Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bayes Theorem and the Resurrection of Jesus

It seems like every few years somebody tries to make a Bayesian argument for the existence of God. Some of them argue for the divinity of Jesus, and some for other Philosophical arguments, like the argument from fine tuning. Richard Swinburne has made many of these arguments, and has now made a Bayesian argument for the Resurrection. So what, is he gonna prove that the odds the resurrection occurred are astonishingly high, like perhaps, Tim and Lydia's estimate of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1?

Now, as I have repeatedly said, I am not a philosopher by anyones standards. I can, however, check out his empirical claims, and see if they have merit. After all, a Bayesian argument is only as good as the facts plugged into it, right? For example, in the Mcgrew's essay, they attack the Hallucination hypothesis since there were too many to have occurred naturally. They also attack it because the hallucinations would have to have lasted for very long periods of time. The problem, however, is that this is only true of you accept that the details of the Gospel accounts are accurate, which they do. If you believe that the appearance stories are legendary, than all of a sudden these criticisms disappear. Furthermore, if you actually read the current information of bereavement hallucinations, you'd find that it is not at all improbable that, after Jesus' death, many people claimed to have seen him alive. I have argued this elsewhere, so I will not repeat myself.
So, I will have to pick up his book and see if he challenges naturalistic alternatives like the Mcgrew's do. From what little I've read on Amazon, the book mainly deals with Jesus' divinity, so I doubt there will be much of an attack against the hallucination hypothesis.

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