I see Dr. Craig use the phrase, “It’s not improbable that God raised Jesus,” usually in a debate, after someone says that the probability of a person coming back to life (resurrection) is extremely low. Craig agrees and says resurrection is only improbable if it occurs naturally. In other words, the only thing that is improbable is a natural resurrection. There’s nothing improbable about God raising someone from the dead.
Some of my worries with Dr. Craig’s claim, “It’s not improbable that God raised Jesus from the dead,” are as follows:
For starters, I’m not exactly sure what it meant by the phrase. Of course it might not be improbable to think that God has the ability to perform miracles like raising a person from the dead. After all, it seems like God could easily raise someone from the dead. But of course just because someone has the ability to raise someone from the dead, doesn’t mean they will probably actually perform the deed. What is the probability that God actually does raise people from the dead? Is the probability inscrutable? Why think that God raises people from the dead?
Another concern of mine is that maybe “God raising Jesus” is not improbable when we just consider the prior probability alone, but that wouldn’t show that the total probability isn’t low. Perhaps when we add in, for example, the evidence concerning some of Jesus’ teaching and proclamations, it would now be improbable that God would want to raise Jesus from the dead. If some of Jesus’ teachings are against God or immoral, then it would seem that God would not raise Jesus from the dead. To determine that, we would have to look at the gospels to see what Jesus preached and taught.
The prior probability on Craig’s thesis wouldn’t be nearly as low as a resurrection that naturally occurs; however, this wouldn’t establish that the prior probability is greater or much greater than fifty percent. Also, given the reality of other world religions, maybe someone could say, “Why would God raise Jesus instead of Muhammed, or why not raise both of them?”
Maybe it’s not improbable that God raises people from the dead. Nevertheless, resurrection would seem to be a very rare occurrence. So rare in fact that wouldn’t the last thing we should ever suspect in most (any?) circumstances is a resurrection? Shouldn’t we just be in the dark about an explanation before we propose that a resurrection has occurred? Craig agrees that we’ve never seen a natural resurrection, but we could say the exact same thing about Craig’s claim; how many of us have seen God raise someone from the dead?