by stealing a pot of gold from a leprechaun that he discovered at the end of a rainbow? Or instead, what if we added that God provided Luke with the money to fund his space-travel endeavors via a magic wallet that never ran out of cash? When considering the addition of such miraculous prior / background knowledge, would you say it makes either scenario more or less probable?

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

Polymeron,The resurrection could be used to identify the Creator at that point, though. For instance, Craig first argues for a generic God. Then he argues that “God raising Jesus” is the best explanation of the resurrection events. Therefore the God that was argued in the first place is the God of the Bible. Therefore the God of the Bible exists. There is nothing circular in that particular case.

I agree that there is no circularity for this path, we have no argument there.
I do think that the evidence+priors for the miracle in question would need to be better than the evidence+priors for other miracles for this to work, however – because other claimed miracles could just as much point us to the properties of god(s).

One possible Christian answer is that Jesus’ purpose was not to prove the existence of God per se, but to tell people to be nice to each other for a change. That seemed to be the core of his message. A message that is lost in all the ritualistic religious nonsense that the Church layered on.  

Like I said, this was only a minor quibble. A lot of explanations could be brought forth which would be equally plausible. As such I think we can’t use them to draw any serious conclusions about God’s reasons or methods, unless we had some other way to test those hypotheses.

Polymeron,it´s not circular. Lydia McGrew explained this at some point in the interview with Luke. Theism just contributes to the prior probability of the resurrection, but it is enough that theism is possible, so the argument doesn´t presuppose that theism is probable.Swinburne’s 2003 book The Resurrection of God Incarnate is an outstanding contribution at this very topic. He does a great job explaining the inductive logic behind the historical argument.  

I’ll have to listen to the McGrew interview then, because intuitively I don’t see how theism possibility makes the Resurrection at all less extraordinary, unless it is also probable. If the probability of theism is 10^-100, for instance, I would consider any credibility it lends to the resurrection story to be just as low, if not more.

A lot of things are POSSIBLE. Anything that doesn’t contain an internal contradiction is POSSIBLE. I don’t see how an unspecified-probability position can make something more probable. That’s not how Bayesian calculations work at all, and I know McGrew knows her Bayes. So I am somewhat skeptical there, but I will allow that I may have missed something.

As for the book’s point on induction, can you summarize?

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Martin January 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

Rob T,

none of what you’ve asked to be considered as prior / background knowledge seems to violate what is naturalistically possible

Implicit in your statement here is that metaphysical naturalism is true. Which is just as much of a metaphysical position as theism.

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 10:06 am

While all you fellows quibble, I’m going to start heading over to San Francisco, find some homeless guys, claim that I showed them the light and use the power of suggestibility to create a cult about myself and my wondrous powers. SF, being a hotspot for weird cults like mine, will immortalize me if I happen to hit the right note with my teachings and my “powers”. I will then ensure that some other people talk about me after I die and go around saying they saw a ghost of me. Kinda like that show Ghost Hunters. They’ll see a light here or there and make a big deal out of it.

Years later, a person like Tim McGrew will write an essay about how ALL of these people who were previously homeless and without direction in life were willing to sacrifice their life for me and that this is enough proof that all of my miracles and legends were true, and I shall control Western Philosophy. Keep wasting your lives away, suckers. I’m off to SF.

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Garren January 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

Martin,

The resurrection could be used to identify the Creator at that point, though. For instance, Craig first argues for a generic God. Then he argues that “God raising Jesus” is the best explanation of the resurrection events.

So we can shelf historical arguments for the resurrection until an argument from natural theology succeeds? I’m fine with that.

Thomas,

Theism just contributes to the prior probability of the resurrection, but it is enough that theism is possible, so the argument doesn´t presuppose that theism is probable.

I advise caution here. Non-divine explanations of ‘supernatural’ events are also possible, so you could end up making a compelling argument that the resurrection occurred but leave its interpretation equally open to magic, the undead, etc. Christians underestimate how much arguments from the resurrection rely on naturalism being the only other option next to Christian theology.

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Haecceitas January 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

One DOES wonder why God would perform the miracle proving his existence in such a poorly-documented manner rather than, say, etch 2-mile high ever-burning letters into a mountain.

In a sense, this isn’t a problem with the resurrection as such (rather than Theism in general). The evidence doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as clear as it could be. One could perhaps argue that there are certain downsides to God providing too much evidence. IMO, this isn’t anywhere near as absurd as it may first sound but I haven’t really made up my mind on the weight that arguments of this type would have.

Another approach would be to postulate that there will be a future revelation that is clearer and less ambiguous.

Or one could downplay the significance of the resurrection a bit even among the evidence that is currently available, so that it would be seen as just one among many pieces of evidence for a specific set of religious truth claims and maintain that the cumulative case is still strong enough to deal with the problem of ambiguity. (This would, of course, require a lot of work in terms of defending those other evidences, whatever one would take them to be.)

Or one could also thump the skeptics with a Bible that has certain underlined verses from Romans 1:16 onward.

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

Polymeron,The resurrection could be used to identify the Creator at that point, though. For instance, Craig first argues for a generic God. Then he argues that “God raising Jesus” is the best explanation of the resurrection events. Therefore the God that was argued in the first place is the God of the Bible. Therefore the God of the Bible exists. There is nothing circular in that particular case.

No, but you would have to prove that God had an interest in Jesus in the first place. Or that God even cares what humans do. There’s a bunch of possibilities, and it assumes a generic God would even bother to resurrect Jesus. It seems like speculation. Baseless, shameless speculation.

One possible Christian answer is that Jesus’ purpose was not to prove the existence of God per se, but to tell people to be nice to each other for a change. That seemed to be the core of his message. A message that is lost in all the ritualistic religious nonsense that the Church layered on.  

Apparently without God, who was willing to resurrect Jesus, doing anything.

“Yeah, I revived that Jesus dude to prove that his point was correct, but didn’t bother to do anything to correct the church when it distorted his teachings. I suppose it does pretty much make his resurrection pointless, but hey, no biggie.”

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Larkus January 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

Would the existence of any god raise the probability of the resurrection? Would the existence of Allah raise the probability of the resurrection of Jesus or rather the probability of the archangel Gabriel revealing the Qur’an to Mohammed? Wouldn’t the existence of Allah decrease the probability of Jesus’ resurrection? Would the existence of an unknown god make the resurrection more probable? How big are the chances, that an unknown god is one, that would resurrect Jesus and not one, that would prevent Jesus’ resurrection?

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Rob T January 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

Rob T,
Implicit in your statement here is that metaphysical naturalism is true. Which is just as much of a metaphysical position as theism.  

Martin,

Is a rejection of metaphysical naturalism is necessary to believe that someone may be a billionaire, have an advanced degree in aeronautics and be interested in space travel?

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Martin January 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

Rob T,

No. But implicit in your statement is this: “Since metaphysical naturalism is true, then any claims of miracles are improbable or even impossible, and hence per Hume, it requires extraordinary evidence to outweigh the prior improbability.”

To which a theist could retort: “Since theism is true, then any claims of miracles have at least some prior possibility and each must be weighed on a case-by-case basis.”

There is nothing wrong with metaphysical naturalism. But if you argue that X background knowledge is not naturalistic and is thus improbable, then you are essentially saying “since naturalism is the correct worldview…”, which, to my mind at least, is far from settled.

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 10:36 am

Larkus,

Would the existence of any god raise the probability of the resurrection? Would the existence of Allah raise the probability of the resurrection of Jesus or rather the probability of the archangel Gabriel revealing the Qur’an to Mohammed? Wouldn’t the existence of Allah decrease the probability of Jesus’ resurrection? Would the existence of an unknown god make the resurrection more probable? How big are the chances, that an unknown god is one, that would resurrect Jesus and not one, that would prevent Jesus’ resurrection?  

First a quibble: To my knowledge Muslims recognize the Resurrection as part of their own faith. And believe in the second coming, for that matter – at least the ones I talked to do. Your point is of course better demonstrated with religions NOT based on Christianity, as Islam happens to be.

Your main point is more or less correct, with the exception that if we knew enough about god(s) to assume at least one grandiose miracle would happen, then it doesn’t matter that many different miracles are possible. Just like if you reveal any hand of poker, your opponent wouldn’t immediately marvel at the extreme improbability of you getting that SPECIFIC hand – you had to receive one of them.
This ties in just like the anthropic principle. Once you see an actual miracle, the question is what it tells you about god (whose existence, for the purposes of this discussion, is a given). It does not impact the probability of said deity’s existence.

Just think of miracle claims as any other form of evidence and think what they tell you about the world we live in.

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Taranu January 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

Polymeron,
I’ve heard of Muslims recognizing the General Resurrection, but not that of Jesus. As far as I know Muslims don’t believe that Jesus was crucified and killed.

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Paul King January 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

As others have pointed out, the existence of some sort of God would not significantly raise the probability that Jesus was resurrected. Even assuming that some miracles happen it would still be very unlikely that Jesus’ resurrection was one of them. And surely we cannot increase the probability of the Resurrection by making assumptions favourable to it – because the possibility that those assumptions are false must be taken into consideration.

If genuine miracles happen they are extremely rare events You are far, far, more likely to win the lottery (provided you buy tickets!) than to witness a genuine major miracle. And that is one reason why we need evidence.

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

Taranu,
This was a mistake on my part and I accept the correction. Muslims generally believe in the Ascension of Jesus, not Resurrection.

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

“Apparently without God, who was willing to resurrect Jesus, doing anything”

Oh boy, this is what happens when I delete something without paying attention. Let’s see if I can word that correctly: “Apparently God is willing to resurrect a man to prove that this point is correct but not willing to correct the distortion of the message.”

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

As others have pointed out, the existence of some sort of God would not significantly raise the probability that Jesus was resurrected. Even assuming that some miracles happen it would still be very unlikely that Jesus’ resurrection was one of them. And surely we cannot increase the probability of the Resurrection by making assumptions favourable to it – because the possibility that those assumptions are false must be taken into consideration. If genuine miracles happen they are extremely rare events You are far, far, more likely to win the lottery (provided you buy tickets!) than to witness a genuine major miracle. And that is one reason why we need evidence.  (Quote)

Not to mention how “I survived this terrible carcrash” sort of miracles are pretty stupid since God was willing to interfere with natural events, why didn’t he just stop the carcrash altogether? “But then I wouldn’t realize how amazing to be alive is!”…There are more effective ways of coming to that realization, and three others dead from the accident isn’t really one of them.

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Thomas January 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

Polymeron,

MrGrew surely knows her Bayes, unlike me. So you must listen the interview or read the McGrews -article on Resurrection.

It´s been too long since I´ve read the Swinburne book and summarizing it would be rather laborious. Interested readers can look here: http://books.google.fi/books?id=yjInqWo37XMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+resurrection+of+god+incarnate&source=bl&ots=xf-bwW70yU&sig=f9ytVMvJqX9vbE3SjzvND0oXtXk&hl=fi&ei=wDI3TeK4BI6Mswam3cGpAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thomas,
I am still listening to the interview, but so far it doesn’t seem to support what you said. I came across this bit:

Now, I think it’s important to be very precise here. Sometimes people, including philosophers, will use the phrase, “principle of dwindling possibilities”, for any sort of well estimate of the historical evidence for Christianity, or for anything that has sort of something to do with multiplying. Plantinga’s got a very specific strategy, a very specific concern, where you start with that estimated probability for theism, and then you go downward from there in estimating your probability for these richer claims.

And, in essence, the way he gets into this confusion, as I would call it, is to treat a probability for theism as a single probability, a fixed point, without distinguishing when the probability for theism as it should be without the detailed evidence for a miracle, like the resurrection, for example, and a probability with that evidence or after taking that evidence into account.

That’s just not right. Because the probability of theism is going to be different, well it should be different, before and after you take new evidence into account. That should change. It shouldn’t remain the same before and after and especially if this is, as I believe, this evidence is itself fairly strong. You shouldn’t just keep that evidence of probability of theism the same.

This not only acknowledges that the probability of theism being true is relevant, rather than just its possibility; it also uses the evidence of the Resurrection as an argument for theism. As such, it is incompatible with improving the probability of the Resurrection, and would, indeed, be circular – as I was careful to preemptively point out in my first comment in this thread.

McGrew’s tactic seems to be, showing the Resurrection is probable despite a low prior probability; then using this as a way of showing Christian theism is true. This is a valid approach, but then she can’t use theism as a prior probability for the Resurrection (nor does she), and you can’t use her approach to do that either.

I will finish listening to the interview but I doubt I’ll see her suddenly flip to the other approach. She seems too consistent for that.

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Taranu January 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Polymeron,
If I’m not mistaken, this is the paper where the McGrews argue for what you’re looking for:
http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/ErkenntnisMutualSupportrevised.pdf

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Rob T January 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Rob T,No. But implicit in your statement is this: “Since metaphysical naturalism is true, then any claims of miracles are improbable or even impossible, and hence per Hume, it requires extraordinary evidence to outweigh the prior improbability.”To which a theist could retort: “Since theism is true, then any claims of miracles have at least some prior possibility and each must be weighed on a case-by-case basis.”There is nothing wrong with metaphysical naturalism. But if you argue that X background knowledge is not naturalistic and is thus improbable, then you are essentially saying “since naturalism is the correct worldview…”, which, to my mind at least, is far from settled.  

Martin,

Thanks for the reply. OK, but if an event is attributed to the supernatural or miraculous, then what worldview do you think should be used to evaluate the probability for such claims?

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Thomas January 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Polymeron,

ok, maybe I need to change my claims here. Swinburne actually (if I remember rightly) argues that before going to the resurrection, we need to argue that theism is not so improbable. That is, we don´t need to argue that theism is probable (which Swinburne actually does in The Existence of God), but that there is something in it. This is more than merely showing that it´s “possible”. So using this strategy, you can use the resurrection as an argument for theism, but not as a first piece of evidence, but in the end of a cumulative case.

Does this sound fair? Swinburne actually shows in his book that you do not need to show that theism is probable before arguing for the resurrection; ‘not too improbable’ is enough.

As for McGrews, you say that “…this is a valid approach, but then she can’t use theism as a prior probability for the Resurrection (nor does she), and you can’t use her approach to do that either.” Are you sure? In the Blackwell Companion -article the McGrews do not talk about the prior probability of the resurrection, they just argue that even if the prior probability were really really low, the posterior evidence can still render the resurrection very probable. But if they were to talk about the prior probability, why couldn´t they use theism there?

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Martin January 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Rob T,

The worldview you think is true, of course. I’m not saying you are wrong for assuming naturalism is true. Just be aware of what is happening behind the scenes. And so by saying such-and-such miracle is improbable because naturalism is true is the same thing as the theist saying “Well, since God exists, then…”

I.e., you might end up talking past each other.

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David January 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

A problem is that you are assuming “stone cold dead” to be certain. It is easy to think, with the state of medical science at the time, that vitals could have been overlooked or misinterpreted – maybe he’d just passed out. Someone surviving 3 days unconscious after being nailed to a cross for a while is certainly unlikely, but not more unlikely than interstellar travel and probably much closer to winning the lottery – we hear about ridiculous survivor stories periodically.

The religious significance of something like this is hard to judge. On the one hand, it may require less in the way of direct divine intervention (although it doesn’t preclude it – maybe God’s involved in every such story). On the other, if a friend of mine had gone through something like that I would certainly be inclined to use strong words (perhaps including “miracle”) to emphatically indicate my relief, surprise, and gratitude at their survival given the odds.

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Whether the existence of a god would substantially increase the probability of the resurrection depends on what you mean by “substantially.”

For example, I rate the chance of the resurrection as being very low, because magic isn’t real and grown adults should feel embarrassed for believing in it. No magic, no resurrection.

Establishing a god’s existence would remove that objection by proving the existence of magic Even if we still had to figure out which god we were dealing with, establishing the existence of magic would constitute removing a giant barrier to the reasonableness of belief in magical stories from long ago.

It wouldn’t solve all the OTHER problems with the resurrection (like the sheer number of religions that ever have or ever could exist), but it would solve one.

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Andrew EC January 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I have come to the conclusion — somewhat reluctantly, I might add — that Tim McGrew is a bully who knows that the stuff he’s shoveling smells off.

I’d invite you to read the following:

http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/01/tim-mcgrew-replies-to-ed-babinskis.html

My comments (same name) start in around #35. Note that, at the end of the day:

1. Tim is arguing that Pr(En|F) — the probability of his particular coincidences given the assumption that the gospels are independent, trustworthy, eyewitness accounts — is “at least twice” Pr (En|~F) — the probability of those coincidences given any other assumption in the universe about the gospels.

This is a staggering argument, and at the end of the thread, other than some legerdemain and self-referential posts to prior publications, all McGrew has to offer it is a single intuitive argument. But as weak as that is, it gets worse:

2. McGrew concedes that he has no way — even in principle to measure Pr(En|~F). None. He thinks “intuitively” that it’s zero. That’s it.

Ed Babinski explored one of the billions, trillions, literally infinite subhypotheses that comprise ~F — that is, a hypothesis that the gospels are not “independent, trustworthy, eyewitness accounts” but rather that later gospels borrowed from Mark and Q.

McGrew not only failed to address Babinski’s arguments in any substantive way, he ridiculed Babinski for supposedly “not getting it,” when, at the end of the day (scroll to comment #70 or so), McGrew concedes that Babinski’s arguments are for a valid subhypothesis of ~F.

Go ahead. Read McGrew’s exchanges with Ed Babinski and then with me. And at the end of the day, tell me if he’s made even a single argument or if all he’s done is engage in unwarranted editorializing (“you misunderstand this argument” without explaining why) and obfuscation.

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Jugglable January 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm

What’s important here is that the claim of the resurrection isn’t that Jesus just came back from the dead– it’s that God raised Jesus from the dead. There’s an important difference.

To know probability you have to have background information. To know the probability that a die would come up 4 when rolled, you have to know how many sides the die has and what each side says. I know something of my friends A and B. I can make educated guesses as to the probability A or B would drink if they were in a bar at a given time because I know something about them.

So the claim is that God raised Jesus from the dead, which, if you believe in God, is well within the realm of possibility. But to know the probability of the event, you’d have to know, what’s the probability God would want to raise Jesus from the dead in this circumstance? To talk about probability of the event you need that relevant background information.

Probably depends on your attitude toward the Jewish traditions from which Jesus came and their expectations of a messiah.

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Evan January 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

If we assume that God exists, what made him raise Jesus and not raise anyone else?

Don’t you need to know the mind of God to give this a probability?

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Evan- Well, technically, you’d estimate the probability that god had the desire to raise Jesus from the dead.

Given that no christian has ever given even a semi coherent answer to the question of why Jesus had to be crucified then resurrected without including a contradiction of at least one other aspect of their own theology, I’m rating it low. But it would be at least theoretically possible to invent one, or to adjust mainstream christian theology to avoid this problem.

Ironically, the same solution exists for almost every woe Christianity has in terms of its inability to create a coherent theological system- just declare that the cosmos has traits that exist outside of God, and which God cannot change. This is the option favored by many other religions, none of which are vulnerable to challenges like the problem of evil, the problem of hell, the problem of nonbelief, etc.

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Jugglable January 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm

“semi coherent answer to the question of why Jesus had to be crucified then resurrected”

Well, I don’t know that he had to be, but you might find this youtube video helpful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSzNgyMF6DQ

“what made him raise Jesus and not raise anyone else”

This is a good theological question — if the resurrection is a divine action imbued with meaning, an act of revelation, what is it telling us? I think it tells us a lot more than any old Joe rising from the dead. It means that after the world threw all its worst at God, even to the point of death, God still returned in forgiving love. The love of God is great enough to swallow up all the dysfunction of the world. We already gave God the worst we could, and he already returned in forgiveness.

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Can you save me six minutes and just tell me which of the half dozen christologies that video supports, and then whether you accept or pretend not to see the various bullets that have to be bitten in support of whichever one it promotes?

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Henry January 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm

From what I understand, it seems that the later addition to the resurrection story in the Bible — Mark 16:9-20 actually replaced some verses that the church fathers wanted to keep secret. Here’s the authentic text:

9 After the women were gone, the tomb caretaker entered. 10 He surveyed the mess left behind and spoke unto the angel of the Lord. 11 The caretaker said, “Just like a Messiah to rise from the dead, abandon his tomb and not leave a tip.” 12 The angel put his hands on his front pockets and shrugged his shoulders. 13 He spoke unto the caretaker. “Angels do not carry cash,” said the angel.

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Jugglable January 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm

“Can you save me six minutes and just tell me which of the half dozen christologies that video supports, and then whether you accept or pretend not to see the various bullets that have to be bitten in support of whichever one it promotes?”

Well, you certainly have made your mind up!

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

“semi coherent answer to the question of why Jesus had to be crucified then resurrected”Well, I don’t know that he had to be, but you might find this youtube video helpful.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSzNgyMF6DQ“what made him raise Jesus and not raise anyone else”This is a good theological question — if the resurrection is a divine action imbued with meaning, an act of revelation, what is it telling us?I think it tells us a lot more than any old Joe rising from the dead.It means that after the world threw all its worst at God, even to the point of death, God still returned in forgiving love.The love of God is great enough to swallow up all the dysfunction of the world.We already gave God the worst we could, and he already returned in forgiveness.  

You’re missing the point. We’re saying that merely the existence of a generic God doesn’t make all “supernatural” events claimed to have been the work of God more likely. If I say that God brought my pet chinchilla back from the dead, nobody is obliged to prove why it wasn’t the case that God didn’t do it (or indeed accept this absurd tale based only on my own testimony).

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

“Can you save me six minutes and just tell me which of the half dozen christologies that video supports, and then whether you accept or pretend not to see the various bullets that have to be bitten in support of whichever one it promotes?”Well, you certainly have made your mind up!  

I’ve done this discussion before. Feigning an open mind by pretending to have an empty mind is facile. I didn’t spend all that time reading up on penal substitutionary atonement and the more popular alternatives just to pretend I’d never heard of them when handed a youtube link.

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Jugglable January 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Patrick:

Well, the video wasn’t on substitutionary atonement, so contrary to what you seem to exude, you may not know everything just yet.

Penal substitutionary atonement is different than Christology.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Good comment, Andrew EC.

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Just forget it, dude. I don’t do the “follow my super secret link and it will explain what I won’t” game. I shouldn’t have even tried to explain why, I should have just slapped you down. My bad.

As it happens… I’ve done this before. If you have something you think isn’t just the same old stuff rehashed, say so. Otherwise screw off.

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Thomas,
Let’s talk a little bit about circular reasoning.
First, a definition: Any argument that contains elements A,B,C…N such that A supports B, B supports C, and so on until N supports A, contains circular reasoning.

I’ve actually studied this quite a bit, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with circular reasoning. It does not make an argument false. However, it does manage to confuse people as to the actual probability of the various components, and as such should be avoided unless you have some system that can do that calculation for you.

For instance. If the Resurrection happened, that improves the chances of theism being true. If theism is true, this raises the probability of the Resurrection. I am not saying it would be inconsistent to include them in the same argument; however, if you do make the one statement first and feel more confident about the other, then you would have a false sense of security when trying to argue that the other proves the first.
By tying the two together, you actually necessitate that both be justified by external means other than each other. And you also subject both of them to anything reducing the probability of the other.

So, for the sake of not getting this confused, either wait until a tool exists to map this stuff for you, or stick to one argumentation tree and avoid circular reasoning.

Jugglable,
No one is obliged to read/watch your references without context. You can provide context by summarizing, by explaining how the reference supports your claim, or by pointing out a specific passage/chapter/30 seconds of video that are specifically relevant to the discussion.
Requiring someone to view a reference without context just to participate in a discussion is not an acceptable method of debating.
If you disagree, then to understand why that is I will need you to read a certain list of 50 books I keep around for these occasions, and attend a couple of seminars.

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Larkus January 20, 2011 at 3:44 am

@Polymeron

Your main point is more or less correct, with the exception that if we knew enough about god(s) to assume at least one grandiose miracle would happen, then it doesn’t matter that many different miracles are possible. Just like if you reveal any hand of poker, your opponent wouldn’t immediately marvel at the extreme improbability of you getting that SPECIFIC hand – you had to receive one of them.

This ties in just like the anthropic principle. Once you see an actual miracle, the question is what it tells you about god (whose existence, for the purposes of this discussion, is a given). It does not impact the probability of said deity’s existence.

Just think of miracle claims as any other form of evidence and think what they tell you about the world we live in.

I mostly agree with what you said. Maybe I expressed myself a bit unclear. What I meant is the following:

If we prove, that an unspecified god exists, then it becomes more reasonable for us to assume, that miracles happen in our world, assuming, that at least some possible gods would work miracles in our world (which is a reasonable assumption, in my opinion).

1) Does it become more reasonable for us to assume, that Jesus’ resurrection happened by intervention of a specific god, the Christian God?

Yes, but only by a vanishingly small amount, because the God of the Bible is only one of a vast number of possible gods.

2) Does it become more reasonable for us to assume, that Jesus’ resurrection happened by intervention of an unspecified god (which may be the Christian God, but also Allah, Vishnu, the Great Green Arkleseizure, or any other god)?

Yes, more reasonable than under 1), but only if we assume that at least some gods, if they work miracles in our world at all, would work a miracle that glorifies another god and not themselves (which is a questionable assumption, in my opinion).

Interestingly, under 2) it becomes more reasonable to assume, that if Jesus was resurrected from the dead, then he was resurrected not by the Christian God, but by some other god.

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Rob January 20, 2011 at 4:42 am

Andrew EC,

McGrew’s argument is a catastrophe, and I don’t see how he cannot realize that. It’s one of those apologetic arguments that might get minor traction among the already committed, but to anyone with rudimentary critical thinking skills, it’s a joke. On his wife’s blog, he mentions he learned the books of the bible at the same time he learned his ABC’s. That kind of indoctrination is hard to overcome, even for allegedly smart folks, as you seem to think he is.

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Reginald Selkirk January 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I followed Andrew EC’s link. It is obvious that Tim McGrew is totally committed to his position, and no amount of evidence could possibly convince him otherwise. He was also quite snarky for someone who is wrong. I don’t mind the snark, but you’d better make sure you’re right before you pour on the gasoline.

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Tim January 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

A bit like I said elsewhere, despite hiding behind the math, McGrew’s argument for the authenticity of gospels is as unsophisticated and has the same smug sense of superiority as someone like JP Holding. The fancy formulae bamboozle believers into trusting that this couple have something scientific to say about the probability of their favourite fables, but as Ed Babinski said, what’s the likelihood that Christians from childhood merely use math to bolster what they already believe rather than reach reliable calculations about the matter?

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Caleb O January 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I am quite confused as to how the existence of a tri-omni God would make the Resurrection of Jesus significantly more probably, it seems to me that It would still be quite improbable!

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Eric January 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Martin
No. But implicit in your statement is this: “Since metaphysical naturalism is true, then any claims of miracles are improbable or even impossible, and hence per Hume, it requires extraordinary evidence to outweigh the prior improbability.”

I honestly get sick of when Theists do this. If we assume metaphysical natualism, the prior probability of a miracle is 0. Saying that the prior probability of a miracle is greater than zero already violates any prior assumption of metaphysical naturalism, even if that prior probability is incredibly small.

Also, just a note in General, showing that a creator God exists does not increase the probability of a particular miracle. If the God was a deistic God, then the prior probability of any given miracle, other than the creation of the universe, is 0. So, in addition to an argument for a Creator God, you also have to demonstrate this God is theistic, and the kind of God that would be necessary for the resurrection to occur. For example, an all-powerful all-good God that still sends souls to an eternity in hell, allows for great suffering, and waited 100 thousand years after the creation of man to give them a chance to escape his hell creation. These are only a few of the things which must be shown to be probable under this specific god.
Remember that giving a successful argument for a creator god only shows that supernatural evens are possible. But non-Christians are already allowing the resurrection to be possible, just very improbable. Regardless of the existence of a creator god, miracle events are still incredibly rare, if they even happen at all. However, liars, hoaxes, hallucinations, and misinterpretations are incredibly common.

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Caleb O January 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm

*probable
It would be quite nice if there was a edit option!

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Rob January 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

*probable
It would be quite nice if there was a edit option!  

. . . and a comment voting option, and a hide the dipshit option.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm

I keep trying edit plugins but they don’t work on this blog for some reason.

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erik January 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm

OK, I’ll bite. The theist would argue that of course on naturalism dead men don’t come back to life by natural causes. But if God exists, then it holds that miracles are possible. You’re ruling out miracles a priori, and the theist would say the greatest miracle already happened – our universe came into existence “out of nothing” in the finite past.

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Caleb O January 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

OK, I’ll bite. The theist would argue that of course on naturalism dead men don’t come back to life by natural causes. But if God exists, then it holds that miracles are possible. You’re ruling out miracles a priori, and the theist would say the greatest miracle already happened – our universe came into existence “out of nothing” in the finite past.  

I am not sure who you are biting but if one allows that God exists, and this God might interfere with nature it still seems rather dubious that God would rise Jesus from the dead

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Eric January 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

erik
the theist would say the greatest miracle already happened – our universe came into existence “out of nothing” in the finite past.

Under a desitic interpretation of God, NO other miracle CAN happen. So miracles would be impossible.

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Eric January 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm

deistic*
I second the “edit” option, lol

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Steven R. January 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@ erik (not to be confused with Eric, I take it ;P)

OK, I’ll bite. The theist would argue that of course on naturalism dead men don’t come back to life by natural causes. But if God exists, then it holds that miracles are possible. You’re ruling out miracles a priori, and the theist would say the greatest miracle already happened – our universe came into existence “out of nothing” in the finite past.  

1. The A priori logic is only applicable to things within the universe, so anything that led to the formation of the universe would be outside of the scope of such logic
2. Now you’re just defining miraculous not as some divine intervention upon natural laws but as something “unlikely but extremely favorable”, which is useless to your argument
3. Read other comments as to why the existence of a generic God doesn’t really improve the odds

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mkandefer January 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm

“The A priori logic is only applicable to things within the universe, so anything that led to the formation of the universe would be outside of the scope of such logic”

Logics are fully capable of representing assertions about logically possible entities that are not metaphysically possible.

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Steven R. January 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm

“The A priori logic is only applicable to things within the universe, so anything that led to the formation of the universe would be outside of the scope of such logic”Logics are fully capable of representing assertions about logically possible entities that are not metaphysically possible.  

I didn’t say logic in general, just a priori logic.

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Polymeron January 22, 2011 at 2:34 am

erik & Eric,

I’d like to say a few words about miracles and naturalism.
You say that if metaphysical Naturalism is true, then miracles are impossible. I don’t think you quite realize what this entails.

First, semantics. If you define a miracle as something that’s beyond our current ability to explain by our model of the universe then, why, miracles happen all the time and this does not contradict naturalism. We just don’t yet understand quite a few phenomena, but we keep understanding more and more.

If you define a miracle as something that is inconsistent with the laws of physics and think that this is not covered by naturalism, think again. If naturalism is true, all it means is that the universe works by a set of laws. If a deity is above the laws of physics, that does not make naturalism false, if that deity is itself governed in turn by a set of constant laws. And if those laws change, naturalism could still be true if there is an overlaying mechanism which can predict how and when these rules change.

Only if you define a miracle as something that is not ultimately governed by ANY set of laws, does this step beyond the bounds of naturalism.

In short, in order for a deity beyond naturalism performing miracles that are truly supernatural – not just beyond our current understanding or future understanding but actually ones that cannot be modeled in any way – that deity must be entirely unknowable. If we can know enough about this deity to understand the scope of its powers and its psychology enough to predict its actions, then we are still in the realm of naturalism, where the known laws of physics are merely a subset of laws applying to the specific case of what we currently think of as our universe, and it is not really different than if a powerful alien from an alternate reality did the miracles. Only if that deity’s actions and thoughts are entirely impossible to understand does naturalism fail.

I think a lot of theists don’t realize this implication when they proclaim to know what God wants or mandates, and what he can or can’t do. If their ways of arriving at these “truths” are at all valid, it implies the validity of naturalism along with it.

(As a side note, it means that if a deity exists, we can invent the science field of Deupsychology to predict its actions ;) )

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Eric January 22, 2011 at 9:41 am

@Polymeron
I actually agree. Although the kind of God theists believe in is not necessarily governed by any natural laws. If you define miracles as something that breaks our current natural laws, but may be itself governed by other natural laws, then the chance of this kind of miracle is not 0 under metaphysical naturalism. However, based on arguments by theists such as William Lane Craig, I doubt this is the kind of miracle they speak of.

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Polymeron January 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

Eric,

@Polymeron
I actually agree. Although the kind of God theists believe in is not necessarily governed by any natural laws. If you define miracles as something that breaks our current natural laws, but may be itself governed by other natural laws, then the chance of this kind of miracle is not 0 under metaphysical naturalism. However, based on arguments by theists such as William Lane Craig, I doubt this is the kind of miracle they speak of.  

Precisely. And yet many of them think the mind or capacities of god(s) can be at least partially understood. I don’t think they realize the contradiction inherent in this.

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Steven R. January 22, 2011 at 11:26 am

Eric,
Precisely. And yet many of them think the mind or capacities of god(s) can be at least partially understood. I don’t think they realize the contradiction inherent in this.  

While we’re on the topic–and since you seem to know a bit about Naturalism–can you explain to me how people come up with the objection that “you don’t really exist” under Naturalism and how, if at all, this misrepresents the ideology? Sorry, never studied the terms or anything and your post on Naturalism was very interesting and informative so maybe you can help clear this up for me…

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Polymeron February 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Steven R.,

Sorry for not replying earlier… I remember intending to, and I guess I just cleared it from my mental to-do list at some point.

I’m not entirely sure which claim you are referring to; I do know the one that says something like this:
1. Everything we observe can ultimately be explained by naturalism as being derived from natural laws.
2. Claim 1 applies to consciousness; for instance, today our best explanation is that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon stemming from the networking between neurons.
3. Since your consciousness is not an object in itself but rather emergent, it does not really exist. It’s not a thing. It’s just something we notice.
4. Your consciousness is what you define as yourself.
5. Therefore, you do not really exist.

Now, I have some reservations about consciousness being explained in this way, but they are largely immaterial to the argument. I find this argument nonsensical, and not because naturalism does not preclude consciousness as a basic underlying atomic object (unlikely, but it’s not incompatible). No, the reason it’s nonsensical is because it confuses the map with the territory. It is the same as saying that the Mona Lisa does not exist. “Well,” I can say, “what you are looking at is just a collection of atoms comprising paint, tied to atoms comprising canvas. ‘Mona Lisa’ is not an intrinsic thing in this universe, so you are just experiencing the illusion of watching the Mona Lisa, whereas it does not actually exist”. This is simply idiotic. Yes, it is a collection of atoms, AND at the same time it is the Mona Lisa. This particular arrangement of atoms has certain properties emerging from it, such as to register in our brains as the Mona Lisa. Nor does it stop being the Mona Lisa if a stray atom happens to detach from it, since it still displays the same behaviors (being recognizable as the Mona Lisa). Similarly, my consciousness – be it a “only” the firing of neurons in my physical brain – is a lot different than other chemical behaviors, displays unique behaviors, and definitely exists.

Or as Carl Sagan said – because he could always put it best – “The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it; but the way those atoms are put together”.

Peace out. Keep existing 8-)

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Fred Chileshe March 14, 2011 at 3:36 am

If so much effort can go into discussing an idea like this one….well there’s no smoke without fire….maybe, just maybe there’s a god after all…maybe the universe didn’t come about by as some suggest by the most foolish ‘scientific’ assertion ever coined, the big bang, which, simply stated, is a suggestion that accidents rather design create order and that all the evidences of order in the universe came from a single accident – the big bang! Long live the big for it brought everything into existence, it is our god and we should worship it! Unfortunately the big bang is just an event not an entity and, therefore has not intelligence, and how can we attribute the beginnings of all the intelligence in the universe to it! Ah well… who cares. But we are still grateful for this wonderful universe to which our planet that we call home belongs…but we have nothing to thank for it! This is both exciting and meaningless! Yeah…long live the big bang, and the evolution!

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Eric March 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

LONG LIVE THE EVOLUTION!
LONG LIVE THE BIG BANG AND THE THEIST’S FAMOUS FINE TUNING ARGUMENT ALONG WITH IT!

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Dave D. April 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Luke:
You would be right that a person who says to his group of friends that he was going to die at a certain time, but that, three days later after death, would rise again, would be called crazy. Only a foolish person would talk about rising from the dead on the third day unless, he knew what was going take place. No one in the history of the world has ever known that except One- Jesus Christ, The Son of God. You forgot to mention any support for the resurrection- the claims of Christ in the Gospels, the testimony of history, philosophers, and legal minds and scholars though out the centuries.Also, the eyewitness testimonies of the Apostles and the early church fathers. Finally, you have to do a forensic study of the resurrection scene itself- the tomb, the stone, the seal, the guards, and the disciples. Each Apostle was willing to die for their belief in the resurrection!! You have to do much more than post a website and say that the resurrection was a hoax; displaying in full color your own ignorance!

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Daniel Almeida May 1, 2011 at 3:13 am

Luke:You would be right that a person who says to his group of friends that he was going to die at a certain time, but that, three days later after death, would rise again, would be called crazy. Only a foolish person would talk about rising from the dead on the third day unless, he knew what was going take place. No one in the history of the world has ever known that except One- Jesus Christ, The Son of God. You forgot to mention any support for the resurrection- the claims of Christ in the Gospels, the testimony of history, philosophers, and legal minds and scholars though out the centuries.Also, the eyewitness testimonies of the Apostles and the early church fathers. Finally, you have to do a forensic study of the resurrection scene itself- the tomb, the stone, the seal, the guards, and the disciples. Each Apostle was willing to die for their belief in the resurrection!! You have to do much more than post a website and say that the resurrection was a hoax; displaying in full color your own ignorance!

I’ll have to answer to you for Luke. Firstly knock it off with the “the disciples were willing to die for it crap”- we’ve heard it a million times, and we don’t even have enough evidence to insist that they really had a lot of martyrs, anyways. More importantly- I will concede that, for the sake of argument, Jesus did ressurect. . I just have one question for you- just what the hell am I supposed to do about it? Am I supposed to become a Lutheran? A baptist? Or even worse- a Roman Catholic?! Just what do I believe and what will bring me to salvation. I still don’t know whether my dad (rc) will go to heavan or my mom (anglican). And whats worse is that they are both SSSOOOO ignorant, that they don’t even know that one of them is going to hell! It’s hilarious, isn’t it? That one of my parents is going to hell- yet they both feel as though god loves them. So what- does that mean preterism is correct? If so- than… wait for it… YOU MIGHT GO TO HELL! So, why is your christianity the one that will save us? Does God talk to you? Does it feel right? I would honestly like to know- because I am repeatedly called a god abandoner- yet I know not what I even abandon.

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