What is the proper burden of proof?
What should be the burden of proof when evaluating the evidence? Legal standards vary with the seriousness of the issue: preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, or as some would like it – beyond even a shadow of a doubt. A few will freely admit that no amount of evidence will convince them.
A good question to ask yourself when thinking about the resurrection is: what standard will I use when deciding whether this event really happened? May I suggest that you ask yourself this question: What standard do I usually apply when making important decisions? Most often we have a great deal of uncertainty. Should I move across the country to take a new job? Who should I marry? Is this the right house to buy? We can make a list of the pros and cons. Ask advice from friends.
Okay, so those are personal decisions. What about factual matters? Have you ever been on a jury? In a criminal case, the judge instructs that the case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That burden seems reasonable when someone’s freedom is at stake. And when judging the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your freedom is also at stake, not for your lifetime only, but for eternity. The Bible says that we are in bondage to sin but that the truth can make us free. And Jesus said He is the Truth.
Rarely does one have proof to an absolute certainty. The jury can listen to the testimony of eye-witnesses and experts, view exhibits, and make reasonable and logical inferences from circumstantial evidence. Often a finder-of-fact is forced to choose among competing arguments with a paucity of information. But choose we must when the case comes to our position on Jesus. As He said “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30. So the default position is to reject the resurrected Jesus. But as the evidence will show, the proof is more than adequate to support the case that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
QUESTION: What standard will you use and why?