Home > Apologetics, Atheism, The Bible, Theism > Loftier musings on some of the problems with the minimal facts approach

Loftier musings on some of the problems with the minimal facts approach

Reading through Habermas and Licona’s The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus,  I’m struck by their interesting argument via “minimal facts”, I’m not a complete illiterate, so I’ve heard of this argument before (for skeptical objections see Michael Martin’s The Case Against Christianity pp87-100), and have seen it proposed in several different forms (Craig uses a similar formula to defend the empty tomb- for skeptical objections see Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder’s edited The Empty Tomb), the one presented in this book they call “4 + 1” as in there are 4 facts they consider to be well attested by biblical scholarship and 1 less so, but still very well attested, that establish the resurrection of Jesus.

The main problem it seems to me, and I’m making an assumption here I know, but the authors think they’re making a case, possibly the best and only case for a supernatural event ever, right? If they are or not it’s not integral, my point is;

do they really think minimal facts are appropriate to establish evidence for a supernatural event?

It seems to me “minimal facts” shoots itself in the foot before it even begins. We don’t ask for minimal facts for natural events (re: physics, cosmology, biology etc), why would we do so when establishing the existence of  an all-powerful deity who can… (insert all it’s powers and abilities suitable to your religious faith here).

Now some theists may be thinking that I’m biased, basing my critique of “minimal facts” theory on ECREE, which I’m not, necessarily, whether you subscribe to ECREE or not, surely you agree that a supernatural event, any supernatural event, bears a heavy burden of proof, that requires solid, reliable and presumably a lot of evidence to corroborate it. Are “minimal facts” going to get the job done (I would ask you if “minimal facts” would convince you of someone elses religious truth)?

I’m planning on doing a proper discussion of their work eventually, I promise. I’ve got some stuff down as a response to their 4 facts, I need more space than I have here to present my objections though, so you’ll have to wait just a little while.

  1. vinnyjh
    August 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t think that “minimal facts” are appropriate to establish any event. I think it is the kind of tactic that conspiracy theorists use. For example, the 911 Truthers cherry pick a few video clips and a few bits of testimony and claim that the only way a theory can be valid is if it explains their selected bits of evidence and no others. Not surprisingly, the only theory that makes the grade is their claim that the Twin Towers were brought down a controlled demolition engineered by the United States government. If all the evidence is considered, however, it is overwhelmingly obvious that the buildings came down because terrorists flew planes into them. The Truther’s “minimal facts” can be easily explained or even ignored as anomalies. By the same token, even if we accept the minimal facts as facts, there is no reason why they are the only facts that should be considered among the countless facts that might potentially be relevant to the question of the resurrection. The best theory is the one that fits all the evidence, not the one that fits a cherry picked subset of the evidence.

  2. August 24, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Thanks for your comments buddy!

    I’d like to give you an involved response, but I pretty much agree on all points!

  3. vinnyjh
    August 24, 2011 at 1:49 am

    It’s nice to get any response! When I make that kind of comment on Christian apologists’ blogs, it’s usually ignored completely.

  1. August 27, 2011 at 2:36 am

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