What is the counter-evidence problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
As we continue, McCormick starts this chapter with an ironic saying.
“Sometimes, our own psychology is at work against us, such as when we settle for evidence that is merely consistent with a favored hypothesis because it is easy and satisfying. Sometimes the sources from which we get our information adjust, tilt, or filter it so that we only get a partial picture of the real state of things.” (Loc. 2051)
Yes. That came from McCormick. It is one of those statements in the book that best describes him instead. It’s like reading him talk about Dunning-Kruger syndrome.
This chapter is about counter-evidence. It’s not enough that McCormick has ignored and misrepresented the evidence that we do have, he instead wants to move beyond to ignoring evidence to saying that unless there is counter-evidence then we should be suspicious. Because, after all, every opponent of early Christianity had to be writing about it!
Well, probably not.
At 2175, he says that the Bible we have came together over the centuries through a means that deliberately tried to minimize contradictions, eliminate alternative accounts, lessen dissonant details, and exclude counter-information that did not fit with Christian doctrines.
Why yes. Of course. This makes perfect sense. This is why the church rejected the one Gospel idea of Tatian. They wanted something simpler like four Gospels with different accounts. McCormick has spent so much time talking about contradictions and now says the books were chosen to avoid contradictions.
Of course, we know fake accounts would also have facts like the women visiting the tomb, Jews not believing in Jesus, his own family and brothers not believing in Him, Jesus being rejected in His own town, and of course, Jesus being crucified. We also know they would exclude that information that didn’t seem to fit, like Jesus not knowing the day or hour of the events in Matthew 24. Yep. That’s just what they’d do.
McCormick should consider thinking more about psychoanalyzing himself instead of the Christians. It’s amazing the things that will be believed just to avoid the evidence. Well let’s see how much worse it gets.
He also says the dissent, skepticism, and critical analysis that could have had the potential to deal with the Christian situation have been actively discouraged in church history.
I mean, seriously, do you have any examples of this or do you want me to take it on faith?
Now of course, you could point to modern churches, but that is in fact an anomaly. Most of the early church was busy exploring these questions as were the medievals and the reformers. Also, the threat of being shamed and persecuted in the early church would lead you to think twice about your beliefs. Of course, let’s remember that according to McCormick, ancient people are stupid so naturally, they wouldn’t do so. Today, we know so much better. (Although nowhere in this book does McCormick consider giving another explanation for what happened.)
At 2277, McCormick asks us to consider that there was a hoax and some of the disciples decided to spread some impressive stories and stage an empty tomb.
Now if McCormick wants to present evidence that this is the case, then he needs to do so. Does he have any? Pointing to the absence is just conspiracy theory thinking. It’s saying “Well of course that evidence won’t be here! It’s damaging to the cause! The fact that it’s not there is evidence enough that there was a cover-up!”
Never mind why also Jesus would have been crucified to begin with. Even if McCormick doesn’t say crucified, why be executed. Jesus had to have been making waves, but how? What rabbis of the time were being executed?
Then McCormick suggests to suppose that there was never an empty tomb at all. Maybe Jesus was buried and His body remained there.
Then the Christian movement would have been easy to stop. Everyone was so stupid that no one went to the tomb? Why also would the disciples start preaching in Jerusalem? Why not preach in a place like Athens or Corinth or somewhere far away where you couldn’t just walk down the street and investigate the claims?
McCormick also asks that if people today can think Michael Jackson somehow survived what happened to him, then why not Jesus? This would be comparable if this was a movement that was rapidly growing throughout the world and not isolated incidents and if it was able to convince people who were closest to the events.
McCormick also suggests that maybe an early believer was overcome with guilt later and admitted he didn’t really see anything. Of course, we have an anachronism as people then did not have the experience of guilt but that of shame, but does McCormick have any evidence of this? This is just bizarre to make your case based on what we don’t have instead of dealing with what we do have.
But then, we have seen that dealing with what we do have is too hard for McCormick.
This is indeed one of the weaker chapters. In the next we’ll start looking at the case more for atheism. Sadly to say, it doesn’t get any better.