Evidence, Miracles, and the Existence of Jesus: Comments on Stephen Law

Faith and Philosophy 31 (2):204-216 (2014)
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We use Bayesian tools to assess Law’s skeptical argument against the historicity of Jesus. We clarify and endorse his sub-argument for the conclusion that there is good reason to be skeptical about the miracle claims of the New Testament. However, we dispute Law’s contamination principle that he claims entails that we should be skeptical about the existence of Jesus. There are problems with Law’s defense of his principle, and we show, more importantly, that it is not supported by Bayesian considerations. Finally, we show that Law’s principle is false in the specific case of Jesus and thereby show, contrary to the main conclusion of Law’s argument, that biblical historians are entitled to remain confident that Jesus existed.
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