Monday, November 13, 2006

Jesus vs. "The Mighty Redwood"

Please consider the following two narratives. One story is widely believed (with adherents numbering in the billions), while the other has—to my knowledge—no adherents. Analyze each narrative’s plausibility, and think about whether one is more probable than the other is.


Narrative One: Around the year 33 CE, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified for his perceived crimes against the powers of the day. Jesus, being the Son of God, rose bodily from the dead a few dozen hours later. All the crippling effects of death miraculously were reversed. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus appeared to several individuals, in assorted places, during the course of the next 40 days, apparently fully recovered from brain death’s ravages. Eventually, Jesus ascended to Heaven.

Narrative Two: Around the year 33 CE, in what now is known as the U.S. state of California, a Sierra Redwood spontaneously uprooted itself. There were several eyewitnesses to the event, each one of whom testified that, after the uprooting incident, the Sierra Redwood used its roots as makeshift legs to walk away. What eventually happened to the giant tree is unknown, but, according to historical documents, people from far-flung locales visited the former resting place, marveling at the tree’s wondrous departure.


Which narrative seems more plausible, and why?

Does either story—or both—count as an extraordinary claim?

Do you accept the maxim “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”?

Finally, does one narrative warrant widespread belief, given the evidence we currently possess?



I submit the following answers:

· Both stories are equally implausible, given their violations of the known principles of nature.


· Both stories clearly are extraordinary claims, given the natural principle violations to which I referred.


· I accept the ECREE maxim as a valid, useful tool which helps to overcome human fallibility and achieve genuine knowledge about the world in which we live.


· Given the dearth of extraordinary evidence, neither claim warrants widespread belief or any degree of confidence whatsoever. Both stories should be set aside tentatively, in hopes that better evidence eventually will materialize to either confirm or deny their validity.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Little Pope said...

From BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6283907.stm

"Worshippers who believe in the 12 gods of ancient Greece have held a ceremony at the Temple of Zeus in Athens.

This is a landmark event to celebrate official recognition of their religion by a court last year...."

You see? RELIGION WILL NEVER DIE..!

PS: Jesus loves you.

4:29 PM EST  
Blogger Lui said...

Not only will religion die, but idiots like you will be remembered with disdain and embarrassment. That is, unless fanatical arseholes do something really stupid, like starting world war 3 (ie. "Armageddon"), which seems fairly likely.

Threats and intimidation, that's all the religionists have.

9:46 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Jolly

where did mr olbermann go???

1:45 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

People probably noticed posts disappearing on occasion. In my view, certain posts I make are "important" enough to warrant longstanding front-page placement. In order to keep these posts on the front page, but also not have a front page that's ridiculously long, I manipulate the dates to control post order.

Olbermann's in the archives.

7:03 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Jolly,

read this article. This site has been used by tommy and is not a christian site.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

12:48 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

PGC, I think you have me confused with someone else. I do not recall using that Wikipedia reference. I suppose there is a slim chance I did and just don't remember, but I really doubt it was me.

1:59 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Tommy,

you used it when you tried to prove to me about when the book of Isaiah (700-680) was written. You used the Medes and said they were around much later than what the book of Isaiah said it was written trying to tell me the book was written in 500bc or later.

12:15 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Wrong PCG, the Wikipedia article I linked to was about the Sabaeans, not about the historicity of Jesus. Are you just making this up as you go along?

3:33 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

I was refering to the site not the article, sorry about the confusion.

12:35 PM EST  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

And of course the suggestions you made are exactly what critical thinker would do. But we are not talking about critical thinkers, we are talking about people who accept a position based on faith. Faith that what they read or are told is true.

In fact, the bible strongly suggest that faith is evidence of things hoped for. When you are dealing with people whose idea of evidence is faith, they will not think critically about any position that they have accepted on faith.

8:41 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beepbeepitsme,

is this comment posted at me or at jolly's post?

Jolly,

I presented a good article from a non Christian source did you even read it? I thought you said you would take evidence into consideration?

1:25 PM EST  
Blogger pgc1981 said...

Me as in PGC 1981

for some reason it didn't keep my name when i posted

4:09 PM EST  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE anonymous

This was said - "And of course the suggestions you made are exactly what critical thinker would do. But we are not talking about critical thinkers, we are talking about people who accept a position based on faith. Faith that what they read or are told is true.

In fact, the bible strongly suggest that faith is evidence of things hoped for. When you are dealing with people whose idea of evidence is faith, they will not think critically about any position that they have accepted on faith."

And it was refering to the post. If you have evidence of the existence of a god that doesn't require religious faith, I am always open to it.

6:26 PM EST  

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