The Null Hypothesis
by Jesse L. Smith
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"For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard...” –Peter and John, Acts 4:20
Imagine that you and a friend were walking down a common residential street when all of a sudden a transparent bird flew by and lighted on a tree nearby. Looking at one another you asked – ‘Is that what I just thought that I saw?’ Seized both with curiosity and a little fear the two of you then proceeded to the tree and began to examine the otherworldly form. Sure enough, the bird was indeed transparent, with branches clearly visible through the bird’s body. Neither of you were experts in zoology but you both knew that nothing like that existed or even could exist on this earth. And yet – there it was, hopping from branch to branch as you observed it for over an hour. You reasoned that what you were seeing could not possibly be a delusion, because both of you were seeing the same thing at the same time. Ultimately the two of you concluded in a Sherlock Holmes fashion that, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
If the two of you then told others about what you had seen, it would be natural for others to doubt your story. Even if you had taken video and audio clips, detailed notes and observations of everything you saw, most people would probably think that somehow the whole thing was a hoax. Ultimately the very most important evidence would be the fact that you both witnessed the bird for yourselves. People would then begin to question your reliability as witnesses, whether or not the two of you were capable of collaborating to deceive others. In the end the only people to believe you would be those who were confident in your character as witnesses.
The evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus is not limited to vague legends of an inconclusive nature. Unlike many religions and belief systems, the claims of the early Christians were not based on the experience of a single individual that might be discounted as a mere delusion. Rather, they were based on countless firsthand witnesses all speaking the same thing. The twelve disciples of Christ were not the only people to live and die for the things they had personally witnessed. The resurrected Jesus was not only seen by an elite few capable of concocting some vast conspiracy, but over 500 people who were mostly alive when the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians. The Apostle Paul himself who last witnessed Jesus wrote to the Galatians, “Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” –Galatians 1:11
The accounts of Jesus and his miracles are not confined only to scriptures, but are a reality that is part of our history. There is no such thing as a secular account of the life of Christ that somehow omits or discounts the miracles he performed! When the Apostle Paul was being questioned about his beliefs before King Agrippa, he knew that the King was familiar with all of the events surrounding Christ saying, “For the king knows of these things, before whom I also speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” –Acts 26:26 The famous response of King Agrippa is not unlike many today who are fully aware of the reality of Jesus and his life, “Almost you persuaded me to become a Christian.” –Acts 26:27
According to the Null Hypothesis, it is impossible to prove any positive statement to be true. It is possible to disprove the alternative of that statement, but when it comes to truth you will simply have to believe one thing or another. Any ‘scientist’ who demands that you ‘prove God exists’ is being dishonest with their own discipline and system of beliefs. There can be plenty of evidence to support any given belief, but as creatures of belief we all make decisions to believe that go beyond what mere evidence can support. Unbelief is really belief in an alternative statement. Whatever you decide to believe, you must make a decision about Jesus Christ – His life, death, and resurrection demands the consideration of every soul on the face of this earth.
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