Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

When investigating the resurrection, the scientific, rational (dare I say honest?) approach to the claim of a miracle is to say, “This is a terribly unlikely event but nonetheless, we must look at the evidence.”

Recently I met a couple of skeptics who both wanted to make an end run around the evidence.

The first skeptic (the man I mentioned in another post) believed that historical truth could be known and that there were well-established, scholarly criteria for examining and evaluating historical claims. But when I proposed that he choose one of those well-established historical methods and then apply it to the resurrection, his response was that “you’ll get the wrong answer.” I found it curious that he knew the answer already.

Carl Sagan said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (called the “Sagan Standard” by some), with which I heartily concur. But we must first establish a baseline. Examine the claim, without bias, using basic historical, scholarly criteria for truth. If the claim meets those basic requirements, then we should proceed further, applying more strenuous tests. If, on the other hand, the claim cannot even withstand a basic test, then we can and should conclude that it is false . . . but NOT BEFORE.

The second skeptic made the statement that “any non-supernatural event is more likely than any supernatural event. Therefore, any non-supernatural scenario must be given greater consideration than any supernatural scenario.”

In essence what the second skeptic is saying is that no matter how great the weight of evidence for the supernatural, and no matter how unlikely a non-supernatural alternative explanation might be, the supernatural is still to be rejected.

He has effectively created a method of “investigation” that rules out the supernatural claim 100% of the time. His presuppositions have told him what CANNOT happen, and from that starting point his “investigation” concludes what DID NOT happen.

Bottom line: neither skeptic was willing to honestly evaluate the historical claim of Jesus’ resurrection in light of the evidence.

Said another way, both of these approaches assume the resurrection DID NOT take place, and then stack the rules to exclude the possibility that any quantity or quality of evidence would ever be sufficient to change their view.