2... I also think that we are of the same opinion that whatever these Unidentified Flying Objects are (that is why they are called Unidentified), they are not advanced civilizations from other planets in our universe.
3... However, unlike you, I do believe that there can be some sightings of demonic and angelic manifestations. So on first blush, it would seem that I would have more reason to embrace the idea of the reality of UFO (alien space beings) than you because it would seem to be a better piece of evidence for my position that the "unexplainable" or seemingly miraculous events like the Resurrection are at least possible.
I would say that I'm skeptical of the claim that they're extraterrestrial spacecraft, but I think it's a possibility--like you seem to think it's possible that they're angels and/or demons. Of the two views, I would have to say that the ETH (ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis) is more probable. Why? We know
that technological civilizations exist. We are one. We know
that spacecraft exist. We build and fly them ourselves. We also know
that it's possible for a highly-advanced civilization to accomplish things that seem impossible to less-advanced civilizations. We are one. We can now do things that would have seemed divine/magical/supernatural to people a thousand years ago--or to people living on Pacific islands during World War II ("Cargo cults"). In our history, we have existence proofs
of societies with relatively high technology appearing to be supernatural from the perspective of societies with relatively low technology (e.g. Conquistadors masquerading as gods to the Aztecs and Incas). Thus we can say with confidence that a civilization a thousand or a million or a billion years in advance of ours would be able to do things that would look like magic to us, not to mention credulous people living 2,000 years ago. Heck, guys like Chris Angel, David Blaine, and David Copperfield can do things that look magical to us, and they don't even have vastly superior technology!
We do not have anything remotely comparable evidence-wise in favor of the "Angels and Demons Hypothesis" (ADH).
A... First of all, if you going to try and make a valid comparison between flying saucers and the Resurrection, you need to pick one UFO case and concentrate on that... because in terms of the Resurrection, we are only speaking of one event after all.
Sorry Fran, the fact that you've only got one "case" of Jesus-related miracle-working that you're willing to defend, vs. thousands of cases of flying saucers with better evidence in their favor...well, that's just too bad for you, isn't it? Why in the world would I want to let you
decide how much evidence I'm allowed to present? You're playing Calvinball again. The fact that there is far more
and far better
evidence in favor of flying saucers as tangible vehicles that show up on radar, leave landing traces, and contain living occupants than there is for the Resurrection is the point I am making
. So no, I am not going to limit myself to one case just because you've only got one case. The weakness and paucity of your evidence isn't my problem.
I'm not for one minute even trying to defend other possible "miracles" in the Bible... only one. My entire case is built around ONE EVENT... not multiple "miracles" found in the Bible.
I think this is quite telling. Whether you'll admit it openly or not, by your actions you're conceding that the rest of the Biblical miracles (especially the ones attributed to Jesus, which are relevant to the issue of whether or not he was a supernatural being) are indefensible. The fact that even you are willing to deny all of Jesus' other miracles (is that a rooster I hear?) is an open confession of the fundamental weakness of your case.
You know that you can't invoke a consensus of your mostly-Christian New Testament scholars willing to defend the resurrection of Lazarus, or the darkness, earthquake, and undead-crawling-from-their-graves invasion that supposedly surrounded Jesus' death, or the loaves and fishes, etc., etc.. Only diehard fundamentalist apologists are even willing to try. You know that you can't point to any credible Jesus sightings occurring within the last ten years. No pictures, no physical traces, no radar-visual sightings. Nada.
So, abandoning the field and retreating from all of the other New Testament miracle claims, you fall back to the one little redoubt you think you can hold on to. But there's a problem with that. Your precious "Four Minimal Facts" depend on the credibility of the same sources you're abandoning when it comes to everything else. By abandoning the rest of the New Testament miracles and for all practical intents and purposes conceding their non-historicity, you're acknowledging that your sources are not sufficiently credible in themselves to validate miracle claims. Once you've done that, you've given the game away. If the Gospels and whatever other hypothetical "sources" you're using ("M," "L," "Q" etc.) make lots of miracle claims and are not historically credible doing so, why should we suddenly decide to grant them credence when it comes to the Resurrection?
You're conceding by your actions that your "witness" makes lots of indefensible supernatural claims. This means that your "witness" is not credible, even to you. You're like an attorney whose star witness sees hallucinations all the time, trying to argue that in just one case, the witness really did
see a leprechaun. Your "witness" is not credible. You know it. We know it.
But what you seem to be doing is to try and bring up multiple UFO cases and then present them all at once. So right at the get go you are committing, so it appears to me, a category fallacy... or a false comparison.
How is it a "category fallacy" to compare an alleged paranormal phenomenon with only one "case" its advocates can cite with another alleged paranormal phenomenon with thousands of cases, many of which have better evidence? If we accepted that principle, we'd have to give up the very idea of any sort of rational debate.
"If you want to believe in the Resurrection, you also have to believe that Circe turned Greek soldiers into pigs by magic. Says so in this here old book."
"Not true! We have better evidence for the Resurrection. More manuscripts, dated closer to the time of the alleged events--"
"Category fallacy! Category fallacy! You're not allowed to have more evidence than me! It's not fair
! Pick another Biblical miracle that has the same amount and type of manuscript evidence as there is for Circe's magic in the Odyssey
. Then it'll be a fair comparison!"
Since having more and better evidence is now disallowed by FranCalvinball rules, we have to believe absolutely everything that anyone has ever claimed, since lack of evidence is no longer a disadvantage. Right? Or do you just change the rules again?
B... You do present the Roswell case as an example of a UFO case which you assert has Four Minimal Facts that are accepted even by skeptics. And this may be true, but that is irrelevant as far as that statement goes. We need to do more than just present 4 facts.
you want all the facts and not just the four? You're starting to sound like HAL. One thing to make note of here is that your Wikipedia debunk of Roswell is dependent on having dozens of other facts, which we have because Roswell happened very recently and in a society that does a very good job of documenting things. Now, if we were to imagine that we were living 2,000 years from now, about 600 years after the American civilization fell and was overrun by barbarians, so that the vast majority of its documentation was destroyed and we were left with only
the Four Minimal Facts of Roswell, defended by scholars from the seminaries of the predominant religion of the day, the Saucerian Church, as unimpeachable historical fact, then (using your epistemology) it would be a lot harder to reject the idea that a spacecraft crashed at Roswell.
In other words: if there were dozens of equivalent counter-facts in the case of the Resurrection, those facts are lost to us due to the fact that The Case of the Missing Jesus Body is 2,000 years cold. Likewise, if there were dozens of equivalent corroborative facts bolstering the story, those are also lost to us. What we have available with regard to the Resurrection is a tiny fraction of the actual facts of the case, if that much. This makes the case for the Resurrection weaker
, not stronger. And to repeat once again: by your own actions, you've conceded that the "witness" that provides us the alleged "facts" we do have is not credible in general.
Then we have the weight of probability: ~99 billion
human deaths without any resurrections, supernaturally-caused or otherwise. In probabilistic terms, the odds against the resurrection of any particular corpse are at least
99 billion to one. Note that this probability has nothing to do with the issue of whether any supernatural or ultra-tech entities exist which are capable of causing a resurrection. Any such entities that may exist have exhibited a remarkably consistent choice to not
resurrect human corpses, so the probability remains.
1... Fact #3 does not say that post-mortem Resurrection appearances were actually of Jesus in the flesh. I believe it was of course, but that is not what Fact #3 says. It says that the disciples CLAIMED that they saw Jesus appear in the flesh... in the Resurrected body of Jesus. And that is a fact.
Can you see how incredibly weak
this is? We have reports
that Jesus' disciples and Paul saw him after his death--not even direct eyewitness testimony (except in Paul's case, but he only reports seeing a vision). These reports come in sources that are chock full of grandiose supernatural claims that even you
run away from as fast as you can go. These "witnesses" are portrayed as being people who fairly regularly see things other people don't (e.g. Peter's vision of the sheet, Paul's trip to the third heaven, etc.). The same sources that report these people's claims to have seen Jesus resurrected also
report these same people claiming that Jesus walked on water, fed thousands with a few loaves and fish, that the world went dark for three hours when Jesus died, etc.--all "events" that were not noticed by anyone else at the time. And you are desperate to sweep this evidence under the rug and pretend it doesn't exist.
As I've said before, I withdraw the other scenarios I offered. I misunderstood the terms of the debate, and thought I had to offer explanations for the "Four Minimal Facts" as if they were real events that actually happened. But since we're just talking about reports from non-credible sources claiming that people who saw visions and heard divine voices also saw their guru raised from the dead (even though in several of these "appearances" they thought their guru was somebody else--and maybe they were right)...well, no fancy explanation is necessary.
The disciples were just a group of fantasy-prone (if not outright schizophrenic) people who convinced themselves that their charismatic leader had returned from the dead and appeared to them, just like they convinced themselves that God sent them visions telling them to stop eating Kosher. Paul, another individual of dubious sanity (he's also portrayed as having weird visions) was obsessed with the early Christian cult, and after witnessing the martyrdom of Stephen (who also is portrayed as Seeing Things) was impressed by the Christians' devotion (contrasted with the worldliness and hypocrisy of his fellow Pharisees)
, so that he hallucinated a vision that enabled him to join them.
What about the Empty Tomb? At best, we have a mystery of a missing body in a 2,000 year-old cold case. There's no obligation to solve it or believe in a supernatural resurrection any more than we have to prove that Vizier Aye killed King Tut or believe the young Pharaoh was struck down by sorcery. We don't have
the necessary facts.
We could come up with plausible explanations--not the least of which is that the sources you concede are not credible in so many other instances (such as all those other Jesus miracles) are not credible in their claims about Jesus' burial and the empty tomb, or that they left out (purposely or otherwise) facts that would have helped us solve the mystery--but we don't really have to. All we have are reports of reports from people who saw hallucinatory visions and who made all sorts of other non-credible claims of miracles.
Now, you're slyly citing a fifth claim as a Minimal Fact--that the disciples and Paul died for their beliefs--without substantiating it. Will you at least admit that you're including this among your "Minimal Facts" and provide some evidence for it? Even if it is true, it doesn't help you much. Wacky people join wacky cults all the time, and are sometimes known to die for their beliefs (Heaven's Gate, Branch Davidians, Jonestown). Bottom line:
You have spectacularly weak evidence in favor of an incredibly
improbable event. Not at all convincing.