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Answering 5 More Common Objections to the Resurrection

Objections

NOTE: Christians around the world celebrated Good Friday and Easter last week, which commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus we began a six-part series on these events by Dr. Peter Kreeft in which he examines each of the plausible theories attempting to explain what happened to Jesus at the end of his life, particularly whether he rose from the dead.

Part 1 - 5 Possible Theories that Explain the Resurrection of Jesus
Part 2 - Rejecting the Swoon Theory: 9 Reasons Why Jesus Did Not Faint on the Cross
Part 3 - Debunking the Conspiracy Theory: 7 Arguments Why Jesus’ Disciples Did Not Lie
Part 4 - Refuting the Myth Theory: 6 Reasons Why the Resurrection Accounts are True
Part 5 - Real Visions: 13 Reasons the Disciples Did Not Hallucinate
Part 6 - Answering 5 More Common Objections to the Resurrection
 


 
No alternative to a real resurrection has yet explained six key facts: the existence of the Gospels, the origin of the Christian faith, the failure of Christ's enemies to produce his corpse, the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, or the accounts of the post-resurrection appearances. Swoon, conspiracy, hallucination, and myth have been shown to be the only alternatives to a real resurrection, and each has been refuted.

What reasons could be given at this point for anyone who still would refuse to believe? At this point, general rather than specific objections are usually given. For instance:

Objection 1: History is not an exact science. It does not yield absolute certainty like mathematics.

Reply: This is true, but why would you note that fact now and not when you speak of Caesar or Luther or George Washington? History is not exact, but it is sufficient. No one doubts that Caesar crossed the Rubicon; why do many doubt that Jesus rose from the dead? The evidence for the latter is much better than for the former.

Objection 2: You can't trust documents. Paper proves nothing. Anything can be forged.

Reply: This is simply ignorance. Not trusting documents is like not trusting telescopes. Paper evidence suffices for most of what we believe; why should it suddenly become suspect here?

Objection 3: Because the resurrection is miraculous. It's the content of the idea rather than the documentary evidence for it that makes it incredible.

Reply: Now we finally have a straightforward objection—not to the documentary evidence but to miracles. This is a philosophical question, not a scientific, historical or textual question.

Objection 4: It's not only miracles in general but this miracle in particular that is objectionable. The resurrection of a corpse is crass, crude, vulgar, literalistic, and materialistic. Religion should be more spiritual, inward, ethical.

Reply: If religion is what we invent, we can make it whatever we like. If it is what God invented, then we have to take it as we find it, just as we have to take the universe as we find it, rather than as we'd like it to be. Death is crass, crude, vulgar, literal, and material. The resurrection meets death where it is and conquers it, rather than merely spouting some harmless, vaporous abstractions about spirituality. The resurrection is as vulgar as the God who did it. He also made mud and bugs and toenails.

Objection 5: But a literalistic interpretation of the resurrection ignores the profound dimensions of meaning found in the symbolic, spiritual, and mythic realms that have been deeply explored by other religions. Why are Christians so narrow and exclusive? Why can't they see the profound symbolism in the idea of resurrection?

Reply: They can. It's not either-or. Christianity does not invalidate the myths, it validates them, by incarnating them. It is "myth become fact," to use the title of a germane essay by C.S. Lewis (in God in the Dock). Why prefer a one-layer cake to a two-layer cake? Why refuse either the literal-historical or the mythic-symbolic aspects of the resurrection? The Fundamentalist refuses the mythic-symbolic aspects because he has seen what the Modernist has done with it: used it to exclude the literal-historical aspects. Why have the Modernists done that? What terrible fate awaits them if they follow the multifarious and weighty evidence and argument that naturally emerges from the data, as we have summarized it here in this series of posts?

The answer is not obscure: traditional Christianity awaits them, complete with adoration of Christ as God, obedience to Christ as Lord, dependence on Christ as Savior, humble confession of sin, and a serious effort to live Christ's life of self-sacrifice, detachment from the world, righteousness, holiness, and purity of thought, word, and deed. The historical evidence is massive enough to convince the open-minded inquirer. By analogy with any other historical event, the resurrection has eminently credible evidence behind it. To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules you use everywhere else in history. Now why would someone want to do that?

Ask yourself that question if you dare, and take an honest look into your heart before you answer.
 
 
Excerpted from “Handbook of Catholic Apologetics", copyright 1994, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, published 2009 Ignatius Press, used with permission of the publisher. Text reproduced from PeterKreeft.com.

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Dr. Peter Kreeft

Written by

Dr. Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and a noted Catholic apologist and philosopher. He is a convert to the Catholic Church from reformed Protestantism. He earned an A.B. degree from Calvin College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University, followed by post-doctoral work at Yale University. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 60 books including Making Sense Out of Suffering (Servant, 1986); Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics (Ignatius, 1988); Catholic Christianity (Ignatius, 2001); The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion (IVP, 2002); and The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings (Ignatius, 2005). Many of Peter's books are also integrated into the Logos software. Find dozens of audio talks, essays, and book excerpts at his website, PeterKreeft.com.

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  • "Objection 2: You can't trust documents. Paper proves nothing. Anything can be forged.

    Reply: This is simply ignorance. Not trusting documents is like not trusting telescopes. Paper evidence suffices for most of what we believe; why should it suddenly become suspect here?"
    First of all, trusting a document depends enormously on context. In a court of law, all documents are by default excluded from evidence on the basis that they are hearsay. This is because the documents themselves cannot explain their context. We cannot cross-examine them under oath and ask "were you lying, were you joking, did you actually see this or are you relying on things other people said, did you write this, is it a copy, has anything been added since the original and so on and so on." A minimum for trusting a document is to demonstrate who wrote it and that it is the original text.

    For historians, they are in a worse position, but have lower stakes than courts of law. They will rarely be able to speak to the author and prove authenticity to a legal standard. Once authenticated in some respect, they might trust what documents say, particularly if they are corroborated by other independent evidence. I think this is key in a historical analysis. We look to as many sources as we can and try and build a coherent story. That is about all history can say, these various documents and artifacts suggest this is what happened. Where there is a dearth of sources, or conflicting sources, we have less confidence in what happened. Ideally we would want documents by known authors in contexts we understand that are corroborated by other sources.

    When we look at the New Testament documents it is a mixed bag. This isn't surprising as we are dealing with events that are many centuries old. Much of the information is consistent with other sources and we can say this probably happened.

    But much is not corroborated. There are no contemporary accounts of someone rising from the dead in that area. There are the letters of Paul, but he does not claim to have witnessed this. There are Gospels, by anonymous persons, who we think wrote them decades later. Not ideal but still a source.

    Some people call the Gospels eyewitness accounts, though I do not think they themselves do. However, there are a number of things we know the author could not have witnessed, situations where Jesus is alone, the trial. There are stories that people saw a risen Christ.

    While we are not necessarily skeptical about all the information contained in the New Testament, we are right to question whether supernatural events occurred. This is because these events are generally thought to be impossible or extremely rare. Even Christians must admit that resurrection happened only twice. So it is very rare, and completely unknown outside the Gospels.

    So, generally, a supernatural thing actually happening will never or almost never be the reason a document claims it did happen. We can then look if there is anything about these documents that would raise their credibility. But there is little if anything. We don't know who wrote them, they don't say who wrote them. They weren't written anytime near the events they discuss. They are not independent, they have large sections in common. They appear to be written for specific theological purposes, rather than history. We do not have the original documents or know what was in the originals. We have copies, and we know these copies have been altered. None of the supernatural accounts are not independently corroborated. No supernatural event has ever been shown to have happened to scientific, historical, or legal standards. Even though we would expect there to be corroboration of things like a light that could draw people to a birthplace, the murder of the babies, and so on, they are mentioned nowhere else, despite the presence of a very literate imperial government.

    We then have very good reason to be suspicious of the account of supernatural events. We also have alternative possibilities that could easily explain these documents. Not lies or myth, or error, or hallucination, but a combination of them.

    For example, Saul is on the road to Damascus and has a seizure. As is very common with some forms of epilepsy, he feels he has had a religious encounter afterwards. Since he has been obsessing over this new cult of people deifying Jesus, and telling stories that he has visited them after death, he interprets this experience as being visited by Jesus himself. He exaggerates this story a bit, and some things are added in the copying of his letters. This is I think a pretty likely explanation, much more likely than God himself, though he had appeared to people he met hundreds of times actually resurrects and causes a seizure in which he actually speaks to Saul.

    • "Once authenticated in some respect, they might trust what documents say, particularly if they are corroborated by other independent evidence. I think this is key in a historical analysis."

      Christians, of course, agree! Multiple, independent attestations are not necessary for a trustworthy historical account, but they certainly add credence to it. Which is why the facts surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection are so strong: each fact is independently verified either among the disciples, Paul, non-Christian historians, or other witnesses.

      "Some people call the Gospels eyewitness accounts, though I do not think they themselves do. However, there are a number of things we know the author could not have witnessed, situations where Jesus is alone, the trial. There are stories that people saw a risen Christ."

      It's clear you don't understand what scholar mean when they describe the Gospels (or any historical texts) as "eyewitness accounts." They don't mean that the author personally witnessed every event he records. They mean that the documents record eyewitness testimony, whether the author's or those who share it with him.

      Again, I think you would really benefit from reading Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses .

      "While we are not necessarily skeptical about all the information contained in the New Testament, we are right to question whether supernatural events occurred. This is because these events are generally thought to be impossible or extremely rare."

      Sure! There is nothing wrong with questioning whether supernatural events occurred. In fact, that's precisely what the original disciples are recorded doing in the Gospels, and it's what Christians have done ever since. But for billions of people, that questioning leads to an inevitable conclusion: that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead.

      "Even Christians must admit that resurrection happened only twice..."

      Really? This is news to me and to the other 2.1 billion Christians around the world. We only believe one resurrection has ever occurred. I don't see how we "must" admit to two.

      "So, generally, a supernatural thing actually happening will never or almost never be the reason a document claims it did happen."

      Again, you just assert this but provide no reason to believe it is true. I see no reason to hold this view.

      "We can then look if there is anything about these documents that would raise their credibility. But there is little if anything."

      There is an overwhelming amount of scholarly support for the historical credibility of these documents. I'm not sure if you're just unaware of this scholarship or if you find serious problems with it, but blithely dismissing it in a couple sentences is not to seriously refute it, much less engage it.

      "We also have alternative possibilities that could easily explain these documents."

      No we do not. And it's notable that you do not provide any specific examples. If a theory "easily" explained away the Resurrection, one would assume you would share it.

      "Not lies or myth, or error, or hallucination, but a combination of them."

      These have each been shown to be implausible. Combining them together only multiplies the implausibility. Far from "easily" explaining the facts surround Jesus' death and post-mortem appearances, they fail to explain them.

      "For example, Saul is on the road to Damascus and has a seizure. . .This is I think a pretty likely explanation."

      I'd first begin by noting that virtually no biblical scholar seriously entertains this idea (because it fails to explain even a small amount of the biblical facts) and that it arises from neurosurgeon in the late '80s. It's since been thoroughly debunked (go here for more: http://bvogt.us/1aVVsnV).

      Besides that, it doesn't even attempt to explain the empty tomb, the transformation of Jesus' disciples, the many other encounters people claimed to have with the risen Jesus (none of which involved anything close to a seizure), etc.

      This theory fails by many historical measures--explanatory scope, explanatory power, plausibility, ad hocness, accord with accepted beliefs, and superiority to rival hypotheses.

      In the end, it's not just unlikely, it's completely untenable as an explanation of the historical facts.

      If that's your best example of a theory that "easily explains" the resurrection, I think you're seriously misled.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        We only believe one resurrection has ever occurred. I don't see how we "must" admit to two.

        I assume that Brian is referring to Lazarus.

        • David Nickol

          There was also the raising of Jarius's daughter (Matt 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56) and the risen "saints" (Matt 27:51-53):

          And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.* The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

        • William Davis

          I see David's resurrections and raise him these:

          The prophet Elijah prays and God raises a young boy from death (1 Kings 17:17-24)

          Elisha raises the son of the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:32-37); this was the very same child whose birth he previously foretold (2 Kings 4:8-16)

          A dead man's body that was thrown into the dead Elisha's tomb is resurrected when the body touches Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:21)

          • Eric

            These are common misunderstandings between resuscitations and resurrections. All of the cases we have in the scriptures are what would be most properly termed 'resuscitations' where a body once dead is restored to natural life. A person once resuscitated will inevitably die again by some other means at a later date.

            Resurrection, on the other hand, is something entirely different. A resurrected body is not a body restored to natural life but one which (at least from the biblical accounts) seems to transcend what we know a natural human life to be and be capable of. Jesus resurrected speaks, breaths, can be touched, retains the wounds of the Passion and Crucifixion and even eats. At the same time Jesus resurrected is occasionally unrecognizable, appears suddenly in a locked room in the midst of a small group, and will not die again.

            Within the text of scripture there is only a single account of resurrection, Jesus the Christ.

          • William Davis

            Resurrection: the act of rising from the dead.

            Resuscitation: to revive from apparent death or from unconsciousness

            If you resuscitate someone, they weren't really dead. That is not the case with these other resurrections; they were supposed to be truly dead. Jesus ascended, so we have no idea if he would have aged if he stayed on earth. There are two similar cases in the Hebrew Bible, Enoch and Elijah.

            Genesis 5:24 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.

            2 Kings 2 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

            According to scripture, neither Enoch and Elijah died because they went straight heaven. However told you that these other resurrections are not resurrections is making a mistake.

            The wikipedia article is pretty good if you want more info on resurrection, there are many more reported resurrections in history than these, however.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection

          • Eric

            Wikipedia's concepts of resurrection and resuscitation are not treated the same by the biblical authors. When the topic is handled in scripture the biggest distinction is not in their state prior to living but in the kind of life expereinced afterwards. From the OT through the to new the event that happened to JEsus is entirely unique...something that the NT authors are careful to point out in their post-resurrection accounts and in their discussions about the event afterwards. All others but Jesus indeed died again

          • William Davis

            I see, it's a non-standard definition only used by bible scholars. Cool, but don't be surprised if I stick to normal English, but I'll know next time why some claim their was only one resurrection, in the Bible at least.

          • David Nickol

            Within the text of scripture there is only a single account of resurrection, Jesus the Christ.

            I think perhaps it is reasonable to accept this distinction in the cases of Lazarus and Jarius's daughter, but what of Matthew's account of the "saints" who are resurrected after the resurrection of Jesus? It seems to me this group of resurrected "saints" is considered a "preview" of the general resurrection at the end of the world.

          • Eric

            Matthew's treatment of the saints walking the earth is not entirely clear. It may be that they are the first the share in the resurrected life the Christ heralds after his own resurrection (a visible sign of the fulfileld promise to the thief on the cross "This day you will be with me in paradise" or he may have had other, theological reasons for including the account. (well, he does but it may have been historical as well as theological). What we know is that Neither Matthew nor the other NT authors speak of any other person, nor are they depicted in the same way as the Resurrected Jesus. Their point seems to be that what has happened with Christ is an entirely unique event.

        • LgVt

          A distinction needs to be made here between resurrection (Jesus--permanent) and resuscitation (Lazarus et al--died again later).

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            I suspected there may be a distinction. In either case, Brian's point still remains: resurrection is an extremely rare event.

          • William Davis

            See my response to Eric

          • David Nickol

            Where in the Bible does it say that Lazarus and the daughter of Jarius, both raised by Jesus, died a second time?

          • Eric

            Where in the bible does it say that either of them were bodily assumed or ascended into another form of being in such a way that their continued (eternal) bodily existence was no longer readily discernible as is mentioned of Jesus' own ascension in Acts?

            What I mean to suggested is that if we are going to see their coming back to life as a similar (eternal) resurrection based on no other biblical evidence to the contrary then we will also be forced to assume that they remain bodily present to us to this very day simply because there is no biblical testimony to the contrary. Neither Jarius's daughter, nor Lazarus nor any of the other OT figures are around today even though the bible does not testify to their ascending.

            At the same time we do have biblical testimony that the early church questioned Paul about when Jesus would return to share his resurrected life with the rest of them and expressed some concern that members of the community were currently dying. Paul does not try to reassure them by pointing to Jarius' daughter or Lazarus or any other of the OT figures that have been referenced in this thread and telling them that, because these figures are all still living and will continue to live forever...they have nothing to fear. Nor does Paul or the other Apostles react to their concerns by simply going out and raising all of the dead back to a new and eternal life.

            In fact what we see consistently through the NT is that the event of Jesus' resurrection is treated entirely differently than any of the others who were raised. This is not just by one author. Every NT author speaks about Jesus' Resurrection in a way that is entirely distinct from how they speak about and describe the others.

            These conclusions do not come from some special 'scholars only' insight that the poor ignorant masses of lay Christians and non-believers just would not understand. This isn't some process of strictly biblical exegesis, its actually a pretty standard way of approaching pretty much any literary text and though comparative analysis of themes and ideas coming to certain reasonable conclusions about what the author intended to portray and the kind of meaning the author intends to give the language images and ideas he or she uses in the text.

            We do this kind of analysis whenever we read an author's work, looking at how they treat their characters, the language that they use and how they use it and the kinds of themes they are developing to get a sense of what they are trying to say. In reference to Resurrection in the scriptures, it is perfectly reasonable even from a purely literary standpoint, to see that the authors intend to portray Jesus' Resurrection as an event like no other in human history.

          • David Nickol

            Thank you for taking the trouble to make such a detailed response!

            I don't deny that Christianity in general has come up with a reasonable and coherent theory. My point is that no matter how well the theory explains the "facts," it is still speculation. For all I know, it may be true.

            Off the top of my head, I can't think of any follow-up reports on any of the reported miraculous cures of Jesus. People are just instantaneously cured of hemorrhages, leprosy, blindness, paralysis, or possession, and we never hear about them again. How did they feel a year later, or even the next day? There is nothing in the New Testament about the eventual fate of Lazarus or Jarius's daughter. Also, no one asks them, "What was it like to be dead? What did you see in the afterlife?"

            So if we take for granted what we are told in the New Testament about Lazarus, or Jarius's daughter, or the resurrected "saints" in Matthew, we may be able to make plausible speculations about what their eventual fate was. But even if I accepted the New Testament as utterly true, I would be hesitant to say what "must have" happened to Lazarus.

            It would be interesting to know how much of what we now believe about "glorified bodies" can be traced back to Judaism after the Old Testament but before Judaism. The resurrection of the dead and some kind of final judgment was not an original idea of Jesus.

          • Pofarmer

            "Neither Jarius's daughter, nor Lazarus nor any of the other OT figures are around today even though the bible does not testify to their ascending."

            Psssst. Jesus ain't either. Maybe he could come back down and clear this all up.

      • Papalinton

        Brandon: "Christians, of course, agree! Multiple, independent attestations are not necessary for a trustworthy historical account, but they certainly add credence to it. Which is why the facts surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection are so strong: each fact is independently verified either among the disciples, Paul, non-Christian historians, or other witnesses."

        What sort of feedback have you been receiving from Muslins and Jews about these purported facts? I mean, having some 1.6 billion Muslims and some 14 million Jews stemming from the same belief system, have you had any response from any of them lately about these incontrovertible facts? Have you thought of paying a visit to Saudi Arabia to apprise the people there of the incontestable evidence for the gospels? Just curious. What about Kreeft? Has he thought of making the sacrifice for the truth of the gospels in Medina? After all, he swears by their very truth. I mean, your battle isn't with atheists in the backpockets of middle America. We're simply a dot in the landscape. Christianity's real existential battle is with Islam.

        Just saying.

        • "What sort of feedback have you been receiving from Muslins and Jews about these purported facts? I mean, having some 1.6 billion Muslims and some 14 million Jews stemming from the same belief system, have you had any response from any of them lately about these incontrovertible facts? Have you thought of paying a visit to Saudi Arabia to apprise the people there of the incontestable evidence for the gospels? Just curious. What about Kreeft? Has he thought of making the sacrifice for the truth of the gospels in Medina? After all, he swears by their very truth. I mean, your battle isn't with atheists in the backpockets of middle America. We're simply a dot in the landscape. Christianity's real existential battle is with Islam.

          Just saying."

          I struggle to see how this comment is relevant to the discussion. The overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars, believers and non-believers alike, agree with the facts Dr. Kreeft has leaned upon in his series: the crucifixion and death of Jesus, his honorable burial, the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and the sudden transformation of his disciples. They differ only in how they explain those facts, which is why Dr. Kreeft examined each of the most popular alternatives.

          The fact that many lay-Muslims don't believe Jesus was crucified, or that many Jews don't believe Jesus was resurrected, does nothing to change any of that.

          In fact, Dr. Kreeft engaged the most common Muslim theories (Jesus didn't die) and Jewish theories (Jesus' body was stolen, or the disciples lied).

          Whether Dr. Kreeft is willing to journey to Medina is irrelevant to the strength of his arguments.

          • Papalinton

            Brandon, of course you would struggle to see the relevance of this comment. And I suspect you would equally struggle to see why the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars and Judaic scholarship have never been convinced of the incontestable evidence for a purported resurrection. It is for me, just as it is for the overwhelming majority of Islamic and Judaic scholars, a most reasonable proposition to conclude that maybe, just maybe, the evidence for a resurrection is not as incontrovertible as NT scholars have us so desperately believe. Contemporary Jewish intellectual scholars, even today have never subscribed to a resurrection, let alone that a manGod walked around Palestine, despite such incontrovertible evidence being touted by NT scholars [Kreeft et al]. One can only conclude that your perspective on Islamic and Judaic intellectual scholars as tantamount to being the equivalent of 'holocaust deniers', denying the 'fact' of resurrection despite, and in the face of, such overwhelming incontrovertible evidence for its occurrence.

            Kreeft's claims really are a bit of a stretch when they a viewed in the broader context of comparative theological scholarship. In the cocooned manner in which Christian apologetics is conducted one can quickly lose sight of the historicity of the claims made and lurch into speculation and unfounded inference.

            I don't think you are able, let alone have the intellectual capacity, to appreciate the irony of your position, given the cocooning of your learning.

            In regard of your claim of the 'overwhelming majority of NT scholars', perhaps you have missed the most salient point in that this overwhelming majority also believe in a miracle, and as you seem not to appreciate, a belief in miracles is both highly contentious and problematic for scholars who claim to be bona fide historians. Perhaps you can spot the flaw in the algorithms:

            1. Jesus + Palestine + Romans + Insurrection + Crucifixion = Judaic [Islamic] History

            2. Jesus + Palestine + Romans + Insurrection + Crucifixion + Miracle [resurrection]= Christian History

            3. Jesus + Palestine + Romans + Insurrection + Crucifixion = Mainstream/Standard History.

            I think of the plethora of other Christian miracles, Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorja, etc that are used as apologia for the veracity of the Catholic faith, all of them attested to by multiple witnesses no less, both sanctioned and unsanctioned by the magisterium, and come away with the distinct judgement that historicity plays no part whatsoever in promulgating the resurrection mythos. The belief is perpetuated and sustained by psychological and emotive imperatives alone. That is the conclusion any reasonable, commonsensical, logical and fair-minded person ultimately arrives at.

            The Most Reverend Bishop John Shelby Spong, of the Episcopalian Church, a devout Christian, follower of Jesus and renowned theological intellectual, has already thought this through ion his treatise, "A New Christianity for a New World" with a Twelve-Point Thesis for the reform of Christianity:

            1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.

            2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.

            3. The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.

            4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.

            5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

            6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

            7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.

            8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.

            9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.

            10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.

            11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.

            12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

            Brandon, I await your response. And please don't punt to heresy or blasphemy.

          • "And I suspect you would equally struggle to see why the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars and Judaic scholarship have never been convinced of the so-called incontestable evidence for a purported resurrection."

            As I've explained several times now, scholars general disagree about the best explanation of the accepted historical facts, many times due to their philosophical or theological commitments. But that doesn't change the historical facts under discussion. You seem unable, or unwilling, to recognize this distinction.

            It should also be added that Jewish and Muslim biblical scholars are in the minority among all biblical scholars in the world, statistically. Mainstream scholarship generally dismisses the idea that Jesus never died or that the disciples stole his body.

            Finally, personal smears like this have no place here. Consider this a warning. We'll have to remove such comments in the future:

            "I don't think you are able, let alone have the intellectual capacity, to appreciate the irony of your position, given the cocooning of your learning."

          • Papalinton

            "As I've explained several times now, scholars general disagree about the best explanation of the accepted historical facts, many times due to their philosophical or theological commitments."

            I disagree with your assertion. The most that bona fide NT scholars can agree to as historical fact is that Jesus was a man, he was baptised by John, and he was killed. Even intellectual Judaic historians acknowledge those as based in fact. But as for all else, it is apologetical speculation and neither Dr Kreeft nor you have provided any incontestable evidence to move beyond those points of agreement. Perhaps you should read Dr Erhman on the matter, who has provided the single greatest exposition of the historical Jesus of any contemporary historian.

            You have not provided a response to the fact of Muslim and Judaic scholars arriving at a very different conclusion from you 'and the overwhelming majority of NT scholars' on the purported incontrovertible evidence for the resurrection. You have not addressed the issue of the irreconcilably problematic nature of miracles in documenting the historical account that does not punt to belief. You have not addressed the perspective of Dr Spong in which he outlines the steps necessary by which Christianity might maintain some element of relevance and purpose going forward. These are issues for tremendously serious intellectual and philosophical consideration for which you seem unable, or unwilling, to recognize and acknowledge.

            Warning noted.

        • Mike

          This is just a bizarre response.

          • David Nickol

            This is just a bizarre response.

            It seems to me all Papalinton is doing is responding to this statement of Peter Kreeft:

            To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules you use everywhere else in history. Now why would someone want to do that?

            Ask yourself that question if you dare, and take an honest look into your heart before you answer.

            As I understand him, Papalinton is saying to Kreeft, "If the resurrection is an undeniable fact to anyone who takes a look at the evidence, why doesn't just about everyone believe it, especially those non-Christians to whom the story of Jesus is most familiar because one way or another it is part of their own history?"

            To expand a little on what I think Kreeft's words and tone imply, he seems to me to be saying that any truly honest person would acknowledge the resurrection is a fact, at least as demonstrable as anything else in ancient history. Nobody has any really solid reason to deny it. Presumably, then, Jews and Muslims (and others) who do not believe in the resurrection are either deluding themselves or are suffering from "vincible" ignorance, and so have no valid defense for being nonbelievers.

          • Mike

            Jews and muslims aren't deluding themselves if their conception of God is as different as it seems to be. And imho yes i think they are suffering from "inv ign" if they honestly don't believe that God would humble himself and die for us (and rise from the dead).

            But i would hope that they would have enough respect for me to "say" the same thing to me: that i should become one of them!

            btw i joke that judaism is a religion that you can't join and islam is a religion that you can't leave ;)

          • Papalinton

            Spot on David.

      • VicqRuiz

        Brandon,

        We have differing views of what the New Testament actually is.

        Christians appear to hold that the gospels and apostolic letters are "simply" distinct writings of distinct individuals, each of whom brought his own powers of observation and deduction to what he saw and heard. Therefore, we should treat each as a separate historical source.

        Skeptics (or at least I) see the NT as the end product of centuries of collecting, curating, and collating by the early church leadership. According to what I have read, the formal NT canon was not established until the fourth century.

        During those intervening years, the church leadership reviewed the hundreds (thousands?) of documents, versions of documents, and oral traditions available to them. They selected those documents and versions which portrayed the described nature of Christ, and the narrative of what he did, which the leadership felt supported their doctrinal views and which they wished to promulgate to the world.

        So to treat the gospel narratives each as an indepedent first hand report, by the only men so qualified to report, is to ignore the whole process by which the NT was compiled.

        • "Christians appear to hold that the gospels and apostolic letters are "simply" distinct writings of distinct individuals, each of whom brought his own powers of observation and deduction to what he saw and heard. Therefore, we should treat each as a separate historical source."

          I don't know any Christian who holds this view. And I say that seriously, without hyperbole.

          All Christians I know, laymen and scholars alike, hold to the seemingly obvious view that the New Testament writings form a mixture of independent and dependent accounts. I don't see how you could read the Gospels, for instance, and think otherwise.

          The problem is that many atheists -- including not a few in this thread -- assume that a historical text must be either completely independent or completely dependent, and when they detect some overlap in some areas of the Gospels, they dismiss the entire thing on the basis that none of it is dependent.

          The problem with this approach is that most historical documents include a mixture of independent and dependent testimony, as the New Testament documents exemplify.

          The question we must ask, concerning literary independence, should only properly be asked in regards to particular events recorded in the Gospels. For example, take the post-mortem appearances of Jesus. Even though the Gospel writers (especially the synoptic authors) are dependent on each other for many accounts, they independently report different appearances of the risen Jesus. (As does St. Paul, another independent source.) So even if they are dependent in other cases, their reporting of this particular and important historical fact is independent, thus giving it heightened plausibility.

          "Skeptics (or at least I) see the NT as the end product of centuries of collecting, curating, and collating by the early church leadership. According to what I have read, the formal NT canon was not established until the fourth century."

          That's mostly true. The canon was not formally established until the late fourth century (because that's when it was most seriously being challenged) but that doesn't mean the Gospels and writings of St. Paul weren't viewed as authoritative before that.

          "During those intervening years, the church leadership reviewed the hundreds (thousands?) of documents, versions of documents, and oral traditions available to them."

          Indeed. I suggest you read Henry Graham's Where We Got the Bible for a careful, historical examination of this process. It's available free online.

          "They selected those documents and versions which portrayed the described nature of Christ, and the narrative of what he did, which the leadership felt supported their doctrinal views and which they wished to promulgate to the world."

          Indeed. That's what a bishop's job is: to transmit the authentic revelation of Jesus of Christ. So when false gospels (i.e., The Gospel of Thomas) were proposed, it was the bishops' responsibility to make clear their errors. They sometimes did this actively, by publicly denouncing a particular text, and sometimes passively, by not including it in the canon.

          I don't see a problem here.

          "So to treat the gospel narratives each as an independent first hand report, by the only men so qualified to report, is to ignore the whole process by which the NT was compiled."

          I don't see how it involves "ignoring the process" by which the canon was compiled. The canon was compiled specifically to validate these accounts.

          You're making it seem as if the formulation of the canon is opposed to the historical reliability of the New Testament texts. But just the opposite is true.

          • VicqRuiz

            The canon was compiled specifically to validate these accounts.

            You see that as a strength. I see it as a weakness.

          • Mike

            Would you want 'scientific' creationism included along side natural selection in a bio text book?

          • Randy Carson

            The canon was compiled specifically to validate these accounts.

            You see that as a strength. I see it as a weakness.

            Two Early Church Fathers discuss the false gospels

            "Dude, these stories about Jesus are completely false."

            "Yeah, I know, but we should hang on to them anyway; otherwise, 2,000 years from now, people will accuse us of being biased if we only keep the accurate ones."

            Seriously?

    • Derek Duffy

      I'm new to this so please forgive me if I've posted in the wrong place.
      Hi Brian, you chose for an example a most interesting character in Saul.
      Saul was a Pharisee, a well educated Jew in all matters pertaining to the law and scripture. So avid a believer was he that he saw fit to personally take on the exposure and eradication of this new Jesus sect. He was a man on a mission, dedicated to his cause. The story goes that he witnessed, and condoned, the stoning to death of one member of the new Jesus sect. Imagine that..., he watched, and stood idly by, while a fellow human was consistently and continuously struck by rocks until death. That's how much Saul believed in his cause.
      Now I didn't personally witness what happened on the road to Damascus, but whatever happened, Saul wound up with a complete personality transplant. Not only did he do a complete U-turn regarding his beliefs, he became arguably the most effective proliferator of the Jesus sect of that time. He was absolutely tenacious in his new mission, undergoing beatings, stoning, arrest, prison, and ultimately death for the very cause that he had set out to eradicate.
      Not only that, but he somehow developed a profound understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and he lived the rest of his days accordingly. To the uninitiated this may not seem too great a challenge, but give it a try.
      The transformation from Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle cannot be explained by anything other than being the effect of a radical and sustained intervention that stayed with and inspired Paul for the rest of his life.
      If there is another explanation I'd love to hear it.

      • Raymond

        Depictions of Saul as a persecutor of Christianity were fabricated or exaggerated. Not saying that IS the explanation, but it is ANOTHER explanation. Since your imagination is so limited and all.

        • Randy Carson

          What exactly was the motivation of the fabricators?

          Money? Sex? Power?

          What did they get out of creating the New Testament as an elaborate hoax?

          • Raymond

            Who cares? You wanted to hear an alternate explanation as if there wasn't one

          • Randy Carson

            Who cares? Well, apparently, you do (or should), because developing a comprehensive list of objections to the eye-witness accounts of the gospels is part of your defense.

          • Raymond

            The point I was making - which apparently I didn't make very well since you missed it - was that your intentional lack of imagination keeps you from considering evidence that you must reject because of your reliance on faith.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        I think that there is a certain personality type that compels people to go all-in with whatever they do. There's a type of person who is unable to just dabble in an activity, but must dedicate 110% of their efforts into it.

        For example, Jerry DeWitt and Dan Barker were both evangelical pastors. After losing their faiths DeWitt leads a atheist "church" of sorts, and Barker is the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Conversley, Ernest Perce V, the former State Director of PA for American Atheists converted to Christianity is now traveling the country as a pastor. These types of people are unable to just sit at the side lines.

        I think its very likely that Paul had that same type of personality. Whether he is for or against Christianity, he's the type that will be entirely dedicated to his cause. His conversion from one side to another is interesting (but then again, so are DeWitt's and Barker's) but I don't think we need to look to the supernatural to answer why he was so passionate for his causes.

        • Luc Regis

          A fair and reasonable comment, but he could have just had a personality change as a result of seizure or stroke which would also explain the "bright light" and subsequent temporary loss of vision that Paul experienced.

        • Derek Duffy

          Good point about the personality type, no argument there. Paul was stoned almost to death following his visit to Lystra. He continued his travels, and mission, undeterred. Now that's dedication to the cause. Was that just down to his personality?

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Well I don't think he was actively trying to get stoned. According to Acts 14, he was preaching, some people didn't like what he said and planned to stone him. Note that Acts 14 also says that he had supporters in the city. So, yes. I think preaching a controversial message which some people don't like can be attributed to having a passionate personality.

            It is not difficult to find examples of people who have received death threats yet continue with their work. Malala Yousafzai is a great example.

        • William Davis

          I tend to be like that, a 110%er. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes bad. I've learned to control it for the most part, but I do have to be careful. When I'm like that, it can warp my perception, and I find I'm typically more effective if I'm at 90%...110% causes burnout along with flawed thinking ect. You are right about Paul, he was definitely a zealot.

      • Well, there was nothing exceptional in the stoning, this was a common punishment for many things in the Old Testament. What would have been exceptional would have been trying to stop it.

        Yes, Saul seems to have been a zealot, ideally primed to convert to this new cult. I don't think that is in question. The question is how good of evidence for the truth of the resurection is that? I think it is pretty weak. All religions have zealots who convert to them and write a lot. Mohammed, Joseph Smith, And so on.

        • Derek Duffy

          "There was nothing exceptional in the stoning..."
          Unfortunately, these days it appears that there is nothing exceptional in brutal beheading by machete or meat cleaver, does this make it any less horrific? Stoning may well have been common place in Old Testament times but I imagine it was still a powerful deterrent. How many that survived stoning went back to doing what is was that lead to their stoning in the first place? I'm sorry but epileptic fits or personality traits do not adequately explain the actions of Paul or any of the early Christian martyrs. Try again & try harder. Your efforts are consolidating my convictions.

          • I disagree. I would say though they do happen, beheading and stoning to death are very rare, as opposed to under Biblical rule where they were punishments for things like disobedient children.

            Are you suggesting stoning is an appropriate punishment because it is an effective deterrent?

            Why do you say epilepsy is a poor explanation for Paul? Paul saw a light fell to the ground and when he rose had a story that was life changing and religious. This is entirely consistent with forms of temporal lobe epilepsy.

            I don't suggest this was the reason for other unamed martyrs conversion.

            I can say there is no evidence of anyone who claimed to have been an eyewitness being killed because he or she refused to admit Jesus did not rise.

            You may think epilepsy, lies, exaggerating are unlikely and far fetched. But I think God actually existing, becoming a human, letting himself be tortured to death, is also far fetched. And less likely than the other explanations which are not uncommon.

  • Objection 3, for scientific, historical and philosophical reasons, miracle claims are not credible. This objections seems to be sustained.

    • Matthew Newland
      • Ahem yourself. I will paraphrase what I said to you in your article when it was published 10 months ago. You are admittedly speculating that the resurrection was a natural process. The best you could say then was "we might be able to find a possible physical description of resurrection to compliment the theological idea". Well the same could be said about ANYTHING.

        Speculating that maybe a scientific theory about the behaviour of subatomic particles might somehow be able to justify the resurrection does not make the resurrection scientifically credible.

        • William Davis

          Yeah, I took a gander at that article...Quantum weirdness therefore resurrection? Nah.

          • Matthew Newland

            Well, I wasn't trying to convince so much as say that it's an idea worth playing around with. Which is all I was doing when I wrote that article.

            William, do you think that the quantum weirdness I described could conceivably fit with a kind of physical resurrection?

            I wasn't saying "therefore resurrection" so much as asking "possibly resurrection?"

          • William Davis

            Quantum entanglement only applies to newly generated quantum particles. There is no evidence of any affect on anything of a larger scale, even individual atoms. Not only is an existing body of a huge scale compared to even atoms, it is not newly generated. I'm not saying there couldn't be some undiscovered means of resurrection, but I don't think it would have anything to do with quantum entanglement.

          • Matthew Newland

            Thank you, William, for your honest response. My article was pure speculation (a flight of fancy). And as you can see by reading the article, I'm aware that entanglements don't last long. The question is, IF we assume the possibility (and you have to be willing to play "if") could some phenomena like entanglement offer a possible means?

          • William Davis

            Who knows? It is easy to become arrogant and think we know what's going on in the universe, but every generation of humans has thought that, and they were almost all wrong. Personally, I can't find any reason to think Christianity is in any way more divine than any other reason, so I don't see a reason to believe it's claims of miracles (nor do I see a reason to believe anyone else's). This, of course, doesn't mean miracles can't happen, but I tend to ignore all claims that can't be analyzed critically. I have yet to see someone give me a reason to think this is a problem. I don't mind if they believe in miracles, but why should they expect me too?
            The problem with death is necrosis. The cells destroy themselves intentionally, so the internal structures that cause life are gone. I can't imagine any mechanism that could undo that, but again, I can't know what I don't know ;)

          • Matthew Newland

            Me neither, William. I simply enjoy speculation.

          • Pofarmer

            Physicists like Sean Carroll say indisputably no.

          • Luc Regis
          • Matthew Newland

            Thank you, Luc.

  • Zeus Thunderbolt

    Caesar crossing the Rubicon was documented at the time by Caesars allies, enemies, disinterested parties and Caesar himself. The resurrection was written about decades after the fact by non-eye witnesses with a clear bias. And unlike crossing a river, the resurrection requires magic.

    Kreeft's claim that the evidence for the latter is "much better" than the former is a head scratcher to say the least.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Where is Caesar's crossing the Rubicon documented at the time?

    • Randy Carson

      The resurrection was written about decades after the fact by non-eye witnesses with a clear bias.

      There are two possibilities.

      1. The early church embellished the stories about Jesus to the point that they were completely detached from the actual events of his life and resulted in his unwarranted divinization.

      OR

      2. The early church was very careful to maintain and protect the true facts about Jesus whom they considered to be the divine Son of God.

      Given the fact that eyewitnesses of Jesus' life and ministry were still alive at the time the four gospels were written, which of these two scenarios seems most likely - that people were simply able to make up new wonders and miracles to attribute to the God-man or that accounts of the wonders and miracles performed by Jesus were faithfully passed on by those who witnessed them in person.

      And unlike crossing a river, the resurrection requires magic.

      Why do you believe this to be true?

      • David Nickol

        Given the fact that eyewitnesses of Jesus' life and ministry were still alive at the time the four gospels were written . . . .

        It's necessary to take into account at least three factors—when the Gospels were written, where (and for whom) they were written, and the life expectancy in the Roman Empire in the first century.

        A consensus among modern scholars would place the writing of Mark at roughly 70 A.D., John roughly in the latter half of the 90s A.D., and Matthew and Luke somewhere in between. Life expectancy is a bit misleading because of the very high infant mortality rate, but once past infancy, a person could expect to live to be 40 or 45. (That is an average. A small number of people even in those times could live into their 90s.)

        Now, where were the Gospels written? Antioch (or somewhere in Syria), maybe Rome, maybe Greece, but certainly not in Jerusalem (where the resurrection allegedly took place), and of course not in the language Jesus spoke.

        So assuming the followers of Jesus were at least 21 years of age at the time of the resurrection, they would have been somewhere around 60 or so when the first Gospel was written, and so would have been quite old men, if they indeed survived. From Jerusalem to Antioch is about 300 miles, to Rome about 1400 miles.

        How likely is it really that original followers of Jesus were present for the writing of the Gospels, hundreds of miles away from Jerusalem, 40 to 70 years after following Jesus during his lifetime?

        • Randy Carson

          In turn, I would ask you how likely it is that the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem which is known to have occurred in AD 70 would be omitted from the gospels...especially in light of the fact that Jesus clearly foretold it?

          I would further ask how likely it would be for Luke to remain silent regarding the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul (in light of the fact that he recorded those of Stephen and James)? Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Acts was written before AD 65. Consequently, the gospel of Luke (which Luke calls his "previous work") was written much earlier than that...say, AD 55-60.

          You have dated the gospels earlier than many skeptics, but NONE of us have any real proof of the dates...just speculations based on what little internal and external evidence we can glean. I think the two points I have just given are very compelling evidence of an early dating for Luke-Acts, and the dominoes begin to fall as you work out the dates of the other gospels from there. For example, since Luke relied in part on Q and Mark, we can arrive at a much earlier dating of Mark than you have suggested.

          Finally, the "consensus" opinion is that Mark wrote Peter's account, Matthew really could have been written by Matthew the tax collector - as some scholars consider that he may have been chosen specifically for the purpose of recording Jesus' saying CONTEMPORANEOUSLY, Luke had access to eyewitnesses who were still alive (including Mary for the nativity story).

          • William Davis

            Everyone agree that whoever wrote Luke wrote Acts, and Acts discusses Paul's arrival at Rome. No one said Paul was martyred until Ignatius, around 110 A.D. It is entirely possible that Paul was not martyred, and later Christians invented the story.

          • Randy Carson

            It's also possible that he was abducted by aliens.

            Paul was a prolific writer and a tireless evangelist. He traveled extensively for the gospel as documented in Acts. How do you account for the sudden cessation of his writings and disappearance from history?

            William, after reading many of your posts, I think the following explains your situation:

            Some people have legitimate questions about Christianity. Their objections are rational, and they can be answered because they simply need more information or a reasonable explanation.

            Other people have been hurt by Christians or scandalized by the actions of Christians which are not in keeping with the gospel. They object to Christianity for emotional reasons.

            Then there are those whose objection to theism and Christianity in particular is purely volitional. IOW, they do not believe because they do not want to, and no amount of reasoning or explanation will ever change their minds because their position is an act of the will.

            You're in this last group, aren't you? :-)

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            How do you account for the sudden cessation of his writings and disappearance from history?

            Perhaps he just died naturally. That would explain why, if Acts was written at a later date, it doesn't mention his martyrdom.

          • Randy Carson

            Is that what Eusebius reported? That Paul died a natural death?

          • William Davis

            You do realize Eusebius was BORN 200 years later right? That's like trusting your opinion on how Tchaikovsky died (great composer btw).

          • Randy Carson

            How did Abraham Lincoln die? How do you KNOW this?

          • William Davis

            We know how he died from TONS of writings in newspapers, journals, ect. on that very day and the next day.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Abraham_Lincoln

            Surely you can come up with a better example than that. How many history classes have you taken, and how many history books have you read. I took plenty of classes in high school and college (though my major was electrical engineering) and have read tons of books in the past ten years. I love reading about ancient Greece and Rome, not to mention more ancient civilizations like Sumeria and Egypt. What historical knowledge are you bringing to the table? This is example suggests very little.

          • Randy Carson

            Electrical Engineering? Where did you go to school?

            You can probably guess where I went. :-) I started in Mechanical, but didn't care for it and switched to management.

            Now, let me play your game for just a minute or two...

            Isn't possible that all of those accounts were forgeries or that the reporters were lying about Lincoln? Or isn't it possible that an alien was controlling all the witnesses in order to cover up Lincoln's abduction? Maybe Booth was really working on behalf of some European government trying to destabilize our government in advance of an invasion? Maybe Lincoln faked his own death in order to slip out of town quietly because he was having an affair.

            See how silly these types of "what-if" questions sound?

            Now, I am confident enough in my faith to admit that I don't have all the answers, and I recognize a good question or argument when I hear one. At the same time, I've learned to recognize the types of questions that are being asked in this forum for what they are: excuses to avoid the conclusion to which the answers point.

          • William Davis

            Everything you just said about Lincoln is possible but unlikely. It is more plausible that someone besides Booth shot Lincoln and Booth was a scapegoat. If people inside the administration wanted to get rid of Lincoln, then they could have set something like that up, unlikely but possible. I really don't apply a double standard here.

            Next time use Julius Caesar. The documentation around Lincoln is phenomenal, the documentation around the death of Caesar isn't as good. What you are calling "silly" is they way history is done. All kinds of theories are proposed and consensus usually goes with the best fit of evidence. The evidence for anything in early Christianity is incredibly bad and requires a huge amount of guesswork, therefore ANY conclusion we reach is probably wrong, including yours. I go with historical consensus on Yeshua of Nazareth:

            "Virtually all scholars who write on the subject accept that Jesus existed,[7][8][9][10] although scholars differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the accounts of his life, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate."

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus

            That's about as far as we can go with any historical certainty. The reason I asked about your study of history is because you keep calling my criticism silly. I'm doing what a good historian does, thinking about possibilities and how they fit the evidence. I just demonstrated that I'm fairly certain Justin Martyr was martyred because of the evidence that was created at the time of the execution. I have good reason to think different about Paul, and you haven't demonstrated how I'm wrong. Take some history classes and a few classes on epistemology and get back to me. That which survives serious criticism is very likely to be true. Many Christian propositions do no survive serious criticism, but that doesn't necessarily prove they aren't true, though it raises serious doubt. Here are a couple of links that may help:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

          • Randy Carson

            Fine.

            But back to electrical engineering...where did you go to school?

          • William Davis

            NCSU

          • Randy Carson

            Wow. I live in the Raleigh area. You guys had a nice run in the tournament this year!

          • William Davis

            Small world. Yeah, went I went there they always lost. Our joke was that engineers might be able to calculate the trajectory of the ball, but actually throwing it that way was a different matter. I still live in the area, though I don't want to be too specific for obvious reason.

            This is a nice place, but I wish they would quit saying that in magazines. If too many people move to a place it tends to create all kinds of problems. It makes me think of these lyrics from The Last Resort by the Eagles. Obviously the song is about the white man taking over the new world, but it sort of applies here ;)

            You can leave it all behind and sail to Lahaina
            Just like the missionaries did so many years ago.
            They even brought a neon sign 'Jesus is Coming',
            Brought the white man's burden down, brought the white man's reign.

            Who will provide the grand design, what is yours and what is mine?
            Cause there is no more new frontier, we have got to make it here.
            We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds
            In the name of destiny and in the name of God.

            And you can see them there on Sunday morning
            Stand up and sing about what it's like up there.
            They called it paradise, I don't know why.
            You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye.

            http://www.lyrics007.com/Eagles%20Lyrics/The%20Last%20Resort%20Lyrics.html

          • Randy Carson

            Good for our local economy, though. Guess we'll all have to move to Chatham County before long. :-D

          • William Davis

            In Chatham county you might be able to throw a rock and hit Bart Ehrman as he's coming out of class at UNC ;P

          • Randy Carson

            Don't tempt me! Kidding, just kidding. :-)

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Lincoln died of hypothermia during his expedition to Antarctica. I know this because I, OverlappnigMagisteria, am reporting on it almost 200 years after the fact. In the same way that Eusebius did about Paul.

          • Randy Carson

            It was the Arctic - not the Antarctic.

            A walrus tusk discovered in 1907 by an Inuit hunter had the initials "AL" carved in the handle. Since the names Allen or Alan were unknown among the indigenous people of that region, "AL" cannot be a common nickname. Further, the state of Alaska, abbreviated "AL", was not yet formed at the time carbon dating proves the tusk was carved. Consequently, it can only be concluded that Abe Lincoln himself was the owner of the tusk.

          • William Davis

            Seriously, Paul was a prolific writer and a tireless evangelist. He traveled extensively for the gospel as documented in Acts. How do you account for the sudden cessation of his writings and disappearance from history?

            He died, possibly on the road, possibly by martyrdom, who knows. One reason I don't think he was martyred is because Luke doesn't mention it, no one does until 60 years later.

            Then there are those whose objection to theism and Christianity in particular is purely volitional. IOW, they do not believe because they do not want to, and no amount of reasoning or explanation will ever change their minds because their position is an act of the will.

            You're in this last group, aren't you? :-)

            Since you asked, I was raised by fundamentalist old testament Christians who believed everyone was going to hell except those who took everything in the Bible literally like they did (and even then you had to have the same doctrines). They believed you are going to hell, because you are an idol worshipping apostate Catholic. I literally had hell beaten into me, almost every day when I was younger. I'm a major improvement from my upbringing, wouldn't you say? This puts me in your second group.

            Buddhism and philosophy helped me overcome many of my emotional problems with Christianity, which has allowed me to come back and revisit it from a more objective perspective (though we can never be completely objective, subjectivity is built into the nature of intelligence itself). Of course, I already know a lot about the Bible from my upbringing, but I wanted to see different point of views on the subject, ect. The fact is that your evidence isn't good at all, but it was never supposed to be, it was always supposed to be about faith. I don't believe in Christianity because I don't see a good reason to, but I still have faith in God (whatever his nature is, I think it is beyond our comprehension) and in uncertain reality. Check out my last post to Phil.

            You presuppose that when someone has enough understanding of Christianity, they somehow MUST accept it is a true. This is a false premise and something that your mind apparently doesn't account for. You are one of the Christians who thinks they have PROVEN Christianity and you are not only wrong, it makes you a poor Christian.

            Phil (I can name a few others here too), on the other hand is the right kind of Christian who has faith and understands that he has faith. Sure, Phil has his reasons for his faith, but Phil doesn't think I'm some kind of evil person because I don't come out on the same side of things as he does. You are the type of Christian I am in direct conflict with, and I don't want to deconvert you, I want to make you more like Phil (respect someone else's point of view while encouraging them to embrace yours). Anything I can do to help you in that endeavor?

            Hebrews 11

            Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 Indeed, by faith[a] our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

            Remember you have reasonable faith, not proof. Faith is a powerful thing, and I have it, just not the exact same faith you do. Quit trying to prove something you can't prove, and lots talk about constructive things like philosophy. I really like Thomas Aquinas for example.

          • Randy Carson

            William-

            First, you don't even know me. How can you conclude after a dozen posts that I am a poor Christian? Sounds to me like you have retained an awful lot of the judgmentalism that you claim to have rejected from your upbringing.

            Second, my "claim", if I have made one, is that the evidence in favor of Christianity is sufficient to satisfy the intellect which is necessary before the will is able to respond to the Grace of God which moves the individual to faith.

            Now, I'm sorry that you had such a tough experience when you were younger. That can make it difficult for you to be really objective, wouldn't you agree?

            Still, I think my assessment (and forgive me if that sounds cold, but I've been doing online apologetics for a very long time) is that you would rather ask an endless stream of theoretical questions than consider the concrete answers you are given.

            In light of what you've shared about your background, is it fair to say this could be a defense mechanism?

          • William Davis

            First, you don't even know me. How can you conclude after a dozen posts that I am a poor Christian? Sounds to me like you have retained an awful lot of the judgmentalism that you claim to have rejected from your upbringing.

            You just judged me in your last comment, now you are upset that I judged you? No surprise. You just continue to rationalize away the fact that you can't prove the resurrection, but like I said, it was never supposed to be about that.

            Still, I think my assessment (and forgive me if that sounds cold, but I've been doing online apologetics for a very long time) is that you would rather ask an endless stream of theoretical questions than consider the concrete answers you are given.

            The point is that your answers are far from concrete, that is what I am demonstrating, and it is what you are ignoring. I'm the first to admit that I can't prove the resurrection didn't happen, why can't you admit you can't prove it did happen?

          • Randy Carson

            You just judged me in your last comment, now you are upset that I judged you? No surprise. You just continue to rationalize away the fact that you can't prove the resurrection, but like I said, it was never supposed to be about that.

            Upset? Heh...William, based on what little I do know of you through your comments to me, I think I am not only a lot older than you but I've also been doing this online apologetics thing a lot longer. Nothing about online apologetics upsets me. :-)

            As for "proving" the resurrection, is that possible? With 100% certitude? No.

            I do, of course, think that the resurrection is the most plausible explanation of the information that we have about the events that surrounded Jesus' death and subsequent appearance to his disciples, the rise of the Church, the conversion of Saul, etc.

            Your mileage may differ, of course. :-)

          • William Davis

            Good, I'm glad you aren't upset. Take it for whatever it's worth that people like Phil and Johnboy Sylvest (even YOS though he can be a bit arrogant) have given me a positive view of Catholicism. You remind me of the fundamentalists I grew up around, they took the same approach. I'm not saying you're a fundamentalist, but this type of apologetic is more designed to maintain current members of the church and invite new ones. You may not be getting frustrated, but you certainly come off like you are getting frustrated that people don't accept your point of view. Do you expect conversions to Catholicism from this approach, are you just trying to defend your faith?
            Many Christians give me the impression they thing something is wrong with someone if they don't accept Christianity (assuming they know enough about it). You've demonstrated you are one of these people by your 3 categories. I don't care for people who think like you, and I think you have 0 chance of converting anyone, just so you are aware. It is important to have realistic expectations. Phil and Johnboy would be much more likely to be successful. If the goal of this site is conversion, consider this constructive criticism :) You're not going to outsmart most of us, but you do have the power to improve our mental image of Catholicism. Your approach, and the approach of Kreeft is counter productive in my opinion.

          • Randy Carson

            William-

            I'm active on more than one forum, so maybe I've "mis-remembered" this...have I ever said anything specifically Catholic in these threads? Not saying I haven't but I just don't remember doing so.

          • William Davis

            You quoted a catechism a few days ago:

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

            106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."

            The Holy Spirit did not infuse them with knowledge they did not have naturally. If they did not witness blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus, they could not record it. If they decided that a particular event needed to be included, added, truncated or abbreviated, they were free, as true human authors to do so. Nonetheless, the gospels contain what God wanted it to contain and no more.

            That's a pretty good indication you are Catholic, but it doesn't prove it. Are you saying you aren't catholic?

          • Randy Carson

            I am a convert to Catholicism from the Methodist Church. I'm happy to share that with anyone, but I just couldn't remember posting anything specifically Catholic, because this forum tends Christian v. non-Christian as opposed to others which are Catholic v. Baptist/Anglican/Presbyterian, etc.

          • William Davis

            I've seen some of the Christian vs. Christian sites and they can get pretty nasty sometimes. At least Catholics have the best churches and the broadest philosophical traditions ;) In general I like the current pope, but his bringing back exorcism is pretty weird.

          • Randy Carson

            If you're interested, the forum at Catholic.com is very closely moderated, and though we mix it up a good bit from time to time, the mods keep things within a reasonable range of tolerance. Stop by!

          • Pofarmer

            Ah True Believer.

          • Michael Murray

            this forum tends Christian v. non-Christian as

            Actually

            StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists.

            I agree it does tend to be vs but it was meant to be dialogue. And dialogue between Catholics and atheists.

          • Pofarmer

            "I do, of course, think that the resurrection is the most plausible explanation of the information that we have about the events that surrounded Jesus' death and subsequent appearance to his disciples, the rise of the Church, the conversion of Saul, etc."

            Why? Why would Christianity be any different than Mormonism, or scientology? I guess you don't accept the miracles around Mohamed? What about the well attested miracles of Saith Sae Baba? Who has many more followers than Jesus ever garnered in his own day. There are other much more plausible(and observable) answers than relying in the supernatural. You should read Richard Carriers book " Not the Impossible Faith."

          • Pofarmer

            "is that the evidence in favor of Christianity is sufficient to satisfy the intellect "

            And I disagree, as does about 2/3's of the worlds population. So what?

          • Randy Carson

            Is it your opinion that 2/3 of the world's population has really heard the gospel?

            1 billion Indians - doubtful
            1 billion Chinese - definitely not

            Consequently, it ought to be even more impressive to you that 1/3 does accept Christianity.

          • Randy Carson

            Yes, anything is possible. That's the ultimate refuge of the skeptic. But is it plausible?

            Invented by whom? And for what purpose?

            Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch after Peter and wrote while being escorted to Rome where he was martyred for his faith. He was a contemporary of Polycarp of Smyrna and may have been a disciple of John the Apostle who was still alive near the end of the first century.

            IOW, William, as you know, these guys all knew each other, and they knew the sources of the gospel that they preached.

            Would you have allowed yourself to be martyred for something that you knew to be a lie? And if they did not know that the story of Paul's martyrdom was a lie, then when, where and by whom was this lie slipped into the story of the Early Church? Were they lying to each other?

            Was there no on in Rome who would have been able to confirm or deny a story about Paul's execution if it was or was not true? Luke? Mark? No one?

          • William Davis

            We have good evidence to believe Justin Martyr was martyred, we even have the trial documents. Nothing for Paul. The stories of early Christians being martyred started showing up in the second century much after the fact, this casts doubt on whether this was historical. Why make that up? To encourage Christians to hold their ground in the face of persecution. I doubt it was made up, it probably started as a guess (assuming Paul wasn't martyred, he could of been but it's doubtful). Christians ask "What happened to Paul?". No answer for a while, then someone says, "Maybe the Romans killed him?" Someone replies "That's probably what happened, but I wish we had heard from him." This quickly turns into "He WAS martyred". Rumors like this often turn into fact from being repeated and twisted over time. This happens today just like it did 2000 years ago. When I say "They made it up" it doesn't necessary mean they were lying. It's like urban legends, the person telling you isn't lying, but what he's saying isn't true.

          • Pofarmer

            "Would you have allowed yourself to be martyred for something that you knew to be a lie? "

            Happens all the time, although it sometimes begins with, "Here, hold my beer!"

          • David Nickol

            As I said . . .

            A consensus among modern scholars would place the writing of Mark at roughly 70 A.D., John roughly in the latter half of the 90s A.D., and Matthew and Luke somewhere in between.

            I was responding to a statement of yours that began . . .

            Given the fact that eyewitnesses of Jesus' life and ministry were still alive at the time the four gospels were written . . .

            Now, in order to back up your original statement, you want to challenge the consensus among modern scholars about when (and presumably where) the Gospels were written. Perhaps there will be some future article here at Strange Notions that will pose a serious question about the consensus of modern scholarship regarding the time and place the Gospels were written. But for the purposes of this discussion, I see no point in opening a completely new topic in which you try to prove the consensus of modern scholarship wrong, and I defend it. I don't need to defend modern scholarship. Anyone who wants to know what contemporary scholarship has to say about the dating of the Gospels can simply look it up in any modern reference work (or even The New American Bible).

            Finally, the "consensus" opinion is that Mark wrote Peter's account, Matthew really could have been written by Matthew the tax collector -as some scholars consider that he may have been chosen specifically for the purpose of recording Jesus' saying CONTEMPORANEOUSLY, Luke had access to eyewitnesses who were still alive (including Mary for the nativity story).

            No, sorry, that is not the consensus of modern scholarship. For example, in the introduction to the Gospel of Mark in the New American Bible, we have the following:

            Although the book is anonymous, apart from the ancient heading “According to Mark” in manuscripts, it has traditionally been assigned to John Mark, in whose mother’s house (at Jerusalem) Christians assembled (Acts 12:12). This Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10) and accompanied Barnabas and Paul on a missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:3;15:36–39). He appears in Pauline letters (2 Tm 4:11; Phlm 24) and with Peter (1 Pt 5:13). Papias (ca. A.D. 135) described Mark as Peter’s “interpreter,” a view found in other patristic writers. Petrine influence should not, however, be exaggerated. The evangelist has put together various oral and possibly written sources—miracle stories, parables, sayings, stories of controversies, and the passion—so as to speak of the crucified Messiah for Mark’s own day.

            Traditionally, the gospel is said to have been written shortly before A.D. 70 in Rome, at a time of impending persecution and when destruction loomed over Jerusalem. Its audience seems to have been Gentile, unfamiliar with Jewish customs (hence Mk 7:3–4, 11). The book aimed to equip such Christians to stand faithful in the face of persecution (Mk 13:9–13), while going on with the proclamation of the gospel begun in Galilee (Mk 13:10;14:9). Modern research often proposes as the author an unknown Hellenistic Jewish Christian, possibly in Syria, and perhaps shortly after the year 70.

          • Randy Carson

            Weird. My New American Bible says the same thing. :-)

            And so does my RSV-CE with notes and commentary from Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. And by the way, they note that the overall outline of the gospel resembles Peter's presentation in Acts 10. Peter himself mentions "my son Mark" in 1 Pet 5:13. Hard to see how Mark, who was not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, did not rely on Peter.

            So, where does that leave us? Let's see how far we can reasonably push up the writing of the gospels based on what we know.

            Dating the New Testament - pre-A.D. 70
            The New Testament fails to mention the destruction of the Temple which occurred in A.D. 70. Since Jesus had prophesied this event (cf. Mk 13:1-2), the authors of the NT books and letters would have highlighted His prediction prominently if it had been fulfilled. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to A.D. 70.

            Dating the New Testament - pre-A.D. 67
            The New Testament fails to mention the seige of Jerusalem which lasted for three years and ended with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to A.D. 67.

            Dating Luke and Acts - pre-A.D. 64
            Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles does not mention the martyrdoms of Peter or Paul which took place in A.D. 65 and A.D. 64 respectively. Moreover, the Book of Acts ends abruptly with Paul alive and under house arrest in Rome. This silence suggests that the Luke's accounts were written prior to A.D. 64.

            Dating Acts - pre-A.D. 62
            Luke, a trained physician and a skillful historian, recorded the martydoms of Stephen (cf. Acts 7:54-60) and James, the brother of John (cf. Acts 12:1-2), but he does not mention the death of James, the "brother" of Jesus, who was martyred in A.D. 62. This silence suggests that Luke wrote Acts prior to A.D. 62.

            Dating Luke - pre-A.D. 62
            Luke's Gospel was written prior to the book of Acts as Luke himself records:

            Acts 1:1-2
            In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

            This suggests that Luke's Gospel was written prior to A.D. 62.

            Dating the Gospels - pre-A.D.60
            Paul is the undisputed author of the letters written to the Romans, the Corinthians and the Galatians, and these letters were written between A.D. 48 and A.D. 60. The Letter to the Romans is typically dated around A.D. 50, and in this letter, Paul writes,

            Romans 1:1-4
            Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed theSon of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

            Thus, a mere 17 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Paul is proclaiming Jesus as the divine Son of God. This is echoed in his letter to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3-8) dated from A.D. 53 to 57).

            Dating Luke - pre-A.D. 55
            Paul appears to be quoting Luke 22:19-20 in his letter to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Co. 11:23-25). This suggests that Luke was written prior to A.D. 53-57.

            Dating Matthew and Mark - pre-A.D. 55
            Luke quoted 250 verses from the gospel of Matthew 250 and 350 verses from the gospel of Mark. This suggests that both of these gospels were known and accepted at the time Luke wrote around A.D. 55.

            Dating the Gospel Message - A.D. 36
            In the book of Galatians (ca. A.D. 55), Paul records that after his conversion (ca. A.D. 35-36), he traveled to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles. The first trip occurred three years after his conversion (ca. A.D. 38-39) (cf. Gal. 1:15-19) and the second 14 years after his conversion (ca. A.D. 49-50) (cf. Gal. 2:1). Additionally, Paul is able to confidently tell the Corinthians that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to "more than five hundred brethren most of whom [were] still living" at the time of his writing!

            The bottom line?

            A.D. 45-50 - Mark writes Gospel
            A.D. 50-57 - Luke writes Gospel
            A.D. 53-57 - Paul quotes Luke in Corinthians
            A.D. 57-60 - Luke writes Acts
            A.D. 62-65 - Deaths of James, Paul and Peter
            A.D. 67-70 - Siege of Jerusalem
            A.D. 70 - Destruction of Temple

          • Pofarmer

            "Dating Luke - pre-A.D. 55
            Paul appears to be quoting Luke 22:19-20 in his letter to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Co. 11:23-25)."

            Just for starters, this is widey believed to be part of a larger interpolation into this letter from Paul.

            The Gospels didn't have to mention the throwing down of the temple. They are relaying things that happened supposedly approximately 35 years before that occurred. It would up to the reader to know that this occured. Also, as these accounts are considered to have been written far from the events that occured, the closest being 300 miles, when most people never ventured more than 5 miles from home, it may simply nit have been as important as the rest of the story.

          • Pofarmer

            Acts appears to rely very heavily on Josephus. Pauls ship ride is nearly identical to Josephus in Antiquities. That puts Acts after around 93 A.D. Wishful thinking aside. The Gospels weren't telling about the fall of Jerusalem, they were explaining why, "We had the Messiah and killed him." It's no different than a book set in the 1960's not talking about the falling of the twin towers.

          • Randy Carson

            Then how do you account for the "we" passages of Acts which suggest that Luke was present with Paul at that time?

          • Pofarmer

            You never read a story?

          • Randy Carson

            Are you familiar with Sir William Ramsay, winner of the 1904 Nobel Prize in chemistry? A brief bio may be found here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1904/ramsay-bio.html

            Ramsay wrote:

            I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without prejudice in favour of the conclusions which I shall now seek to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tübingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not then lie in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely, but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth. In fact, beginning with a fixed idea that the work was essentially a second century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations (Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul The Traveler and Roman Citizen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962, p. 36).

            Ramsay also wrote:

            "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy... [he] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians."

            Professor of Classics at Auckland University, E.M. Blaiklock, wrote: "For accuracy of detail, and for evocation of atmosphere, Luke stands, in fact, with Thucydides. The Acts of the Apostles is not shoddy product of pious imagining, but a trustworthy record... it was the spadework of archaeology which first revealed the truth."

          • Pofarmer
          • Randy Carson

            The Gospels weren't telling about the fall of Jerusalem, they were explaining why, "We had the Messiah and killed him."

            One other question: Luke was a Gentile traveling in Gentile lands with Paul the "apostle to the Gentiles".

            What interest did he have in a Jewish messiah?

          • Pofarmer

            What interest do you have in a Jewish messiah?

      • Raymond

        Do you believe this NOT to be true? Why not?

        • Randy Carson

          Do I believe that the resurrection requires magic???

          No, I do not think magic was involved.

          • Raymond

            What do you think was involved and how is that agent of the resurrection different from magic?

          • Randy Carson

            The common use of the term "magic" refers to the creation of an illusion that something which is not really true has actually occurred. For example, magicians do not really saw their assistants in two.

            Jesus did not create an elaborate illusion of resurrection; he was truly dead and returned to life again.

          • Raymond

            "A" common use of the term "magic" is as you described - a form of entertainment in which the magician creates an illusion that seems to require a supernatural agent. But another definition of magic is the use of a supernatural agent to accomplish something that is contrary to the laws of science. Often this includes the use of incantations or physical objects.

            I suspect that you would deny that such magic actually exists, but I suggest that many if not all of the miracles in the New Testament would fit that definition of magic. Many of Jesus' miracles are presented exactly as if they were magic tricks according to the first definition. Changing water to wine, multiplying loaves and fishes, telling the woman at the well so much about herself (cold reading). And many more of the miracles fit the second definition. Jesus uses incantations for healing, for stilling the storm, and for casting out demons. He also used mud made from dirt and saliva to heal a man's blindness (though it took him two tries).

            There is no reason not to believe that the miracles presented in the New Testament are anything more that depictions of magic that are found in many other places in literature (or history - there are many reports of other magicians or sorcerers active in the New Testament period) that are otherwise rejected as tricks or fantasy.

          • Randy Carson

            Christianity has not survived for 2,000 years on the strength of a few well-performed parlour tricks. However, if this theory makes sense to you, hold on to it because you won't have to do any real thinking as long as you do. :-)

          • Raymond

            Right back at you Randy. You can believe all the fantasies you want so that you don't have to think or listen.

          • Randy Carson

            I think this very well could be true of many folks who believe the "fanstasy" of Christianity in an unexamined manner. For anyone engaged in apologetics, not so much.

            After all, Christians are the ones making the outrageous claims. Consequently, in order to engage in discussions of this type, one has to be fairly well-versed in the proposals of people such as yourself and to have thought about them a wee bit. :-)

          • Randy Carson

            The logical conclusion of this is that Jesus was a liar and a great deceiver of the people because he knew he was using illusions to fool the people into thinking He was God.

            Does that sound about right to you?

          • Raymond

            Hardly. The most likely explanation is that the gospel writers - whomevever they were - used standard tropes of the day to try to explain and embellish the events in their traditions. There doesn't need to be direct deception for the events as described to be exaggerated or misunderstood.

          • Randy Carson

            First, why do you say "whomever they were" when there is ample reason to accept the traditional authorship of the gospels?

            Second, are you arguing that the disciples conspired together in the fabrication of a story they knew to be a lie? Or that they were simply misunderstood and the whole thing is really just an unfortunate misunderstanding?

          • Raymond

            First, it is commonly recognized among Bible scholars that the Gospels were originally anonymous and were later attributed to their purported authors. Secondly the misunderstanding theory seems stronger than the conspiracy theory simply because of the difficulty of maintaining such a conspiracy without discovery

      • VicqRuiz

        OR:

        3. The early church selected as scripture only those accounts of the life of Jesus which served to support their theological worldview, discarding all the others.

        • Randy Carson

          There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that they did this. However, discarding other accounts that were found to be flawed does not diminish the accuracy of the ones which were approved.

          • Pofarmer

            "Flawed" simply means, in this case, being out of agreement with the orthodix view. Gnosticism and Docetism sprang up pretty much immediately.

      • Pofarmer

        3). The Story was made up out of whole cloth and swallowed by those who wanted to believe. It's not like this is uncommon even in the modern day.

        • Randy Carson

          Stories that are made up cannot be verified by eyewitnesses who were still alive. The Gospels were.

          • Pofarmer

            Not regarding that the scholarly consensus, even of your church, is that you do not have eye witness accounts, the miracles of Joseph Smith and Sayeth Sai Baba are much more recent and much better attested.

          • Randy Carson

            Have you carefully considered becoming a Mormon or a follower of Sayeth Sai Baba? If their miracles are well-attested, it would be foolish not to do so.

          • Pofarmer

            Yep, I've considered it,,same as yours.

          • Randy Carson

            Not regarding that the scholarly consensus, even of your church, is that you do not have eye witness accounts

            The following answers have been given by the Biblical Commission (q.v.) to inquiries about the Gospel of St. Matthew: In view of the universal and constant agreement of the Church, as shown by the testimony of the Fathers, the inscription of Gospel codices, most ancient versions of the Sacred Books and lists handed down by the Holy Fathers, ecclesiastical writers, popes and councils, and finally by liturgical usage in the Eastern and Western Church, it may and should be held that Matthew, an Apostle of Christ, is really the author of the Gospel that goes by his name. The belief that Matthew preceded the other Evangelists in writing, and that the first Gospel was written in the native language of the Jews then in Palestine, is to be considered as based on Tradition.

            The preparation of this original text was not deferred until after the destruction of Jerusalem, so that the prophecies it contains about this might be written after the event; nor is the alleged uncertain and much disputed testimony of Irenaeus convincing enough to do away with the opinion most conformed to Tradition, that their preparation was finished even before the coming of Paul to Rome. The opinion of certain Modernists is untenable, viz., that Matthew did not in a proper and strict sense compose the Gospel, as it has come down to us, but only a collection of some words and sayings of Christ, which, according to them, another anonymous author used as sources.

            The fact that the Fathers and all ecclesiastical writers, and even the Church itself from the very beginning, have used as canonical the Greek text of the Gospel known as St. Matthew's, not even excepting those who have expressly handed down that the Apostle Matthew wrote in his native tongue, proves for certain that this very Greek Gospel is identical in substance with the Gospel written by the same Apostle in his native language. Although the author of the first Gospel has the dogmatic and apologetic purpose of proving to the Jews that Jesus is the Messias foretold by the prophets and born of the house of David, and although he is not always chronological in arranging the facts or sayings which he records, his narration is not to be regarded as lacking truth. Nor can it be said that his accounts of the deeds and utterances of Christ have been altered and adapted by the influence of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the condition of the growing Church, and that they do not therefore conform to historical truth. Notably unfounded are the opinions of those who cast doubt on the historical value of the first two chapters, treating of the genealogy and infancy of Christ, or on certain passages of much weight for certain dogmas, such as those which concern the primacy of Peter (xvi, 17-19), the form of baptism given to the Apostles with their universal missions (xxviii, 19-20), the Apostles' profession of faith in Christ (xiv, 33), and others of this character specially emphasized by Matthew.

            http://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/matthew-gospel-of-saint

          • Pofarmer
          • Doug Shaver

            The following answers have been given by the Biblical Commission (q.v.) to inquiries about the Gospel of St. Matthew: In view of the universal and constant agreement of the Church, as shown by the testimony of the Fathers, the inscription of Gospel codices, most ancient versions of the Sacred Books and lists handed down by the Holy Fathers, ecclesiastical writers, popes and councils, and finally by liturgical usage in the Eastern and Western Church, it may and should be held that Matthew, an Apostle of Christ, is really the author of the Gospel that goes by his name. The belief that Matthew preceded the other Evangelists in writing, and that the first Gospel was written in the native language of the Jews then in Palestine, is to be considered as based on Tradition.

            Are you saying that it must be so just because the church has always said so?

  • GCBill

    The final paragraph in this conclusive installment is highly questionable. One cannot infer traditional Christianity directly from the resurrection without some method of ruling out other hermeneutic approaches to interpreting scripture. I'm aware that this is a Catholic-run site, so you've probably given a lot of thought to this issue, but the claim simply isn't defensible as presented. And with that in mind, plus the objections raised in the comboxes of the past few articles, I don't think all (or even most) skepticism of the resurrection can be attributed wit confidence to motivated reasoning.

  • Luc Regis

    Attn: Mr Kreeft

    To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules used everywhere else in history.

    Could you give a brief summary as to what those rules are? The rules that give events, legendary and otherwise historical credence as actual fact. Thank you sir.

  • David Nickol

    Objection 1: History is not an exact science. It does not yield absolute certainty like mathematics.

    History may not be an "exact science," but it is considered one of the social sciences and, as such, does not venture into the realm of affirming claims of religious miracles or validating religious beliefs. As any true science, history will not (and cannot) accept or "prove" miracles. No historian, in his or her capacity as a historian, is going to claim Jesus rose from the dead.

    As we have discussed previously, the Vatican has a select group of medical experts it calls on when trying to decide whether an alleged miracle (say, in the case of a canonization investigation) is really and truly miraculous. However, the doctors and other medical experts do not affirm miracles, but rather give their opinions as to whether the miracles (usually remission of disease) can be explained by known causes. It is not the business of these doctors (or any others) to decide whether miracles have occurred. That is not a scientific question. It is up to the theologians and other religious figures on the Vatican panel to decide whether an inexplicable (or unexplained) cure is a miracle.

    So history doesn't (and can't) "prove" the resurrection, just as medical science doesn't (and can't) prove miracles.

    • VicqRuiz

      It would be interesting to know if all events so accepted as miraculous in, say, the 19th century, would still stand in the light of 2015 medical technology.

  • David Nickol

    Objection 2: You can't trust documents. Paper proves nothing. Anything can be forged.

    Who has ever made this argument?

    • Doug Shaver

      Who has ever made this argument?

      Nobody I ever heard of, and I've been reading skeptical literature for over 50 years.

  • David Nickol

    Objection 3: Because the resurrection is miraculous. It's the content of the idea rather than the documentary evidence for it that makes it incredible.

    Reply: Now we finally have a straightforward objection—not to the documentary evidence but to miracles. This is a philosophical question, not a scientific, historical or textual question.

    While there are some who have argued that no evidence could convince them of a miracle such as the resurrection, in general I think the argument against Kreeft here has been that the claim of the resurrection of Jesus is such an extraordinary one that any evidence to make it credible would have to itself be extraordinary. But do we have such extraordinary evidence? Well, I think it would be one piece of extraordinary evidence if a group of over 500 people saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion and alleged resurrection. However, what we have is Paul saying a group of over 500 people saw Jesus after the resurrection. That is not the testimony of 500 people. It is the testimony of one person more than two decades after the alleged event. That is not extraordinary evidence. As it stands, it is next to worthless.

    • Nanchoz

      do we have such an extraordinary evidence?
      i think we do
      https://www.shroud.com

      • William Davis

        After years of discussion, the Holy See permitted radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud. Independent tests in 1988 at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concluded with 95% confidence that the shroud material dated to 1260–1390 AD.[71] This 13th to 14th century dating is much too recent for the shroud to have been associated with Jesus of Nazareth. The dating does on the other hand match the first appearance of the shroud in church history.[72] This dating is also slightly more recent than that estimated by art historian W.S.A. Dale, who postulated on artistic grounds that the shroud is an 11th-century icon made for use in worship services.[73]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shroud_of_Turin#Radiocarbon_dating

        We have excellent reason to trust radio-carbon dating, no reason to think this shroud has anything to do with Yeshua of Nazareth.

        • Randy Carson

          William,

          This is based upon a flawed sampling of the Shroud.

          This USA Today article appeared in 2013: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/03/30/shroud-turin-display/2038295/

          This article explains why the original carbon dating test was flawed:

          http://shroud2000.com/CarbonDatingNews.html

          The key findings are as follows:

          The radiocarbon sample that was used to date the Shroud has a very different composition and structure than the rest of the cloth and was not valid for dating the Shroud.

          The sample used for carbon dating had been dyed with Madder root dye and applied to the surface in a plant-gum medium. This was to hide the repair (probably done in 1534). This dye and gum mixture does not exist anywhere else on the cloth.

          The flax portion of the carbon sample had been bleached by a different method than the Shroud showing that the threads were manufactured at different times and not part of the original cloth.

          The carbon dating sample also contained a significant amount of cotton. The cotton was woven in with the flax in the repaired area to help the dye adhere better. There is no cotton in the main body of the Shroud.

          Linen (flax) contains a natural polymer called vanillin. Vanillin decays over time. Most medieval linen still contains a portion of the original vanillin whereas the vanillin content of the Dead Sea Scroll wrappings is completely depleted. The area cut for carbon dating still contains 37% of its original vanillin whereas 0% remains in samples taken from the main body of the Shroud.

          All combined, it indicates that the carbon labs dated a rewoven area of the cloth. It also shows that the Shroud is significantly older than 700 years. Dr. Ray Rogers can only offer a date range of 1,300 to 3,000 years old because the rate of vanillin decay depends on storage temperature, something that is not known. But now, the Shroud being 2,000 years old doesn’t seem out of the question anymore.

          • William Davis

            This is from USA today

            The new test, by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy, used the same fibers from the 1988 tests but disputes the findings. The new examination dates the shroud to between 300 BC and 400 AD, which would put it in the era of Christ.

            The shroud 2000 link says the sample is flawed, but the new test used the same sample.

            From wikipedia:

            "After years of discussion, the Holy See permitted radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud. Independent tests in 1988 at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concluded with 95% confidence that the shroud material dated to 1260–1390 AD"

            So you have three very reputable universities against one in Italy I've never heard of, all testing the same sample. Get more reputable universities to agree with the university right next door to the Vatican, and the case will be a bit better.
            I'm fine with the Vatican's view, that this is an icon, not an actual relic. That's what they say in the USA today article. Thanks for the heads up though :)

        • Nanchoz

          there are other opinions
          http://www.innoval.com/C14/
          anyway, it is a matter of trust.
          can I, myself, prove Radio carbon dating is correct or wrong? I can't. can you?
          the one thing we can be certain is that we must put our trust in others.
          others who, we suppose, should have a direct knowledge of the facts and whose opinions are unarguable
          but we forget that these people also have a baggage of beliefs of their own.
          because there is no such thing as unbelievers.
          scientism is not a metaphisical neutral way to reach to know the whole of reality because it specifically presupposes the nonexistence of the fundamental aspect that is in question, namely the supernatural.
          should I trust this guy that says it is a medieval artifact or that one who says it is the authentic shroud of Jesus.
          the data available can be USED to prove both possibilities, but eventually we end up accepting the truths that fit more smoothly with the way we already decided the world works.
          I believe that if Jesus resurrection was the single most important event in human history and if our salvation is in any way related to that event, then god must have left some piece of evidence other than the eyewitness accounts of some poorly educated fishermen who lived 2000 years ago.

      • VicqRuiz

        The Catholic Church has not declared that the shroud is in fact the burial garment of Christ. When it makes that declaration, let's discuss......

  • David Nickol

    Objection 4: It's not only miracles in general but this miracle in particular that is objectionable. The resurrection of a corpse is crass, crude, vulgar, literalistic, and materialistic. Religion should be more spiritual, inward, ethical.

    Once again, who has made this argument? I have never heard it before.

    And in any case, I don't think the "resurrection of a corpse" exactly describes what Christians have come to believe (over the centuries) is what happened. As I have argued before, Christians expect the resurrection of the dead en mass at the end of the world. There will inevitably be countless cases in which there is no "corpse" to resurrect. Does that mean those whose bodies have been utterly and completely destroyed by fire, decay, or numerous other means will not participate in the resurrection of the dead? I certainly don't think this is what Christians believe. Also, dead and decaying corpses may be creepy, but according to Christian teaching, those who are resurrected have "glorified bodies," not the rotting corpses of zombies.

    Of course, the "glorified body" argument raises some questions. For example, we have been told that hallucinations don't eat. But do people with glorified bodies eat? They don't need to eat, according to Catholic belief. If they don't need to eat, do they digest food? And if so, do they need to eliminate waste? Will we need bathrooms after the resurrection of the dead? So given what the Catholic Church has deduced about glorified bodies, assuming the Gospel account of Jesus eating with his followers after the resurrection, did he really eat, or did he just put some food in his mouth and make it disappear? (And if glorified bodies are perfect, why did Jesus have nail holes in his hands and feet and a pierced side after the resurrection?)

    • VicqRuiz

      who has made this argument?

      That would be Prof. John X. Straw, the World's Dumbest Atheist. He's very well traveled - just about every Christian apologist bumps into him frrequently.

  • David Nickol

    The historical evidence is massive enough to convince the open-minded inquirer. By analogy with any other historical event, the resurrection has eminently credible evidence behind it. To disbelieve it, you must deliberately make an exception to the rules you use everywhere else in history. Now why would someone want to do that?

    Ask yourself that question if you dare, and take an honest look into your heart before you answer.

    In other words, after reading this series, if you do not acknowledge that the resurrection actually occurred, there is something wrong with you. You are not sufficiently open minded, you don't want to believe the truth, and you don't dare to take an honest look into year heart.

    • William Davis

      As I've mentioned in previous posts, the miracles of Mohammed and Joseph Smith are well documented as well. I wonder if Kreeft is open minded enough to believe in those?

      • David Nickol

        I wonder if Kreeft is open minded enough to believe in those?

        He should ask himself that question—if he dares!— and take an honest look into his heart before he answers!

      • Randy Carson

        Are you willing, then, to concede that miracles are more common than some deniers claim?

        • William Davis

          Claims of miracles used to be very common, they are in nearly all ancient writings. Claims are quite different from actual miracles, of course. Most claims of miracles are used as some type of proof of God being on their side, making the claims suspect (there is a specific motivation for the claim). I think some miraculous things have happened, but I see no reason to think they were due to something supernatural. Notice how few miracle claims happen now with the advent of cameras and other things that could actually document a miracle. More knowledge equals fewer and fewer miracles. Extrapolation says that enough knowledge would remove miracles altogether, though we can't know that a priori.

          I can't say miracles never haven, but most claims of miracles can often be reduced to something else (errors of perception, an unusual natural occurrence, or outright deceptions to achieve a goal).

          • Pofarmer

            Miracles are still claimed all the time, butnthey are more along the lines of "it's a miracle I drove that fast coming home and dodn't get a ticket."

          • William Davis

            I agree, miracle has come to mean something out of the ordinary as opposed to something supernatural, in general at least.

          • Pofarmer

            Oh, no, an awful lot of people still believe it's supernatural.

          • William Davis

            Lol, I've been so successful at surrounding myself with rational people, I've almost forgotten the other type still exist.

          • Pofarmer

            My wifes family is, uhm, not rational, formthe most part.

  • William Davis

    Objection 1: History is not an exact science. It does not yield absolute certainty like mathematics.

    Reply: This is true, but why would you note that fact now and not when you speak of Caesar or Luther or George Washington? History is not exact, but it is sufficient. No one doubts that Caesar crossed the Rubicon; why do many doubt that Jesus rose from the dead? The evidence for the latter is much better than for the former.

    From wikipedia:

    "In 49 BC, perhaps on January 10, C. Julius Caesar led a single legion, Legio XIII Gemina, south over the Rubicon from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy to make his way to Rome. In doing so, he (deliberately) broke the law on imperium and made armed conflict inevitable. Suetonius depicts Caesar as undecided as he approached the river, and attributes the crossing to a supernatural apparition. It was reported that Caesar dined withSallust, Hirtius, Oppius, Lucius Balbus and Sulpicus Rufus on the night after his famous crossing into Italy January 10."

    I reject the idea that Caesar saw an apparition that caused him to cross the Rubicon, even though this is what the records say. Odds are that he made this up an as excuse, who can argue with an apparition right? I'm not applying a double standard, I reject everyone's miracles, it is just easier that way. This isn't to say miracles can't happen, but how am I supposed to judge one groups miracles over the other. Miracles tend to make a story more interesting, and almost all works of the time involved miracles, it was just the way literature worked then.

  • William Davis

    On the topic of Julius Caesar, he was resurrected as a god after his death. The same was said of Romulus (founder of Rome) and other important Roman emperors. The tradition of resurrection probably started with the Egyptians. One fascinating fact is that one of the first gods to die and resurrect was Baal...you know the bad god the Jews were always fighting against. Early history is fascinating.

    On the resurrection of Julius

    https://divusjulius.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/liberalia2010/

    The resurrection of Baal (the story is similar to Osiris)

    http://www.egyptianmyths.net/baal.htm

    Mummification was an attempt to preserve the Pharoah's body for a physical resurrection.

  • Eric

    After reading through the comments both here and over the last few days it seems to me that Dr. Kreeft's 3rd point on the reality (or not) of miracles and the miraculous is perhaps the biggest hurdle for most who have difficulty in believing the Christian story is true. Pretty much everything else can be argued as reasonable to believe given the evidence especially when held up with other accepted historical facts with less documentation. Most every comment against finds itself hitting this wall or the miraculous and making the claim that, because the reason being given for this particular set of evidence is a miraculous one (that has not been repeated) all other evidence is suspect. Perhaps a series on the philosophical viewpoints surrounding the rationality of a belief in miracles would be an appropriate follow-up to a series like this.

    • William Davis

      I agree. I would also like to see a reason to believe the miracles of Christianity as opposed to those of other religions, or are we to believe all miracles anyone reports (with a certain standard of witnesses perhaps).

    • David Nickol

      No, I think that if everything in the Gospels (and Acts) were considered credible except for the miracles, then perhaps the accounts of miracles in the Gospels would be at least a little more credible to the skeptics. But there are many non-miraculous accounts in the Gospels that are considered doubtful by biblical scholars. And example is how the Gospels bend over backwards to depict Pilate and the Romans as being reluctant tools of "the Jews" in the killing of Jesus. The story of the release by Pilate of Barabbas instead of Jesus is dubious for any number of reasons. The idea of a reluctant Pilate doing the bidding of the high priests against his better judgment and his conscience is not credible.

    • Peter

      The Resurrection was attested not only by the Gopsels, Acts and

      • Papalinton

        "As a literary affirmation to an event ......."

        Precisely. That is all they are; literary affirmations, most certainly not historical ones.

        • Peter

          Are not most historical affirmations literary?

          • Raymond

            I believe his point was that these writings are affirmations - assertions of the truth of the resurrection but not evidence for it. Much like the affirmations made in this article and others. You can assert that the sky is pink polka-dots and provide books and articles using "logical" arguments and historical (that is, from the past) claims that the sky is pink polka dots, but they don't make it so.

          • Peter

            If literal assertions of historical events are not evidence for them, how would we know of the past?

          • Raymond

            The comments apply to the secondary affirmations of the later Church Fathers, and really to the early Church Fathers. Whether or not any of the early Fathers knew Apostles personally, all they had was verbal testimony of the events. Whether the testimony was factual or not, the subsequent "testimony" of the early Fathers were hearsay - assertions of what they were told, not historical evidence of the events themselves.

            Whether or not the Gospel documents themselves were historical records is a separate discussion.

          • Peter

            How does that differ from other ancient historical evidence?

          • Raymond

            I'm pretty sure my previous comment explained that.

          • Peter

            You claim that the testimony of the Church Fathers falls short of being historical evidence. Please explain why.

          • Pofarmer

            Seven centuries of religious leaders pushing the same stories is proof of truth ofnthe story?m you should be a Mormon.

          • Raymond

            No, it doesn't. The further away in time these affirmations get, the more they are affirmations of the Church Fathers' belief in the event. They are not evidence of the truth of the event. I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

          • Peter

            When somebody refuses to believe something in principle, no amount of evidence will suffice.

          • Raymond

            Or when someone believes something in principle, no amount of reasoning will suffice.

          • Raymond

            Welcome to the Argument by Authority fallacy.

          • Peter

            The reasoning which rejects the Resurrection is flawed. That's because it isn't reasoning at all but a principled refusal, irrespective of the evidence, to accept the Resurrection at all.

            The notion of a man dying and being raised from the dead as a God is so objectionable to the materialist mind that nothing could ever justify it. Why don't sceptics simply come out with the truth and state this instead of hiding behind convoluted arguments about a lack of historical evidence.

          • Raymond

            Why do Christians persist in attempting to futilely assert the existence of "evidence" of the Resurrection when we all know that they take this event solely on faith despite the clear lack of evidence? The only useful argument in favor of the Resurrection is the rapid growth of the early church - for which I have no substantive explanation. The rolled away stone, the guards, the empty tomb - all this is simple fantasy followed up by Argument by Authority.

          • Peter

            The rapid rise of the early Church involves the early Church Fathers. Their writings form the link between the Apostles and the later Church Fathers. This has been my point all along. Finally you agree.

          • Doug Shaver

            The rapid rise of the early Church involves the early Church Fathers.

            How rapid was it, actually? Do you have idea how many Christians there were by, say, the end of the first century? Does anybody?

          • Peter

            In 300 years it grew to become the official religion of the known world so that's pretty fast growth.

          • Doug Shaver

            It became the official religion of the Roman empire. The empire did not extend to the entire world that was known even at that time.

          • Doug Shaver

            The reasoning which rejects the Resurrection is flawed.

            You don't know why I reject it. If I give you my reasoning, will you tell me exactly what the flaw is?

            it isn't reasoning at all but a principled refusal, irrespective of the evidence, to accept the Resurrection at all.

            Try me.

          • Pofarmer

            Archeology mainly. Also writings of other groups related to the group we are studying, etc, etc.

          • Pofarmer

            No. There is generally other, confirming information.

      • Pofarmer

        "This is understandable because they attest not to a natural event which is easily believable but to a miraculous event which has changed the world. "

        List one thing the event of the ressurection changed. Beleif in that event led to a large religion.

    • Doug Shaver

      Pretty much everything else can be argued as reasonable to believe given the evidence especially when held up with other accepted historical facts with less documentation.

      I don't normally judge whether something happened just based on the number of documents claiming it happened, and I don't think anyone else does, either. This is a good example of the sort of special pleading to which apologists so often resort.

  • Luc Regis

    Judging by many of the comments, I think that we can now file this piece in the drivel file folder.

    • William Davis

      I think drivel is too strong. I'm sure this article is fine for it's intended audience (other Catholics or atheists unfamiliar with modern biblical exegesis), but we are not that.

      • Luc Regis

        You are right.....to be fair drivel is an unfair criticism......just got a bit careless.

      • It is more being too familiar with modern biblical exegesis. Familiar with the assumptions they make and the objections they ignore. Kreeft is familiar with it all and smart enough to understand it all and not find it convincing. The articles are fine for those wanting to understand that perspective,

        • Papalinton

          I don't think Kreeft's article is epistemologically sound at any point, let alone ontologically sound. His perspective is purely constrained within conventional apologetical parameters that largely defines 'evidence' in the most loosely of senses, particularly the egregiously sloppy manner in which 'historical fact' is employed by apologists. Much of the Christian narrative is based on factoids, " ...an assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact." [All References Dictionary] This phenomenon equally undergirds the believe in Islam. And if you were at all honest with yourself, you would concur with me that Islam is indeed founded on factoids; an assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact. I would venture further to suggest that most if not all Christians believe that.

          I'm certain Kreeft does not believe for one moment in the truth of Islam vis-a-vis Christianity. And I am pretty certain Brandon believes Islam is a false religion, based on a false belief; ergo based on factoids.

          There is nowhere for Christians to hide. Reading back into a primitive superstitious source on some desperate attempt to breathe life into the Christian fable simply does not work anymore with the authority it once had in its halcyon days. The Christian mythos is reaching its use-by-date rapidly and there will be no returning to it into the future. Old gods don't die. They fade away.

          • I would say the parallel between Islam and Christianity is a good example of an atheist factoid. That is a frequent evidence-free assertion that really does not make sense as a real argument.

  • Doug Shaver

    There is no objection on this list that I have known any skeptic to actually offer as a reason to believe that the resurrection did not happen. I have seen some skeptics use a variation of #3 by simply denying that miracles are possible, but I do not use that objection in defense of my own skepticism.

    • Peter

      To be fair, belief in the Resurrection is not simply accepting that the miraculous raising from the dead is possible, but also accepting that he who was raised from the dead is God. Belief in the Resurrection is the belief that God was raised from the dead. This sets the bar even higher. Sceptics are asked to believe not just that a dead man had been resurrected but that this man was God.

      • Pofarmer

        Passat. God can't die.

        • Doug Shaver

          God can't die.

          Right. But when you're talking about the Trinity, Leibniz's Law doesn't seem to work.

          • Loreen Lee

            You are referring, I believe, to the :Law of Identity of Indescernibles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_of_indiscernibles

          • Doug Shaver

            Yes, that's the one I had in mind.

          • Loreen Lee

            So, what are the necessary assumptions. A distinction between matter and mind perhaps. This is interesting with respect to his 'hierarchy' of monads. It's of course difficult for me to 'imagine' quarks, electrons, and protons being 'monads'. And there can't be 'overlaps' because it's all windowless. They allow - what is it - a mathematical 'metaphysic?' of 'points'. OK there's a 'parallel' there. But what you get to 'angels' and 'G/gods' is this another plateau of metaphysic? Real or Ideal? I 'accept' that I cannot 'know', but it 'would be nice' if I could even find some order or coherent organization within what? various systems, or epistemic speculations concerning ontologies???? No need to answer. I'm just 'indulging' myself, a word with many meanings......Thanks Doug.

      • Doug Shaver

        Sceptics are asked to believe not just that a dead man had been resurrected but that this man was God.

        One step at a time. Convince me that a dead man came back to life, and then we can discuss whether he was God.

        • Peter

          Jesus was not just a dead man coming back to life like, say, Lazarus. Jesus was resurrected with godlike qualities such as altering his appearance, teleporting and levitating, while at the same time retaining his physical functions such as eating.

          The issue therefore isn't just convincing someone that a dead man had been restored to life but that a dead man had been raised to godhood. The Resurrection is not the raising of the dead back to humanity but to divinity.

          • Doug Shaver

            Jesus was not just a dead man coming back to life like, say, Lazarus.

            I get it that orthodox Christians would not be satisfied if I believed only that.

  • A bodily resurrection best explains the all the existing data. This does not make it true, but it does best explain the data. A common reaction might be, “no it does not, because a resurrection is not a credible explanation”. It reminds me of the Apollo 13 case study we use when teaching our engineers about problem analysis.

    There were several theories as to what was happening 54 hours and 52 minutes into the flight. One was faulty instrumentation (bad data), but this could not explain all that was being observed. A rupture of a cryogenic oxygen tank in deep space best explained all the data that was coming in to Houston. NASA engineers found that explanation to be “not credible”. Safety measures were put into place to insure that the tanks were ALWAYS safe. This thinking was justified by their experience, but the engineers were disciplined enough to remain objective, work the problem and go where the data led. They made their decisions (which saved the lives of the astronauts) based on the data, not based on what they believed to be credible or incredible.

  • Poster

    How does the Novus Ordo respond to objections by Father Joseph Ratzinger:

    "Thus the Resurrection cannot be a historical event in the same sense as the Crucifixion is. For that matter, there is no account that depicts it as such, nor is it circumscribed in time otherwise than by the eschatological expression 'the third day'" (Principles of Catholic Theology, 1987)

    Or how about Gerhard Ludwig Muhler, another Novus Ordo who said:

    "Whether the women's visit to the tomb in the early Easter morning and the discovery that the Body of Jesus is [sic] no longer there, was a historical occurrence in the manner portrayed, does not need to be decided here. It's possible that this [narrative] reflected a veneration of the tomb by the community of Jerusalem" (Katholische Dogmatik, 8th ed. pg. 300)