Choosing Evidence Over Theory: How the Evidence for the Resurrection Undermines A Priori Arguments Against Miracles
Rawlings School of Divinity
Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics (MA)
apologetics, a priori, resurrection, David Hume, Antony Flew, Bart Ehrman, minimal facts, resurrection evidence, Gary Habermas, swoon theory, hallucination theory, antisupernaturalist, miracles, theoretical, Benedict Spinoza, On Miracles, alternative theories
Christianity | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Graber, Benjamin D., "Choosing Evidence Over Theory: How the Evidence for the Resurrection Undermines A Priori Arguments Against Miracles" (2022). Masters Theses. 919.
For centuries, the prevailing arguments against miracles have been based on David Hume and others’ a priori arguments. These theoretical arguments continue to be debated as they are not especially persuasive to those who are ideologically opposed. Because these arguments are theoretical in nature, they exclude the possibility of miraculous events. As such, there are two ways of arguing against a priori arguments. First, one can argue from an opposing theoretical viewpoint and debate the logic within the arguments. Second, one can argue for the probability of one miraculous event. If one event can be proven likely to have occurred, this would dismantle the entire a priori theory since it does not allow for a single miracle to occur. The central miracle to Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus. Generally, skeptics would agree that if the resurrection occurred, it would be deemed a miracle. Therefore, one must examine the available evidence to discover if belief in it is rational. Though there is no artifact evidence (aside from the possibility of the Shroud of Turin), there is plenty of other evidence that the resurrection of Jesus was a historical event. While the resurrection will never be able to be definitively proven, it can also not be disproven. When one investigates all the available evidence, it becomes evident that belief in the resurrection is a justified belief. The vast amount of evidence for the resurrection severely weakens the a priori arguments against the supernatural, not just because of the probability of the miraculous event, but because the evidence itself answers the questions that Hume raises (such as miracle probabilities, value of testimony, and defining miracles by natural law). Once the arguments themselves are deemed unlikely as a theory, this is no longer a matter of philosophical argument but a matter of antisupernaturalist biases.