Monday, January 30, 2006

Justice v. The Resurrection

Michael Simpson posted about the relevance of religion to the academy and I commented that religion is indeed relevant because I have more evidence for the resurrection of Christ than I do for the existence of justice.

After that intentionally provocative comment, I received an email from one Tom Van Dyke encouraging me to be a bit more forthcoming. I was originally hesitant to do so because I haven't read the latest and the greatest on the subject of the resurrection, which is the treatment of the subject by N.T. Wright. Wright's work is at least partially responsible for the conversion of the famed horror writer Anne Rice. However, I remembered that William Lane Craig is very strong on the subject and I could probably get a condensed essay from him. I was right.

Here's a bit of whetting:

So complete has been the turn-about during the second half of this century concerning the resurrection of Jesus that it is no exaggeration to speak of a reversal of scholarship on this issue, such that those who deny the historicity of Jesus' resurrection now seem to be the ones on the defensive. Perhaps one of the most significant theological developments in this connection is the theological system of Wolfhart Pannenberg, who bases his entire Christology on the historical evidence for Jesus' ministry and especially the resurrection. This is a development undreamed of in German theology prior to 1950. Equally startling is the declaration of one of the world's leading Jewish theologians Pinchas Lapid, that he is convinced on the basis of the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Lapid twits New Testament critics like Bultmann and Marxsen for their unjustified skepticism and concludes that he believes on the basis of the evidence that the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead.

I read through the essay and found it quite thorough and informative. If this blog were my sole property, I would paste the whole thing in and monopolize the real estate. Instead I will content myself with providing you with this very large LINK. (Don't get down on Craig for any typos in the essay, I think some noble person actually typed in the essay from dead tree to get it online.)

Read the essay and see whether I was exaggerating when I made my provocative statement. It's easy to be correct because the evidence for the existence of justice is weaker than expected, while the evidence for the resurrection is stronger.

Because we are an interfaith blog, I hasten to explain to my Jewish friends that I am not seeking to kick up some kind of battle over Christian history between Jews and Christians. Rather, I am trying to further the point that religion is relevant and not merely because of some psychological reason.

39 comments:

Tlaloc said...

I'll repost my earlier comment:

"I have more evidence on hand for the resurrection of Christ than I do for the existence of something called justice."

No you don't. The ressurection is supposed to have been a physical thing, and there is no evidence of it at all. Justice on the other hand is a mental construct and as such we have reams of evidence that people believe in it.

See the difference? A mental construct exists if people believe in it but the same is not true for physical actions and effects.

Tlaloc said...

Lets look at each of their claims of proof shall we?

"Paul's information makes it certain that on separate occasions various individuals and groups saw Jesus alive from the dead. According to Norman Perrin, the late NT critic of the University of Chicago: "The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based." This conclusion is virtually indisputable."

Okay so what they are saying is that the very text upon which the religion is based says the religion is true. Well, DUH. How exactly is that proof in ANY way though? I'm sure if we read the Book of Mormon it'll have lots of claims of various Native Americans seeing Jesus. Is that then proof that it happened? Of course not. People LIE. No less so when it comes to faith than in any other matter of human endeavor. That they call this flimsy, shoddy, piece of reasoning "virtually indisputable" is quite amusing.



"There simply was insufficient time for significant accrual of legend by the time of the gospels' composition."

Wow. Scholarship at it's finest.



"(1) The historical reliability of the burial story supports the empty tomb. If the burial account is accurate, then the site of Jesus' grave was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, it is a very short inference to historicity of the empty tomb."

The author apparently forgets that something that is missing may have in fact been taken, instead of leaving by itself. Assuming we buy his specious argument that an accurate burial story means accuracy in observing the empty tomb (which is not true by any stretch of the imagination but we'll grant it since it is all moot anyway) there is no proof that Christ got up and left as opposed to having been taken from the tomb.



"Finally, we may turn to that third body of evidence supporting the resurrection: the very origin of the Christian Way. Even the most skeptical scholars admit that the earliest disciples at least believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Indeed, they pinned nearly everything on it. Without belief in the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity could never have come into being."

But, gosh, that couldn't possibly have been a motive to fake it now could it? I mean here you are saying these people desperately needed the ressurection to establish their religion in a meaningful way... but nobody who is desperate would ever lie or steal, would they?



"If one denies that Jesus really did rise from the dead, then he must explain the disciples' belief that he did rise either in terms of Jewish influences or in terms of Christian influences. Now clearly, it can't be the result of Christian influences, for at that time there wasn't any Christianity yet!"

God, how low can this guy sink? There was no formal christianity yet, sure. But there was absolutely a proto-christianity. What's more there was the convenient Mithras myth which involved death and ressurection after three days. Conveniently he sort of forgets that.

He claims to have three proofs of the ressurection and all three are patently ridiculous. They withstand the simplest logical examination without completely disintigrating.

Hunter Baker said...
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Hunter Baker said...
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Hunter Baker said...

For the curious, I felt the need to self-censor myself after setting down something that was bending the laws of physics due to the thickness of the sarcasm. Suffice it to say that I am not impressed with the comments given thus far and I trust fair-minded readers will receive their own reward in the material offered.

Tlaloc said...

Okay Hunter, let's hypothesize a scenario:

Christ dies after some brutal treatment by the Romans. Paul looks up at his crucified messiah and realizes his life's work has just gone down the drain. After paying Mr. Iscariot a visit with the biblical equivilent of a tire iron he gets down to some serious thinking.

That Christ thing had potential. But the cat is dead. Nobody wants to follow him (and more importantly his apostles) if they see the story ends so badly.

What's more, few really wanna go mano-a-mano with the Roman Empire. But wait...

What if we killed two birds with one fib? The Roman Army is really big on Mithras worship. Mithras has this crazy story about a guy getting crucified, dying, and coming back three days later. ANd here's the best part: after he ressurects he ascends to have lunch with the gods. No muss, no fuss.

Why not Mithras Christ? I mean you get to tap into the myth's inherent popularity with the romans and at the same time give the depressing end of the story an uplifting twist. And because the guy ascends you don't have to worry about having someone pretend to be him.

All you gotta do is make a body disappear. So in true Soprano fashion Paul sits down with his paisans and makes a plan. Next night Peter, Paul, and Mary go move a rock, snatch a body, and bob's your uncle. Then they just have to start adding Jesus' name as a guest on a few party lists wait for eveyone's recollections to get a bit fuzzy and voila.

Now can you explain to me how this scenario isn't supported by the articles supposed proof just as much as the ressurection story?

See his "proof" is all incidental stuff. Nothing directly connected to an actual ressurection only the PERCEPTION of a ressurection. Surely you've seen a woman sawn in half enough to know that perception =/= reality.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

In science, we ask questions about what we know. Sitting around asking hypothetical questions does not make for a proof of anything, nor does it offer a proof against something.

Lets look at the evidence, ie what we have.

/sarcasm on

After all, we could have been created by a giant spaghetti monster.

/sarcasm off

Tlaloc said...

"In science, we ask questions about what we know. Sitting around asking hypothetical questions does not make for a proof of anything, nor does it offer a proof against something."

On the contrary hypotheticals or gedanken are very useful in science. While they may not be strictly speaking proofs they are used to illustrate oddities that may indicate a theory has a flaw: Schroedinger's cat, the UV catastrophy, the twin paradox, etc.

Anyway the point here is that if you have data that you claim supports a conclusion and someone else can write another conclusion equally supported by your data then it does not in fact prove your conclusion.



"Lets look at the evidence, ie what we have."

Indeed, I did that above: I looked at what the author claims is evidence for Chrsit's ressurection and indicated how it is not even remotely solid. I can certainly explain in greater detail how it fatuous if you'd like.

JC said...

Christ dies after some brutal treatment by the Romans. Paul looks up at his crucified messiah and realizes his life's work has just gone down the drain. After paying Mr. Iscariot a visit with the biblical equivilent of a tire iron he gets down to some serious thinking.
Paul wasn't a Christian until after the resurrection. In fact, he was a Jewish leader bent on killing as many Christians as possible, until (according to him) he had a vision of the risen Christ. So ironically, he realized his life's work (killing Christians) "went down the drain" as you say when he saw the risen Christ. For a short time, even the early Christians had a hard time believing someone could have such a complete turn around, but there it is.

But, gosh, that couldn't possibly have been a motive to fake it now could it? I mean here you are saying these people desperately needed the ressurection to establish their religion in a meaningful way... but nobody who is desperate would ever lie or steal, would they?
I'm curious what motive you think the early Christians had for "inventing" a religion based on utterly abominable lies that they knew would earn violent persecution from the Jews (and eventually the Romans).
The fact is that, assuming Christianity were a lie, the early disciples had no reason to propogate it.
1. You can't get much spiritual benefit from a religion based on lies. Martyrdom isn't so great unless you think you'll end up in heaven afterward.
2. It was blasphemy to the Jews, so the Jewish leaders hunted down Christians and threatened to kill them if they didn't recant. A lot of Christians ended up dead. Why would they hold to their (hypothetically false) testimony at the expense of their own lives? I'm not talking about people who were martyred for their faith, but people who were executed for insisting that they were telling the truth.
3. The web of conspiracy necessary would have been large. It wasn't just one person who claimed to have witnessed these events; there were many witnesses. The New Testament itself is written by several different authors.

I think the burden of proof is (historically speaking) on you to show that such a conspiracy existed and come up with a viable motive.

Hunter Baker said...

Given the unattractiveness of being a Christian for the first few centuries, the conspiracy angle is a gigantic failure.

Jay D. Homnick said...

First I'd like to see evidence for the existence of Pinchas Lapid.

There are twenty thousand of the smartest people in the world studying Talmud in Yeshivas today and I can assure you that not a single one has heard of Pinchas Lapid. Leading theologian? Who is he leading?

(This is not an attempt to deal with the subject, just an ad hominem 'Huh?'.)

Tlaloc said...

"Given the unattractiveness of being a Christian for the first few centuries, the conspiracy angle is a gigantic failure."

What's worse: being part of a thriving persecuted cult or part of a failed persecuted cult?

Pretty easy answer huh?

Jay D. Homnick said...

I should also point out that the same thing happens to Christianity as well; some media tout who sucks up to reporters becomes quoted as a 'leading theologian' and all serious Christians look at each other and go: 'Who?'

Tlaloc said...

"Paul wasn't a Christian until after the resurrection."

You are taking this too literally. I'm no saying "It was paul!" All I'm doing is pointing out that hypothetically there were a substantial number of people who had method motive and opportunity. Did they do the crime? No way to know, but it is certainly possible, and it is just as supported by the "proof" of ressurection.



"I'm curious what motive you think the early Christians had for "inventing" a religion based on utterly abominable lies that they knew would earn violent persecution from the Jews (and eventually the Romans)."

Are you kidding? Lets say you were an apostle of Christ and you really believed in his words. But then he died. Is it so hard for you to understand that people might lie in such a situation to keep their faith alive?

Good god man you do know about Young Earth Creationists right? People confronted with the fact of the age of the earth who simply cannot accept it. These people delude themselves and anyone else they can that the earth is a few thousand years old. Despite the huge amount of evidence they want to believe the opposite so badly that they simply do.

I said it already to Hunter but let me reinforce it: You have dedicated your life to a religion which is persecuted and the leader just died. Do you have a vested interest in keeping the faith going? Hell yes. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven afterall. The leader of a persecuted living faith still gets perks. The follower of a persecuted dead faith gets nothing.

Hunter Baker said...

Hey Jay, I don't know what it means, but you can find Pinchas Lapid online at askarabbi.com! He's apparently German, which may explain the fact you don't know him.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...
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The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Could it possibly be spelled Lapide?

Matt Huisman said...

Okay so what they are saying is that the very text upon which the religion is based says the religion is true. Well, DUH. How exactly is that proof in ANY way though?

This is a little bit more significant than you’re leading on because these accounts have been contested for years on grounds as having no historicity at all. Here we have evidence that the resurrection appearances and the empty tomb historically existed. You can dispute the real cause of these items, but not the fact that they occurred.

I'm sure if we read the Book of Mormon it'll have lots of claims of various Native Americans seeing Jesus. Is that then proof that it happened?

No, but if someone (like this guy) says that Mormonism’s claim that modern day Native Americans are the descendants of a group of Israelites is not possible (based on DNA evidence), then the Mormons have a problem (to extent that the scientist is credible – I have no idea about this guy). Those who believe in the historical resurrection have overcome this type of challenge to their beliefs.

Even the most skeptical scholars admit that the earliest disciples at least believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Indeed, they pinned nearly everything on it. Without belief in the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity could never have come into being."

But, gosh, that couldn't possibly have been a motive to fake it now could it? I mean here you are saying these people desperately needed the ressurection to establish their religion in a meaningful way... but nobody who is desperate would ever lie or steal, would they?


If you go on to read the rest of the paragraph, you find out that this was significant because there is no reason to believe they would/could have dreamed up this resurrection concept or even chose it if they knew about it (Mithras included).

Okay Hunter, let's hypothesize a scenario:

Christ dies after some brutal treatment by the Romans. Paul looks up at his crucified messiah and realizes his life's work has just gone down the drain. After paying Mr. Iscariot a visit with the biblical equivilent of a tire iron he gets down to some serious thinking.


I’ve heard of people being proactive before, but given that there weren’t even any Christians around yet for Paul to start persecuting (before experiencing his own dramatic roadside conversion/hallucination), I’m going to guess that you meant Peter or John. Now I grant you that it is theoretically possible that the whole resurrection story was a fraud, but given all of the history of what the Jews envisioned their Messiah to be, the limitations of the disciples themselves, the success of the movement, the willingness to be martyred – the far more likely version of events is that they truly believed what they saw.

Anyway the point here is that if you have data that you claim supports a conclusion and someone else can write another conclusion equally supported by your data then it does not in fact prove your conclusion.

But that’s the point, your hypothesis is not as equally supported as the Christian account of the resurrection. If you were objecting on naturalist grounds I would understand – I would disagree, but I would understand. But you have given indications in the past that you were not entirely opposed to the concept of the supernatural. If that’s still true, then the Christian account is easily the most plausible scenario explaining the resurrection story.

Hunter Baker said...

T, actually the hypothetical is that you've dedicated about a year or so to following a variant of your own established religion and things go south big time. You can go on and be persecuted, miserable, and have no idea where the next meal is coming from or whether you are going to live or die, or you can return to your old life.

No brainer.

Unless something happened, that is.

Tlaloc said...

"This is a little bit more significant than you’re leading on because these accounts have been contested for years on grounds as having no historicity at all. Here we have evidence that the resurrection appearances and the empty tomb historically existed. You can dispute the real cause of these items, but not the fact that they occurred."

That's fine. If you want to say this is evidence ONLY of an empty tomb that might work. Actually it still doesn't because as before he argues that because the account of the burial was accurate the account of opening the tomb must also be accurate which is frankly just lame reasoning. A person who makes a mistake or lies about one thing won't automatically be wrong or deceitful about everything. Indeed a liar's axiom is that the closer you keep it to the truth the better.



"No, but if someone (like this guy) says that Mormonism’s claim that modern day Native Americans are the descendants of a group of Israelites is not possible (based on DNA evidence), then the Mormons have a problem (to extent that the scientist is credible – I have no idea about this guy). Those who believe in the historical resurrection have overcome this type of challenge to their beliefs."

No they haven't. First off we are talking about two entirely different things.

1) hunter wants to claim evidence of the ressurection
2) you talk about scientifically disproving a religion

those are different in that one involves the positive affirmation while the second is a dispute.

For the record I wouldn't ever try to say the ressurection is scientifically impossible. That's not a question science can address. What we are discussing here though is Hunter's claim of evidence and how it doesn't hold up to cursory examination.



" If you go on to read the rest of the paragraph, you find out that this was significant because there is no reason to believe they would/could have dreamed up this resurrection concept or even chose it if they knew about it (Mithras included)."

No Mithras NOT included. The author painstakingly avoids mentioning the very obvious source of the ressurection myth. He confines himself to only talking about jewish and christian myths.



"Now I grant you that it is theoretically possible that the whole resurrection story was a fraud, but given all of the history of what the Jews envisioned their Messiah to be, the limitations of the disciples themselves, the success of the movement, the willingness to be martyred – the far more likely version of events is that they truly believed what they saw."

Ask yourself how much of that was true at the time and how much was fudged later.



"But that’s the point, your hypothesis is not as equally supported as the Christian account of the resurrection."

Sure it is. It explains the empyt tomb, the claims of Jesus being seen, and the "origin of the Christian way" which were the three pieces of evidence the author provided.



"But you have given indications in the past that you were not entirely opposed to the concept of the supernatural. If that’s still true, then the Christian account is easily the most plausible scenario explaining the resurrection story"

I like you matt but to claim that a supernatural ressurection is the MOST LIKELY scenario when human malfeasance is admittedly possible is just dumb. You admit it could be a fake. And you have ample evidence of fakes throughout history. And yet you cut yourself badly on Occam's razor.

Tlaloc said...

"T, actually the hypothetical is that you've dedicated about a year or so to following a variant of your own established religion and things go south big time. You can go on and be persecuted, miserable, and have no idea where the next meal is coming from or whether you are going to live or die, or you can return to your old life."

Right cause nobody throws good money after bad. And people are oh so forgiving about religious differences that if you recant they won't bother you anymore.

Get real Hunter, you know as well as I do that a lot of people who are down and out will keep on doing what they are used to in the hopes of the big score, rather than make a change.

People are creatures of habit.

Hunter Baker said...

Yeah, what was the big score again? The main man was dead. Following him and claiming his name promised more of the same. No big score, Fred, unless something amazing happened to cause them to have hope.

Tlaloc said...

"Yeah, what was the big score again? The main man was dead. Following him and claiming his name promised more of the same. No big score, Fred, unless something amazing happened to cause them to have hope."

You are familiar with that little thing called the Catholic Church, right? That institution that dominated the western world through out the dark ages? That was the big score. The creation of a church to enrich the priesthood at the expense of the original message.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Hunter, askarabbi.com is a freak show of hippies and eccentrics. Read the bios of those guys (and gals) and you'll see they mostly call themselves "non-denominational" and "independent", which, in the rabbi business, means too weird for any organized denomination.

Trust me, Lapid is not a leading anything and his views are far from lapidary.

Hunter Baker said...

Oh . . . my . . . goodness . . .

You are actually using the many centuries later wealth of the Catholic Church to explain why the immediate followers of Jesus Christ suffered terrible persecution and death instead of going back to life as usual.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

I'm done w' ye' again, I fear. It just becomes too comical.

(Cue shouting about how that's fine because everybody is afraid of what you have to say, etc.)

Hunter Baker said...

Jay, I'd have to assume that any Jewish theologian holding the views attributed to Pinchas Lapid would have to be outside of the mainstream of your theological community. That would not necessarily mean that he is a person without academic gravitas.

I hasten to add that I have no idea what his actual standing is. I would assume that he would not be cited by a scholar such as Craig (who would know the terrain of this particular debate) unless he were actually a person of substance.

Matt Huisman said...

Tlaloc>> I like you matt but to claim that a supernatural ressurection is the MOST LIKELY scenario when human malfeasance is admittedly possible is just dumb.

As far as I can tell, the only really dumb thing here would be to not give the resurrection story a legitimate hearing. As I said earlier, if you reject the notion on naturalistic grounds - I disagree, but understand.

However, if you have some inclination to believe that there is something beyond the purely physical - then I have to believe that resistance to the resurrection account is based on something other than the details provided. The evidence in Christianity's favor is really quite substantial - especially when you compare it with the alternatives.

You admit it could be a fake. And you have ample evidence of fakes throughout history. And yet you cut yourself badly on Occam's razor.

Well, I base my belief on a lot more than the historical truth of the resurrection story, but that doesn't mean the facts in the story don't hold up. I don't suggest history as a primary tool of evangelism, but at the same time, I do believe the events detailed in the Bible should stand historical scrutiny. As far as I'm aware, the Bible is holding up fairly well under the microscope of skeptic science.

With respect to the possibility of it all being a fake - if you were going to try to pull this off, would you really go about things the same way as the disciples did? Would Jesus have gone about things the way he did? If so, you would have been part of the worst executed fraud in history. The idea that Paul somehow came out ahead (materially) due to his conversion - or that he had the chance to - is preposterous.

I could go on and on - but it seems to me the first thing to recognize in this thread (like the earlier thread about Christian worldview and history) is not whether this event did or did not happen. But rather that the arguments in Christianity's favor are a lot better than most people give them credit for - and that the reason for this lack of intellectual charity is based on conditions beyond the scope of the facts up for discussion.

Tlaloc said...

"You are actually using the many centuries later wealth of the Catholic Church to explain why the immediate followers of Jesus Christ suffered terrible persecution and death instead of going back to life as usual."

The point is that obviously there was a trememndous amount of potential in Christianity as a money and influence making tool. Religion has historically been the greatest con game for those cynical to perpetrate it. You deny that any possible motive could exist except absolute pure earnestness. Obviously since the Church did become a tool for enriching priests that isn't true. The only question is when exactly Christ's words got turned into product.

Do you have any way to prove it wasn't immediately?

Tlaloc said...

"However, if you have some inclination to believe that there is something beyond the purely physical - then I have to believe that resistance to the resurrection account is based on something other than the details provided."

I haven't ever denied that it could have happened. Again you are mixing up the argument.

I am not claiming Christ's ressurection was faked.

I am claiming it could have been faked.

Hunter is the one claiming it must have been real.

In other words Hunter is the one making the definitive claim and I am refuting it in favor of multiple possibilities. That puts the onus of proof on Hunter and so far he's come up with squat.



"The evidence in Christianity's favor is really quite substantial - especially when you compare it with the alternatives."

Okay what evidence is that? Do we have any independent accounts? No. Only those of believers. Do we have well documented accounts from thos believers? No only heavily modified and edited accounts from two thousand years ago. Do we have any physical evidence? No none whatsoever.

So what exactly is this compelling evidence you speak of?



"With respect to the possibility of it all being a fake - if you were going to try to pull this off, would you really go about things the same way as the disciples did?"

Would I? No. But that doesn't prove anything. Besides maybe it wasn't the disciples who faked it. Maybe they were the targets of the con and not the perpetrators. I don't know. Like I said there are milions of ways this could have gone down.



"Would Jesus have gone about things the way he did?"

Who knows? I suspect Jesus was a well meaning mystic but maybe he was a cynical user of people. We don't have anything that remotely tells us what really happened. Only the incredibly prejudiced accounts of those who have a lot to gain by making Jesus larger than life.



"If so, you would have been part of the worst executed fraud in history. The idea that Paul somehow came out ahead (materially) due to his conversion - or that he had the chance to - is preposterous."

Of course he had a chance to.
exhibit A: the Catholic Church. The most powerful entity in the western world after a few centuries. You really think Paul couldn't have leveraged being one of god's chosen 12 into some cash and chicks? Get real.



"But rather that the arguments in Christianity's favor are a lot better than most people give them credit for - "

If you have some let's hear them.

Look I have no problem if you want to have faith in Christ and the ressurection. By all means have a ball. But when you claim evidence of it then you are stepping into my court and it's put up time. Evidence is totaly different than faith. I don't begrudge you your faith. But when you claim evidence you are claiming a pre-eminance of your religion because evidence is universal whereas faith is personal.

Making universal claims about your religion means you better be able to back it up and so far you can't. Not even a little.

My advice: go back to claiming faith. It's safe and you don't have to have these conversations where you get confronted with the fact that your religion may be just a bit more cynical than you want to admit.

Matt Huisman said...

Tlaloc>> In other words Hunter is the one making the definitive claim and I am refuting it in favor of multiple possibilities. That puts the onus of proof on Hunter and so far he's come up with squat.

Hunter has put forward, with out much effort, far more than squat. Your counter-argument here is basically equivalent to the reasonable doubt defenses used by the writers of ‘The Practice’. You sling mud at all of the participants involved (in the historical account) - assign them all kinds of motives with out any basis - and hope that something will stick as plausible. But if you’re going to ask a jury to choose between a fake or a perceived appearance, then this is really a no contest. Evidence does not require that you have actual video footage of the event in question. Relative to assumptions made by historians about other historical accounts, the evidence produced by Hunter (WL Craig, Habermas/Flew for starters) is quite overwhelming.

My advice: go back to claiming faith. It's safe and you don't have to have these conversations where you get confronted with the fact that your religion may be just a bit more cynical than you want to admit.

Look, here’s what I will concede. I would not become a Christian based solely on the evidence of the resurrection. However, after reviewing the account and considering all of the historical context, the people involved, the likelihood of the various motives we’ve discussed and the counter-arguments – I believe that the reasonable person should feel compelled to examine the Christian faith further. The reality, unfortunately, is that most will not due a host of reasons that are absolutely trivial when you consider what is at stake.

Tlaloc said...

"Your counter-argument here is basically equivalent to the reasonable doubt defenses used by the writers of ‘The Practice’. You sling mud at all of the participants involved (in the historical account) - assign them all kinds of motives with out any basis - and hope that something will stick as plausible."

Once again Matt, if your evidence of ressurection works just as well as evidence of fraud (and it does because all of the evidence is incidental to the actual eressurection itself) then it is not actually evidence of the ressurection.



"But if you’re going to ask a jury to choose between a fake or a perceived appearance, then this is really a no contest."

I'll take that bet any day. We sit down with a jury and tell them some guy who was executed in Texas last year came back from the dead. You can call several witnesses who swear to having seen him alive afterward but have no evidence except an empty grave. I'll show that they all had a financial benefit in the deceased being still alive and that nobody who wasn't invovled has seen this guy.

Guess what the jury will rule. Go on guess.



" Relative to assumptions made by historians about other historical accounts, the evidence produced by Hunter (WL Craig, Habermas/Flew for starters) is quite overwhelming."

I'm sorry Matt but it's not. It's not evidence of anything, just a bad set of assumptions put together by some guy who apparently doesn't have sufficient faith and needs some evidence even if he has to manufacture it.

James Elliott said...

After all, we could have been created by a giant spaghetti monster.


I find that to be equally convincing when compared to the Judeo-Christian God.

A giant spaghetti monster would also be cool, and able to feed its followers in times of need. "Body of Christ" indeed.

Hunter Baker said...

T, I would like you to finally, at long last, master the spelling of
RESURRECTION.

James, there is something about discussing religion that brings out the terrible worst in you, a fellow who is basically quite decent at heart.

Matt Huisman said...

Tlaloc>> Once again Matt, if your evidence of ressurection works just as well as evidence of fraud (and it does because all of the evidence is incidental to the actual eressurection itself) then it is not actually evidence of the ressurection.

I think we’ve been clear around here that we’re not saying we have video footage of the event. I also have said on several occasions that I understand the inability of some to believe on naturalistic grounds. But what we have argued – and if you really go into all of the info available to you here and elsewhere, I believe the case is extremely good – is that the evidence strongly points to a perceived appearance as opposed to a fraud.

I'll take that bet any day. We sit down with a jury and tell them some guy who was executed in Texas last year came back from the dead.

You sure you want the guy in your example to be from Texas? I’ll have a lot of Baylor grads – and they’re the ones you’d probably have to pick - in my jury pool. =)

I'll show that they all had a financial benefit in the deceased being still alive and that nobody who wasn't invovled has seen this guy.

Courts have to deal with these types of evidence ‘issues’ all the time, and - contrary to the depictions on ‘Law & Order’ – accept evidence such as we have presented here all the time. Again, if the question being argued is did these men fake it or did they really believe they saw a resurrected Christ - you’re toast. If we take it beyond that and ask if a bunch of hallucinators could really carry off the spread of this new belief system to the extent that they did - I’m still in pretty good shape. Your argument is 99% based on the notion that there is no such thing as God – and I grant you that it is a very good argument – the rest of your reasoning does little to discredit the facts we've put forth.

I'm sorry Matt but it's not. It's not evidence of anything, just a bad set of assumptions put together by some guy who apparently doesn't have sufficient faith and needs some evidence even if he has to manufacture it.

Now you’re just being petty. The man makes an argument. The argument is worthy of consideration. You don’t have to believe it - and you obviously don't. Let's just leave it at that.

Hunter Baker said...

Matt, another thing T doesn't take into account is the inexplicable and amazing growth of the Christian church which provided little but pain and persecution for the first centuries of its existence. You add that to the various evidences already proposed and you have something you can conceive of as possibly true.

Like you, I understand the naturalistic objection, but the whole self-interest argument is serious bovine scatology.

James Elliott said...

James, there is something about discussing religion that brings out the terrible worst in you, a fellow who is basically quite decent at heart

I was just going for the cheap laugh, emphasis on the cheap. Body of Christ:wafer :: spaghetti monster:delicious pasta dish. In both instances you're consuming your deity, get it? I bet Kathy got it.

And like I said: Dead man rises from dead:believable :: spaghetti monster:believable. Kinda hard to refute that one.

Hunter Baker said...

James, the spaghetti monster thing wasn't so bad on its own. I read it with your other bad joke and found the combination pretty mean-spirited and unnecessarily so since it didn't really advance the conversation.

Like I say, generally you operate well within the zone of decency.

Kathy Hutchins said...

I bet Kathy got it.

There's a difference between "getting" a joke and finding it within the bounds of acceptable humor. I understand that many people either do not understand the solemn reverence in which Catholics hold the Body of Christ, or they don't give a flip if they offend Catholics. So I generally don't make a fuss about a comment I think goes over the line. That doesn't mean that I forget it was said.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

I would like to apologize for starting the whole spaghetti monster bit. It was clearly a failed attempt at sarcasm.

My humble apologies...

James ... I can only hope that your computer was hijacked by a complete jerk (re: post above and the one I read before Hunter deleted it).