Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?
by Tim Barnett
Not long ago, I gave a presentation on the historical evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus at the University of Waterloo. This was a great event put on by Power to Change with many Christians and non-Christians in attendance.
Immediately following my talk, there was a Q&A time where people could text in their questions to a phone number that was on the screen. One particular question that came up that night was, “Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?”
This is such a common question that I thought I would sketch a brief outline of my response.
First, the answer is “No!” Extraordinary claims do not require extraordinary evidence. Claims—extraordinary or otherwise—only require evidence. If there is good evidence to support the resurrection of Jesus, then it is completely rational to hold that Jesus rose from the dead.
Second, the question needs to be asked: Why does the adjective applied to the claim need to be the same adjective applied to the evidence? For example, do hilarious claims require hilarious evidence? Of course not! So even though the claim that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” may sound catchy, there isn’t any good reason to think it’s actually true.
Furthermore, whenever this claim comes up in conversations I always have a question ready. I ask…
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