I argue that when it comes to miraculous claims yesterday’s evidence no longer can hold water for me, for in order to see yesterday’s evidence as evidence for me, I must already believe the Christian framework (i.e., the Bayesian priors) that allows me to see yesterday’s evidence as evidence for Christianity.
Are these your prior probabilities, or are these priors everyone else is supposed to have? If the former, that may be true. But if that's all it is, then you are going to have trouble getting irrationality charges off the ground. I am not in the business of making irrationality charges. I don't think that the evidence for the Resurrection is sufficient by itself to rationally compel belief. I just think there is a lot that is hard to explain about the founding of Christianity that makes more sense if the supernatural is admitted than if the supernatural is not admitted. I realize people like McDowell say it's irrational to be skeptical, given the evidence, but it's beyond my powers to make such a case. In other words, I am engaged in what Steve Davis calls soft apologetics, although I also maintain that the Resurrection evidence is a cumulative case role-player in a case for theism. (You haven't read my two papers on miracles, have you?)
The problem is that no amount of philosophical thinking alone will produce the conclusion that any event actually took place in the past, much less a miraculous resurrection. So on the on hand, in order to establish the Christian faith believers must use historical evidence at every juncture. But on the other hand, in order to see that evidence as evidence we need to have good reasons to do so. Where do those reasons come from? Not from any “background knowledge” or “priors” of theirs. They cannot use their so-called “background knowledge” or their “priors” to help determine whether the evidence shows Jesus arose from the dead until they can first show that he did. Christians must independently establish that the resurrection took place in history before such a belief can be placed into their bag of "priors."
If we can't use our priors, whose priors do we use? My claim is you have lots of people out there, from people who think Christianity very antecedently likely, to people who think the central events of Christianity might or might not have happened and are looking at the evidence to see if it did, to people who think Christianity is absurd and wouldn't believe if Jesus were to sit down across from them at lunch. The subjectivist theory of prior probabilities says that rather than find "correct" priors and argue from those, we simply have to use our own priors and adjust our confidence as we look at the evidence. How do we look at the evidence? We ask if the evidence, such as we have it, is more likely to be the way it is if the Christian story is true than if the Christian story is false. Now suppose I successfully show that the evidence that comes down to us from the first century is more likely to be the way it is if the Christian story were true than if the Christian story were false. Well, then we Christians would have grounds for having more probabilistic confidence in our Christianity, people sitting on the fence would become Christians, but those who have strongly skeptical priors would remain skeptics, but they might scratch their heads a little bit of how this could possibly have happened the way it did. AS C. S. Lewis said.
Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good. “Rum thing,” he went on. “All that stuff of Frazer’s about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it really happened once. “… Was there no escape?”
by C. S. Lewis Surprised by Joy (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1942), pp. 223-224
That hard-boiled atheist never converted, but he nonetheless accepted the fact that the founding of Christianity was "rum" from the standpoint of his atheism. And maybe that's all we can expect from the argument.
But we can look at the facts and see if they are more likely given Christianity than given not-Christianity. That is a comparison we can make regardless of our priors. We have no logical method that I know of for determining what our priors ought to be, and certainly no argument proving that the prior for miracles ought to be vanishingly low.
This problem is fatal for anyone who wishes to believe Jesus bodily arose from the dead in history. We can even grant the existence of Yahweh or a creator god and the possibility of miracles and it changes nothing. For what needs to be shown is that Yahweh did such a miracle here in this particular case and the historical tools we have available to assess whether he did are inadequate for the task.
The reason why our historical tools are in some sense inadequate is that we have to live with a situation where prior probabilities differ widely. So historical evidence will probably not be sufficient to allow us to pin irrationality charges on our opponents. But guess what. YOU are the one making the irrationality charges, which means YOU have to prove them. I believe that we can determine, historically, whether the evidence is more likely to exist given a supernatural theory of the founding of Christianity, or whether it is more likely to exist as it does given a naturalistic theory of the founding of Christianity.
I like Bob Price who says that even if God raised Jesus from the dead there is no way we can know that he did.
Depends on your understanding of knowledge. If what we mean is that the evidence is sufficient to persuade all reasonable persons, then no. If what we mean is that we can have good reason to suppose that the historical evidence confirms the supernaturalist hypothesis, that it is more likely to exist as it does given supernaturalism than given naturalism, then yes, I think we can have a justified, true, belief that Jesus rose from the dead if, indeed, Jesus did in fact rise from the dead.
THAT is the case and only practically brain dead people refuse to acknowledge this.
There you go again, with this irrationality charges, for which you need proof, and for which you have provided none. You are claiming that no reasonable person can believe in the miraculous origin of Christianity. You have to demonstrate either that the historical evidence, such as we have it, is more likely given naturalism than supernaturalism, or show that everyone ought to have very low priors for the Christian miracles. Good luck with that.