Response to Jack (part 2)

This is a response to Jack’s recent post. Jack wrote a piece on theistic arguments here. I wrote a piece in response at Dante’s Inferno, which you can find here. I offered a critique of his worldview and 5 theistic arguments and layed out my premises. I will now offer a defense of my arguments. I will take a look at which premise Jack denies and argue for theirf truth.

Jack’s post can be found here. Now in response to my point about science not being able to decide ethics.

Hmm. These are good points, but most of the objections come down to one thing: what do you classify as “knowledge”? I don’t pretend to think that my moral decisions are in any way an absolute truth, or knowledge that can be gained by observing and testing reality. They are simply the product of the society in which I was brought up in. As such, by judging for myself that killing is wrong, I’m not claiming that I have found out anything new. Thus, no new knowledge. It’s as simple as that.

However I would beg to differ. Ethicists study ethics and moral truths for a living and publish books and materials examining ethical systems. It seems ethics is a valid field of study. And I would think ethics would be pretty bad if people just followed what society taught. I mean in India (before the British arrived) it was considered culturally acceptable to burn a widow on a funeral pyre with her dead husband. I’m sure we can agree by simple reflections on moral truths that things like this are wrong even though society accepts them.(That moral argument is just lurking around the corner isn’t it?).

The objection to science not being able to prove science doesn’t hold up either, because a system of gaining knowledge can be shown to be effective by what it produces in the form of tangible progress. For example, the scientific method has allowed people to fly in machines crafted of metal at hundreds of kilometers per hour all around the world. If science did not work, then the fruits of science, the great technologies that most of us enjoy today, would not work or exist. This seems to justify science outside of itself very nicely.

I would agree and I think you have proven my point. As you said you can only justify science “outside of itself”. My point was exactly that there are things outside science.

Plus, Dan’s point that “this seems to be an untenable view because there are many things that the scientific method cannot prove” seems to be a bit backwards. A worldview shouldn’t be constructed around what it can and cannot prove. The inability to “prove” that love is a supernatural force that transcends time and space should not be a limiting factor.

But my point was that there are weaknesses in this view. Many worldviews have been discarded because of their weaknesses. And I think I would disagree with Jack on the second point. If Jack was deeply in love an through his experience did come to believe that love “transcends time and space” (which some philosophers like Plato believed) I think he should reject his worldview if his experience contradicts it.

As to the coherence of God , I think the idea of God (once properly defined) is quite logically consistent. If Jack wishes to bring up any specific problem I will address it. As to free will, I believe in it largely of the basis of my personal experience of my freedom to make choices. I don’t think anyone has provided me with good reason to doubt this intuition of human freedom we possess. I also think rejecting free will leads to many difficulties. For example how can a person be morally responsible for a choice if it is completely predetermined? Zoologist and determinist Richard Dawkins compared punishing a criminal to beating a car that malfunctioned because the criminal is just acting out his predetermined action as a broken car is.

Now to address his responses to my arguments

Kalam Cosmological Argument(KCA)

Now Jack and I agree that the universe began to exist and physical time and space came into being at the Big Bang. However Jack raises an objection when we deduce a cause of the big bang. I emailed to confirm it and what I think his objection is based off the assumption that a cause comes before its effect in time. However  I think this assumption is ill-founded as it fails to take into account simultaneous causation. We observe simultaneous causes and effects all the time. For example , open up an old watch and you will see 2 gears spinning simultaneously. Now we know that one gear actually causes the other to spin , but in this case we can acknowledge cause and effect are simultaneous. Some cases of simultaneous causation are also apparent in quantum mechanics (if you hold to the Coppenhagen interpretation that says observing a wave function will cause it to collapse simultaneously with observation). The famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant used the analogy of a ball and a cushion for simultaneous causation. Imagine a heavy ball resting on a cushion ,such that it creates a depression in the cushion. Now imagine that this ball and cushion had existed this way from eternity past. Someone might ask, what is the cause of the depression in the cushion? Obviously the answer is the bowling ball. Even if the depression had existed for eternity we can still say in this case the cause (ball) exists simultaneous with its effect(depression). To put it differently causal priority does not imply temporal priority.

Now my position is that God’s act of creation was simultaneous with the beginning of the universe so it is immune to Jack’s objection.

Now in my conceptual analysis of the cause of the universe I said there were 2 possiblities for something existing in a form that is non-physical ,immaterial…etc were abstract objects (like numbers and sets) and a mind/consciousness.

There’s no reason to think that minds can exist outside of physical brains, so how can you, as a theist, justify the existence, purely on “say-so” grounds, of a supernatural cause of the Universe that is a mind?

To make myself clear I was not saying that these sorts of things actually exist. I was just saying those were the possibilities. For example I doubt that numbers and sets exist independently of minds, however I acknowledge that there is a possibility that these things exist. Many atheists deny the existence of God and non-physical minds , however acknowledge that there is a possibility (even if it is small) that a non-physical God can exist.

To paraphrase Spock from the new Star  Trek movie (who is quoting Sherlock Holmes) ,“when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”

For my second piece I distinguished between personal and inanimate explanations. Personal explanations explain things in terms of minds or personal agents and their volitions. Impersonal explanations put things in terms of physical laws and initial condition and matter and energy. I argued that there could not be an impersonal explanation( and Jack agrees).

I agree that the natural process is wrong by definition, but you can’t/haven’t justified the dichotomy of natural vs. personal, and neither have you demonstrated that a personal agent can exist outside of a natural process.

Now Jack’s objection is that I pose a false dichotomy. However it is only a false dichotomy if there are other options I have not covered. But it seems like an explanation is either personal or impersonal. I do not think there is any “in-between” these 2 options. And also I am not assuming that a personal agent exists outside of these natural processes. All we need to say is that there is some kind of possibility. If Jack even thinks there is a miniscule possibility that a personal agent like God exists then this argument is successful.

Argument from the existence of the universe

Jack levies the same objection he used at the Kalam. However as I pointed out earlier this objection does not take simultaneous causation into account.

The Evidence of Fine-tuning

I’m not quite sure which of my premises Jack is objecting too.

My argument went kind of like this

1)fine-tuning is highly probable under theism

2)fine-tuning is highly improbable under atheism

3) Therefore fine-tuning confirms theism over atheism

Now Jack tries to invoke anthropic reasoning here. However I think this does not help him . Let us use an analogy. Imagine someone filled all the chambers in a gun with bullets. He removes only one bullet . Jack is playing Russian roulette with this gun. One turn goes by and he is relieved to have survived. Two go by ,3 and all the way to 100 turns. Undoubtedly Jack would begin to question if the gun was jammed. It is a true statement that Jack would have died had he not been so lucky. But this does nothing to blunt the improbabilities. Or imagine he was holding a dice. Someone tells him that anytime he rolls a dumber less than 6 a crack sniper would take him out. He rolls one , twice , 100 times but keeps getting sixes . Jack would stat to feel something suspicious was going on. Now had jack rolled some other number he would be dead. But this does nothing to blunt the force of the improbabilities. So I think the fine-tuning does offer support for theism over chance

4)The intelligibility of the Cosmos and laws of Nature

1)the intelligibility of the universe is improbable under atheism

2)The intelligibility of the universe is not improbable under theism.

3)the observation of intelligibility is evidence for theism over atheism.

I would like to contest Premise 1. Why is it improbable? I would like Dan to further explain this premise.

I think it seems evident that this is true. Just contemplate it. Under atheism, we are just some species that evolved out here is these vast cosmos. Why would we expect the laws hat govern the cosmos to be understandable by things with our level of intelligence. It seems possible that they would be so complex that we could not understand them ,or so choatic that we couldn’t draw regular inferences. Or be such that it would be difficult to measure these laws. There seems to be no reason (assuming atheism) we should think the world.

5)The reliability of thought

Now it seems Jack does not undertstand the power of this argument . This means that Jack’s naturalism cannot provide a sound basis for rationality.

Imagine a broken ,unreliable computer. it sends out a number of messages that Jack can read. However Jack doesn’t know whether these things are correct or not. He has to withhold judgement. He can’t believe in the computer.

Now jack’s brain is like the computer. How can he trust it? And if Jack can’t trust his own thoughts , he cannot even trust the fact of naturalism because that is also one of his unreliable thoughts. Paradoxically , if naturalism is true , Jack can’t trust his own thoughts about naturalism.

So I think my arguments are still standing.

If I was Jack I would start to seriously question the plausibility of my naturalism/atheism. Jack has said that 1) The universe popped into existence of nothing completely uncaused!! 2) This universe somehow exists for no reason and there is no explanation of its existence 3)Against overwhelming improbabilities the universe came out so that it is habitable to life. These odds are so low no sober gambler would face them in Vegas. 4)The universe is not only habitable , but it came out in such a way that humans can study and understand it well by chance 5)Jack can’t even trust his own rationality.

I don’t think these facts bear well for atheism.

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She’s so pretty!!

I always had a soft spot for lemurs. (Must have been that Dinosaurs move)

IDA-lemur

Young Earth Creationists Will get a Kick out of this

A quote from Astronomer Martin Rees

“Cosmological ideas are no longer any more fragile and evanescent than our theories about the history of our Earth. Geologists infer that the continents are drifting . . .We also believe at least in outline the story of how our biosphere emerged and we humans evolved ..The empirical support for a Big Bang ten to fifteen billion years ago is as compelling as the evidence that geologists offer on our Earth’s history”

( Just Six Numbers [New York: Basic Books, 2000], 10).

Apologies

Ouch.

Finals is over and summer is here. I’ve realized a bunch of comments are queued up. I probably won’t have time to deal with them. If there’s any issue you want me to bring up and discuss again post it in the comments section.

Questions for Dave

This is a satirical response to the nonsensical stuff posted by a guy named Dave at Raytractors. (sorry Dave but Greenlief answered Barker’s challenge long ago)

1.Do you go out of your way to use the most unreliable sources possible?

You happen to think that the books were chosen at the Council of Nicea (all that wasw diputed at the council of nicea was the doctrine of trinity) and that Paul somehow believed in a spiritual resurrection (Zero evidence for there ever being a belief in a spiritual resurrection in Judaism). Did you consult any studies (like the ones eminent scholar N.T. Wright carries out in his book The Resurrection of the Son of God ) or are you just talking out of ignorance?

2.How the heck did you come up with the crazy idea that Paul did not believe in a physical resurrection?

Never mind there is no evidence whatsoever of belief in a spiritual resurrection in Judaism. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 uses the word anastasis which in all Greek and Jewish literature means a literal physical resurrection.In 1 Corinthians 6:11-13 paul explicitly says we should not commit sexual immorality and defile our body because someday our bodies will be raised to be with the Lord. If Paul did not believe in a physcial resurrection how does this make sense? Also in verses like Phil. 3:20-21 , Paul clearly says that our mortal bodies will be transformed to be lke Jesus’. In light of these verses how can you say he did not believe in a physical resurrection?

3.Why do all your questions commit the fallacy of question begging so heavily?

4.The only accounts of Ceasar explicitly crossing the Rubicon are from 4 writers , each writing over a century after the fact. Each conflates the account with their own ideologies and ideas of the expansion of Rome. How can they be reliable?

5. In Tacitus’ The Annals of Rome , he describes 2 towns and says they were 25 miles apart.The real distance is known to be 125 miles. Most Roman histical scholars believe this is a copyist error. What do you think?

6. What good reasons do we have to say that Mark was written after 70CE as you say many times in your question?

(i will not accept the foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem as a reason because it was cearly intended to be a prophecy.)

7 .You complained in your questions that there are instances where the bible “violates natural order”.Can you prove naturalism is true? If not wouldn’t you just be arguing that the bible is false because it contradicts your worldview?

8. Are you aware of the preterist interpretation of the Olivet discourse?

9. You say “miracles don’t happen today”. How did you arrive at this conclusion? Did you just dismiss any kind of testimony of a Christian having experienced a miracle offhand because of your naturalistic worldview? You might say “no-one has ever proven a miracle” but you cannot make a positive claim to knowledge about no miracles occuring based on them being unproven.

10. Are you aware of the use of typology in Jewish literature in interpreting prophecy? If not please acquaint yourself with it before critiquing Matthew.

BONUS QUESTION:

I am holding a glass of water in my hands.Is this H20 because it is water, or is it water because it’s H2O?

(Meant to demonstrate the meaninglessness of Euthyphro dilemma.)

Response to questions on biblical development

I saw these questions .

For starters I would like to recommend a site called bible.org. It has a series of articles by New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace defending the traditional authorship of the New testament manuscripts and their dating. It would be good for him to read a couple to get a perspective on where conservative scholarship lies.

I would also recommend he start using better sources. ( Apparently ) he may be using Dan Brown as a source and he thinks that canon was formed at the council of Nicea (A notion that even New testament skeptic Bart Ehrman thinks is laughably ridiculous)

1. How do we know we can trust the authors of the Bible?

We look at the testiomony of the early church fathers (external evidence) , the internal evidence and conclude who the author probaly was. We look to see if there is any early competing tradition. For example Early tradition is unanimous that the gospels were written by their tradtional authors. This counts as strong evidence for traditional authorship. You can look at Dan Wallace’s essays on authorship at the aforementioned site.

the gospels, for instance, were written 40 to 80 years after the purported resurrection

This is not true. Many scholars (including Dan Wallace) will argue for a dating between 50-65 Ce for the gospels.The strongest piece of evidence for this is the fact that Luke-Acts (the last synoptic gospel written) does not mention any major event such as the martyrdom of Peter and Paul or the destruction of Jerusalem that occur after 62 CE. That would be like writing a book about terrorism in America and not including the events of 9/11 . The only reason he would be likely to exclude them is that it was written before these events.

, at a time when the average life expectancy was 45 years.

First of all does this number take into account the high rate of infant mortality? Infant mortality could significantly lower the life expectancy. And what about wars where young men die?

he should check out this table

http://www.utexas.edu/depts/classics/documents/Life.html

the figures say the average life extepectancy of your group tend to increase with age.
2. How can we verify the original documents, when none exist?

That my friend is the science of textual criticism. we have over 24000 new testament manuscript. We collate them , compare the readings and see which was most likely in the original.
3. Can we trust the translators of Jesus’s words?

Yes. Why shouldn’t we trust Jesus’ followers to accurately translate his words?

4. How do you know there aren’t lost documents which disprove Christianity?

I don’t know but I find it unlikely.

We know for a fact that the early Church sought out and destroyed documents critical of Christianity;

where does the author get this fact from? From what I know about early Christianity , the early Christian groups were hiding from Roman persecution and would be way too busy avoiding getting killed to hunt down heretics. Before Constantine’s conversion the Christians had no political power to do these sorts of things anyway.

whatever evidence these documents might have offered is now lost to us forever.

We do have information of these criticisms. We have the debates and letters of the patristic fathers where they respond to criticism. The most famous of these is Origen’s Contra Celsum.

And most of these works are not lost because a group tried to destroy them.People just didn’t seek to copy them. Imagine a time without Xerox machines where  it would take days to copy books by hand. Papyrus and codices  and ink were expensive and only a small group was literate enough to copy.Now if you were one of these Christian scribes would you spend all that money to copy

1)Your holy book

2)a book critical of your holy book

The Christians just didn’t copy this stuff. Why would they?

5. How can you trust documents which are known to have been edited by the church?

I agree that these have been edited but you forget , we do not only have 1 copy of the documents. We have copies from different chruches from Egypt to Greece to Rome. We compare the manuscripts from all these different churches and that way we can see if a particular church added something. How do you think we knew those additions were there in the first place?
6. Why do you have so much faith in a fourth century compilation?

The compilation of the New testament did not begin in the 4th century( despite what Dan Brown says). The core documents of the canon were more or less agreed upon by the 2nd-3rd century. And it was a more gradual process that 1 executive decision.  A good  article on the canon is here

The Resurrection of Jesus

I am sure many readers are familiar with the minimal facts approach used by a certain historian called Gary Habermas (to which I am indebted to for this post). I will be using his material .

The minimal facts approach takes facts accepted by the majority of scholars[1] and multiply attested.

The Facts are:-

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion
  2. The tomb was empty
  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.

Fact 1-The crucifixion

We begin with the crucifixion. The crucifixion is multiply attested in and outside the Bible. It is attested by Paul:

(1 Corinthians 1:23) but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

Mark’s Passion Source (I will provide evidence for the existence of a pre Markan passion source if it is challenged by the negative)

(Mark 15:23-24)

and the other 3 gospels

And for extrabiblical attestation we have:

Flavius Josephus[2]

(Antiquities 18.3.3) And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross

Cornelius Tacitus

(Annals 15.44) Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus

Lucian of Samosata

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.Lucian of Samosata, The Death of Peregrine 11-13 (, 49)

The evidence is so strong that even John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar( the most liberal group in historical Jesus studies today) concedes that the crucifixion is an undisputed fact of history .

Fact 2-The empty tomb

This facts is agreed on by 75% of historians. There are many lines of the evidence for the empty tomb.The first is that it is attested to in all 4 gospels. Before I present the other evidence let me discuss the 1 Corinthians 15 creed. There is a gap between the start of Christianity and the first written documents of the New testament. The way historians bridge this gap period is examining the oral creeds that are found in the New testament. Creeds were meant to pass along important information in a manner that would make the information easy to memorize. These creeds would have been recited by Christian communities prior to them being put in written from in the New testament. In the places in the New testament where creed are cited- we can see the syntax and flow of the sentence in Greek written and changes in language. One of the creeds cited in the New testament is the 1 Corinthians 15 creed.

3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5

The phrases Paul uses “I passed on to you…what I also received” were used a way of passing oral tradition is rabbinical literature.Linguistic factors also indicate the creed was probaly translated from Aramaic.The use of non-Pauline words coupled with the Aramaic leads most scholars to believe Paul received the creed from Peter and James in the Jerusalem church during his visit (in Galatians1- 2). If ths is the case- Paul most likely received the creed around 33-35CE( within 5 years of the crucifixion) from 2 eyewitnesses. Even the liberal Jesus seminar concedes that the creed was probaly formulated n the early 30’sCE.

The Early evidence

The creed clearly says Jesus was buried, and rose. (The word used here in Greek anastasis strongly indicates a physical rising from the dead as seen in its usage in the Septuagaint ,Greek literature and the New testament itself).If Paul says Jesus had physically risen after he was buried-the logical implication would be that his body was no longer in the tomb. The 1 Corinthians 15 creed provides early attestation (within 5 years) of the empty tomb

Enemy Attestation

This is common sense- but it is used in historical methodology too. If your enemy admits something- it is more likely to be true.The fact that the tomb was empty is admitted even by enemies of Christianity. Matthew records that the Jews paid some to say that the disciples had stolen the body (28:12-13). Justin Martyr and Tertullian record the same

So the polemic goes like this:
Jews: The disciples stole the body!
Christians: No, the guards would have prevented that!
Jews: The guards fell asleep!
Christians: You bribed them to say that!

The Jewish polemic presupposes the fact that the tomb was empty. This would not be the case if the tomb was still occupied.

Testimony of women and the criterion of embarassment

The first witnesses of the empty tomb were women, as recorded in all four Gospels . Were the narratives madeup, it is unlikely the made-up testimony would have included women, and certainly not as the primary witnesses to the empty tomb, since women were looked down upon in the cultures of that time.Even Luke 24:11 admits the disciples had a hard time believing the women.The best explaination is that the gospels were just faithfully recording what happened.

The Jerusalem Factor

Jerusalem is the place where Jesus was publicly executed on the Roman cross. It is there that He was buried, and there that His resurrection was first proclaimed.Imagine the early disciples telling the Jews that their master who had been shamefully executed had been risen and his tomb was empty.A group of Jews go check it out and find the tomb to be occupied. Christianity would be crushed. Christainity could not have spread in Jerusalem if the tomb was still occupied.

Fact 3:The appearances

The appearances are attested in the early 1 Corinthians 15 creed. They are also recorded in the gospels of Matthew , Luke and John. Testimony is also found in the speeches of the aposles in the book of Acts.

The testimony of the early church fathers( Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignatious of Antioch) agrees that the apostles claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ. In many cases, these early church fathers knew the apostles themselves, or knew someone close to the apostles.This can be taken as historically certain.

Some skeptic might conjecture that the apostles were lying. However this is unlikely as the disciples were wiling to be martyred[ 3] for their beliefs. No-one knowingly and willingly dies for a lie.(Note that a comparison with Muslims matyrs would be unwarranted as I never claimed their beliefs were true because of their persecution.I claimed that they were sincere in there beliefs because of their persecution.)

Another theory skeptics will propound is that the appearances were hallucinations.I will address this theory more fully in another post- but I will point out that had the disciples hallucinated -they would not interpret it to be physical experiences of the kind the New testament claims but visions. The hallucination theory also does not account for the fact that Paul and James , who were skeptics and did not want ot see Jesus- did see him.

Fact 4:-Conversion of Paul

22 But I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They were only hearing, “The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news of the faith he once tried to destroy.”Galatians 1:22-23

Paul’s conversion is attested in his own letters and in Acts.Paul was converted not as a neutral observer, but as an enemy of Christ. What’s more, his conversion was not the result of his friends trying their best to convince him of Christianity, but of what he believed to be a personal encounter with the risen Christ.

Fact 5-the conversion of James

The gospels record that James was skeptical of Jesus during his ministry( this fits under the criterion of embarrassment as it was embarrassing in 1st century Jerusalem for a rabbi’s family to reject his teaching) . However later became Christian after the appearance of thew risen Christ. He was a skeptic.But he eventually was martyred for his strong faith (Josephus(Antiquities 20:200),Hegesippus).

So in summary there are 5 facts. As with all good historical situations we look at theories and see which has the greatest explanatory power. I contend that the resurrection is the best explanation for these 5 facts. The tomb was empty because Jesus was risen and James, Paul and the disciples saw Jesus because he was really there. The documentation for this is in the New testament. Other naturalistic theories fail to account for all of the facts. Once we conclude that Jesus rose from the dead- the most parsimonious explanation is his own deity.

The counter-challenge- Provide a different theory that provides a superior explaination for all the facts and provide documentation for this theory.

For further reading check out “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Mike Lincona.

A video series by Veritas48 and KabaneTheChristian is availible here

[1]Facts 1 and 3-5 are accepted almost unanimously(over 98%) by historians. Facts 2 is accepted by 75% of historians.The figures come from gary Habermas’ survey of more than 1400 scholarly articles on the historical Jesus that were written in English, German and French.

http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005.htm

[2]Some scholars question the authenticity of parts of the Testimonium Flavianum.However according to a study done by Louis Feldman- most Josephan scholars will accept the passge as authentic with some minor embellishments.The Tacitus passage is undisputedly authentic.

[3]Clement of Rome indicates that Peter and Paul suffered and died for their beliefs. Ignatius of Antioch, who was also most likely personally acquainted with the apostles reports that the apostles were unafraid of martyrdom in his letter to Smyra, and Polycarp reports in  his letter to the Philippians that Paul and all of the apostles suffered. Dionysis of Corinth also reports,  (as cited by Eusebius in book 2, chapter 25, verse 8 of Ecclesiastical history) Tertullain reports in Scorpiace chapter 15, and Origen in Contra Celsum .

Edit: added citation for the martyrdoms of the apostles

Introduction to the Resurrection

I have recently taken it upon myself to respond to a challenge here for Christians.

“What reason is there to believe in the authenticity of the Bible, its message, and/or Christianity?”

My post will be focusing on the Resurrection of Jesus as a historical event.

Before I actually address this issue I will explain what I will not be doing and what I will attempt to do and what responses I will not accept lest I be misunderstood.

What I will be doing

  1. I will be using facts accepted by the majority of historians (at least 75%) and that are multiply attested.
  2. I will be using historical criteria like the criterion of embarrassment , earlyness and multiple attestation to lend credence to these facts

What I will not be doing

  1. I am not “using the bible to prove the bible” or appealing to the inerrancy of scripture. I do not argue,” the bible says so -so it was true.”I just appeal to the gospels and epistles of Paul as normal ancient documents and biographies.
  2. I am not using just “the bible as a source”. The New testament documents were a  group of ancient documents by different writers.They can be used as multiple attestation.The epistles of Paul and Gospels are different sources

Responses I will not accept

  1. “The resurrection is false and can never happen because resurrections don’t happen”- Don’t question-beg naturalism in your answers.
  2. “Jesus never existed”-This is a fringe and outdated position held by a group of German philosophers in the 18th century and popularised by uncredentialed popular writers like Earl Doherty and Acharya S. No serious historian takes these writers and their Jesus myth thesis seriously.
  3. “The accounts are contradictory so they cannot be used”-Wrong. Even if the accounts of the resurrection were contradictory- historians use cntradictory sources all the time. A good example would be the usage of Polybius and Livy’s accounts of Hannibal’s crossing .

Expect a post on the resurrection soon.