This morning, I had an exchange with CounterApologist on Twitter regarding the question of whether the historical resurrection of Jesus is a datum open, in principle, to historical explanation. In this article, I’d like to expand a bit on one of the points I made in our exchange. I begin, however, with one of CounterApologist’s claims:
“Miracles could be admissible historical explanations, if god was kind enough to perform them for us regularly and verifiably in the present day as he supposedly did in biblical times. But he doesn’t do that, so they aren’t.” (source)
Interestingly, when CounterApologist posted that tweet, I had already responded to those claims. So I’ll summarize those points now.
First, I pointed out that one can discuss the resurrection question without invoking the concept of a “miracle”. All one needs is to look for evidence that a person was alive at T1, dead at T2, and then alive again at T3. If a person begins to live after having been dead, that is resurrection (at least in a minimal sense, if not the robust eschatological sense assumed in Christian theology). And one can look for evidence of that type of occurrence without ever considering whether it constitutes a “miracle” or whether it is, in some sense, “supernatural”.
Second, I pointed out that CounterApologist’s statement assumes that for X to be a legitimate explanation of a past event, X must be presently observable (i.e. “regularly and verifiably in the present day”). But this is clearly false: in principle, one can most certainly identify unique events in the past that do not occur in now in the present.