Concerning the Doubting Thomas passage in the Gospel of John, it’s often argued by contemporary apologists that Jesus didn’t scold Thomas for his demand for evidence of the resurrection as such, but merely affirmed the value of testimony: “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.”
But if the Gospel of John was written around 90 CE, why should we put so much stock in the claims of supposed eyewitnesses made 60 years prior–let alone believe the second-hand testimony of others living at the time the book was written?
And recall that the resurrection is not just a claim, but an extraordinary claim. David Hume was the first to note that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and we should “apportion belief to the evidence.” No matter how honest, sincere, or earnest a believer bearing witness to an experience, when it comes to a miraculous claim, it is always possible—indeed, likely—that he or she has misinterpreted that experience. And so independent verification of the data upon which the experience is based is a reasonable request. And that, of course, is what Thomas sought: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Thomas had it exactly right. This is not an impious thing to insist upon; it is something that one says when you have a commitment to: (1) truth; and (2) getting the truth of matters right. The great American patriot, Thomas Paine, held the same view. In Part I of his The Age of Reason, he wrote this: “Thomas did not believe the resurrection; and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I; and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.”
And regarding the nature of eyewitness testimony, Thomas Paine wrote this: “It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.”