Jesus vs. The Mighty Redwood
Please consider the following two narratives. One story is widely believed (with adherents numbering in the billions), while the other has—to my knowledge—no adherents. Analyze each narrative’s plausibility, and think about whether one is more probable than the other is.
Narrative One: Around the year 33 CE, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified for his perceived crimes against the powers of the day. Jesus, being the Son of God, rose bodily from the dead a few dozen hours later. All the crippling effects of death miraculously were reversed. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus appeared to several individuals, in assorted places, during the course of the next 40 days, apparently fully recovered from brain death’s ravages. Eventually, Jesus ascended to Heaven.
Narrative Two: Around the year 33 CE, in what now is known as the U.S. state of California, a Sierra Redwood spontaneously uprooted itself. There were several eyewitnesses to the event, each one of whom testified that, after the uprooting incident, the Sierra Redwood used its roots as makeshift legs to walk away. What eventually happened to the giant tree is unknown, but, according to historical documents, people from far-flung locales visited the former resting place, marveling at the tree’s wondrous departure.
Which narrative seems more plausible, and why?
Does either story—or both—count as an extraordinary claim?
Do you accept the maxim “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”?
Finally, does one narrative warrant widespread belief, given the evidence we currently possess?
I submit the following answers:
· Both stories are equally implausible, given their violations of the known principles of nature.
· Both stories clearly are extraordinary claims, given the natural principle violations to which I referred.
· I accept the ECREE maxim as a valid, useful tool which helps to overcome human fallibility and achieve genuine knowledge about the world in which we live.
· Given the dearth of extraordinary evidence, neither claim warrants widespread belief or any degree of confidence whatsoever. Both stories should be set aside tentatively, in hopes that better evidence eventually will materialize to either confirm or deny their validity.
The road to truth is paved with evidence.