This Friday, instead of meeting at Forum, we attended the event “Dead men don’t rise …?” at BME (the technical university). The lecture was held by Peter Payne, PhD, Philosophy, University of California.

Here’s a snippet of the lecture:

The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the Christian faith, so whether it’s true or not is a crucial question.

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:14

About miracles:

Even for natural events we infer that they have a natural cause, so when is it reasonable to infer that a miracle has occurred? For example, someone walking on water, suppose there’s no natural explanation.

Our options:

  • physics undergo radical changes → conflicts with science for a philosophical conjecture
  • maintain our beliefs about what is physically possible → a miracle took place → doesn’t conflict

Some skeptic reasons:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

False: e.g. proton decay → we have never seen it, but it could happen.

Extraordinary evidence is needed if:

  • there’s good reason to think it could not happen
  • accepting the claim would have major consequences:
    • huge change in beliefs
    • high economic cost
  • science has shown many reports to be false
    • doesn’t tell you anything about whether there can be true ones
    • higher bar of evidence to weed out the false from the potentially genuine

Q: How much evidence is needed to reasonably believe a miracle report?

A: No formal inductive logic (equally informed, critical, intelligent people can widely disagree).

Background beliefs are crucial:

  • serious problems with naturalism? (only the natural world is real)
  • evidence for the existence of God?
  • evidence for Christianity?
  • potential practical consequences of belief/disbelief?
  • “natural laws have to be without exception” → then miracles are impossible
  • materialism & naturalism: philosophical, not scientific
  • science can’t tell what God is like
  • if miracles support the Christian faith, a lot comes with it e.g. the resurrection, which proves that Jesus was who he said he was

Why are you a Christian? (Which “why” question?)

  • philosophical
  • autobiographical
  • what it means to me