Tag Archives: Jesus’ resurrection

Improbable does not equal false

30 Dec

At this time of year Christians around the world celebrate the miracle of the birth and appearance in human form of the invisible, immaterial, spirit Father and Creator of all that is.  God showing up as a man, one of us, is astounding and very improbable.  But that doesn’t make it untrue.

Here’s my premise:

Surprising and unpredictable events happen

Don’t you find it curious that we accept some ‘blow-your-mind’ facts with nary a ripple?

pyramids

Think about the technological skill necessary to build the pyramids or create Stonehenge, for example.  I’m amazed that so-called primitive groups of people organized themselves effectively and applied mathematical principles with such results.

Or what about those puzzling Fibonacci numbers that seem to be at the center of our orderly universe?  I’m not a math person, but just reading some of the examples on this page below make me exclaim, “How can that be?”

Stranger and more intriguing than you think

So why do I bring the improbable up?  Because I was reading about how the Holy Spirit kept the murdered and mutilated Jesus Christ from decaying once He was declared dead.  ALL bodies start to decay when blood ceases to flow.  But Jesus left the tomb two days after being placed behind a sealed and guarded rock.  More than 500 people saw him and no one exclaimed at decomposition.   Some even touched him and watched him eat, two very physical things that require a normal body.

I don’t ever doubt THAT ‘unnatural, out of the ordinary’ fact, that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  So that got me thinking about some other one-off events recorded by the Old Testament, like –

  • sandals not wearing out during the 40 years of wilderness wandering (Deut 29:5)
  • Jonah’s safety during the several days he spent in a big fish (Jonah 1:17)

There are far more ‘stranger than fiction’ documented actualities that defy any rational explanation we can offer. A willingness to live with the unexplainable helps.

The next time you encounter a partial skeptic about anything, ask him what lies behind his doubts? See if you can get at his reasons, his general principle.  If he mentions what causes him to balk at accepting something out of the ordinary, then maybe by your questions you can lead him to doubt HIS doubts about everything needing an explanation that makes sense to him.

Why improbable events are more commonplace than you think

Logical gal distinguishes between possible and reasonable

19 Apr

I learn a lot about using evidential tools from a homicide detective names J. Warner Wallace.  His website is stocked with mega resources on Christian case-making  including video teachings on You Tube, blog posts, essays and podcasts. All serve to help us, the ordinary Joe & Jane, who want to think logically and rationally about important topics including our Christian convictions.  The name of his site is Cold Case Christianity.

Cold Case Christianity Crime Scene

In a podcast dated 18 April 2014, he detailed the way of thinking that is most often used by detectives (and doctors) called abductive reasoning.  This is simply a way of coming to the most reasonable explanation that best takes into account the evidence presented.

In a crime scene, detectives collect and inventory the artifacts (aka potential evidence), eliminating nothing.  They then set out to hypothesize all possible explanations.  To me, this sounds like brain-storming, where the one rule is:  Don’t rule out anything!

Brainstorming

‘Toggling back and forth’ between the evidence and the explanations is the way J. Warner describes the process of thinking through the facts until the most reasonable explanation emerges.

Here is where it is critical that we (and jurors to whom evidence and explanations are tediously presented) distinguish between the possible and the reasonable.  Many explanations are possible, but far fewer are reasonable.

For example:

  • Christians claim that Jesus from Galilee rose from the dead, after having been murdered by crucifixion and buried.

What is the evidence?

The tomb where he was buried was discovered to be empty 2 days later.  That is a fact.  Even atheistic New Testament historians and scholars accept that as incontrovertible, that a real man in history, named Jesus, was executed and buried.

Crucifixion

What are some possible explanations for these 2 subsequent claims of an empty tomb and sightings of Jesus?

  • The Romans stole his body
  • The Jewish leaders stole his body
  • Jesus’ followers stole his body and then conspiratorially invented & maintained the fiction about encountering a Jesus who had come back to life
  • Jesus didn’t die, but merely passed out
  • The disciples went to the wrong tomb and then hallucinated
  • Jesus’ twin was executed, not the controversial Galilean

I am not going to take the time or space to refute each of these POSSIBLE explanations.  I want simply to point out (and you can look up for yourself – Defending the resurrection) that despite many possible explanations, rationally we must settle on the one that is the most reasonable.  This explanation will be the simplest approach that takes into account all the details.  Considering every possible explanation is going to present far more barriers to overcome.  Logical people do not cling to complicated, contorted explanations UNLESS they carry a BIAS going into the their investigation.

And Bias is a topic better suited for another day.

May you & I rest in the FACT that we are created in the image of a rational divine being who has endowed us with the capability of rational thought.  And if you are an atheist, may God bless you.  And may you thank HIM for giving you the gift of thinking. Be courageous to follow the evidence where it leads!

Happy Easter!

Empty tomb

 

Logical Gal examines the ‘extraordinary’

28 Feb

Extraordinary Claims

I heard this thrown out as a defeater for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.  At first blush, it sounds pretty reasonable.  But then the skeptic in me started to question this claim.

When you face an assertion such as this you need to ask about the quantifier.

To wit, do ALL extraordinary claims require this degree of evidence?  or just some?

If the one making this ‘claim’ affirms that he intends ALL such claims to require that caliber of evidence, then you have an easy way to defeat his proposition.  All you have to do is think of ONE counter-example and you have defeated him.

So what would qualify as a potential counter-example?  I immediately thought of the lottery.

Lottery winner

If one of our sons called up to tell us that he had won the lottery, that would qualify as an extraordinary claim.  So what kind of evidence would he need to produce for me to believe him?

Actually, something very simple

  • He could show me the winning ticket
  • I’d also take a picture like the one above as proof

It wouldn’t take much to substantiate his amazing claim.

Now back to the context of the Carl Sagan quote.  Sagan who was paraphrasing David Hume was referring to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  That certainly does qualify as an extra-ordinary claim.  You don’t see former dead people walking around very often.  So how would I handle the demand for ‘extra-ordinary’ evidence?

What do we do when we don’t know which way to proceed?

Ask questions

The easiest tact to take is to ask your interlocutor what she means by extra-ordinary evidence. What would qualify?  After all, we have eye-witness testimony that was verifiable by many.  Paul mentions that over 500 people encountered the risen Jesus.  And when Paul made that claim, had it not been true, most of those people were still alive themselves.  They could have come forward and said, “I did not say that!”  Moreover, no body was ever found (that would have defeated the ‘resurrected Jesus’ claim) and scared followers changed their demeanor overnight and started a movement that has only built up momentum in the 2000 years since the event.  Christianity continues to expand today.

Finally – I would ask Carl Sagan or David Hume or anyone who repeats this double extra-ordinary assertion the following: Is YOUR proposition an ordinary one or an extraordinary one?  What kind of evidence do YOU have to justify your position?

We logical Joes and Janes have to exercise healthy skepticism.  Resurrection-deniers don’t have a corner on that market!

Skeptical