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Does Luke Contradict Himself on When Jesus Was Born?

St. Luke begins the second chapter of his Gospel with a chronological note about when Jesus was born, writing: "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria." (Luke 2:1-2) This passage has been subject to a lot of criticism, because Luke has already linked the birth of Jesus to reign of Herod the Great (Luke 1:5), and Quirinius did not become governor of Syria until years... Read More

The 100-Year Old Mistake About the Birth of Jesus

You know how people often say that Jesus was born in 4 B.C., 6 B.C., 7 B.C., or a time earlier still? The calculations that lead to these dates are all based on a proposal that was made just over a hundred years ago. But now scholars are challenging this proposal, because it looks like it's wrong. And it's been distorting our understanding of when Jesus was born for over a hundred years. Here's the story. . . . When Herod Died   The Gospel of Matthew records that Jesus was born during... Read More

Does the Shroud of Turin Prove God?

I've written here at Strange Notions in the past about miracles and skepticism, and about the greatest miracle claim of all, Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Such miracles serve as arguments for God’s existence, but not philosophical arguments based on design, prime movers, etc. They are based on physical, historical evidence. The arguments go like this: If atheistic materialism is true, then the natural world must be a closed system. Everything must be explained within that closed... Read More

Did the Accounts of Jesus Evolve?

Biblical skeptics often surmise that the earliest New Testament books tell a very different story than the later books: that the story of Jesus grew with time, becoming more and more incredible, and less and less historical. In other words, the New Testament evolved from history to religious mythology. Recently, I've seen this argument raised about both the Resurrection and the divinity of Christ. First, retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong (who denies the Resurrection) attacked... Read More

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Last week I wrote a post here on David Hume, miracles, and the resurrection of Jesus. Some of the commenters took issue with my claim that "all the alternatives to the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead are more incredible than the miracle." I'd like to elaborate on that here. Christians claim that the historical human being Jesus of Nazareth was executed then physically rose from the dead and stayed alive. He was seen by many people and then was seen to vanish into... Read More

David Hume, Miracles, and the Resurrection

Most Catholics and atheists agree that if God does not exist, then the material world must be a closed system. If there is no God, the world is self-creating and self-reliant. If there is no God, then there cannot be interruptions in nature. The material world works according to the laws of physics, and even if there are mysteries that cannot presently be explained, they will be one day. In fact, if there is no God, then the physical world must work according to the laws of nature and... Read More

Popular News Site Claims Jesus Never Existed

An article titled "5 Reasons to Suspect that Jesus Never Existed" was posted last week at Salon.com and was featured in the Yahoo news feed. The article itself does not contain anything groundbreaking to anyone who follows this debate, but it presents the most common objections. Below are five reasons author Valerie Tarico gives, and how to answer them. 1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.   Tarico uses only an extensive... Read More

Bayes Theorem Proves Jesus Existed (And That He Didn’t)

  In his shockingly neglected Treatise on Probability, John Maynard Keynes put his finger on the difficulty people have with probability, particularly Bayes’s Theorem: "No other formula in the alchemy of logic has exerted more astonishing powers. For it has established the existence of God from the premiss of total ignorance; and it has measured with numerical precision the probability the sun will rise tomorrow." Probability carries with it “a smack of astrology, of alchemy.”... Read More

Quantum Physics and Bodily Resurrection

The Question   In the year 587 BCE, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and brought many of the Jews back home as captives. Among them was the prophet Ezekiel. During this dark period of Israel’s history, God promised Ezekiel that Israel would rise again. We can read about it in the Book of Ezekiel, where God leads His prophet out to a battlefield in a valley, strewn with the dry, dusty skeletons of Jerusalem’s fallen army. There, God makes Ezekiel a strange request: He tells... Read More

An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 2 of 2)

NOTE: This it the second of a two part series. Before reading this be sure to check out Part 1.     Many Christians accept that a historical Jesus existed because they never thought to question the idea in the first place, or because they are convinced that the gospels can be read as (more or less) historical accounts and so don't need to be seriously doubted on this point.  But why do the overwhelming majority of non-Christian scholars also accept that Jesus existed? The Total... Read More

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