JWL: And yet your problem is that the OTF disallows faith. Since the evidence for faith in extraordinary claims cannot lead a historian qua historian to faith your faith fails the test.
VR: Do you have any method for figuring out what claims are most extraordinary?
How extraordinary would the Resurrection have been to people who saw Jesus feed the 5000, heal every leper in sight, and raise Lazarus from the dead. Of course there you assume there are no such people, but what if you were one of such people yourself?
My thesis is that different people, being equally rational, can come at the same piece of evidence and reach different conclusions. There is no method that I know of for determining correct antecedent probabilities, so we are stuck with the ones we have, and have to conditionalize on them. Do you have a method for proving that I ought to have naturalistic antecedent probabilities? This is actually an issue where McGrew and I differ and where Tim knows a lot more about it than I do, since he thinks there are objective antecedent probabilities. However, I take it that he and I agree that simplistic ways of getting antecedent probabilities that force us all into a methodological naturalism don't work. I realize that Hume's essay on miracles has its defenders like Sobel and Fogelin, but I think the majority position on Hume's essay is pretty close to my Internet Infidels paper on the subject, and to the similar view found in University of Pittsburgh atheist philosopher of science John Earman's book Hume's Abject Failure.
I'm still pretty much a card-carrying Bayesian subjectivist who comes to the miracle stories of Christianity with higher priors than you have. But you have no way of proving that my priors are wrong. You can ridicule them if you want to, but that doesn't do anything for the argument.
There's no mathematical metric for determining whether the best story you can tell about how Christianity came to be founded is more or less miraculous than the claim that Jesus was resurrected. I think if you can buy the resurrection story, the rest of the evidence makes more sense than if you reject it. Why I think that is a long story, involving some of the things I've talked about, such as Lukan accuracy, and the evidence for martyrdom risk behavior amongst the witnesses, as well as what I think is right about the Trilemma, and the weaknesses in what I think is the best counter-theory out there, the hallucination theory. It's a long story that requires a lot of patience to go through.
History can make progress only when lots of historians come at the past with lots of different priors, and, if possible, the evidence drives a convergence to a correct answer. Strictly speaking, on my view, the historical evidence can't force a verdict one way or another, since on my view there are various rational credence functions. Given the fact that different people can have different priors about the miraculous, I can say that the evidence, as I read it, pushes in the direction of accepting the Christian account, but given the fact that there are different possible rational priors, it need not do so decisively, at least so far as I can tell.