Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A C-Inductive Argument for the Assumption of Mary

Richard Swinburne has defined a correct C-inductive argument as, "an argument in which the premisses add to the probability of the conclusion (that is, make the conclusion more likely or more probable than it would otherwise be) . . ." [1]

For example, if there were a bank theft, and John's fingerprints are found on the safe, that increases the likelihood that John committed the crime. In other words, this fact makes it more likely that John committed the crime than it would have been had his fingerprints not been found on the safe. The fingerprints are not sufficient evidence to conclude that John committed the crime, but they increase the probability.

Correct C-inductive arguments stand in contrast to correct P-inductive arguments, the latter of which "make the conclusion [itself] probable." [1]

With this in mind, a number of C-inductive arguments for the Assumption of Mary can be given. Suppose you find yourself convinced that the remains of the bodies of most Biblical saints (both OT and NT) are claimed by at least one city. Now suppose that the remains of Mary's body are not claimed by any city. Under the hypothesis that Mary's body was assumed into heaven either right before her death or immediately after her death (which is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and, presumably, of some traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church), Mary's body would not remain on earth. The fact that no city claims her remains would be expected if she were assumed into heaven. In stark contrast, this would be relatively unexpected had she not been assumed into heaven (unless an equally plausible explanation can be given).

This fact, therefore, arguably constitutes a correct C-inductive argument for Mary's assumption into heaven. More colloquially, this is known as "circumstantial evidence." This is not sufficient evidence, but it makes her assumption more likely than it would have been had her remains been claimed.

[1] Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 6.

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