David Deming explores the definition of extraordinary evidence and how miracles relate to that.

Oct 20, 2016
David Deming

David Deming, "Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?" Philosophia 44, no. 4 (2016): 1319–1331

David Deming
Reading Public

[page 1327]

As the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century proceeded, revelation and the

miraculous came under attack and apologetics were proffered in their defense.

Writing in 1740, the Anglican latitudinarian Arthur Ashley Sykes conceded that

miraculous events required substantiation by Bextraordinary proof.^ BWhere there

is only an account of extraordinary facts related, without any extraordinary proof

of their being true, the credibility of them is lessened even by the extraordiness of

the facts^ (Sykes 1740: 206).

But Sykes was unwilling to conclude that the miracles recorded in the Bible were

fictions. He argued that the credibility of Christian miracles originated in the genuine

inspiration of the writers who recorded them. The best proof of this was the fulfillment

of Biblical prophecy. BProphecies…in Scripture do contain the foretelling of many

future events: the accomplishment of these events is the evidence to us of the truth of

the revelation itself^ (Sykes 1740: 208).

Sykes was not alone in his regard for the importance of Biblical prophecy. Isaac

Newton believed that the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy was evidence for God’s

providential rule of the world. Much of Newton’s time in theological research was

spent in trying to decipher prophecies in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. His

interpretation of these texts was published posthumously in 1733 as Observations

Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.

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