Hi Daniel,

On Jordan's website he says you write:

I'm not particularly into the details of the probability issue in so far as the kinds of hypotheses noted, but I understood what I was reading [..] my specialty here is in the philosophy of physics. Holtz will make any argument so long as he does not have to admit that a human body can be raised from the truly dead.
No, in my essay on gospel probabilities I assign almost a 0.01 probability to the chance that supernaturality explains the gospels. Raising the "truly dead" is a standard trick in supernaturality.  Perhaps you did not read my first sentence, in which I said that few polemicists on either side of this issue "ever admit less than total confidence in their position".  I of course would not write that and then assert total confidence that a human body cannot be "raised from the truly dead".
My specialty here concerns the physics/metaphysics of power and of the laws of physics. In view of the belief that there is no supernatural, we logically have either 1) a set of physical laws that are not reducible to any more fundamental physical laws, or 2) infinite regress of physical laws. If the latter 'logical possibility' is the physical case, then Holtz's argument simply falls apart like a very-well-baked turkey. Nothing can be determined to be physically impossible, nor even improbable.
Metaphysics is nice, but don't forget epistemology. What we're concerned with here is knowledge -- i.e. justified true belief. If you stipulate (in case 2) that reality conspires for us never to have ultimate or even approximate truth, it simply is not the case that we can therefore never have epistemically justified (though wrong) beliefs about relative probabilities. It of course would be (and indeed is) always possible that all of our synthetic knowledge is wildly untrue, but that doesn't make all probability judgments equally justified.
If the human body is the product of a natural, probabilistically functioning evolutionary process beginning at the 'Big Bang', then, if we have an infinite regress of physical laws, it is nothing short of absurd to reject the idea that a human body can *readily* be raised from the truly dead. All that is required is either that an intelligent agent has the technology to do so, or that within the probabilistic physical laws underlying physical life there occurred a variation.
Indeed, and my essay mentions both of these two cases, assigning each a non-zero numerical probability.
As for the former of the two 'logical possibilities' within the atheistic paradigm: that of a fixed set of inviolable physical laws. This, of the two logical possibilities, is the position held by virtually every atheist who can well be said to know anything worth knowing. If there is a truly fixed set of physical laws, such that these laws were never not in effect, then we have a direct question of power in the following way.
These laws simply operate. Let me repeat that. These laws simply operate. This means two things if there is no supernatural:  a) nothing is making them operate, b) there is no mechanism by which these laws cause other things and functions to be which are caused by them. That is, these laws constitute an immediate and irreducible power upon the things of which they are directly responsible
You here make a common mistake. Physical laws are descriptions of -- not causes of -- the regularities in the universe. The fundamental regularities themselves are (so far as we know) brute facts, just as is any fundamental explanation -- such as god(s). The only possible exception is if there were a self-explaining fact or cycle of facts, and that possibility is actually orthogonal to the issue of naturalism vs. supernaturalism -- except inasmuch as supernaturalists usually say they know a self-explaining fact, and naturalists usually say nobody knows any such.
(and, there surely must be something that is an immediate cause of something else; to deny this would make the logical problem of infinite regress a picnic by comparison).
Sorry, but the principle of sufficient cause -- that every event must have a cause -- is not obviously true, as is recognized by metaphysics reference works such as Blackwell's Companion to Metaphysics, "causation", p.82. But here again, epistemology trumps metaphysics (as it has since Descartes) -- a more fundamental analysis is at the level of explanation rather than cause. In his Philosophical Investigations, Nozick gives such an analysis, which I discuss here and here.
So, where is the reason for why atheists and other secular(ized) people reject the claim that a human was raised from the dead? There is indeed a reason, but it is not found anywhere in physics.
Reject the likelihood of a raising, or reject the possibility of a raising? I agree with your argument as to why the possibility is not to be rejected. If you want to know why the likelihood is rejected, the answer is indeed physics, in combination with physiology, history, a little ethics, a little metaphysics, and a lot of epistemology.
We cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.
I think the fear of uncertainty explains more about religion than it does about naturalism. But I agree that far too many people lack the training or discipline or courage to deal with what modern philosophy tells us about knowledge and certainty and the problems thereof.
Many secular 'scientists' think that philosophy, as a realm of concern, is in conflict with doing good 'science'. They think that philosophy prevents a person from being a good scientist---especially if the philosophy is directed at the nature of doing physical science. They think that philosophy is, at best, an impractical, antiquated academic specialty. They think that a person cannot be very scientific unless he is taken out of the deliberate conscious enterprise of philosophy. Unfortunately, many Christians think that philosophy is not only an academic specialty, but that it is a wrong way of thinking. All these ideas are wrong.
As I told Jordan: Anyone who thinks of science as an alternative to religion is making a basic mistake. Science is not a worldview, and any "conflict" between science and religion is actually an epistemological conflict between skepticism and faith.
While it is indeed possible to take a person out of philosophy, it is impossible to take philosophy out of the person. Philosophy is thinking itself, and thinking about our thinking.
Well said. The very first paragraph of my book reads:
Philosophy asks the questions:
You continue:
Obviously, the better you do this, the better off you are in a world where falsehoods exist. To reject this natural field of study in favor of so-called 'science'---or, for the Christian, in favor of so-called 'spiritual' thinking---is foolishness.
I agree that, as inadvisable as faith is, mysticism is even more insidious, because it is much further from a mindset of objective rationality.
(There is really no more of a miracle in the fact that a man is raised from the dead than that he is alive to begin with. Both are equally miraculous, or equally non-miraculous)
This statement is simply not defensible, except by taking a specious sense of 'miraculous' to mean 'impossible'. They are obviously not equally probable or equally improbable.
But, ironically, precisely because the physical world knowable to the Adamic mind was supposed to be all there is, it finally had to be asserted that life was a machine and could, in principle, be engineered.
I suspect this is ironic only to someone who is trying to reconcile the conclusions of rationality with the cherished belief that rationality is a gift of god(s). To me, there is no "supposed" here (i.e. no evident Design), and non-vitalism/materialism was not really the obvious null hypothesis, but rather a conclusion only recently made justifiable by Darwin.
Fallen man has denied God in one or another ways. Of all the ways that man might do this, none is more seductive to him than the 'scientific worldview'. This was the view implicitly held by Adam at his fall, and it underlies all of his (ironic) errors. This view is described as the presumption on the part of man that his one great deliberative power, the ability to dominate the physical world by way of its physical laws, is sufficient to prove all things.
(See above about science as a worldview.) Anyone who thinks that the human mind "is sufficient to prove all things" is simply ignorant of what we know about minds and their limits.
If some hypothetical entity cannot be probed or manipulated, then, says man, that entity either does not exist, or could as well not exist.
Relax your phrase "be probed or manipulated" to say just "ever have a causal relationship with us", and you have precisely the definition of existence that is dictated by the principle of parsimony. Without such parsimony, you have no way of deciding which of the infinitely many logically possible causally-isolated things exist or don't exist.
The Adamic mind, once it had fallen to worshipping itself, could no longer see to learn the greatest truths, and is ever searching in the opposite direction. Today, with the 'scientific worldview' in full force, Adam has thoroughly messed up his thinking, and he doesn't even know it. He refuses to consider the nature of his past failures of judgment, so that, ironically, he is ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
On the contrary, we've learned enough to know that no mind can know e.g. apodictically certain synthetic truths, or completely objective ethical truths. To believe otherwise is to be an example of someone who "cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about [..] objective truths".