The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Did the resurrection of Christ happen

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/20/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 628 times Debate No: 86958
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (1)




Is the resurrection of Christ verifiable historically? Christ did exist, and he was crucified, but what happened then? If Jesus rose Christianity is true, if He didn't we are dead wrong. Any takers? The con will be debating that the resurrection didn't happen.


Good luck. I have very limited time, so I apologize in advance for a short argument.

== Skepticism ==

Doubting any claim is critical to one's understanding of history. Skepticism is the rational way forward from any random assertion. The main reason is because either we:

1. Assume all claims to be true and cancel the claims proven incorrect
2. Assume all claims to be false and cancel the claims proven true

I hold #2 to be the correct position in any circumstance, because if #1 is true, then any unfalsifiable claim is most likely true. But unfalsifiable claims are completely unnecessary to any explanation, and the scientific method rejects such claims by default. []

Furthermore, under #1 there would be multiple contradictions arising by reductio ad absurdum. I will seek to demonstrate this via Russell's teapot analogy. If at the Cartesian location (x,y,z) there is a certain teapot between Earth and Mars, then at the same Cartesian location (x,y,z) there cannot also be a kettle. Yet both claims are unfalsifiable assuming they are both invisible, and, as such, both are presumed to be true - thus entailing a contradiction.

This means we hold #2 to be true, therefore we doubt all positive claims until further proven. Jesus' resurrection is a positive claim; thus, it should be doubted until proven true. As such, the burden of proof in this debate rests with Pro to prove the resurrection. The lack of evidence is sufficient urge to vote Con.

== Biased sources ==

The first non-Christian mention of the resurrection is from the mid-second century, that of Lucian. Yet historians agree that he most likely gained his information from Christian sources. []

Thus, there's a significant fear of bias among historians for any textual mentions of the resurrection - the majority of related information being from Christian sources. There are no mentions of resurrection by non-Christian sources except much, much later, and most of them are externally influenced by more biased sources.

== Christ myth theory ==

The position that Jesus was resurrected assumes Christ myth theory is false. While I don't necessarily agree with it - and I don't even need to defend it in this debate, since that is not my obligation - the point is Pro has no reason to assume it is false, especially since, as established by my first contention, doubting a positive claim is the default position. Until this assumption is further justified, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 1


OK I'll try to make this quick since you have limited time.

Skepticism-i agree with point number 2 as well and I shoulder the burden of proof in this instance happily

Biased sources-first of all, there's no such thing as unbiased sources, they simply don't exist. Everyone writing anything, arguing anything, etc. Have their own agendas in mind. That being said there's no reason to throw away the Bible in general or the Gospels in particular. Most if not all scholars hold that the Gospels share the same structure as all Greco-Roman biographies so should be taken as such..[]
I've given you there both Christian and non Christian sources.
The Gospels and Bible itself really are documents of history and should be taken as such and not as some holy book written all at once by a biased council or anything.
That all being said however, I am willing to disregard the Gospels despite all evidence saying I don't have to.

1 Corinthians 15 3-8 says 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
This text is an early Christian Creed denoting the gospel itself. It was put into creedal form as a way of memorization anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of the cross itself and was received by Paul no later than 5 years of the cross. In this text there are several groups mentioned as to seeing the risen Christ including Cephas(Peter), the twelve (apostles), a group of 500 men which may actually be closer to 1k if you include women, James and last of all Paul. If this was untrue or legendary anyone of these groups could've falsified it.

Certain questions need be asked here-If Jesus didn't resurrect, how did Christianity get off the ground at all? All the opposers of Christianity had to do was display Jesus's body on the 3rd day and Christianity would be crushed. The Bible and extra biblical sources such as josephas declare that the "disciples stole the body" excuse was used which implies am empty tomb. The only options available to the skeptic are 1-hallucination theory 2-disciples stole the body 3-swoon theory
1-the hallucination theory works for the disciples, but not for Thomas who declared unbelief until he touched the risen Christ
James who was an unbeliever even up to the cross declaring his brother a madman
Paul who was an enemy of Christianity even sanctioning the murders of Christians such as Stephen
Not to mention even it was all simply hallucinations, the body would still be in the tomb.
2-disciples stole the body works for explaining the empty tomb, but not for the post resurrection appearances especially to the skeptics I just listed. It's also highly unlikely that they would knock out the elite Roman guards at the tomb, roll up and back the roughly 2 ton stone at a roughly 45"angle, steal the body (which was a capital crime punishable by death) and then start declaring Jesus risen to the point of their own violent deaths though they knew it to be a lie
3-swoon theory doesn't work because Roman Crucifixion was such a brutal method of execution those people often died during the scurging alone. If the victim were to survive, the executioners would be killed themselves.Also this would imply that a horribly beaten Jesus near the point of death would suddenly gain the strength after 3 days in a dark, damp tomb to roll the stone back himself, dispatch the Roman guards then travel miles and miles to appear to his disciples and other witnesses and declare that he has conquered death and the grave.
Taking the position of con would imply all these reasons, plus some I haven't mentioned yet must be successfully refuted and alternate explanations must be given to satisfy all points in a non ad hock manner which simply can't be done and Occam's razor would favor the resurrection as the best possible explanation as it satisfies explanatory power and scope

Christ myth theory-i don't really need to refute this as for the purposes of this debate Jesus's existence is assumed. Though this claim is laughable at best and out right ridiculous at worst. No serious scholar holds this position outside Richard Carrier. But if further inquiry is desired I'd recommend


Christ myth theory
Pro tries to back away from this by saying “Jesus’ existence is assumed.” It isn’t assumed by the resolution – only by Pro. I’m challenging that assumption. There’s no rule against challenging an assumption. Pro’s contention to this argument is based on the consensus among academics. But consensus does not always determine science.

I. Historical Value of the New Testament

The New Testament makes a lot of historical errors and inaccuracies. For instance, there are a lot of internal inconsistencies within the Gospels. Raymond E. Brown notes an obvious contradiction regarding the death of Judas Iscariot. In Matthew 27:3-8, Judas returns the bribe he had been given and hangs himself. On the other hand, in Acts 1:18, Judas’ death is attributed to injuries from having fallen in the field.[1] There's also an inconsistency between Matthew and Luke regarding the genealogy of Jesus. The NT is filled with inaccuracies, historical errors, and internal inconsistencies.

II. Non-Christian References to Jesus

This was established last round as well. The first secular reference to Jesus was in the 2nd century, and was influenced by a Christian source. Actual references to Jesus’ existence came long after his life, which could suggest the creation of Jesus – at least as the founding figure of Christianity – by the then-followers of the religion. The first reference to even the religion of Christianity comes from Pliny the Younger, who doesn’t mention the resurrection.[2] The resurrection’s first mention from a non-Christian is in the 2nd century, from Lucian, a critic of superstition, whose information was probably from a Christian source. But that’s irrelevant to this point - Pliny’s mention of the religion and other mentions were the first non-Christian mentions, and they all came from after the first century.

III. Pagan Roots of Christianity
This isn’t even disputed. There are multiple similarities to the myths of Jesus, Horus, the Buddha, Mithras, and others. A lot of Christian philosophy is borrowed from pagan philosophy.

Considering all of this, the simplest – and strongest – explanation seems to be Christ myth theory. I'm not necessarily saying it is the best explanation (merely that it seems to be), but it cannot be discredited by my opponent so easily.

Historicity of the Resurrection
Even if Jesus existed, the historicity of the resurrection is questionable. I’m going to list the claims Pro makes, and show how some of the claims are false, and when the others are put together, inference to best explanation doesn’t entail a resurrection of Jesus. What are the “facts” Pro presents? Let me list them:

1. Jesus died by crucifixion after amassing a group of followers
2. Three days following his death, his tomb was empty
3. There were multiple sightings of Jesus, even by skeptics

#1. This point itself is questionable. As seen above, Christ myth theory is a justifiable position clearly, and Pro’s fundamental assumption could very well be false.

#2. Pro doesn’t present much non-Biblical evidence for this. I’ve established last contention that the NT is not a historical text, and lacks historical value. Bart Ehrman disputes the idea of the “empty tomb,” arguing that there’s no proper evidence for it: for instance, women were well-represented in those times, thus allowing for fiction, unlike what many apologists believe. Most arguments for it are unsound.[3]

#3. This is the most disputed assumption of Pro’s. Helmut Koester argues that the majority of the sightings mentioned in the NT and outside are absolutely unreliable. The few sightings that could be considered reliable are especially vague and poorly described.[4] Thus, the sightings of Jesus by skeptics probably didn’t even happen.

Inference to Best Explanation
Even presuming points 1 and 2 (point 3’s falsehood is almost indisputable), an alternative explanation would hold better ground than the resurrection via inference to best explanation, which follows the following criteria:

1. Principle of simplicity
2. Explanatory power
3. Background knowledge

#1. The “principle of simplicity” posits that, among a set of competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with east assumptions is most likely a priori. The assumptions of, for instance, the “stole the body” alternative are merely: the disciples stole the body from the tomb. The assumptions of the resurrection is: the body went missing, Jesus was resurrected, a supernatural power capable of doing that exists. One assumption vs. three naturally means, via the principle of simplicity, the resurrection is probably false.

#2. The resurrection lacks explanatory power. That’s because it is an extraordinary assertion – one which isn’t in line with background knowledge and requires something supernatural without proper evidence for its claim. It lacks the power to explain the events in question clearly and concisely.

#3. This is clearly a victory on my side. There’s no evidence for resurrection to be possible at all, since death means the end of the processes within a biological system. The Second Law of Thermodynamics holds that the entropy within a system won’t decrease at all. If resurrection occurs, then entropy decreases, thus violating the Second Law and exceeding the limits of background knowledge.

On these accounts, the resurrection probably didn’t happen. Thanks for a fun debate so far.

1. Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 114


Debate Round No. 2


OK I'm not trying to back away from the myth theory at all. The purposes of this debate was whether or not the resurrection happened. In the outline of the debate I establish this. The Christ myth theory is a different debate i'd gladly have later.

1-historical value of nt: the Bible makes no more errors or inconsistencies than any other work of antiquity. In fact the new testament has more manuscript evidence in a closer proximity than any other work of antiquity.
If you're going to throw out the new testament you must also throw out every ancient work which would make ancient history unknowable.

2-non Christian references: to this point I say, so what if non Christian sources came about in the early 2nd century? As one can see by the link I provided in point 1, that's closer than any other work. We claim to know a lot about Alexander the great yet all our sources for him are over 300 years after his life. History shows that it takes at least a full generation for legend to develop. Besides that, it's in error to discount the Bible as a source as it is a collection of historical documents, not simply a holy book and even the most skeptical scholars use at least 7 of the 13 books of Paul.

3-pagan roots: to say this isn't disputed is to be in blatant ignorance of history and well known facts. The pagan myths theory has been debunked more times than I can count and this is also irrelevant to this debate. Again the parameters of this debate were set up to assume his existence. Also all pagan gods he supposedly was influenced by came after him with the exception of Horus. And upon inspection of the Horus story one sees no real connection to Christ at all.

History of resurrection
1-as seen above the Christ myth theory is bankrupt and for the purposes of this debate his existence is assumed

2-as seen above there are plenty of non biblical sources for Christ, but it is also in error to throw out biblical sources as it would require the abandonment of all ancient historical sources

3-nearly all scholars in a relevant field agree that Jesus's disciples had experiences that they believed to be the resurrected Christ
--The only thing that we can certainly say to be historical is that there were resurrection appearances in Galilee (and in Jerusalem) soon after Jesus"s death. These appearances cannot be denied" (Gerd Ludemann. ."What Really Happened To Jesus?" p. 81)
"We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead." (Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, pg 230).
"That Jesus" followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know." (E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pg 280)
And these are atheist scholars with no dogs in the fight

1-the resurrection hypothesis is actually the simplest explanation as it requires only that God exists. If God does not exist then you would need many natural assumptions to try to account for the resurrection and you would find none. I agree that by natural means, nobody is resurrected, but if God exists, He is certainly capable of such an act.

2-see point 1 above

3-there is no clear victory on my opponents side here. The second law of thermodynamics aka the law of entropy is irrelevant to this discussion as I've explained above, there's no natural means of resurrection. This law doesn't apply here for the same reason it doesn't apply to evolution, because we're essentially in an open system (with energy input from the sun).

To summarize:

We have a series of facts (agreed on by the vast majority of relevant historians) surrounding the historical Jesus.

We have no theory given by Con that even comes close to the explanatory power or explanatory scope that the resurrection supplies. And any layering of naturalistic explanations would have a greater degree of ad hocness.

"My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history..." " E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University

To deny the facts surrounding the ressurection one must be willing to throw out much of ancient history. And the resurrection is the best explanation regarding those facts.


I concede CMT.

I. Historicity

1. I concede CMT, thus conceding this point.

2. The NT is not historically reliable. For instance, most scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark is unreliable due to a severe lack of knowledge about the political, social, and geographical conditions of Judea at the time described.[5, 6] It is commonly thought that the writers of the Gospels of Luke and Matthew used the unreliable Mark as a source, thus hindering their reliability.[7] In fact, all that is agreed about Jesus by most historical scholars is that he was a preacher who taught throughout the Galilean countryside and was sentenced to death by the Romans.[8] Multiple scholars disagree that his tomb was ever empty; for instance, Bart Ehrman.[3] Mark is unreliable, and Luke and Matthew likely copied from it.

3. The Pauline epistles are the only source that mention such appearances, and these appearances are without proper confirmation.[9] There have been allegations that Paul made multiple inaccuracies regarding the life of Jesus, and there is no confirmation for these sightings.[9] Helmut Koester demonstrates that the majority of the supposed sightings were later edits to Paul, and Paul never actually mentions most of the sightings. Those sightings that are mentioned are especially - almost deliberately - vague.[4] Koester contends that the more well-described sightings of the resurrection are based on untrustworthy sources, and are of questionable reliability.[4] Furthermore, historians often have agreed that 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 is a post-Paulian interpretation, thus of lower reliability.[10]

II. Inference to Best Explanation

1. The following are Pro's assumptions: God exists, this God had supernatural abilities, and resurrected Jesus via these abilities. On the other hand, the assumptions of - for instance - the stolen body alternative are: the body was stolen by followers, and they had hallucinations of Jesus. But since I've also questioned the credibility of the missing body and the appearances, I don't need to invoke any assumptions.

2. As for background knowledge, Pro concedes that resurrection is a supernatural act - something which is outside the lines of background knowledge in science. While the Earth may not be a closed system, a human body is - that is the reason resurrection is impossible. Death is a result of high entropy conditions, so resurrection - within the closed system of the human body - would be a shifting to a low entropy condition.

3. See points 1 and 2, thus my point has greater explanatory power.

Vote Con.

III. References

6. Nineham, Dennis, "The Gospel of Mark," p. 193
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by SNP1 8 months ago
Richard Carrier is one proponent of the Christ Myth Theory, but so is Robert M Price, so is Thomas Brodie. Raphael Lataster has a book dedicated towards agnosticism on the point.

Hermann Detering is either a mythicist or at least thinks that a logical mythicist case can be made.

There are even some who agree with Mythicism or at least think that it is a serious question to consider.

There are those that should be on the tables here that aren't (as in scholars):

Still, I can't wait for October. The Price v Ehrman debate about if Jesus existed will be so fun to watch.
Posted by n7 8 months ago
Con's claims about skepticism were conceded by Pro. He admits he has the BOP, so if Con can cast reasonable doubt on Pro's case, he wins.

Con presents the possibility of the CMT and that there aren't a lot of contemporary secular sources for Christianity. Pro states that the gospels all share the same structure, then concludes that this makes them accurate. Pro doesn't justify the idea that having the same structure equates into historical accuracy and intuitively, I see no reason why myths or known fiction can't have the same structure. He cites the famous passage of Jesus appearing to 500 people and claims that the only reasonable explanation is an actual resurrection. He doesn't touch upon the CMT much, but cites a book that argues against it.

Con points out the CMT hasn't been debunked. Along with pointing out the NT hasn't been historically verified and appears to be historically inaccurate.

Pro claims the bible makes no errors or inconsistency, despite the fact the Con gave one. It goes ignored. Pro is speaking about textual purity, which isn't what Con was talking about. He says it isn't a problem that there are no contemporary non-christian references and refutes the claim that Christianity has pagan roots.

Con concedes the CMT. Con talks about the historical inaccuracies of the gospel and works of Paul. Pro made no attempt to argue against the contradiction Con pointed out. Nor did Pro make a convincing case for the truthfulness of the gospels. Con uses inference to the best explanation to conclude his case.

Pro agrees the event is supernatural and therefore Con is correct when it comes to background knowledge. Since the gospels haven't been demonstrated as historically accurate and have been put into serious question by Con, a resurrection event fails the simplicity and explanatory power tests. By the agreed criteria Con set forth in R1, arguments go to Con.
Posted by whiteflame 8 months ago
>Reported vote: matt8800// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Con (Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Pro's argument revolved around the assumption that the bible is correct. As Con pointed out, the stories used as reference are hearsay from long ago. I'm voting Con because I cannot see any argument as to why this specific hearsay should be believed while other hearsay, such as the claims in Mormonism, are considered fraudulent.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) The voter does have to address specific arguments made by both sides in an RFD in order to sufficiently address arguments. (2) The voter doesn"t explain sources.
Posted by whiteflame 8 months ago
>Reported vote: rextr05// Mod action: Removed<

5 point to Pro (Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Not impressed with either sides argument cuz their arguments for the most part consists of opinion. Next time, list your sources immediately following the point you're trying to establish & state what the source says to back up your point. That being said, con dismisses pro's sources as being unreliable, tho gives n valid reason for doing so. Opinion does not count. Hie dismissal of Mark's accounting, does not reflect historical characterization of Mark's cultural purpose, or the people he considered his audience. Each author of the bible & the 4 gospel authors had a particular audience they were trying to reach. Pro is correct in the overwhelming majority of written documentation re what's in the bible vs other secular writings. Con just dismisses them with "The NT is not historically reliable" with sources that only list a book with a review, or no review at all. Sourcing someone that is not considered a scholar is not considered a reliable source.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) The voter doesn't explain arguments, as explaining sources alone doesn't suffice as an evaluation of the given arguments. (2) It's unclear why Pro is garnering the source points here, as the voter appears to simply dismiss Con's sources.
Posted by PTW 8 months ago
Of course the resurrection didn't happen!, well, not as the bible explains it anyway!. If this event happened at all, whose to say the person called Jesus was dead in the first place?. Illusionists nowadays would have no problems in convincing people they've risen from the dead, walked on water, changed water into wine, fed 5,000 people with some tuna and a couple of bagels, made a blind man see or a lame man walk!!, and we're more sophisticated than the people of 2,000+/- years ago!, aren't we?. However when I look at the state of the religious nowadays it has me wondering!!!.
Posted by matt8800 8 months ago
Genesis said the price for eating the apple was death. It would seem morbid and cruel for god to crucify him on the cross when simple dysentery would have sufficed.

Also, doesn't the fact that Judas betrayed him, according to the stories, mean that Jesus was trying to hide from the authorities? If he wasn't, there would be nothing to betray.

I guess god has his mysterious ways that we cant understand with our feeble human minds ;)
Posted by Jedd 8 months ago
Oh darn, missed that point =.=
Posted by missmedic 8 months ago
If he rose, he did not pay the price for the sins he gave us. I think that death is more permeant then a few days. If he is a god how can he die. So god sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself.
Posted by Jedd 8 months ago
Is Con arguing that the resurrection didn't happen?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by n7 8 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.