Both Hume and Shapiro are really smart (not to mention the many philosophers who agree with them.) The errors that smart people make are usually pretty interesting ones. Exactly identifying the error here is harder. There are a few possibilities. I suspect that the medical analogy builds in assumptions that don’t apply in the miracle case. Perhaps one can take all miracles of all kinds (as acts of God) together and treat them as one disease in the medical case. Treating them differently makes it irrational to believe in any one, but taken together perhaps raises the base rate. Or perhaps there are other reasons to believe that the miracle occurred other than just witnesses. This brings me to my second point.
Second, there are multiple lines of evidence for belief in the resurrection other than just the eye witnesses. Now this point will not impress Shapiro or Hume much because the evidence here takes one pretty far off the naturalist philosophers beaten track, but I think it is fair to attempt to evaluate it too. There is a lot to say here and we can deal with this in other posts, but two other lines of evidence seem relevant to me. First, the evidence related to prophecy fulfillment. The reasoning here is actually quite tricky, but it is pretty interesting (at least I think so.) For a sophisticated treatment of this topic see Jesus the Messiah (2012). Second, and far more importantly, are the experiences of ordinary Christians throughout the centuries. Referring back to the show/say distinction of Wittgenstein which Is Examined in an earlier post, many millions of people (myself included) believe that they have glimpsed God in the Church and in the work of Jesus. We could all be wrong, of course, very few things are certain. But since there are so many people who have had these experiences, together with the early testimony concerning the resurrection, and prophecy arguments when all taken together seems to provide a compelling case. Minimally, I think, these three arguments together make it rational for one who has had such experiences to believe that the event occurred. A lot more needs to be said about these lines of evidence, obviously, but that will have to wait for other posts.
For now, I ask, where have I gone wrong?
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