>>>Assumption of atheism fallacy: how to asses evidence objectively and with out bias<<<
I will start this article by defining the content of the labels I will be using. A label is not important, what is important is the content of that label, but if the content of the labels are not defined then arguments and issues of semantics sometimes arise (due to some one holding a different content for that label).
So I am going to define the content of these labels in line with the classical philosophical usage (which I believe has the most rational etymology in defining these labels)...
The labels are as follows:
Theism: The position God exists or is more likely to exist than not.
Agnosticism: The position in which the existence of God is unknown (so the claim of God's existence VS the claim of God's non-existence is held at a 50/50 likelihood).
Atheism: The position God does not exist or is less likely to exist than to exist.
So from now on when I use those labels above, that will be the content of what that label means.
Now I will define what I mean by the label "God", I often find this is an area of confusion as well.
When I use the label "God\Theism", content wise what I mean is that the metaphysics of reality (they are the fundamental forces and processes of reality) are Personal rather than being Impersonal.
Based on the logical law of excluded middle there are only two options as to what the metaphysical ontology of reality could be; that being the ontology of the metaphysics of reality are either Personal or Impersonal....
So the two options in more detail are:
(1) Reality in it's metaphysics (fundamental forces and processes) is Impersonal: that is to say it is intentionless, purposeless, meaningless, unguided, unaware and lacks teleology.
(2) Reality in its metaphysics (fundamental forces and processes) is Personal: that is to say it is intentional, purposeful, meaningful, guided, aware and has teleology.
Now position (2) would normally be classed under Theism and thus atheism being the absence of Theism (that is what the "A" means in Atheism, just like Asymmetrical means the absence of symmetry on a specific aspect of reality) would fall under position (1).
Now if a person says either position is more likely than the other to be true, they have a burden of proof.
However I seem to find a lot of people just assume (1) is more likely true than (2) with no reason or evidence, and that is the 'assumption of atheism fallacy' I want to address.
If you just assume a position over its opposite claim with out reason or evidence then all you have is an unverified and invalidated assumption (that is not an argument from rationally warranted and justified true belief).
With two opposite and competing claims a person should just be agnostic (holding both on a 50/50, this is the neutral position) until they have a valid reason for one claim being more likely true than the opposite claim based on something they know about reality.
To state one position as more likely true than it's opposite is a positive knowledge claim and requires a burden of proof; you are saying you know something about reality which makes a certain proposition more likely true than its opposite (and you must justify this, you can't just assume it).
Below I have a set of claims and their opposites (I will use logical symbols, we do this in logic to remove bias):
(X) The universe is asymmetrical.
(X) The stars are odd in number.
(X) The metaphysics of reality are Impersonal (atheism).
(X) The car on man (P)'s driveway has less than half a tank of fuel.
(X) There is no planet the size of Texas orbiting between the earth and the moon.
(X) There are not 200,056 stars in the universe.
(X) The right pocket of man (P) has no iPhone 5 in it.
(X) Santa Claus does not exist (the common conception of him).
(X) Matter and energy is not all that exists in reality.
(X) Philosophical Property Dualism is not true.
(X) The universe is finite in nature (had a beginning).
(~X) The universe is symmetrical.
(~X) The stars are even in number.
(~X) The metaphysics of reality are Personal (Theism).
(~X) The car on man (P)'s driveway has more than half a tank of fuel.
(~X) There is a planet the size of Texas orbiting between the earth and the moon.
(~X) There are 200,056 stars in the universe.
(~X) The right pocket of man (P) has a iPhone 5 in it.
(~X) Santa Claus does exist (the common conception of him).
(~X) Matter and energy is all that exists in reality (i.e. Philosophical Materialism).
(~X) Philosophical Property Dualism is true.
(~X) The universe is infinite in nature (had no beginning).
For a person to just assume (X) is true is totally unjustified rationally (you are just assuming what is true with unverified and invalidated assumptions. That is not an argument from rationally warranted and justified true belief).
Why should a person not just assume (~X) is true given such logic?
The rational and neutral position is to be agnostic, holding (X) and (~X) on a 50/50 until reasons are given for either one being more likely true than the other.
So lets now look at some examples from the list above and evaluate the claim and its opposite and see how this all works out...
So let us examine first between these two claims:
(A) The car on man (P)'s driveway has less than half a tank of fuel.
(~A) The car on man (P)'s driveway has more than half a tank of fuel.
So to make an argument for either claim being more likely true than its oppoiste claim you would have the burden of proof (as you are saying you know something about reality which makes one claim more likely true than the other opposite claim), but until then you should just be agnostic (holding each at a 50/50) between the two claims.
So maybe an example argument for (A) could be something like; "Out of a survey done involving 10,000 people in 2003 it was shown more than 80% of people in the survey tended to run their car on less than half a tank of fuel.
So based on this probability, claim (A) is more likely true than (~A)."
And then an example argument for (~A) could be; "Well I have met a personal friend of man (P) and he has told me that man (P) has a phobia of running out of fuel and always fills his car up with fuel before it gets to less than half a tank."
So lets now examine between these two claims:
(B) There is no planet the size of Texas orbiting between the earth and the moon.
(~B) There is a planet the size of Texas orbiting between the earth and the moon.
Here we would should at what we would expect to find true of reality if (B) or (~B) were true.
So for example if (~B) were true we may expect a set circumstances (P) to be true; circumstances like gravitational effects on the ocean, earth and moon, also for people to see the planet and report it etc.. etc..
If set of circumstances (P) is not true then that would be added evidence for (B) being more likely true than (~B).
You could do the same in reverse fashion and ask what set of circumstances (R) should be true if (B) is true, then look to see if it meets the criteria (if not then that is evidence for (~B) if so then that is evidence for (B) ).
So lets now examine between these two claims:
(C) There are not 200,056 stars in the universe.
(~C) There are 200,056 stars in the universe.
Now I once had a person getting confused and saying a claim and its opposite (before evidence and argument is given) should not be assumed as 50/50, and he used the two claims above ( (C) VS (~C) ) to makes his point.
What he was doing was getting confused between an argument for why one should allow unjustified assumptions mixed up with an argument for why (C) is more likely true than (~C) based on a belief about the nature of the universe; he was making the later argument but thinking it was an argument for the former.
It is the case that living in a universe (such as ours) which has the contingent possibility of a vast variety of a certain number of stars that it would make it more probable (C) is more likely true than (~C), but this is an argument for (C) VS (~C) based on the nature of the universe we live in (this is an argument from evidence); it is not an argument for why a person can have unverified and invalidated assumptions when judging the likelihood between a claim and it's opposite.
For example it could logically be the case that there is a universe in which maybe either there are 200,056 stars or the gravitational expansion rate of the universe would reverse and the universe would implode, and if this scenario is given as evidence (say we lived in that universe) then now based on what we know about the universe (C) is far more likely over (~C).
Thus you should never just use your assumptions\beliefs about the nature of the universe as rational warrant for unjustified assumptions being evidence for the likelihood of a claim, rather that assumption\belief about the universe should be brought out and tested to see if it is valid evidence for supporting a certain claim as more likely over it's opposite.
So lets now examine between these two claims:
(D) Santa Claus does not exist (the common conception of him).
(~D) Santa Claus does exist (the common conception of him).
Now a claim is not more likely true because it's opposite claim lacks evidence, a claim can only be more likely true because the claim it's self has evidence (not because it's opposite claim lacks evidence).
You will find most people intuitively believe (D) is true over (~D), but they do this because (D) has evidence (or at least perceived evidence - things they consider true evidence) and (~D) does not.
But sometimes people will claim the reason they do not believe in (~D) and believe in (D) is because claim (~D) lacks evidence, but that is not what they are doing in their reasoning and if it were then they would have major epistemic problems; for example we lack any evidence the stars are more likely even than odd in number, so if they did think the way they claimed then they would have to think therefore it is more likely the stars are odd in number, but they don't think that so that is not how they reason. If it was the way people truly reasoned they would have a major arbitrary problem because it would all depend which claim you heard first as to then which claim is considered true (so if you heard the claim the stars were odd in number first and because that claim lacks evidence you would then have to believe the stars are even in number. But if you heard the claim first that the stars were even in number and then because that claim lacks evidence you would have to believe the stars are odd in number, this is irrational).
Most peoples reasoning for holding (D) as true is based on their belief about the nature of reality and it's outworking, and the incompatibility of that nature with claim (~D). So they have evidence for (D) based on the ontology of nature but they do not have evidence for (D) because (~D) lacks evidence.
So deductively it would look like this:
(argument against Santa Claus)
P1: If reality is a certain way (P) (Philosophical Materialism for example) then Santa can not exist or is far less likely to exist.
P2: Reality model (P) is the way reality really is.
Conclusion: Therefore Santa does not exist or is far less likely to exist.
Now the only way a person could disagree with the conclusion of the argument which supports claim (D), is if they contest either one of the premises of the deductive argument as less likely true than true. If they do that and they themselves also have a belief about the nature and outworking of reality which supports (D~) as more likely; then that is where he heart of the contention is and where the dispute and argument lies for supporting (~D) over (D) (in the nature and outworking of reality).
You could use other more specific evidences for or against Santa. For example given Santa Clauses ontological criteria and what would be expected to exist in reality if he existed, we find the opposite (thus evidence against his existence).
For example Santa Claus is a physical Being, yet we do not find him at the north pole, we know it would mathematically be impossible for a physical Being to travel the world in the time given and deliver all the presents, and we know it is the parents who actually put the presents under the tree (no reports of shocked parents finding presents they did not place there have been presented) etc.. etc...
So lets now examine between these two claims:
(E) Matter and energy is not all that exists in reality.
(~E) Matter and energy is all that exists in reality (i.e. Philosophical Materialism).
Now some people usually get a debate like this confused and argue that there is loads of evidence for (~E) over (E), but they are confused because when you get down to it they arguing as if what is being said is actually:
*(E) Matter and energy does not exist in reality.
*(~E) Matter and energy exists in reality (i.e. Philosophical Materialism).
Now if that was the argument of course *(~E) has lots more evidence for it than *(E), but (~E) is not *(~E).
Everyone (I think) agrees matter and energy exist in reality based on the evidence, the claim which seems to lack any evidence and which is disputed is the additional claim that "matter and energy IS ALL THAT EXISTS IN REALITY."
So we have two claims "Matter and energy IS ALL THAT EXISTS IN REALITY", and "matter and energy IS NOT ALL THAT EXISTS IN REALITY"; this is not a debate on whether matter and energy exist.
Now for either claim to be rationally considered more likely true than its equal and opposite claim requires reasoning based on what we know about reality. Let me give a similar scenario to demonstrate this:
(E) There are not more than 230,000 species of fish in the sea (230,000 is the most recent estimate to date I believe for the amount of differing fish species we have found).
(~E) There are more than 230,000 species of fish in the sea.
Now if some one wants to rationally say one claim is more likely true than the its opposite, it has to be based on reasoned argument from what we know.
For example somebody could make an argument for (~E) like; "Well, there is so much more ocean to discover which we have not been able to access so far, and based on what we know of life, if it can exist anywhere it will exist; therefore it is more likely there are more types of fish species in the sea yet to discover."
An example argument for (E) could be something like: "Well all the sea left to discover which we have not accessed yet is under too much pressure for a fish to survive based on what we know of fish biology, therefore it is less likely there are any more types of fish in the sea."
The bottom line is this, if you think a claim is more likely true than it's opposite you need a reasoned argument for that based on factors from what we know from reality, otherwise you should rationally be agnostic and hold each claim as a 50/50.
Dr. John Shook did not seem to get this in a debate he had with Dr William Craig (the debate was on naturalism VS supernaturalism):
& here is Dr Craig's closing statement at the debate:
So lets now examine between these two claims:
(F) The metaphysics of reality are Impersonal (i.e. atheism).
(~F) The metaphysics of reality are Personal (i.e. Theism).
What a person would have to show is what set of circumstance (P) would we expect to be true of reality given (F) or (~F) being true, and then what do we find concerning circumstances (P).
Also I will add that showing certain models for (~F) as less likely true is not necessarily evidence for (F), and the reverse is true.
So for example some one might have good evidence that a certain model of God (R) existing is less likely true than true, but that is not necessarily evidence that it is less likely God (a Personal metaphysics) exists than exists (and in fact the people who hold to a different model of God (T) than (R) would also use the same arguments against the model (R) though they themselves believe in God).
The reverse is also true for an Impersonal metaphysical model (atheistic models).
So for example if I showed Materialistic atheism to be less likely true than true that is not necessarily evidence atheism its self is less likely true than Theism (as maybe Dualistic atheism is quite probable and in fact the Dualist atheists might use the exact same arguments against the materialist atheists that the Theists use).
What the Theist would have to show is that if atheism is true then it is more likely it would have to be Materialistic atheism and because Materialistic atheism is less likely true than true therefore atheism is less likely true than true; or the Theist would just have to give positive arguments directly for a Personal Metaphysics over an Impersonal metaphysics.
So equally this is true for the atheist, showing a certain type of God model (R) as less likely true than true is only evidence against the existence of God if you can show that if Theism was true then it would be more likely that model (R) is what would be the case and because (R) is less likely true than true therefore Theism is less likely true than true; or the atheist would just have to give direct evidence for an impersonal metaphysics as more likely than a Personal metaphysics.
All this would work the same with any claim, for example if we made the claims:
(F) The universe is finite in nature (had a beginning - like the big bang model).
(~F) The universe is infinite in nature (had no beginning - like the steady state model).
Everything I said above would be true what ever claim and it's opposite replace (E) and (~E); in fact in every example everything I said is true regardless of which claim and it's opposite you fit in the lettered symbols (that is the point of using logical symbolism).
>>>My assement on Theism VS Atheism<<<
In regards to rational justification for holding Theism as more likely true than atheism, if you are a fellow Theist then I am happy to tell you that we have many powerful deductive arguments for Theism (where as atheism has only a hand full of arguments and all of them weak) which makes Theism rationally far more likely true than atheism.
Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has defended over twenty arguments for Theism.
Here is a quote from philosopher Alvin Plantinga:
Also if you are a Christian who has the Holy Spirit you are not just only rationally justified to believe Theism is more likely true than atheism based on the inferential arguments and evidence, but you are rationally justified to be completely sure of the existence of God based on your personal existential knowledge of Him.
Here is a quick article I wrote on the subject: https://www.facebook.com/1400753406812671/photos/pb.1400753406812671.-2207520000.1437039760./1634886343399375/?type=3&theater
For an interesting video highlighting the anti-theist Christopher Hitchens dodging his burden of proof in his debate with Dr William Craig, then please click on the link below (in this debate to shift the burden of proof Hitchens tried to make the claim "the absence of evidence is the evidence of absence"; this has three problems. Firstly if that is the case he would have to conclude absurd things, like because there is no evidence for gold anywhere else in the universe therefore there is no gold anywhere else in the universe; or that because there is no evidence the stars are odd in number therefore they are even in number. Absence of evidence is only evidence of absence for some entity (X) if you would expect to find evidence for (X) if (X) was true and which we do not find. Secondly there was absence of evidence for the position of the metaphysics of reality being impersonal, so his own position falls under the same problem. Thirdly he was given plenty of evidence in the debate in the form of deductive arguments which he could not refute, all he did in the debate instead was make rhetorical jabs about religion, which does nothing to show God is less likely to exist, which was the position he was meant to be taking):
I also believe the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit will make it known to people at least once (by certain means) at some point that Christianity is true (mainly when the Gospel is being preached - or the Holy Spirit will make the knowledge of God's existence known through General Revelation).
So if my interpretation of the Bible is correct and Bible is true in its proposition then people will be left with no rational excuse before God as to why they claimed they did not know of His existence (if that is what they claim, however it is actually only a small minority of people that are actually professing atheists).
>>>Categories of evidence: being shown through the example of testimony<<<
In this section I will be looking at what type of categories would the evidence be based on when considering whether a claim or its opposite is more likely true.
I will use two examples from testimonies, one demonstrative example will be based on a recent article I posted on FB and a discussion which ensued from it. The other example will based on an ancient testimony.
>First testimonial example: lesbian lady who believes she saw a demon<
I recently posted an article on FB about a lesbian lady who believes a demon was revealed to her, this was the article below I posted in which her testimony is found:
Now taking what we looked at from before on how to asses claims and their opposites:
(X) What this women saw was real.
(~X) What this women saw was not real (either a hallucination or she is just a liar and saw nothing).
As I have said before, we can not just rationally assume which is more likely correct out of (X) or (~X), but if we want too claim one position is more likely correct than the other opposite position we rationally would have to show a line of reasoning based on certain factors which would support that belief.
Now I personally am a Christian and I believe demons exist, but that does not mean I believe every story I hear about a demon (just like a person who believes pink cars exist, it does not mean that everyone who claims they saw a pink car is therefore believed by that person to be telling the truth); I personally would still like to be objective about the situation and know the truth of which claim is true (and if it is (~X) it would do nothing against my beliefs about reality). And to be objective I have to use the same system of rational inference between a claim and its opposite I have been writing about above.
Now I had one man commenting on this article and trying to say it was obvious that (~X) was far more likely true over (X), but when I would try and work with this man and find out why he thought that, he had no articulated justification for (~X) from a set of factors and a line of reasoning from those factors. He would rather just keep asserting it.
I laid out all the possible categories (I could think of) his reasons and arguments could fall under for supporting claim (~X) or (X). They were as follows:
(Categories for evidence of either claim)
(A1) The position demons do not exist or are less likely to exist than to exist (this would add probability to the hallucination or liar hypothesis).
(A2) The position demons do exist or are more likely to exist than not (this could add probability to her seeing a demon but not necessarily, it could of still been a hallucination and yet demons do exist).
(B1) The position that this women is an insincere witness (this would add weight to the position that she did not see anything).
(B2) The position that this women is a sincere witness (this position if true could add weight to (A2) and (D2) ).
(C1) The witness suffers from bad faculties and\or cognitive abilities (thus this could add weight to it being a hallucination).
(C2) The witness has good faculties and no cognitive problems (if this is true it can add weight to (A2) and (D2) ).
(D1) If demons were granted to exist; this women's circumstances would of made it less probable she had seen a demon than to have seen one (adding weight to the hallucination or liar hypothesis).
(D2) If demons were granted to exist; this women's circumstances would of made it more probable she had seen a demon than to have not seen one (adding weight that what she saw as real).
Now I think the best evidence to support claim (X) as more likely is going to be found in category (B2) and (C2).
I asked the skeptic what evidence he had to make (~X) more likely true and he basically had nothing. I think the little he did have would of been evidence for (~X) from the category of (A1). So I wrote him out a deductive syllogism to help out his line of thinking:
(skeptics line of reasoning)
P1: A demon's ontology can not exist under Metaphysical Naturalism.
P2: Metaphysical Naturalism is true.
P3: The women claims to have seen a demon.
P4: If a person sees something which does not exist that is an hallucination (or she is lying).
Conclusion: Therefore this women had an hallucination (or she is lying).
This argument is sound in form (that means if the premises are true the conclusion logically and necessarily follows - and if the premises are more likely true than not true then the conclusion is more likely true than not true), the real question though is if the premises are more likely true than not.
Like I said I think categories (B2) and (C2) are the best evidence for (X) (she seems about as sincere as one gets, she changed her whole life according to this claimed experience) and thus this is somewhat evidence against premise 2. I myself agree with every premise except premise 2 (in fact in my studies I have found premise 2 to be very implausible).
Now I kept asking the skeptic to give a line of reasoning which shows premise 2 more likely true than not and then he would have some evidence for (~X) being more likely true. The skeptic could not but still wanted maintain (~X) was more likely true than (X), but he had no rational basis.
The skeptic then tried to give evidence for (~X) from the category of evidence (D1). He based this on his experience of never seeing a demon and thus the improbability of any other human seeing a demon was low.
Now this at least was an argument, and the probability from personal experience has some weight to it, but this probability needs to be broken down into two sections and I will do this with an example.
Lets say for example a friend at work says his brother won the lottery, now you could say there is evidence for the claim his brother did not win the lottery based on the unlikelihood of this happening; and you know it is unlikely from personal experience of playing the lottery and never winning. Now that has some weight to it.
But although the probability of a SINGLE person winning the lottery is low (which you know from personal experience), however the probability of ANY person winning the lottery is high. So even though the probability of a single person seeing a demon is low (which you base on personal experience), however the probability of any person seeing a demon might be quite high. Now all this type of argument would fall under (D1) category of evidence, but for a person to work out such probabilities they need to work off of background information, and with out some factors (to give us some background information) which we can test how can they make a probability argument (except from personal experience and like we have seen that only goes so far).
So it seems to me in the end (X) had more evidence than (~X) and thus was rationally best to infer as being more likely true based on the category (B2) and (C2) evidence (at least from what was uncovered in that discussion).
>Second testimonial example: resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead<
Now again taking what we looked at from before on how to asses claims and their opposites:
(X) Jesus ressurected from the dead.
(~X) Jesus did not ressurect from the dead.
So firstly lets look at the type of reasoning a mythicist (a person who believes there was no historic Jesus that is even close to the Christian evangelical model of Him) might use to support claim (~X) as more likely true over claim (X).
(mythicist line of reasoning)
P1: There is no historical evidence for a Jesus of Nazareth in first century Israel which even closely resembles the Jesus of Evangelical Christianity.
P2: If there is no direct evidence for a charecter of hisotry existing, then the only option left for them existing as we believe them to exist is based on chance.
P3: The chance of a Jesus of Nazareth existing in first century Israel by chance which is similar to the Evangelical Christian model of Jesus is very low.
Conclusion: Therefore the existence of a Jesus of Nazareth existing which is similar to the Evangelical Christian model of Jesus is very low.
Well I would agree with every premise except premise (1), and basically every Phd historian who specializes in this specific field would also disagree with premise 1.
Based on all the collective data and analayse of that data (using the historical method), there is little to no debate among both Christian and non-Christian historians (who both use the same objective historic method) on four historical facts surrounding Jesus and which are closely concerned with the claims in question.
By contrast, there is widespread debate as to what best explains those four facts.
The historical facts are these:
(1): Jesus was murdered and buried.
(2): Three days afterward, his body went missing.
(3): Accounts of Jesus’ appearance to both his disciples and unbelievers/skeptics were reported over the course of many days.
(4): These appearances transformed his followers and some previous skeptics into courageous preachers of Christianity (which involved persecution and death for some of them), with Jesus’ resurrection becoming the central focus of their teaching.
Again, even atheist scholars acknowledge these four historical facts. The question is, what best explains these facts (I believe it is the explanation the disciples gave)?
Now I had just recently posted about these four facts on FB and I had a skeptic ask me a question about them, I will post his question and my response:
"Please cite the atheist scholars that support this. More and more scholars contend that historical Jesus did not exist."
My friend the historic method is is the same regardless of atheism or Christianity; those positions only make philosophical allowances but they don't change the objective historic method.
In terms of the four facts stated, Gary Habermas did a bibliography (the most extensive study you can do) and found the majority of Historians who specialize in that field agreed with the four facts (how they best explain those facts is another question).
People like William L. Craig and Mike Licona have done many debates with historians on the historical Jesus, in all the debates they mention the four historical facts being held by the majority of scholars and not once has that claim ever been denied by their opponents in the debate.
Rather the opponents have always tried to bring up a hypothesis that best explains those facts; for example one historian who debated William Craig held the position that Jesus had a long lost twin brother that was separated at birth and who came back stole the body and presented himself as the risen Christ.
A couple of quotes from atheist historians for you as you asked (I will post them on fact 3):
"It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ"- Gerd Ludemann (atheist historian)
"I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That's what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attests to their conviction that that's what they saw. I'm not saying they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn't there. I don't know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something."- Paula Fredriksen (agnostic)
Bart Ehrman is about as far leaning as you can get on the critical end of historical studies to do with Jesus (as in a Phd proffesional in that field) who does not meet with the majority in the middle, yet he has this to say to the Jesus Mythicists (people who hold there was no historic Jesus).
>>>Bart talks to the mythicists:
Historical scholars look at the New Testament the way it is written, as a collection of mainly eye witness accounts of Jesus and His apostles, and letters written to the early Church from those apostles (mainly addressing issues and problems with in the Church). They do not look at the New Testament documents as inspired text.
Now to claim these documents have no historical truths in them (or that you can't learn anything of history from that time by reading them) is too far fetched a position which is against the evidence (for a historian) over the claim they do have certain historical information of that time with in them (actually historians hold the claims with in the New Testament as quite historically accurate based on what we can confirm using the historical method).
Now the historians job is to analyse the New Testament documents (and other sources from that time) using the historical method and conclude what we can know with high historical confidence about that time of history (and the four facts are the result).
Now the historian is only viewing the New Testament documents as they are written, that is as supposed eye witness accounts and letters written to the Churches by the Apostles, historians are not studying them as inspired writings by God. The doctrine of inspiration is not even factored in or added as a layer to these New Testament documents.
Now the reason the doctrine of 'inspiration' is so strongly held by most Christians (on top of the evidence for the doctrine its self being more likely true than true) is because if true it seems to entail quite a powerful rational warrant for the doctrine of 'inherency' being layered onto the Scriptures (as God would be a reliable source in both character and ability to teach accurate information). Regardless of whether the New Testament is inspired or just written by men alone, each and every proposition is still either true or false by logical necessity (and we can use tools to either confirm a claim or refute a claim, regardless of the source - it could for example be the case the New Testament is solely written by man but every propositional claim in it is true).
But I believe even if we do not add the additional layer of the doctrine of 'inspiration' to the Scriptures, there is still rational warrant for holding all the major Christian doctrines as more likely true than not (based on philosophical, scientific and historical inferences and arguments - also for theological matters of authority between Christians, such a position could still appeal to the New Testament documents as having Apostolic authority; authority based on people who knew Jesus personally and who were close to God).
Here is a video by Dr Gary Habermas:
>>The Resurrection Argument That Changed a Generation of Scholars
Now taking all this into account it seems to support that claim (X) is more likely true than (~X). This is based on the Resurrection of Jesus being the best hypothesis to explain the four historical facts over any other hypothesis which would bolster claim (~X).
One argument which is mainly used against the Resurrection hypothesis is based on category (D1) type evidence, that it is highly improbable a Resurrection would occur and this is based mainly on personal experience. Now this again is just like the lottery example I gave in the last testimony account, such a personal experience can only go a little way in making evidence for improbability (given certain factors like God's existence, maybe it is very probable He would raise one man from the dead and especially if that man is Jesus and given Jesus circumstances).
The improbability argument as being an argument which reduces the chances of the possibility of the Resurrection hypothesis being the best explanation of the four historical facts is usually summed up in this sentence "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".
Well firstly from a factual point of view on how evidence is weighed this claim is false, I wrote an article on it (regardless of how extraordinary a claim is, it is still the case of does the evidence we do have support it more probable than the claim being false):
Secondly what is the extraordinary claim?
Well there are two claims, Jesus was dead and then the second claim of Jesus being alive, neither claim is extraordinary, rather what is extraordinary is when you put the dots together and the position of Jesus rising from the dead emerges, that is the extraordinary claim.
But such improbability is either going to come from a (A1) category of evidence based on the philosophical beliefs of a person to do with the nature of reality (that ressurections can't ontologically happen), or it is going to come from a (D1) category of it just being improbable based on a certain set of factors and circumstances (normally the knowledge from personal experience).
But any improbability from those categories can be in my opinion easily outweighed by the best inference from the historical facts alone. That is to say "what would be the probability of these four facts occurring if Jesus had not been raised from the dead?"
That would be a very, very low probability.
So all in all I think the claim (X) has more evidence than claim (~X). Any argument for (~X) is going to be based on either (A1) or (D1) (rather than on the power alone of a better hypothesis to explain the four facts) and both of these are quite poor against the weight of the best explaination for the four historical facts being a Ressurection.
Also as Dr William Lane Craig says, there is another avenue in which you can know Jesus rose from the dead other than the historical likelihood.
That is by the existential knowledge of God and Jesus via the Holy Spirit:
Answering repetitive atheist cliches
Atheist Claim: "You can't prove a negative (thus what is the point debating with you)."
Answer: Firstly this is totally false, I can prove that 4+4 is not 10 or that there is no one inch picture of the queens head on my coffee mug.
All you need to do to disprove a negative is have positive knowledge about the thing in question.
Also this statement from the atheist is arbitrary and reversible, for example lots of atheists hold to Naturalism, thus I could just say
"well I can't prove a negative so the default is that Naturalism is false until proven otherwise".
But I think what the person is really trying to claim is that you can not prove a negative with certainty (based on our limited cognitive abilities). But this skeptical position of certainty is also equally true of any positive claim (based on the fallibility of our cognitive abilities).
The point is not to prove with certainty anyway, rather to just prove one claim as more likely true than it's opposite.
Atheist Claim: "We are all atheists, I just believe in one less god than you."
Answer: It is just a misuse of words, let me give an example to parody this.
It is like a bachelor saying to a married man:
"We are all bachelors, I am just married to one less women than you".
As you see the person has totally misused the word in question. Another example, I will reverse the claim this time:
"We are all Theists, I just believe in one less Impersonal account for the Metaphysics of reality than you".
It is like a person who holds to a steady state universe model saying to a person who holds to a finite state universe model (and there are a few different finite state models):
"We all believe in a steady state universe model, I just believe in one less finite state universe model than you."
This totally misses the point that there is a fundamental difference between a steady state universe and a finite state universe; just because there are many models proposed on these foundations and that a person only accept one model means nothing.
Atheist Claim: "Atheism is just a lack of belief in God."
Answer: Firstly it does not matter what you use as a label, what matter is the content of that label. If you want to claim you just merely lack a belief in God, there are three issues here:
(1) You are not stating any type of truth claim in regards to what is likely true about reality, but rather you are just merely making a claim about your own pyschology.
(2) You would equally have to lack belief in the claim that reality is atheistic in it's metaphysics.
(3) You clearly do not lack a belief in Theism, because to lack a belief in something you would have to have never have thought about it or heard what it is. But you know what it is and have an opinion on it even if that is just agnostic to its truth claim.
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