Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus – Part 3

David Marshall has posted a critique of my first post in this series about the resurrection of Jesus.

Here is the first in the series of my posts on the resurrection:
http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2011/11/argument-against-resurrection-of-jesus.html

Here is Marshall’s critique of that post:
http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2011/11/is-resurrection-impossible-response-to.html

There are several points of criticism raised by Marshall (about 11 that I see). I have replied to two of Marshall’s objections in the comments section of my initial post. Here I shall focus on one of the more significant objections raised by Marshall in his critique.


Marshall first quotes a passage from my initial post:

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“My position on the resurrection claim is that it should be analyzed into two main claims:”

1. Jesus died on the cross on Friday of Passover week (and remained dead for at least six hours).”

2. Jesus was alive and walking around on the Sunday following Friday of Passover week (or within a few days after that Sunday).”

The exact dates do not seem of absolute importance, but let’s follow this and see where it goes.

“However, even if one grants, for the sake of argument, that (2) is true, the evidence for the resurrection still falls short of what is required, because the combination of (1) and (2) is a physical impossibility (more or less). So, in supposing (2) to be true, the requirement of evidence to establish (1) becomes rather difficult to achieve.”

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Then Marshall raises an objection to this passage:

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This looks like begging the question. Yes, it can be assumed that miracles don’t happen — if they don’t. But if it is even POSSIBLE that God is real, then it is not “physically impossible” that Jesus rose from the dead. …

Owen [sic] appears to be assuming, before looking at the evidence, that it is impossible that God exists. That would not seem to be the correct first step in discovering whether or not He does in fact exist. …

==========

Does the reasoning in the passage quoted from my post on the resurrection involve the fallacy of begging the question?

I. An Objection Worthy of Serious Consideration

First of all, this is an objection that needs to be taken seriously. Begging the Question is all too common in discussions and debates about religion, so it is quite possible that I have stumbled into this fallacy that is so tempting for people when engaged in argument about religious beliefs.

Secondly, whenever a miracle claim is being discussed and debated, the problem of avoiding the fallacy of begging the question is particularly of concern, because, as I shall explain later, it is not at all obvious how atheists and theists can avoid begging the question when miracle claims are what is at issue.

So, even if Marshall fails to prove that my reasoning involves begging the question, that will not put my reasoning completely in the clear. For, we need to figure out, in general, what counts as begging the question, as well as what counts as begging the question when discussing miracle claims, whether it is even possible to avoid begging the question on such issues, and finally, how in particular atheists and theists can rationally and objectively discuss and debate such issues, without either side engaging in the fallacy of begging the question.

Once such principles and guidelines have been spelled out, then we can return to my reasoning, and evaluate it in relation to those principles and guidelines to see if it is in keeping with them or not. In short, whether or not Marshall can prove his objection to be correct, he has raised a point that is certainly worthy of further thought and discussion.

II. “Yes, it can be assumed that miracles don’t happen–if they don’t.”

Marshall clearly implies that my reasoning in the quoted passage makes the assumption that ‘miracles don’t happen’. However, nowhere in the passage do I assert that ‘miracles don’t happen’. In fact, the word ‘miracles’ does not occur anywhere in the passage that Marshall quoted. Nor does any synonym for ‘miracles’ occur, nor any phrase that could substitute for the word ‘miracles’. Since there is no explicit claim made about ‘miracles’ in this passage, it far from obvious that my reasoning makes the assumption that ‘miracles don’t happen’.

I concede the obvious point that IF my reasoning does involve the assumption that ‘miracles don’t happen’ then my reasoning does involve the fallacy of begging the question, and my reasoning should, in that case, be rejected. But in looking over the claims I make in the quoted passage, I don’t see any claims (or set of claims) that makes the assumption that ‘miracles don’t happen’. So, unless Marshall can clearly explain which specific claim or claims I have made involve this assumption and how it is that they involve this assumption, I do not see any good reason to accept his assertion that such an assumption is made in the passage he quoted from my post.

III. “But if it is even POSSIBLE that God is real, then it is not ‘physically impossible’ that Jesus rose from the dead. “

Oddly enough, this statement by Marshall is not only false, but it commits the very same fallacy that Marshall is attempting to show my reasoning to have committed.

Now, I don’t mean that Marshall has begged the question in favor of miracles, but rather that he has himself begged the question against miracles. This was unintentional, no doubt, but nevertheless, his statement, looked at objectively, implies that miracles never happen.

Marshall’s statement above implies the following Physical Impossibility Claim:

(PIC) If it is possible that God exists, then Jesus rising from the dead was NOT physically impossible.

This particular claim about the alleged resurrection of Jesus is presumably based upon a more general Physical Impossibility Principle:

(PIP) If it is possible that God exists, then there are no events that are physically impossible.

But if (PIP) was true, then from the assumption that it is possible that God exists, one could infer that there are no events that are physically impossible. But if no events were physically impossible, then no events would be miracles. In other words, from the possibility that God exists it would follow that ‘miracles don’t happen’. Marshall’s statement implies the very assumption that he accuses my reasoning of making.

In order for an event to be a miracle, it must satisfy at least the following two conditions:

1. The event must involve the violation of a law of nature.

2. The event must be brought about by God.

But an event is physically impossible if and only if it involves a violation of a law of nature. Therefore, if there are no physically impossible events, then there are no events involving a violation of a law of nature. And if there are no events involving a violation of a law of nature, then there are no miracles.

Since Marshall clearly believes that the existence of God is possible, his acceptance of (PIP) commits him to the logical implication that ‘miracles don’t happen’. As soon as Marshall realizes this implication of (PIP), I am confident that he will quickly reject (PIP) as being false, and then we will both agree that the assumption upon which his fallacy charge was based, was a false assumption.

To be continued…

About Bradley Bowen
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05034037930336299849 Mike Gage

    Just a quick side note: Not every theist would say that miracles are lawless events. In fact, Kenny Pearce (I think) at The Prosblogion interestingly argued that lawless events would actually be evidence against God's existence.

    Of course, how do we then tell God-directed acts from simply improbable natural ones? It seems like we wouldn't be able to. Events under both descriptions would seem natural.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Mike Gage said…

    Just a quick side note: Not every theist would say that miracles are lawless events.
    ===============
    Response:

    Yes, and if Natural Laws are macro-level phenomena that derive from random mirco-level phenomana (e.g. gas laws depend on random motions of individual atoms or molecules), then a violation of such a Natural Law is only extremely improbable, so there may not be a clear line between a violation of a law of nature on the one hand and a merely improbable event on the other.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04029133398946303654 David B Marshall

    Brad: Well, I can't accuse you of offering a glib answer. You may have even focused the microscope on a higher level of magnification than necessary, and missed some of the big picture. But maybe you'll pick that up later.

    Yes, I do think you were arguing in a circle a bit, but this was not the heart of my critique. You described the resurrection as "physically impossible," as cited. I took this to assume materialism, that miracles can't happen. Maybe I misread you on this. But I was responding briefly to what I took to be a throw-away line, so I didn't see the need to analyze it too closely.

    It seems to me you make three mistakes, here:

    (1) Semantic. I think you define "miracle" wrongly, as an event that must "violate a law of nature." That is not the Christian definition, that derives from the Greek term σημειν, or sign, the root for semiotics. A miracle does not need to violate a law of nature, it rather should give probatively significant reasons for faith. See my Jesus and the Religions of Man, chapter 10, for an in-depth description of what that may involve.

    (2) I agree that a miracle is an event caused by God. However, I do not agree that "physically impossible" means merely that an event "violates the laws of nature." A miracle is NOT physically impossible, because it happens. Even if it occurs in contradiction to the NORMS of nature, I wouldn't call that a "violation," for reasons discussed in Lewis, Miracles, as well as Jesus and the Religions of Man. And anything that physically happens, by definition cannot be physically impossible. (Unless by "physically" you mean, "with recourse only to the laws of physics," or something like that — which I don't think is what we usually mean by the word.)

    Finally, I'd be careful about conflating "PIP" with "PIC." The latter does not imply the former.

    I may post this on my web site as well; I appreciate the meaty response.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04029133398946303654 David B Marshall

    I see I mispelled "σημειον."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    David: Historically, there has been a Catholic/Protestant divide on the definition of a miracle with respect to laws of nature, which is relevant to early history of science. Natural philosophers like Descartes, Pascal, and Galileo used a mixed mathematical methods approach to science and had a rationalistic view of laws of nature, while Bacon and Boyle argued that natural laws were empirical generalizations of observed phenomena. The Catholic view was that miracles were not violations of empirical regularities but instead "verified" the "ordinary course of nature." The Protestant view, by contrast, was that miracles were violations of the empirical regularities.

    I blogged about this a bit last year; the key authors who have written on this (cited in my blog) are Peter Dear and Margaret Osler.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Jim Lippard said…

    David: Historically, there has been a Catholic/Protestant divide on the definition of a miracle with respect to laws of nature…
    ============
    Thanks, Jim. I was not aware of this historical point. Very interesting.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    David B Marshall said…

    Brad: Well, I can't accuse you of offering a glib answer. You may have even focused the microscope on a higher level of magnification than necessary, and missed some of the big picture. But maybe you'll pick that up later.
    ==========
    Response:

    That is partly because of my background in analytic philosophy, and partly just the natural bent of my thinking.

    Sometimes, on a good day, after a cup of coffe, and with the sun shining in a blue sky, I am able to do 'big picture' thinking, but I'm more comfortable messing around in the dirt and details.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04029133398946303654 David B Marshall

    Jim: Thanks for referencing your blog: it's an interesting and informative post.

    I don't see, from what is said, that either Bacon or Boyle needed to deduce from the "laws of nature" that miracles had ceased, nor that they needed to define miracles as violating natural laws. Perhps they did; I've read a bit of Bacon, but don't recall what he says about miracles. I imagine he would be highly suspicious. But of course these two men don't represent all Protestants.

    My own thinking on the subject has been formed by the writing of C. S. Lewis, an Anglican. He certainly believed miracles still happen, and I think he eschewed that kind of "violation" language — though I don't find a copy of Miracles in my office, so I can't doublecheck.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    David Marshall said…

    You described the resurrection as "physically impossible," as cited. I took this to assume materialism, that miracles can't happen. Maybe I misread you on this.
    ============
    Response:
    I was not assuming the truth of materialism. I was assuming that the term 'miracle' implies 'a violation of a law of nature' and that a 'violation of a law of nature' implies 'a physically impossible event'.

    I will look for a good definition of 'physically impossible event' to provide here. I recall Plantinga gives one, and I think Swinburne does too. I will check and get back to you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Swinburne on 'violation of a natural law':

    What, however, is to be said about an isolated exception to a purported law of nature? Suppose that one day Mars moves out of its elliptical path for a brief period and then returns to the path. There are two possibilities. This wandering of Mars may occur because of some current condition of the universe (e.g. the proximity of Jupiter drawing Mars out of its elliptical path), such that if that condition were to be repeated the event would happen again. In this case the phenomenon is an entirely regular phenomenon. The trouble is that what might have appeared originally to be a basic law of nature proves now not to be one. It proves to be a consequence of a more fundamental law that the original purported law normally holds, but that under circumstances describable in general terms (e.g. 'when other planets are close to Mars') there are exceptions to it. Such repeatable exceptions to purported laws merely show that the purported laws are not basic laws of nature. The other possibility is that the exception to the law was not caused by some current condition, in such a way that if the condition were to recur the event would happen again. In this case we have a non-repeatable exception to a law of nature. But how are we to describe this event further? There are two possible moves. One may say that if there occurs an exception to a purported law of nature, the purported law can be no law. If the purported law says 'all A's are B' and there is an A which is not B, then 'all A's are B' is no law. The trouble with saying that is that the purported law may be a very good device for giving accurate predictions in our field of study; it may be by far the best general formula for describing what happens in the field which there is. (I understand by a general formula a formula which describes what happens in all circumstances of a certain kind, but does not mention by name particular individuals, times or places.) To deny that the purported law is a law, when there is no more accurate general formula, just because there is an isolated exception to its operation, is to ignore its enormous ability to predict what happens in the field.

    For this reason it seems not unnatural to say that the purported law is no less a law for there being a non-repeatable exception to it; and then to describe the exception as a 'violation' of the law. At any rate this is a coherent way of talking, and I think that it is what those who use such expressions as 'violation' of a law of nature are getting at. In this case we must amend our understanding of what is a law of nature beyond that attained in Chapter 2 . To say that a generalization 'all A's are B' is a universal law of nature is to say that being A physically necessitates being B, and so that any A will be B—apart from violations.

    The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne (Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1991), p.228-229

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne (Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1991), p.228-229.
    ==========
    According to Swinburne, the 'resurrection from the dead of a man whose heart had not been beating for twenty-four hours and who counts as dead by other currently used criteria' would involve 'a violation of natural laws':

    The reasonable man goes by the available evidence here, and also in the converse case. He supposes that what is, on all the evidence, a violation of natural laws really is one. There is good reason to suppose that events such as the following if they occurred would be violations of laws of nature: resurrection from the dead of a man whose heart has not been beating for twenty-four hours and who counts as dead by other currently used criteria; water turning into wine without the assistance of chemical apparatus or catalysts; a man growing a new arm from the stump of an old one.

    So much for what is meant by saying that an event is, and how we can show that a certain event (e.g. a wandering of Mars) if it occurred would be, a violation of a law of nature.

    The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne (Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1991), p.231.
    ===============
    Swinburne also appears to understand the concept of a 'miracle' in terms of 'a violation of natural laws':

    Hence the occurrence of violations and quasi-violations would confirm the existence of God. A violation or quasi-violation brought about by God may be called a miracle.

    The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne (Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1991), p.233.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Here is an even clearer quote from Swinburne on the meaning of 'miracle':

    I shall now follow a normal usage of the word 'miracle' and call a violation (or quasi-violation) of a natural law by the action or permission of God a miracle.

    The Existence of God, 2nd edition, p.282.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    David Marshall has raised a number of interesting questions:

    1. What is a miracle?
    2. Must a miracle involve a violation of a law of nature?
    3. Are all events that involve a violation of a law of nature miracles?
    4. What is a violation of a law of nature?
    5. Is it logically possible for an event involving a violation of a law of nature to happen?
    6. Is it logically possible for a miracle to happen?
    7. Must a physically impossible event involve a violation of a law of nature?
    8. Are all events involving a violation of a law of nature physically impossible events?
    9. Is it logically possible for a physically impossible event to happen?
    10. What is a law of nature?
    11. What is a physically impossible event?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04029133398946303654 David B Marshall

    We seem to be moving away from the most substantial claims in your argument about the resurrection, into semantics, and then into the authority for semantics. I don't want to distract you, if you plan to answer the more substantive points, by going off too far into the toolies.

    On the level of semantics, though, and even accepting Swinburne as an authority for how "miracle" might be defined, the following does not really demand that all miracles "violate natural laws:"

    "Hence the occurrence of violations and quasi-violations would confirm the existence of God. A violation or quasi-violation brought about by God may be called a miracle."

    First, there's the question of what Swinburne means by "quasi-violation," and how it differs from a genuine violation. Presumably because it is not, in fact, a true violation. Maybe he has something quantum in mind, as someone suggested above.

    Second, if a violation of natural law by God is called a miracle, that does not entail that an event that does not violate natural law, should not also sometimes be called a miracle. (For instance, Peter's "miraculous" catch of fish need not have violated any natural laws, nor his catch of a fish with a coin in its mouth.)

    Third, of course Scriptural useage is more important to me than even the opinion of so eminent a philosopher as Dr. Swinburne. And again, the key Greek term seems to lay the stress on the probative character of a "sign."

    More importantly, one reason I object to the word "violation," is that it seems to imply a discontinuity between the "laws" of nature and miracles. But there is actually a deeper continuity. Miracles are not like random street noise that interrupts a concert (magic). They are like the symbols that dramatically break up the horn soliquy with a sudden "crash," but were written into the music by the composer to climax the piece.

    So I don't like the word "violate" in this context, though I appreciate the limited use Swinburne is putting it to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    I just received the new edition of Skeptical Inquirer "The Magazine for Science and Reason", and in the Letters to the Editor, in the back on p.64, there is a letter about Hume's definition of 'miracle' and how that definition shows it to be very difficult to establish that a miracle has happened.

    I sent the letter to the editor a couple of months ago.

    A coincidence? or perhaps, a miracle? No, it's just that I finally managed to write a letter that was less than five pages long!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Richard Swinburne is one of the leading philosophical defenders of the Christian faith in general, and of the resurrection of Jesus in particular.

    But there are other Christian philosophers who are leaders in the defense of the resurrection of Jesus. Gary Habermas is one of the best among the leading defenders of the resurrection, and he too appears to understand the word 'miracle' as implying a violation of a law of nature:

    If God created the universe, including the natural laws that govern it, what would prohibit such a Being from suspending or temporarily overriding those same laws to perform a miracle? God cannot perform logically impossible acts such as making a married bachelor or a square circle. However, there is nothing logically impossible about God suspending the physical laws he set up, especially if he wished to send a message. And if he acted miraculously to create the world, it would certainly seem that he can work further in nature. In the end, it does not seem there is any reason, either scientific or philosophical, why God could not intervene in the world he created if he chose.

    The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, p.138.

    I take it that there is no significant difference between God 'overriding' a natural law, God 'suspending' a natural law, and God 'violating' a natural law.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Swinburne and Habermas are the best among the leading defenders of the resurrection, but another Christian philosopher who comes in at a close third place is William Lane Craig, and Craig also understands the word 'miracle' to imply a violation of a law of nature:

    But is Spinoza's objection in fact true? He seems to think that the admission of a genuine miracle would overthrow the natural law violated by the miracle. But Clarke and Paley argue more persuasively that a miracle need not overthrow the general regularity of nature; it only shows God's intervention at that particular point. As Richard Swinburne argues, a natural law is not abolished because of one exception; the exception must occur repeatedly whenever the conditions for it are present. If the event will not occur again under identitcal circumstances, then the law will not be abandonded….Thus, Spinoza's fear that miracles would destroy the fabric of natural law appears to be unjustified. Rather than leading us into the arms of atheism, exceptions to natural laws could lead us to discern the action of God in the world at that point.

    Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, revised edition, 1994, p.146-147.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    So, three of the leading Christian philosophers who defend the resurrection of Jesus, take the word 'miracle' to imply a violation of a law of nature.

    I think that is sufficient evidence to show your claim that such a definition "is not the Christian definition" of the word 'miracle' to be false.

    Even if your definition was better than the definition used by Swinburne, Habermas, and Craig, the fact that they use a different definition that yours shows, at least, that there is no such thing as "the" Christian definition of the word 'miracle'.

    It also strongly suggests that your definition is not better than the one I offered, which is more in keeping with the thinking of the leading defenders of the resurrection of Jesus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Stephen Davis, another Christian philosopher who is a leading defender of the resurrection of Jesus, does not use the phrase 'violation of a law of nature' but it seems clear that his understanding of the word 'miracle' is much closer to my understanding of the word, than to yours:

    It must at least be admitted that with the resurrection we are talking not just about a highly unusual event but about an event that, given our best knowledge of the workings of the world, seems causally impossible. Almost any event can be described in such a way as to have been or at least rationally seemed to have been highly improbable before it occurred….The resurrection is not just a unique and improbable event but an intellectual scandal. It is the sort of event that conflicts so radically with so many well-established scientific laws that any attempt to revise them in such a way as to allow for resurrection would vitiate them. They would be left with little descriptive or predictive power.

    Accordingly, an event should probably be considered a miracle, only if no purported explanation of it that crucially omits God is a good explanation….

    Let me then define the term miracle as follows: a miracle is an event E that (1) is brought about by God and (2) is contrary to the prediction of a law of nature that we have compelling reason to believe is true….

    Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection by Stephen Davis, p.10.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    David Marshall said…

    We seem to be moving away from the most substantial claims in your argument about the resurrection, into semantics, and then into the authority for semantics. I don't want to distract you, if you plan to answer the more substantive points, by going off too far into the toolies.
    ==============
    Response:

    Consider three similar statements:

    1. The resurrection of Jesus was a miracle.

    2. The resurrection of Jesus was a violation of a law of nature.

    3. The resurrection of Jesus was a physically impossible event.

    If we cannot agree on the meaning of these statements, then we will be like ships silently passing each other on a dark and foggy night.

    If we don't settle these semantic issues, I don't think we can get very far in discussing the key question: Did God raise Jesus from the dead?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04029133398946303654 David B Marshall

    Brad: Habermas agrees with me entirely. The fact that you quote him, and other Christian philosophers who really don't disagree with anything I've said, makes me think even more we're getting lost in the semantic toolies, here.

    I can quote eminent atheists who look for material explanations for the resurrection, too. Michael Martin is one. There doesn't seem to be a hard-and-fast line anymore between what can potentially be reconciled with physical laws, and what can't. The careful language of both Swinburne and Davies seems to allow for that.

    But yes, in my opinion a miracle sometimes, though not always, involves what Habermas calls a "suspension" of natural laws. That's a better term than "violation," as explained above. If that's all you mean by saying a miracle is "physically impossible," then lets agree on adopting Habermas' somewhat more careful language and have done with it.

    Yes, I think God most likely (though not certainly) "suspended" some biological or even physical laws at the resurrection. Since He is God, I think it is incoherent to call that a "violation," though — it would be like saying, "Tolkien violated the laws of the Shire by letting Gandalf shoot off fireworks on a weekday."

    But apparently your argument against the resurrection depends heavily on some definition of Humes?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Those interested in the topic of physical laws and violations or quasi-violations thereof may enjoy the episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast with Helen Beebee on laws of nature.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    David Marshall said…

    But yes, in my opinion a miracle sometimes, though not always, involves what Habermas calls a "suspension" of natural laws. That's a better term than "violation," as explained above. If that's all you mean by saying a miracle is "physically impossible," then lets agree on adopting Habermas' somewhat more careful language and have done with it.

    ===========
    Response:

    I'm not stuck on the word 'violation' so this seems like a reasonable proposal to me.

    I will review Habermas on the term 'miracle' and then let you know if I'm OK with proceeding using his conception/definition.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Jim – Thank you for the 'Philosophy Bites' reference. The podcast was interesting and informative.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to David Marshall:

    Looking over Chapter 8 ("Naturally Speaking: The Challenge of Naturalism") in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, I agree with about 90% of the key points about miracles and natural laws made in that chapter. So, I think we have common ground to work from there.

    I will pull some relevant quotes out of that chapter and make brief comments on them in 'Part 6' of this series of posts on the resurrection of Jesus.

    David – you can comment on that post as to whether we have come to agreement about the meaning of the expressions 'miracle' and 'physically impossible' and 'suspension of a natural law'. If so, then we can move past these basic semantic issues.


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