Previous TQQ---

Objections-to disprove is not to prove the opposite


"If reasoning tightly, why not admit that to disprove the objections to an assertion is not any measure of proof of that assertion. Objections which cannot be disproven might exist but not yet be brought to your attention.

And here is how I analyzed it...

The first approach I took was to find out WHERE I AGREED with the position. This was, of course, easy to do--as a skeptically oriented Christian! I can construct easily arguments of the type:
Assertion: The Greek god Zeus was born as a sweet potato in Iceland.
Objection: But sweet potatoes don't grow in Iceland - its too cold.
Response: But he sprouted INSIDE a heated greenhouse...so there, skeptic!
In this argument (that even Humpty Dumpty might be proud of!), the objection IS disposed of successfully, but this BY NO MEANS proves the assertion.

In addition to this trivial case, I am familiar with countless scientific/philosophical arguments that have a related structure, especially along historical axes.

For example, in particle physics you might see such an arg:

Assertion: The 10-15 extra dimensions of space-time necessary for supersymmetry/superstring theories are 'curled up' inside spaces smaller than the proton.
Objection: We cannot conceive of 'curling up' dimensions.
Response: We couldn't conceive of elasticity of space-time (a la relativity) either, but it was true...
And the history of philosophy is replete with examples of positions that overcame all objections of their time, only to be dashed to pieces under powerful objections derived in LATER generations.

So the notion of a position that could disproved LATER by objections unknown today seems entirely reasonable (and well-documented).

So, then I had to figure out why this question was submitted as a candidate for the "Tough Question of the Quarter"...What argument/assertion did I make (in some 200-300 pages of material!) that was the subject of this question?

I can only guess...but my bet (if I were a 'better' man) would be around one of the survey questions that reads like this:

The dead body of Jesus Christ was never recovered--even by the authorities of his day...other attempts to explain the empty tomb and the eyewitness accounts (other than the resurrection) seem shallow, contrived, and contradict known data from psychology or history...
I can see what the visitor is getting at ("just because there are no better explanations TODAY for the missing body/empty tomb, doesn't mean there won't be one SOMEDAY" and the implication that "we do not have to accept the 'best' explanation TODAY--that He rose from the dead--as true"), although I cannot cast it into the form (assertion, objections, response) I have used so far.

It is at this point that I realize that the question might be oversimplifying the nature of argument (esp. historical argument) or might be misunderstanding the argument itself.

A fuller statement of the argument runs something like this:

  1. Every scrap of historical data we have, when interpreted in a non-conspiratorial manner, describes a bizarre individual who claims to be God and who predicts (to his often dull, oppositional, and unimaginative followers!) his death, burial, resurrection, and subsequent appearances to other humans.

  2. Every scrap of historical data we have, when interpreted in a non-conspiratorial manner, affirms that indeed said individual was killed, buried, came back to life, and made subsequent appearances to other humans.

  3. The evidence that this individual 'rose from the dead' consists mainly of:

Now, if you notice, this position argues NOTHING like 'he must have risen from the dead, since we can't think of anything better'...Rather, it gives EVERY possible 'proof' one could give about such a unique event in history (i.e. physical appearances in a wide variety of settings, to a wide variety of people, over a period of a month and half, predictions ahead of time about this).

How much more data could one want?!

Think about this for a second...in the world of first-century Palestine, WHAT MORE COULD HE HAVE DONE to 'prove' his resurrection? What else would it take?

(He didn't 'waste' his appearances, of course, on those with hyper-closed minds...compare Luke 16.19ff in which some people wouldn't believe EVEN IF someone rose from the dead, and John 12.9ff in which the leaders planned to kill the resurrected Lazarus, because too many people were beginning to take Jesus at his word--they didn't DISBELIEVE the resurrection of Laz--they just didn't like the implications! But...in Acts 9, Jesus appears to one of his enemies, with the result of a massive change of viewpoint...the militant skeptic Saul becomes the zealous apostle Paul.)

Notice that up to this point, there has been no mention of 'objections'...so let ME try to raise a couple...

To avoid the conclusion that he rose from the dead, I would have to have better evidence than the above, that either: