Bayesian Probability and the Resurrection: A Reply to Brian Blais – Jonathan McLatchie

If parallel examples exist with such complete and enduring healing from MS without the involvement of prayer, that would significantly undermine these examples as evidence for special divine action. If Blais knows of any such examples, then I invite him to offer them. Furthermore, it is legitimate to highlight the co-incidence between prayer and miraculous healing. When miraculous healing and prayer coincide, that does provide evidence that tends to confirm the efficacy of prayer. Indeed, if it is the case (as many atheists allege) that unanswered prayer is evidence against the existence of God, then it necessarily follows that answered prayer is evidence that confirms the existence of God. How strong that evidence is in confirming theism will of course depend upon the probability of the same result assuming only natural operations. In the case of the spontaneous healings of Barbara Schnyder and Irene McDonald, these seem to me to be considerably unlikely if we assume only natural operations. It thus contributes significant evidence that tends to confirm the theistic hypothesis. Jonathan Pearce rightly pointed out in the debate that there plenty more examples of where someone has asked God for healing and yet has not been healed. It is appropriate to take those cases as constituting some evidence against the existence of God. However, as I noted in the debate, there is an epistemic asymmetry — these instances constitute, piece for piece, significantly less evidence disconfirming theism than their counterparts do in confirming it. Christianity even predicts that some peoples’ prayers will go unanswered, since sometimes what we ask for is not what is best for us; or often God wishes to teach and shape us in the midst of our suffering. Sometimes even sin can hinder our prayers (Prov 28:9; 1 Pet 3:7). Thus, while Christianity does not particularly struggle to account for prayers going unanswered, naturalism does seriously struggle to account for the wide variety of apparently miraculous answers to prayer as documented by Keener and others.
— Číst dál

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