Again I thank my opponent for his response. The first third of my opponent’s response is little more than a definition of what a deist, an atheist and a theist is. However even his rebuttals are in error. For example my opponent states that to ascribe a will to a deity is nonsense. However, if Jesus was raised, and my opponent agrees that this would be a supernatural act, then it shows that God DID act out his will in this world!
And yet he states:
For the purposes of this debate, I will assume the position of agnosticism, that is, that I cannot know, as inherent epistemic limitation (unknowable), or a limitation owing to my particular context in history of scientific development (unknown), whether or not a deity exists.
Theists are in the same boat.
The deist may also suppose that this entity is omnipotent, and could, if it had a will, suspend or violate the laws it created. His ‘evidence’ for this is in what he considers ‘unexplainable (not merely unexplained) phenomena.’ For the purposes of this discussion, I will assume that the deist’s faith is rational
, that he or she has sufficient reason for believing such.
Why is that that we CANNOT know whether God exists or not? That requires an a-priori knowledge. Also, it is a self-refuting statement. To say that one cannot know is an absolute statement. It is self refuting in that there is something you can know, that you cannot know whether there is a God. It commits intellectual seppuku.
I believe that we can, reasonably believe that God exists, even though we cannot know Him exhaustively.
Again as Dawkins admits there are strong arguments for the existence of God and intelligent design.
– Richard Dawkins, 2008
The refusal to believe in anything you can’t see yourself is absurd.
Though that is not the topic of discussion.
Also, since my opponent adopts the position of agnosticism, then he allows for the possibility of the existence of the supernatural.
And as my opponent admits:
My opponent agrees to the five facts as presented in this case.
Now, the Christian theists, like my opponent, believe that God revealed ‘His’ will in this world, and this was through Jesus. A romantic reason for this is that - since God is unintelligible to humans, he embodied the human form for communicatory purposes (not saying my opponent believes this). This is seemingly plausible, if God is omnipotent, he can do this.
Um, it would behoove him to do so. As he agreed, the appropriate method of deciding whether the Resurrection is probable is the historical methodology I outlined earlier. In order to see whether the resurrection is more probable than not historically, there must be competing theories. The theory that best explains the data is the one that probably occurred. So, yes, if my opponent wishes to deny the probability of the resurrection on historical grounds, using the accepted guidelines that historians use, then there must be competing theories. However, if my opponent wishes to abstain and refuse to provide an alternative account, then the resurrection hypothesis is the only theory on the table. Since it takes into account all of the facts, then according to the historical methodology that we agreed upon, the resurrection is probable.
Certainly, there is competing theory: he died and was not resurrected. I do not need to account for the sudden conversions, simply because the conversions do not count as evidence - the conversions only supplement the claim.
To put it another way, if my opponent puts forth something that is inferior (that is, it doesn't take into account the accepted data and is not well evidenced), or simply refuses to put something forth, the resurrection wins out.
The reason why we can discount the Salem witch trials is because the witnesses were proven to be unreliable and that there were other factors which lends itself to a natural explanation.
As for a court of law, it is interesting that Simon Greenleaf, founder of Harvard Law school, who wrote the three volume treatise on evidence, which is still the standard in America and England, who was an atheist was challenged to disprove the evidence for the resurrection using the exact same rules of evidence. He took up the challenge. What he discovered changed his worldview and he became a Christian and published a book “Testimony of the Evangelists”. As have many other lawyers.
Yes, my opponent is mistaken. The resurrection was a physical event.
It is interesting, if I’m not mistaken, that James and Paul’s sudden conversions were based on ‘spectral evidence,’ i.e., supposedly seeing an apparition of the Risen Christ.
As for the exorcism case, again, there was naturalistic evidence that also explained the facts.
Again a logical fallacy of Hasty Generalization.
Simply understanding the laws of physiology, resurrection could never be brought up in a trial. The dead cannot be undead, this is a blatant contradiction.
I would like my opponent to state which “Law of Physiology” states that dead men MUST stay dead.
Also to regress, since he took a stand of agnosticism on the supernatural, it is possible that God exists and that he could have intervened in the case of Jesus. I think my opponent just shot himself in the proverbial foot when he stated “the Laws of Physiology” and yet grants the possibility of an omnipotent God. If an omnipotent God exists, then he can indeed, since he is omnipotent, suspend, reverse, transcend the laws of nature that he formed in the first place!
Why must we discount the supernatural a-priori, which is what you seem to be advocating?
In any event, if we do not discount the supernatural, practically every empirical statement is a hasty generalization (the only propositions really invulnerable to this fallacy are mathematical, logical, and semantic propositions, e.g. all bachelors are unmarried, John is a bachelor, therefore John is unmarried). I accept the accusation, though I hope he concedes to this point.
Second, it is a straw man. No Christian, including those that are scientists, states that everything is a hasty generalization! As I stated before, Christians are quite happy to admit that dead men usually stay dead naturalistically. Completely in accordance with the usual workings of the universe. However, the resurrection is a supernatural event.
Absolutely, we should look for naturalistic explanations first. But, if there is nothing to be had, why can’t we attribute it to the supernatural and continue to look for the explanation? To say that it is “against the rules” begs the question, whose rules? The only way you could really discount the supernatural is if you either know all of the facts which can account for the phenomenon or if there is an alternate explanation that better explains the facts better than a supernatural one. And that is what we are trying to find out here.
Thirdly, since you concede the existence of an omnipotent God, then you cannot automatically discount the supernatural!!!! Again, the position is self-refuting.
As stated before, yes he does. Since he agreed that the only way to see what probably happened is by historical methodology.
My account lacks explanatory power? Like I said, I do not need to offer a competing theory. It is superfluous for me to do so; it’s only necessary that I refute the resurrection. But to satisfy my opponent’s curiosity, I will provide a naturalistic account. Now, if he is reasonable, he will not comment on this, since it has nothing to do with my argument.
Not only that but he says he is giving a naturalistic account and yet uses angels?
To begin … I think I agree with the aforementioned historical criterion, the two methodologies espoused by Carrier: the argument to the best explanation, and the argument from evidence.
Second, it is close to a straw man, since I never alluded that angels move the stone, or that there was even an earthquake etc.
Ok, what historical evidence is there that is equal or superior to mine that the guards were not killed, and someone else moved the body?
Plausible explanation: there was an earthquake that killed the Roman guards, rolled the stone away ... Meanwhile, someone moved Jesus' body …
“As for James and Paul, they were deluded.”
What historical evidence can you point to that they were deluded?
And here is why it is ad hoc. First theory, there was an earthquake, someone or something rolled the stone away and Jesus’ body was moved by someone.
However, it doesn’t explain Paul and James’ conversion, so he has to come up with an additional theory, they were deluded. Both theories have no historical evidence to substantiate them. What about the disciple’s sincere belief that they had experienced the risen Jesus? It wasn’t even addressed. That is ad hoc reasoning.
And yet my opponent accepts that he has committed a hasty generalizations! Other logical fallacies are below.
First of all, my friend can be assured I am not launching an ad hoc argument - I think my line of reasoning speaks for itself. If it doesn’t, I expect an indication of the fallacies I committed (I will address his accusation of False Analogy and Hasty Generalization).
Easy, we agree upon five facts of the case. So, what happened on that Easter morning? As my opponent himself agreed, the best methodology to discover what probably happened, and hence why I believe what I do, is the historical methodology, and one of those is the argument to the best explanation.
So, since I granted my opponent the existence of a deity, I will ask of him: what reason do you have for believing that he intervened? You can ascribe no properties whatsoever to this entity, so to speculate on intention is absolutely illogical. Therefore, all you have is the testimony of an ancient people. Now, if my opponent wants, I could dig up all the miracle claims attested to throughout history. Various Gods, various religions, various miracle workers. Couldn’t God have intervened there also? What reason do you have for believing he intervened here?
Now since the only thing offered is far inferior to the resurrection theory, according to the agreed upon guidelines, the resurrection is what probably happened. That is why I believe God intervened.
Second, my opponent, in his challenge commits the logical fallacy of Special Pleading. He himself ascribes attributes to God (omnipotence) and yet disallows me the same.
Third, he commits a Straw Man. A Christian does not believe that God is unknowable or intelligible. For example, one can adduce some knowledge of God from nature [Romans 1:20]. Also Christians also believe that God has spoken to man directly, as in the case of Moses for example. And also through his prophets and lastly through Jesus Christ.
So, to recap:
1. My opponent moves from atheism to agnosticism and grants the possibility of God and the supernatural.
2. In order to make his points, my opponent as committed logical fallacies, to which he admits, and continues to do so. If these are the kinds of things one has to do in order to deny the supernatural or the resurrection in particular, this should give one pause and re-evaluate one’s position.
3. My opponent agrees to the following facts:
a) Jesus died and was buried
b) The disciples sincerely believed that they had experienced the risen Jesus
c) Paul, an enemy of Christians, suddenly converted
d) James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, suddenly converted
e) The tomb was found empty.
To discover what probably happened, whether a miracle or something naturalistic occurred, we agreed that the best way to test this is by the historical methods that secular historians use.
The theory that best takes into account the data is what probably happened.
As historian C. Behan McCullagh says in his book Justifying Historical Descriptions:
4) The Resurrection hypothesis explains all of the facts agreed upon. However, my opponent’s explanation fails to account for the disciple’s belief as well as Paul and James (hence he must come up with additional claims to account for them).
If the scope and strength of an explanation are very great, so that it explains a large number and variety of facts, many more than any competing explanation, then it is likely to be true.
- McCullah, "The Truth of History." p.23
But if the evidence in support of an explanatory hypothesis is strong, and there is no alternative hypothesis supported nearly as well, it is reasonable to believe it is probably true.
5) The facts that I provide for the evidence of the resurrection are each well attested to by evidence and are accepted by the vast majority of critical scholars that have studied the subject.
6) My opponent’s alternative are not evidenced anywhere. They are just unsubstantiated claims.
There is zero evidence that someone stole or moved the body, and there is no historical evidence that Paul and James had delusions.
And as stated before, the origin of the disciples’ sincere belief was not even addressed.
7) So the hypothesis that Jesus was resurrected is far better supported by the facts and explains those facts far better than the alternative. Hence the resurrection is still on solid grounds.