Surprising Scholarly Agreement on Facts That Support Jesus’ Resurrection

A "Minimal Historical Facts" Argument for Jesus' Resurrection

By Gary Habermas Published on April 6, 2018

Here’s something you might not have known about contemporary scholarship. It might actually surprise you, unless you’ve been keeping up with these things: virtually all researchers, whether they are skeptical, liberal, moderate or conservative in their approach and beliefs, agree in recognizing a small but definite core of historical facts from the end of Jesus’ life. And this core of facts reveals a lot about the reality of the resurrection.

The Argument

About 40 years ago, I began writing about what I have called the Minimal Facts Argument. I wouldn’t want you to think it’s a “minimally-sized” argument in any way, or that only a few facts from the day are available. Rather it’s an argument for the resurrection of Jesus based on that small, “minimal” core of facts that all academically credible researchers agree on. Using between three and seven historical events that are recognized by these scholars, it builds on what we may learn from these data.

Not too long ago I listed six of these events in a dialogue with an agnostic New Testament scholar. I used the historical facts that 1) Jesus died by crucifixion, 2) his early followers had experiences a short time later that they thought were appearances of Jesus, 3) and as a result, they were transformed to the point of being willing to die for this message. Further, two former unbelievers 4) James the brother of Jesus and 5) Saul of Tarsus (later the apostle Paul) both similarly thought that they had seen the risen Jesus, as well; and 6) This Gospel message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ began to be taught very soon after these events.

Some might be surprised to hear that the agnostic scholar with whom I was dialoguing not only agreed with the historical nature of these six events, without exceptions, but he even added that each one was very well-recognized.

How Is this Scholarly Agreement Established?

Why are these and other historical facts held in common among scholars who do not even share the same background views? On what grounds could liberals and conservatives agree on these matters?

Perhaps the chief reason for the widespread agreement comes from recent critical recognition that the New Testament contains dozens of brief snippets of information from the earliest church teaching — preserved from the first 20 years before the first canonical books were written. Scholars call these “creedal texts” or traditions. The best known of them is 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 which scholars agree originated no later than the early to mid-30s AD, or within just five years of the life of Christ. There is also 1 Corinthians 8:6 and 11:23-25, Romans 1:3-4, 10:9, and Philippians 2:6-11. That’s not all of them. Among the many others are Luke 24:34 and the Acts sermon summaries. These texts actually predate by many years the works in which they appear.

Another avenue comes from the regular use of different tools and rules used by historians and others to recognize the occurrence of past historical facts. These are often called the criteria of authenticity. Here are six of these that help explain how scholars come to this kind of agreement:

  1. Some events are established by the reliable testimonies from people who were close to or who even participated in the events.
  2. Sometimes the witnesses reported these things very soon afterwards, rather than waiting years to do so.
  3. On other occasions, these events are attested by two or even more independent sources.
  4. Sometimes, enemies who actually oppose the occurrences and would have preferred that they had not happened, might agree that they nonetheless did so.
  5. Or the accounts may be told in a way that is so embarrassing to those telling it, or to their loved ones or their cause, that the best explanation for them saying it is simply that it’s the truth.
  6. Another test preferred by some scholars is the result of an event fitting well with or exhibiting similarities to other occurrences that are known to have occurred (coherence).

There are other historical tools and rules as well, but these are among the best-known ones. Often, two or even several of these additional reasons are present and endorse the same event from different angles. Once in a while, the list of confirmatory reasons can get quite lengthy. In such cases, it becomes more and more difficult to deny the factual nature of the reports. So actually, agreement among dissimilar scholars can be fairly common.

How Do We Move from the Minimal Historical Facts to Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances?

Using only the six facts about Jesus and his disciples listed above, backed up by the evidences that confirm them, we have a scenario that points very strongly to Jesus’ appearing to his disciples after he died by crucifixion. Actually, we can boil the case down to those two ingredients. Did Jesus actually die on the cross? Then was he seen afterwards, having conversations with friends just like any of us might do? If Jesus was walking around and talking, seen by groups of witnesses (such as reported in the most scholarly-tested text, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7), then His appearances are solid!

Some might question whether historians can use the New Testament texts at all. Do critical scholars allow that? Actually, they cite these passages as often as conservative Christians do. The difference is that critical scholars generally only make use of those accredited citations that satisfy their reasons, such as those that we just mentioned.

The result of it all is that we have six solid, agreed facts, backed up with good historical reasoning. Rather incredibly, these six facts are enough to argue strongly against all of the major non-supernatural alternative hypotheses to Jesus’ resurrection. This is the primary reason why only a minority of critical scholars today still even attempt to argue these natural suppositions. Incidentally, they were popular primarily in the Nineteenth Century.

But these six facts are also the strongest affirmative reasons for believing that Jesus appeared to His followers both individually and in groups after His death. That so many eyewitnesses reported these experiences is admitted by virtually all critical scholars. You would have to look hard to find very many dissenters.

Jesus’ disciples were so sure of this fact that they were willing to die for this message, since it was the center of the Gospel proclamation (as in Romans 10:9-10). True, many people down through the centuries have died willingly for a cause that they believed to be true as well as crucially important. But they are not willing to die for a view that they think is false

However, there was something different about Jesus’ disciples. Christianity is the only major world religion whose early disciples were willing to die for their belief that their religion’s founder had been resurrected. Moreover, His resurrection was the very center of their message! No event of this nature is found anywhere in the other major religions, and certainly not when one asks for good evidence that it happened.

While this does not prove that the resurrection happened, it does indicate that the disciples thought that it had occurred. Further, these believers were the only ones in position to know whether or not they had seen Jesus alive after His death. That they were willing to die for these experiences is certainly significant in that it shows that they were utterly convinced of these facts. That goes a long way towards providing the best explanation of what actually happened.

Not only that, but we still have the conversions of the skeptics James the brother of Jesus and Paul. What changed them so radically? They were also willing to die for their new faith that they, too, had seen the risen Jesus. Both of them, among others, actually did die for their belief in Jesus’ resurrection.

Lastly, the consensus view of even critical scholarship today is that the early resurrection message was preached right after the crucifixion by those who were involved in the experiences. Far from taking years or even decades to evolve and develop, the message burst forth from Jerusalem just a short time later and spread around the Mediterranean world.

Conclusion

The recent research trends on the topic of Jesus’ resurrection show the positive direction of these developments over the last few decades. This new outlook reflects the growing recognition of creedal or traditional texts which date much earlier than the New Testament writings in which they appear, as well as the us of critical criteria from the field of history to larger portions of the texts. The overall result has been an expansion of what we know about both the times in which Jesus lived, and details from His own life. Hence, scholars have been pushed by the available evidence.

The resulting is to show that the resurrection is a unique teaching in the history of religion. Those of us who believe that Jesus died and rose again are on solid ground, indeed!

 

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published at The Stream on March 27, 2016.

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  • John W.

    One of the books which I found to be extremely helpful was classical historian, Michael Grant’s book, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels. The fact that he was an historian and not a theologian or New Testament scholar was refreshing as well as very informative. It opened up a whole new perspective for me.

    Grant confirmed four basic facts relative to the resurrection. Jesus’ death by crucifixion according to the order of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, his honorable burial, the empty tomb and the post resurrection experiences. While Grant admitted that he was personally sceptical that resurrection had actually occurred, he also conceded that the resurrection accounts did “prove that certain people were utterly convinced that” Jesus had been raised.

    I was wondering if Dr. Habermas has any other books by other noted non-Christian scholars which would support some kind of minimal facts approach. I think that would be much more helpful than just saying 90% + scholars accept these six minimal facts.

  • Dave Ptasnik

    This is an interesting article, but not terribly compelling. There is no evidence of supernatural events like resurrections. Whether there was an historical figure named Jesus isn’t terribly important in determining the overall likelihood that Christianity represents the truth about our universe. No one dies and then comes back from the dead. 2,000 year old stories do not constitute evidence. Perhaps a group of conspirators concocted a very effective story. Perhaps a man was crucified, thought to have died, been entombed, woke up, got free, and then talked to different people about his near death experience. Perhaps a series of rumors spread throughout the region and grew in the telling. 2 millennia later we have no way of telling. There is no forensic evidence, no lab tests, no photographs, nothing.

    What we do know is that faith healing isn’t real. We know that prayer is not an effective medical treatment. That Christians fare no differently than believers of other religions in their lives. We also know that much of the bible is not factual, describes events that did not or could not happen, and has great internal contradictions.

    So did a man named Jesus walk the earth after having been crucified? Don’t know. Don’t care. Doesn’t matter.

    • Ken Abbott

      So if you don’t care and it doesn’t matter, why did you take the time and make the effort to post here?

      • Dave Ptasnik

        Because the article is attempting to justify a false superstitious belief, and I think that is a bad thing for humanity. The article is important if it convinces someone that the biblical account represents an actual miracle. My point is that the story doesn’t matter because it is ultimately false. No one “died and rose again”. Regardless of questionable, personal accounts from the distant past. So I care about the article. Not whether there was an actual Jesus.

        • Ken Abbott

          So you have posted here in a spirit of altruism, correct? It is a bad thing for humanity in general to receive affirmations of “false superstitious belief” and you are concerned that the article as written may lead someone into believing a lie, as you perceive it. Quite noble.

          But those final sentences, those intrigue me. “I care about the article. Not whether there was an actual Jesus.” What if there really was a Jesus (and the historical evidence of his existence and death at least are beyond dispute; only cranks and the fringe of the Internet continue to insist otherwise) who actually said and did the things recorded of him? Would that make a difference?

          • Dave Ptasnik

            “Quite noble.”
            What can I say? I’m a giver.

            “actually said and did the things recorded of him? Would that make a difference?”
            I am a believer in science and evidence. If you could prove that some guy was magically healed of leprosy by a touch, or if pound after pound of food was spontaneously generated out of a small basket, then yes. That would make a difference. Of course such proof is not possible over such a span of time.

            Nor is there modern evidence of miracles. Just once let god send a flock of angels to hold up the wings of a stricken airliner in front of news cameras, and that will get my attention. Let a clear and unambiguous message of what to believe in, and what practices to follow, appear on every computer screen in the world at the same time, and you would have something. Blood tears out of a Virgin Mary statue in a Mexican hamlet, not cutting it.

            Nor is my disbelief limited to Christianity. Mohammed was not wafted across the desert by a tornado. Hindus are not reincarnated in to cows. Joseph Smith did not conveniently lose golden tablets. There is no bigfoot.

            People of science and reason should stand against these pagan beliefs.

          • GLT

            Dave Ptasnik

            “Just once let god send a flock of angels to hold up the wings of a stricken airliner in front of news cameras, and that will get my attention.”

            No it wouldn’t, you would turn to your precious science to produce a naturalistic explanation.

            “People of science and reason should stand against these pagan beliefs.”

            So any scientist who happens to be a Christian falls into what category? Is he a learned man of science or is he a fool for believing pagan fairy tales? It seems to be a strict dichotomy in your eyes, so what say you?

          • Dave Ptasnik

            “No it wouldn’t”
            Yes it would. Neiner.

            ” Is he a learned man of science or is he a fool for believing pagan fairy tales?”
            Yes. Again, applying to all superstitions. I know learned men (and women) of science who believe in astrology, Joesph Smith’s space aliens, and wiccan magic spells. There is no evidence of any of it. Or the Loch Ness Monster.

          • GLT

            Dave Ptasnik,

            “Yes it would. Neiner.”

            Now Dave demonstrates his level of maturity. Not surprising.

          • Dave Ptasnik

            Heh. Not much for subtlety, are you? Let me clear things up for you.

            I was chiding you for your immature remark. I made a statement that I would pay attention to physical evidence, and you said that I would not. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I would or would not do. You were engaging in a tit for tat discussion. So I called you out on it by demonstrating the childish nature of your post. I repeat, Neiner. Or, I suppose at this point, Niener, Neiner.

          • GLT

            Dave Ptasnik,

            “I made a statement that I would pay attention to physical evidence, and you said that I would not. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I would or would not do.”

            You’re’ right, I do not know you but I do know people of your mindset frequently say that they would accept a certain type of evidence and when they are presented with that evidence they find an excuse not to accept it. I seriously doubt you would be any different. This is not about evidence, it is about your preconceived ideas taking priority over any evidence which might upset those ideas. I have seen it too many times before.

            Out of curiosity, how do you know there is not any physical evidence? Are you aware of every piece of evidence which may be available? Obviously not. How do you know God has not intervened and prevented an aircraft from crashing, for example? You don’t. What about the physical evidence attested to by eyewitnesses of events? Would you accept their testimony?

            “I repeat, Neiner.”

            And I repeat, immature.

          • Dave Ptasnik

            Sad, really. You offer no specifics. Only accusations and insults.

            I have searched for physical evidence of the supernatural and found none. And that includes meta searches of the studies of others. If you have the evidence, let your light shine. Your holy book provides metaphors, myths, and fables. But no ultimate truth. As is demonstrated by your lack of ability to defend its many contradictions and physical impossibilities. Many of which I have directly referenced. All without detailed response from you.

            How do I know that your imaginary friend has not saved a plane? Because there is no evidence of such a thing happening. If you would worship a god who hides in shadows and acts with subterfuge, leaving evidence that the holy book is filled with flaws, then you are welcome to her.

            The last word is yours. You have nothing of value to me.

          • GLT

            Dave Ptasnik,

            “I have searched for physical evidence of the supernatural and found none.”

            Funny then that so many people throughout history and hundreds of millions today accept the presence of the supernatural. Such people as Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterson, Simon Greenleaf, Raymond Damadian, Alvin Plantinga, N. T. Wright, Anthony Flew, Francis Collins and millions upon millions of others. Why is it such learned men as these and millions upon millions of other learned men and women have concluded there is a God when, as you repeatedly claim, there is no evidence to support such a conclusion? If there is indeed no evidence, upon what have all these people based their conclusions? Can you give me an answer to that question? Have you ever considered the possibility that perhaps you simply do not know what to look for? Perhaps you simply do not want to see?

            “As is demonstrated by your lack of ability to defend its many contradictions and physical impossibilities.”

            No such lack has been demonstrated by me. If you think you have examples of said contradictions why not present them rather than make baseless accusations?

            “Because there is no evidence of such a thing happening.”

            You never catch on, do you? How do you know there is no evidence of such a thing happening? Are you aware of every such event that has ever happened? Did you witness every one of those events? Are you aware of every detail of every one of those events? You continually fail to realise you are making claims to a level of knowledge and understanding you simply do not and can never possibly possess. Do you not understand that fact?

            “You have nothing of value to me.”

            That could well be true but it is not because I have nothing to offer. My only goal is to encourage you to look at these issues more objectively. I used to think just as you do. However, when I put in the effort to approach the subject objectively, and it does take a lot of effort, I began to realise how much I did not know and did not understand. That is all I want you to do, be objective, admit you do not know everything as you repeatedly claim you do when you say, ‘there is no evidence.’ There is evidence, an abundance of it in fact. You simply refuse to accept it as such and adhere dogmatically to your presuppositions. That is what is really sad.

            Take care and I sincerely hope you have a change of attitude.

        • GLT

          Dave Ptasnik,

          “My point is that the story doesn’t matter because it is ultimately false.”

          What is your evidence demonstrating it is false?

          • Dave Ptasnik

            It is not incumbent upon me to prove that a miracle took place. It is the responsibility of the person claiming the miracle to demonstrate it is true. That coupled with the complete and utter lack of proof that any miracle has ever happened anywhere leads to my lack of belief in the (rather silly and unlikely) resurrection story.

            2,000 year old “eyewitness” accounts of supernatural events are not evidence of anything. Particularly of someone rising from the dead. Several times a year I see stories of people pronounced dead waking up in a morgue or funeral home.

            In the unlikely event that there was a Jesus who was crucified and three days after the nails were removed was seen walking around, this does not demonstrate that said Jesus was the “son” of a god. Or that anything special happened other than a person who suffered simply wasn’t as dead as the Romans thought.
            Particularly when these accounts are found in a book filled with utter nonsense. The earth covered by a flood. The sun standing still in the sky. Changing water in to wine. None of it happened. Nothing like that happens. Ever.

          • GLT

            Dave Ptasnik,

            “2,000 year old “eyewitness” accounts of supernatural events are not evidence of anything.”

            Again, Mr Ptasnik waves his hand and scoffs at the evidence and expects everyone to accept his judgement. Not going to happen, pal. You are going to need to do much better than simply scoffing.

            “a book filled with utter nonsense.”

            You have already been asked to provide support for this claim, a request which is yet to be fulfilled. Do you intend to provide evidence for your claims or is it just more baseless rhetoric?

            “Nothing like that happens. Ever.”

            Now Dave is claiming to be omniscient. Interesting.

          • Dave Ptasnik

            Again you turn to personal attacks. Show me an example of a supernatural event with physical evidence. There aren’t any. Gravity works. If you pick up a rock and drop it, it falls. Every time. We live in a mechanical universe. No magic spell, no supernatural being will ever or has ever stopped the rock from falling.

            You see, I have the evidence of the scientific body of knowledge of mankind. You have a 2,000 year old vague writing from biased sources. That is not scoffing. That is saying “Show me the money.”

            A poorly written, inconsistent, in many cases demonstrably false, old book written to promote a religion is not good evidence of much of anything.

            You ask for proof of the bible’s veracity, and I responded with several examples. Which you just ignore. Let me repeat, the flood, the sun standing still above the earth, loaves and fishes. None of those happened, none of them are possible. Do you think any of those actually happened? How about the parting of the red sea? Where and when did that happen, and what is your geological or paleontological evidence for it? There isn’t any.

            Or the nativity story! That’s a good one. A “star” guiding gift givers to a specific stable. Tell me, please, just how that worked. Any contemporary examples of such astronomical hi-jinx? How about third party reporting from nativity contemporary astronomers in other countries noting such strange stellar behavior. I have looked, I can’t find any. Maybe you will have better luck.

            At the core of all of this is folks wanting to use the bible to prove the bible. That is an incredibly analytically weak position. Which is why other participants in this discussion also have such a problem with it.

          • GLT

            Dave Ptasnik,

            “no supernatural being will ever or has ever stopped the rock from falling.”

            You know this to be true due to the fact you have witnessed every rock, every where which has ever fallen or ever will fall, since the beginning of time, right? Do you really not grasp this type of statement is completely fallacious in that you have no possible way of possessing such knowledge? No way that is unless you are omnipotent and omniscient, which if true, would refute your own statement. You simply do not think your arguments through to their logical conclusions.

            “You see, I have the evidence of the scientific body of knowledge of mankind.”

            Really? Would that be the same body of scientific knowledge which cannot prove anything to be absolutely true? Would that be the body of scientific knowledge which is always open to correction and therefore can never be known to be 100% accurate? Would that be the same body of scientific knowledge that cannot even demonstrate that scientific practice itself is scientifically true? Perhaps it is the body of scientific knowledge which cannot quantify or explain, love, or beauty or humour? Is that the body of scientific knowledge which cannot answer basic human questions such as why something exists rather than nothing, or why am I here and what is my purpose in life? Is that the body of knowledge which you see as the ultimate source of wisdom and understanding? If it is then I can understand why you get confused.

            “inconsistent, in many cases demonstrably false,…”

            You repeatedly make this claim but never, ever provide any type of evidence to support your assertion. Why is that, Dave?

            “You ask for proof of the bible’s veracity,…”

            I think you had better consult a dictionary. I do not ask for proof of the Bible’s veracity, I know it to be veracious. It is you who questions its veracity.

            “None of those happened, none of them are possible.”

            Demonstrate with evidence none of them happened and demonstrate with evidence none of them ever could. The simple truth is you cannot demonstrate none of them happened or that they could not happen. You are going on faith they did not and could not happen, just as I am going on faith they did and could. I refer to eyewitness accounts claiming these events occurred, while you are relying on your belief in science they did not and could not. In other words, Dave, we are both relying on faith to support our particular positions. Our basis for that faith comes from different sources but it is faith nonetheless.

            “How about the parting of the red sea? Where and when did that happen, and what is your geological or paleontological evidence for it? There isn’t any.”

            First, what kind of physical evidence would you expect there to be? What do you suppose would be the result of such an event?

            Second, once again you are claiming to be aware of all the evidence which might be available and once again, I must point out that is an impossible situation. You can choose to believe it did not happen and that is your prerogative, but you cannot state categorically it did not happen as you do not possess adequate knowledge to do so.

            “A “star” guiding gift givers to a specific stable.”

            That is not what the Bible states. It simply says it stopped over the place where he was, which was Bethlehem, not that it specifically pointed to a particular building. If you wish to discuss exegesis you had better become versed in what the Bible actually says, not what you want it to say.

            “How about third party reporting from nativity contemporary astronomers in other countries noting such strange stellar behavior.”

            Why would third party accounts make any difference? Astronomers today discount the story by simply referring to the event as a natural occurrence anyway. So mention of it from other sources would not alter that opinion. In fact it would likely enhance it in their eyes. I don’t have a problem with the ‘star’ being the result of natural events. That matters not to what it was intended to accomplish. God can do as he wishes and if he chose to use a miraculous, one off star for the event or he chose to use a natural occurrence, it matters not as God is the master of nature anyway.

            “At the core of all of this is folks wanting to use the bible to prove the bible. That is an incredibly analytically weak position.”

            On the contrary, it is a very sound analytical position. I’m believe you’re assuming the use of the Bible to support the Bible is circular reasoning. It is not. The Bible is not one document, it is 66 independent documents written by various authors. As such, quoting John to support a claim found in Matthew, for example, is not circular reasoning, it is, in fact, the historically sound and logically valid practice of quoting independent sources who claim to have witnessed the same event. Sorry, your argument is philosophically, logically and historically completely without merit or effect.

    • GLT

      Dave Ptasnik,

      “There is no evidence of supernatural events like resurrections.”

      However, that is exactly what Dr. Habermas presents, evidence for the resurrection. The same evidence that has convinced billions of people over two millennia. But Dave Ptasnik comes along and declares there is no evidence and we should all agree with him.

      “thought to have died,…”

      The Romans were very efficient executioners, if you were put on a cross you did not come off alive unless they wanted you to. Don’t waste your time trying to spout nonsense that is so easily refuted.

      “We also know that much of the bible is not factual, describes events that did not or could not happen, and has great internal contradictions.”

      We do? Why don’t we supply some evidence to support our claim? Or is this just more atheistic rhetoric we garnered from youtube or some atheist’s blog?

      • Dave Ptasnik

        No Dr. Habermas does not present evidence of a resurrection. He points to statements he finds consistent of reports of the supposed Jesus walking around after having spent some time on a cross. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t. Seems quite unlikely, but lets give you the benefit of the doubt. 2,000 year old eyewitness accounts recorded by people with a vested interest in the story are simply not valuable evidence of anything. Let alone evidence of a demi-god going to a place that doesn’t exist for a 3 day va-ca at the command of his “father”. Or even that the Romans were such good executioners that each and every person they crucified was completely dead before they were taken down. You present no substantial evidence of any of the things you are claiming. And this evidence is your responsibility as you are the one making the claims.

        Again you ask me for evidence. And launch a few personal insults. BTW I am not an atheist, nor have I ever claimed to be one.

        For claims of the sort you are making you need forensic evidence. You have none.

        And what claim did I make that needs evidence? That the flood did not occur? Lots of evidence for that. That the multitude was not fed by loaves and fishes? Show me a verified case of spontaneous generation of matter. You are the one supporting supernatural stories. It is up to you to provide evidence of existence. A few words scrawled on a scroll does not physical evidence make.

        Show me non-anecdotal proof of a miracle from the Bible. Or any other mythology. Just one. Then maybe I can take your defense of a resurrection seriously. And no, Lot’s wife was not turned in to a pillar of salt. There aren’t any transformed transgressor pillars of salt hanging around the suburbs of Vegas. Failing that it will be difficult to convince any educated, rational person that such an event took place.

        • GLT

          Dave Ptasnik,

          “No Dr. Habermas does not present evidence of a resurrection.”

          You obviously do not understand the nature of evidence. Individuals claiming to have witnessed an event constitutes evidence to that event occurring. If you wish to discount that evidence that is your prerogative but in doing so you do not get to claim there is no evidence nor do you get to simply hand wave it way. If you wish to counter the evidence you must provide evidence in support of your position. That is just the way it works. The tiresome refrain of passing the burden of proof to others by saying they are making the claim and therefore they bear the burden of proof is palpable nonsense and intellectual cowardice. You have made a positive claim to knowledge; ie. no resurrection was witnessed; therefore you bear a burden of proof to support that claim. It is the fact you cannot supply that evidence which forces you to resort to trying to avoid your own burden of proof. Sorry, that only works on those who do not know how to debate in a logical manner.

          “He points to statements he finds consistent of reports of the supposed Jesus walking around after having spent some time on a cross.”

          First, Christ did not simply spend time on a cross, he died there, that is a historical fact and not open to debate. Second, the statements he presents are the evidence you say does not exist, genius.

          “2,000 year old eyewitness accounts recorded by people with a vested interest in the story are simply not valuable evidence of anything.”

          They are events witnessed 2,000 years ago and recorded by people who were there. You do not get to throw them aside simply because the events happened 2,000 years ago. That the writer bears a vested interest in the event being recorded does not in itself discount the validity of the statement. Every writer has a vested interest in one form or another. They do carry weight and are valuable evidence just as the accounts of Caesar in Gaul are valuable evidence and the accounts of Hannibal attacking Rome are valuable evidence. You do not get to discount historical evidence simply because you do not like what it says.

          “each and every person they crucified was completely dead before they were taken down.”

          Then you have the responsibility to provide evidence that The Romans screwed up crucifixions and some actually did survive. If I were you I would start with learning what crucifixion does to its victims before making such an idiotic claim. No one survived a crucifixion unless the Romans wanted them too. If you had ever bothered to read the Bible you would know the account of Christ’s crucifixion includes positive testimony to the fact he was dead. I would suggest maybe you do that.

          “We know that prayer is not an effective medical treatment.”

          Prayer is not, by its very nature, a medical treatment, so no one claims it to be. However, saying prayer is of no effect is another matter. I would be interested to know how you would demonstrate that prayer is of no effect. Care to give it a try?

          “Show me non-anecdotal proof of a miracle from the Bible.”

          Read Craig Keener’s book Miracles. If you are serious when you say you will consider evidence in defence of miracles, do the homework.

          “difficult to convince any educated, rational person that such an event took place.”

          It just so happens I am an educated, rational person and I was convinced by the evidence. In fact there are millions of educated, rational people throughout the world who are also convinced by the evidence. There have been educated, rational people all through history who were convinced by the evidence. As such, your statement that educated, rational people would not be convinced by the evidence is pure piffle.

  • Philmonomer

    Using only the six facts about Jesus and his disciples listed above, backed up by the evidences that confirm them, we have a scenario that points very strongly to Jesus’ appearing to his disciples after he died by crucifixion.

    We don’t have a scenario that points very strongly to Jesus actually appearing to his disciples after he died by crucifixion. We have a scenario that points very strongly to some of Jesus’ followers believing that Jesus had appeared (to at least someone).

    But people believe crazy stuff all the time.

    • GPS Daddy

      So strong was that belief that they were willing to die by crucifixion. The early church was heavily persecuted for believing in Jesus. But its not just immediately after the crucifixion but also years later. Take the Apostle Paul for one. Hell bent on crushing this new following of Jesus yet a total turnaround after the Damascus road followed by decades of persecution.

      But this is not limited to the first century. Take whats going on today in the Middle East. Many Muslims are coming to Christ because they claim to have had a face-to-face encounter with Him… and face sever percussion because of it.

      • Philmonomer

        So strong was that belief that they were willing to die by crucifixion. The early church was heavily persecuted for believing in Jesus. But its not just immediately after the crucifixion but also years later. Take the Apostle Paul for one. Hell bent on crushing this new following of Jesus yet a total turnaround after the Damascus road followed by decades of persecution.

        Sure. But all this tells me is that the people honestly believed it. Again, I’m sure people honestly believe stuff that isn’t true all the time (for example, the first followers of Joseph Smith were willing to die as well. Indeed, Joseph Smith’s own brother attested to the truth of Mormonism, and ultimately died for it.)

        But this is not limited to the first century. Take whats going on today in the Middle East. Many
        Muslims are coming to Christ because they claim to have had a face-to-face encounter with Him… and face sever percussion because of it.

        I’ll take your word that “many muslims are coming to Christ because they claim to have a face-to-face encounter with him” (I haven’t heard of this; maybe it’s happening?). In any case, it doesn’t really matter. As I said, people believe crazy stuff all the time–and get persecuted for their beliefs. All it means is that they really believe them.

        • GPS Daddy

          >>In any case, it doesn’t really matter

          Curious. What does matter to you? What is evidence to you?

          • Philmonomer

            What is evidence to you?

            It depends on the circumstances. For example, what is being claimed?

          • GPS Daddy

            Ok, Mr. Vague. What would you consider evidence for the resurrection? Also, my question “What does matter to you?” is actually important.

          • Philmonomer

            Ok, Mr. Vague.

            I wasn’t trying to be vague. It was an honest answer. If the claim is “GPS Daddy owns a dog.” I can ask you “Do you own a dog?” If you say “Yes.” Then my evidence of GPS Daddy owns a dog is “he said he owns a dog, and I don’t have any particular reason not to believe him.” I’d put it at greater than 50 percent chance you own a dog. If the claim is “GPS Daddy owns a fire-breathing dragon,” then I need a whole more evidence than just your affirmative response that you own one!

            What would you consider evidence for the resurrection?

            What do I consider evidence, or what do I consider good evidence? The New Testament is evidence, I just don’t consider it good enough evidence to establish that the resurrection most likely happened.

            Also, my question “What does matter to you?” is actually important.

            I think you didn’t ask this question of me, but someone else?

          • GPS Daddy

            >>I think you didn’t ask this question of me, but someone else?

            That question was directly asked to you by me two comments back.

            >>What do I consider evidence, or what do I consider good evidence?

            Your rejecting good evidence so I wanted to know what you consider good evidence. But it seems to me that your practiced at running people around in circles. There are LOTS of good resources your can dive into. Good luck in figuring it out.

          • Philmonomer

            That question was directly asked to you by me two comments back.

            Ah, you are right. I missed it. What does matter to me? My family, my friends, my job, my reputation. The usual stuff. Why is it an important question?

            Your rejecting good evidence so I wanted to know what you consider good evidence.

            I don’t consider it good evidence, as I’ve explained. Here’s what I would consider good evidence: Jesus appeared to the Jewish leaders who put him to death. 10 of them convert on the spot, and they become the leaders of the Christian movement. This story becomes known far and wide, and is told in Jewish and Christian documents. Jesus shows himself to Pilate, after his resurrection. He converts. There are Roman documents that have to deal with a converted Pilate, and explain how crazy the whole thing was. Jesus goes to the temple, and shows himself to thousands. Thousands convert on the spot, and this remarkable event is documented across multiple historians (Roman, Jewish, others) for its uniqueness. The claims of the gospels, for example, Zombies walking, Darkness lasting for hours, are recorded across multiple historians–they are widely credible, given how many historians have noted it and across whole wide areas.

            But it seems to me that your practiced at running people around in circles.

            I wasn’t trying to do that. Indeed, the opposite. I’m trying to explain my understanding and reasoning as clearly as possible.

            There are LOTS of good resources your can dive into. Good luck in figuring it out.

            It’s true there are a lot of resources out there. I’ve looked into enough of them to think I’m not really going to find new stuff (but maybe I’m wrong.) Do you have anything in particular to recommend?

          • GLT

            Philomonomer,

            You would not accept as evidence any of the things you listed, not one. You would do the same with them as you have done with every piece of evidence already presented, you would reject it as insufficient or try to explain it away in some other manner.

            Paul saw the resurrected Christ and turned from being a prominent member of the Pharisees and an active persecutor of Christians to an apostle of Christ. If that is not good enough for you why would ten such conversions be any better? You would use the same reasoning to reject the ten as you do to reject the one. At least be honest with yourself if not with anyone else.

          • GPS Daddy

            GLT,

            I’d say Philomonomer has done his research on new atheist webites. Not much one can do if a person chooses too believe such stuff.

          • GLT

            GPS Daddy,

            Very true but one must try nonetheless. I really do not expect to change the minds of people like Philmonomer, though one never knows whom God will choose to touch. I respond to the challenges for the sake of others who maybe reading our exchanges and who may be looking for answers. If they do not see responses to the palpable nonsense put forth by atheists they may well feel there are no answers.

          • Philmonomer

            You would not accept as evidence any of the things you listed, not one. You would do the same with them as you have done with every piece of evidence already presented, you would reject it as insufficient or try to explain it away in some other manner.

            I’ve explained what I would consider good evidence. You don’t believe me. That’s fine. I’m not sure how you know my mind better than I do.

            Paul saw the resurrected Christ and turned from being a prominent member of the Pharisees and an active persecutor of Christians to an apostle of Christ. If that is not good enough for you why would ten such conversions be any better?

            Paul easily could have had some sort of mental break/epileptic fit/vision/etc. That seems reasonable. If 10 people were to see the same thing at the same time, and tell their stories which were the same, and then radically change their lives, that would be much better evidence! Imagine Jesus appearing to the very people who put him to death, and then converting them! The stories would be amazing–and more likely to be true.

            You would use the same reasoning to reject the ten as you do to reject the one.

            I don’t think I would.

            At least be honest with yourself if not with anyone else.

            I’ve been trying to honestly investigate this for several years now. These are the conclusions I’ve reached. With different stories of the resurrected Jesus, I think I would reach different conclusions.

          • GLT

            Philmonomer,

            “Paul easily could have had some sort of mental break/epileptic fit/vision/etc. That seems reasonable.”

            People in the first century were not ignorant despite the beliefs of many today. They knew the difference between a man suffering from mental illness and a man who was healthy and reliable. Paul was a highly educated and respected man, a Pharisee and possibly a member of the Sanhedrin. You would need to provide more evidence for your claims than simple assertions.

            “The stories would be amazing–and more likely to be true.”

            That you would personally see them as containing more validity does not make them more valid. The bottom line is that Christ did show himself to many and these people attested to that fact. If their testimony is not enough it is doubtful someone else’s testimony is going to be more effective.

            “I don’t think I would.”

            Paul, Peter, John and Matthew all wrote of their experience in seeing the risen Christ, why are their testimonies not sufficient?

          • Philmonomer

            People in the first century were not ignorant despite the beliefs of many today.

            Well, certainly their medical knowledge was ignorant compared to today.

            They knew the difference between a man suffering from mental illness and a man who was healthy and reliable.

            Sure, but we aren’t limited to two choices 1) mentally ill or 2) health and reliable. There are a ton of other things as well. For example, just google “seizure and religious vision.” These are perfectly normal, functioning people, who have a religious vision.

            Paul was a highly educated and respected man, a Pharisee and possibly a member of the Sanhedrin. You would need to provide more evidence for your claims than simple assertions.

            You keep saying that I need to provide more evidence “than simple assertions.” As I’ve said, I have a theory as to what happened. It seems reasonable based on what we know. It seems more likely than Jesus’ actual resurrection. I can point to what we know 1) about human psychology (the varieties of religious experience) 2) about ancient near eastern culture 3) about the stories we have in the Bible 4) about the stories of the resurrected Jesus 5) about the Roman and Jewish records that we do have, and those we don’t have, etc.

            That you would personally see them as containing more validity does not make them more valid.

            Huh? I’m not following you here. I think they would contain more validity because they’d be more likely to be true!

            The bottom line is that Christ did show himself to many and these people attested to that fact.

            Yes, and the stories aren’t very believable!

            If their testimony is not enough it is doubtful someone else’s testimony is going to be more effective.

            Of course some else’s testimony could be more effective, depending on the testimony and surrounding support for the testimony! Just imagine if we had the testimony of 100 of the top Jewish leaders, explaining how they saw Jesus and converted on the spot. Then that testimony was backed up by temple records, and roman records. That would be some very good evidence!

            Paul, Peter, John and Matthew all wrote of their experience in seeing the risen Christ, why are their testimonies not sufficient?

            Lots of thoughts here (in no particular order):

            1) We have good reason to think that the apostles Peter, John and Mathew weren’t the ones who actually wrote those things.
            2) The only one that is likely is Paul.
            3) They were written by people who had a vested interest in the outcome (they were Christians, writing about seeing Christ.)

            Would you trust Mormons , writing 40-70 years (or later) after the founding of Mormonism, to write about the founding accurately? I would not. I would think they would get a lot wrong, as they were motivated by their religious convictions. I do not trust these testimonies, for the same reason.

          • GLT

            Philmonomer,

            “I have a theory as to what happened.”

            You have a theory, good for you. Theories require evidence in case you were not aware of that fact. So, I ask you again, what evidence do you have to support your theory?

            “It seems reasonable based on what we know.”

            If it’s reasonable why do historians not share your belief?

            “I can point to what we know,…”

            Good, that would be the evidence I have been asking for. Please, point away.

            “I think they would contain more validity because they’d be more likely to be true!”

            That is only your opinion. Historians for centuries have viewed the Biblical accounts as reliable in their present context. It goes without saying that historians would like as much information as they can get. However, they view what they do have as extremely good, far better in fact than any other historical documentation they have from that era. Far better than the documentation for Caesar or Alexander but I am sure you do not doubt what is believed in reference to either.

            “Yes, and the stories aren’t very believable!”

            To you! Does it not register with you that you do not get to determine what is reliable or believable for everyone? These accounts have proven reliable and believable to billions of people over the centuries. Is that due to the fact that none of these people were as smart as you? That is in effect what you are saying.

            “Of course some else’s testimony could be more effective, depending on the testimony and surrounding support for the testimony!”

            I doubt it would. You have centuries of experts telling you these stories are reliable and far exceed in quantity and quality the documentation of any other event in ancient history. But apparently this is not good enough for you. It is good enough for historians who specialise in this subject, but it is not good enough for you. C’est la vie.

            “Just imagine if we had the testimony of 100 of the top Jewish leaders, explaining how they saw Jesus and converted on the spot.”

            Remember this comment? “what we know,… about ancient near eastern culture,…
            If you knew anything about the culture of Israel at the time of Christ you would not make this argument. Perhaps you should take the time to learn.

            “We have good reason to think that the apostles Peter, John and Mathew weren’t the ones who actually wrote those things.”

            And what would those good reasons be? Yes, I am asking for evidence again.

            “They were written by people who had a vested interest in the outcome,…”

            Which is commonly the situation with any subject. Those who write denying the resurrection have a vested interest in the outcome, they wish to have you believe it did not happen. As such, this is a completely moot objection.

            “I would think they would get a lot wrong, as they were motivated by their religious convictions.”

            These type of arguments only reveal an enormous ignorance of Jewish history and Jewish theology. The entire story of Christ, his life, death and resurrection are completely foreign to what the Jews expected of the coming of the Messiah. If someone at that time was to make up a story like the story of Christ it would have gone nowhere. It would be a good idea if you educated yourself in Jewish history and what the Jews were expecting from the Messiah. The story of Christ is certainly not it.

          • Philmonomer

            Sigh. So. Much. Wrong. Here.

            But I’ve been crazy busy. I hope to get back to it soon.

          • GLT

            “Sigh. So. Much. Wrong. Here.”

            My that sounds rather arrogant and condescending. Be careful. 🙂

            I will await your return but I will not be holding my breath.

            Take care.

    • Ken Abbott

      So how to account for the testimony of post-resurrection appearances?

      • Philmonomer

        Probably some combination of naturally-occurring aggrandizement of the stories, maybe started by hallucinations/dreams/visions/etc of some first followers following the crucifixion.

        • Ken Abbott

          What is it about the psychology of the followers of Jesus that would promote the occurrence of shared hallucinations or visions?

          • Philmonomer

            I’m not sure I understand your question. To the extent I think I understand it, I would consider the loss of their teacher to be so traumatic that it might inspire such an event.

            But more importantly, I don’t think we can trust the stories of these shared hallucinations anyway. How do we know they really happened? (For example, would you trust the Mormons to write, some 40-70 years after the death of Joseph Smith, their own history of their early years? I wouldn’t.)

          • Ken Abbott

            You are correct that the mood of the disciples following the death of Jesus was affected by intense psychological and emotional trauma. But they were despondent and fearful, expecting at any moment that the authorities would show up to arrest them.

            Hallucinations are extra-ordinary. They happen in certain circumstances but are not the common experience of humans.

            For example, affected persons are usually high-strung, highly imaginative, and very nervous people. True hallucinations are most typically associated with the psychoses. But Christ appeared to many different types of people. His appearances were not restricted to people of any particular psychological make up. Nor is there any credible evidence that the followers of Jesus were mentally ill.

            Hallucinations are pathogenetically linked to an individual’s subconscious–to his particular past experiences. But the resurrection of Jesus was a unique event, not part of anyone’s common experiences.

            Hallucinations are usually restricted to when and where they occur. They usually occur in a nostalgic atmosphere or in a place of familiar surroundings which places the person to a reminiscing mood. This is inconsistent with the description of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, as they occurred in several different settings and not in environments in which the disciples were in reverie over their experiences with Jesus.

            And hallucinations occur in people when there is a spirit of anticipation or hopeful expectation. The existing accounts show no such anticipation existed. The disciples were prone to disbelieve even after they were told of the resurrection.

            For all these reasons, citing hallucinations as an explanation for the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus fails dramatically to account for them.

          • Philmonomer

            You are correct that the mood of the disciples following the death of
            Jesus was affected by intense psychological and emotional trauma. But
            they were despondent and fearful, expecting at any moment that the
            authorities would show up to arrest them.

            I think we can only really guess as to the mood of the disciples. Despondent, fearful, confused, frustrated, traumatized, etc. Imagine that, into such an environment, someone comes telling the story of seeing Jesus. The mood might turn pretty quickly.

            Hallucinations are extra-ordinary. They happen in certain circumstances but are not the common experience of humans.

            I’m not sure about this. I think it is actually pretty common to have some “experience” of a loved one after their death. For example, in a dream.

            For example, affected persons are usually high-strung, highly
            imaginative, and very nervous people. True hallucinations are most
            typically associated with the psychoses.

            There is a lot to unpack in these two sentences, and I don’t want to devote too much time to this. I think we can suffice to say that 1) the first followers after Jesus’ crucifixion would have been highly emotionally charged (in my opinion, in a state to receive stories that others have seen Jesus, alive). and 2) all we have our stories, I don’t trust the stories, as I think they were probably embellished, based on grains of truth (ie. someone had a some sort of vision/experience of Jesus after his death).

            But Christ appeared to many different types of people. His appearances
            were not restricted to people of any particular psychological make up.
            Nor is there any credible evidence that the followers of Jesus were
            mentally ill.

            Well, I’d argue that if you are willing to follow an itinerant preacher (whether 2000 years ago or today), you probably aren’t all that “common/normal/usual” (whatever that means). That is, the more common thing would be to settle down, have a family, provide for them, etc.–I’d argue you if you can give all that up, are already predisposed to believe certain things.

            Hallucinations are pathogenetically linked to an individual’s
            subconscious–to his particular past experiences. But the resurrection
            of Jesus was a unique event, not part of anyone’s common experiences.

            I’m not following you here. It is a common experience to “see” a dead person (or at least have some experience of the dead person). Moreover, I believe there is research out there that shows groups can, in highly charged environments, have group experiences (think of all the sightings of Mary, things groups have seen in the sky, etc.)

            Hallucinations are usually restricted to when and where they occur. They
            usually occur in a nostalgic atmosphere or in a place of familiar
            surroundings which places the person to a reminiscing mood. This is
            inconsistent with the description of the post-resurrection appearances
            of Jesus, as they occurred in several different settings and not in
            environments in which the disciples were in reverie over their
            experiences with Jesus.</blockquote.

            I think that we have two things going on 1) some sort of hallucination that then becomes 2) a bigger and better story. We know this happens to people. It is almost certainly what happened here.

            If you are saying "This story here doesn't fit the usual hallucination situation," then I say, well, ok, show me that that story really happened. Because I think the story is likely to not be real. Why do I think it is likely to not be real? Because I don't trust the source (just like you wouldn't trust the sources from Mormons, writing about the founding of Mormonism).

            In order to trust the source, I'd have to have a really, really good reason to believe its true. For example, there were temple records showing that Jesus appeared to the Jewish leaders, and 20 of them converted on the spot. That would be a pretty good indication that it really happened!

          • Ken Abbott

            We have several indications from the gospel accounts as to the mental/emotional state of the followers of Jesus. They did not believe the testimony of the women when first confronted with the reports of the resurrection. The travelers to Emmaus were described as having downcast expressions, indicative of sadness and disappointment. Rather than being excited or ecstatic at the first appearances of Jesus, his disciples were frightened, convinced they were seeing a ghost and not at all pleased with the experience, and they were in hiding for fear of the authorities, as I wrote previously. And it was not as though all were convinced–Matthew indicates that some doubted, and there is the famous account of Thomas.

            In none of the accounts are we given to believe the disciples were asleep (in order to dream) or in trances.

            The men and women who constituted the body of Jesus’ followers were everyday, salt-of-the-earth types, realists, average working joes. The accounts indicate they were not credulous. There is no evidence of instability.

            But all of this goes to your unwillingness to accept these accounts at face value. You–for your own reasons–don’t trust them. But the remarks that you made in your concluding paragraph prove to me that you have standard stock objections but have never bothered to do any investigation for yourself. Or else you wouldn’t make such blunders as to assert that we have no record of conversions among the Jewish religious leadership.

            My main point in all of this was to dispel the oft-repeated (and refuted) claim of hallucinations as a plausible explanation for the post-resurrection appearances of Christ. That dog won’t hunt.

          • Philmonomer

            We have several indications from the gospel accounts as to the
            mental/emotional state of the followers of Jesus. They did not believe
            the testimony of the women when first confronted with the reports of the
            resurrection.</blockquote.

            Again, I don't know how we can know this story is true. My guess is that someone, years later, wrote down what they were pretty sure what happened, because, hey, that's what they imagined almost surely happened. But, in reality, I suspect it isn't true at all. Or, more specifically, I don't know how we know it is true.

            The travelers to Emmaus were described as having downcast expressions, indicative of sadness and disappointment.

            I think the travelers to Emmaus story is a great example of what I am talking about! In fact, I think it perfectly fits my understanding of what actually happened. Here, we have a very, very strange story. Why would Jesus hid himself like this? Why would he keep himself hidden to the disciples on the road, such that they would no recognize him, but only come to think it was him later? It makes no sense.

            However, there’s an obvious answer: because it wasn’t really Jesus It was some other person who was familiar with what had happened, and talked to them about it. They then came, later, to think it was Jesus. They then told they other disciples, and boom, the excitement is born (sure, some might not believe yet), but you can see how a fever/excitement/electricity might get started. Then, others start having visions, and then you get a full blown resurrection.

            Rather than being excited or ecstatic at the first appearances of Jesus,
            his disciples were frightened, convinced they were seeing a ghost and
            not at all pleased with the experience, and they were in hiding for fear
            of the authorities, as I wrote previously. And it was not as though al were convinced–Matthew indicates that some doubted, and there is the
            famous account of Thomas.

            All we have are stories, from 40-70 years later, of how these disciples reacted. My guess is that whoever wrote it down wrote it down in a way that that individual thought it was most likely to have happened. If I were writing it down, of course I would write down that they were scared (wouldn’t you be scared?) But that doesn’t’ mean it really happened that way.

            I don’t think we actually know the “real” order of appearances of Jesus.

            With respect to Thomas, doesn’t that story just sound well, not true? It sounds made up. It has the ring of hollowness to me. It’s too perfect. (BTW, why sometimes, does Jesus seem like a vision/pass though walls/etc, and other times he is a real person who eats and drinks? Is he both? If Jesus really had risen from the dead, wouldn’t this be consistent?)

            In none of the accounts are we given to believe the disciples were asleep (in order to dream) or in trances.

            Right. Even if that is what really happened, 1) why would people tell the story that way? 2) why would any gospel writer write it down that way? Some scholar made the argument (somewhere, I can’t track it down now anyway), that people at this time didn’t differentiate between dreams/visions of individuals when asleep, and visions when awake. That is the asleep vision can be just as “real.” So why include the sleep part? Of course it might just naturally get cut out.

            The men and women who constituted the body of Jesus’ followers were
            everyday,salt-of-the-earth types, realists, average working joes. The
            accounts indicate they were not credulous. There is no evidence of
            instability.

            I don’t think we can really know much about them. We have stories of what they were like, but I don’t think we can really know they are true. We do know (sort-of), that they were willing to abandon everything to follow a teacher. Again, that doesn’t sound like a salt-of-the-earth type to me.

            But all of this goes to your unwillingness to accept these accounts at face value. You–for your own reasons–don’t trust them.

            I think i have good reason not to trust them, as I explained. As I said, you wouldn’t trust stories written by Mormons, about the founding of Mormonism, that were written 40-70 years after Joseph Smith’s death. It’s the same thing here.

            But the remarks that you made in your concluding paragraph prove to me
            that you have standard stock objections but have never bothered to do
            any investigation for yourself.

            Well, that’s just not true.

            Or else you wouldn’t make such blunders as to assert that we have no
            record of conversions among the Jewish religious leadership.

            That’s not what I said.

            My main point in all of this was to dispel the oft-repeated (and
            refuted) claim of hallucinations as a plausible explanation for the
            post-resurrection appearances of Christ. That dog won’t hunt.

            I disagree that you have dispelled the claim of hallucinations. I think the dog does hunt. 🙂

          • Kathy

            I don’t wish to get involved in this conversation since I can’t improve much on the responses of the others that are posting here, but do want to comment from personal experience on Jesus hiding his identity from the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He finally did reveal Himself to them at His discretion, at what He felt was the proper time.
            Even though I claimed to be a Christian for reasons like I was raised in the church and I attended regularly, Jesus did not reveal Himself to me until just 6 years ago. He opened my eyes and heart to Him and transformed me into a completely committed follower of His. I can now relate to the experience of those that had an encounter with Jesus as described in the Bible.
            I understand your reluctance to believe my story…I would have felt the same most of my life. If the posters on this article dropped the intellectual arguments (those are always very helpful…I am not being derogatory), they may be able to tell you the same thing.

          • Philmonomer

            Mormons say essentially the same thing as you do here. How do I decide you are right and they are wrong?

            Indeed, it seems to me that the most likely explanation is that you are both wrong. (Or rather, your experience of Jesus revealing himself to you is not a description of objective reality–but of an internal feeling within you. And the same thing happens to Mormons/Muslims/Hindus/etc.)

          • Kathy

            I can only say that I began researching beliefs of the church I was attending at the time because of many doubts that had been plaguing my mind for years. My doubts were confirmed as legitimate, and while studying, I found myself convicted of the fact that I had essentially ignored Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. A compulsion to repent of that and my sinful rebellion opened my heart (there is a profound love for God that was not there before), my mind (I am now very interested in reading and studying the Scriptures and learning all I can about God through other means as well) and soul (I now long to live in obedience to Him and am assured of my salvation). I could not say any of this before…it all makes sense to me now.
            As for Mormons and the like, they have perverted or added their own doctrine to the Bible. I did hear a Mormon say that “she had good feelings about the Book of Mormon”, not the same as a relationship with Christ, I can assure you.

            That is what Christianity is, or at least should be, all about.

          • Philmonomer

            Thanks for your thoughts.

          • Kathy

            Just a little different perspective added to the other’s replies. You are at least questioning and not walking around in la-la land like I was for so long. Since you mention other religions, may I suggest the book “So What’s the Difference?” by Fritz Ridenour. It provides basic comparisons of 20 worldviews and faiths compared to orthodox biblical Christianity. Sure there are similar books out there as well.

          • Philmonomer

            Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll look into it!

          • Philmonomer

            And hallucinations occur in people when there is a spirit of
            anticipation or hopeful expectation. The existing accounts show no such
            anticipation existed. The disciples were prone to disbelieve even after
            they were told of the resurrection.

            I suspect some probably believed more readily than others (that’s just human nature). It would also make sense to tell the stories that way.

            For all these reasons, citing hallucinations as an explanation for the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus fails dramatically to account for them.

            I disagree. I think it explains it perfectly well, and is almost certainly what happened.

          • GLT

            Philomonomer,

            “I think it explains it perfectly well, and is almost certainly what happened.”

            If it is almost certainly what happened and it explains it perfectly well you must be able to provide an abundance of evidence to support it. So far all we have is your opinions. You will need to do much more than express your opinions. Let’s see your evidence.

          • Philmonomer

            If it is almost certainly what happened and it explains it perfectly
            well you must be able to provide an abundance of evidence to support it.
            So far all we have is your opinions. You will need to do much more than
            express your opinions. Let’s see your evidence.

            I’m not sure what you are expecting to see here, as I’ve already laid out what I think is going on. As to evidence, all I can point you to is my answer to “Why do I think that?”

            I think that because we know, 1) that people can have visions/hallucinations/dreams/etc of other people. We know that it happens to people. So I think it is reasonable to think that is what happened here. We also know 2) that stories can become bigger/more spectacular as people tell them/as people believe them. It’s a natural human thing to do. So given that we know these things can happen, what seems more likely: A) Jesus was really raised from the dead or B) some version of 1) and 2) came together, such that people came to mistakenly believe that he was raised from the dead? B seems almost certainly true to me.

            Moreover, I think this because of 1) the stories we do have about the resurrected Jesus and 2) the stories we don’t have about the resurrected Jesus. With regard to 1), the stories that we do have, they tell of odd, secretive appearances of Jesus to Jesus’ own followers–these stories are not impressive (it makes the appearances seem made up and/or the product of their minds/urban legends/myths).

            With regard to 2), there aren’t any stories of the resurrected Jesus showing himself to thousands at the Temple, showing himself to the very people who condemned him to death, showing himself to a large group of people who were blown away to see him again (and maybe even converted on the spot!). In short, we don’t have amazing stories of the resurrected Jesus that would make it seem like it really happened.

          • GLT

            Philomoner

            “I’m not sure what you are expecting to see here,…”

            I’m expecting to see evidence to support your claims, is that so surprising? You have yet to supply anything beyond your personal opinions. Sorry, but your personal opinions do not rise to the status of evidence. Have you got any evidence to back up your statements or not? If you do, let’s see it.

          • Philmonomer

            I’ve explained why I think the way I do. It seems reasonable to me. You seem to be wanting something more. I’m not sure what it is.

            What would count as evidence to you?

          • Bryan

            I think what GLT is referring to is some sort of historical document that you can use to prove your hypothesis that the claims of seeing a resurrected Jesus by several hundred witness were false claims. Something similar to what is being used to claim that those claims were true.
            You can choose to believe the resurrection was a real event or not. But you can’t claim a lack of evidence as the reason for not believing. As the article and the evidence it refers to suggest, the event did happen.

          • Philmonomer

            I think what GLT is referring to is some sort of historical document that you can use to prove your hypothesis that the claims of seeing a resurrected Jesus by several hundred witness were false claims.

            Well, I think first we would have to establish that, if what I am saying is true, we would expect to find such a document. I don’t think it is reasonable to say that we should expect to find such a document. I say this because 1) who would write down a rebutal to Paul’s claim that Jesus was seen by the 500? and then, even if someone write something down (which strikes me as unlikely), why would it be saved for posterity? Surely the Christians wouldn’t have saved it!

            In any case, I think we have good reason to think Paul’s claim isn’t true. If it actually, honest to goodness happened, I think the tale would be told far and wide. It would live forever, with the 500 telling their children, and their children’s children. As it turns out, the story didn’t even make it to the time of the gospels—as there is no story there.

            Something similar to what is being used to claim that those claims were true.

            I think We mainly have these stories because the Christians saved them. They wouldn’t save stories that said it wasn’t true!

          • GLT

            Philomonomer,

            “who would write down a rebutal to Paul’s claim that Jesus was seen by the 500?”

            Anyone who knew it was not true. There were plenty of people who were hostile towards Christ and his followers, anyone of them could have written a document countering Paul’s claim. As an argument this is a complete non-starter.

            “In any case, I think we have good reason to think Paul’s claim isn’t true. If it actually, honest to goodness happened, I think the tale would be told far and wide.”

            Are you serious? There are over a billion Christians in the world today and billions more have existed throughout history, not to mention the fact we are talking about it right now, how does that not qualify as far and wide in your world?

          • Philmonomer

            Anyone who knew it was not true. There were plenty of people who were hostile towards Christ and his followers, anyone of them could have written a document countering Paul’s claim. As an argument this is a complete non-starter.

            Sure, it is theoretical possible that someone could have written a document. Why do we think it is likely? It seems unlikely to me. Who would write it? Why? Would they try to send it to the churches to counter Paul?

            Also, why would you expect such a document to continue to exist to this day? Who would have saved it? Think of all the thousands and thousands of documents we don’t have. Surely no one would have saved this? (Indeed, even if such a document existed, it probably would have been destroyed!)

            “In any case, I think we have good reason to think Paul’s claim isn’t true. If it actually, honest to goodness happened, I think the tale would be told far and wide.”

            Are you serious?

            I think you misunderstood me. I was talking about Paul’s claim that Jesus was seen by the 500. That story didn’t even make it into the gospels.

          • GLT

            Philomoner,

            “It seems unlikely to me.”

            Again with the ‘seems unlikely to me’. Whatever gave you the idea that is a sound argument? You asked who would bother to counter the claims of Paul? The answer is obvious, anyone who knew it to be untrue would be a logical conclusion. Maybe the lack of such a document demonstrates it was widely seen as true or maybe it means no one chose to counter the argument. Either way your question is answered.

            “Also, why would you expect such a document to continue to exist to this day?”

            Why would I think it would not? You’re correct there are thousands of documents we don’t have. It’s far more likely that there are more documents we don’t have than ones we do. However, that is totally irrelevant in that you do not base your case on imaginary documents, you base it on the documents you do have.

            “That story didn’t even make it into the gospels.”

            What does that prove? Does every event have to appear in every document in order to be true? Your logic is not very good, to say the least. If the event was found in every document you would now be arguing it was collusion because it did appear in every document.

          • Philmonomer

            You asked who would bother to counter the claims of Paul? The answer is obvious, anyone who knew it to be untrue would be a logical conclusion.

            I don’t doubt that there were people who thought Paul was wrong. But why would they bother to write down “Paul is going around claiming that 500 people say the risen Christ, I know that isn’t true.” Who would they write that to? Who would care? And even if they people wrote stuff down (maybe in personal correspondence? Truly, I can’t figure out why people would write this down), why would we expect those documents to exist to this day? Who would re-write them over the centuries?

            Maybe the lack of such a document demonstrates it was widely seen as true

            In order for this to be true, we’d have to establish that it would be likely that someone would write down such documentation in the first place, and then that it would be likely that such documentation exists to this day. Once we established that, we could then ask “Why do we not have such documentation?” But you haven’t established that it would be likely to be written down, and then likely to persist to this day.

            or maybe it means no one chose to counter the argument.

            That’s certainly possible. Why would anyone care?

            Either way your question is answered.

            How do you figure?

            “Also, why would you expect such a document to continue to exist to this day?”

            Why would I think it would not? You’re correct there are thousands of documents we don’t have.

            As you said, there thousands and thousands of documents we don’t have. So it is more likely that this would be such a document we don’t have (actually, you haven’t even established it was likely to exist in the first place, even back then). You would think it would not exist because only a tiny, tiny fraction of documents exist from then. It’s more likely that it would not exist, them it would. So you’re claim that “You don’t have this document!” doesn’t faze me, as there is no reason to think we should have it!

            However, that is totally irrelevant in that you do not base your case on imaginary documents, you base it on the documents you do have.

            Huh? I’m not basing my case on imaginary documents. You can base your case on a ton of things, you aren’t limited “to the documents we have.” You can use your background knowledge of the specific society, of human nature, of intervening human history, etc. (If you are limited to just the documents, then there are ton of magical things that happen in ancient documents. We don’t think they all happened. We can also guess as to why those things were written down anyway. You are limited to just what is said in the documents, and have to accept that as the truth.)

            What does that prove? Does every event have to appear in every document in order to be true?

            When you expect X to happen, and then it doesn’t happen, you can say “I think the fact X didn’t happen (here, the story of Jesus’s appearance to the 500 in the Gospels or acts) means it is less likely that it actually happened. It isn’t about “proof,” it’s about “evidence.”

            Your logic is not very good, to say the least.

            I think my logic is fine.

            If the event was found in every document you would now be arguing it was collusion because it did appear in every document.

            No, i’d think that Paul’s account of Jesus’s appearance to the 500 was then supported by the story of the appearance to the 500 in the gospels/acts!

          • Philmonomer

            Of course I can claim lack of (good) evidence as the reason for not believing. That’s why I don’t believe!

          • GLT

            Philomonomer

            “Of course I can claim lack of (good) evidence as the reason for not believing.”

            No, you can’t as the evidence is there whether you wish to accept it or not. It is a matter of historical record that is the basis of Dr. Habermas’ argument.

          • Philmonomer

            No, you can’t as the evidence is there whether you wish to accept it or not. It is a matter of historical record that is the basis of Dr. Habermas’ argument.

            I literally don’t understand what you are saying. I’ve looked at the evidence (the facts) presented by Dr. Habermas. I find them insufficient to conclude that the most likely explanation for the facts is that Jesus actually rose from the dead. I think the better explanation is some sort of hallucination/vision/etc. that the disciples mistakenly believed was a risen Jesus. There is probably some kernel of truth in dreams/visions/mistaken identity/etc. that one/some of the disciples/early followers had, and then it snowballed from there.

          • GLT

            Philonomer

            “It seems reasonable to me. You seem to be wanting something more. I’m not sure what it is.”

            Seeming reasonable to you is not evidence, it is just you expressing your opinion again. It seems reasonable to some people to say Christ never existed at all. However, there is an abundance of historic evidence that shows that to be palpable nonsense.

            Yes, I am wanting more. As I have asked you twice already, I want to see evidence for your claim that those who claim to have seen the risen Christ were hallucinating. You saying a mass hallucination seems reasonable to you is not evidence.

            “What would count as evidence to you?”

            Historical documentation of the same calibre as the Biblical records which states the people who claimed to have seen the risen Christ were experiencing a mass hallucination would be a good start. Do you have anything like that?

          • Philmonomer

            Historical documentation of the same calibre as the Biblical records which states the people who claimed to have seen the risen Christ were experiencing a mass hallucination would be a good start. Do you have anything like that?

            We have documents because the Christians saved them!

            Who would have written that the disciples experienced hallucinations? And, even if someone wrote such a thing, why would we expect it to be saved for posterity?

            You aren’t being reasonable.

          • GLT

            Philomonomer,

            “We have documents because the Christians saved them!”

            Obviously. Do we have other documents because someone chose not to save them? Your logic is seriously mind numbing.

            “why would we expect it to be saved for posterity?”

            Why would we expect any document to be saved?

            Trying to argue an event such as a mass hallucination occurred 2,000 years ago when you can present absolutely no evidence to support your claim is the definition of a fool’s errand.

            “You aren’t being reasonable.”

            Now that is possibly the funniest thing you have said. You cannot present one iota of evidence to support your claim and when I point that fact out I am being unreasonable? That is simply hilarious.

          • Philmonomer

            Obviously. Do we have other documents because someone chose not to save them? Your logic is seriously mind numbing.

            I think you misunderstood me. Generally speaking, we don’t have documents because people chose NOT to save them. If they chose not to save them, they threw them out, or got rid of them somehow .(Footnote: it isn’t entirely accurate that they simply threw them out, as we can find scraps of writings in things like mummy masks).

            But we do have documents because people chose to save them. That is, they sought to preserve them; they copied them; they preserved them, they copied them again. Who would do that with a document that said the disciples experienced hallucinations? why would they do that? It makes no sense.

            Why would we expect any document to be saved?

            Some got saved because they were important to groups, like Christian documents. Who would save a document saying that Christians experienced hallucinations?

            Now that is possibly the funniest thing you have said. You cannot present one iota of evidence to support your claim and when I point that fact out I am being unreasonable? That is simply hilarious.

            I changed it to “That isn’t reasonable.” But no matter, I think what I’ve said is eminently reasonable, for the reasons I’ve provided. I also find it reasonable to think that there would be no document from the first century saying that the disciples experienced hallucinations. I don’t think my understanding of what happened is unreasonable simply because there is no document (again, I would not expect there to be a document.)

            You’re claim that my theory of what happened is unreasonable without some sort of document from that time saying that’s what happened doesn’t make sense.

          • GLT

            Philmonomer

            “we don’t have documents because people chose NOT to save them.”

            We tend not to have ancient documents due to time and unfortunate events as well as willful destruction such as occurred with the sacking of Rome. Ancient parchments which were not able to stand the rigors of time and many simply disintegrated.

            “Who would do that with a document that said the disciples experienced hallucinations?”

            Anyone who felt it was the truth. You’re simply arguing from silence with this line of reasoning. In case you are not aware, that is not a legitimate form of reasoning.

            “I think what I’ve said is eminently reasonable, for the reasons I’ve provided.”

            The point is you have not actually provided any reasonable arguments, you have provided nothing more than your opinions.

            “I don’t think my understanding of what happened is unreasonable simply because there is no document,…”

            But you do not have an understanding of what happened, you simply have an unsupportable opinion. There is a difference, a big difference.

            “You’re claim that my theory of what happened is unreasonable,…”

            It is, simply based on the nature of hallucinations. I believe you may be confusing mass hysteria for mass hallucinations. They are not at all the same thing.

          • Philmonomer

            You haven’t provided any reason to think that 1) someone would write a document saying the disciples were experiencing hallucinations and then 2) it is likely that such a document would survive to this day.

            Without establishing both of these, there is no reason to think that the lack of a document is a problem. It isn’t a problem.

            I’ve explained my theory as to what happened. I’ve explained why it is reasonable. I’ve pointed to the stories of the resurrected Jesus that we do have, and the stories that we don’t have. They explain why I don’t think Jesus was actually resurrected from the dead, and my theory as to what actually happened.

            At this point, I believe we are just repeating ourselves. I don’t think there is anything I can say that would matter to you, so I think I’m done.

    • emncaity

      — But people believe crazy stuff all the time. —

      That’s reductionistic, and I’ll bet you know it.

      Your criticism was, of course, address by the author himself. It’s a valid criticism up to a point, but it only removes the question to a set of others: Why would they believe such a thing, when these people were quite familiar with death and its finality, in a much more up-close-and-personal way than modern people are, actually? With what it meant in terms of scorn and persecution, wouldn’t they have been inclined to be intensely skeptical of their own beliefs? What kind of proof would’ve survived that inclination? What other evidence is there regarding these specific people that would indicate they were prone to hallucinations or misreading, that they were gullible to the point of believing something that nobody would’ve even thought _could_ be true, and to the extent of being willing to die for it?

      It’s right to apply the talking-horse standard to the question of the resurrection, but it’s also true that at some point it becomes harder by the rules of historical evidence to reach a conclusion that it _didn’t_ happen than that it _did_. It couldn’t happen, of course. But what if it actually did?

      Are you familiar with Swinburne’s argument (the Bayesian analysis)?

      • Philmonomer

        Why would they believe such a thing, when these people were quite familiar with death and its finality, in a much more up-close-and-personal way than modern people are, actually?

        I’m not sure what to make of this comment. It certainly strikes me as counter-intuitive. I’m not sure how the people at that time were more “familiar with death and its finality” than we are (if that’s what you are saying…it certainly seems implied in what you are saying). Maybe it’s true? It doesn’t strike me as likely.

        Given that they were probably unaware of coma, unaware of many ways in which people can appear to be dead, but not be dead (google “the Lazarus syndrome”), etc. I find it hard to believe. Indeed, the number of cases of being dead and brought back to life in the New Testament alone makes me think that people believe it happened fairly often. (Not to mention the very strange case of Mathew 16:14, where some people were saying that Jesus was John the Baptist brought back to life–what does that mean for the finality of death?)

        With what it meant in terms of scorn and persecution, wouldn’t they have been inclined to be intensely skeptical of their own beliefs?

        No, I don’t think they would have been inclined to be intensely skeptical of their beliefs. First, they probably already had experiences of scorn and persecution prior to Jesus’ death, when they were Jesus’ followers (certainly the Jews were not all warmly receiving Jesus’ message!) So I don’t think it would have been that big a deal to be scorned after his death.

        Second, I think if you’ve given your life to following a charismatic teacher/leader for several years, you’t be inclined to believe that your life hadn’t been in vain, and that you did really “back the right horse,” so that when you hear that he isn’t really dead, you are ready to believe that, and act on it. In fact, I think you’d be pretty much predisposed to not overly investigate the tales of resurrection, because you want them to be true! (confirmation bias).

        What other evidence is there regarding these specific people that would indicate they were prone to hallucinations or misreading, that they were gullible to the point of believing something that nobody would’ve even thought _could_ be true, and to the extent of being willing to die for it?

        My guess is that sociology shows that followers of religious gurus/leaders are capable of these things (hallucinations/misreadings/gullible). At any rate, that seems like common sense to me. With regard to “believing something that nobody would’ve even thought could be true,” I don’t know establish that that was the case. It doesn’t seem likely to me.

        It’s right to apply the talking-horse standard to the question of the resurrection, but it’s also true that at some point it becomes harder by the rules of historical evidence to reach a conclusion that it _didn’t_ happen than that it _did_.

        I don’t think anyone who follows the rules of historical evidence really think that the resurrection is likely to have happened (outside of Christian apologists). What are you thinking here?

        Are you familiar with Swinburne’s argument (the Bayesian analysis)?

        I’m not really familiar with it. My first reaction is that applying Bayesian analysis to the resurrection seems silly. Why does he think it is not silly?

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