Post entitled, “The Facts Don’t Speak for Themselves” from now defunct blog, Grace in the Triad.
“Note: The following is my second exchange with a fellow who is asking questions about how a Christian ultimately determines the historical validity of the resurrection of Christ.
Thanks again for your follow-up query. You asked,
“The position that the correct interpretation of historical evidence can only be found through the lens of the true worldview, which is Biblical Christianity, is a fascinating one. Of course it is to suggest that there is no objective meaning to historical evidence, only a subjective one. This seems to pre-suppose the existence of God who is driving all evidence, which seems to reduce evidence to revelation. Am I on the right track or close to it?”
With all due respect, not close at all my friend. As noted previously, there are no brute facts in the mind of man, for all facts are pre-interpreted through a pre-existing grid that is already in place before the person evaluates the fact, experience, or data. This grid is known as a worldview. A worldview is defined as a web of beliefs through which all facts are interpreted and interrelated. Thus and again, the facts do not speak for themselves but must be interpreted. The interpretive lens through which a person develops conclusions about said facts as they relate to the rest of reality is informed by their already pre-existing worldview. For example, if you begin with a polytheistic Hindu worldview, you will fit Jesus in with all of your already pre-existing 330 million gods due to your pre-existent, presupposed, web of assumed, axiomatic beliefs. That’s exactly what many Hindus did when Christian missionaries went to India. Same goes with naturalism, New Age, Islam, etc. Historical facts are no different.
My position is that there is an objective meaning to historical evidence, but in order to first determine that objective meaning to anything whatsoever exists in the first place, you must ditch naturalism because naturalism isn’t a worldview that provides objective meaning to anything since it doesn’t provide the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of objective meaning. Matter in motion doesn’t have meaning, it just is. Meaning comes from a Meaner, and Neitzshe was astute enough to recognize that if inherent, objective meaning exists, then God exists because objective transcendent meaning can only come from an objective, personal, transcendent Meaner, i.e., God. Naturalism, in its most consistent form, says that we create meaning and impute said creation to historical facts, hence, the birth of historical revisionism and literary deconstructionism. I wonder if the deconstructionists have deconstructed their deconstructionist textbooks? This type of self-referentially incoherence is the intellectual problem with all unbelieving worldviews, including naturalism.
Re: evidence and the existence of God; if you are a consistent naturalist, you can’t even have a consistent philosophy of evidence. As noted previously, evidence assumes things that can only be true if God exists, namely, the immaterial, abstract, and universal laws of logic, the epistemic normativity at the back of logic and rationality, the reliability of the senses, and the principle of induction which lies at the back of all scientific investigation. But if there is no personal, transcendent, immaterial, uni-plural God, why ought I be rational? How does a naturalist account for the existence of the immaterial laws of logic that he uses to critique the resurrection when according to him, all that exists is particular, finite, material things? Given naturalism, how do I know that the future is going to be like the past based upon past instances of the future being like the past – i.e., the problem of induction? After all, according to the going theory for naturalistic cosmology, the universe essentially banged into existence without a cause and from no pre-existing material. If the entire universe can come into existence without a cause and from nothing, why can’t you turn into a sperm whale in 30 seconds and water turn into fire tomorrow? However, if I first begin a priori with the existence of the immaterial, personal, transcendent yet immanent Creator God of Scripture, then I can account for such things.
“Anyway, it seems to be an interesting notion until you run across a piece of evidence that seems to contradict this worldview in which case the Christian worldview must still stand.”
“The thought of ever losing an argument or a debate would seem to be remote.”
Debate presupposes the existence of the very God that the naturalist denies. Debate presupposes evidence, logic, and rationality, things that do not make sense on naturalist lights. In seeking to deny Christian theism, the naturalist must borrow certain things from the very worldview that he denies in order to deny it. See The Theistic Preconditions for Knowledge by Dr. James Anderson to get more of an understanding of my position.
“Two questions, and don’t feel it important to answer immediately. I understand that this type of exchange is not at the top of your priority list.”
True, but that’s because I’m a busy husband, father, and pastor, not because I don’t appreciate the dialogue over issues of ultimacy.
“1–What, in your opinion, is the best historical evidence that argues for the Resurrection?”
The Bible of course, as understood through the lens of a regenerated mind. People do not repent and believe in Jesus because they were bombarded with historical arguments per se, they do so because they have been regenerated (cf. Matt. 28:17). The difference between myself and Bart Ehrman isn’t historical facts, its the interpretation of said facts as understood by our preconceived worldviews and the Christian worldview is adopted not necessarily because we were intellectually forced into the Kingdom, but by virtue of God, through regeneration, causing us to perceive the truths of the gospel and embrace them as truth (2 Cor. 4:6).
“2–What, in your opinion, is the best historical evidence that argues against the Resurrection?”
In Church history, those who profess to know God but by their deeds they have denied him are a great impetus for an unbeliever seriously questioning whether the whole thing is true or not.”