I don’t think that there is anything particularly original about the argument I will provide here. I had a brief conversation about this argument with some friends yesterday, including Greg Cavin. Greg was inclined to think that the argument could come across as too subjective, that is, based on subjective value judgments. I am not sure that he is right about that, but I thought I would present it here and solicit the thoughts of the Secular Outpost community:
(1) God is completely rational.
(2) Any action that God performs is undertaken on the basis of some good reason.
(3) There is no good reason for God to resurrect Jesus from the dead.
(4) God did not resurrect Jesus from the dead.
Premise (1) follows from the fact that God is perfect and (2) is a consequence of (1). Therefore, the soundness of the argument depends on the truth of (3). We can defend (3) by considering possible reasons that God might have for resurrecting Jesus and rejecting them. It is probably impossible to consider all possible factors that might count in favor of God’s resurrecting Jesus. However, that need not undermine the argument. Suppose we are not certain that there is no good reason for God to resurrect Jesus from the dead. We can issue a challenge to any person who believes that God did resurrect Jesus. That challenge would be to provide the good reason for God to resurrect Jesus. In the absence of any such account of God’s reason, we ought to be skeptical that there is such a reason.
The argument has significant virtues. For one thing, it is not committed to the claim that Jesus was not resurrected; only that God did not resurrect him. This fact allows us to set aside issues concerning whether the historical attestations of the resurrection are sufficient to provide a prima facie case that Jesus was resurrected. In the context of the current argument, it is irrelevant whether the historical accounts of a resurrected Jesus are evidence that he was resurrected. He may indeed have been resurrected (though we can remain skeptical) and there may indeed have been reliable witnesses of it, but, says our argument, if he was, God had nothing to do with it.
What I like about this argument is that it gets us to focus on the insignificance of Jesus’s alleged resurrection. If Jesus did resurrect, it was a miracle; but this miracle would not be connected to God, nor would it have any obvious religious significance.