Miracles and Reasonable Doubt: Philosopher Stephen Law Weighs in on the Historicity of Jesus

Philosopher Stephen Law recently offered a novel reason for doubting the historicity of Jesus:

If two friends tell me that a man called Bert visited them at home last night, I have every reason to believe them. That’s evidence enough.

But if they then tell me that Bert flew around the room, then dropped dead, and them came back to life again, before turning the sofa into a donkey, well then that’s no longer nearly good enough evidence that they are telling the truth, is it?

In fact, not only am I justified in rejecting their testimony about the miracles, I would now also be wise to suspend judgement on whether any such person as Bert even exists, let alone did the things they claim.

In other words, even if one were to concede that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses (and Law does not concede this), the very fact that the gospels attribute miracles to Jesus reduces the probability that Jesus himself actually existed.


Law’s full discussion can be read here: http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/08/to-deny-that-jesus-was-solid-historical.html

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Miracles and Reasonable Doubt: Philosopher Stephen Law Weighs in on the Historicity of Jesus

  1. Ken says:

    I am not familiar with Stephen Law. Do you know why the question of whether Jesus existed on not concerns him?

    Does it concern you? I sense that something may be at stake here for you.

  2. santitafarella says:


    Law is a professor at a university in London, and an author of a number of philosophy books, including a particularly interesting one on children and education.

    As for my concern with the issue, I suppose it’s just gnawing at an old bone that I return to from time to time.

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