Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Arguing For Miracles

Than Christopoulos recently hosted a video discussing miracles, with Caleb Jackson and David Pallmann. They make many good points. Caleb has done a lot of good work on the subject and has a book about it coming out soon.


  1. Just FYI, Caleb believes that the Gospel authors or their sources sometimes invented things (the guard at the tomb story being an example). So he doesn't hold to the high reliability of the Gospels in a straightforward sense and doesn't argue for miracles in that way. I don't think he's actually trying to hide this fact. He's been very open about it in social media exchanges with me. It's just that the promotion of him as an apologist by various people, including Christopolous, could cause people to assume that this is not the case. But he is a big fan of Dale Allison and actually seems to think that people who argue that the Gospel authors did not make up stories (or take their information from people who did make them up) have some kind of problem or that it's way too hard to argue that they didn't and that we need to defend Christianity and miracles in some other way. I don't really think he's done the necessary research to challenge these liberal assumptions (I'll just call them that openly). Anyway, I think this fact should be put out there. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how he's getting such a name as an apologist.

    1. Thanks for the information. I disagree with Caleb on the points you've mentioned, and I don't recall having come across comments from him along those lines. The large majority of his material that I've seen has been on miracles outside the gospels. He's done some good work there, and I hope he'll reconsider his positions on issues like the ones you've mentioned.

  2. I'll just say this, and I don't know if they touch on it in the video: Dale Allison and co. really, really ignore the importance of a context of persecution, and Allison strongly tends to level the field and talk as if all the "rainbow bodies" and other phenomena that he collects have evidence approximately on a par with that for the resurrection, when in fact that is far wrong. We need to have high standards for accepting a miracle or even a paranormal event as genuine, and it doesn't help our argument for genuine miracles to ignore important ways in which the evidence for, say, the resurrection is of much higher quality than that for all these other things that someone like Allison will list. Credulity is in its own way just as much of a danger to apologetics as skepticism, and in a sense the two are linked because of this "leveling" effect--because it communicates to people that you have to accept or nearly accept a whole slew of supernatural claims in many different religions, contexts, etc., or accept none of them. Allison practically comes out and says this, and he presses very hard on the "argument by proxy" that involves treating the resurrection of Jesus as just one miracle claim among many, including those in completely different theological and evidential contexts. We really need to guard against that, and the 18th century apologists did a good job of that.