Was Jesus Mad, Bad, Or God?…Or Merely Mistaken?
Howard-Snyder (Daniel)
Source: Faith and Philosophy, Vol. 21 : Iss. 4 , Article 3, 2004
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsBooks / Papers Citing this PaperNotes Citing this PaperColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Author’s Abstract

  1. A popular argument for the divinity of Jesus goes like this. Jesus claimed to be divine, but if his claim was false, then either he was insane (mad) or lying (bad), both of which are very unlikely; so, he was divine.
  2. I present two objections to this argument.
    1. The first, the dwindling probabilities objection, contends that even if we make generous probability assignments to the relevant pieces of evidence for Jesus’ divinity, the probability calculus tell us to suspend judgement on the matter.
    2. The second, and more telling objection in my opinion, the merely mistaken objection, contends that it is no less plausible to suppose that Jesus was neither mad nor bad but merely mistaken than that he was divine.

  1. I’ve been interested in the “MBG” argument – which I believe to be unsound – for some time. See my Note Mad, Bad or God?1.
  2. I’ve not yet read Howard-Snyder’s paper, but:-
    1. The first objection seems to be that it’s not compelling that Jesus actually claimed to be God in the first place. I agree (but note that this is orthogonal to the question whether Jesus was or is God, whatever that identity-statement may be taken to mean).
    2. The second is the substance of the paper. Again, I agree, though it needs careful handling. It’d be easier to argue that Jesus was mistaken in some lesser claim. While – contra C.S. Lewis – claiming to be “God” isn’t as mad as claiming to be a poached egg, it’s still pretty barmy if claimed so baldly (and falsely).


Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Sept 2023. Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com. File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page