sufficient evidence for a supernatural event
What would you accept as sufficient evidence for a supernatural event at some point in history, such as the resurrection?
We have many eyewitness accounts of dragons in China.
In April, Yonghe’s 1st Year, Dong Jin Dynasty (345 AD), two dragons, one black and the other white, appeared on Mount Long. Murong, Emperor of the Yan Kingdom, led officials of the court to the mountain and held a worship ceremony 200 yards away from the dragons.
We have many eyewitness accounts of witchcraft in Salem.
They accused her of having Familiarity with the Devil, in the time of Examination, in the shape of a Black man whispering in her ear; they affirmed, that her Yellow-Bird sucked betwixt her Fingers in the Assembly; and order being given to see if there were any sign, the Girl that saw it said, it was too late now; she had removed a Pin, and put it on her head; which was found there sticking upright.
We have many eyewitness accounts of a resurrection in Jerusalem.
Mark’s Gospel was the first canonical gospel, written approximately 70 CE. The earliest known manuscripts of Mark do not even have a resurrection narrative, beyond the young man telling the women that Jesus had risen. Later texts included resurrection appearances which bring this gospel more or less into line with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. However, the answer in respect to Mark must be that the earliest known gospel text did not mention the women speaking to the risen Jesus.
Matthew’s Gospel reports an earthquake that rolled away the stone. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary saw the angel who caused the earthquake sitting on the stone. The women saw Jesus later while on the way to tell the disciples of their experience. Finally, the eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee and saw Jesus.
In Luke’s Gospel, the stone had already been moved when a group of women arrived, but there is no mention of an earthquake. This time, two men appeared to the women in shining garments, apparently angels. Later, Jesus appeared to two men, Cleopas and (possibly) Peter, but they did not recognise him, even after conversing with him, inviting him home, and eating dinner with him. They suddenly realised that he was Jesus, (“their eyes were opened and they knew him”) but then he vanished out of their sight. At his next appearance, Jesus went to some lengths to assure them that he really was Jesus, showing the disciples his wounds, and finally being drawn up into heaven. All this happened in and near Jerusalem, not in Galilee.
Unless you believe in dragons, witches and reanimation of the dead, it seem wise to assume there’s something fishy about all these eyewitness accounts. So, if history tells us that reliance on eyewitness accounts may be a dubious manner to base our understanding of actual events, perhaps science can help us. Indeed it can, for science tells us we cannot rely on eyewitness accounts.
In one well-known study, Loftus and her colleague Jacqueline Pickrell gave subjects written accounts of four events, three of which they had actually experienced. The fourth story was fiction; it centered on the subject being lost in a mall or another public place when he or she was between four and six years old. A relative provided realistic details for the false story, such as a description of the mall at which the subject’s parents shopped. After reading each story, subjects were asked to write down what else they remembered about the incident or to indicate that they did not remember it at all. Remarkably about one third of the subjects reported partially or fully remembering the false event.
Dear readers, I would like to ask you, for I am unsure, what would you accept as sufficient evidence for a supernatural event at some point in history?