Skip to main content

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Jeff Lowder on "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" here.


Mike D said…
I'm a bit mixed on stuff like this. To say it's esoteric would be a colossal understatement, but for academics who are interesting in sifting through that mumbo-jumbo, it's fine.

But the elephant in the room with all of Craig's Resurrection arguments is that he simply assumes that the Biblical account is unequivocally established as historical fact. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and that's where, in my judgment at least, Craig really needs to be hammered on these arguments.
Steven Carr said…
What sort of evidence, even in theory, would support Paul's claim that the resurrected Jesus 'became a life-giving spirit'?
Mike, you wrote, "The elephant in the room with all of Craig's Resurrection arguments is that he simply assumes that the Biblical account is unequivocally established as historical fact."

What led you to that conclusion?
Steven Carr said…
I don't think Craig does assume the Bible story is true.

I think he claims that 75% of scholars believe the tomb was empty.
Tony Lloyd said…
Hi Mike

You can re-word Bayes Theorem not-so-mathematically to say that to find the probability of H when you have E you divide:

A. All the times you'd have E because of H


B. All the times you'd have E, whether because of H or not

If H were very, very unlikely (ie "extraordinary!") then the times you'd get E because of H would be very, very, few. This makes the probability of H (A/B) smaller and smaller the more and more extraordinary H is.

A/B would still be a large number if B were very, very small. The smaller A (the more extraordinary H) then the smaller B would need to be: ie the frequency of E from whatever cause would need to be lower and lower the more extraordinary H was.

And very, very infrequent events are, when they happen, "extraordinary!".

WLC, in his response, seems to take "extraordinary" evidence as "extraordinarily reliable evidence" and contrast this with "evidence that would be unlikely to arise if the hypothesis were not true". But this contrast is a sleight. "Reliable" evidence is rarely wrong: that is to say reliable evidence is evidence that would be unlikely to arise if the hypothesis were not true".
S Johnson said…
It's nice if you can use Bayes' Theorem to assess claims, but in practice I think you would just endlessly argue the numbers.

Isn't it just as straightforward to concede that what is extraordinary about extraordinary claims is that they violate our scientific knowledge of how reality works? They say sicence is not justifiable by introspection and logical a priori arguments. But can't you turn it around, say that cumulatively science now justifies the metaphysics of naturalism? That it is the notion of logical a priori proof that philosophy has refuted, leaving only experiential, after the fact justification (ex posteriori, I think the phrase is?) Yes that implies that only science produces knowledge in the sense of justified true (corresponding to reality) belief?

Popular posts from this blog


(Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Stephen Law. Pages 129-151) EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS Stephen Law Abstract The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of indepen

What is Humanism?

What is Humanism? “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad. We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of course most of us qualify as Humanists, including many religious theists. But the fact remains that, around the world, those who organize under the label “Humanism” tend to sign up to a narrower, atheistic view. What does Humanism, understood in this narrower way, involve? The boundaries of the concept remain somewhat vague and ambiguous. However, most of those who organize under the banner of Humanism would accept the following minimal seven-point characterization of their world-view.

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

Here's my central criticism of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). It's novel and was published in Analysis last year. Here's the gist. Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then semantic epiphenomenalism is very probably true - that's to say, the content of our beliefs does not causally impinge on our behaviour. And if semantic properties such as having such-and-such content or being true cannot causally impinge on behaviour, then they cannot be selected for by unguided evolution. Plantinga's argument requires, crucially, that there be no conceptual links between belief content and behaviour of a sort that it's actually very plausible to suppose exist (note that to suppose there are such conceptual links is not necessarily to suppose that content can be exhaustively captured in terms of behaviour or functional role, etc. in the way logical behaviourists or functionalists suppose). It turns o