A Further Look At ECREE

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Before I begin the next series, which I hope to do tomorrow, I’m going to take the time to answer a message that came to me in the midst of prior series. Not wanting to interrupt an ongoing series at the time, I have decided that this is the opportune moment to look at the claim.

The claim revolves the use of ECREE, which is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. My problem with this is that the skeptical community has often used it as a conversation-stopper and that in many cases, what is considered as extraordinary is often unclear.

For the second, I am in dialogue with one atheist now who I am trying to convince that nothing cannot cause something. For me, that is a highly highly highly extraordinary claim based on my beliefs regarding metaphysics. Meanwhile, for him, the idea that God created the universe, is highly highly extraordinary, based on the holding of a naturalistic worldview.

Question. Who needs to provide evidence for their view?

If you said “Both of you,” move to the head of the class.

So at this point, I am not saying that I am opposed to evidence. My friend who wrote said that he is not convinced by people saying that they feel Jesus. Something similar can be found in many other religions. After all, Mormons feel the burning in the bosom and thus are convinced that the Book of Mormon is true, but those of us outside the Mormon church who have studied it and its beliefs, just don’t find that convincing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that subjective experiences play no part in determining what one believes, but they should not play the only part. Someone can speak about the evidences of God and of the resurrection and then also look at their changed life since becoming a Christian. That is entirely valid. (I would prefer them to start with the objective argument first however and have the effects from the subjective experience be a follow-up.)

My friend brings up the idea of someone claiming to have an interstellar spaceship and twenty people making a claim on a stack of Bibles that it is real. Now there are some questions I would have at this point. For instance, it would depend on who those twenty people are partially. If these are twenty people shown on a TV infomercial that I do not know, then I will not give it credibility. If, however, these people are people like my wife, good friends, family, leaders of my church, I’ll start thinking “Maybe I should look into this.”

Now I could go and see this supposed ship someone has for sale then and I might think “I need to get my eyes examined.” I go and get my eyes examined and I have a clean bill of health. I still see the spaceship. I think I must be hallucinating then, so I get a psychiatric evaluation and again, I’m given a clean bill of health. I still see the spaceship. I at that point have the salesman give me a ride and we travel throughout the solar system and come back. At this point, I must say that I am indeed a believer.

I have no problem with this and based on the kind of claim that it is, that is the kind of evidence I seek. An important consideration to keep in mind is that we evaluate claims based on the kinds of claims that they are. Suppose you want to know if Jesus rose from the dead. The improper way to do that, as would be found at some skeptical web sites that want to say Jesus never even existed, would be to pray and ask Jesus to heal everyone in the world of every disease and if that doesn’t happen, well then history obviously must demonstrate that Jesus did not rise.

No. The way to evaluate the claim is to look at the historical evidence that we have. If you find it to be faulty, on what grounds? Are they historical grounds or philosophical grounds or some other grounds? Suppose you accept the bedrock of Habermas and Licona for instance and say “I agree that Jesus was crucified, that the tomb was empty, that the apostles had experiences that they claimed to be that of the risen Christ, and that James and Paul, two people hostile to the message prior, became strong Christians.” Well and good. You then reply “But I don’t believe the resurrection happened.”

You are certainly entitled to that opinion, but I would then ask on what grounds do you dismiss it? For instance, Stephen Patterson in a debate with Mike Licona has said that the reason he rejects the resurrection is that he is a modern man. He believes that by resurrection it does not mean that God raised Jesus from the dead physically. Miracles just do not happen. He has to explain the data another way, and indeed he does attempt to do so. Whether someone finds his explanation to be sound or not is up to them. Does his explanation best account for the data?

Note that Patterson’s problem is on philosophical grounds. His belief is that miracles cannot be historically verified if they even happen at all. At that point, one can go to philosophy and demonstrate that miracles are at least possible. While demonstrating them as actual is best, we can at least get to possible.

The problem with ECREE at this point is just simply saying that in the face of contrary evidence that it just isn’t extraordinary enough without really explaining what is there. Now I am not saying that someone has to immediately give in to a lot of evidence. By all means, go out and study the information that you’ve been given for yourself and see if it’s valid and see if there are any valid criticisms of it.

My friend also included in the message information on homeopathic medicine. I do not claim to be an authority on this so I will not act on one, but I do agree with him that if homeopathic medicine is valid, then we should certainly see some results in the laboratory, and I say the laboratory because this is in the area of science and therefore it is fitting to study it scientifically. (Since some atheists who seem to think that every truth claim can be tested by science) We can supposedly explain some recoveries by the placebo effect. Does that mean we close the door on research? I wouldn’t say that. However, there needs to be more than what can be explained by the placebo effect.

I also like at the end that my friend stated that extraordinary evidence is really simple evidence that is probable given the truth claim. That is much better since he has given criteria. The atheist who is expecting that to believe Jesus rose from the dead, he has to have Jesus appear to him manifestly I do not believe will be satisfied, especially since God gave him a brain to use to study claims for himself.

I do appreciate the rejoinder to what has been said and I hope that my response has been helpful.


One Response to “A Further Look At ECREE”

  1. Articles « Loftier Musings Says:

    […] A Further Look At ECREE […]

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