Saturday, March 12, 2011

What would disprove Christianity

A redated post. 

I have often reflected on world-views and disconfirmation. Many non-believers will tell me that they would believe if God were to do something miraculous. God could provide a dramatic, Spielbergian confirmation of his existence which would disconfirm atheism, perhaps decisively. The galaxies in the Virgo cluster spelling out "Turn or Burn: This Means You, Parsons" is my personal favorite. Though Perezoso has been pointing out Christine Overall's argument that miracles wouldn't confirm the goodness of God, and might be one more piece of evidence that the Infinite One is not good, even if he exists.

Can the theist point to something similar that would decisively refute his own theism? After all a God who doesn't exist can't dramatically demonstrate his non-existence. In most atheist post-mortem scenarios, both the theist and the atheist have gone out of existence, so no one will be around to collect their bets. But there is no Spielbergian scenario that the theist can point to. Most people who come to believe, or disbelieve, do so for a variety of reasons put together, and so I can offer a vague suggestion that a lot of things going south with respect to my faith might undermine it decisively, without being able to specify exactly what that would amount to.

It is somewhat easier to think of a circumstance according to which my Christian beliefs might fall apart, though this is a post-mortem scenario.

I die, and stand before an august figure who is carrying a curved sword, and a gong mallet. The august figure asks me who my God is. I tell him "The triune God, the Father, on and Holy Spirit." The august figure scowls and bangs the gong. This isn't going so well. "The true God is Allah, he says." Oops. Then he asks "Who is your prophet?" I answer, "There were many prophets. There were the nonliterate prophets, like Elijah and Elisha, there were the Major Prophets, and the Minor Prophets. The gong bangs again. "And Muhammad is his prophet." I then find myself falling into a desert. There are lots of mirages but no water. And lots of demonic laughter whenever I realize there is no water. I'm really thirsty.

Then I reach a canyon, which I can't cross. I see all of the 9/11 hijackers enjoying...uh... the fruits promised them in the Muslim paradise, and praising Allah. I mean, this is serious damnation.

After awhile it will get through to me that this is not a bad dream, and the logical conclusion would have to be that Islam was true and Christianity was not.

70 comments:

philip m said...

In The Irrational Atheist, Vox day writes:

". . . if rabbit fossils found in a Pre-Cambrian strata would suffice
to disprove evolution, then surely a brilliant scientist like Richard
Dawkins should easily be able to come up with a few propositions
that would suffice to falsify a specific religion such as Christianity. I
suggest a few possibilities:
• The elimination of the Jewish people would falsify both God’s
promise to Abraham and the eschatological events prophesied in
the Book of Revelation.
• The discovery of Jesus Christ’s crucified skeleton.
• The linguistic unification of humanity.
• An external recording of the history of the human race provided by
aliens, as proposed by science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke and
James P. Hogan.
• The end of war and/or poverty.
• Functional immortality technology."

That is his answer. For me, I find the question a bit awkward. My belief in God is based on much of the data that has already arrived - the beginning of the universe, the universe's existence at all, its beauty, the human experience, and so on. So most people when they ask what would falsify the belief are asking about assuming that it is only things *within* our context which provide evidnece for/against God. What they fail to notice is that people tend to react to their context as a whole, and so that is the evidence that makes it either probable or improbable that there is a God.

Take Swinburne - he offers much the same things as evidence for God, mainly the existence of the universe, its beauty, that all objects in the universe conform to the same natural laws, its ability to lead to the evolution of humans and animals, our moral awareness and furthermore our ability to form our characters, the plethora of religious experiences in history, the reports of many miracles occurring, particularly the resurrection of Jesus. There are many more little things that make up our lives that eventually form the whole of what it seems, and it might be the case that God makes the most sense of it all, even if the things which make it up aren't as salient as the existence of the universe and other such starting points for arguments to the existence of God which all people are familiar with.

So, I think to myself, what does all this mean for the falsifiability of the theism? It means for Swinburne if he lived in a universe which was not beautiful, and where there was chaos rather than natural laws, and we did not have much moral awareness, and there were not many religious experiences, and not many reports of miracles, and there was much more suffering - nuclear wars wiping out entire contintents, perhaps - belief in God would not be a very good belief to have at all, since it most certainly false.

So the question is a misconceived one, because so much of the data which must be analyzed is already assumed by being in the universe we are in fact in. So the question is, what within a context that renders the existence of God highly probable could overcome the initially high probability in order to mitigate it to the point of unbelief? Vox Day gives a few answers, but I don't see much worth in the question. The proper question seems to me whether or not the original evidence was analyzed properly, which I don't think is what the questioner is thinking of.

Jim Jordan said...

Then I reach a canyon, which I can't cross. I see all of the 9/11 hijackers enjoying...uh... the fruits promised them in the Muslim paradise, and praising Allah. I mean, this is serious damnation.

Fascinating thought experiment. I used to fret over possibly being wrong about Jesus. The premise upon which I first examined the Bible in detail was that parts of it could not possibly be true. My goal was to reveal what was clearly false from what could not be said from what was clearly true. After about five years I came to the conclusion, first intellectually then experientially, that Jesus represents the veritable hand of the Creator of the universe reaching out to His creation. There is no one else like Christ; one man who tied up the hundreds of loose ends of the Law, the Writings and the Prophets [over dozens of life spans just as one would expect an eternal God to demonstrate], confirming who He was and is.

If Jesus is not the son of God, then we can conclude that God is not perfect. God is capable of equivocation. He is, in essence, an all-powerful Loser, pouring his blessing onto mass murderers like the 9/11 Hijackers.

I can confidently doubt that is the case. The truth is either Christ or nothing. And as the professor said, if the answer is nothing, so what? Knowing a non-existent Christ would nonetheless have succeeded in having made me a faithful husband, devoted father, loyal friend, and self-motivated servant. I will return to dust having lived a wonderful life and fully optimnistic of the future lives my organic dust will fertilize.

Last, at this point, nothing could disprove Christianity. It's the same question Joshua asked 3,500 years ago, Choose this day whom you will serve. Will you choose a god who is no good even if he is there? Or will you choose a God who is goodness itself and necessarily holds the world together? Note: Believing in Christ is a win-win situation.

Ilíon said...

The non-resurrection of Jesus would quite handily disprove and falsify Christianity ... as was clearly stated 2000 years ago.

Odd, isn't it? Here the proponents of "anti-reason" (or so we are accused) have made clear statements of what would falsify their claims -- going so far as to incorporate such statements into the fabric of their belief-system; but in contrast, the "pro-reason" people (or so they constantly assert themselves to be) pretend to do so, but do not -- for their "this would falsify our claims" statements always have an escape-hatch.

Ilíon said...

Mr Jordan, you're wrong; you're right in some details and wrong in total. And, oddly enough, the wrongness-in-total can be meaningfully understood in the first place only because it is wrong (and because human beings cannot really do nihilism).

Ilíon said...

VR: "... After awhile it will get through to me that this is not a bad dream, and the logical conclusion would have to be that Islam was true and Christianity was not."

And would you *want* to partake of Allah's "Paradise?" I know that I wouldn't!

Matthew said...

Vic, Hume would be there too and tell you that you are gullible.

Jason Pratt said...

Philip (though more directed in regard to Vox Day by proxy),

if human footprints in Jurassic or Cretaceous rock don't "disprove" evolution, I doubt rabbit fossils in pre-Cambrian strata would either. {g} Assuming it isn't dismissible as a hoax, the worst that could happen is that stratification theories would have to be revised to become more nuanced. (Even Mr. D got around a similar scenario in the 1996 version of The Blind Watchmaker by appealing to volcanic folding and things of that sort.)

Similarly, the elimination of the Jewish people would falsify the eschatological events prophesied in a book that had some trouble being authoritatively accepted as canonical anyway. Christianity can survive very well without RevJohn. (And what would it take to accomplish that nowadays anyway? The permanent elimination of the whole human race without any resurrection afterward. But that last element begs a number of questions, and besides it isn't like anyone would be around to appreciate the falsification.)

The end of war and/or poverty would be so far from falsifying Christianity that Christians have routinely (if somewhat over-idealistically) hoped to see such an end in their lifetimes. Plus anti-theists would have considerably less to complain about. {g}

C. S. Lewis (a friend and correspondent of Arthur C. Clarke) pointed out several times that the existence of aliens would not of itself substantially undermine Christianity.

Functional immortality technology would not suffice to falsify Christianity per se, although (assuming it was permanently in fact and not in theory applied to all persons) it would admittedly remove some primal reasons to hope that life after death is true, and would tend to (irrationally) inflate people's ideas that we don't "need" God after all.

The linguistic unification of humanity is so far from sufficient to falsify Christianity, that I include it in my own series of fantasy novels!

The discovery of Jesus Christ's crucified skeleton would be the biggest real blow. But the metaphysical precepts could easily survive even that; up to and including a rational expectation that something like the story described in the Old and New Testaments will be enacted by God in history someday. (The NT would be reduced to the most astonishing example of preparatorio evangelica, but that would be the extent of the damage logically speaking.)


Working backward from a full trinitarian orthodoxy, I would consider the following to count as sufficient to falsify various levels of Christianity in a far more serious fashion than even finding a crucified skeleton of Jesus Christ (assuming that that could be "easily" established as identified.)

1.) discovering that God, if He exists, could only be privative not positive in His aseity, would instantly reduce a lot of the self-begetting/self-begotten aspects of orthodox trinitarianism to nothing much more than meaningless assertions. (The fact that Christian philosophers and theologians have tended much more often than not to be privative aseitists throughout our history, however, illustrates that the belief itself could still survive in the teeth of privative aseity, so to speak.)

2.) discovering that minimal or even nominal deism should be deductively considered true, would necessarily exclude believing in any direct operation of God in the history of this or any other subordinate Nature (aside from continual upkeep of Nature's existence in nominal deism, perhaps.) A supernaturalistic theism without functional relationship with God would make any religion rather pointless (and would render any religious claims otherwise necessarily untrue).

3.) discovering that cosmological God/Anti-God dualism should be deductively considered to be true, would for all practical purposes render religious loyalty to God to be speculative at best.

4.) discovering that cosmological God/Nature dualism should be deductively considered to be true, would be for all practical purposes functionally indistinguishable from atheism (unless Nature turned out to be also theistic, in which case the result would be for all practical purposes indistinguishable from naturalistic theism.)

5.) discovering that naturalism per se should be deductively considered true, would necessarily entail excluding supernaturalism, though not theism. A pantheistic Christianity would be substantially different enough in principle doctrines to be (aside from some possible shared external trappings) a substantially different religion, at best.

6.) discovering that atheism per se should be deductively considered true, would necessarily entail excluding theism. A non-theistic Christianity would be even more substantially different from orthodox trinitarianism than a pantheistic Christianity.

(I will note, however, that strictly speaking something like Mormon Christianity could still be true even if naturalistic atheism is true. Whether a person would have sufficient evidence to believe something like Mormon Christianity is true, would depend both upon circumstances and the person, I suppose. {shrug}{s})

7.) discovering that an infinite regression should be considered true would screw over pretty much all metaphysical truth claims (including that an infinite regression should be considered true. {g} But also including any variety of Christianity.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Victor,

Aside from Hume, I wonder what Descartes would make of that situation... {g}

JRP

Matthew said...

If the Boltzmann-brain turns out to be real, it would falsify theism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

Perezoso said...

Really, nothing would probably suffice as falsification to the True Believer: whether nuclear war, death-asteroid, plagues, or "Functional immortality technology" (in a few more decades human brains will probably be interfaceable with virtual drives, or neural networks of some type: that will be viewed by the pious as the responsibility of the Cyber-Designer).

Which is to say (updating Bruthr Phil's point on context), many catastrophic events might demonstrate, or at least strongly suggest the falsification of Judeo-Christianity to reasonable humans: trench warfare, concentration camps, plagues, Pol Pots, etc. Were you in Nagasaki, Aug. 1945 you might have considered Jeezuss to have been falsified.

Ken Jacobs said...

I always thought I could be convinced by having a debate with God, who would have to be a great debater. A few little nifty, undeniable miracles, a coffee and a long conversation are all I need.

Would having a debate with an atheistic super-intelligent alien suffice for theists? One with vast knowledge of many planetary cultures, much older and more advanced than any on Earth. The important thing to realize is that you may clearly lose on every point you try to make.

Jimmy said...

I don't know what would disprove Christianity, but I am quite sure that John Loftus will link it to us in the form of one of his books!

Sorry for the sarcasm...

Ilíon said...

Why be sorry?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor's view would just be evidence that Christianity is false, but not theism. I would assume I was dreaming if something that kooky happened.

But it is interesting the asymmetry you point to epistemically in the existence versus nonexistence of a deity debate.

I guess if I were a theist, I'd stop believing if I saw that the stuff I thought we needed gods to explain didn't actually require supernatural explanation (e.g., origins of humans, the existence of the sun, thunder).

I think, though that there might be a residual theism that could survive all that elimination through naturalization: assume everything can be explained without deities. Would you still want to be a theist? Do you think there is something written into your heart that would still compel you to believe?

I find this very interesting and am curious what the Christians here think. Now, I don't want to hear the argument that the antecedent would never happen. That's not the question. The question is, if everything could be explained without deities, would you still be a theist? Consciousness, morality, logical and mathematical knowledge and thought, apparent miracles, human decision making, your feelings of love toward God, all that good stuff you like to point to before pointing to God as an explanans. If that stuff could all be explained without the need for God, would you still be a theist?

I think the should likely be a good falsification of theism, at least for most reasonable people.

In my opinion, this falsification has been occurring ever so slowly over the last few centuries. Without an injection of undeniable miracles, God will die.

Ilíon said...

BDK: "The question is, if everything could be explained without deities, would you still be a theist? Consciousness, morality, logical and mathematical knowledge and thought, apparent miracles, human decision making, your feelings of love toward God, all that good stuff you like to point to before pointing to God as an explanans. If that stuff could all be explained without the need for God, would you still be a theist?"

What an odd and misshapen "question" for an 'atheist' to demand. For, after all, there are things which cannot be explained without reference to the transcendent God, yet 'atheist' will not admit that simple fact, much less give up their pretense of being atheists.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Ilion: what a surprise that you refuse to answer the question.

Jason Pratt said...

BDK: {{The question is, if everything could be explained without deities, would you still be a theist?}}

No, I wouldn't. (And no, I don't believe this is an odd or misshapen "question" for an atheist to "demand". {s})


Jimmy: heh. Actually, I was thinking about answering Ken's question with a reference to J'oftus! {lol}


Ken: I wouldn't consider the particular details you mentioned to be relevant. (They would only be an extension of what people with any cultural exposure have known for several thousand years, including most or all of the authors of the OT by the way.) Interesting in their own right, to someone like myself who enjoys and appreciates learning about other cultures, but not functionally more relevant to the topic at hand than what we already know from experience.

Similarly, I see no reason to suppose, for example, that hearing from a super-intelligent alien that vastly more entities in the universe than you were aware of are also theistic in various ways, would add little in favor of your accepting theism. If 99% of humanity throughout history, and still 2/3 today, doesn't convince you in principle, why would learning that the belief is even more widespread than you thought add appreciably to that weight?

(I don't mean that you should consider that weight to be important; I only mean that the weight isn't logically extended by multiplication of examples. Obviously you think there are, or could be, principles which negate any weight of mass positives. Adding more numbers to a mass positive wouldn't, in itself, obviate those principles.)

However, I understand the actual content of the alien's argument to be beside the point: the underlying principle is whether I would be convinced by a totally superior rational argument in favor of something I don't currently believe. The answer is, yes, of course.

(In fact, I wouldn't be so convinced by "a few undeniable miracles" that the entity currently talking to me was actually God Almighty!--regardless of scope, I wouldn't even necessarily believe thereby that God exists. The entity might be capable of tapping into an atheistic supernatural powersource and manipulating Nature thereby, to give one of several counterexamples. But you were including an unbeatable logical debator in your criteria, too, so I realize you weren't hanging on the miracles per se. {s})


Perez: so, you don't consider me to be a true believer then?

I realize that a lot of people seem to think that atrocities (including large scale atrocities) were invented in modern times and so count specially as evidence against ancient outdated beliefs like theism and/or Jeezuss. (Hey, Zeus?) But even on an atheistic rendering, theism had to have been 'invented' (or whatever) during a period of human history when matters were, if anything, worse than now on average. (Unless you actually think theism was invented during some idyllic state of humanity living in a Garden of Eden type scenario. Which would be more than a little interesting in itself! {g})

And, since you weren't paying attention in Sunday School or catechism or whatever, or perhaps have just never heard of this: Christianity per se puts a lot of importance on that guy nailed up on that big plus sign dying of unjustly afflicted torture. Which could at least possibly remind us that Bad Things Happen Even To Good People, in case living in our current idyllic ivory towers of Eden where nothing bad (like, for example, death) ever happens, otherwise prevents us from learning that awful truth.

(Nagasaki and Hiroshima were both the two Christian centers of Japan; but I'm pretty sure the Christians there were already aware of death and pain before the bomb detonated a few hundred feet over Japan's oldest standing cathedral.)


Which is not to say that I'm unsympathetic to anti-theistic arguments from suffering. But I'm very unsympathetic to anti-theistic arguments from ignorance of suffering.

JRP

Ilíon said...

BDK: what a surprise that you're intellectually dishonest!


Jason Pratt: "No, I wouldn't."

Then you haven't thought clearly enough and deeply enough about the silly ... or dishonest ... question.

Jason Pratt: "(And no, I don't believe this is an odd or misshapen "question" for an atheist to "demand". {s})"

Well, you do have that little habit of not attending to the content -- or the context -- of things I say, even as you imagine you're criticising those things.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I call Poe on Ilion.

Gordon Knight said...

"I think, though that there might be a residual theism that could survive all that elimination through naturalization: assume everything can be explained without deities. Would you still want to be a theist? Do you think there is something written into your heart that would still compel you to believe?"


This is the interesting thing. The medievals recognized a distinction between primary and secondary causes. Secondary causes were natural causes the primary cause, as you might guess, is God. Everything depends on God. So God is the primary cause of everything. But this does not preclude the existence of a second series of secondary causes. If you look at,e.g. Aquinas' view, it seems this distinction is necessary and quite compatible with a complete series of secondary causes (no divine interevention at all). God creates from eternity with one big act. how the world plays out for us, including the series of secondary causes, is the result of this one big act.

i have always thought the existence of God (who is a necessary being) was a good explanation , but not of this or that, but of the existence of anything at all. yes I love the cosmological argument!

And BDK : why do you think there something instead of nothing? (most people think this is a naive question, but it has been one of my obsessions since i was 12)

Andrew T. said...

Victor: is there anything that would convince you to reject theism?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Gordon: what if why there is something rather than nothing could be explained without deities. Would you still be a theist?

I don't think the question is naive, just philosophical. We could break it up into two questions: a historical question and a proximate question:
1. Why (historically) did there come to exist something rather than nothing.
2. Why (now) is there something rather than nothing.

Number 1 presupposes that there was nothing at some point, and something replaced it. The big bang could be taken as evidence for such a thing I guess, though of course this is quite controversial as a physics issue.

Number 2 I have no idea. Matter and energy on average don't disappear over time, but are simply transformed. Since there was matter and energy yesterday, I'd expect the same today.

Which would bring us back to question 1 via recursion. :)

SE said...

BDK:In my opinion, this falsification has been occurring ever so slowly over the last few centuries. Without an injection of undeniable miracles, God will die.


Among industrialized nations the trend is clear. Atheism (or simple lack of explicit religious commitment) grows, while organized religion and belief in God declines. In the long run, the prospects for Christianity don't look good.

Ilíon: For, after all, there are things which cannot be explained without reference to the transcendent God...

Such as?

GK: why do you think there something instead of nothing? (most people think this is a naive question, but it has been one of my obsessions since i was 12)

But why suppose that nothingness is a more natural state than somethingness?

BDK:I call Poe on Ilion.

It is hard to tell sometimes if Ilíon is a parody or the genuine article.

Victor Reppert said...

Andrew T: Well, the above mentioned Islamic scenario would probably convince me that whoever was in charge was not good, and hence I would deny one of the central attributes of the theistic God, namely, perfect goodness.

Rob G said...

"Among industrialized nations the trend is clear" and "In the long run, the prospects for Christianity don't look good."

Yet, Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in many parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. Reminds one of something somebody once said about camels and needles' eyes...

Jason Pratt said...

Ilion:

BDK asked whether, if there were no things that could not be explained without reference to the transcendent God (i.e. “if everything could be explained without deities”), would I still be a theist?

Speaking as someone who obviously believes there are things which cannot be explained without reference to the transcendent God (which you ought to be aware of--and, yes, keeping in mind Gordon’s distinction between primary and secondary causation), and whose belief in God is based on this (which again you ought to be aware of, if you claim to pay enough attention to me to criticize me for habits you claim I have), by logical corollary I am obliged to admit that if (hypothetically) that condition did not obtain, then I would not believe in God.

(I wouldn’t necessarily be an atheist, though: by the terms of the hypothesized situation I would be an agnostic, since explanations which don’t necessarily require, do not thereby necessarily exclude God’s existence and active connection to those situations. Mental disturbance doesn’t necessarily require demons, but that fact doesn’t necessarily exclude demons from being involved in mental disturbances.)


My answer was not, in effect, ‘No, even if everything could be explained without reference to the transcendent God, I still would be a theist, because there are things which cannot be explained without reference to the transcendent God.’ Because that would be ridiculous. Nor was it, in effect, ‘Your question is absolutely worthless because it simply can never be true. So there! Nyah! Loser! Pwnd!’

I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean the first thing, either. As to whether your own answer amounted to the second... {shrug} If it didn’t, I have to admit that I fail to see the relevant logical distinction between that and your own answer. If you meant something else in your answer, I might be very glad to hear it.

But even if you did mean that, then at worst we simply have a difference of opinion over whether that category of answer would be logically sufficient to the context and content of BDK’s question.

(And no, I don’t think you’re a parody. {s} Although I’m a little fuzzy on when you think I developed a habit of not attending to the content or context of things you say, while criticising you. I don’t recall criticising you all that often. But if so, apparently I’ve been busy and/or slept since then.)

JRP

Blue Devil Knight said...

JP: everyone has tried treating Ilion with respect, treating him charitably as a logical interlocutor. He won't reciprocate.

But I admire your charity toward him, treating him as a person rather than an internet clown. Just because he doesn't reciprocate doesn't mean we should sink to his level!

Ilíon said...

BDK: "In my opinion, this falsification has been occurring ever so slowly over the last few centuries. Without an injection of undeniable miracles, God will die."

SE: "Among industrialized nations the trend is clear. Atheism (or simple lack of explicit religious commitment) grows, while organized religion and belief in God declines. In the long run, the prospects for Christianity don't look good."

What silly persons you 'atheists' are, to still be spouting such "Enlightenment" mythology in this modern day and age!

The truth is that "among ... nations the trend is clear" -- societal atheism equals national suicide. Shoot! even the demon worshipping, death-cultist Moslems have a distinct edge over "secularist" societies when the question is "Shall we propagate our nation/society?"

I don't expect the likes of you two to know this, but societal death as a result of rejecting God happens to be a Biblical prediction. I know what great store your sort claims to place in accurate (and falsifiable) predictions.

================
BDK: "I call Poe on Ilion."

SE: "It is hard to tell sometimes if Ilíon is a parody or the genuine article."

Obviously, my first impression of SE was correct -- intellectually dishonest, not interested in getting at truth, not interested in understanding ...

================
BDK: "For, after all, there are things which cannot be explained without reference to the transcendent God..."

SE: "Such as?"

Can you not read? Perhaps I should ask, can you not comprehend what you read?

BDK: "... Consciousness, morality, logical and mathematical knowledge and thought, apparent miracles, human decision making, your feelings of love toward God, all that good stuff you like to point to before pointing to God as an explanans. If that stuff could all be explained without the need for God, would you still be a theist?"

The truth is that not merely that these and other such things not be explained without reference to God, but that any attempt to explain such things without reference to God will always peter out into incoherence.

*YOU* cannot be explained without reference to God. Human being are themselves "supernatural."

Ilíon said...

Jason Pratt: "BDK asked whether, if there were no things that could not be explained without reference to the transcendent God (i.e. “if everything could be explained without deities”), would I still be a theist?"

And you answered: "No, I wouldn't."

And I tell you onece again: "Then you haven't thought clearly enough and deeply enough about the silly ... or dishonest ... question."

Explanation #1: The world and all that is in it, including what you imagine to be your memories of your life to this moment, just popped into existence -- without either cause (i.e. cause-and-effect) or reason (ground-and-consequent) -- fifteen minutes ago.

There! Everything is explained ... now you can stop being a "theist."


Explanation #2: The world and all that is in it, including you and me and our lives and thoughts and memories, is a computer simulation. We speak about "I think this" and "I think that," but those are just meaningless noises coming out of our mouths, that is just the playing out of the particular computer program that each of us is.

There! Everything is explained ... now you can stop being a "theist."

Explanation #3: You are that famous "brain in a vat." You apprehension of the world and all that is in it, including your own memories and experiences -- those of which you are currently aware -- are the results of some mad scientist (or team thereof) stimulating various areas of the brain which is you. I do not actually exist, nor does BDK; in this world, only you are real.

There! Everything is explained ... now you can stop being a "theist."


I think one could go on for pages in similar vein.


"Explanations" are not equivalent to knowledge, much less to truth, and are frequently anti-knowledge, impediments to acquiring actual knowledge and understanding.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Ilion: perhaps in your life of sophistry, explanation is disconnected from truth.

I don't buy into such postmodernist baba ghanoush.

Ilíon said...

I always find it amusing when persons such as BDK start tossing around accusations of "sophistry" and "post-modernism." One of these pretend atheists, of all people on God's green earth, accusing someone else of being a sophist or a post-modernist; it's to die!

Ilíon said...

BDK: "JP: everyone has tried treating Ilion with respect, treating him charitably as a logical interlocutor. He won't reciprocate."

"Everyone" has a quite odd conception of 'respect,' much less of 'charity.'

And anyone foolish enough to go panting after the sort of "respect" that you and your sort give is *asking* for the kick in the teeth which always comes sooner or later.


BDK: "But I admire your charity toward him, treating him as a person rather than an internet clown. Just because he doesn't reciprocate doesn't mean we should sink to his level!"

What a humorist this intellectually dishonest BDK is! What a passive-aggressive master of irony!

SE said...

What silly persons you 'atheists' are, to still be spouting such "Enlightenment" mythology in this modern day and age!

It was a simple statement of fact, Ilíon, and one doesn't have to agree that it's a good thing to acknowledge it's taking place. Do you even bother to read what someone writes before you spout off with your idiotic non-responses? Religious belief has been in decline for quite some time in Europe, and, yes, it's happening in the United States as well (though not as quickly or dramatically).

The truth is that "among ... nations the trend is clear" -- societal atheism equals national suicide. Shoot! even the demon worshipping, death-cultist Moslems have a distinct edge over "secularist" societies when the question is "Shall we propagate our nation/society?"

As you admit, a religion doesn't have to be true for it to have some alleged benefit to society. Anyway, I'm interested in the propagation of freedom, not the death cult of the nation state.

I don't expect the likes of you two to know this, but societal death as a result of rejecting God happens to be a Biblical prediction. I know what great store your sort claims to place in accurate (and falsifiable) predictions.

If it's as accurate as the one about Jesus returning in the clouds, we don't have to worry about it.

everyone has tried treating Ilion with respect, treating him charitably as a logical interlocutor. He won't reciprocate.


I tried as well, but apparently it's pointless; Ilion enjoys his hard-won clown status too much. It's sad really.

The truth is that not merely that these and other such things not be explained without reference to God, but that any attempt to explain such things without reference to God will always peter out into incoherence.

The truth is that "God" is the ultimate non-explanation.

The world and all that is in it, including what you imagine to be your memories of your life to this moment, just popped into existence -- without either cause (i.e. cause-and-effect) or reason (ground-and-consequent) -- fifteen minutes ago.

This Omphalos hypothesis is much more likely in a cartoon universe than it is in the real one.

And I still haven't seen an actual example of atheist intellectual dishonesty presented by Ilion. The fact that he throws the charge around so often indicates he is more interested in poisoning the well than he is in any kind of real exchange.

Anonymous said...

Since it so rarely, rarely happens, I'd like to offer up a defense of Ilion.

He's damn fun to read. He often makes great points that are rarely stressed (While I enjoy reading Jason Pratt's posts, I think what Ilion just said to him was not just rather even-handed, but also valid). But most of all, he does a good job of justifying his behavior.

Really, I think Ilion is too quick to bitch people out at times, but often I see him calling out snippy little passive-aggressive atheists who love to insult while pretending they're not insulting. Or, almost as often, ones who are every bit as insulting as ilion is and moreso (Since being insulting, offensive, and mocking is explicitly part of the New Atheist mentality.) It's a refreshing counterbalance to the usual bull.

Hell, Ilion, start a blog, or a website. I'd read it.

SE said...

He's damn fun to read.

No, he's just boring.

It's a refreshing counterbalance to the usual bull.

Where do you think some of this so-called "New Atheism" came from? After years of hearing BS from, and taking abuse from, various theistarded Holy Babblers, some atheists decided enough was enough and that it was time to counter the BuyBull.

I will say, however, that it's always best to try and disagree in a civil manner, without resort to insults and name-calling. Some atheists are just as bad as some Christians, and some atheist arguments are also as poor as many of those by believers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, give it a rest, SE. What's next - the "Brights" thing was all a theist conspiracy?

Speaking of making up words to sound pithy - theistarded? Good God, you're lame.

Perezoso said...

"What would disprove Christianity"???


Christians, er, Xtians.

Jason Pratt said...

Ilíon,

{{There! Everything is explained ... now you can stop being a "theist."}}

And if BDK had tried such sophistic foofaraw, I would have promptly nicked him.

Instead, I understood his question (and point) to be similar to Ken’s: to what extent would various posters here be committed to theism if we ourselves perceived that logic (deductive or inductive or whatever) was ultimately against theism being true?

I didn’t avoid his question by assuming he would engage in rhetorical tricks, but treated him (as a first stake) as though he was serious in asking the question, and answered it thereby. Had he then engaged in rhetorical tricks, I would have answered something like, for example, “perhaps in your life of sophistry, a sheer ungrounded assertion should be accorded the same attention as a logically valid rationale as an ‘explanation’. But I don't buy into such postmodernist baba ghanoush.”


Admittedly, the wording of his question wasn’t entirely as precise as it could have been; but (look!--context!) I was about to enter into a more protracted answer to Ken along the same line, in the same comment, and didn’t see any reason to inflate my already lengthy reply by dittoing that qualification to BDK’s question. Relatedly, my answer to Victor’s original question had already covered the same contextual issue.


{{And anyone foolish enough to go panting after the sort of "respect" that you and your sort give is *asking* for the kick in the teeth which always comes sooner or later.}}

And yet, oddly, BDK’s reply bears out my original treatment of his question. He wasn’t engaging in rhetorical foofaraw with it after all.

Also, since I expect this remark goes back to J’oftus in various ways: the point of contention there has always been that I insist on respecting John as a person even when I think he’s wildly mistaken or worse. (Which is related to my criticism of his attempt at claiming that he never treats people disrespectfully until they disrespect him first: his methodology, on the contrary, is predicated on heavily disrespecting his opponents as rational entities, and that’s what he brings to the table from the outset in conversations. A habit not restricted to non-Christians, unfortunately.)

I don’t respect John as a person out of some panting desire to be respected by John. I do it because I believe it’s the logically and ethically correct thing to do; and because I believe it’s the Christian thing to do. (And, when those reasons become inconvenient, because I was also warned in those barbaric, superstitious scriptures our opponents like to pick on, that I’m the one God is gonna zorch if I don’t love my enemies like myself and do my utmost to treat them fairly and have mercy on them. Insert irony at several levels as applicable. {g})


Anyway: I wasn’t assuming rhetorical sophistry in what BDK was asking, and my assumption was bourne out. Nor did I treat his question as rhetorical sophistry in order to avoid answering his question as though he meant it seriously. I appreciate your concern over whether BDK will kick me in the teeth for respecting him, though. {s} I’ll just have to be good at parrying and riposting if that happens. Which is part of the whole dueling process.

JRP

Ilíon said...

Anonymous, after reading your defense of me and on the presumption that you normally post here at Mr Reppert's blog using a screen-name, I had made four speculations as to who you are. Subsequent posts have shot down speculations #1 and #4.

Purely to satisfy my curiosity, would it be too much to ask you to email me and tell me the screenname you usually use (assuming you do use one)? I promise, I won't tell a soul.

SE said...

Oh, give it a rest, SE. What's next - the "Brights" thing was all a theist conspiracy?

No wonder you find Ilíon so appealing, since you seem to have as much difficulty reading and comprehending as he does. I didn't say it was a conspiracy, just a reaction on the part of some atheists. Some atheists are jerks, and would behave that way regardless, of course, that's undeniable, and the internet (and the anonymity if provides) has no doubt contributed to much of the incivility we see from all sides.


Speaking of making up words to sound pithy - theistarded? Good God, you're lame.


I didn't make it up, but obviously you're a good example of the word.

Oh, and anyone who excuses Ilion's childish behavior the way you do is beyond lame (and a hypocrite). You're a joke, anonymouse.

Ilíon said...

It's humorous (on multiple levels) that BDK has accused me of 'sophistry' for listing those three "explanations for the world."

And Mr Pratt, in accusing me of 'sophistry,' but demonstrates that he isn't willing to consider a valid criticism. That is, he isn't willing to think.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Cool I was looking for this thread, as my question is one that concerns me a lot at this blog (if all these gaps were filled with natural explanations, would you still be a theist?).

Victor's example seems pretty weak: if you have to wait until you are dead to be convinced, then it isn't very impressive, partly because by then it is pretty much too late.

Pretty much think of any evidence that would discredit the resurrection story, isn't that enough to make most here not Christian? Aliens come with video footage of Jesus dying, people stealing his body, etc, with good corroborating evidence that they are not lying.

Or authentic historical documents showing a hoax.

Etc. There are so many possibilities here....

Tony Hoffman said...

"Pretty much think of any evidence that would discredit the resurrection story, isn't that enough to make most here not Christian? Aliens come with video footage of Jesus dying, people stealing his body, etc, with good corroborating evidence that they are not lying. Or authentic historical documents showing a hoax."

My problem is that there is so much wiggle room in the existence of the evidence above and the wiggle room to deny the evidence. (My personal favorite is the one where Jesus's bones are found. WTF? Under what conceivable set of circumstances would anyone, let alone a Christian, accept some bones as being that of Jesus?)

I would like to hear a real-world, plausible scenario that would disprove Christianity. Because I'm guessing that most Christians can't think of any.

Seriously, what consensus of scientific or other opinion would constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crucial component of Christianity is not true, and thus Christianity is disproved? What do you know that can be done, that you would give credence to, that would disprove your faith?

Victor Reppert said...

If we are working in the area of ordinary evidence, and not some dramatic divine intervention, then both the case for and the case against Christianity are cumulative, and it is unreasonable to expect a silver bullet. Atheist have an easier time coming up with a silver bullet for atheism, though even there, if they were to come to believe that a supernatural being existed, they still might say that such a being would be unworthy of worship.

Hiero5ant said...

I would think that any reasonable person would conclude, after watching a few thousand baseball games in which the ball is never hit more than a few thousand feet, combined with robust theories in physics and anatomy about how much force the human frame is capable of delivering in a swing, that verbal reports of a ball that went twice round the moon and landed in Amsterdam were false.

For precisely the same reasons, any reasonable person should, on reflection, conclude that Jesus did not rise from the grave after three days.

Victor Reppert said...

Laws of nature hold so long as something outside the system doesn't interfere. If people walked out of their graves on a regular basis, it wouldn't be any basis for a religion.

Ilíon said...

Hiero5ant (in the Selective Hyper-Skepticism mode so dear to the heart of God-haters): "[blah, blah, blah ... it is unreasonable to believe in 'miracles' ... blah, blah, blah]"

Consider this claim of "Science!" (The particular Speaker for 'Science!' here quoted is the late Carl Sagan, from 'The Demon Haunted World') --

"Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It's easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here's another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here's a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. They're all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they're called). Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

*The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow."



Specifically, consider this amusing assertion: "Here's a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. ... Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe."

Gimli 4 the West said...

About the only thing that would prove or disprove Christianity is a time machine where I could go back and really see the events, especially the resurrection. It wouldn't be good enough for others go back in the machine and tell me about it, because then I am back to someone's testimony again.

Even seeing foundational events would raise questions about what I am seeing and whether the time machine worked to actually see things that have happened.

Anonymous said...

Related to this topic, could it be considered an essential part of christianity that a "soul" or "immaterial self" of some sort is the essential nature of a human?
I would have thought not, given the mention of a future resurrection as an alternative, but I am not sure what intelligent christians believe, or what is the "official"(?) view.

My thought is obvious; if one can be certain there is no human consciousness or 'self' apart from a human body, it would tell against a 'soul' version of christianity.

Or is such a questions merely one of those which together bias one towards or away from a christian belief, (like, for example, a particular concept of freewill.)

Just wondered.

Frequent quiet visitor

Blue Devil Knight said...

In practice, Gimli, you would be more reasonable than all that. Is my bet.

What's so bad if Christianity is wrong?

Gimli 4 the West said...

B.D.Knight,

You have probably read me correctly. A testimony about the earthquake in Japan from multiple sources is easier to believe than the limited sources on the resurrection. Fair enough.

As to "what's so bad if Christianity is wrong?" I suppose that would depend on what is right. There certainly have been some horrendous alternatives.

woodchuck64 said...

I've got a way that would disprove Christianity to a Christian. Stop going to church, stop all contact with other Christians, stop prayer and mediation on the Bible, and now study only the empirical evidence for and against Christianity. I predict that this is a certain path to ex-Christianity (given enough time) and hence a practical disproof of Christianity.

Okay, I know; to stop contact with other Christians, to cease reading the Bible and praying can not be just an innocent experimental control, it is sin and moral corruption (not to mention an invitation to dark forces in some beliefs). All the experiment would tell us is that Christians who engage in sinful, morally corrupt behavior may soon become ex-Christian.

But what I'm suggesting is that Christian belief comes primarily from religious and shared religious experience (gatherings, prayer, worship, meditation, mutual encouragement, etc.) and only distantly from empirical evidence. Any disagreement there? Therefore, a Christian disproof can only come by undermining religious experience in some fashion.

Morrison said...

Actually, Vic, no matter how long it went on you could still cosider it a dream, since a dream can SEEM to go on forever.

Or, it could be a bad anesthesia reaction during surgery, and you could keep telling yourself "the doctors will bring me out of it soon".

But so what? You would still be suffering, whether you admit it or not.

Much as Loftus could rationalize Hell should he end up there.


Skeptical Skeptic

SteveK said...

Short of Victor's scenario, I don't think Christianity can be disproved. However, I think it is possible for it to be badly damaged to the point where many would give up the core beliefs found in the Apostles Creed.

For that to occur a competing NT narrative - one that opposed the Apostles Creed - would have to be found that was more compelling than the current NT. It would have be be written even closer to the events in question by numerous verifiable sources and thought to be more authentic, more reliable and more historically accurate for a variety of reasons.

Together, these documents would read like a non-fiction version of a Dan Brown novel. Unlikely to ever happen, but it's logically possible.

Depending on what the totality of these documents said, you might end up with a religion that was stronger than Christianity due to the strong and compelling nature of the evidence. So, atheists, be careful what you wish for. :)

Tony Hoffman said...

One interesting thing that I realize upon reading some of the comments here is that the question is largely understood differently by Christians and atheists; Christians seem to see the question as, What would it take to replace Christianity with another religion? whereas I believe most atheists read the question as, What would it take for you to become an atheist?

For me, this post and its comments are a healthy reminder of how easy it is to fundamentally misunderstand how differently we approach even the simplest seeming questions.

SteveK said...

>> What would it take for you to become an atheist?

A lobotomy. (It's a joke, Tony)

Seriously, I can't think of any scenario that would render me an atheist. I would find a home in deism or something similar because I think the inference is justified.

Tony Hoffman said...

"Seriously, I can't think of any scenario that would render me an atheist. I would find a home in deism or something similar because I think the inference is justified."

Okay, but I think a deist is an atheist. Deists believe in a creator God, just one who doesn't interact with and guide the universe since creation (that's what a theistic God does). That's my understanding, anyhow.

Shoot, somedays I'm a deist.

Ilíon said...

"What would it take for you to become an atheist?

A lobotomy. (It's a joke, Tony)
"

Yet, not that far off the mark -- for it takes willful self-delusion to assert that atheism is the truth about the nature of reality.

The fact that there are minds in the universe is the disproof of atheism. So, even were the specific doctrines of Christianity (by which I mean those which differentiate it from some "mere theism") false, something very like Christianity is true. Non-exhaustively:
1) there is a God;
1a) who is "the ground of all being" -- who is being/existence itself -- only God is non-contingent and self-existent; all else that exists, all that is ‘not-God,’ exists because God “upholds” its existence;
2) who is personal (who is an agent) -- that is, God is not some impersonal "force" or "principle";
2a) who, being an agent, is free to do or not to do (for example, he *chose* to create us, nothing compelled him to do so);
3) who created us;
3a) and who created us likewise as agents, as free moral beings;
4) there are real and objective moral obligations, even if we don’t yet fully understand all that they are and entail;
4a) which are grounded in the character and nature of God (for, again, nothing exists wholly apart from God, only God is self-existent);
4b) which are the logical entailments of love;
*) and so on.

Ilíon said...

Anonymous ('Frequent quiet visitor'): "Related to this topic, could it be considered an essential part of christianity that a "soul" or "immaterial self" of some sort is the essential nature of a human?"

The term 'soul' just means 'life' (or 'life-principle') -- so to speak of a entity's 'soul' is to ask after that fact or state or principle or process which enables/causes it to be a living being, rather than a non-entity. Since we are biological entities, to talk about our 'souls' is to talk about whatever it is that makes us living organisms, rather than lifeless puddles of chemical goo. Our 'soul' is not the same thing as our body, but it's not wholly separate from it, either.

Some silly persons (who, in their own way, seem as misguided as the hard-core Calvinists) may make reference to the above meaning of the term 'soul' so as to dismiss your question without considering it.

Ilíon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

The blogger software is eating posts again.

Troy said...

Anonymous ('Frequent quiet visitor'): "My thought is obvious; if one can be certain there is no human consciousness or 'self' apart from a human body, it would tell against a 'soul' version of christianity."

Despite that people are always using the term 'soul,' what you're really asking about is the concept of the 'self' (and/or the 'mind'); you're asking "Does the human 'self' (or 'mind') exist regardless of the body?" And, you can answer that yourself, with a bit of analysis.

Suppose I were a wicked person (and a Mad Scientist) who has captured you. Being wicked, and Mad (and a Scientist), I'm going to use you as an experimantal subject so that I can find just where in teh human body (if it even exists) to 'self' or 'mind' is located.

So (being wicked and Mad), I amputate your left foot and then test to see if you are still you. You are, are you not? So, the 'self' (or 'mind') is not in the left foot.

Likewise with the right foot; and the legs, and the hands and the arms.

So, I've (wickedly and Madly) reduced your body to the head and body-core (in which are found the critical life-support organs). And I've discovered that you still exist.

Of course, any old wicked person could do the preceding; this is where the Mad Scientist part comes in: I'm going to remove your life-support (and communicative) organs, replacing their functions with machinery.

Without going into the gory details, let us now conjecture that I have ultimately reduced your body to the famous "brain in a vat". Do you still exist? Are you still you? Being a Mad Scientist, I have invented machines which allow me to emulate verbal/auditory communication with the brain; am I talking to you when I speak into the microphone? Is whatever answer/response issues from the speakers a response from you?

I can't think of any rational reason to doubt that you still exist, even though I have reduced your body to merely the brain. No doubt I could remove modules of the brain, possibly until only the cerebrum (or even just portions of it) is left, and still I would find that you are there.

Now, if I (the actual me, not the Mad Scientist) were a materialist/atheist, I'd doubtless stop at this point in the thought-experiment, and proclaim: "the so-called 'self' or 'mind' is an effect of the brain." But, I'm not ... and so I will think deeper --

Troy said...

Now *that* is a new one -- the blogger software "translated" 'Ilion' to 'Troy'

Troy said...

This though-experiment is a variation on the Paradox of Theseus' Ship. And, in fact, this "paradox" goes on continuously within the bodies, and within the cells of the bodies, of all living organisms. Not only are we not made of the same "stuff" as we were when we were five years old, we're not actually made of the same "stuff" from one moment to the next.

That is, we have no physical continuity year to year or even moment to moment -- yet, we exist continuously (while we exist, whether we cease to exist is a different question). The only rational conclusion possible is that the 'self' (or 'mind') is not *in* the material body, it is not in the matter of the body, and it is not in the "pattern" of the body: which is to say, the 'self' (or 'mind') is immaterial, it exists in some manner apart from the material body.

To reject that conclusion is to assert some absurdity or another; for instance:
1) the 'self' (or 'mind') doesn't actually exist, rather, the concept denoted by the term is just "folk psychology" which 'Science!' has rendered out-moded;
2) something we might as well call 'self' (or 'mind') exists, but is not chronologically continuous, is not numerically identical moment to moment;
*) I can't think of any other options, but any will be just as absurd as these two.


Anonymous ('Frequent quiet visitor'): "... (like, for example, a particular concept of freewill.)"

Nearly everyone carries around a deficient concept of 'freewill' -- it is not that we have free wills, as though that were something added to us, it is that we are free wills.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, Christians and atheists already are certain that the evidence in favor of each of their views is universally recognizable and quite visible. Also certain are Muslims and the devout of every cult, religion, or other metaphysical persuasion.

Personally, I think an infinite God could make Him/Herself known to everyone directly, via visions and conversations, and even trips back into time to see the life of Jesus for themselves, and trips back and forth to the afterlife to also see it for itself, without need of having people rely on a "holy book." Every religion and quack cult has "divine writings."

Edward T. Babinski said...

CONTINUED FROM DIRECTLY ABOVE
And if everyone had such access, to the same sights and sounds of Jesus' life and the afterlife, then we'd have what naturalists call "universal confirmation."

Though the devout of other religions might like an added peek at the lives of the people they also call their religious leaders. Muslims would want to be able to look at the life of Mohammed, and well, an infinite God could provide that knowledge as well, for those who seek it.

In the end of course, part of the difficulty we have even today is that we don't know, we don't have access to the past or the afterlife, and even if we did it would take a long while to learn about it, to make sense out of what we are seeing or hearing during such trips. And the lack of access and lack of understanding and knowledge concerning how best to interpret such experiences is part of why I remain agnostic. Because any infinite God would KNOW about human limitations, lack of time for study, short lifetimes, etc.

Hiero5ant said...

Laws of nature hold so long as something outside the system doesn't interfere.

With all due respect, this isn't a counter to my claim, but a change of subject. Like when I say "there's no evidence cell phones cause cancer" and someone says "that's just your opinion!" or "because you don't know everything, you don't know anything". It's like an ejection seat: what only moments ago was a straightforward empirical dipute ("which way back to the interstate?" "have you any flour I could borrow?") becomes a dispute about grand epistemological notions like whether anyone knows anything, or whether everyone is entitled to every opinion.

If someone genuinely and consistently believes that past experience is no guide to the reasonableness of current beliefs, the appropriate response is not to doubt their beliefs but to doubt their sanity.

If people walked out of their graves on a regular basis, it wouldn't be any basis for a religion.

1) Why is a healthy vegetarian meal not a meal? Why does a meal *have* to have a giant half pound slab of meat in the middle of it? What's wrong with just a sort of philosophical cult or collection of aphorisms?

2) The fact that you take reasonable quantities of evidence to be by definition incompatible with a "true" religion is Not My Problem; at the end of the day if it turns out Christianity was right all along, the answer to the original question "is your belief reasonably held, with reasonable criteria for discarding it" would still be "no".

Victor Reppert said...

Hiero5ant: I'm not claiming that past experience is no guide. But one of the things I have experience with is the wills of agents. The Resurrection of Jesus falls into a large number of reference classes. One of those classes is "being a resurrection." But there are others.

Victor Reppert said...

If the biblical record is accurate, the Resurrection of Jesus isn't even the only resurrection he was involved with, nor is it the only miracle. I even mentioned cases today where someone might have risen from the dead. I have some personal experience with what appears to have been a paranormal event.

Further, there are plenty of events that we accept as having happened that are unprecedented, such as trips to the moon, and the election of an African-American President. The mere fact that we have uniform experience so far that something has not happened doesn't give us sufficient grounds for rejecting all reports that it has happened.

Blue Devil Knight said...

On brain-replacing thought experiments, see this.