Recently I was listening to the Unbelievable podcast and heard something telling from atheist James Croft. As he was discussing the historical, eyewitness evidence of Jesus’s resurrection with Christian Chris Sinkinson, he said the following (this is a paraphrase of what he said):
The amount of eyewitness testimony of the death and resurrection of Jesus can never be enough to convince me, and it shouldn’t be enough to convince any reasonable person. I would never accept any amount of testimony as evidence of the resurrection. The only way I would accept the death and resurrection of anyone is if there were detailed medical records, and there were medical professionals there to verify the death, and I could stand beside the corpse myself, watching what happened.
Croft, therefore, would never accept any testimony of any resurrection from the dead unless he saw it for himself and there were medical professionals there to certify all the facts. But, of course, this means that he has conveniently set the bar so high that no resurrection claim from history could ever be believed.
By setting this impossibly high standard, Croft has to do no work, no investigation, no research, no thinking, no considering of the central claim of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus. For him, this would all be a colossal waste of time, because he has decided, based on his atheistic presuppositions, that resurrections don’t happen.
Croft is a classic example of the hyper-skeptic. Anybody who would say that no amount of eyewitness testimony from the past should ever convince anyone that a person came back from the dead is arguing not from a position of neutrality, but from an extreme philosophical skepticism in the tradition of David Hume.
Of course, the typical hyper-skeptic has no problem believing highly fantastical things such as the assembly of the first self-replicating organism by pure chance 4 billion years ago, even though the hyper-skeptic wasn’t there to see it, there were no scientific experts standing around watching it, and there are no written records from that time that we can examine.
Intelligent Design proponent Bill Dembski once asked hyper-skeptic Michael Shermer if Shermer would allow Dembski to write skeptical articles about Darwinian evolution in Shermer’s Skeptic magazine. Shermer declined. It seems that Skeptic magazine isn’t skeptical about everything.
The critical point to take home is this: hyper-skeptics are usually only skeptical about a small number of select topics, and are thus hopelessly inconsistent in their skepticism. Their skepticism is, in most cases, just a philosophical cover for being anti-whatever-they-don’t-like.