Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bart Ehrman and self-contradiction

When in an argument with someone, have you ever contradicted yourself?  You say one thing one moment, then turn around and say the exact opposite, just a few minutes later?  It appears Bart Ehrman is guilty of this when he discusses whether or not historians can conclude that miracles have happened in history.

It appears that Dr Ehrman cannot decide whether he thinks miracles are impossible or not.  This is a very key point, because in order to maintain an appearance of having an "open mind", Dr Ehrman must avoid saying (explicitly) that miracles are impossible.  Because if he says they are impossible (ie, probability zero), then he is assuming his conclusion without looking at evidence.

So, with one side of his mouth, he says that miracles are not impossible.   For example, in a debate with William Lane Craig on the Resurrection (transcript can be found here), he says, "What are miracles? Miracles are not impossible. I won’t say they’re impossible."

But in the same debate, with the other side of his mouth, he says,"by definition a miracle is the least probable occurrence."  He probably doesn't realize the implication of that statement, but as I've said before, if this is his definition of a miracle, then he thinks miracles are impossible.  A clear self-contradiction.

In case you think I am being uncharitable, he says that you can come up with any wild and crazy scenario to explain the empty tomb and the Resurrection appearances, and that scenario would always be more preferable than the Resurrection itself (a miracle). In other words, for him, in practice, a miracle really is the least probable event, and thus really has a zero probability.  Circular logic at its worst.