On April 8, 2021, during a debate between Matt Dillahunty and Catholic Apologist Trent Horn titled Is belief in the Resurrection reasonable? Trent Horn Vs Matt Dillahunty Debate, hosted by Pints With Aquinas, Matt Dillahunty said:
It's important for people to recognize there is a difference between verification and falsification. Verification is the concept that we should produce the thing. If we were to say that all intelligent beings are on planet earth, verification you could run around "hey, there's an intelligent being on earth, there's one on earth and there's one on earth, there's one on earth", but verifying it exhaustively could be completely impractical because you would have to search every planet at all times in order to determine in fact that all intelligent beings are on planet earth. But falsification is a separate issue. Falsification is whether or not it is theoretically able to be shown to be false. And so, whole we may never be able to verify that all intelligent beings are in fact on planet earth, we could at least in theory falsify it because if we produced an intelligent being that wasn't on earth, that would falsify the claim. Now that would show that the claim is wrong. But if we have a claim that is unverifiable, unfalsifiable, it is essentially untestable. And my foundation is that if you have an untestable claim, it'd better be mundane, trivial and consistent with the facts of reality before you should ever risk believing that it is in fact the case. Well, we can't really believe, or we can't argue that it's rational to believe something that we can't test at all. So we do the best we can when it comes to history, and so when we take a look at history all we have are reports. Somebody said they saw this, somebody said they knew this person, somebody said this other thing. That's all well and good when we're trying to put together the best understanding of history we can. But we shouldn't be proclaiming it as truth, and we shouldn't be necessarily saying that this particular version of history is particularly reasonable. As history tends to be written by the victors. So history is always suspect. And there are two quotes from David Hume that are the cornerstone how and why I go about determining if something is or should be considered reasonable ... [Matt then proceeds to quote/paraphrase David Hume on why miracle claims are unreasonable to be believed on insufficient evidence.]
So if a claim isn't falsifiable and there's no way to show it's wrong, we can't reasonably accept that it's correct. And if we're left with no physical evidence about the existence of Jesus, or the interactions of Jesus, or his death and resurrection, what we are left with is ... testimony. Now, I'm not willing to dig in on whether or not the gospels were written by eyewitnesses. I don't think they were, I don't think that most reasonable scholars aren't going to say these are witnesses but it doesn't matter to me because even if they were all eyewitnesses, we already know that eyewitness testimony is unreliable under the best circumstances. In this case we don't know whose testimony, eyewitness second or third hand, and we can't investigate it at all. All the things they say happened don't have corroborating evidence. They don't have supporting physical evidence. We don't have any way to question them about their reliability. We don't have any way to talk to them to determine, you know, are these stories accurate, you know, do they overlap. [...]
[...] I have a hard time going through some of these things and saying "yes, that's being reported as this has actually happened". So what evidence do we have? Copies of copies of translations of copies from unknown sources that may have been but probably weren't eyewitnesses, and if they had been eyewitnesses it wouldn't be sufficient to confirm that someone actually rose from the dead. What sort of evidence would we expect for a claim that someone rose from the dead? Depends on the time frame. Sure, back in 1st century Judea, probably not a lot! You don't have a way to test for sure that somebody's dead. You don't have like x-rays, you don't have DNA. Well, the question is: if this story is true, then Jesus was divine, and God exists. And what sort of evidence could a God provide? God could provide the best evidence possible such that there would be no reasonable debate to be had at all [...]
And I'm not here for interesting. I'm here to find out what's reasonable. And here is the crux of it, which we can have this discussion afterwards because I don't have any follow-up questions after this. And that is this: you are willing to accept that an extraordinary miraculous event occurred based only on testimony, and I'm not. That's it! That is the foundational difference between our epistemology. I will not accept that the physical understanding of the universe was suspended for an individual based only on testimonial accounts. It is unreasonable. That is how you get conned. That is how magicians fool you [...]
How do Christians rebut Matt Dillahunty's objection that the resurrection of Jesus is unverifiable, unfalsifiable, untestable, lacking supporting physical evidence beyond mere reports, and therefore unreasonable to believe?
Note: my question is about Jesus' resurrection, not about Jesus' existence. One could concede that Jesus existed and still be skeptical of his resurrection and other related supernatural claims. For Dillahunty's position on the existence of Jesus, see Did Jesus Exist? | David - Oklahoma City, OK | Atheist Experience 21.25. Here is the transcript of an excerpt from the video in case it gets taken down:
Caller: Well, what do you believe? Do you believe he actually existed in history or not?
Matt: I think it's very likely that there was a historical figure that the stories are tied to, but we don't know much at all about him and there may actually have been a number of different people molded into one after the fact. I don't ... I have no idea.
Jen: I'm unconvinced that there was a single individual on which the stories are based.
Matt: And even if we were convinced that there was a single individual. I don't know how we would know anything about that person specifically because if you, if you go through for example the gospel stories and ... there is no way to verify anything right down to, you know, the name or the date or anything.