Wednesday, November 11, 2015

W.L. Craig, the Resurrection, and the Complaint of Presuppositional Bias

Apologists often presume that they’re scoring significant debating points when in fact they’re only succeeding at multiplying their own burdens. A clear case of this can be found in the common complaint that non-believers approach the topic of Jesus’ resurrection and other miracle stories with an “anti-supernatural bias.” This bias, they allege, is philosophically unwarranted and thus marks non-believers as operating from personal preferences, protecting emotional safe zones, and unfairly ruling out the possibility of the resurrection and/or other miracle claims before they get off the ground.

In this video segment featuring Christian apologist William Lane Craig, the following question is asked:
What role do one’s philosophical assumptions play in doing historical research, particularly related to the resurrection of Jesus?
Before getting to Craig’s answer to this question, consider the following alternative scenarios.
Scenario 1: the investigator approaches historical research on the basis of the recognitions that (a) existence exists independent of conscious activity; (b) a thing which exists is itself and acts according to its nature; (c) knowledge is something we must discover by gathering facts which we find in the world when we look outward and validate by an objective method; (d) reason is man’s only means of knowledge, standard of judgment and guide to action; (e) wishing doesn’t make it so; (f) logic is the conceptual process of non-contradictory identification; (g) truth is the non-contradictory, objective identification of fact; (h) science is the systematic application of reason to some specific area of study (including not only natural phenomena, but also moral values and human history), etc.  
Scenario 2: the investigator approaches historical research on the basis of the assumptions that: (i) existence is a product of conscious activity; (j) things are whatever a ruling consciousness wants them to be and act in conformity with a ruling consciousness’ will; (k) knowledge is something we “receive” by assimilating dogmatic affirmations which we acquire by looking inward; (l) dreaming – cf. Mt. 1:20; 2:12-13, 19, etc. – and “visions” – cf. Acts. 9:10-12; 10:3-19; 11:5; 12:9; 16:9-10; 18:9; Rev. 9:17, etc. – are “valid” sources of “knowledge”; (m) wishing in fact does make it so; (n) logic is the “reflection” of a being which is said to be supernatural and infinite; (o) contradictory notions are only “apparently contradictory” to man because of his “finitude”; that “truth” is whatever the ruling consciousness wills; (p) man’s cognitive faculties have been corrupted by “the noetic effects of sin”; (q) reason (which the venomously anti-Semitic Martin Luther called “the devil’s greatest whore”) has the power to “deceive” (see for example here); (r) foreskins are more important than an understanding of conceptual integration; (s) advances in science typically represent a threat to religious adherence and therefore must be resisted, etc.
Just mull on these two alternatives and consider which approach is better equipped to accurately assess the relevant facts.

Not sure yet?

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Is the Resurrection Story “too improbable” to Believe?

I thought it would be instructive to interact with this recent caricature piece by Steve Hays: Even if it happened, I refuse to believe it!. There Hays writes:
Unbelievers typically say they reject the Resurrection because it's too improbable.
I guess I’m atypical then. I reject “the Resurrection” claim as well as all mystical claims because I don’t think they’re true. This is not a matter of probability. My view is not that there’s 0.000001% chance that “the Resurrection” may have happened. My view is that Christianity’s mystical claims are 100% untrue. The believer doesn’t have to like this if he doesn’t want to, but there’s no “probably” about it here.