This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
What I meant when I said skeptics need the hallucination theory
I need to clarify what i mean by "need." I do not mean they need this or any theory to avoid irrationality charges. I also don't mean that there aren't those for whom the "Humean trump card" is enough, that is, the supernatural character of an actual resurrection is sufficient to render any alternative account more plausible.
On my own view, however, there are bound to be people who, without irrationality, are going to come at these accounts with different prior probabilities for all sorts of reasons. I am not a foundationalist about antecedent probabilities. I think people are going to be coming at this question of resurrection from all over the map. Some will be theists already who think Christianity is pretty plausible on independent grounds. Some people think it's a crazy idea.
I think even a skeptic would have to say we have good reason to think that the Christian movement began when people, starting in Jerusalem started proclaiming that a recently crucified leader had been resurrected. The people who recorded these accounts look as if they were trying to be accurate, Luke especially. If you look at stories like stories like Philostratus' Life of Apollonius, you get so little care for accuracy that you have the guy showing up in Nineveh some seven centuries after it was destroyed. Luke, on the other hand, in Acts, gets a bunch of government forms right on the money, just for starters. Ancient mythmakers just don't work their butts off to be accurate. It's hard for me to believe that Luke was sitting around thinking "Gosh, I've got to get a lot of the mundane stuff right here, because in 1900 years some archaeologists are going to go through and find all these cities and figure out whether I got that stuff right."
The behavior of the apostles makes no sense unless they sincerely believed that Jesus was resurrected. Some of them claimed to have seen Jesus resurrected, including, by the way, the Apostle Paul.
Dawkins once said that while he thought it was possible to be an atheist without evolutionary theory, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Admittedly, someone with a low enough prior for a resurrection can, without irrationality, say that he doesn't have a good theory about what happened, but that whatever it was, it wasn't a resurrection, since that's maximally improbable from the point of view of their own credence function. The hallucination theory, if it works, is a big step in the direction of providing an answer to the question, "If it wasn't a resurrection, then what DID happen?" Otherwise, you've got something that's a big mystery on atheist assumptions that does make sense on the hypothesis that Christianity is true. Can a rational person admit this and stay atheist? Sure.But I think an honest atheist would have to admit that some significant pieces of evidence support the Christian claims.