Q&A – What Would Convince Me that I’m Wrong?

wrong“I’ve never met someone who holds your position before, so I’ve found this exchange quite intriguing. I hope you won’t mind a question: what would it take for you to be convinced that you’re wrong? Not trying to be sly, it’s just a question that I think anyone searching for the truth should have answered at some point.”

-Ryder.

As I explained in a recent Q&A I am a theological rationalist; in other words, I prioritize evidence and weigh it in the context of claims that have theological significance. For example, Jesus’ resurrection would be a good illustration of this. When it comes to the resurrection I weigh historical evidence and arguments and come to a conclusion that I think makes the best sense of the data. Obviously the resurrection has theological significance as portrayed by the claims surrounding it. Could I be wrong? Of course, but I wish to do my best in coming to an informed conclusion.

So, as you ask, “what would it take for you to be convinced that you’re wrong?” To convince me that I am wrong a skeptic would have to confront me on the grounds of my theological rationalism. But, firstly, what does this exclude? And what will not convince me that I am wrong, but that are common arguments skeptics make against Christianity? To start things like biblical contradictions, moral atrocities, alleged ancient biblical absurdities, and all sorts of critiques that one can find on any atheist forum or website. These things hardly matter in the context of my theological rationalism. Of course such things matter to Christians who uphold biblical inerrancy and a certain idea of how the Bible is meant to be, but for me whether there are moral atrocities in the Bible (there are), or contradictions (there are), and so on, says nothing about the conclusion that I have come to grounded on the evidence in favour of Jesus’ divinity and resurrection.

So, that is where one would need to undermine me, namely on the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and divinity. Obviously if one could somehow prove God does not exist (which of course will never happen as most educated atheists will inform you. Likewise we will never “prove” that God really exists) then I would have a bit of a problem since a requirement of Christianity is that God exists. I also think, given the theistic arguments from science, philosophy and history, it is more probable that God exists than not. Obviously the skeptic will disagree and assert that his set of arguments shows that it is more probable that God does not exist than him existing. But if I found that to be convincing then I wouldn’t be a believer in God.

Moreover, if the tomb of Jesus was really found and uncovered, and somehow the bones were to found in the ossuary, then that would certainly be a knockdown blow to Christianity as we know it. If there are bones in the tomb then it directly implies that there was never a bodily resurrection as the earliest Christians claimed there was. However, we have several persuasive lines of evidence that Jesus’ tomb was really found empty. Alternatively, if a hypothesis opposed to the resurrection hypothesis were proposed and of which I found compelling then I would be obligated to accept it. However, the most common skeptical hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, happens to be the one that has the most refutations to it. So, given that I am more than happy to go with the resurrection hypothesis since it is far less ad hoc, and has far more in terms of explanatory scope.

Finally, if say Jesus’ bones were uncovered and my Christianity undermined as a result, I wouldn’t become an atheist. Many people have this false dichotomy in their mind that it’s either belief in Christianity or belief in atheism. However, I’ve argued before that atheism itself is a radical philosophy and is certainly not a default position. There are many other worldviews besides atheism that I think better explain human experience, the miraculous, and so forth. In fact, I would argue that too much is stacked against atheism for it to be a rational worldview to hold to. It’s explanatorily deficient in terms of overwhelming human experience, and especially supernatural phenomena in the universe such as miracles, and so on.

So, in ending I don’t see myself as being unreasonable in terms of intellectual engagement and in my weighing of evidence. I am certainly not saying I’m unbiased (everyone’s biased) but I do want to come to a conclusion that I believe is true. In fact, in pursuit of truth I’ve changed my views many times which has led to some of the most uncomfortable moments in my life. But that’s what happens when one is open minded to evidence and possesses a willingness to change.

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