The Resurrection: Torley Responds to Peaceful Science

Continuing the discussion from Alter's Case Against The Resurrection:

Responding to the issues we raised here, @vjtorley has posted another article. I"m curious what some of the other key participants think of @vjtorley’s response. (@jongarvey and @dga471). I’m sure @MJAlter will want to follow along too.

Professor Joshua Swamidass kindly discussed my views on a thread over at Peaceful Science, titled, Alter’s Case Against The Resurrection, which was opened by Dr. Patrick Trischitta. I’d like to address the main criticisms voiced by Professor Swamidass against my arguments, in addition to several criticisms put forward by physics graduate Daniel Ang on the same thread.

Objection 1: It’s illicit to multiply probabilities, in an attempt to discredit the Gospels’ Passion narratives

Objection 2: Multiple improbable events can happen to any of us, even over a short time period. Why not Jesus, too?

Objection 3: Am I guilty of a misuse of probability theory?

Objection 4. Not so improbable after all?

Objection 5. Even if these improbable events didn’t happen, how relevant are they?

Objection 6. A fairer test of the Gospels’ historical reliability?

Objection 7. Could new evidence boost the Gospels’ historical reliability?

@vjtorley, I will respond more when I have time, but I find it striking that some of the more important objections are not engaged.

We are concerned that there is no clear methodology here, and we take special objection to equating @MJAlter with a fair-minded and neutral historian. He is not following a historian’s rigorous methodology, as he free explained here: Michael Alter: The Man and His Argument Against the Resurrection. There is little evidence that a consistent and well thought methodology is being applied here, and it appears to be very different than what we observe taking place in qualified historians.

Of note, also, the work of NT Wright is not engaged at all. He makes a historian’s argument, showing the river that has to be crossed by historians seeking to make sense of 1st Century Palestine. @MJAlter is talking past these fundamental questions rather than engaging them. We know why too. He comes to the table strongly motivated by a polemic agenda, and without any training in history.

I will read what you have written, and respond when I can, but I’m not sure why you chose to neglect our central objections.

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Thank you for kindly keeping me update with the discussion. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. And, I will definitely follow the conversation.

Take care and be safe.


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In response to Objection 7. Could new evidence boost the Gospels’ historical reliability?**

Response: The answer is absolutely yes and absolutely no! On page 742 in my text, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry, I tersely discuss advances in psychological anthropology and cognitive science. Other relevant areas of further research include cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, the psychology of evidence and of eyewitness accuracy (p. 678)… Additionally disciplines that could further our understanding include astronomy, geophysics, and anthropology. So then, YES and NO, new evidence could boost or challenge the Gospels’ historical reliability. [This topic is explored in Volume 2 of my future text.

Take care


@vjtorley, thanks for taking the time to publish your responses to our arguments in a separate blog post. I am very busy at the moment and might not get to it for some time, but I am interested in continuing this discussion.