CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth



Introduction *


“Although Deists accept the existence of God,” writes William Lane Craig, including “his conservation of the world in being, and his general revelation in nature, they strenuously denied that he had revealed himself in any special way in the world.”[1] The philosophical worldview known as deism is at first blush an innocuous philosophy. It has often been said that looks can be deceiving. In the case of deism, mere appearance was but a façade for indifference, at least as it was directed towards revealed religion. This paper will examine the philosophical worldview known as deism by first summarizing deism, tracing its historical development, and then identifying the major flaws inherent in deistic philosophy. A critique of said philosophical worldview will also be presented. Included is a discussion of the apologetic response to deism. Indeed, this seems appropriate because said response offers a blueprint that the modern apologist can draw from when engaging deists. Because much of the western world is enthralled with this most pernicious of philosophies, it’s imperative that Christians know how to present the gospel to deists, and also how to engage this philosophical worldview.

Summary of Deism


A radical departure from religion in general and Christianity in particular was the rave during the 18th and 19th centuries. Mankind’s special place at the center of the universe was suddenly cast into doubt. History has labeled this movement, the Enlightenment. Broadly defined, the Enlightenment “dawned in Europe during the seventeenth century. Thereafter, miracles simply became unbelievable for most of the intelligentsia. The attack upon miracles was led by the Deists.”[2] It is from deism, a kind of middle ground between atheism and revealed religion, which has been the outpost for launching its critique of revealed religion. And let me no surprise that the deists targeted the religion of Christianity in particular.
            As a philosophical worldview, deism has paved the way for skepticism, and equally so, has been paved by skepticism. The philosophy of deism itself is thus an amalgamation of all things incredulous and the antithesis to the superstitious. Deism thus has a conspicuous appeal among the intellectual and enlightened individual, an open mind that has thrown off the shackles of religion.
This anti-super-naturalistic view is still held today among the intelligentsia of the world. It has crept into historical studies and flourishes in academia. Deism has had a devastating and lasting impact on Christianity. This deistic worldview spread fast, even the birthplace of New Testament scholarship, Germany, felt its wrath. In short, the philosophy of deism excluded God’s miraculous intervention in the created order. It was inevitable that subsequent “German Rationalists of the late seventeenth/early eighteenth centuries were willing, indeed, sometimes eager, to grant the historicity of the event itself.”[3] But supernatural causation, or the historicity of miracles, simply could not be tolerated. A miracle, properly defined as God’s interference in the natural order and the violation of established natural laws, was viewed as untenable to the modern man. Miracles simply couldn’t be believed. Moreover, from the time of Gotthold Lessing and Immanuel Kant, the historical process had been thought of as an insufficient means to justify the claims of religion. By excluding the miraculous from historical investigation, the Christian was left with mere faith, a term understood by the detractors of Christianity to be wishful thinking.
Because of the deistic rejection of the miraculous, New Testament critics throughout the nineteenth century found themselves trying to explain (away) Jesus’ resurrection in purely naturalistic terms. This gave way to many far-reaching and fantastic theories concerning the resurrection of Jesus. As Craig states, “Since for post-Enlightenment thinkers, miracles had ceased to be believable, a natural explanation would always be preferred.”[4] The Newtonian World Machine simply made the miraculous intolerable.[5] It was commonly thought that because of the mechanical universe, with its precise laws of nature, that miracles were impossible, the speculation of a more primitive time. Alas, God’s perfect creation of the universe dispelled their need.
Since the Enlightenment, belief in miracles has no longer been considered as having significant evidentiary value. It simply wasn’t possible, or at least historically credible, that God could perform a miracle in our scientifically accurate and mathematically precise, Newtonian universe.  It is thus important to remember that the deistic argument wasn’t over God’s existence per se, for this was challenged rarely. Rather, miraculous intervention was rejected on their perceived incredibility, something which the Newtonian universe argued against.[6] Since the beginning of this mindset during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of the more important thinkers who have advanced arguments against miracles have included Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677), David Hume (1711-1776), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), and Immanuel Kant[7] (1724-1804). Specifically, the critique of miracles from Benedict de Spinoza and David Hume has been long lasting.  Let us now consider the arguments in more detail.
            A retrospective glance at the assumptions of the Enlightenment, which was the engine of deism, becomes readily apparent. Miracles were simply dismissed out of hand and viewed as uncritical superstition. For the most part, Christian apologists did not engage the overt skepticism that the Enlightenment had brought forth, although some notable exceptions will be considered. The wave of skepticism that enthralled the 17th and 18th centuries can be traced primarily to the Enlightenment and to the increased rejection of papal authority during priori centuries. The above historical development of deism reveals that the Enlightenment’s emphasis on Newtonian physics was the prime reason for the deistic rejection of miracles. Miracles were simply not credible. Deism in general, and the critique of miracles specifically, thus deserved a response, and indeed, Christian apologist gave a plethora of responses. The specific problems with deism need first be addressed. To this we now turn.

Flaws of Deism


            As stated earlier, the philosophical worldview of deism affirms the existence of God, though rejecting that God interferes in the created order.  The Newtonian World Machine was the imperative for the deistic rejection of miracles. But still others rejected miracles because of the very concept of God. David Hume represented the former, Benedict Spinoza the later. Accordingly, miracles were unbelievable.
            But what good reasons are there for the rejection of miracles? The Enlightenment adherence to Newtonian physics doesn’t exclude the possibility of the miraculous. Rather, Newton’s laws merely showed that the universe normally operates in accordance with natural laws. It’s possible that a miracle could have occurred in history. Indeed, the very nature of a miracle is a non-ordinary event that God causes from a specific reason. Notwithstanding metaphysical naturalism, the view that excluded the possibility of miracles, a view of which deism generally rejected, methodological naturalism says that miracles aren’t believable. Consequently, Biblical miracles were thought to be unfounded, or at least, historically unverifiable. 
The critique of miracles offered by Hume is representative of much of the overriding historical situation. For Hume,
the evidence for the regular and repeatable is always greater than that for the irregular and singular. Science is based on uniform experience, not anomalies. Regularity is the basis of a scientific understanding. Therefore, science as such can never accept the miraculous. Thus, the principle of regularity seems to be the common thread of the anti- supernatural arguments. [8]
             Hume’s argument thus concerns the initial probability of naturalistic explanations, of which tips the scale in favor for a natural occurrence, against any miraculous event. It would seem that this may be true at face value. David Hume pushes the case against miracles further in his, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,[9] giving four arguments against the credibility of miracles. They include 1), miracles aren’t sufficiently witnesses by educated people; 2), wishful thinking is the modus operandi for miracles; 3), miracles occur in unsophisticated context; and 4), miracles occur in other religions and thus cancel out the Biblical miracles. Thus, Hume concedes the possibility of miracles, nonetheless giving them a low probability in the face of natural occurrences, while at the same time offering a natural explanation of all miracles. Hume’s argument can best be understood as an even if, but in fact type of argument. For Hume, the evidence for the natural will always be more than that for the supernatural and disallow the identification of the miraculous, but even a full-proof case for the miraculous could be presented, an equal full-proof case against their credibility could be given.
            As for Spinoza, miracles not only violated the unchangeable order of nature, they were also insufficient to prove God’s existence. This later point undercut the evidentiary value of miracles. Because God was conceived of as being all powerful, the question that inevitably arose in the minds of many was how God could have possibly created a world that required miraculous intervention.  After all, an all-powerful God could have created such a world from the beginning. Any so-called miracle simply proved God’s creation as incomplete, and thus a limitation inherent in the very nature of God. Moreover, all the
evidence that pointed to a cosmic intelligence also served to promote belief in a Deity who master-minded the great creation but who took no personal interest in the petty affairs of men. It simply seemed incredible to think that God would intervene on this tiny planet on behalf of some people living in Judea. [10]

Christian Apologists Strike Back


The responses from Christian apologists during the Age of Reason and post-Enlightenment periods were mixed. Had the Newtonian view of reality replaced Christianity? What about the interlocutors of Christianity that rejected the miraculous? Christian apologists gave robust defenses of miracles in general, and the resurrection of Jesus in particular. Their apologetic works were not only directed at deism in general, but also to the general philosophical objections of Spinoza and Hume in particular.
Deism
To the general philosophical worldview of deism, numerous apologetic responses could be mentioned. One of the most significant apologetics for Christianity was Bishop Joseph Butler’s (1692-1752), The Analogy of Religion in 1736. [11] William Law (1686-1761) also gave an apologetic against deism in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life in 1728 and his, Case of Reason in 1732. Butler’s apologetic was aimed at Toland, while Law’s apologetic was directed at Tindal.
Three other apologists that specifically defended the resurrection of Jesus, included Charles Pettit McIlvaine’s, The Evidences of Christianity in their External Division (1833; 1861), Brooke Foss Westcott’s, The Gospel of the Resurrection: Thoughts on its Relation to Reason and History (1866; 1891), and Alexander Balmain Bruce’s, The Miraculous Element in the Gospels (1886; 1899).[12] As others before him, Bruce addressed many of the interlocutors of the Christian faith during the 19th century, namely Strauss, Renan, Schleiermacher, and Lessing.
Still other notable apologists included Charles Leslie, author of the provocative, Short and Easy Method With the Deists (1697;1815).[13] There were also a myriad of other general apologetic, including, An Apology for Christianity (1776) and An Apology for the Bible (1796), both by Richard Watson.[14] The former a response to Edward Gibbon’s, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776); the second is a response to Thomas Paine’s coarse but popular attack on Christianity in The Age of Reason (1794-95). Thomas Cooper, The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time (1871) was another apologetic work that was based on his lecture defenses of the Christian faith, often asking, ‘where did Christian come from,’ and thus explaining historical events that are inextricable without Christianity.[15] In his small book, The Four Gospels from a Lawyer’s Standpoint (1893), Edmund Bennett, an eminent New York judge for over two decades and Dean of the School of Law at Boston University for 23 years, writes a significant legal defense of Christianity.[16]
John Locke also answered the Enlightenment thinkers in his, Reasonableness of Christianity (1695)[17]. Offering a more pietistic Christianity was Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), author of Pensées.[18] He believed that reason could never replace faith. However, there were other responses from Christians. 
Large historical compilations were also offered, including John Leland, A View of the Principal Deistical Writers (1754-55), a two volume tome.[19] Other mammoth Christian apologetic defenses during this time included Nathaniel Lardner’s multi-volume, Credibility of the Gospel History (1727-1755), Thomas Hartwell Horne’s, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (1818), and Adam Storey Farrar, A Critical History of Free Thought (1862). [20] All three of their works were influential. The last of which is exceptionally detailed, tracing the history of religious skepticism from Lucian, Celsus and Porphyry in the third century through Strauss, among others.

Against Spinoza

In 1685 “Jean Le Clerc attempted to present an apologetic for Christianity that would be invulnerable to Spinoza's criticisms. He not only tried to answer Spinoza's biblical criticism but also his philosophical objections.” [21] In 1705 Samuel Clarke gave a defense of miracles in his A Discourse concerning the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion and the Truth Christian Revelation (1705)[22].  Clarke argued that “the so-called natural forces of matter, like gravitation, are properly speaking the effect of God’s acting on matter at every moment.”[23]According to Clarke, the course of nature is a fiction. Moreover, demonic and divine miracles can be can be distinguished by their doctrinal context.[24] Jacob Vernet also argued for the possibility of miracles, even in light of the Newtonian World Machine. Moreover, “given the existence of God, it is at once evident that he can perform miracles, since he not only created the world but preserves it in being and directs all the laws of its operations by his sovereign hand.” [25]Claude François Houtteville defended the resurrection of Jesus in reply to Spinoza. For Houtteville, the very existence of God indicated that the possibility of miracles. Moreover, he “responds that natural law is not necessary, but that God is free to establish whatever laws he wills. Moreover, God can change his decrees whenever he wishes. And even if he could not, miracles could be part of God’s eternal decree for creation just as much as the natural laws, so that they represent no change in God.”[26] For Houtteville, miracles may simply be what we know of nature, not contrary to it. [27]
In response to Spinoza, Craig notes that it could be all too easy to dismiss his argument as pantheistic. [28] Spinoza’s objections can be summed up: “The question Spinoza raises is, in effect, how can God’s knowledge be necessary and his will be contingent, if these are identical?”[29]Vernet responded that “God could have willed to create a universe operating according to a different set of laws by creating things having different nature from the things he created.”[30] Less and Houtteville pointed out that God could have willed both miracles and the laws of nature from eternity, thus (Houtteville) representing no change in God’s nature. Concerning Spinoza’s objection that insufficiently of proving the existence of God by miracles, apologists replied in kind. The Christian apologists “. . . used miracles not as a proof for the existence of God, but as a proof for his action in the world.”[31] Thus, even though miracles weren’t proof of the existence of God, they were proof of the Christian God. Craig continues, “Contemporary philosophers agree that if we were justified in accepting only those conclusions proven with demonstrative certainty, then we should know very, very little indeed.”[32] As such, Clark and Paley argued that a miracle needn’t overthrow nature’s general regularity; at most it shows God’s intervention. To the point that a miracle was not the cause of a demon, Clarke and Less focused their answer to the theological context of said miracle. Thus, the “religio-historical context in which the miracle occurred”[33] is the key to its interpretation. But could a miracle really be the effect of an unknown law of nature? Sherlock and Houtteville, Le Clerc, and Vernet responded to this objection. Le Clerc and Vernet persuasively argued that when said miracle occurs at a given point in time, with its religious and historical context, and doesn’t regularly occur, and when the miracle in question occurs multiple times and especially at the direction as a willful act, it is unlikely the result of natural causes. Moreover, said event occurred at Jesus’ commands. Sherlock and Houtteville argued that unknown laws could be God revealing himself in history. It would thus seem that Spinoza’s skepticism is unjustified, especially the resurrection of Jesus.

Against Hume

A number of scholars sought to argue against the prevailing skepticism of David Hume. William Adams was one such Christian apologist. His An Essay on Mr. Hume’s Essay on Miracles (1752) was a direct refutation of Hume.[34] Another direct refutation of Hume came from one of his own countrymen. Like Hume, George Campbell was from Scotland. His A Dissertation on Miracles (1762) is unique in that he corresponded with Hume about the manuscript.[35] Although not specifically debunking Hume, Thomas Sherlock’s Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729) is most applicable, a book that concerns the evidence of miracles and prophecy.[36] Satirically, Sherlock presents a mock trial that accuses the apostles of hoaxing the resurrection because it purportedly violates the course of nature, something which even eyewitness testimony could not overturn. Sherlock goes on to relate that a man living in a hot climate could, using Hume’s methodology, never accept the testimony of someone saying it snowed. Further, Sherlock notes that if we only admitted “testimony when it accords with our prior conceptions,”[37] then no new knowledge would be possible. Thus was the same for Sherlock and Less who argued that Hume’s methodology would eliminate many natural events as well as miracles. The famous defender of the teleological argument for the existence of God, William Paley, also wrote A View of the Evidences of Christianity (1794), defending Christianity’s historical core against the skepticism of Hume and other deists, just as Thomas Chalmers’, The Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation (1814), and Simon Greenleaf’s, Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists (1846), had done in subsequent decades.[38]  Paley’s two-volumes on Christianity “is undoubtedly the finest apologetic work of that era in English, and it exercised such considerable influence that it remained compulsory reading for any applicant to Cambridge University right up until the twentieth century.”[39] His work included a massive critique of Hume’s arguments. As others did, Paley emphasizes that Jesus’ miracles should be understood in their historical and theological context. Paley and Less also understood that given the existence of God, miracles are not incredible. Indeed, “the probability that God would reveal himself nullifies any inherent improbability in miracles.”[40]Both also viewed miracles as not contrary to experience and thus human testimony can’t be nullified by philosophical presuppositions. For Paley, Hume’s argument against miracle lead to a skepticism regarding reliably established events that many people take for granted. The Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Richard Whately, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte (1819; 1874), his work “published while Napoleon was still alive, Whately turns Hume’s skeptical doubts regarding miracles against reports of the career of Napoleon—with devastating results . . . [the point] is that Hume’s extreme skepticism, consistently applied, leads to absurd results”[41]For Sherlock and others, historical investigation can establish the miraculous. Like Greenleaf, Hugo Grotius, both lawyer, defended the resurrection of Jesus in his book, The Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books, (1829).[42]
In response to Hume, it needs to be noted that contemporary philosophy views his probabilistic argument against the miraculous as a failure. Hume basic philosophical argument thus excludes the possibility of miracles, at least their historical credibility, by weighing all the evidence against it (natural causes), versus all the evidence for it (supernatural cause). In other words, Hume weighs the evidence for the regular against the evidence for the irregular. This is faulty logic for a number of reasons. By Hume’s methodology, no new knowledge would be possible. For example, no new scientific discoveries would be possible because all prior knowledge would count against it. In his attack on miracles, Hume merely weighs all the natural occurrences against said miracle claims, while never considering the specific evidence for the miraculous. Many natural causes might also be excluded from the pool of explanations of particular phenomena.
Bayes’ Theorem reveals the problem in Hume’s logic. Hume views the resurrection of Jesus as having a low priori probability. Accordingly, [Pr (R/B)] in which the resurrection “R” is thought to have a low probability given our background knowledge, or “B.” But Hume is mistaken here because he is only considering the initial probability and not other factors, such as the specific evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.[43] The specific evidence for Jesus’ resurrection would increase its probability. For example, the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, the origin of the Christian faith, and Jesus own claims to divinity, would make the resurrection for more probable: [Pr (R/B & E)]. [44] Thus, even though [Pr (R/B)] may be low, the specific evidence of “E” might well overwhelm Hume’s philosophical argument against the initial probability of the resurrection. In essence, Hume is asking us which view is more probable on our background knowledge alone: the intrinsic probability of the resurrection: [Pr (R/B)]; or the probability of the resurrection not occurring on our background knowledge: [Pr (not-R/B)]. But probability theory was unknown in his time and Hume didn’t know how to measure the probability of historical occurrences. Instead of merely weighing the evidence for the resurrection against our background knowledge alone, we should rather consider the probability that the specific evidence would be as it is given the event of the resurrection versus the specific evidence given that the event of the resurrection did not occur. Hume’s case for the resurrection as not being probable, given our background knowledge alone, is thus incomplete. Consider the specific evidence for the resurrection listed above, namely the empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, the origin of the Christian faith, and Jesus’ divine claims: [Pr (E/R & B)]; and the explanatory power of the resurrection not occurring: [Pr (E/not-R & B)]. In other words, Hume’s argument against the miraculous [Pr (R/B)], could be offset by the specific evidence for the resurrection: Pr (R/B & E)]. Thus, even though Jesus’ resurrection might be improbable in relation to the abundance of people that don’t rise from the dead, the specific evidence for the resurrection might tip the scales. Hume never considers this, but we will. We are left with [Pr (R/B) x Pr (E/B & R) / [Pr (R/B) x Pr (E/B & R)] + [Pr (not-R/B) x Pr (E/B & not-R)].Thus, if [Pr (R/ B &E) / Pr (not R/B & E)] = >.5 then the resurrection of Jesus would be probable.[45] Since the deists already believed in God we can re-state the calculus: [Pr (R/G & B)] in which “G” refers to God. But now, the specific evidence for the resurrection will be added to our background knowledge “B.” Thus, given our background knowledge, which would now include the specific evidence for the resurrection, and given God’s existence, the resurrection best explains the specific evidence. In response to Hume, given all the evidence, it is thus probable that God raised Jesus from the dead. Of course we don’t know the probability that God would want to raise Jesus from the dead so the effectiveness of Baye’s theorem is inadequate. However, an evaluation of Jesus’ divine claims, his moral life, in conjunction with all the evidence might well make this likely, or at least more likely than not.
But some deists might claim that extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence. But this isn’t necessarily true. “What is crucial is that the evidence be far more probable given that the event did occur than given that it did not.”[46] That is, what is the probability that the specific evidence for an event would be such a way versus the probability of such evidence given that the event did not occur? In other words, we need to ascertain if the event in question is more likely than not considering its relation to the totality of the specific evidence. Thus, the deist is simply wrong for demanding extraordinary evidence.  Lastly, what about Hume’s generalities about the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection? Regarding Hume’s four points, his first three points attack the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection as being uneducated. This wasn’t so with 1st century Judaism. A cursory look at the New Testament reveals their high education relative to other people groups, focus on memorization and attention to detail, the moral character of the writers, and historical context and events they report speak in favor of authenticity. Moreover, there were an abundance of witnesses to the resurrection. Jesus’ miracles thus didn’t occur amongst a barbaric society. The inspiration of the Bible, its consistent message, and the manuscript evidence might also be pushed here. Hume’s last point merely tries to evade an historical investigation. By its very nature, Christianity stands apart from other religions in that it can in principle be falsified. Against Hume, Paley and others argued vigorously for the credibility of miracles, specifically, the resurrection of Jesus.
Though the above marked the apologetic response to deism in general and the Newtonian World Machine in particular, not to mention the exploits of David Hume and Benedict Spinoza, to name but two prominent deists, the Christian apologists of old have also passed down a significant template in the form of an instructional manual. This template concerns sharing the gospel with the deist; a person who already accepts the existence of God. This last point lends itself to a presentation of the famous teleological argument for the existence of God. But instead of presenting it as a proof for the existence of God, since everyone already acknowledged this later point, the design of said argument might be used to show that God cares about His creation. This moral argument for the existence of God, an argument that presents God as the basis for morality, might also be employed in the same fashion. Thus, the modern Christian apologist can readily spot numerous flaws in the deistic worldview. But how should the Christian share the gospel with the deist. To this we now turn.

Presenting Christ to the Deist


How might the modern apologist share the gospel with a deist? It can’t be stressed enough how important preparation is. Just as sharing the gospel with a Mormon or Jehovah Witness might require more emphasis on Christian theology and exegesis of particular Biblical passages, the modern apologist needs more than a cursory understanding of logic and philosophy. There is no easy way around diligent study, contemplation, and prayer. As Colossians 2:8 exhorts: “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” The Christian apologist has at his disposal a rich history to glean from. The apologists of old met the deistic challenge of their day with distinction and wisdom. The strident skepticism of Hume, or to be precise, his methodological naturalism, was met with brilliant sophistication in his own day. This was the case with Spinoza as well. Apologists such as Paley and Butler met deism on their own ground: the mind set to ink and parchment. Unfortunately, much of their insightful apologetics fell on deaf ears due to the rampant religious skepticism that was sweeping Europe at that time. However, their model and legacy persists. We would do well to glean from them. The success of their apologetic is seen in the failure of the 19th century, naturalistic explanations of Jesus’ resurrection and the resurgence of sound, Biblical scholarship in our own day. The Christian that seeks a model for how to do apologetics need only to look to the past. Hence, my advice to sharing the gospel with anti-theists in general and deists in particular is to prepare, study, and let the Holy Spirit lead. As Luke 12: 11-12 says “. . . do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Too often we Christians are silent, perhaps intimidated by the cultural relativism of society. Confidence comes with preparation and focus and the studied Christian need not fear the oft intolerant, religious pluralism of culture.
Sadly, the defense of Christianity against the skepticism and deism of the Enlightenment was largely ignored. For the most part, the church abandoned reason for pietism, perhaps as a reaction to the perceived triumph of Enlightenment deism. But this triumph is greatly exaggerated and passé. As was seen, there was a significant Christian response to deism. But if truth is perception, as has often been said, the Christian response simply couldn’t be heard in the chatter of the pervasive skepticism of the period. But Christianity didn’t lose the battle of ideals during this period. However, such misguided thinking seemed to encapsulate the thinking of many during this period, and indeed, a mindset still present today.  Simply because a person, or a fashionable movement, the Enlightenment for example, rejects Christianity, this is no way speaks to its validity. Unless we as Christians collectively and individually decide to build a context in which the gospel is more readily accepted, then anti-theistic philosophies, such as deism, will continue to thrive. Indeed, this is the case in much of Europe today, a land that used to be predominately Christians but is only nominally so now. Notwithstanding the many exceptions listed above, if we Christians escape from culture and refuse to confront culture with an articulate defense of the gospel, the message of Christianity may once again fall on deaf ears, possibly for good this time.  Thankfully, we are seeing a resurgence of Christian apologetics.
In reaction to Enlightenment thinking, things dramatically began to change in the middle of the twentieth century. Current New Testament scholarship and Christian philosophy has seen a renaissance of able defenders of the traditional apologetic. As for contemporary research investigating the historical Jesus, by far,
…the majority of New Testament scholars today—not conservative, not fundamentalists—concur with the facts of Jesus’ honorable burial, his empty tomb, his postmortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection. . . . [I]t is a surprising truth, not widely appreciated by non-specialists.[47]

Similarly, the historical credibility of the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate miracle, has grown far more optimistic than once was the case. One prominent philosopher of religion has noted:
What is particularly interesting about the references theologians make to Kant or Hume is that most often we find the philosopher merely mentioned, but we rarely, if ever, see an account of precisely which arguments of his are supposed to have accomplished the alleged demolitions. . . . In fact, I must confess to never having seen in the writings of any contemporary theologian the exposition of a single argument from either Hume or Kant, or any other historical figure for that matter, which comes anywhere near to demolishing…historical Christian doctrine, or…theological realism.[48]
            Thus, when sharing the gospel with a deist, we simply need to be courageous. Unlike the atheist or agnostic, the deist is already committed to belief in God. There was no reason to try to prove God’s existence since everyone already grants this proposition. Instead, as the apologists of past did, we should focus on the specific resurrection of Jesus when sharing the gospel with deists. A prophetic apologetic might also be used in conjunction with an historical apologetic. Be prepared to use philosophical argumentation as well. Simply begin by presenting the gospel, possibly including the four laws of salvation, and let the context of the situation determine the sophistication on one’s apologetic. Again, there is no substitute or quick fix for here. We must commit ourselves to the study of God’s Word, philosophy, and to the study of the works of apologists before us. It is here that we’ll discover a tried and true template for sharing the gospel with the deist.

Conclusion

           
            The philosophical worldview of deism is alive and well. It emerged during the Enlightenment and persists today in indifference, anti-religious bigotry, and blissful ignorance. The perniciousness of said worldview has been long lasting. We see it in academia, culture, and it has even crept into the church. This paper has argued for a better way; a life examined and not merely lived. An historical overview of the Christian apologetic response to deism not only gives modern apologists a template to draw from, it also illustrates the need for Christians to confront this philosophy anew. When confronting deism, the modern apologist can thus glean from their insights and fashion a more contemporary apologetic for deism. The Christian that hopes to share the gospel with a deist would do best to consider the historical development of its philosophical development, especially its arbitrary skepticism towards revealed religion. The ultimate flaw of deism is that it’s simply unlivable. Nobody lives according to such hyper skepticism. With the growing secularization and religious skepticism in the world, it’s more likely than ever that Christians will need to confront an overt deistic skepticism. It’s thus always better to be prepared. As gentle guides, we Christians can present the gospel afresh to the deist. They might just find what they’ve been looking for, a God who is not silent.

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Craig, William Lane. “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22/html (accessed: March, 2013).
----, “The Problem of Miracles: A Historical and Philosophical Perspective,” Gospel Perspectives VI, pp. 9-40. eds. by David Wenham and Craig Blomberg. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, (1986) http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-problem-of-miracles-a-historical-and-philosophical-perspective (accessed: February, 2013).
Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith, 3rd Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
Craig, William Lane and Ludemann, Gerd. Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment. A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann. Paul Copan  & Ronald K. Tacelli, eds.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
Dulles, Avery Cardinal. A History of Apologetics. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005.
Farrar, Adam Storey. A Critical History of Free Thought In Reference to the Christian Religion. London: J. Murray, 1862. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002088446902;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Greenleaf, Simon. An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered In Courts of Justice: With an Account of the Trial of Jesus. 2nd ed. / London: A. Maxwell, 1847. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044019275049;seq=9;view=1up;num=i (accessed: March, 2013).
Grotius, Hugo. The Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books. Translated by John Clark, D.D. London: William Baynes, 1829. http://books.google.com/books?id=l-dw-KtxGEEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=jean+le+clerc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KegeUYrgCMa1qgH8sYCIDg&ved=0CGMQ6AEwCQ (accessed: March, 2013).
Historical Apologetics: 1697-1893: An Introductory Bibliography. http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/Historicalapologeticsreadinglist.htm (accessed: March, 2013).
Horne, Thomas Hartwell. An Introduction to the Critical Study And Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. New edi. from the 7th London ed. corr. and enl. Philadelphia: Desilver, Thomas, 1835. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.ah56ic;seq=11;view=1up;num=ii (accessed: March, 2013).
Hume, David.  Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals., 3rd ed. Edited by P.H. Nidditch. Oford: Clarendon, 1975. Chapter 10.
Lardner, Nathaniel. The Works of Nathaniel Lardner: Containing Credibility of the Gospel History, Jewish And Heathen Testimonies, History of Heretics, And His Sermons And Tracts : With General Chronological Tables, And Copious Indexes. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1788. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101067671832;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Leland, John. A View of the Principal Deistical Writers That Have Appeared In England In the Last And Present Century: With Observations Upon Them. London: B. Dod, 1754. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015053668722;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Leslie, Charles. A Short And Easy Method With the Deists, Where In the Certainty of the Christian Religion Is Demonstrated by Infallible Proof, [from Four Rules Which Are Incompatible With Any Imposture That Ever Yet Has Been, Or Can Possibly Be] In a Letter to a Friend. New-York: New-York Protestant Episcopal Tract Society, 1830. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044081752040;seq=1;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Leslie, Charles. Deism Refuted, Or, The Truth of Christianity Demonstrated: by Infallible Proof From Four Rules Which Are Incompatible to Any Imposture That Can Possibly Be .... London: [s.n.], 1755. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t3rv0f70k;seq=5;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Locke, John and John C. Higgins-Biddle. Reasonableness of Christianity: As Delivered in the Scriptures. n.p.: Clarendon Press, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed: March, 2013).
Licona, Michael R., The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010.

McIlvaine, Charles Pettit. The Evidences of Christianity, In Their External, Or Historical Division: Exhibited In a Course of Lectures. Philadelphia: Smith & English, 18591832. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002088442919;seq=11;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Morris, Thomas V. “Philosophy and the Christian Faith.” University of Notre Dame Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 5. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988.
Paley, William. A View of the Evidences of Christianity. 2 Vols., 5th ed. London: R. Faulder, 1796; repr. Ed.: Westmead, England: Gregg, 1970. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433068228034;seq=7;view=1up;num=1 (accessed: March, 2013).
Paley, William. Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, 2 Vols., 12th ed. London: J. Faulder, 1809. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uva.x001197535;seq=7;view=1up;num=i (accessed: March, 2013).
Pascal Blaise. Pensées. Translated by W.F. Trotter. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pascal/pensees.pdf (accessed: March, 2013).
Sherlock, Thomas. The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus. Teddington: Echo Library J. Roberts, 2006. http://books.google.com/books?id=LjOoG4WLB4UC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Thomas+Sherlock+The+Tryal+of+the+Witnesses+of+the+Resurrection+of+Jesus&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qfIeUeHtB9LSqAGpqIGgCg&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA (accessed: March, 2013).
Watson, Richard. An Apology for Christianity: In a Series of Letters, Addressed to Edward Gibbon, Esq., Author of the History of the Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire. Cambridge: Printed by Archdeacon, for T. & J. Merrill [etc.], 1776. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31822035064229;seq=28;view=1up;num=20 (accessed: March, 2013).
Westcott, Brooke Foss. The Gospel of the Resurrection: Thoughts On Its Relation to Reason And History. 4th ed. London: Macmillan, 1879. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nnc1.cr59990503;seq=7;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March, 2013).
Whately, Richard. Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte. 2nd American, from the 4th London Ed. Boston: J. Munroe and Company, 1843. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t77s8dz1v;seq=5;view=1up (accessed: March, 2013).
Whately, Richard. Introductory Lessons On Christian Evidences. Philadelphia: H. Hooker, 1856. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uva.x001141207;seq=7;view=1up;num=1 (accessed: March, 2013).
Wilkins, Michael J. and Moreland, J. P., eds. Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. Michigan Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 199.
Wright N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.


*I’m indebted to a number of sources from which my research drew heavily. These include: Dulles, Avery Cardinal. A History of Apologetics. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005); Historical Apologetics: 1697-1893: An Introductory Bibliography, http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/Historicalapologeticsreadinglist.htm (accessed: March); William Lane Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22/html (accessed March); William Lane Craig, “The Problem of Miracles: A Historical and Philosophical Perspective,” Gospel Perspectives VI, pp. 9-40. Edited by David Wenham and Craig Blomberg. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, (1986) http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-problem-of-miracles-a-historical-and-philosophical-perspective (accessed March 6, 2013); William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).
[1] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 248.
[2] Ibid., 248.
[3] Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus” http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22/html (accessed: March 7, 2013).
[4] Ibid. 
[5] Isaac Newton (1643-1727) laws of physics, conically known as the Newtonian World-Machine, proved that the universe worked according to three laws. Such laws, in the eyes of the deistic philosophy that arose out of this backdrop, were all encompassing and thus immutable. By definition, miracles were impossible.
[6] I am acutely aware of philosophers such as Benedict de Spinoza, a skeptic who believed the occurrence of miracles contradicted the very nature of God. He wrongly assumed that the laws of nature were eternal and necessary.  In other words, a miracle would contradict the very nature of God and would undoubtedly lead to atheism.  Spinoza thus denied miracles on a priori grounds, wholly apart from the evidence. For more information, see Craig’s, Reasonable Faith, in which Craig gives a more detailed discussion and response. Whereas Spinoza attacked the possibility of miracles, Hume attacked the improbability of miracles,
[7] Kant sought a middle ground between reason and faith. However, Kant’s bifurcation between reason and faith had the ultimate effect of pushing rational belief in Christianity, to the side so that mere reason could grapple with reality. In other words, Kant offered Christianity a proverbial seat at the back of the bus so that nothing would bother it. Kant’s middle ground had the effect of, instead of protecting Christianity from unjustified skepticism, pushing the miraculous nature of Christianity and its serious academic consideration, into smaller and smaller confines of knowledge. Kant tried to synthesize rationalism (reason) and empiricism (faith). The phenomena, or world of ideas, and the noumena, world of sense perception, became forever separated. In essence, this had the effect of making theological knowledge outside the grasp of investigation (apologetics) and therefore had to be presumed to exist, if believed in at all. The salvation of theology came at the price of becoming a slave to rationality and truth. Instead of protecting the truth claims of Christ and theology, Kant relegated it to wishful thinking in the minds of many. No longer could Christianity be known true in itself, it could only be presumed true indirectly. As was stated before, the replies of apologists fell on deaf ears because Kantian thinking because the norm.
[8] Craig, “The Problem of Miracles,” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-problem-of-miracles-a-historical-and-philosophical-perspective (accessed March 2, 2013).
[9] David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, 3rd ed. Edited by P.H. Nidditch. (Oford: Clarendon, 1975. Chapter 10).
[10] Craig, “The Problem of Miracles,” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-problem-of-miracles-a-historical-and-philosophical-perspective (accessed March 2, 2013).
[11] Butler “did not try to prove the existence of God.  Deists never denied this premise.  Nor did he reject reason; he accepted it as man’s natural light.  But he did challenge reason’s sovereignty.  ‘Reason’, said Butler, ‘provides no complete system of knowledge and in ordinary life it can offer us only probabilities.’” Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 2nd Edition (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville. 1995),  318.
[12] Charles Pettit McIlvaine, The Evidences of Christianity, In Their External, Or Historical Division: Exhibited In a Course of Lectures. (Philadelphia: Smith & English, 1859-1832). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002088442919;seq=11;view=1up (accessed: March 2: 2013); Brooke Foss Westcott, The Gospel of the Resurrection: Thoughts On Its Relation to Reason And History, 4th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1879). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nnc1.cr59990503;seq=7;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March 2, 2013); Alexander Balmain Bruce, The Miraculous Element In the Gospels (New York: A. C. Armstrong & son, 1886). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015064318960;seq=13;view=1up;num=7 (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[13] Charles Leslie, A Short And Easy Method With the Deists, Where In the Certainty of the Christian Religion Is Demonstrated by Infallible Proof, [from Four Rules Which Are Incompatible With Any Imposture That Ever Yet Has Been, Or Can Possibly Be] In a Letter to a Friend, (New-York: New-York Protestant Episcopal Tract Society, 1830) http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044081752040;seq=1;view=1up (accessed: March 4, 2013); Charles Leslie, Deism Refuted, Or, The Truth of Christianity Demonstrated: by Infallible Proof From Four Rules Which Are Incompatible to Any Imposture That Can Possibly Be ...., (London: [s.n.], 1755). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t3rv0f70k;seq=5;view=1up (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[14] Richard Watson, An Apology for Christianity: In a Series of Letters, Addressed to Edward Gibbon, Esq., Author of the History of the Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire (Cambridge: Printed by Archdeacon, for T. & J. Merrill [etc.], 1776) http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31822035064229;seq=28;view=1up;num=20  (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[15] My research couldn’t locate his, The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time, and I’m hoping, regrettably so, his autobiography suffices. Thomas  Cooper,. The Life of Thomas Cooper. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1879. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b675808;seq=9;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[16] Edmund Hatch Bennett, The Four Gospels From a Lawyer's Standpoint. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1899). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t8df6sv06;seq=7;view=1up (accessed: March 5, 2013).
[17] John Locke and John C. Higgins-Biddle. Reasonableness of Christianity : As Delivered in the Scriptures. n.p.: Clarendon Press, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed: March 5, 2013).
[18] Blaise Pascal, Pensées, Translated by W.F. Trotter (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.) http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pascal/pensees.pdf (accessed: March 5, 2013).
[19] Leland, John, A View of the Principal Deistical Writers That Have Appeared In England In the Last And Present Century: With Observations Upon Them, (London: B. Dod, 1754). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015053668722;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: April 26: 2013).
[20] Nathaniel Lardner Home, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner: Containing Credibility of the Gospel History, Jewish And Heathen Testimonies, History of Heretics, And His Sermons And Tracts : With General Chronological Tables, And Copious Indexes. (London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1788). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101067671832;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March 5, 2013);, Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study And Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. New edi. from the 7th London ed. corr. and enl. Philadelphia: Desilver, Thomas, 1835. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.ah56ic;seq=11;view=1up;num=ii (accessed: March 5, 2013); Adam Storey Farrar, A Critical History of Free Thought In Reference to the Christian Religion.(London: J. Murray, 1862). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002088446902;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[21] Craig, “The Problem Of Miracles” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-problem-of-miracles-a-historical-and-philosophical-perspective (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[22] Samuel Clarke, A Discourse concerning the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion and the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation (London: W. Botham, 1706)  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/clarke_s/being.toc.html (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[23] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 252.
[24] Ibid., 252.
[25] Ibid., 254.
[26] Ibid., 254.
[27] Ibid., 254.
[28] Ibid., 264.
[29] Ibid., 264.
[30] Ibid., 264.
[31] Ibid., 265.
[32] Ibid., 265.
[33] Ibid., 266.
[34] William Adams, An Essay In Answer to Mr. Hume's Essay On Miracles. 3d ed. (London: White, 1767) http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t3610x12d;seq=7;view=1up (accessed: March 6, 2013); “God has neither in natural nor in revealed religion left himself without witness; but has in both given moral and external evidence, sufficient to convince the impartial, to silence the gainsayer, and to render inexcusable the atheist and the unbeliever. This evidence it is our duty to attend to, and candidly to examine. We must prove all things, as we are expressly enjoined in holy writ, if we would ever hope to hold fast that which is good.” (emphasis mine)
Ibid. 12.
[35] George Campbell, A Dissertation On Miracles: Containing an Examination of the Principles Advanced by David Hume In An Essay On Miracles, The 4th ed. (Edinburgh: Mundell, Doig, & Stevenson, 1807) http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433068237753;seq=11;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[36] Thomas Sherlock, The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (Teddington: Echo Library J. Roberts, 2006). http://books.google.com/books?id=LjOoG4WLB4UC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Thomas+Sherlock+The+Tryal+of+the+Witnesses+of+the+Resurrection+of+Jesus&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qfIeUeHtB9LSqAGpqIGgCg&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA (accessed: March 6, 2013). Sherlock also wrote, Sequel to the Trial of the Witnesses, of which is a rare book that couldn’t be located.
[37] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 254.
[38] William Paley gave one of the most sophisticated Christian apologies during the 18th century. See William Paley, 5th ed. A View of the Evidences of Christianity, 2 Vols., Ed.: Westmead, England: Gregg, 1970) (London: R. Faulder, 1796) http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433068228034;seq=7;view=1up;num=1 (accessed: March 7, 2013); William Paley, Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, 2 Vols., 12th ed. (London: J. Faulder, 1809). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uva.x001197535;seq=7;view=1up;num=i (accessed: March 7, 2013); Thomas Chalmers, The Evidence And Authority of the Christian Revelation. Finley's edition. (Philadelphia: Published by Anthony Finley, 1817). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433068228265;seq=19;view=1up;num=ix (accessed: March 7, 2013); Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered In Courts of Justice: With an Account of the Trial of Jesus. 2nd ed.  (London: A. Maxwell, 1847). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044019275049;seq=9;view=1up;num=i (accessed: March 7, 2013).
[39] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 257.
[40] Ibid., 258.
[41] Historical Apologetics: 1697-1893: An Introductory Bibliography, Anonymous, http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/Historicalapologeticsreadinglist.htm (accessed: March 7, 2013); Richard Whately, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte. 2nd American, from the 4th London Ed. Boston: J. Munroe and Company, 1843. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t77s8dz1v;seq=5;view=1up (accessed: March 8, 2013); Richard Whately, Introductory Lessons On Christian Evidences. (Philadelphia: H. Hooker, 1856). http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uva.x001141207;seq=7;view=1up;num=1 (accessed: April 26, 2013).
[42] Hugo Grotius, The Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books. Translated by John Clark, D.D. (London: William Baynes, 1829). http://books.google.com/books?id=l-dw-KtxGEEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=jean+le+clerc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KegeUYrgCMa1qgH8sYCIDg&ved=0CGMQ6AEwCQ (accessed: March 8, 2013).
[43] Some Christian apologists believe that the  resurrection of Jesus does not have a low initial probability. Richard Swinburn, of who Craig mentions, is one such philosopher. Thus, even with the initial probability of our background knowledge, the resurrection is >.5
[44] Let r stand for the miraculous event; E stand for the specific evidence of said event; and B stand for our background knowledge of ‘M.’
[45] See Craig, Reasonable Faith, 271. for which I am heavily indebted. It seems to me that this probability calculus could function against any particular naturalistic explanation for the resurrection, or by grouping them all together. Either way, the resurrection would be at least more plausible than its rival theories.
[46] Ibid., 273.
[47] Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, eds., Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann,  (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 163; For a defense of the resurrection, also see: N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003); William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989); Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds., Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995); Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010).
[48] Thomas V. Morris, “Philosophy and the Christian Faith,” University of Notre Dame Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 5 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 3-4, as cited in William Lane Craig, Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? Eds. Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 163; Craig, “The Problem of Miracles” (accessed March 2, 2013).

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