Also along these lines, I can rephrase the situation in light of @Faizal_Ali’s objection:
- @Andrew_Loke’s main contribution in this new book is that he classifies all the logically possible naturalistic hypotheses according to a finite list of yes/no questions.
- He also advances arguments for the small probability of each of these hypotheses. (A naturalistic resurrection hypothesis would also have vanishingly small probability.)
- Assuming Loke’s arguments work, we are left with the large probability that a non-naturalistic (or supernatural) hypothesis must be true.
- @Faizal_Ali argues that the (supernatural) Resurrection hypothesis is not the only possible supernatural hypothesis, but there are potentially a large number of these, each with their own probabilities.
First even allowing his objection, @Faizal_Ali has to concede that there is a greater probability than normal that something supernatural happened in this case, even if we don’t know which supernatural being caused it or what it is. (Unless if he has some other objections to Loke’s specific arguments against the naturalistic hypotheses.) Thus, Loke’s argument is still effective against naturalism, even if it might not be effective for showing the truth of Christianity per se. This is I think what he is saying here (Chapter 8, pp. 197, emphases mine):
On the other hand, the miraculous resurrection of Jesus is not contrived given this religious context. Even if the resurrection of Jesus has a natural explanation which is yet unknown to twenty-first-century scientists, we still need to ask how it could have been known and utilized to resurrect Jesus in the first century and vindicate his claim to be truly divine. Such a knowledge and ability to manipulate natural laws would still require a supernatural agent in any case.
Thus, even if one might not be convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, one has to concede that in light of the historical evidence we have, it is likely that Jesus (or some other power behind him) had supernatural-like powers. (Again, assuming Loke’s arguments work.)
Second, what the objection shows is that these arguments do not work in a vacuum; as Loke himself continues after the above passage, other arguments for the truth of Christianity can improve the odds of the supernatural Resurrection hypothesis compared to other supernatural hypotheses (pp. 197-198, emphases mine):
Alternative naturalistic causes such as aliens or alternative supernatural causes such as demons are ad hoc, because there is no good independent reason for believing that an alien or a demon who had such powers to resurrect the dead exists. However, there are good independent reasons (viz. the cosmological and fine tuning arguments) for thinking that there is a God who created the universe with its laws of nature (Loke 2017b, forthcoming; Craig and Moreland 2009); a God with such powers would have no difficulty raising the dead. There are also reasons for thinking that such a God would interfere in history by becoming incarnate and that it is highly improbable that we would find the evidence we do for the life and teaching of Jesus, as well as the evidence from witnesses to his empty tomb and later appearances, if Jesus was not God incarnate and did not rise from the dead (Swinburne 2003, 2013a, 2013b; cf. Cavin and Colombetti 2013).
Third, apart from the above conclusion, even if he doesn’t spend time on the independent arguments for the existence of God (he has done that in other books), Loke does actually spend some time in Chapter 8 (specifically section 8.3) discussing some related problems in picking out a supernatural hypothesis, including Alvin Plantinga’s argument from dwindling probabilities and Michael Martin’s argument for the low probability of Jesus’ resurrection even if God exists. Both of these arguments are, in my view, more sophisticated versions of Faizal’s objection. However, I haven’t seen any engagement in this thread on this material, and I don’t have time to summarize them from scratch for everyone.
Fourth, one idea would be to consider all of the logically possible supernatural hypotheses similar to what we did with the naturalistic ones. For example, we would have the supernatural mass hallucination, supernatural Resurrection, supernatural body stealing, etc. It would be more difficult than with the naturalistic case, but perhaps one could argue against each of these supernatural alternatives by showing that they are ad hoc as opposed to the Resurrection hypothesis, by (for example) using other arguments for the truth of Christianity.
This is not a new endeavor at all: this is exactly what one would have to do to argue for the Resurrection to someone who is a Muslim, Jew, animist, or other religions. In fact in the Gospels we see the Pharisees who do not deny the reality of Jesus’ miraculous acts; they just argue that it came from Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24).