Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On doubting doubters

JD Walters has posted a nice little review of liberal attack on the Resurrection. Here's a comment I left at the CADRE today in connection with his review:

“That cause is the human phenomenon of cognitive dissonance reduction. Basically, this is the human tendency to rationalize a discontinuity between reality and one’s current beliefs in such a way that current beliefs are modified or added to instead of being rejected. Sometimes this results in extremely radical rationalizations. We have solid examples of this from other religious movements in history, such as the Millerite movement, the Sabbatai Zevi movement, and others.”

Komarnitsky observation is true, but highly deceptive:

i) It clearly cuts both ways. We could just as well (or better) apply “cognitive dissonance reduction” to the case of unbelievers who try to explain away evidence for the Resurrection.

ii) Examples of religious movements which reinterpret the terms of a failed prophecy after the fact take for granted that testimonial evidence is sufficiently reliable for us to access both the original words and actual events, so that we can compare the two to discover or confirm a discrepancy. If we didn’t know what a false prophet really said, or if we didn’t know what really happened, we couldn’t tell if his prediction failed.

iii) Komarnitsky has to show that predictions or expectations regarding the Resurrection don’t fit with what actually happened. What’s his evidence? Does he think the NT contains failed prophecies about the Resurrection? If so, where are they? Or does he think the original prophecies were redacted (or else fabricated as vaticina ex eventu) to “rationalize” the disappointing outcome? If so, how could he ever detect a rationalization, since the original evidence was systematically suppressed?

iv) On the face of it, he’s simply assuming the Resurrection didn’t happen, and then jumping to a psychological theory to explain what we find. But, of course, that begs the very question in dispute.

v) In my observation, when religious movements issue false prophecies, the effect is divisive. You have a tiny core of diehard adherents who stand by the false prophet no matter what. But you also have many former adherents who become bitterly disillusioned and leave the movement. And some of them become outspoken opponents.

What evidence do we have of a major split in the nascent Christian movement over the “non-Resurrection” of Jesus?


  1. Well, I am not sure about all that, but I am sure about this:::>

    Psa 72:7 In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
    Psa 72:8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
    Psa 72:9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!

    The earliest Apostles, Luke records, put it over this way:::>

    Act 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

    Now, for certain, I am certain they were relying upon come cognitive sense! :)

  2. Steve Hays: "But you also have many former adherents who become bitterly disillusioned and leave the movement. And some of them become outspoken opponents."

    Makes me think of John Loftus or Dan Barker.

    There's a technical term for this phenomenon. If I recall correctly, it's called "reaction formation."