Monday, September 05, 2016

Betting on the Resurrection

Atheists typically argue that any naturalistic explanation, however far-fetched, is more likely to be true than a supernatural explanation. So, for instance, any naturalistic alternative to the Resurrection is preferable, viz. Jesus had a secret twin brother, Jesus was a space alien.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that a naturalistic explanation for the empty tomb and reported post-mortem appearances of Jesus is more likely than a supernatural explanation. Does it follow that we should opt for the naturalistic explanation? Would that be more rational?

Recently, as I was standing at the checkout stand, I glanced over and saw two people–presumably related–seated at a table, scratching a stack of lottery tickets. Did they blow their entire paycheck on lottery tickets?

I assume their reasoning is this: the more tickets you buy, the more that ups the odds of winning. If you have two tickets, you're twice as likely. Ten tickets: ten times as likely. One hundred tickets… You get the idea.

Assuming the math is sound, it's a thousand times more probable that someone with a thousand tickets will win the lottery than someone with just one ticket. If, therefore, officials announce that the winner bought just one ticket, is it reasonable to disbelieve the official announcement? Should we believe that someone who bought more tickets actually won–and surely there's someone out there who bought more tickets–but he got cheated? Should we believe that the person with the most tickets will win? After all, doesn't he have the best chance of winning? 

Even if, given the odds, one explanation is far more likely to be true, yet in this case, that's not the true explanation. And in this case, it would be irrational to opt for the most probable explanation. Abstract odds don't outweigh concrete evidence that the guy who won the lottery only bought one ticket. 

1 comment:

  1. For people who have no knowledge of the existence of any God, they sure seem to have a lot to say about how likely it would be for Him to act upon creation. Funny that.