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Bigfoot was brought up by Joe Rogan during his interview with Stephen Meyer, as discussed in Paulogia's review of the interview in this video:

Stephen Meyer: And then that there were reports that he had been, that he had appeared to many after being resurrected. So there's a whole ...

Joe Rogan: Right, but there's reports of Bigfoot.

Paulogia: Right again Joe, but at least for Bigfoot we have first-hand reports. For Jesus's resurrection all we have are reports of reports. At best. More likely, reports of reports of reports of reports. Bigfoot is in higher evidential standing.

Another atheist source similarly asserts:

Bigfoot Has More Eyewitness Claims Than Jesus Christ’s Resurrection

Indeed, according to Wikipedia (which in turn cites other sources):

Sightings

According to Live Science, there have been over 10,000 reported Bigfoot sightings in the continental United States. About one-third of all claims of Bigfoot sightings are located in the Pacific Northwest, with the remaining reports spread throughout the rest of North America. Most reports are considered mistakes or hoaxes, even by those researchers who claim Bigfoot exists.

Sightings predominantly occur in the northwestern region of Washington state, Oregon, Northern California, and British Columbia. According to data collected from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization's (BFRO) Bigfoot sightings database in 2019, Washington has over 2,000 reported sightings, California over 1,600, Pennsylvania over 1,300, New York and Oregon over 1,000, and Texas has just over 800. The debate over the legitimacy of Bigfoot sightings reached a peak in the 1970s, and Bigfoot has been regarded as the first widely popularized example of pseudoscience in American culture.

To provide additional material for consideration, here is a two-part interview with a Bigfoot eyewitness that a Reddit user recommended here: part one and part two. (It's interesting to note there's a whole Reddit community dedicated to Bigfoot.)

So, the atheistic argument from analogy goes something like this: Given the multitude of eyewitness reports supporting Bigfoot's existence, with many still alive and accessible for interview today, it's still deemed rational by most people to dismiss Bigfoot's existence, because most people consider the evidence weak and uncompelling given such an extraordinary claim (i.e., the well-known "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"). Thus, if we use the same epistemology consistently, says the atheist, shouldn't we also dismiss claims about Jesus' resurrection? After all, this is similarly an extraordinary claim, and the evidence available is arguably even weaker, as the number of purported witnesses is far fewer, and none are alive today for interrogation (and as Paulogia remarks in the video linked at the beggining, it's quite likely that what we have is not even reports of reports, but reports of reports of reports of reports).

How do Christians break the symmetry? How is this atheistic argument from analogy invalid?


Note. There is a similar purported analogy between Jesus' resurrection and the golden plates. The following is a very thought-provoking discussion: Why do non-LDS Christians accept the testimonies of the apostles but reject the testimonies of the 3 & 8 witnesses to the golden plates?

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Christianity Meta, or in Christianity Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Apr 18 at 16:25
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    You should not make substantive changes to your question after answers have been posted.
    – user76284
    Commented Apr 19 at 1:30
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    The eyewitnesses for bigfoot are dismissed for the exact same reason the eyewitnesses for Jesus are accepted: We didn't find a body. Commented Apr 19 at 19:55
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    This is clearly a category error. Comparing the evidence of a long past historical event to the evidence for the existence of a current species??? I mean, to me, if you jump to this and go, "Yeah, those silly Christians," I just can't even bother to continue the conversation. I have to assume that Stephen Meyer suffers from some kind of dunning kruger pathology. Commented Apr 19 at 19:58

10 Answers 10

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(Note: throughout, I assume we're only discussing post-Resurrection sightings.)

There are at least five symmetry breakers (for the sake of making this Answer as complete as possible, I am shamelessly stealing two from vsz's Answer to add to my original three):

Bigfoot sightings are less reliable.

Bigfoot sightings seldom have high quality concrete evidence associated with them, and are often debunked. Such "sightings" also often consist of a brief and obscured glance. "Jesus sightings" weren't just sightings; people touched Him, spoke with Him, and ate with Him over sustained periods of time. The difference is thinking you saw Stan Lee out of the corner of your eye versus sitting down and eating a meal with Stan Lee. Contemporary opponents also lack a documented history of being able to refute such sightings.

Another point is that bigfoot sightings rarely involve more than one person at a time. On at least one occasion, Jesus was seen by hundreds of people at once.

(Corollary) Bigfoot sightings are "easier".

Having noted that most sightings are based on evidence of questionable reliability, it follows that it takes less evidence to produce a "sighting". As a result, we would naturally expect the number of sightings to be higher, since the set of "Jesus sightings" to which we're comparing doesn't include everyone that only thought they caught a glimpse of Jesus.

Additionally, the existence of the "bigfoot meme" likely leads to a certain predisposition to interpreting something unfamiliar as a "bigfoot"; that is, there is some subconscious expectation that one might see a "bigfoot". By contrast, the early disciples didn't expect to see a Resurrected Jesus, as evidences by their initial exhibition of fear and despair. Indeed, one of the earliest sightings mistook Jesus for a gardener!

It should be mentioned that there are contemporary claims of people seeing Jesus (albeit not as a corporeal entity). If these are included, the ratio of sightings improves significantly. However, these are subject to similar potential issues and are therefore less reliable that the testimonies recorded in Scripture. Additionally, if one is arguing in terms of number of sightings, these latter sightings seem to be implicitly excluded.

For more on extra-biblical reports of "Jesus sightings", see Christophany.

Bigfoot sightings are more temporally sparse.

I don't have exact data handy, but the Question mentions 1970 and 2019, which indicates that bigfoot sightings have taken place over at least fifty years.

With one exception (Paul on the road to Damascus), "Jesus sightings" took place over only forty days. Many sightings are recorded during this time, including, as previously mentioned, one involving a large number of people at once. Given that the window of opportunity for "Jesus sightings" to occur was small, the temporal density is significantly higher.

Bigfoot sightings are incentivized.

Contemporary "bigfoot sightings" are a plausible way for some random individual to "get their fifteen minutes of fame". Many people are interested in "bigfoot sightings" and will give special attention to those claiming to have had one. (This is also true for extraterrestrial sightings.) In other words, there is an incentive to fraudulently create such claims, and little negative consequence to promoting such a claim. Additionally, even a claim that isn't consciously fraudulent might be influenced by a desire to have such an experience.

By contrast, the consequences for "Jesus sightings" were persecution, torture and death. If anything, you'd expect this to mean that people would keep quiet about "Jesus sightings", especially if they have any doubt about what they actually saw, or at the very least to recant when faced with torture and execution. The number of witnesses that didn't is a clear exposition that these people were both confident in what they saw, and confident of the significance of what they saw.

There are more people alive today, and communication is easier.

Another point to keep in mind is that there are simply more people alive today. If we say "X sightings are more reliable than Y sightings, because X has ten times as many reports", is that really true if the population of people that might have seen X is a hundred times the number of people that might have seen Y?

The current US population is about 300 million people. Accounting for tourism and deaths in the last fifty years, there are perhaps 500 million people who have the potential to experience a bigfoot sighting. It's difficult to estimate the number of potential "Jesus sightings", but 10 million seems to be a very generous estimate.

Another point is that it is incredibly easy these days for any crackpot to reach an audience simply by posting something on the internet. Even fifty years ago, communication technology was vastly superior to that which existed in the first century AD. Therefore, it's much easier for unreliable sightings to be reported. By comparison, it's not inconceivable that thousands of "Jesus sightings" occurred but were not recorded, or that such records are lost to time.

Let's keep playing...

Simply put, if this argument is valid, then the evidence that extraterrestrials exists is much stronger than the evidence for the existence of a great many historical figures from the time of Christ and earlier. Yet the existence of said persons is rarely the subject of serious doubt, while the existence of extraterrestrials is met with much skepticism.

The difference when it comes to Christ is that His (post-Crucifixion) existence raises uncomfortable questions about the nature of reality, and in particular, the existence of a supreme being (God) and one's potential accountability to the same. The problem isn't that the evidence is poor, it's that the philosophical implications are objectionable.

Bigfoot sightings aren't "more direct".

While not precisely a "symmetry breaker" in the manner of the above, the objection has also been raised that "Jesus sightings" are substantially hearsay ("it's quite likely that what we have is not even reports of reports, but reports of reports of reports of reports"). This is simply false. The Gospel of John was written (possibly, dictated) by the Apostle John, who was an eyewitness to at least two of the post-Resurrection appearances. Acts, and the Gospel of Luke, were written by Luke based on eyewitness testimony. Additionally, while Luke was not one of the twelve apostles, it is possible he was an eyewitness to one or more post-Resurrection appearances, particularly the one in which Jesus "appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time" (1 Corinthians 15:6).

By comparison, while some may be "eyewitness testimony", most "bigfoot sightings", in the form one actually encounters them, are likely to be one or more times repeated. Thus, there is no practical difference here.

Attacking the authorship is a favorite technique of those who wish to deny the authenticity of Scripture, but it is not one which is rationally justified.

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  • I edited the question with an additional source. Would you like to extend your answer to address the specific point made in that source?
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 16 at 22:51
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    Yes to the last paragraph especially. Like the folks on Mars Hill, modern secular people ever since have the same three responses to the resurrection as the climax of the gospel: some mock, some say they want to hear more, and some believe. Once you have heard it, you are obligated by the very extravagance of the claim to choose one if these three.
    – Conrado
    Commented Apr 17 at 6:40
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    One could also ask, how many of those who claim to have seen the Bigfoot would still stick to their claims if they were threatened with torture and execution in order to recant.
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 17 at 7:04
  • Some objections to this answer have been posted here.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 17 at 11:27
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    Would really be nice if we could get Luke and John to weigh in here.
    – msouth
    Commented Apr 18 at 0:58
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Sufficient Number of Witnesses per the Scriptures

In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (2 Cor. 13:1)

The Lord often sends more than two or three witnesses to testify of important matters, but two or three suffice according to eternal law, and is the accepted threshold of testimony to decide matters of life and death in any civilized system of jurisprudence. In matters of judging or weighing the soul or even in the most minute criminal matters on Earth, the matter must be decided by a quorum of twelve, echoing the special witness role of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ whose testimony will be used to judge each of us in the matter of spiritual life or death hereafter.

This means that any combination of the testimony of Mary and Martha, of Peter and John, orof the original Eleven surviving Apostles (plus Paul's) or anyone else's who witnessed any proof of the Resurrected Lord would be (and is) sufficient to determine the matter of our spiritual life or death in consequence of our belief or unbelief of their testimony. Each and every one of these combinations satisfies both the Scriptural and the secular standards of evidence.

Specificity, Familiarity and Confidence of the witnesses

If someone's alleged Bigfoot sighting consists of "I thought I saw" rather than "I know", then it is not really a testimony, but an interpretation of an uncertain event, of uncertain significance. This is compounded by the unidentifiability of "Bigfoot" in general. For another example, technically there have been millions of "UFO" sightings; all one has to do is observe something that is airborne, and which is not clearly enough discerned to be identified by the observer. This is a very low bar. I have seen dozens of such phenomena. Most are probably birds, drones or thrown or falling objects. Note that none of such observations imply that alien beings are visiting our planet in spacecraft or anything of the kind. Note again the qualifier: "unidentified". Such testimony is moot unless the object had been, or could be reliably identified, and the phenomenon sufficiently distinguished from optical illusions and other phenomena. Bigfoot sightings are of this nature. If one observes a black shaggy creature from a distance, a natural cultural confirmation bias suggests "bigfoot", despite the inability to make any certain identification--to say nothing of numerous possibilities for hoaxes.

Seeing the empty tomb, hearing the witness of angels in shining garments, hearing and touching the voice of the Master that His friends had come to know so well, feeling the prints of the nails in His hands and in his feet, and putting their hands into the spear wound in his side, and witnessing Him eat a piece of fish and honeycomb are importantly NOT of this nature. There is no uncertainty or ambiguity of identification, since they already knew Him and knew His voice and appearance. This is not the case with any of the purported Bigfoot sightings. Importantly many of the Savior's appearances were also witnessed by many people at once, who all agreed that they had seen the same thing, including the Savior's appearance to 500 at one time and "by many [other] infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3).

A person who could not so much as identify "Bigfoot" let alone differentiate such a creature from a black bear, or a person wearing a gorilla suit, is unqualified to give testimony that he has seen "Bigfoot". This is not the case with any of the witnesses of the Resurrection of the Savior: They know Him personally and are the most qualified people on Earth to be able to identify Him with exactness and confidence.

Integrity of the witnesses

Before simply taking someone's word for something, the reputability, honesty and integrity of the witnesses is of crucial import.

Multiple people accused the Savior in His mock trial. "But neither so did their witnesses agree together." (Mark 14:59)

A Bigfoot "sighter" today, particularly one making anonymous Internet post, might risk little to nothing, and tend not to undergo significant vetting as to the integrity of their character, whereas the ancient apostles were killed for their testimony of Jesus.

Bigfoot could be eight or ten or twelve or thirty feet tall depending on whom you ask. Police sketches are quite rare and depictions are either inconsistent or nonspecific. All of the witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are perfectly consistent with each other and are highly specific and well-attested.

Transferability of witness

Although some may doubt specifics or arbitrarily choose to disbelieve any given witness testimony, no one intelligently questions whether in general a credible witness is really capable of knowing whether or not someone shot someone else in plain sight, or whether a man is capable of identifying his own wife or child, or whether the disciples of Jesus were actually capable of recognizing Him. Thus if no fault is found in any of the witnesses to an event, and they are known to be people of integrity, and their accounts all agree as to the material facts, there is no solid basis for rejecting that testimony.

In short, millions of people can make vague or meaningless assertions such as "I thought I saw Bigfoot" or "I saw a UFO", and their testimony should be taken for what it is: vague, impossible to correlate, and practically meaningless.

However, John was not the last witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each of us can be witnesses. We do not need to rely only on the witnesses of those who have already seen with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears. Unlike an alleged Bigfoot sighting, it is possible for every person to receive his own testimony of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the witness of the Holy Ghost. In speaking of the transferability of witness, Elder Douglas L. Callister said,

There needed to be only one witness. In the genius of the gospel plan, there ultimately only has to be one witness, but that witness must be you. The testimony of others may initiate and nourish the desire for faith and testimony, but eventually every individual must find out for himself. None can permanently endure on borrowed light.

Today, there are in fact millions of witnesses to the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and probably millions of people who have seen black bears, shaggy dogs and people wearing gorilla suits, but also likely no confirmed sightings of some elusive "Bigfoot" nor of aliens visiting the Earth in spaceships, despite the latter seeming to enjoy an artificial an illusory advantage in numbers.

Edit: I am adding this related visual from a blog article I wrote a few years ago to illustrate the phenomenon of why numbers can be deceptive when supposedly "attesting" something. You can see it's easy to mass-produce false narratives, whereas independent and reliable witnesses are priceless and provide a far more powerful basis for belief: enter image description here

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Saint Augustine once preached: The apostles could believe in the Church without seeing it, because they saw Jesus. Now you should, likewise, believe in Jesus without seeing Him, because you see the Church.

I know this isn't convincing for any atheist, and especially not an atheist who thinks he should play a game of logic with Bigfoot and Jesus Christ.

Sometimes the answer to a question is just not caring about the question. My experience and study tells me the correct answer to your question is: "most christians really don't address the analogy".

And why would they? Our faith isn't based on scientific or statistical proof. Saint Paul writes

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

(1 Cor 1)

Yes, our faith is foolishness for those who want wisdom, proof, logic.

To be very honest, I smile when I read about a comparison between "Bigfoot sightings" and "resurrected Christ sightings". I understand what the wisdom-seekers look for and why they can't accept our foolishness. But I don't care, and I hope most christians just don't care. It is not our job to play the games of wisdom.

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    I saw quite a few ruins of temple dedicated to Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, ... etc in Greece. There are plenty of temples in Japan dedicated to their deities as well as in India, Thailand etc etc. Commented Apr 17 at 9:27
  • Nice. Do you imply you do not know the Church is not a building, or is there some other relevance I am missing?
    – ABM K
    Commented Apr 17 at 16:08
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    Yes, you are missing that there are organizations, worshipers associated with the said temples in Greece, Japan, India, Thailand etc just like churches associated with Christ. Commented Apr 17 at 16:16
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    I am not missing that, I am missing the relevance in this specific question.
    – ABM K
    Commented Apr 18 at 9:33
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OP: How do Christians break the symmetry? How is this atheistic argument from analogy invalid?

The analogy is invalid for a number of reasons. First it was prophesied and then fulfilled. Second it was written down and continues to this day. The analogy might be better made between Christ's resurrection and T-Rex. They both walked the earth, although Christ still lives.

Anyway, apparently, the first sighting of or evidence about Bigfoot was in 1958. There is no evidence of anything prior to then. There is no prophecy or even hints that some big creature would walk around on earth prior to the moon walk.

The resurrection of Christ was foretold centuries before it happened. Prophecies were made and fulfilled in Christ. Eyewitnesses then wrote the New Testament.

Centuries later after the resurrection in 30 AD, there are still believers in Christ and His resurrection. It is highly improbably that in the year 4024 that folks will still believe in Bigfoot.

So, while it sorta is an interesting analogy, Bigfoot falls far short of convincing truth. Christ, the prophecies, the fulfillment, the subsequent proof is there for anyone.

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  • I thought native indians verbally talked about the sasquatch forever. The "first sighting" should really be the first filming. Commented Apr 17 at 9:48
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    Didn't see a reference for that, but there's an earlier report 1811 britannica.com/topic/Sasquatch Even the mythic Yeti history starts 1800's. Point remains that the analogy between Christ and whatever its name is comes up far short of being meaningful.
    – SLM
    Commented Apr 17 at 18:17
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In some jurisdictions, eyewitness testimony of unique events is considered as legal evidence, direct or indirect; however, most scientific methods require data from reproducible experiments which is rather different and does not empirically produce historical narratives, although it can be used as supporting evidence for particular cases.

My answer: The number of people saying they witnessed something is not the only deciding factor of what account I believe.

An additional point to those already in other answers is that some of the very atheists who are so rigorously skeptical of the gospel account damage their credibility as unbiased scientists by simultaneously accepting unguided abiogenesis as established science, in spite of there being not a single witness anywhere at any time to such a process, nor has it been reproduced in one single experiment (guided or not).

The lack of direct empirical evidence is said to be supplied for by inductive methods; however, the fact that all of the data cited as evidence for this process is twice or thrice removed by inductive methods from the process itself renders any conclusions about it uncertain to a degree which corresponds to (and is calculated from) the particular methods, taking into account their extrapolations and assumptions. Often, spiritual skeptics are prone to downplay the uncertainties inherent in these methods and ignore the philosophical nature of the assumptions required to use them.

This behavior shows a predisposition to reject certain beliefs, which does not come from a consideration of the available evidence and testimony at all, but from factors like morality (the problem of evil) and other philosophical or metaphysical objections.

Even so, an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Even if no one claimed to have seen bigfoot, the bigfoot skeptics could not by that fact alone prove that there is no bigfoot rather like the black swan problem.

By the same token, the fact that there are few primary sources claiming eyewitness status to the resurrection is no proof that it didn't happen. Other factors will inform the decision to believe or not.

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There is a really good and very recent video about this topic, with a short summary of the main objections to the Bigfoot analogy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI6p7ihvjJA

The main points:

  • if Bigfoot existed, as a species, we would expect to easily find evidence for it as part of the ecosystem, like corpses, or droppings, etc. and this lack of evidence can be reasonably used to say that Bigfoot does not exist. This type of evidence cannot be expected from a one-time event, not even about different historical people which raise no skepticism. Therefore the reason we reject Bigfoot is not a good analogy for reasons we would reject one-time events from centuries or millennia ago.
  • people who claimed to see Bigfoot were psychologically primed to expect to see it. Bigfoot only became a big deal after a video with an alleged sighting was popularized, and several movies about it were released. On the other hand, the disciples were not primed to think Jesus would rise from the dead. They were even described as losing hope and scattering after the crucifixion. "The Jews did not have a cultural expectation of a Messiah that would die and rise again from the dead. Death meant you're a failed Messiah".
  • incentives: people who claimed to have seen Bigfoot were given positive attention. "It became a way of gaining prestige and living in the limelight, at least temporarily". The witnesses of Jesus instead received beatings, torture, and even execution. One might wonder how many of those who claim to have seen the Bigfoot would still stick to their claims if they were threatened with torture and execution in order to recant.
  • Bigfoot sightings can be explained as cases of misidentification, people might misidentify shadows from the distance, or a bear standing up. However, in case of disciples who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus, they did not just see a random person from the distance for a brief glance, but had a much closer and personal contact.
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The problem with the comparison between Big Foot and Jesus is that it's reducing the phenomenon to the witness-events only in isolation. People don't believe in Jesus because of historical analysis of the eyewitness testimony alone. It is a theological, spiritual belief which convicts people through their heart, and God's spirit works in their life to make them believe. It is not a natural case of historical analysis. Though, certain historians believe and argue about the historical case for the resurrection by appealing to the radical events followed it, such as the disciples' belief from their testimonies.

Jesus' resurrection is also not as unnatural anomaly as urban legends of creatures like Big Foot and Mothman. These legendary creatures can be explained away by confusion of witnesses by similar looking animals. A better phenomenon to compare would be the Alien/UFO sightings, as that has been proving to be plausible and reasonable, not just legendary.

The resurrection of Jesus fulfils theological prophecies, and is greatly relevant for our lives. There are countless trustworthy witnesses of his visions in our times in all nations. Jesus' resurrection witness story is not the sole reason for believing in him, and it should not be taken in isolation, but in light of the whole Gospel message and its impact on our life. People believe him due to spiritual reasons, as believers can experience his spirit in their lives, combined with a commutative collection of reason. This is nothing like the urban legends like Big Foot. Jesus being God is more realistic and plausible as the object of witness testimonies than urban legends.

There is a good analogy of belief in Jesus with belief in UFO sightings (a better analogy than the unreliable Big foot) to show how personal experience matter. Reasonablefaith: Subjective nature of beliefs:

Now he asks, “How can this be self-authenticating?” Well, I don’t think that is hard to understand. An experience can be so powerful, so enlightening, that it simply bears its own credentials. I think, for example, of the movie Contact where the figure played by Jodie Foster has this experience at the climax of the movie of seeing the secret or the mystery of the universe and all of its majesty and its beauty. She says, “I never knew, I never knew!” Then when she comes back she tries to relate this experience to others, and they are sceptical about it. She can’t prove that it really happened and so forth. But for her, herself, she had this experience. She saw it herself. For her, this was like a self-authenticating experience, even if she couldn’t prove it to others. Now as it turns out later there were something like 18 minutes missing on the tape or something of that sort that did show she really was having this experience, and that tended to confirm it. But even apart from that, she didn’t need that kind of evidence to know that what she had seen was true and authentic because she had had the experience, and it was so real and overwhelming that she knew it was valid.

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How do Christians break the symmetry? How is this atheistic argument from analogy invalid?

This ...

So, the atheistic argument from analogy goes like this: Given the multitude of eyewitness reports supporting Bigfoot's existence, with many still alive and accessible for interview today, it's deemed rational by most people to dismiss Bigfoot's existence. If we use the same logic consistently, shouldn't we also dismiss claims about Jesus' resurrection? After all, the number of purported witnesses is far fewer, and none are alive today for interrogation.

... is fallacious, and probably not a good representation of the actual argument to boot. The problem starts at "If we use the same logic" -- what logic is that, exactly?

Consider: there are only two eyewitnesses to my having eaten breakfast this morning, and you have only one report (mine). That's far fewer than there are eyewitness reports of Bigfoot sightings, so isn't it rational for people to dismiss my claim to have breakfasted? In fact, similar can be said of most every meal I have ever eaten. Isn't it rational, then, to dismiss all my claims to have eaten meals? Are you compelled to believe that I have never eaten anything? No?

The Bigfoot example shows that under some circumstances, people consider it rational -- in the sense of logically consistent -- to reject a claim despite many testifying to its veracity. Well and good, and I think the usual atheist line of reasoning stops there: as a logical argument, it's meant merely to counter the argument that eyewitness reports of the resurrection are sufficient reason to believe that it happened. That is the correct analogy, and it is valid as far as it goes. The claim absolutely is not that people should reject the resurrection because we have fewer eyewitness testimonies than we do for Bigfoot.

Atheists reject the resurrection on other bases. If challenged with evidence for the resurrection, such as eyewitness testimony, they must (i) find reason for the evidence to be uncompelling, or (ii) accept that their position is not rational, or (iii) give up their position. The Bigfoot argument is an example of (i). Of course, the Bigfoot example is also a rhetorical tool, meant to raise irrational resistance to accepting the resurrection by asserting that it is analogous to Bigfoot sightings. Likely some do consider the two analogous, but it's generally not others in the same camp at whom that device is aimed.

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  • "there are only two eyewitnesses to my having eaten breakfast this morning" - how many times have you eaten breakfast? How many times have you eaten other meals? How many times has anyone eaten anything? Can you see the difference yet between that and the existence of some as-yet-unknown species or supposedly the one-and-only* instance of a resurrection happening in all of recorded history and which is contrary to how we understand biology? You eating breakfast is not a remarkable claim, so it can trivially be accepted, unlike the existence of Bigfoot and the resurrection of Jesus.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Apr 17 at 21:37
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    @NotThatGuy, the question posed was "How is this atheistic argument from analogy invalid?" Of course you reject the breakfast argument. It is invalid! But it has exactly the same form as the argument presented in the question, which is invalid for exactly the same reason, as this answer discusses. That the claims of Jesus's resurrection and of Bigfoot sightings are more remarkable is irrelevant. Those are not part of the argument the question asks about. As this answer says, atheists reject the resurrection on other bases than the Bigfoot argument. Bigfoot serves a different purpose here. Commented Apr 17 at 21:52
  • @JohnBollinger I improved the presentation of the atheistic argument (see the edit), which arguably invalidates parts of your answer (particularly the quote). Letting you know so that you can update as you see fit. By the way, the upvote was mine (your answer helped me realize I needed to steelman the atheistic argument).
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 18 at 0:34
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    @Mark, it is considered inapproriate here to edit a question such that it invalidates or moots existing answers. I request that you revert that edit. If you find that you have assked a different question than you intended then you can always ask a new one. Nevertheless, the new argument is still fallacious, in much the same way as the old. It goes from people find it logically consistent to dismiss Bigfoot claims to people should dismiss testimony to the resurrection. That is not a correct analogy. Commented Apr 18 at 13:37
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How do Christians address the "Bigfoot" analogy presented by skeptics in relation to the resurrection of Jesus?

Bigfoot has more eyewitness claims than Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.

As reliability of eyewitnesses in relationship with the study of cryptozoology would seems not the best skepticism for or against Christ’s Resurrection.

Eyewitnesses can naturally be unreliable at the best of times. The supposed numbers of eyewitnesses of Sasquatches in comparison to the number of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ Resurrection is of little value in the eyes of those Christians who fundamentally hold to the truth that Christ indeed rose from the dead.

For the Believer, the number of eyewitnesses to Christ’s Resurrection is of little concern. The fact that Jesus truly rose in a glorified body is in itself an attestation of a future reality that God holds for those who follow the Gospel and hope in everlasting life!

The believing community does not doubt those witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection as mentioned in the Gospel accounts. Yet the eyewitnesses of those creatures related to the subject ofcryptozoology form some sort of pseudoscience and subculture at best.

Scholars have noted that the subculture rejected mainstream approaches from an early date, and that adherents often express hostility to mainstream science. Scholars have studied cryptozoologists and their influence (including cryptozoology's association with Young Earth creationism), noted parallels in cryptozoology and other pseudosciences such as ghost hunting and ufology, and highlighted uncritical media propagation of cryptozoologist claims.

Young Earth creationism

A subset of cryptozoology promotes the pseudoscience of Young Earth creationism, rejecting conventional science in favor of a Biblical interpretation and promoting concepts such as "living dinosaurs". Science writer Sharon A. Hill observes that the Young Earth creationist segment of cryptozoology is "well-funded and able to conduct expeditions with a goal of finding a living dinosaur that they think would invalidate evolution".

Anthropologist Jeb J. Card says that "[c]reationists have embraced cryptozoology and some cryptozoological expeditions are funded by and conducted by creationists hoping to disprove evolution." In a 2013 interview, paleontologist Donald Prothero notes an uptick in creationist cryptozoologists. He observes that "[p]eople who actively search for Loch Ness monsters or Mokele Mbembe do it entirely as creationist ministers. They think that if they found a dinosaur in the Congo it would overturn all of evolution. It wouldn't. It would just be a late-occurring dinosaur, but that's their mistaken notion of evolution." - Cryptozoology

In a sense, who cares how many claim to have seen Bigfoot or the Sasquatch!

The Sacred Scriptures recognizes that the resurrected Jesus appeared to a great number of believers.

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. - 1 Corinthians 15:4-8

How many times has Christ appeared to the faithful over the centuries, I am sure these skeptics do not take into account, many unknown to God alone!

Some denominations admit the possibility of apparitions of Jesus to members of the faithful, notably in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Examples such as with St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) and St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) to name a few!

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The bigfoot analogy could also be called the Loch Ness analogy with which I'm more familiar with having lived in Scotland for many years and knew people who claimed to have actually seen it. Yet in all cases the experience was as fuzzy as the photos people made.

Of Jesus we only have accounts that were written about 20 to 80 years after he died. Paul's letters are the earliest accounts we have and he only describes a vision he had. Paul also didn't seem to believe in an actual physical resurrection of the body but that we are given a new body, being housed from above. He never mentions an empty tomb or that Jesus appeared physical to anyone.

The gospels were written much later and describe events where Jesus appears, speaks and eats with the disciples, and then disappears, even through a wall (apparently even the food that Jesus ate could pass through solid surfaces). Clearly Jesus body was not like it used to be, where he had to use a door.

The book of Acts also describes an account where Jesus was seen on earth for 40 days by hundreds of his followers to whom he spoke about the kingdom of God. Yet what makes these accounts questionable is firstly, why did nobody write down what Jesus taught about the kingdom. Wouldn't that have been the point of teaching them all these 40 days. Secondly, there's no account of any of the witnesses about what exactly they have seen.

Instead of comparing the witness accounts with accounts of Big Foot, we should rather compare it to the account when God spoke to the Israelites in the desert. There were thousands of witnesses and the words spoken are actually written down and the experience was described as terrifying. There was a clear purpose in the event, something that is not so clear about the resurrection accounts.

Surely, if Luke spoke to people having witnessed the resurrected Jesus, they would have excitedly shared their experience with him and the book of Acts would be full with many wonderful personal testimonies how Jesus looked like, what he said and the many miracles he performed. Yet not even one account is being given to us of them and not one word of what he taught in those 40 days. Just a lacklustre statement that Jesus appeared to many.

The gospel of Mark, the oldest of the four, has no mentioning about an empty tomb nor that Jesus appeared to anyone. This is surprising since this would be such an important event, why did he not mention nor elaborate on this?

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  • "Clearly Jesus body was not like it used to be, where he had to use a door." Right; it's not like he could walk on water in His old body or anything like that...
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 18 at 14:03
  • That's true, he could walk on water so maybe he also could walk through walls if he wanted to before he resurrected. So I guess we all can do it since Peter also walked on the water until he doubted because of the waves. But how do you explain that the disciples didn't recognise him after the resurrection.
    – Tasso
    Commented Apr 19 at 7:52
  • Two possibilities. First, they weren't expecting to see Him. Second, it's strongly suggested by Scripture that in at least some cases, they were prevented from recognizing Him. (Note also that lack of initial recognition actually increases the reliability of the accounts by making clear that the "it was Jesus!" conclusion wasn't based on a brief sighting, but on prolonged observation.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 19 at 17:39
  • Oddly, a large amount of staunch YEC Christians will say that Loch Ness could very well be a real creature, though maybe today there are no more of them, because they believe that dinosaurs existed until only a few hundred years ago. Commented Apr 19 at 20:04
  • "Instead of comparing the witness accounts with accounts of Big Foot, we should ...". Well, except that's what the question is. This appears to be a Jewish/generic retort to the resurrection, rather than a Christian retort to the "bigfoot analogy". Commented Apr 19 at 20:08

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