Monday, August 27, 2012

The Probability of the Resurrection of Jesus

Here is a brief summary of the argument Richard Swinburne makes in his book The Resurrection of God Incarnate. I have not yet read it but I have put it on my reading list as it seems to offer a different argument for the resurrection than the ones put forth by Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, and NT Wright which tend to focus more on the historical evidence for the resurrection. Swinburne is a theologian and a philosopher and his main argument can be outlined as follows (you may have to read it more than once):

"God has major reasons for intervening in human history by becoming incarnate himself—to identify with our suffering, to provide atonement for our sins, and to reveal truths.

Given there is at least a significant probability that there is a God, there is at least a modest probability that he would become incarnate and live a life and provide teaching appropriate to one who sought thereby to realize these goals. Jesus lived and taught in the appropriate way. If it was God Incarnate who did so live and teach, he would need to show us that it was God who had done so, and so could be expected to put his signature on that life and teaching by a super-miracle, such as the Resurrection.

So there is a modest prior probability in advance of considering the direct historical evidence of the Resurrection, to expect that it would happen to someone who lived and taught as Jesus did. Jesus is the only person in human history about whom there is significant evidence both that he led the appropriate kind of life, and that his life was culminated by a super-miracle. So we do not need too many witnesses to the empty tomb or too many witnesses who claimed to have talked to the risen Jesus, to make it probable that Jesus did indeed rise. We do have some such witness evidence, which it is very improbable would occur (in connection with someone who led the appropriate sort of life) unless the Resurrection occurred.

In consequence it is overall very probable that the Resurrection occurred."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lennox, Krauss, and the God Particle

In “Not the God of the Gaps, But the Whole Show”, Oxford mathematician John Lennox comments, “Scientists are wrong to call the Higgs boson ‘more relevant than God’”. He is referring to Larry Krauss’s claim, "Humans, with their remarkable tools and their remarkable brains, may have just taken a giant step toward replacing metaphysical speculation with empirically verifiable knowledge. The Higgs particle is now arguably more relevant than God.”

And Lennox replies, "What does Krauss mean by “more relevant than God?” Relevant to what? Clearly the Higgs particle is more relevant than God to the question of how the universe works. But not to the question why there is a universe in which particle physics can be done. The internal combustion engine is arguably more relevant than Henry Ford to the question of how a car works, but not for why it exists in the first place. Confusing mechanism and/or law on the one hand and agency on the other, as Krauss does here, is a category mistake easily made by ignoring metaphysics."

"Krauss does not seem to realize that his concept of God is one that no intelligent monotheist would accept. His “God” is the soft-target “God of the gaps” of the “I can’t understand it, therefore God did it” variety. As a result, Krauss, like Dawkins and Hawking, regards God as an explanation in competition with scientific explanation. That is as wrong-headed as thinking that an explanation of a Ford car in terms of Henry Ford as inventor and designer competes with an explanation in terms of mechanism and law. God is not a “God of the gaps”, he is God of the whole show."

The whole article can be found here: Lennox on the God Particle