Four Arguments from Silence

The “argument from silence” may be evidential support for a proposition, especially if one can make the case that the silence demands an explanation. See what you think of these Four Arguments from Silence:

1) The synoptic gospels contain a great number of epigrams of Jesus while John's gospel contains long discourses from Jesus. But some of the catchiest epigrams are the great "I Am" sayings of Jesus, and known around the countryside on highway billboards everywhere. It would seem that if Jesus actually spoke them they would be in the earlier synoptic gospels but they're not. Therefore, arguing from silence, it's likely Jesus didn't speak them, because the silence is telling.

2) We have no written record in all of the patristic authors that the empty tomb of Jesus was known or venerated for the first three centuries. Therefore, arguing from silence, it's likely there was no empty tomb of Jesus, because the silence is telling.

3) There is no known record of any ancient universal flood story in the surrounding areas of the Saraha desert, and in large parts of Africa and central Asia. If there was a universal flood then these areas should have universal flood stories like most all of the rest of the ancient world. Therefore it's likely there was no universal flood, because the silence is telling.

4) Matthew speaks of an earthquake at the time of Jesus' death and that the dead saints arose and walked the earth. But there is no such independent record of either of these events (Luke borrows from Matthew and adds to it), and it's quite probable that they would be mentioned somewhere by someone. Therefore, arguing from silence, it's likely that no such earthquake took place, nor that the dead saints arose from the dead, because the silence is telling.

To argue their case, skeptics must show that the silences are telling, that is, that it's probable that there should be no silences regarding these things. The Christian apologist's job is to show why such silences are not telling, that is, that it's probable that the silences regarding these things are not problematic.

2 comments: