Resurrection Debate: A New Approach

John W. Loftus has generously extended his invitation to me to become a member of this blog, and for that I am grateful. In the upcoming months I hope to contribute regularly on topics related to Christianity and its weaknesses, as well as the continuing debate between its prominent defenders and their critics. For those curious about my religious background, here is a little info:

I was not raised in a Christian home or religious environment, but nevertheless found my way into a Christian church, through a friend, prior to entering high school. It was in that church my friend attended that I became a Christian, and remained so until the end of my high school career, right before I left for college. Like many others, the doctrine of hell did not sit comfortably with me -- both on an intuitive and intellectual level -- and was thus the main reason for my departure from the Christian faith. Since then, after completing both undergraduate and graduate degrees in philosophy (I stopped at the MA level), I found many other compelling reasons which justified my abandonment of Christianity, which I hope to share and elaborate here.

In this entry, I will outline a new approach skeptics can and should take in the resurrection debate. As almost everyone agrees, skeptics and apologists alike, the ability for the apologist to establish a good case for the resurrection is vital to a successful defense of the Christian faith, and so, unsurprisingly, an enormous amount of time and effort has been spent devoted to this one area. A testament to the latter is the fact that anyone new (or old) to the scene will often observe the following: the debate can get really really complicated, especially among scholars. Why? A natural reason one might draw from this is that the case for the resurrection is not as terrible as one might think -- after all, if even the scholarly critics have to present elaborate and sophisticated arguments to answer their opponents, then the apologist's case can't be that bad. In actuality, the case for the resurrection can be very weak, despite the sophisticated nature of the debate, but it sure doesn't seem that way to those lost in the minutia of the historical details. I admit to being among the perplexed.

Hence I advocate a new approach to the debate, one that will cut through all the smoke and thus expose how weak the case for the resurrection truly is. To begin, one should pay close attention to the claim that the apologist wants -- needs -- to establish when he argues for the resurrection: it is the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead. And thus from this we can observe what the claim is not: it is not, merely, that Jesus was raised from the dead, which is obviously insufficient if the causal agent responsible for the resuscitation were not supernatural, but natural. The apologist undoubtedly needs to first establish the latter assertion in order to establish the former, but the two are clearly not equivalent -- in fact, the two are worlds apart. Here we come to my new approach: we should challenge the apologist to see if he can demonstrate (with probability, of course) that, if Jesus was really raised from the dead, it was God who did it. For, even if it were a historical fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, if it cannot be shown that God was the cause of the event, then what is the worth of historical apologetics to the rational defense of Christianity? None.

Below are arguments detailing why the inference from "Jesus was raised from the dead" to "it was probably God who raised Jesus from the dead" cannot be made nonfallaciously.

Argument 1

1. It is fallacious to infer that X probably can't y on the basis of data suggesting that all Zs can't y, when either: (a) we know of a plausible reason to suppose there might be relevant differences between X and Z that could enable X, but not Z, to y; or (b) when X does not fall within the category of Z, and we know of no good reason to suppose there are no relevant differences between X and Z that could enable X, but not Z, to y.
2. There is data suggesting that all non-supernormal human beings can't rise naturally from the dead. [assumption]
3. Jesus was a supernormal being (i.e. a being with supernormal capabilities), who was either human or not human, either a natural entity or supernatural entity. [assumption]
4. Jesus does not fall within the category of non-supernormal human being, and we know of no good reason to suppose there are no relevant differences between Jesus and non-supernormal human beings that could enable Jesus, but not non-supernormal human beings, to rise naturally. [premise, supported by C1 and c2 below]
5. We know of a plausible reason to suppose there might be relevant differences between Jesus and non-supernormal human beings that could enable Jesus, but not non-supernormal human beings, to rise naturally.
[premise, supported by the claim that Jesus may not have been not fully biologically human if we assume the virgin birth story]
6. Therefore, it is fallacious to infer that Jesus probably could not have risen naturally from the dead on the basis of data suggesting that all non-supernormal human beings can't rise naturally from the dead. (from 5, 1, and 4, 1).


Edit: I realize premise (1) needs some explaining.

Consider Mike, a body-builder builder who works out 15 hours a day, and suppose one claims: Mike probably can't bench press 500 lbs, and this is thought to follow from the premise that all body-builders who work out less than 2 hours a day can't bench press 500 lbs. This inference is clearly fallacious, but why? According to condition (b) of premise (1), the inference is fallacious not only because Mike and the other body-builders don't belong in the same category, but also because we have no good reason to assume that with respect to being able to 500 lbs, Mike is just like everyone else. If we had good reason for assuming that Mike was just like all the other body-builders (say, for instance, he has a muscular disorder which makes his 15 hours equivalent to a normal 2 hour work-out), then the inference would be nonfallacious. Hence: if X does not fall within the category of Z, the burden falls on the one making the inference to supply good reason for why we should assume the absence of any relevant difference between X and Z that could enable X, but not Z, to y.

To illustrate with another example, consider Dejohn the daily steroid-taker who works out less than 2 hours a day. Claim: Dejohn *probably* can't bench 500 lbs. Premise (data): All body-builders who work out less than 2 hours a day can't bench 500 lbs. Is this inference fallacious? Suppose we know that all the body-builders in our data don't take steroids, and Dejohn has been taking them for the past 8 years on a daily basis (let's assume they don't cause him any harm). Hence, even though Dejohn and everyone else works out the same amount of hours, there is a clear (possibly relevant) difference between the two that justifies an initial category distinction: we can separate Dejohn and the other body-builders -- since none of them take the drug -- into two classes (steroid taker vs. non-steroid takers). If we have no good reason to assume that with respect to being able to bench 500 lbs, Dejohn and everyone else are the same, then we must conclude that the inference is fallacious. Stated another way, given the justified category distinction, the inference is fallacious unless the one making the inference can supply good reason to suppose the distinction to be irrelevant -- like if we knew, for instance, that the steroids Dejohn takes only affects his lower legs and not his chest or upper body.

Condition (a) of premise (1) can be shown with the following illustration. Suppose one claims: Jane probably can't put her bare hand over a hot flame for 10 minutes without it be severely burned. Premise (data): over 100 million people can't put their bare hands over a hot flame for 10 minutes without their hands being severely burned. Is the inference fallacious? Not at all, until we find out the following fact: for over 10 years of her life, Jane has been a subject in numerous super-secret government experiments involving resistance to pyrogenic substances. Does this mean there are in fact relevant differences between Jane and everyone else (assuming those in the latter group were never involved in such experiments)? Not at all, because for all we know, those experiments might have been utter failures, or their scope very limited, and so forth. Nevertheless, because we are in the dark, and because there is some plausible reason to suppose there *might* indeed be relevant differences between Jane and everyone else, as a result of those experiments, the original inference would therefore be fallacious given this new information.




Argument 2
: defense of premise (4)


P1. If biological entity X has capabilities that biological entity O do not have, then, barring very good reasons to suppose otherwise, we should not assume it is implausible that these capability differences cannot be explained, at least in part, in terms of relevant differences in the physiology of X and O. [premise]

P2. Jesus had various supernormal capabilities that no non-supernormal human beings have. [assumption]

P3. There are no very good reasons to suppose we should assume it is implausible that these capability differences, between Jesus and non-supernormal human beings, cannot be explained, at least in part, in terms of relevant differences in their physiology. [premise]

C1. Therefore, we should not assume it is implausible that capability differences, between Jesus and non-supernormal human beings, cannot be explained, at least in part, in terms of relevant differences in their physiology. (from P3, P1)


Argument 3: defense of premise (4)


p1. If A can't p, while B can p, then, barring very good reasons to suppose otherwise, we should assume there exist relevant differences between A and B which could explain how B, but not A, can p, even when A and B appear to be very similar.

p2. Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise from the dead. [let's suppose]

p3. There are no very good reasons to assume there exist no relevant differences between Jesus and the rest of humanity which would explain why Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise from the dead.

c1. Therefore, we should assume there exist relevant differences between Jesus and the rest of humanity which would explain why Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise from the dead. (from p3, p2, and p1)

p4. If we should assume there exist relevant differences between Jesus and the rest of humanity which could explain why Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise from the dead, then either: (a) there exist relevant differences between Jesus and the rest of humanity which could explain why Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise naturally from the dead, or (b) there exist relevant differences between Jesus and the rest of humanity which could explain why Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise supernaturally from the dead.

p5. Either (a) or (b). (from p4, c1)

p6. If there are no good reasons to suppose that (a) is false, then we should not suppose that (a) is false.

p7. There are no good reasons to suppose that (a) is false.

c2. Therefore, we should not suppose that (a) is false: that is, we should not suppose there exist NO relevant differences between Jesus and the rest of humanity which could explain why Jesus, but not the rest of humanity, was able to rise naturally from the dead. (from p7, p6)

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome Spencer! I look forward to what you have to say.

edna said...

I must say that I don't find the use of double negatives unconfusing.

Is there a way to state these arguments without them?

Anonymous said...

I'd buy this arguement if there were others in the set of people who have been raised from the dead. If that set consists of one, then you have a hard time supporting that the event was "natural" at all. In fact, I think this approach will be used by Christian apologists to further support that God is the most likely explanation of how/why Jesus was raised from the dead, if in fact He was.

Spencer said...

edna,

I don't know if I can restate the argument another way, but check out my "edit" right below Argument 1.

jbudrdanl,

You wrote:
-----------
I'd buy this arguement if there were others in the set of people who have been raised from the dead. If that set consists of one, then you have a hard time supporting that the event was "natural" at all.
--------------

This is precisely the point I challenge in my argument. Where do you think it goes wrong?

Spencer said...

To be more specific: my argument does not purport to show that it is fallacious to infer that Jesus probably didn't rise naturally. Instead, my argument attempts to show: it is fallacious to infer that Jesus probably didn't rise naturally on the basis of "...."

If my argument is sound, then although it would be fallacious to infer that Jesus can't rise naturally from the dead on the basis of data suggesting that all non-supernormal human beings can't rise naturally, it could still be that the claim can be nonfallaciously inferred on some *other* basis.

dvd said...

i think you have to define in exact terms what would be 'reasonable' to you, what you would mean by 'proabably true' or 'evidence' what standard for such etc.

Marco said...

Welcome Spencer..

......my head hurts! =D

sfwc said...

Whether the argument you give here works or not, I agree that this kind of approach can be helpful in debates: It was deployed very effectively by Arif Ahmed in this debate against Gary Habermas.

feeno said...

Welcome Spence, to the dark side.

You were a Christian for four whole years, and because the idea of hell seemed intellectually uncomfortable you debunked it? Well you do have more degrees than God, so I'll stick around awhile and listen to your other compelling reasons we should abandon Christianity.

Peace out, feeno

Spencer said...

dvd wrote:
---------
i think you have to define in exact terms what would be 'reasonable' to you, what you would mean by 'proabably true' or 'evidence' what standard for such etc.
-----------

No such definitions are necessary. The inference is fallacious because it conforms to the pattern of reasoning stated in premise (1).

walker_family_123 said...

John,

Are you planning to post more in future about Christian beliefs vis-à-vis the Old Testament? I only ask because it seems like a logical place to start when examining the validity (or not) of Christianity.

It’s possible both the OT and NT are false (atheists say this). It’s possible both are true (Christians say this). But it is not possible for the NT to be true and OT to be false. In other words, if you can demonstrate that Christian beliefs fly in the face of OT teachings on messiah, atonement, law of Moses and idolatry, then you’ve put them in a situation where they either have to admit the OT (and by extension, the NT) is false, or that the OT is true, but that therefore, their beliefs are not.

Anonymous said...

walker_family, I think you (and you are in good company here)are mistaken by over-simplifying truth claims about the OT & NT relative to the veracity of Christianity. To say that there are only 4 options (OT & NT are both true, OT & NT are both false, or NT/OT is true and the other one is false is way too black & white.

Passages of both are true in the sense that they correctly record historical fact. Passages of both are false in the sense that there are incorrect historical or scientific assertions in them.

You must be much more precise in your points to make the sweeping claim that one is false therefore Christianity is false.

walker_family_123 said...

jbudrdanl, I’m not just talking about ‘proof texts’ like Isaiah 53 or topics like that. I am also NOT saying a historical falsehood invalidates the text. I am assuming the OT is from God, and therefore asking, well, is Jesus the messiah?

You cannot have your cake & eat it too. One cannot claim Jesus is the messiah but bristle when one points out that he didn’t meet the OT criteria to be the messiah.

What I’m saying is that the OT (and Christians believe, God), teaches extremely clearly against the deification of a person and idolatry. The OT author (s) believed that the only way to gain atonement is repentance, not blood. The OT did not believe the messiah is to be divine, and the OT outlined the qualifications of the messiah which Jesus did not fulfill. And the OT says that false prophets will do miracles.

So in other words, if you’re going to believe the OT as the word of god, then Jesus certainly isn’t divine, or the messiah, or a sacrificial atonement.

I agree it’s not black & white. There are nuances that one must consider, but frankly, ask yourself, how you can simultaneously believe the OT and Christianity. They do not just contradict each other, but disagree on the most fundamental points.

I’m not saying it will lead to the position that Christianity is false. Simply that, if you believe in Jesus as divine, or as sacrificial atonement, or a trinity, then those beliefs are flat-out against the teachings of the OT.

Anonymous said...

walker, I'd have to agree with Prof. Lambert (jbudrdanl) on this. In fact, it's quite possible to be a Marcionite who rejects the OT but affirms Paul's letters along with the Gospel of Luke. I wonder if Christianity will move in this very direction due to the barbarisms found in the OT. Christianity, in my opinion, keeps changing with every generation.

walker_family_123 said...

John, the Marcionites are long gone. I don't know of any Christian sect which rejects the OT and only accepts the NT, or which affirms only Paul's letters along with the Gospel of Luke.

Sure, **IF** Christianity rejected the OT, we could examine its claims on its own. But it doesn't! If Christianity believes in the OT, then let's examine it in light of that. That only makes sense.

edson said...

Spencer, I am going to sound harsh in this one but that should be taken only as a natural reaction to several of your nauseating posts about the resurrection of Christ.

Well, in short your arguments are very primitive and weak when compared to thrilling and compelling narrations about the resurrection of Christ we read the Gospels. In my opinion, any argument to debunk the established information christians have about this, must equally be compelling. Unfortunately, yours do not equal to that. The only people to buy in your arguments are the one who are, by default, atheists or are in the process of becoming atheists.

You are on the wrong side of the history for the only alternative information that could have possibly explained the fate of Jesus would have to be produced by the contemporaries of Jesus, at least those who were never christians. Too bad, for you, we have none. The only pieces we have from the likes of those, e.g. Josephus TF,confirm the resurrection of Jesus.

In my opinion, there are so many areas you can exploit to attack the credibility of Chrsitianity but certainly, the resurrection of Jesus is not one of them. You can try the credibility for the existance of the historical Jesus,for example. Some of the wiser atheists exploit this area so much and are not dumb to attack Christianity by your approach.

dvd said...

spencer

this is an inductive case, this is a historical plus theological question, therefore you should be defining what "you see as reasonable."

moreover, your argument only targets an apologetic approach. my own approach is not based in this way.

the christian position is that jesus was fully human, he was a man who had laid aside his divine attributes.

your introducing something called 'supernormal' and i don't see evidence for such beings.
there may be other life forms on other planets, but that is one huge assumption to assume that they also have such far reaching intelligence.

whereas a theist points to evidence he feels suggests that god may in fact exist.

i see absolutely no evidence for other life forms similar to humans.

do these other life forms leave any communications that we can detect? why can't we detect them? they seem interested to come here if in fact what your saying is true. we scan the universe looking for messages, we see none.

unless you can show reasonable reasons to even assume such beings might exist, then i don't see the point here.

Spencer said...

edson,

If you think my arguments are "very primitive and weak," then perhaps you can point to the specific weaknesses they contain. Which premises do you dispute and why?

Spencer said...

dvd,

If you want to refute my arguments, you need to challenge particular premises, which you have not yet done.

you wrote:
--------
this is an inductive case, this is a historical plus theological question, therefore you should be defining what "you see as reasonable."
-----------

Why do I need to? If the inference to "Jesus can't rise naturally" conforms to the fallacious reasoning pattern stated in premise (1), then I have shown the inference to be fallacious. My job is done.


You wrote:
---------

your introducing something called 'supernormal' and i don't see evidence for such beings.
----------

The term supernormal is a neutral one with respect to naturalism/supernaturalism, and thus I do not draw a distinction between the two. Jesus could have been supernormal AND supernatural.

edson said...

Walker, you must also know that an ideal christian must be the one who clearly understand the basis of his faith according to scriptures, both OT and NT. Therefore, just about every christian is convinced that the OT and NT are both valid word of God, otherwise, s(he) is not a christian. And for that matter, if one rejects NT but accepts OT, s(he) is perhaps an orthodox jew.

So what is your point? An atheist does not attack christianity that way, your way, for there are so many excerpts in the OT confirming the NT. An atheist is keen to dicredit the validity of even the OT. You are perhaps a jew, a muslim or any theist who is not comfortable with christianity.

As for the OT excerpts which disagree or contradict the NT, it is a subject of debate and conviction between judaism and christianity. Some jews find NT compatible with OT while the majority find it not. But certainly your argument is not going to bother christianity any how.

Scott said...

I wonder if Christianity will move in this very direction due to the barbarisms found in the OT. Christianity, in my opinion, keeps changing with every generation.

This would be an interesting change of affairs.
Especially given that Jesus, at times, makes specific references the OT.

Would these specific references in the NT be identified as false or would their reference by Jesus somehow be considered an endorsement of truth, despite being found in the OT?

Such statements would appear to be a contradiction, as it's unlikely that Jesus, were he divine, would not have known the OT scriptures he was referring to were false.

Nor would it seem moral for Jesus to intentionally reference scriptures people thought were true (but he knew were false) as a means to convert followers.

walker_family_123 said...

Edson,

What I point out is that **if you believe** the OT reflects spiritual truths from God (such as the topic of atonement, messiah, idolatry, etc.), but the teachings of the NT and Christianity completely fly in the face of that, then that IS indeed (!) a serious problem for Christianity.

In other words, if the OT (you believe, from God) says never worship a human as god, and then Christianity tells us to worship Jesus as god, then you’re telling me there’s no problem there? Really?

If the OT teaches core, spiritual truths from God, and Christianity completely disagrees with those points, then it should be pretty clear why they both cannot be from the same God.

Johnny P said...

walker,
can i just commend you on this approach. i see it as the most important tactic in diffusing the potency of christianity, as the OT is the foundations upon which the NT, and thus christianity, is built. the OT seems to be so full of issues, from anachronisms and contradictions, to being an experiment and expose in early jewish theology and mythological theft, that to me, it seems difficult to attribute it to the word of god.

i am at the moment trying to research bias in biblical scholarship, seeing how much scholars are biased by their existing worldviews when carrrying out exegesis, archaeology, biblical studies. this clearly doesn't help when trying to get as objective a view as possible as to what the OT and all its evidence, or lack thereof, is all aboout.

more OT examination!

Spencer said...

Penneyworth wrote:

-----------
-We should not assume it is implausible that x.
-We should assume it is plausible that x.
----------

The two are not necessarily equivalent or coextensive. To see this, substitute 'implausible" for "improbable." Just because we should not assume it improbable that Jane went to the store, it does not follow that we should assume it probable that Jane went to the store.

you wrote:
------------
Here is an example from your post: One of the assumptions in argument 1 is that the virgin birth is assumed to be true.
------------


In regards to the virgin birth, we have two choices: either Jesus was not fully biologically human, or he was fully biologically human despite not having a biological human father. These are the only two options IF Jesus didn't have a biological father (this is what I meant by assuming the virgin birth story). I see no reason to think the latter is more plausible or supported by evidence than the former. If the possibility that Jesus was not fully biologically human is plausible, then the hypothesis that Jesus was a space-alien becomes plausible, given our background assumptions about the probability of intelligent life (especially type-II and type-III civilizations) in the universe. At the very least: if Jesus was not fully biologically human, then he must have had a different physiology than the rest of us, and this difference might explain why he was able to perform supernormal feats.



You wrote:
---------
I can logically prove anything I can imagine. But what is the point?


My point here is that these pseudo mathematical logic games are for the creationist to set up, and for us skeptics to deconstruct. The skeptic does not need to produce them.
-----------

My arguments aren't trying to show "it is logically possible that..." This would certainly be a HUGE waste of time. Instead, as I said in my post, what I'm trying to do is the following: show that even if Jesus was really raised from the dead, it cannot be demonstrated (with probability, of course) that it was God who did it. This is NOT a trivial project. If my arguments are sound, then spending years arguing the historicity of the resurrection would be a waste of time (from a dialectical pov).

Scott said...

DVD wrote: your introducing something called 'supernormal' and i don't see evidence for such beings.

DVD, let's take the following example. Normal human beings cannot re grow limbs, correct?

Imagine someone came to you with a claim that an individual had re-grown a limb, including bones, ligaments, tendons blood vessels and nerves. Would this be a super-normal person? I'd say yes.

Now, for the sake of argument, imagine you have never seen a salamander or did not know they could re-grow limbs.

Having no knowledge of any living thing that could re-grow a limb, this may appear to be a supernatural event. However, we know that salamanders can re-grown limbs naturally. This means it would be possible for human beings naturally to re-grow limbs should they have the right genetic code.

I'd note that researchers are trying to figure out how to do just this, which would result in what we would initially consider super-normal human beings.

Of course, Spencer's argument doesn't need to assume that Jesus' resurrection was natural for it to be valid, but I wanted to provide a concrete example of what even you would most likely consider a "supernormal" being.

Scott said...

I'd note, you can find an interesting article on research into human limb re-growth on Scientific American's website.

Regrowing Limbs: Can People Regenerate Body Parts?

Of interest to the subject of a resurrected body, it includes the topic of scarless wound healing.

dvd said...

scott

I am not arguing against possibilities, rather I am saying what we know currently and what we theorize has to in part at least use things that might have evidence of existing. i mean, alien life in other worlds is disputed, and even if there is, why do we assume they would be intelligent?

a theist, argues that he has evidence for an unseen entity. that is part of craig's argument for the existence of god.

to say that supernormal beings who are of our natural world might explain relevant data is to jump a step.

we have zero evidence for such beings. we have zero evidence depsite our best efforts.

dvd said...

spencer

you said this:
"The term supernormal is a neutral one with respect to naturalism/supernaturalism, and thus I do not draw a distinction between the two. Jesus could have been supernormal AND supernatural."


I disagree. It is not neutral. It offers the idea as a possibility, beings who are powerful beyond the norm.

either it is natural or not. but what is natural?

so a theist has in his corner, god.
you introduce the idea of another being who might explain some of this data.

you introduce the idea of a being we have no evidence for. you offer the alternative of a supernormal albeit natural being.

so you don't choose between the two.

but the theist has no evidence for supernormals, but see's evidence for god.

naturally, they posit what has available evidence and can't just hold something else as being equal just because it is possible.

Scott said...

DVD wrote: I am not arguing against possibilities, rather I am saying what we know currently and what we theorize has to in part at least use things that might have evidence of existing.

DVD,

If we knew human beings could re-grow limbs, then human beings that could re-grow limbs would simply be normal human beings. It's only due to the fact that we know human beings currently cannot re-grow limbs would such an ability be considered super-normal.

It's a negative definition, much like your theistic view of the supernatural.

However, unlike the supernatural, the fact that we happen to have a concrete example of a living organism that did not loose, (or somehow gained) the ability to re-grow limbs shows that it is indeed possible and can even occur naturally.

Should Salamanders have gone extinct, we may have assumed it was impossible for any living creatures to naturally re-grown limbs out of the womb. However, this clearly would have been a false assumption.

Spencer said...

dvd wrote:
-----------
I disagree. It is not neutral. It offers the idea as a possibility, beings who are powerful beyond the norm.
------------

The way the term "supernormal" is used in my argument is completely neutral: for it does NOT entail that Jesus was a supernatural OR a natural being. If the term was NOT neutral, then I cannot say: Jesus could have been a supernormal (yet supernatural) being. But of course I can say this.

dvd said...

scott

then your left a house of cards that is about to collapse. what could we know? if everything is subject to change, could we actually know something?

well, i take human being and awareness very differently then i would take physical objects and their relationships.

i would understand life and death much differently then the ability to grow a limb, in that the life we are talking about is conscious and is about something.

to come back form death in the form of awareness that one had previous to me is not the same as rebuilding something.

dvd said...

spencer

you wrote:

"The way the term "supernormal" is used in my argument is completely neutral: for it does NOT entail that Jesus was a supernatural OR a natural being. If the term was NOT neutral, then I cannot say: Jesus could have been a supernormal (yet supernatural) being. But of course I can say this."

but your arguing for the undecided position based on the argument. are you not? does supernormal natural entities really offer the alternative?

it seems to me that your arguing for a neutral position based on something that a theist has no evidence for.

the theist argues in addition for the existence of god.

so the theist factors in the existence of god and deals with probability.

the theist argues that we have evidence that is more plausible for the existence of god.

what evidence is for these other beings?

i could say santa claus resurrected jesus as well. what evidence is there for or against such?

you might say santa is neutral, but is it?

if you move santa in and list him as a possible canditate, i see this as a move that is not neutral, same for other beings whom we have no evidence for.

Spencer said...

dvd wrote:

-----------
but your arguing for the undecided position based on the argument. are you not?
------------

No. I'm arguing that the inference to "Jesus probably can't rise naturally" is fallacious.

you wrote:
---------

it seems to me that your arguing for a neutral position based on something that a theist has no evidence for.
-----------

I'm not arguing for a "neutral" position -- I'm arguing that the apologist can't make his case.

you wrote:
-----------
so the theist factors in the existence of god and deals with probability.

the theist argues that we have evidence that is more plausible for the existence of god.

what evidence is for these other beings?
------------

The fact (let's suppose) that God exist doesn't mean it's probable that God raised Jesus from the dead.

dvd said...

spencer

you wrote:
"No. I'm arguing that the inference to "Jesus probably can't rise naturally" is fallacious. "

by introducing something that we have no evidence for? supernormal beings i dont believe exist. a thiest would say they don't exist, or that they dont' have evidence for them.


you wrote:
"I'm not arguing for a "neutral" position -- I'm arguing that the apologist can't make his case. "

i don't agree.

you wrote:
"The fact (let's suppose) that God exist doesn't mean it's probable that God raised Jesus from the dead."

keep in mind that craig is arguing for a hypothesis or theory. suppose a murder occured in los angeles and you live there, you live in the part of the city that the murder occured.

now suppose i lived in liverpool england. at the time i made tea a murder happened. you can't account for the time. that fact alone does not make you a suspect. but it certainly alters the probability between me and you and who could've committed the crime.

now if other evidence comes out or is circumstantial, then we can start building a case.

so on the face of it, your correct it would not mean that god did it, (the resurrection) but it moves the probability in that direction if he exists.

that is why i spoke about bayes and the probability thing.

now we can't introduce things that the theist or even most atheists would not really believe in.

let me give you an example.

suppose you start arguing that a duplicate twin from another universe popped into our universe from a different timeline and the resurrection is really no miracle at all.

i mean we have to have some evidence or at least something to move us in that direction.

or say someone started arguing that zeus or santa did it. of course we would reject this, we don't believe such exists.

supernormal type beings that are natural are like that.

to a theist god has evidence at least so they start from that point.

Spencer said...

dvd wrote:
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by introducing something that we have no evidence for? supernormal beings i dont believe exist. a thiest would say they don't exist, or that they dont' have evidence for them.
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Again, I'm assuming the physical events *for the sake of argument* -- I don't have to prove supernormal beings exist. The assumption - in the case of Jesus - is granted.

Christians CERTAINLY think Jesus was a supernormal being, though they would say he's also a supernatural one.


you wrote:
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i don't agree.
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Either I'm trying to argue that the apologist can't make his case, or I am not. I clearly am, and I'm not doing that by trying to argue that Jesus was probably a natural being, or that the event of him rising from the dead was natural.


As for the rest of what you wrote, I don't understand how any of it applies to my argument. My argument is formally valid, and therefore if it doesn't succeed, there must be something wrong with one of the premises. You have yet to point to a faulty premise.

Scott said...

DVD,

First, I'd remind you that a natural explanation is not required for Spencer's argument to be valid.

what could we know? if everything is subject to change, could we actually know something?

Are you suggesting that human knowledge has not changed?

Atom were named from the Greek atmos, which means indivisible. This is because, at one time, we thought they were the smallest building blocks of the universe. However, we now know this to be false.

Should God exist, how do you know your definition of his nature is correct? Perhaps what you call God is really just a misinterpretation of nature? Or perhaps neither of us have it right and it's really something in between? This is possible, but the question is, is it plausible or likely?

i would understand life and death much differently then the ability to grow a limb, in that the life we are talking about is conscious and is about something.

I realize this. But what is this understanding based on?

How is the possibility that an all powerful, all knowing, non-material being exits any more of an assumption that the possibility that super-normal human beings might exist?