The resurrection argument and the fallacy of suppressed evidence

I’m going to first give an example of the suppressed evidence fallacy. Here’s an example:

1. Most people who live in the state of Oregon like chocolate
2. Jones lives in the state of Oregon
3. Therefore (probably), Jones likes chocolate

But there’s a problem. Either intentionally or not, I have left out important facts. Jones lives in the town of Roseburg where most people don’t like chocolate. In addition, most people in Jones’ close and extended family don’t like chocolate. Given these facts, the argument went from being strong to being rather weak. Jones probably does like chocolate since he lives in the state of Oregon, and most people who live in the state of Oregon like chocolate. However, given the further facts, it’s not at all obvious that Jones probably likes chocolate. In fact, it seems we have good grounds for thinking he probably doesn’t like chocolate, given the further facts.

Now let’s look at the case of the resurrection. Let’s assume that given all the facts that Craig (and some others) have listed, that the chances of the resurrection is probable (or probably true). However, what if Craig has left out some important fact(s) or information that would make the argument weak or render the resurrection not the best explanation?

One fact that Craig doesn’t mention:
I nor anyone else, since the time of the disciples, has seen Jesus alive. This is exactly what naturalism predicts, so (on naturalism) it’s not surprising that we haven’t seen someone alive who lived thousands of years ago. Where is Jesus if he really did resurrect?

Craig could now say, “Well of course we haven’t seen Jesus, he ascended into Heaven!” A couple of things:
1. Where’s the evidence that Jesus ascended into Heaven?
2. Isn’t Craig’s suggestion just an ad hoc rescue? It doesn’t seem like we can falsify such a proposal. Could we not just as easily claim that Jesus is somewhere in space? Or that Jesus is really still on earth, but he’s just really good at hiding? If these hypotheses won’t do, then why would the ascension hypothesis work?

One could object to what I have said by saying, “But look, we are just looking at Craig’s 4 facts. Therefore, you are adding irrelevant facts to the argument!”

Incorrect.
1. What I’m doing is adding in what could very well be a “suppressed” piece of evidence (a fact) that what lower our confidence in the argument (or render the conclusion less likely to be true). And thus my objection is not (or not necessarily) irrelevant.
2. And notice one could also use my opponent’s objection, even when the fallacy is actually committed! In the case of Oregon and Jones, it won’t wash to say that we are only concerned with the state of Oregon as a whole, and we are not concerned with Roseburg nor Jones’ family. But, looking at Roseburg or Jones’ family is relevant if it renders the conclusion weaker, adding the other facts does this, so it’s not irrelevant. So, if the “you’re adding irrelevant facts to the argument!” objection won’t work in the case of Jones, then why would it work in the case of the resurrection?
3. Adding further/potential facts isn’t necessarily irrelevant, unless one wants to make an argument immune to criticism.

One could also object that Craig isn’t arguing that the resurrection probably occurred; He’s arguing that it’s probable that the resurrection occurred because the resurrection is the best explanation of the facts (Craig claims the resurrection is the best explanation).

It doesn’t matter which way Craig is arguing; the fallacy could still apply. Adding the further fact should make us doubt that the resurrection really is the best explanation, or it should make us doubt the resurrection probably happened. In other words, it really doesn’t matter if Craig’s argument is an abductive argument/IBE, a certain type of inductive argument, etc.; the fallacy could still be employed.

Now I’m not saying I believe any of this. I’m just putting my objection out there in order to be criticized.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s