Prior Probability of the Resurrection is Zero?

I do not understand the justification for considering The Resurrection apart from the existence of God.

The operational definition of The Resurrection assumes God and so the two are inextricably linked, are they not?


Because even if Jesus came back alive from being dead, we can’t automatically assume that God did it. Other explanations are conceivable(resurrected by a demon, a sorcerer, by space alien technology, by random fluke of nature, etc. etc.).
God may be one of the best explanations for the resurrection having occurred, in which case the resurrection having occurred is evidence for God’s existence(that would have to be argued of course). But there’s a difference between knowing that an event occurred, and knowing what caused it. Before we can assess what caused it, we need to first establish whether it even occurred. Once we’ve done that, we can try to assess what caused it.

You have to decide what you’re trying to argue. That God exists? That the resurrection occurred? That Christianity is true?

If the evidence for the resurrection having occurred is very good, the resurrection in turn can serve as evidence that God exists. The resurrection, if it occurred, being a key feature of Christian theology in turn makes it more likely that God is the Christian one.

An alternative approach is to try to establish that God exists through different evidence, before assessing the case for the resurrection. Traditionally theists here will use things like design arguments, or first-cause, or fine-tuning, or moral arguments of various kinds(insert other kinds of favored evidence). Once the existence of God has (presumably) been shown to be very likely with these arguments, God’s existence can in turn serve as relevant evidence for establishing that the resurrection occurred. The chain of reasoning here is supposed to show first that a God exists, and then that it is the Christian God.

Decide which route to take:
Show God exists -> Use that to show the resurrection occurred -> Use that to show Christianity is true.
Show the resurrection occurred -> Use that to show God exists -> Use that to show Christianity is true.

But you can’t have it both ways, either you start with the resurrection and use it as evidence for God, or you start with some other evidence (fine-tuning, first cause, morals sense etc.) as evidence for God. And once God’s existence has been shown to be very likely through other arguments, you can use it in assessing the case for the resurrection. It is possible there is an entirely different approach, through another line of evidence independent of the resurrection that show that Christianity is true, in which case it also shows that God exists of course.


I think that you are overthinking it. Whether or not the Resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred is the event about which the probability conversation is taking place. Was Jesus raised from the dead? Yes or no? That’s the issue.

Okay, but operationally speaking, The Resurrection literally means that Jesus was raised by God. It does not mean Jesus was raised by a god, or space aliens, or Richard Dawkins. So, then, to be accurate, the discussion should be phrased differently, because you cannot have The Resurrection without God.

I agree that is the issue, but we really do have to look at what the cause was. Remember, the case for the resurrection rests on testimonial evidence that is interpreted to constitute a resurrection.

But nobody was present in the tomb to see what happened. Jesus is interpreted to have died on the cross (he was seen crucified and stabbed), his presumed tomb is discovered to be empty, then later Jesus is claimed to have been seen alive.

That’s the purported evidence we have before us which we are trying to explain. Not God resurrecting Jesus, that’s not the evidence we have. Nobody saw that happen.

The evidence we have is pieces of text wherein it says that someone saw Jesus get crucified and stabbed on the cross, and then his putative tomb was discovered empty by some women, and then pieces of text wherein it says someone saw Jesus alive walking around and talking.

Nobody (that we know of) saw what happened in the tomb. Even if God really did resurrect Jesus while in that tomb, it’s not clear that having been present in the tomb to see Jesus suddenly come alive would in any way show God being present and somehow willing Jesus back to life. It’s not clear what that would have looked like, if God’s presence in the tomb could even be seen. Maybe Jesus just suddenly sat up and walked out, with no apparent cause.

So no, the resurrection is not just about God. God is one among many conceivable explanations for the evidence we have.

I completely disagree, which is why you have seen me use the phrase “Jesus coming back alive from being dead”, instead of describing it as The Resurrection.

The evidence we have is not The Resurrection. The evidence we have is putative testimonials of

  1. Jesus being crucified and stabbed with a spear.
  2. Jesus tomb being discovered empty.
  3. Jesus later walking around alive, speaking to people.

That’s interpreted to be God resurrecting Jesus while he was still in the tomb, after he had been buried.


I’m making a point regarding the semantics, not the validity of any single argument. It is fine to look at the cause if you would like to do so… You are correct to describe it as you have when you said “Jesus coming back from the dead” because “The Resurrection” is a label that pertains specifically to God, the Father, raising His Son, Jesus, from the dead.

This could be so for “the resurrection” but not so for “The Resurrection.”

Well, that’s partly true. If you are skeptic, it is true, because you are looking at it from a hard data perspective. Christians believe in The Resurrection because Jesus is alive. Paul did not believe in Jesus Christ because he thought The Resurrection to be valid, he believed because Jesus was alive. He encountered Jesus. So, we may articulate (often poorly, often not) to skeptics that it is reasonable to believe in The Resurrection, but it is not the primary reason why we believe.

But, honestly, if Jesus was resurrected, would you believe that it was for any cause other than God having raised him from the dead?


…neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.

@DaleCutler You have to admit that it is a tough chasm to cross. Further, let me admit that, while I can see the validity of The Resurrection from my perspective, it is the personal knowledge that allows me to accept it. Apart from the personal knowledge, I can see (and even remember) that it was a challenging obstacle indeed.

Depends on the nature of the evidence. The evidence for Jesus having come back alive would have to be more more likely on the hypothesis that God exists, than on any competing hypothesis. I’d have to see the case for different hypotheses to be sure, but I’m certainly not ruling out a priori that God’s existence could be the hypothesis most likely to produce the evidence.

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Well, yeah!! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the dialog. I’ve enjoyed chatting with you!


Yeah, it takes a miracle (or series of) to become a Christian. You can’t just decide to believe.


That sounds like an admission that Christianity cannot be demonstrated to be true thru evidence or reason. Is that what you mean to suggest?


@Faizal_Ali That’s a fair question. In my opinion, (and I state that strongly) one can believe that the resurrection occurred or that it is plausible that it occurred, based upon the evidence, but, like so many things, it falls short of conclusive proof. God speaks of faith being required. I think that it takes a leap of faith to get to the point where you can experience the living Christ. That said, for me personally, it was evidence that got me to that point. It was the behavior of the disciples after the Crucifixion and the explosive growth of the church that gave me the impetus to make a leap of faith.

That said, it gets expressed as though it were a math equation and it is not. It is different for all. If you are looking for hard evidence to prove beyond a doubt to yourself that Jesus is alive, you are probably not going to find it. If you are looking for enough evidence to justify the leap of faith, I believe it is there.


I would add that most of us will say and have said the same thing. It is reasonable to believe in The Resurrection. Christianity was never about an equation. It was always about a relationship.


There is enough evidence to be consistent with material reality from beginning to end, the end that is sure to come and for which we already have corresponding evidence between scripture and nature. That is also enough evidence that it should make those who have concluded that God does not exist doubt their faith in that conclusion.

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7 posts were split to a new topic: Bigfoot and the Resurrection of Jesus

A post was merged into an existing topic: Bigfoot and the Resurrection of Jesus

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Are the Gospels Reliable?

Hi @swamidass,

I am convinced (a posteriori) that the Resurrection did happen, and this is why I believe God exists.

Let me ask you a question. Suppose you had lived in Palestine around 100 B.C. Would you have considered belief in God rational? Why or why not?

If I was one of the faithful, as I am now, I’m sure it would be a paradox. Nothing is “rationally” worth facing the Lions in the colleseum, as did the early church. Nothing. Yet, I might have found something worth facing the Lions, whether it be rational or not.

@Philosurfer and @CPArand is the Ressurection “rational”?

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Assigning probabilities to events we cannot define isn’t going to get us anywhere. What is a Resurrection? Jesus was “dead in one moment and alive in the next” describes the result, but not the event itself (which was unobserved).

File this response under “Not at all helpful” :rofl: