The counter-challenge

All of you should go look at my earlier post here. In thispost I try to establish 5 facts.

The Facts are:-

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion
  2. The tomb was emptyi
  3. Jesus’ disciples were disheartened after he was dead.However they had experiences that led them to believe that Jesus had physically risen from the dead and appeared to them.Thwy were so convinced they suffered and some were martyred for their belief.
  4. Paul ,who was a persecutor of Jesus had an experience that led him to convert and believe in the risen Jesus
  5. James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, suddenly converted to Christianity.

The counter-challenge is to provide a better explaination for these facts than the resurrection of Jesus. Explanatory power and parsimony will be taken into account



  1. migkillertwo said,

    October 8, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    for the sake of education I will be responding with arguments which I already know to be BS, but would catch your average run-of-the-mill christian totally off-guard

    1: Crucifixion: there is not a single extant contemporaneous reference to Jesus’ life on earth. That would be expected for someone who did miracles

    2: Empty tomb: we don’t even know if he was buried in a tomb. The burial account of Jesus seems to conflict standard practices of the time, most were buried in mass-graves. Secondly, the Jews would never meet on passover eve to crucify him. secondly, Paul never mentions a burial in a tomb or an empty tomb in his Epistles, which are earlier than the Gospels. this seems to indicate that the empty tomb story is a later legendary embellishment on hte part of the Gospel communities, or possibly a redaction on the part of the Gospel authors.

    secondly, the tomb need not be empty in order for there to be a resurrection. Paul seems to speak of a non-physical resurrection because
    A: he never distinguishes the apostles’ seeings of Jesus with his own, but his conversion was not a witnessing of teh physically resurrected Christ
    B: Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”. “spiritual body” indicates a non-physical resurrection, and since our resurrections are modeled after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection was probably not physical
    C: Paul says “flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 15.50. This seems to indicate that Paul believed that the resurrection body will be non-physical

    3: the evidence for the martyrdom of the disciples is late and probably unreliable. Theft seems to be a plausible explanation if the tomb was empty.

  2. zilch said,

    October 17, 2008 at 8:20 am

    The most parsimonious explanation is that since all this testimony is only present in the Bible, or from later sources commenting on Christian belief, then the Bible is simply wrong, and the Resurrection never occurred. This would fit in better with the common-sense observation that people don’t rise from the dead, and that people do make up stories all the time.

  3. Daniel said,

    October 31, 2008 at 12:43 am


    I have eaten with you on campus before and wanted to give you a link to a video about gay marriage.

  4. CrypticLife said,

    November 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    1) Jesus had a twin brother, unknown to the disciples
    2) They thought he had been resurrected, and hence converted

    This would explain all of the facts (empty tomb is easy, could have been any number of things). It also is more parsimonious than resurrection, as there is a known mechanism for twins, we have multiple examples of twins throughout history and currently, and twins do not violate any known laws of biology. Resurrection is not a parsimonious hypothesis.

    So, what do I win?

  5. Daniel said,

    November 16, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Here are some excerpts from a few early church fathers concerning the eucharist, we can find the texts and look more at them there also.

    Cyril of Jerusalem

    “The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ” (Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]).

    “Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul” (ibid., 22:6, 9).

    Ambrose of Milan

    “Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ” (The Mysteries 9:50, 58 [A.D. 390]).

    Theodore of Mopsuestia

    “When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood’; for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit” (Catechetical Homilies 5:1 [A.D. 405]).


    “Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands” (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).

    “I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ” (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).

    “What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction” (ibid., 272).

  6. Daniel said,

    November 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    here are some more,

    Ignatius of Antioch

    “I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).

    “Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).

    Justin Martyr

    “We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).


    “If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?” (Against Heresies 4:33–32 [A.D. 189]).

    “He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (ibid., 5:2).

    Clement of Alexandria

    “’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children” (The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191]).


    “[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God” (The Resurrection of the Dead 8 [A.D. 210]).


    “‘And she [Wisdom] has furnished her table’ [Prov. 9:2] . . . refers to his [Christ’s] honored and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper [i.e.,
    the Last Supper]” (Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs [A.D. 217]).


    “Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’ [John 6:55]” (Homilies on Numbers 7:2 [A.D. 248]).

    Cyprian of Carthage

    “He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. All these warnings being scorned and contemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord” (The Lapsed 15–16 [A.D. 251]).

    Council of Nicaea I

    “It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e., priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the Eucharistic sacrifice] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it]” (Canon 18 [A.D. 325]).

    Aphraahat the Persian Sage

    “After having spoken thus [at the Last Supper], the Lord rose up from the place where he had made the Passover and had given his body as food and his blood as drink, and he went with his disciples to the place where he was to be arrested. But he ate of his own body and drank of his own blood, while he was pondering on the dead. With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink” (Treatises 12:6 [A.D. 340]).

  7. Daniel said,

    November 16, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    here are alot of excerpts from the church fathers on a number of topics:

  8. facilis said,

    November 19, 2008 at 3:40 am

    A good summary of the contingency argument can be found here

  9. Daniel said,

    November 23, 2008 at 4:00 am

    “[Christ] took the bread and the cup, each in a similar fashion, and said: ‘This is My Body and this is My Blood.’ Not a figure of His body nor a figure of His blood, as some persons of petrified mind are wont to rhapsodize, but in truth the Body and the Blood of Christ, seeing that His body is from the earth, and the bread and wine are likewise from the earth.”

    -“Apocriticus” [3,23] ca. 400 A.D.

  10. Daniel said,

    November 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    this talks a little about the two wills i was thinking about earlier

  11. Daniel said,

    November 23, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    this is about purgatory

  12. Daniel said,

    December 3, 2008 at 6:40 am

    here is that lecure thing i called you about

  13. Daniel said,

    December 6, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Here is one thing about predestination…

  14. Judas said,

    March 17, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Holy shit! you mean the tomb was EMPTY?! This changes everything! This is so much more plausible than say, oh any other fictional story like the Quran or whatever else.

  15. monado said,

    March 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Why don’t you use this same logic to prove that fairies are real, that Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox were a historical figures, that the Egyptian gods were real? Why uncritically swallow the “Bible is true” and not “the Upanishads are true”? Why not trust Honest John the car dealer? Simple: those are available to analysis by the logical part of your mind, but the Bible is deeply embedded in childhood prejudices and is as hard to ditch as racism or childhoood phobias.

    “I just believe in one fewer god than you do.”

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