Eyewitness testimony is historically among the most convincing forms of evidence in criminal trials (e.g. Benton, Ross, Bradshaw, Thomas, & Bradshaw, 2006). Probably only a suspect’s signed confession can further convince a jury about that individual’s guilt. …But being convincing isn’t the same as being accurate. Eyewitness testimony is more fallible than many people assume.
…Memory doesn’t record our experiences like a video camera. It creates stories based on those experiences. The stories are sometimes uncannily accurate, sometimes completely fictional, and often a mixture of the two; and they can change to suit the situation. Eyewitness testimony is a potent form of evidence for convicting the accused, but it is subject to unconscious memory distortions and biases even among the most confident of witnesses. So memory can be remarkably accurate or remarkably inaccurate. Without objective evidence, the two are indistinguishable.
Every time I debate a Christian on the evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus, I am invariably informed that eyewitness testimony is some of the best evidence in a court of law. Ok. Sure. I won’t deny that. But as the above author states, just because eyewitness testimony has been considered some of the best evidence in courts of law for several thousand years does not in any way mean that it is accurate. The advent of forensic DNA analysis has proven that it often is not!
And when it comes to really fantastical claims such as—Bigfoot sightings, alien abductions, and resurrecting corpses—eyewitness testimony is even more dubious as reliable evidence.
So, dear Christians: Stop telling me that 2,000 year old eyewitness testimony is good and sufficient for your Resurrection Legend. It most definitely is not.
How reliable are witnesses to alleged miracles:
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