Friday, November 14, 2014

Initial probabilities concerning miracles are bound to differ

Initial probabilities concerning miracles are bound to differ. On my view that's inescapable. Suppose there is evidence for a supernaturalist interpretation of the events surrounding the founding of Christianity such that they make more sense given the Jesus rose from the dead than if he did not rise from the dead. It seems to me that one rational person might say "Well, given everything else I believe to be true, the most reasonable thing for me to do would be to accept the resurrection." But another might say "Yeah, that's evidence for the resurrection all right, but it's not enough. You need more extraordinary evidence than that to convince me." On my view, neither response is necessarily open to a charge of irrationality.

As I wrote here

f my foregoing discussion is correct, opponents of, say, the resurrection of Jesus cannot appeal to a general theory of probability to prove that anyone who accepts the resurrection is being irrational. It is also a consequence that different people can reasonably expected to have different credence functions with respect to Christian (and other) miracle claims. If you want to convince some people that Christ was resurrected, you have a much heavier burden of proof than you have in convincing others. It must be noted that there is no way, on the model I have presented, to show that everyone who denies the Resurrection is irrational, or engaged in bad faith. Of course, one can still believe that unbelievers disbelieve because of "sin" or "suppressing the truth," or what have you. But given the legitimate differences that can exist concerning the antecedent probability of the miraculous, I don't see how such charges can be defended. So the lesson here, I think, is that both apologetics and anti-apologetics should be engaged in persuasion, not coercion, and that the attempt to ground irrationality charges against one's opponents is a misguided enterprise.


Ilíon said...

"It must be noted that there is no way, on the model I have presented, to show that everyone who denies the Resurrection is irrational, or engaged in bad faith."

How about showing that *almost* everyone -- and certainly the most vocal -- who denies of the Resurrection is engaged in bad-faith hypocrisy?

There is another point it seems to me that you constantly overlook -- which is that even were Christianity false, that is, even if Christ did not rise from the dead, that doesn't touch on the even more basic question: "Is God?"

The question of Christ's Resurrection is pointless unless there is a Creator-God who intentionally restored life and soul to that dead body as a promise to do likewise with those who love him. After all, one could acknowledge that Jesus really was dead and really did come back to life ... and then "explain" it as one of those (asserted by scientism) pointless, astronomically improbable events that just happen from time to time all by themselves for no reason and with no cause, as discussed in the above link.

Now, as it happens, we human beings have many lines of argumnet and evidence that show:
1) belief in the Creator is rational;
2) disbelief in the Creator is irrational.

ERGO, anyone who denies the reality of the Creator is irrational.

WHY do you continue to waste your time -- and encourage others to waste their time (to say nothing of sanity) -- in the logically impossible quest of rationally convincing irrational people to acknowledge that you are rational? Arguing Christ with Jews, or even with Hindus, may be a rational undertaking; arguing anything "religious" with God-deniers is the epitome of irrational behavior.

UNTIL a person acknowledges that there is a Creator, he has noting to say, he "has no place at the table" as the saying goes. It's not that he "belongs at the Kids' Table", for even children are rational beings ... it that, in willfully choosing irrationality, the God-denier belongs on the floor, fighting with the dogs for whatever scraps fall from the Kids' Table.

B. Prokop said...

I hate it when I agree with you, Ilion! It forces me to go outside in this cold, cold weather to make sure the Moon hasn't fallen out of the sky.

Ilíon said...

Watch out for Shambilar!

Ilíon said...

now with even more Ilíony goodness