Does the Christian God Exist?
Debate Rounds (4)
The resolution is "Does the Christian God Exist?"
-Pro argues that the Christian God does exist.
-Con argues that the Christian God does not exist.
-Pro gives definitions and sets up debate
-Con accepts the debate (acceptance only).
-Pro gives opening argument
-Con gives opening argument...no rebuttals.
-Pro responds to what Con argued
-Con responds to what Pro argued
-Both debaters conclude their arguments and finish responding to what each other wrote.
Christian God-The God described by the Bible.
Exist-have objective reality or being (https://www.google.com...).
"I am specifically referring to Jesus. The one who claimed to be God and then raised from the dead. From a Christian perspective, I can only see one interpretation of the Christian God..."
Source is the comment section here:
Almost all scholars in our age believe that Jesus was a real person (http://www.is-there-a-god.info...). There are many ancient historians (http://www.gotquestions.org...) that have written about him and we even have writings from the people that knew Jesus (The New Testament). You should have no doubt that Jesus was a real person. The famous historian Josephus for example stated that "Jesus was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pontius Pilate" In other words, we also have proof that Jesus was crucified. The Bible affirms all of this and even explains why Jesus' body went missing from the empty tomb. More on that later...
Jesus claimed to be God and his friends and his brothers claimed that he was God. Josephus tells us that Jesus was a good teacher. But it is a mistake to believe that Jesus was only a good teacher. C.S. Lewis stated that "is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg; or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse." People of the time period indicate that Jesus was a good person and a good teacher...but you can't be these things if you are insane.
Lets go back to the empty tomb. The historian Luke states (chapter 24) that the tomb was found empty by women. How did this happen? The best explanation(http://www.reasonablefaith.org...) is that Jesus was who he said he was and did in fact rise from the dead. People might claim that Jesus never died but this is silly considering that we know he was crucified and that he was buried. No one could survive that process. Others claim that the body never went missing which is ridiculous considering the Romans and the Jews could have merely shown Christians the body and then their faith would be destroyed. And on top of that, there are people such as the New Testament writers that claim they along with 500 other people saw Jesus after his death. Even the brothers of Jesus (who previously disbelieved in the deity of their brother) came to believe that Jesus was God. Think about that for a moment...what would it take for you to believe that your brother (if you have one) was God? Would it take a resurrection? Nevertheless they became Christians.
Here are the specific sources that mention Jesus outside of the Bible...
Tacitus wrote that "Nero fastened the guilt ... on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of ... Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome...."
Pliny wrote that "They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food " but food of an ordinary and innocent kind."
The Babylonian Talmud says "On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald ... cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy."
Lucian wrote that "The Christians ... worship a man to this day " the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.... [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws."
2. New Testament Sources
Again, the eye witnesses who wrote the four gospels (written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) also wrote that Jesus was killed on the cross and was missing three days later.
But lets establish that the New Testament is a reliable source.
a. There are precisely 5,686 New Testament documents (written in Greek) that we now have that are believed to have been written by the end of the first century. We even have a document written by John that was composed 29 years after the death of Jesus. And according to scholars, when these documents are compared to each other, and checked for accuracy, they are 99.5% accurate. This is really significant when speaking of ancient documents. There is really no doubt that we have the original information from the original documents. That said, we only have seven copies of Plato"s Tetralogies and they were composed over 1,000 years after his death and scholars still accept the documents as valid. There is also the fact that there are also over 19,000 New Testament documents that were written in Latin and in other languages. Therefore it is reasonable to say that we have the exact words that the people of the time period wrote about Jesus.
b. People that the Bible mentioned have been proven to have existed: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org...
John the Baptist for example was mentioned by the historian Josephus. And James, the brother of Jesus has also been confirmed outside of the Bible. The link at the bottom of this paragraph lists more people that have been confirmed outside of the Bible (including King Herod). Therefore, since the New Testament has many people that have been confirmed to have existed, we can conclude that the documents are historically accurate.
c. Events in the Bible have been confirmed to have happened: http://www.christiananswers.net...
The crucifixion of Jesus is an example of a real event recorded by Josephus (https://carm.org...). Then there is the fact the the New Testament mentions many Jewish events that still took place such as passover. All of these events are things that we know happened.
And the Bible has been supported by archaeological findings: https://carm.org...
Luke, for example, mentioned "thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities and nine islands without an error" (http://www.everystudent.com...). Then of course there is the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Bethsaida, and etc..that have all been confirmed to have existed (https://www.youtube.com...). The point is that the Bible mentions real places which shows that it is historically reliable.
So the Bible is a reliable source. The gospel writer Luke has around 80 confirmed facts proven in the book of Acts and I just could go on and on (John has 59).
Therefore the information is accurate because it was written by real people who wrote about real people, real places, and about real events that took place. For example, when a person reads the gospel of Matthew, they are reading an eyewitness account of the events that took place. And because the document mentions real people, real places, real events, and details only an eyewitness would know...the source is reliable. There is no good reason to deny the reliability of the New Testament.
Then there is the embarrassment factor. A good indicator of a source's reliability is that it mentions things that happened that were embarrassing. For example, the crucifixion of Jesus was something that was incredibly embarrassing for the early Christians and yet the gospel writers included it in their writings. These people worshiped Jesus as their God and it was horrible to see him murdered butt naked on a cross like some kind of criminal. Then there is the fact that the historian Luke records women discovering the empty tomb. Back then, the testimony of a women was not highly valued. It was embarrassing for Jesus" tomb to be discovered by women. Therefore the New Testament is reliable due to the embarrassing events that it mentions.
In conclusion, it is reasonable to say that the New Testament is a reliable source because we know we have the original words of the author's, real people are mentioned, real places are mentioned, and because real events have been included in the New Testament.
3. Gospels show that Jesus raised from the dead proving that Jesus is God
Paul also has something to say about it-https://www.biblegateway.com...
Since the existence of Jesus is a fact, since he clearly was crucified, and since his tomb was found empty, and since people of the time period say that he rose from the dead, Jesus is the Christian God and he most definitely exists.
Did Jesus Exist?
The consensus of scholars,like Dr. Ehrman,has been that there exist no contemporary accounts of Jesus. No eye-witnesses reports.Everything is,at best,2nd hand,3rd hand,etc.accounts.
The Christian Witnesses
Scholars admit that the Gospel accounts all post-date the Epistles of Paul!And Paul says nothing about the life of Jesus.The closest we get to an empty tomb narrative is in 1 Cor 15:4,but,as Dr. Price argues,that passage’s authenticity is in question!Combine that with the fact that the only sources that Paul says he has is revelation and Scripture,and it seems he doesn’t preach a human/historical Jesus!
When it comes to the Gospel accounts,they are much to late to be reliable.
As argued by Dr. Detering,Mark and Matthew in the Synoptic Apocalypse both show knowledge of the Bar Kochba Revolt of the 130’s!
As Dr. Price has said,in Mark,the Transfiguration is offered as a reinterpretation of the promised coming of the kingdom of God,which only makes sense if the first generation of disciples have died.
Matthew also presupposes a competing form of Judaism in which the titles Abba and Rabbi are common and where scribes sit on the Seat of Moses in synagogues.There is no evidence of any sect like this existing before 100CE,it seems to have been something from the mid-second century.
As pointed out by the scholars of the Acts Seminar,Luke-Acts also clearly shows knowledge of Josephus work,placing it into the 2nd century,but,as pointed out by Dr. Tyson,Vinzent,etc.,also seems to have used Marcion’s Gospel as a source.This seems to clearly push the composition to at 150CE at earliest!
John 4:21 also seems to make reference to the Mount Gerizim Temple, which was not composed until 140CE!
Combine all that with the Synoptic Problem and 2-Source or 3-Source Solution,and the fact that John seemed to have used the Synoptics and we have really late writings that aren’t even independent.
Furthermore,as argued by Dr. Dykstra,Mark used the Pauline Epistles as a source and made the life of Paul into the life of Jesus!Combine that with the clear Midrashic elements pointed out by Dr. Price,,and the Pagan parallelsand you are left with nothing reliable.
The Non-Christian Eye-Witnesses
Neither passage in Josephus seems to be authentic but interpolations!
The Tacitus passage may not be authentic,but even if it is it doesn’t help establish anything but the existence of Christians.
Pliny the Younger all but admits that he never heard of Christians before and is interrogating them to find out about them.
It really seems as if there are no passages by non-Christian sources that are authentic or they only are evidence of the existence of Christians,not Jesus.
The Evolution of Jesus
The very first Jesus was a purely celestial being that was not part of human history.
Philo of Alexandria talks about a celestial archangel that is the Firstborn Son of God,God’s Agent of Creation,God’s Celestial High Priest,and The Celestial Image of God,all of which are also attributed to Jesus.
Furthermore,the passage where he says this it seems he was reinterpreting Zechariah 6:11-12 to be Messianic prophecy,and the figure being reinterpreted was Joshua Ben Johozadek (literally,Jesus son of Jehovah the Righteous!)
Zechariah 3:8 even says that Joshua Ben Johozadek is an allegory of things to come.
We also have an early version of the Vision of Isaiah (VoI) that lacks the crucifixion story that was possibly used as a source by Paul (by the time it got to Paul the crucifixion story was already interpolated)!
How can we know of this?
The Ascension of Isaiah (AoI) 10:8-15 is where God’s instructions to Jesus are given,and they are:
1) Descend incognito into Shoel or the Firmament.
2) When God’s voice “booms” to show his true self and judge the angels of the lower heavens.
The crucifixion is missing completely from the instructions despite its prediction in 9:14... however the text actually flows more naturally without 9:14 present! Verse 15 naturally flows from 13 moreso than from 14.
Furthermore,the Slavonic texts elsewhere go straight from “I saw one like a son of man,and he dwelt with men in the world,and they did not recognize him” to “And I saw him,and he was in the firmament”,skipping part of the story that would be crucial if the crucifixion was original to the story!
In 11:24 we see no reference to the crucifixion,to Jesus having died,etc.when we would expect to if it as original to the story.
The story was originally about Jesus descending though the lower heavens until he reached the firmament,and none of the angels recognized him,and so God’s voice boomed and he re-ascended through the heavens and judged the angels of the lower heavens.
1 Cor shows knowledge of the Vision of Isaiah (with interpolations).
In 1 Cor 2:6-9 it says Jesus was crucified due to ignorance of the crucifiers,which is in the VoI interpolation.
1 Cor 2:6-7 talks about Wisdom not of this world and hidden wisdom,paralleling with AoI 6:15-17.
Furthermore,Paul refers to Jesus as “Lord of glory”.
This also parallels the VoI as the glory of the Son is majorly emphasized,an example can be seen on AoI 10:14-15 “in great glory you shall ascend” Another example is seen in 11:24 “we did not notice the glory which was upon him”.As well as 11:29 “there was one glory,and from it he was not transformed”.
Elsewhere,Paul makes reference to a written source that can only be the VoI.
“But,as it is written,‘What no eye has seen,nor ear heard,nor has it entered into the heart of man,what God has prepared for those who love him’”
When we look at the AoI 11:34,
“This angel said to me,‘Isaiah,son of Amoz,it is enough for you,for these are great things,for you have observed what no one born of flesh has observed.What eye has not seen,nor ear heard,nor has it entered into the heart of man,how great things God has prepared for those who love him”
We can also look at the Philippians Hymn (2:6-11) where it becomes immediately apparent that both the Philippian Hymn and the VoI share the motif of descent,crucifixion,and return to heaven.
Other parallels include:
1) Christ as a pre-existing divinity.
2) Transformed into the likeness of man.
3) Being exalted higher than before by beings of all realms (heaven,earth,and under earth in the hymn,and heaven and earth for VoI).
4) Starting out lesser than god.
Dr. Carrier would even contest that the Jesus that Paul knew was also purely celestial,though I will argue for a more docetic view of Paul.
Docetic and Gnostic Jesus
The next main sources we have are the Epistles of Paul,the Gospel of Thomas,and Marcion’s Gospel.
The Gospel of Thomas is already considered either Gnostic or proto-Gnostic in nature,and it was clearly used by the gnostics as it was found in the Nag Hammadi Library.
Marcion was Docetic,and his Gospel clearly reflects this,but he is also the first person to collect the Pauline literature and put it in a canon.Why would he do this if Paul was not also Docetic?
I would say that Paul was!
Romans 8:3 says Jesus existed in the likeness of flesh,not as flesh.
Philippians 2:7 says Jesus existed in human likeness,not as a human.
Galatians 5:16-20 clearly indicate that flesh is sinful and directly opposed to Spirit.Jesus,being a sinless being,therefore cannot have been flesh.
1 Cor 15:50 makes it clear that flesh is not pure and imperishable and that it doesn’t go to heaven.As Jesus was pure he could not have been flesh.
Galatians 4:14 equates Jesus with an angel,a celestial being.
1 Cor 2:6-8 and Galatians 4:8-9 both clearly talk about the Archons,beings in which are very prominent in gnostic and Marcionite literature.
These are just a few of the passages from the Pauline Corpus which suggest Proto-gnosticism and Docetism.
The Human Jesus
It is only around 130-150CE where we clearly get stories of a human Jesus on earth,starting with Mark,but Mark,as stated earlier,rewrote the life of Paul to create his narrative!And as all other Gospels after Mark ultimately derive from Mark,there is no independent attestation here.
It seems like the progression of stories for Jesus start with him as a celestial being,move him to a docetic being,and then make him human.Only once he is made does he seem to become grander and grander of a figure while being human,quite possibly as an attempt to incorporate the earlier ideas of Jesus as a grand celestial being into the historical version that had been created.
Law introduced a principal that really is useful for showing that the Gospels are fictitious in which we are able to doubt even mundane claims when they are accompanied by spurious claims.Combine this with the fact that Special Relativity entails that the Laws of Nature are true from every reference frame,making it so that the Laws of Nature are true at all points in time,and we see many claims from the Gospels which blatantly violate the Laws of Physics(virgin birth,dead rising,etc.).Furthermore,many things were blatantly invented by Gospel writers,and many other writers of Biblical books!
“the gospels have invented numerous things.Even the earliest gospel (Mark) invents a worldwide darkness,the Sea of Galilee (he got away with inventing a Sea!),the tearing of the temple veil,the Barabbas narrative,and the empty tomb,*among other things.”
Because of this we can safely view the Gospels as each part being false until proven true.
The Bible says that God/Jesus created the universe,but this is impossible due to the TCA. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to impossible things in the Bible,all of which must be shown to be true to affirm that Jesus was more than just a human.
Furthermore,even if Jesus is the magical Jesus,that does not necessarily mean he is God.The Bible itself says that there are magicians(like those that contested against Moses),and so evidence needs to come forth that Jesus not only existed,and was magical,but also God and not just a magician.
My opponent references Dr. Ehrman in order to show that there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus. My opponent makes a assertion that there were no actual eye-witness accounts. He doesn't elaborate on his claims except to give a link. I will do the same by giving several links that show theists dismantling Dr. Ehrman's arguments.
Link One: https://www.youtube.com...
Link Two: https://www.youtube.com...
2. The Christian Witnesses
a. Paul did quote from a very early tradition in 1 Corinthians 15. But when you compare the passage with the gospel narratives, we can see that it is a summary of the empty tomb story. As for the authenticity of the passage, most scholars do not believe that Paul didn't write it. Evidence from the second century manuscripts leaves no doubt about the authenticity of the text. Paul does in fact call Jesus a man, and he fully believed in a historical Jesus. That is why Paul taught about physical bodies being raised from the dead. He also believed that Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body and all you have to do is to read 1 Corinthians to figure that out.
b. My opponent tries to argue that the Gospel accounts are too old to be reliable. But that is ridiculous. Early church fathers such as Clement, Polycarp, and etc...were quoting from the gospels around 100-115 AD. Ignatius for example, quoted Matthew in his writings and he died around 115 AD. So We know that the gospels were written before the 130's like my opponent suggests. But not only that, the gospels do not mention the destruction of the Jewish Temple which occurred in 70 AD (http://carm.org...). And since that is something Jesus specifically prophesied about, we can be sure that the gospels were written before 70 AD (John is a different story).
c. My opponent suggests that Matthew and Mark knew about the Kochba Revolt, but that is absurd since Ignatius quotes from Matthew (Mark was written earlier) and he died in 115 AD. So it is literally impossible for Matthew to have known about that.
d. My opponent suggests that Luke knew about Josephus' work and claims that they used Marcion's Gospel as a source. This is all really desperate in my opinion. And besides, even if Luke knew of Josephus, that wouldn't push his work into the second century since Josephus was born in 37 AD. There was no reference to the gospel of Marcion and you really have to read into the text to get that out of it.
e. Most people agree that the gospel of John was written in 80-95 AD. My opponent's dates are very inaccurate. My opponent thinks that John used the synoptic gospels and he thinks that Mark used Paul as a source. This is all speculation and it actually wouldn't matter. These people knew the eye-witnesses and many of the gospel writers were there.
3. The Non-Christian Eye-Witnesses
a. There is no proof that any interpolations were made in Josephus' passage. Though, the parts where people think the interpolation occurred do not include the parts that mention the historical Jesus.
b. Tacitus mentions that "Christus, [title that Jesus held] from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of ... Pontius Pilatus..."
Who does that sound like? It is obviously referring to Jesus and you really can't deny that.
c. The passage I quoted from Pliny was written in 106 AD. Yes, he was writing this because he wondered if he should be killing specific people. Here is a question...why were all those people dying for a man that didn't exist?
4. The Evolution of Jesus
Will address next round due to time limits...
5. Docetic and Gnostic Jesus
My opponent asks why "Marcion [was] the first person to collect the Pauline literature and put it in a canon."
The answer is not because Paul was a Docetic himself, it is because he was a heretic that worshiped Paul instead of Jesus. And besides, Paul literally called Jesus a man with a physical body in his letters. So my opponent has no argument here.
Romans 8-it says he sent Jesus down in flesh like ours (humans).
Philippians 2:7-later the passage says he died on a cross (can't do that if you are not human)
My opponent completely misinterpreted the Bible here,.
6. The Human Jesus
a. My opponent has no proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mark used Paul as a source. And besides, using sources actually wouldn't make the accounts any less true.
7. Stephen's Law
a. The laws of physics also came from somewhere. With a Christian worldview, God created them and works around them sometimes yet does not violate his own laws.
b. If my opponent wants to see the sea of Galilee (https://www.google.com...), he can look at the link just provided.
Basically, my opponent's post is a bunch of claims that are "supported by links." But these sources come from people that really haven't done their research. I will have to do a better job with my next round. Time has been limited like I mentioned earlier.
SNP1 forfeited this round.
a. The existence of Jesus is not really debated anymore. Only a few select scholars actually try to deny that he existed. The evidence is just that overwhelming. I don't even think that Dr. Ehrman (who my opponent cited) denies his existence. This doesn't prove that the Christian God is real, but his death and Resurrection does prove that. Please extend my opening arguments...
b. The authenticity of 1 Corinthians 15 is not in dispute. You will only hear about that on some random websites that haven't done their research. I have heard a few things about 1 Corinthians 14, but that is another subject matter. Again, please extend my opening arguments for why the Bible is reliable.
c. The dates of the Gospels are not as late as my opponent suggests. I gave several reasons for that. One being that the gospels were cited in 100-115 AD. See link for more details: http://carm.org...
d. The Gospel writers couldn't have known about Marcion's Gospel and etc...since they were written so much earlier. And not only that, the so called references are extremely vague and I think it is desperate of people to make these claims.
e. Even if the New Testament writers used each other as a source, this wouldn't prove the Bible to be unreliable. Luke for example claimed to research the resurrection by listening to eye-witnesses. But wouldn't that only make his case that much stronger?
f. The non-Christian sources that back up the existence of Jesus and his crucifixion are solid as I have already shown. But technically I don't even need those other sources since the gospels show that he existed as well. So there is no reason to deny that Jesus ever existed.
g. My opponent stated that Jesus was originally a purely celestial being and uses a verse from Zechariah to back that up. That is actually not far off from the truth. The Old Testament writers believed that God would become a man and come to earth and to then be with us. So yes, they believed that God was spiritual, but they still believed that God would become man.
h. The Ascension of Isaiah is not scripture so I really have no interest in defending it. The Catholics do not even have that work in their cannon so my opponent's argument doesn't make much impact here. The Ascension is thought to be written around 150-200 AD (https://en.wikipedia.org...) so this would not have affected any of the New Testament writings since they were written long before that time.
i. Paul clearly said that Jesus was a man in his writings (see Titus and Timothy) and he said that he was crucified in 1 Corinthians. How could Paul has not thought that Jesus was both God and man? My opponents arguments make no sense. Please extend my past arguments.
j. My opponent never gave any reason to doubt that Jesus could have created the universe and the fact that he did miracles and rose from the dead (Magicians can't do this) proves that he is God. See opening argument for more details.
I thank my opponent for a good debate and I hope they return soon in order to give their final response.
SNP1 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ThinkBig 6 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeits 2/4 (1/2) of the rounds giving pro the conduct point. Con argues that Jesus did not exist, while pro convincingly showed that he did. Con never questions the fact that the gospels show Jesus being resurrected and offered no counter evidence to the resurrection of Jesus.
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