Evidence And The Resurrection

Induction, the basis for all scientific inference, presupposes the uniformity of nature, which is to say it operates under the expectation that the future will be like past. From a Christian perspective, it is ordinary providence that explains how the scientific method is possible. Therefore, to argue for the miracle of the resurrection according to evidence and human experience is “foolish” (Proverbs 26:4). Resurrection is a phenomenon that contemplates an exchange of ordinary providence for the miraculous, which pertains to God working without, above, or against ordinary providence (WCF 5.3).

The resurrection of Christ from the dead is contra-uniform. It does not comport with experience. Our experience is that people die and are not raised three days later. Also, we have all met plenty of liars and those deceived into embracing false beliefs (even dying for false beliefs!) but nobody living has ever observed a single resurrection of the body. Given the uniformity of nature coupled with personal experience, a more probable explanation for the empty tomb is a hoax put on by liars rather than a miracle put on by God. (The same reasoning applies even more to the virgin birth I would think.)

We do not come to know the Savior lives by examining evidence according to alleged neutral posture, for the facts do not demand the conclusion that Christ has risen. So, at the very least, Christians should not argue from evidence to resurrection lest we lie by implying that we know Christ lives because of evidence upon which our belief does not rest.

When well-meaning Christians remove the extraordinary claim of the resurrection from its soteriological context, the resurrection is anything but credible. Yet, the resurrection is perfectly sensible within the context of things we know by nature and are awaken to by the Holy Spirit working in conjunction with Scripture. Namely, God’s wrath abides upon all men and God is merciful and loving. In the context of man’s plight and God’s character, the preaching of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ can be apprehended as not just credible, but the very wisdom of God. Our full persuasion of the resurrection unto knowledge of the truth is gospel-centric. The good news of John 3:16 is intelligible only in the context of the bad news of Romans 1:18-20 and Romans 3:10-20. The former presupposes the latter.

The place of evidence:

Evidence indeed corroborates the resurrection and is useful within a Christian context. We read in Scripture that a man named Saul who once opposed Christ became the chief apologist for the Christian faith. The way in which one will interpret the transformation of Saul to Paul will be consistent with one’s pre-commitment(s). Christians take the fanaticism of the apostle as corroborating what they already believe to be true about the resurrection; whereas naturalists will find an explanation for the apostle’s transformation and empty tomb outside the Christian resurrection interpretation. Similarly, the way in which one interprets Joseph Smith’s claims will be according to one’s pre-commitment(s). If one is committed to a closed canon, then the claims of Smith’s Mormonism will be deemed false.

There’s a vast difference between:

If resurrection, then evidence

and

If evidence, then resurrection

The first refers to evidence as something we would expect given the resurrection. Whereas the second construct employs evidence as sufficient for resurrection. The first is biblical – the second, fanciful.

Of course the tomb is empty, for Christ has risen. Of course the apostle Paul preached the resurrection of Christ with all his heart, soul and strength, for Christ has risen. Of course the Mormon religion is a cult, for Jesus is the eternal Son of God and the canon is closed. Do we come to believe these things by evaluating supposed brute-particulars in an alleged neutral fashion, or are our beliefs already marshaled according to our pre-commitment to God’s revelation of his love for condemned sinners? Do the “facts” speak for themselves or has God already exegeted the facts for us?

The only way one ever will savingly embrace Christ’s resurrection is if the Holy Spirit gives increase to the work of the cross as explicated in the context of God’s solution to man’s dilemma.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24

2 thoughts on “Evidence And The Resurrection

  1. Ron,

    “if resurrection, then evidence” appears to be substantiated in a couple of resurrection narratives in the bible: 1) The resurrection of the son of the widow of Zarephath and 2) the resurrection of Lazarus.

    I think your post suggests that evidence is a result of the resurrection and not a pre-requisite for it.

    1) The resurrection of the son of the widow of Zarephath
    Notice after Elijah through the power of the Holy Spirit raised her son from the dead, the widow knew that Elijah is a man of God and a prophet of God.

    1 Kings 17:23–24: “[23] And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” [24] And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”

    2) The resurrection of Lazarus
    After Jesus miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead, many believed, but some didn’t. The “called” saw in Christ the power of God and wisdom of God, in the resurrection of Lazarus, they saw evidence. Those who are not called, saw the resurrection as a stumbling block to their agenda, a threat to their national security.

    John 11:43–45: [43] When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” [44] The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go. [45] Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, [46] but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”

    Both the widow of Zarephath and the “called” saw and believed, but “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29b

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    1. I’m not sure you’ve understood the post, or I’m misunderstanding. “If resurrection, then evidence” is what I’m upholding. What’s a farce is: if evidence, then resurrection. From an empty tomb we cannot *deduce* a resurrection. As for induction, it doesn’t take the form of deduction. Induction pertains to the veracity of a claim and proceeds upon the formal fallacy of asserting the consequent. But aside from the limits of induction, inductive inference based upon facts of experience that are in accordance with ordinary providence cannot lead to a violation of ordinary providence – i.e. a miracle.

      That aside, if there is a resurrection, then there must be an empty tomb. Therefore, an empty tomb is a necessary condition for a resurrection because a resurrection is a sufficient condition for an empty tomb. The reverse obviously is not true. An empty tomb is not a sufficient condition for a resurrection (because an empty tomb can be the result of a stolen body); nor is a resurrection a necessary condition for an empty tomb (same reason). A tomb can be empty without a resurrection.

      “I think your post suggests that evidence is a result of the resurrection and not a pre-requisite for it.”

      How can evidence for the resurrection (e.g. like an empty tomb) be a prerequisite for the resurrection?

      As for examples that invoke eyewitnesses, there are no eyewitnesses in 2020 of the resurrection. We don’t witness the resurrection as they and if we are drawing inductive inferences and basing our confidence in the scientific method, then we don’t have a more sure word of prophecy. Not to complicate things further but we also mustn’t equivocate over the term eye witnesses. There were witnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection but not to Jesus’ resurrection in that same way. People witnessed the resurrected Christ but not his actual resurrection.

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