Say you run into a conservative Christian church that advertises that next Sunday, the minister is going to call on the power of Jesus and resurrect a dead member of the congregation.
You stop by, thinking the attempt might be amusing. As you walk into the service, it looks more crazy than fun. They really have brought up a stinking corpse to the altar; one that should have been buried a week ago. As you start thinking about all the health code violations, the event begins. The minister kicks up a storm of prayer to Jesus and laying on of hands. But then, you can’t believe your eyes: the corpse seems to reverse its already advanced decay. It then sits up with a jolt, and some in the congregation, who appear to be the children of the resurrected person, rush up to her and enjoy a tearful reunion. The whole church erupts in praise of their Lord. You get swept out into the open air with the crowd, bewildered.
You then decide to check on things, and find that yes, indeed, there was this person who was locally known to have been dead, that the usual hospital procedures were followed, and that she was the same person you witnessed as revived. The locals are actually a bit more casual about the whole thing than you’d expect, and you find that in the past decade, two more especially devout persons have been resurrected the same way. Everything that you can check indicates that this is no hoax; a small number of dead Christians have indeed come back to life after a service where the Lord was petitioned particularly fervently.
Well, you had always been saying that your disbelief in religion was due to the lack of evidence, but now that has changed. You talk to a theistic philosopher, and she points out that your intellectual integrity demands that you now convert. After all, at the very least, what you have witnessed is a gross violation of what you’d expect from a naturalistic world. Moreover, the miracle was not from out of the blue: it was expected and cultivated within this particular Christian tradition. That should count pretty strongly toward that tradition having a better handle on reality than the scientific skeptics who were caught completely by surprise. You have witnessed something supernatural, therefore you should at least admit that some supernatural religion is likely to be true.
You’re confused. What do you think? Should you convert, or should you suspect some hidden but still natural cause behind the alleged miracle?
(This is related to a question that comes up in a paper I’m writing. So I’m curious about what intuitions you may have about how such a question should be approached. Please comment.)