Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can a Miracle Ever Be the Best Explanation?

Can a miracle ever be the best explanation for a historical event?


I currently do not know of a single miracle that has been or even can be historically verified, but the resurrection of Jesus is a possibility.

In my latest post on history, The Failure of the Christological Argument? ( I outlined a potent argument from Dr. Ehrman against the Christological Argument for the existence of God. Ehrman's contention is that a miracle cannot be the best explanation of historical evidence because miracles are less likely than any of the natural explanations. Historians can only decide 'what most likely occurred in the past,' and even an unlikely or absurd natural explanation is more likely than a miraculous explanation. As such, historians are entirely unable to say that God miraculously raised Jesus from the dead, even if the natural explanations for the evidence are pathetic (read my summary or watch the debate on youtube for a comprehensive understanding of the argument).

If we were considering a serious dating/courting relationship with the Historical/Christological arguments at this point, would Dr. Ehrman's argument be considered a "deal breaker?" (Perhaps the Historical Argument doesn't want to have kids? Or wants to have 17 of them...) I think that a "deal breaker" is extremely difficult to find when it comes to making conclusions on deep topics (and what could be more in depth than the Historical Argument?). A full body of evidence must be examined before conclusions can be drawn.

At this point, if I had to bet my life on the issue right now, I would say "no, the historical evidence does not affirm the resurrection of Jesus." However, I am by no means satisfied to end the discussion on here. I don't have a firm grasp on early church history, I have only a basic understanding of the Jewish, Roman, and Pagan cultures surrounding the events, I am only on chapter 3 of my Greek book, I have not hyper analyzed every pro and anti argument available, and I have not yet formulated original arguments on the topic.

What we all need to make a decision on this issue (and every issue) is depth. Until all of the relevant evidence has been gathered and analyzed, no conclusion should be drawn. This principle is especially relevant for anyone who reads one book on the topic, or who reads only books from a single perspective, or who hears a few sermons or takes a single class on the historicity of the Gospels/Bible/resurrection. To decide that one has reached the truth on this issue without pouring over both sides of the argument would be utter folly. As such, I shall continue to read, read, read, read... and learn Greek.

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