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    19 replies to "Does Science Prove that Resurrections Cannot Occur?"

    • hiero5ant

      Walking on water is plausible because you can hold someone slightly above it?

      Good gracious, this is a schoolboy error, no different than claiming that jumping “violates the law of gravity”. Video should be removed or re-edited to fix the mistake.

      Unless the point is just a concession that the resurrection was no less mundane and law-abiding than one person holding another person’s arms?

    • C Michael Patton

      The idea is that it is possible if there is an outside force helping. Your comment is hard to take seriously. Way overstated.

    • hiero5ant

      “Outside forces” don’t let you break laws of nature.

      Is Licona claiming that Jesus just had a really good surgeon who used only non-lawbreaking means to revive his corpse?

      Regardless, a deeper and somehow even more fatal flaw with this view is that it obviously proves too much. If it is legitimate to appeal to “outside agents” in one case, it must be legitimate in all; so Licona must say that science never “proves” that anything can’t occur.

      But science does prove that certain things can’t occur, all the time, every day, for any reasonable value of “prove”. For example, science proves that my car can’t run on an empty tank, and that my ice cream can’t stay solid unless I keep it cold. Another thing it proves, for any reasonable value of “prove”, is that resurrections don’t occur.

    • Michael T.


      You said,

      “Licona must say that science never “proves” that anything can’t occur”

      I think Licona would agree with the statement “science never “proves” anything can’t occur.” I know I would. Unless science could prove with certainty that there is no agent outside the universe capable of changing the laws of the universe at will, it can never say “never.” This is ultimately part of Licona’s point. Once you enter the possibility of a all-powerful being capable of messing with the physical laws of the universe at will into the equation all bets are off (whether it be resurrections or your car running on empty). Now of course this in and of itself does not mean resurrections do occur, or that cars will run on empty, or even that God exists. It is simply a statement of if God exists, then resurrections are possible, regardless of what science tells us normally happens according to physical laws.

    • hiero5ant

      Is that the true strength of Licona’s conviction? The epistemic rock upon which his faith in the hereafter is built is “it’s a naked logical possibility that it’s true”?

      Gods aren’t even necessary for that — any nonbeliever would have granted “it’s logically possible” without argument!

      But this is really a childish, playground-level method of arguing. The apologist is not trying to establish truth, he is attempting to avoid admitting defeat. It’s nakedly possible that all the nonbeliever’s mountains of evidence and arguments are wrong, so the apologist can leave the field claiming his opponent couldn’t prove him wrong.

      I don’t think you believe what you say when you say “all bets are off”. My evidence for this claim is that you still evaluate claims like how far your car can go without gas and whether Elvis or David Koresh can return from the dead according to whether they are plausible in light of the evidence of experience, not…

    • Michael T.

      Apparently you missed my point. The evidence for or against a resurrection occurring in the case of Jesus is completely irrelevant as to whether or not it is possible for a resurrection to occur. The question being addressed by this particular video was simply whether or not science proves that resurrections are impossible. The answer as you have admitted is “no,” it is purely within the range of logical possibilities for a resurrection to occur. Science can only say that they don’t happen according to natural processes. Once we have established that we can look at the evidence which would tend to direct us one way or another as to whether a resurrection actually did occur, but that was not the point that the video was seeking to address. If you want that I suggest you read Licona’s doctoral thesis (The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach) on the matter.

    • hiero5ant

      No, it appears I’ve grasped it all too well. That’s how I was able to predict in advance the flip-flopping, special-pleading priestcraft we’ve just seen. Don’t mistake me for someone who’s pleased with this result — I look high and low for some apologist, any apologist, who can shrug off the peer pressure and come out and admit “sheesh you guys, this one specific argument is really, really, really bad and makes us look like philosophic naifs, we should drop it.”

      I most certainly did not “admit” anything of the sort. You will note I pointed out that science proves things don’t occur “for any reasonable value of ‘prove'”. Not for any unreasonable value!

      Flip. Flop. Which is it? If I say I don’t feel like taking the trash out because it is a naked logical possibility that Yahweh will do it for me, am I appealing to a reasonable or unreasonable standard of proof for the science governing the behavior of inert piles of trash?

    • Michael T.

      “If I say I don’t feel like taking the trash out because it is a naked logical possibility that Yahweh will do it for me, am I appealing to a reasonable or unreasonable standard of proof for the science governing the behavior of inert piles of trash?”

      Whether or not thinking God will take out the trash for you is reasonable depends on the circumstances. What evidence do you have that God will in fact take out the trash for you? Absent some evidence that He will in fact do this the default is of course the scientific norm that the trash won’t take itself out. Yet if for instance God appeared to you personally and told you directly that He would take out the trash for you, you would be perfectly reasonable in sitting on your rear waiting for God to take out the trash.

    • hiero5ant

      Excellent! So we have established that, absent a direct revelation from The Almighty, science can and does prove that things do not occur, for any reasonable value of “prove”.

      And so the answer to the question posed in the title of the video is “yes, science proves that resurrections can’t occur, for any reasonable value of ‘prove'”. Therefore, anyone who has not had a direct revelation is being perfectly reasonable in disbelieving resurrection reports, and conversely, anyone who faults non-revelees for their nonbelief is himself being unreasonable.

      When will the video be re-edited to reflect this fact?

    • Michael T.

      You indicated that I said

      (“absent a direct revelation from The Almighty, science can and does prove that things do not occur, for any reasonable value of “prove.””)

      Of course that isn’t what I said. I gave the direct revelation scenario as a “for instance”. I don’t think it takes a philosophy degree to figure out that giving one circumstance where something would be reasonable does not exclude there being other scenarios where it would also be reasonable. Let’s say, again for instance, that we live in a society where claiming that God was going to take out someone’s trash would invariably get you tortured and killed. Despite this someone for whom there is no evidence of him being a liar, or being insane, declares that they met God and He told him that He is going to take out people’s trash. Sure enough he is tortured in cruel fasion, but refuses to recant, and is ultimately killed.

    • hiero5ant

      Of course, nothing of the sort transpired in the case under scrutiny. But even if it had, the relevant question remains, given that science has already shown that X is nomologically forbidden, and given also that science has shown that religious people behaving in bizarre and inexplicably irrational ways is a commonplace, it is most parsimonious to infer that these conclusions both continue to hold.

    • Michael T.

      And thus we reach the crux of the disagreement. How strong must the evidence be to believe that a supernatural event occurred? As soon as one posits the supernatural science is out the window, it is just a matter of the strength of evidence required to believe that the supernatural occurred or will occur. You seemed to indicate earlier that for you at least a personal revelation of God directly to you would suffice. I would of course place the bar lower.

      P.S. I read Mr. Loftus’ article. I think ultimately he miscontrues the argument (although in his defense many Christians do give it in this form). I would say that there are two main points that he doesn’t address. The first is that in First Century Palestine someone claiming that God was a man and rose from the dead would know that this would get them killed, and the second is that the remaining disciples didn’t recant after Christians started to be martyred. Seems one of them would have said “to hell with this.

    • hiero5ant

      I never used the term “supernatural” because I’ve never seen a coherent formulation of the concept distinguishable from “randomness”. But whatever a “supernatural event” is, you must agree that before we can determine if an event is supernatural, we must first determine if it happened at all. It’s no good debating whether the butler killed him or his wife killed him if you haven’t even established that he’s dead yet!

      Be that as it may, Licona’s claim in the video involved a plain old non-lawbreaking agent, and was trivially scientifically incorrect. If Mary Magdalene was on the shore operating a crane with Jesus in a harness and making him “walk” on water, this irrelevant to what science can and has proved about hydrodynamics.

      And, I would think, is more than a little blasphemous. Didn’t Licona just get in some big trouble recently for another suggestion that some events in the NT may have a mundane explanation?

    • hiero5ant

      p.s. You must not have read the article too carefully, since it is by Dagoods, not Loftus 🙂

      Regardless, what are the sources for your claims that A) anyone claiming one of the gods had been killed and raised would be killed and B) “other” disciples who 1) would have claimed to have been witnesses to a resurrected Jesus — not simply have heard about it secondhand 2) were in imminent danger of death but 3) given an opportunity to recant specifically that doctrine, where such recantation would have spared them?

      And you didn’t actually do anything to address, much less refute, my very obvious and true claim, viz. given that science has already shown that X is nomologically forbidden, and given also that science has shown that religious people behaving in bizarre and inexplicably irrational ways is a commonplace, it is most parsimonious to infer that these conclusions both continue to hold.

    • Michael T.

      1) In general the source is Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy. I don’t have all of my book collection at my current aboad so I can’t look up his sources

      2) As I’ve tried to indicate earlier I don’t think the fact that science states something is forbidden has any bearing on whether or not a free agent capable of violating natural laws will do so at any given time or place anymore then the fact that I have never boarded a plane to go to Ft. Myers means I won’t do so next week.

      3) The example of religious people doing strange things given in the article you linked was the Heaven’s Gate cult. Yet only one person in the group would have known whether or not the story was a lie and that one person had a near death experience such that he did not believe it was a lie. This is quite different then multiple people claiming to have all witnessed the same event. Either multiple disciples were loony or they were lying. Neither of these seems very likely in my book.

    • hiero5ant

      I appreciate the painful condition of being away from one’s books. But here is a list of the Apostles with links to the specific documents and traditions which purport to tell how they died. Could you maybe say which you had in mind, specifically, who 1) would have claimed to have seen a physically resurrected Jesus 2) was killed specifically because of that specific claim, not for any other reason, and 3) was specifically offered an opportunity to avoid death by recanting that specific belief? Then I will be able to evaluate the original sources on my own.

      For example, take my namesake, Andrew. The story of his death is told in the Apocryphal Acts of Andrew, which early church fathers rejected as a gnostic fabrication. His death is described as being at the hands of an angry government official — angry because Andrew had convinced the official’s wife to stop having sex with him!

    • hiero5ant

      Re: #2 I simply do not believe you. Science tells you what you can plausibly expect to happen. Yet again, you make the apologists’ retreat to what can possibly happen — a standard you never ever use in any other area of your life, from American History to baking cookies to particle physics.

      More importantly, you continue to elide the distinction between an ordinary agent and an agent capable of nomological violations. Advertising agencies and insurance companies are based on the concept that human behavior is bounded and predictable, even if only stochastically. Crucially, “behaving oddly” does not violate conservation laws, whereas walking on water does. It may be anyone’s guess what plane you will or won’t take tomorrow, but it is a moral certainty the plane won’t be made of cotton candy, and you won’t have been dead for three days at the time.

    • Michael T.

      Given your formulation of the argument I think you still aren’t quite getting my forumlation of the argument. I don’t think the scenario has to be as strong as you are stating to be valid. For instance regardless of whether or not Jesus rose from the dead I think you would acknowledge that the vast majority of scholars accept that he existed and was crucified. Do you really think his disciples running around preaching the same things that he preached, claiming that he had risen from the dead, and doing this in his name would have expected anything different to happen to them? In my mind that alone makes it unlikely that they were lying. Now when sure enough persecution and death did come (which happened very quickly) the remaining disciples still did not turn away, but continued on preaching. I don’t know about you, but if I knew what I was teaching was a lie, and saw someone teaching the same thing executed or even heard about it (Stephen) – that would be it – I’m out!!

    • Michael T.

      As to not believing me..believe it. You are correct that science tells us what to expect when physcal laws operate normally. Yet that right there is the limit of science. It can only tell us what happens when standard physical laws are in operation. If they are capable of being suspended or changed it cannot tell us what would happen. Thus when I see a claim of the supernatural I don’t dismiss it out of hand because “science says it is impossible.”

      As to the distinction between ordinary agents and supernatural ones the example with the airplane is simply to illustrate that the rarity with which something occurs does not determine it’s probability of occuring given a free agent making the choices. Now of course when dealing with marketing and the like we can to some degree predict the behaviour of a large group of people, but not what any one free agent will do. God could tommorrow decide to make a cotton candy airplane fly regardless of physical law or past experience.

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