Who Were the Apostles: Combinational Approaches

So, by now, we’ve exhausted all the individual options for explaining the New Testament accounts (except one: that they were honest men telling the truth)!  Since the process of elimination means that the one possibility left standing must represent the truth, we are well justified in believing the Gospels. However, the skeptic still has one option left open. Many skeptics will attempt a combinational approach to explaining away the gospels, picking and choosing at will from the various explanations we’ve already discussed. There is really no limit to how many individual theories could be constructed in this way. Perhaps, for example, one will theorize that the apostles had some hallucinations for whatever reason, but they were vague and unclear, and then over time with the retelling they became more and more embellished by their followers. So this would be a combination of the hallucination theory and the legend hypothesis.

However, the simple problem with this method is this: stacking many leaky buckets does not make a good bucket that holds water. They will all just leak the same. In other words, since each element of the explanation fails to line up with the facts, the explanation as a whole fails. In the case of the hypothetical explanation I mentioned above, it fails mostly for all the same reason that the simple ‘legend hypothesis’ itself fails. The evidence contradicts the idea that the New Testament represents legendary development- hallucinations or not! In this way it becomes clear that adding together these failed explanations in creative combinations does nothing to further the case against the New Testament.

But I think we can say even more about this approach. In the field of philosophy, there is a universally-recognized principle of good reasoning known as Ockham’s Razor. This says that, “One should not multiply explanations beyond what is necessary to account for the event.” Or in other words, simple, elegant explanations are to be preferred when possible over complex, bloated ones. For example, if one finds a chair painted red, the simplest explanation would be, “Someone painted it red.” It would not be preferable to hypothesize that, “Someone painted it yellow, then removed the paint, then repainted it red,” since the evidence does not demand such a bloated explanation, and the simpler one will suffice. In the same way, by multiplying these explanations to create a bloated conglomeration, we violate Ockham’s Razor, since there is a simple and elegant explanation available to us: that the disciples were really telling the truth! The only reason people refuse to go this route is that they do not want that to be the truth. Their thinking is heavily biased against the supernatural, in most cases, because they’ve bought into the lie of naturalism. But, if the Bible is true, it’s the most relevant and important thing in the world! It has a huge bearing on all the most important questions we ask in life, and it affects how we live daily. People who are in rebellion against that truth will prefer any explanation, no matter how bloated it may be, to the simple one that requires them to bend the knee to Jesus Christ. Don’t be like those stubborn people. I invite you to join me in serving and worshiping our God and Savior Jesus Christ. God bless you.


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