“Regarding eyewitness being good evidence. True, the further we go back in history, the more we have to rely on eyewitness testimony. However, the likelihood of an event occurring significantly affects the credibility of the eyewitness. If there was an eyewitness to a car crash, the car crash event itself does not diminish credibility, because those happen all the time. But if there was an eyewitness to extraterrestrials, or ghosts, or Godzilla, or someone rising from the dead, it significantly diminishes the credibility of the eyewitness testimony because the possibility that the eyewitness was mistaken or lying increases.”
—a skeptic of the Resurrection
Conservative Christian blogger:
My third beef [Gary: see my review of his first “beef”, here] with this challenge regards the challenge’s subtle implication that credibility of an eyewitness somehow determines reality. The challenger is attempting to justify rejection of the claim of the resurrection, and he seems to believe that by undermining the eyewitnesses’ credibility he can show that it did not take place.
The problem here is that undermining credibility has no bearing on the actuality of the event itself. If someone who witnessed an event is a known pathological liar, can we immediately conclude that the event did not take place? No. Even if this challenge stood against critique, the challenger could not soundly conclude that the resurrection did not take place from the unreliability of the New Testament eyewitnesses.
The Christian blogger is misinterpreting what the skeptic is saying. OF COURSE, the fact that an eyewitness is a well-known, pathological LIAR does NOT prove that the event he claims to have occurred did not occur. But it does greatly decrease the credibility of the claim due to the non-reliability of the person’s testimony. If Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts states that a red Chevy Camaro was parked in front of his house yesterday, most people will accept Justice Roberts’ word for the historicity of this event. If a pathological liar makes the same claim, many people will doubt, or at least by uncertain, about this claim…as well as any other claim that this person makes.
And by the way, the overwhelming majority of skeptics do not believe that the disciples lied. We believe that they were most probably…sincerely mistaken.
4 thoughts on “Does the Poor Credibility of an Eyewitness Automatically Disprove his Claim? Of Course Not!”
We believe that they were most probably…sincerely mistaken.
Personally, I wouldn’t even go that far. Nothing happened. There wasn’t even a mistake, sincere or not. The Acts Seminar concluded there was no early church in Jerusalem, and Acts itself was penned in the first decades the 2nd Century, being mostly fiction. In the absence of a “ground zero,” so to say, we’re probably just looking at a story. After all, the first sign of Christianity we have is Paul, in Cilicia (Turkey), writing (to no one in particular) the outlines of the religion. Barnabas, his cohort, was a Cypriot. Then we have him in Corinth (Greece) writing to tiny bands of followers in Antioch (Turkey)… which is to say, where the northern diaspora was. Then we have bands in Damascus, Cyprus, Pamphylia, Galatia, Macedonia. All Asia Minor.
I certainly believe that it is POSSIBLE that the Jesus story is pure myth, but I would wager that most skeptics believe there was a Jesus and that the Resurrection belief most probably arose out of misperceptions of reality (illusions) or hallucinations.
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There could have been a person, might have been many “people” all rolled into one.
What is interesting is that the primary argument used by conservative Christians for the existence of Jesus is that the majority of New Testament scholars believe he existed. This is the same majority of scholars whose opinion conservative Christians routinely reject on every other issue related to the Jesus story such as the non-eyewitness authorship of the Gospels.
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