Paul Arveson (
Wed, 9 Oct 96 09:08:49 EDT

Paul wrote:

>ICR also rebuts arguments about the early history of the universe, by asking,
>"How do you know? Were you there?" This argument implies that ANY inference
>about the past is suspect. In other words, drawing any inferences from the
> past is not valid. Alternatives such as instantaneous creation with the
> appearance of age therefore cannot be falsified in principle.
>So we see that neither experiment nor historical inference can decide
>questions about origins. That doesn't leave any empirical alternatives, so
>I guess we will have to take the creationist's (revealed) word for it.

Glenn responded:

Correct, but their argument here has very much broader implications. The thing
I have never understood about this argument, is that one can apply it quite
similarly to the resurrection itself. You weren't there. How do you know?
If such an argument is valid for origins, why is it not valid for the
resurrection? Both events need historical inference to support them. To rule
inference out in the case of origins, but not in the case of the resurrection,
seems inconsistent.


I (Paul) was being facetious. I don't agree with the creationist use (or abuse)
of skepticism in relation to all events in the past. This basically does away
with reason. My direct point is that the selective rejection of experimental
evidence and historical evidence is either irrational or dishonest. It's a
desperate move, like "appearance of age". In Francis Bacon's blunt words,

"Others with more subtlety surmise and reflect that if second causes are unknown
everything can more readily be referred to the divine hand and rod; a point in
which they think religion to be greatly concerned; which is in fact nothing else
but to seek to gratify God with a lie."

So (I believe) the question of the resurrection is on the same level as any
other event in history. It is subject to the same kinds of evidence (multiple
witnesses, written corroboration etc.) as any other event. So, Glenn, you are
correct in saying that asking "how do you know?" in regard to the Big Bang is
the same as saying "how do you know?" in relation to the resurrection. But it's
the creationists who are asking both of these questions, not me. Ironically,
creationist skepticism about the past brings their own religion into question.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20084
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)