(September 6, 1935 –
February 2, 2003)
Our friendly atheist fundi Gary left us a link to a thing on his escaping Christian Fundamentalism website in which he makes a broad based call only to accept what can be empirically demonstrated. Unfortunately this view is epistemologically naive and would leave us unable to resolve the most basic dilemmas of knowledge.
More simply, when people tell me Big Foot is real, I say “show me the body and I’ll believe, otherwise I remain skeptical.” The null hypothesis in this example is that Big Foot does not exist. Finally, it is telling that among the tens of thousands of government emails, documents, and files leaked in recent years through Wikileaks, there is not one mention of a UFO cover up, a faked moon landing, or that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. Here the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This has implications for miracle claims.First of all this assertion is based upon guilt by association,he's trying to link BF to the most baseless infamous notions then by association lump God into the same category. But just because the evidence for UFOs is inconclusive does not mean the evidence for Bigfoot is, much less for God. Why should we link God with Bigfoot? God is believed by 90% of humans and is acceptable to most great thinkers even in the academy. moreover he;s wrong about the assertion that BF is rejected because there's no body. Anthropologists don't go by that standard any more.
Darren Naish, In Scientific American, states:
However, what may not be well known outside of zoology is that this ‘rule’ is not as strict and clear as generally thought, and that there is actually some disagreement as to what, exactly, can be accepted as a type specimen. What if you record a new species (via photographic evidence) and decide to declare a live individual as a type specimen? And what if you have a photo of a seeming new species and want to use that as the basis of a new species? That dismisses a long standing set of arguments favored by atheists,
The null hypothesis is that your claim of a miracle is not true until you prove otherwise. Here we say that the burden of proof is on the miracle claimant, not the skeptic or scientist to disprove the miracle claim. Let’s consider the biggest religious miracle claim of all—that Jesus was resurrected. Now, the proposition that Jesus was crucified may be true by historical validation, inasmuch as a man named Jesus of Nazareth probably existed, the Romans routinely crucified people for even petty crimes, and most biblical scholars—even those who are atheists, such as the renowned University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Religious Studies professor Bart Ehrman—assent to this fact. The proposition that Jesus died for our sins, by contrast, is a faith-based truth claim with no purchase on valid knowledge. It cannot be tested or falsified. It cannot be confirmed. It can only be believed or disbelieved based on faith or the lack thereof. In between these propositions is Jesus’s resurrection, which is not impossible but would be a miracle if it were true. Is it?
The notion of atonement that Jesus' death on the cross has something to do with forgiveness of sin is a religious doctrine, it;s pat of the package of belief. There is no reason why it should be proven or why it should be probable. If the premises that establish the basis of belief are true then we can assume the rest of the package is true. The Resurrection is such a foundational truth that establishes the rest of it.
Now he brings Hume into it:
Here we turn to Section XII of David Hume’s Philosophical Essays Concerning the Human Understanding, “Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy,” in which the Scottish philosopher distinguishes between “antecedent skepticism”, such as Descartes’s method of doubting everything, that has no “antecedent” infallible criterion for belief; and “consequent skepticism,” the method Hume employed that recognizes the “consequences” of our fallible senses, but corrects them through reason: “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.”
The problem is ideological skeptics refuse to recognize evidence even when its obvious. Ideological unbelief cannot allow itself to be honest or fair about expedience. Hume was clearly an ideological unbeliever.
Another way to state this principle of proportionality is extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims, as Carl Sagan famously said (quoting the lesser known sociologist of science Marcello Truzzi, thereby confirming the observation that pithy and oft-quoted statements migrate up to the most famous person who said them). Of the approximately 100 billion people who lived before us all have died and none returned, so the claim that one of them rose from the dead is about as extraordinary as one will ever find.Good old Marcello Truzzi, I first became antiquated with this sociologist in udergrad school when I was a soc major. His argument rests upon a dubious quotation which proves nothing. Essentially all he's saying is resurrection doesn't happen outweigh to accept it as true. It;s foolish to argue that because that assumes it;'s a naturalistic event.The assumption is that its divine intervention which we cam't predict so there's no reason to assume that probably disproves it. They are trying to force divine actin into naturalistic categories so they can control it. That is to say control how we think about it.
Is the evidence commensurate with the conviction? According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison philosopher Larry Shapiro in his 2016 book The Miracle Myth, “evidence for the resurrection is nowhere near as complete or convincing as the evidence on which historians rely to justify belief in other historical events such as the destruction of Pompeii.” Because miracles are far less probable than ordinary historical occurrences like volcanic eruptions, “the evidence necessary to justify beliefs about them must be many times better than that which would justify our beliefs in run-of-the-mill historical events. But it isn’t.”
What about the eyewitnesses? Maybe they “were superstitious or credulous” and saw what they wanted to see, Shapiro suggests. “Maybe they reported only feeling Jesus ‘in spirit,’ and over the decades their testimony was altered to suggest that they saw Jesus in the flesh. Maybe accounts of the resurrection never appeared in the original gospels and were added in later centuries. Any of these explanations for the gospel descriptions of Jesus’s resurrection are far more likely than the possibility that Jesus actually returned to life after being dead for three days.”This just proves what I said above. They will never accept evidence; you give them good evidence they re define it and re-interpret it and explain it away. What is the point of demanding evidence when you know you will never accept it?
The principle of proportionally also means we should prefer the more probable explanation over the less, which these alternatives surely are. In The Case Against Miracles John Loftus devotes a chapter to this greatest of all miracles—the resurrection—and it is the best analysis I’ve ever read. In time, all of these “god-of-the-gaps” type arguments for miracles will fall, and with them the last epistemological justification for religious belief beyond blind faith. Perhaps this is why Jesus was silent when Pilate asked him (John 18:38) “What is truth?”
Gary, "Extraordinary claims always Require Extraordinary Evidence," Escaping Christian Fundamentalism (December 23, 2019)
Darren Nash, "Animal Speocoes Named for Photo" Scientific American (Feb 3,2017)