We've just touched on the lack of evidence for doubting the resurrection. This is important, because it allows me to answer all the other skeptical arguments and distinguish my argument from them. A skeptical reader may wonder whether I've ignored any evidence against the resurrection, or how I would answer this or that argument from this or that website. A significant part of my reply would be that there is no evidence against the resurrection.
Let me reiterate and clarify that, because it's important. There is an utter lack of evidence for disbelieving the resurrection: literally every single record we have from the people who were actually connected to the event to any reasonable degree ALL portray the resurrection as something that actually happened.
If you believe in the resurrection, you have the unanimous support of all the people who were actually close to the event and would know for certain. If you disbelieve the resurrection, literally every piece of evidence - every single testimony of every single person who ever testified about the actual event - is against you.
So, I'm not being selective about the evidence. There is nothing to be selective about, because there is literally no evidence for the opposing argument. This is why I'm fundamentally unconcerned about the arguments against the resurrection: because they have no evidence. The only thing I've done in choosing my evidence was to handicap my own argument, by only using a tiny fraction of the total evidence available.
If there were any evidence against the resurrection, I'd be glad to incorporate it into the calculation. I've already said elsewhere that a sufficiently strong evidence against the resurrection can falsify the whole hypothesis for me - if, you know, such things actually existed.
So, does anyone know of a cave in Israel that houses Jesus's mummified corpse? By all means, tell me about it. Is there an ancient manuscript that exposes the disciples' conspiracy to fake the resurrection? Let me know. Is there a record of a Roman interrogation where an apostle confesses to having made up the whole resurrection thing? Is there an epistle where a disgruntled disciple warns the others about staking the faith on a schizophrenic woman and her crazy resurrection story? Is there any record of a psychoactive plant in first century Jerusalem that causes vivid mass hallucinations about the recently dead? Is there a complaint from Jesus's family about how his message has been hijacked by a bunch of lunatics and their crazy resurrection story?
You see, nothing remotely like any of the above actually exists. There is literally zero evidence for disbelieving the resurrection.
This is why every single skeptical attempt at explaining the resurrection relies entirely on ignoring the existing evidence, and making stuff up instead. They have no other options, because they have no evidence on their side. That's why the only thing they can do is to ignore the existing evidence, and make stuff up.
So, when they say that Jesus's resurrection was a myth that grew over time to be accepted as fact, they're ignoring the existing evidence that says that the resurrection was at the very core of Christianity from its inception, and making stuff up instead about how a myth might have eventually gained enough traction to be accepted as dogma.
When they say that Paul might have converted because he already had second thoughts about Judaism before encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, they are ignoring the existing evidence in Paul's own testimony, and making stuff up instead about what they think went on inside Paul's head.
When they say that the early Christians didn't believe in a real, physical resurrection, they are ignoring the existing evidence that unanimously say that Jesus's body was missing from the tomb, and are instead making stuff up about what they think the early Christians really thought.
When they say that Jesus might not have really died, but only swooned, they're ignoring the existing evidence that clearly presents Jesus's death, and making stuff up instead about the combination of circumstances that might have allowed Jesus to survive a crucifixion.
When they say that the post-resurrection appearances were only visions or hallucinations, they're ignoring the existing evidence that unequivocally states the physical nature of Jesus's new body, and making stuff up instead about the disciples' mental conditions.
When they say that the gospel writers were only interested in the theological and literary dimensions of their story, and showed no concern for the truth, they're ignoring the existing evidence from these writers themselves that directly contradicts them, and making stuff up about the writer's "true" motivations instead.
So, let's not be distracted by such made-up speculations, and instead stick to the existing evidence that we do have. Remember the outline of the argument at hand. We are using Bayesian reasoning. We start with a prior probability for the resurrection, and modify it according to the existing evidence that we actually have. There is no place in this calculation for speculations about what evidence we might have if some made-up stuff happened instead. Such speculations cannot modify the probability, for any possibility for such made-up scenarios are already included in the calculation: the inherently unlikely nature of the resurrection is already included in the prior, and the possibilities for the disciples being wrong are included in the Bayes' factors. Upon carrying out this calculation, using absurdly conservative values, we find that the odds for the resurrection are at 1e32 to 1, at a minimum. Therefore, Jesus almost certainly rose from the dead.
There is more to come in the coming weeks - starting with the next post.
You may next want to read:
Basic Bayesian reasoning: a better way to think (Part 4)
Sherlock Bayes, logical detective: a murder mystery game
Another post, from the table of contents