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BTP47
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Illegalcombatant
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Is there Historical Evidence that Jesus Rose from the Dead?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 907 times Debate No: 82774
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BTP47

Pro

(Three rounds: Opening, a rebuttal and a closing. Simple)
I take the position that it is completely rational and historically well based to conclude on the basis of historical evidence alone that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead after his death by crucifixion under Roman prefect Pontius Pilate.

-I shall NOT be arguing my case through subjective conversion experience, but history alone.
-I shall NOT be presupposing biblical divine inspiration, or general reliability.
-I WILL be using the Gospels/Epistles of Paul as any historian would, as a collection of historical sources concerning the life of Jesus and the early church.

One may ask why I am 'using the Bible to prove the Bible'. To answer this, I assert that every New Testament critic on the planet uses the books from the New Testament, as they are the earliest sources for Jesus, and the early Christian community. Further, another important point to consider is that I am not trying to 'prove the Bible', but the historicity of an event from antiquity.

The collection of facts I am presenting are well evidenced so much so that they are agreed upon by the great majority of New Testament critics. (I will put the fact, and then lines of evidence that supports that particular fact)

Fact 1-Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion.
1. This is multiply attested in all 4 Gospels.
2. It is very probably part of the pre-Marcan passion source. Some scholars date this narrative to the late 30's! (Such as Rudolf Pesch)
3. His death is part of the 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 creed. This creed is almost unanimously accepted as Pre-Pauline material. This oral creed probably goes back to Paul's 'fact finding' journey in Galatians 1:18-21, where he gets material from some of the apostles directly.
4. It is reported by Jewish historian Josephus in Antiquities 18:3. Now many may object that this is a Christian forgery, and it most likely contains interpolation, but most Josephus scholars recognize most of it to be authentic, including the crucifixion portion.
5. It is recorded by Roman historian Tacitus in the Annals 15.44. It is most likely authentic as well, as there are no copies that do not contain it, it is normal Tacitean style, and is quite hostile towards Christians, so there is no reason for a Christian to interpolate this. Now one may object that he just simply borrowed this from things he had heard. This is contradicted by scholars who have shown that Tacitus was a very careful researcher. For example, Ronald Martin wrote-"It is clear, then, that Tacitus read widely and that the idea that he was an uncritical follower of a single source is quite untenable."
6. The idea that Christians would simply make up the idea of a crucified savior is simply ridiculous. For example, Martin Hengel wrote in his monograph crucifixion-"A crucified messiah...must have seemed a contradiction in terms to anyone, Jew, Greek, Roman or barbarian, asked to believe such a claim, and it will certainly have been thought offensive and foolish." This too fits the criterion of embarrassment.
For these and other reasons, virtually all scholars grant that Jesus died by crucifixion.

Fact 2-Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea.
1. It is multiply attested in all four Gospel accounts.
2. It is in the 1 Cor. 15 creed, that goes very early, most likely to within five years of the events ('and that he was buried').
3. Christians are unlikely to put this story on a famous Sanhedrin member. In the ancient world, claims were investigated. The Gospel accounts circulated widely in the area, and the entire Christian movement would have been disregarded if it was found out indeed that this famous person had not buried Jesus. Claiming to have connections where you really don't is not the way to start a religion!
4. The burial story is also most probably part of the Pre-Marcan passion story, as well as early oral traditions.
5. The story is very simple and lacks the later embellishment of legendary accretions. If you are going to create a legend, you surround the story with theological motifs, something we don't find in the burial account.
6. Jesus' burial was shameful for ancient standards. Scholar Byron Mccane has argued that Joseph had every reason to bury Jesus, as Dt. 21 says you must bury one hung on a tree by sunset, so as a Sanhedrin member, he would have carried it out. Jesus' burial by Joseph instead of a family tomb is a dishonorable and shameful. Finally, the lack of women mourners was very shameful, and wouldn't be invented by Christians.

For these reasons, and others, most scholars would grant that Jesus was buried.

Fact 3-Jesus' tomb was empty
There are MANY (I have over 2 dozen) arguments for the empty tomb, but I will just limit myself to 4.
1. The reliability of Jesus' burial scene lends credibility to the empty tomb, as then the location of the body was known.
2. Christians would never pin a false story here on women discovering the tomb, as they were not as valued. It wasn't just a peculiarity, but a stereotype that people held very strongly. David DeSilva, a cultural scholar shows that women were only to speak to their husbands, and through them. Their place in the culture was in the home, not as eyewitnesses to the greatest miracle in history! Violating this honor code was a BIG deal in an honor-shame culture.
3. It is multiply attested in the Gospel traditions.
4. This one is called the Jerusalem Factor. The principle is-how could these followers of Jesus preach his resurrection in Jerusalem if the body was still in the tomb? It would defy the sense of the time.

Fact 4-The disciples of Jesus had experience that they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus.
For these and many more reasons an impressive majority of scholars would grant the empty tomb.

1. This is recorded in 3 of the four Gospels, so it is multiply and independently attested.
2. It is reported in the 1 Cor. 15:3-8 creed. One of the leading historical Jesus scholars on the planet James DG Dunn is so impressed with this creed that he dates it to within MONTHS of the events, and it almost certainly goes back to eyewitnesses, where Paul most plausibly got the information from. This creed almost guarantees they occurred.
3. Certain appearances have good historical probability. For example, the appearance to the women is historically probable, because of the above stereotypes, with the criterion of embarrassment.
4. The early sermon summaries in Acts probably goes back to eyewitnesses.
For these and a few other reasons virtually all scholars grant that these experiences occurred.

Fact 5-Paul, an enemy of the early church was converted because of an experience he believed was of the risen Jesus.

1. We have Paul's own testimony in many places in his own letters.
2. His life was completely transformed, and he was killed for this belief, so an appearance seems to be the only thing that would change him from a confident and zealous Pharisee to a member of this extremely shameful movement.
3. We have accounts of his experience in Acts, which goes back to eyewitness testimony (Luke, the author) that Paul had this life change and claimed experience.

These and a few other evidences are why virtually all scholars grant an experience to Paul.

Further, there are over a dozen social factors that bolster the case for the resurrection, in which the Christian faith did the wrong thing to become a popular religion. I assert that this is because Christianity had the ultimate counter-rebuttal: evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

Now, we have these six facts that are well evidenced and agreed upon by the vast majority of New Testament critics. We must ask what the best explanation of the facts is. I assert that the resurrection hypothesis is the best explanation of the facts, as it passes the classic criterion of historicity laid out by professional historians. Any alternative hypothesis must also pass these criterion that I shall now lay out.

Explanatory Scope-It explains all 5 facts easily. It accounts for the death of Jesus, his burial, why his tomb was empty, and why all of these people had experiences that believed were Jesus risen from the dead.

Explanatory Power-It explains all 5 facts without forcing them to fit. It directly explains why the tomb was empty, and why all these people had these detailed experiences that utterly transformed them.

Plausibility-Given the context of Jesus' predictions of his own death and resurrection, along with his divine signs and claims, it is thus plausible.

Less Ad Hoc-It does not include any non-evidenced assumptions, thus passing this category.

Hence, I have built a strong cumulative case that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead in vindication of his divine claims, and shameful death. Unless and until one shows that the resurrection hypothesis is outstripped by a rival hypotheses, then I shall remain convinced that on the basis of the evidence, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This is the cornerstone of Christianity, and it turns out, the evidence is a huge goldmine!
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for their opening argument.

The burden of proof

Now consider Pros claim that...." There is enough historical evidence to say with a reasonable degree of historical certainty that Jesus rose from the dead." This is the burden that Pro carries in the debate and was clarified before.

Extraordinary claims/miracle claims

Consider I have a meeting with you, I am late, I claim traffic was heavy.

Consider I have a meeting with you, I am late, I claim I was abducted by aliens then returned to earth.

Your alot more skeptical about the alien claim, why ? cause people being late and driving cars in busy traffic is a common thing, being abducted by aliens is not, and is so outside our common experience as well as people telling falsehoods that as I would like to say would have a healthy amount of skepticism

Like wise with a person dying, being dead around 3 days, then walking around talking and interacting with people and maybe having a meal among other things.

Consider David Humes approach when dealing with miracle claims..." That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish" [1]

The time of now vs the time of Jesus

Consider what Richard Carrier says....

"The differences between society then and now cannot be stressed enough. There didn't exist such things as coroners, reporters, cameras, newspapers, forensic science, or even police detectives. All the technology, all the people we have pursuing the truth of various claims now, did not exist then. In those days, few would even be able to check the details of a story if they wanted to--and few wanted to. Instead, people based their judgment on the display of sincerity by the storyteller, by his ability to impress them with a show or simply to persuade and "sell" his story, and by the potential rewards his story had to offer. At the same time, doubters didn't care to waste the time or money debunking yet another crazy cult, of which there were hundreds then. And so it should not surprise us that we have no writings by anyone hostile to Christianity until a century after it began--not even slanders or lies. Clearly, no doubter cared to check or even challenge the story in print until it was too late to investigate the facts. [2]

The Gospels

Pro in their attempt to justify various points in their arguments uses the gospels where they constantly use the justification.... "It is multiply attested in all four Gospel accounts."

But what does that mean ? that the 4 gospels are first hand accounts that are INDEPENDENT of each other ?

John Riches states, "Many scholars doubt that the Gospels were written by eye-witnesses as their attributions seem to suggest: there is too much evidence of reworking oral traditions and of straight borrowing from other Gospels to make this likely."For example, the vast majority of material in Mark is also present in either Luke or Matthew or both, suggesting that Mark was a source for Matthew and Luke. The four canonical gospels "were probably all written by the end of the first century" [3]

Bart Ehrman points out..."The Gospels were written 35 to 65 years after Jesus" death"35 or 65 years after his death, not by people who were eyewitnesses, but by people living later. The Gospels were written by highly literate, trained, Greek-speaking Christians of the second and third generation. They"re not written by Jesus" Aramaic-speaking followers. They"re written by people living 30, 40, 50, 60 years later. Where did these people get their information from? I should point out that the Gospels say they"re written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But that"s just in your English Bible. That"s the title of these Gospels, but whoever wrote the Gospel of Matthew didn"t call it the Gospel of Matthew. Whoever wrote the Gospel of Matthew simply wrote his Gospel, and somebody later said it"s the Gospel according to Matthew. Somebody later is telling you who wrote it. The titles are later additions. These are not eyewitness accounts. [4]

As such Pro can't justify using the gospels as independent first hand eye witness accounts.

Multiple independent first hand accounts of miracles in of themselves isn't enough to establish a miracle has occurred

Sam Harris points out..."Even if we had multiple, contemporaneous, eye witness accounts of the miracles of Jesus this would still not provide sufficient basis to believe these events had actually occurred, well why not ?

First hand accounts of miracles are quite common even in the 21st century. I have met literally hundreds, of western education men and women who think that their favorite Buddhist or Hindu guru has magic powers. The powers ascribe to these gurus is every bit as outlandish as those to Jesus.

The fact is people who tell these stories desperately want to believe them, all to my knowledge lack the kind of corroborating evidence we should require before believing before natures laws have being abrogated.

It remains a fact that yogi and mystics are said to be walking on water, raising the dead, flying without the aid of technology, materializing objects, reading minds, foretelling the future......RIGHT NOW. In fact all these powers have being subscribed to Sathya Sai Baba the south Indian Guru by an uncountable number of eye witnesses.

So consider the foundational claim of Christianity, the claim is this that miracles today of a sort that surround some one like Sathya Sai Baba become especially compelling when presented in the pre-scentific religious context of the 1st century Roman Empire." [5]

What Sam is getting at here among other things I think is that there is more evidence and better evidence for the miracle claims of Sathya Sai Baba than Jesus including him being raised from the dead, yet that is not enough to justify a belief in those miracles claims being true and certainly not justified to that said miracles are "historical certainties"

An empty tomb

On any other day if you heard that a dead body was buried or put in a tomb but later the body was not found where it was allegedly put the first thing in your mind wouldn't be well probably the dead body came back to life and went walk about. You would probably at least think the following is more likely...

1) The body was not buried where it was alleged to be buried in the first place

2) The body was moved by humans

Pros case here rests upon too much well if such and such did not happen such and such would not or would have claimed this. Such and such did claim this or that ergo Jesus was buried in a tomb & the tomb was found empty.

Richard Harrier argues "In contrast (with Ceaser crossing the rubicon) we have no physical evidence of any kind supporting an empty tomb, no papyri survived and no inscriptions were commissioned by the resurrected Jesus or the early church or by witnesses like Peter or Joseph of Arimathea.

Thirdly for Ceaser we have unbiased corroboration even Ceasers enemies like Cisaro reported the crossing of the rubicon as well did other hostile or neutral observers. Where as we have no hostile or neutral records of an empty tomb by any non christian until well after christians started telling the story after Pauls death and long after any facts could be checked. [6]

Bart Ehrman claims..."Paul wasn"t writing five years after the burial; he was writing 25 years later, and he never mentions Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph of Arimathea is not mentioned until you get to the Gospel of Mark, 35 or 40 years after the fact...&..."The payoff is this: We don"t know if Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea. What we have are Gospel stories written decades later by people who had heard stories in circulation, and it"s not hard at all to imagine somebody coming up with the story. We don"t know if his tomb was empty three days later. We don"t know if he was physically seen by his followers afterwards. [7]

Is the evidence to eliminate the more plausible options stated earlier so strong and beyond question that we will now be compelled to accept that the extraordinary happened, Jesus rose from the dead ? I don't think so.

Closing remarks

With all that said the question is, is the evidence that Pros relies upon strong enough to justify the claim that Jesus rose from the dead ? I submit that it is not.

I look forward to Pros reply.

Sources

[1] David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, L. A. Selby Bigge, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902), pp. 114-16.

[2] http://infidels.org...

[3] Riches, John (2000). The Bible: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 46.

[4] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

[5] https://www.youtube.com...

[6] https://www.youtube.com...

[7] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
Debate Round No. 1
BTP47

Pro

I thank Con for taking up my challenge.

Let me review my contentions. I think that the best explanation of the 5 historical facts is that Jesus rose from the dead, and that this can be proven with adaquate historical certainty.

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

I hear this claim repeated a lot, but I see no justification for it being true, and is has been dealt with in many ways, by many people, such as Mike Licona.


"If the evidence for an occurence of a particular miracle is strong-that is, the historian can establish that the authorial intent of the sources is to report what was percieved as a miracle, the event occurred in a context that waa charged with religous significance, the report possesses traits that favor historicity of the event, and no plausible naturalistic theories exist-then a requirement for extraordinary evidence is unwarranted."[1]

Further, this claim is blatantly false in light of probability theory. Even IF the resurrection was initially improbable (Which I don't think one can make a judgement on, as one cannot assign a prior probability for God acting in history at a certain time), what we must do is weigh the probability that we should have the evidence we would have if the event had NOT occurred.[2] The probability we should have an empty tomb, experiences to friend and foe alike that convince them of such an un-Jewish idea that Jesus had been raised from the dead, along with the great improbability of the survival of the Christian movement, due to many social factors impeding it[3], if the resurrection did not happen is what we need to be looking at.

David Hume

This 19th century philosopher's arguments have been pretty much abandoned in the academic philosophical community, coming under attack even by non-theists, such as John Earman[4], this being for many reasons.

In regards to the argument of his that Con cited, I don't see any reason to think that this maxim is true, especially in light of probability theory. It seems to be the very same principle as the 'extraordinary claims' slogan, which we showed to be fallacious.

Richard Carrier Quote

I am very familiar with the work of Rick Carrier, and admire him as a scholar, but in this regard, he is just blatantly wrong. His idea that 'no one would have cared to check' is wrong in a group oriented culture. Privacy was not something people valued, so it was pretty much unheard of. As Malina and Neyrey note "that in group-oriented cultures such as the ancient Mediterranean, we must remember that people continually mind each other's business"[5]

The Gospels

First, before getting into the Gospels (I will be for the most part responding to Ehrman's allegations, as they are straightforward), let me say that while I used the Gospels as supporting evidence, they aren't where my case lies for the most part. I based my case on material much earlier than the Gospels, such as the Pre-Markan passion narrative, and the 1 Cor. 15 creed, which most probably goes back to eyewitnesses.

Now, first, in dealing with whether or not the Gospels are 'independent', one must basically assume wholesalse redaction of the text, along with the order and dates for the Gospels. Can Con give me his solution to the Synoptic problem, that it somehow weakens the historical reliability of these accounts? There are other solid perspectives put forth that aren't even given a second look.[6]

Onto Ehrman. He says that the Gospels are late sources. Compared to what? In ancient history, the Gospels stand very well compared to many other sources that are to be considered reliable, such as the Annals of Tacitus. Secondly, I would challenge those dates. What is the REAL evidence that the Synoptics were written after 70AD, as this thesis has been argued against persuasively on many occasions.[7]

Further, Ehrman claims the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. I would love to debate on the authorship of the Gospels, but sadly, that is beyond the scope of this rebuttal. I will say though, that one of the most influential books in New Testament studies would fly right in the face of Ehrman's assertions.[8]

Multiple independent first hand accounts of miracles in of themselves isn't enough to establish a miracle has occurred

After quoting (nonscholar) Sam Harris, Con asserts that modern miracle claims undercut the resurrection. I would disagree for many reasons. First, I would acknowledge that if the evidence was strong, early, multiply attested, etc. (Same as we have with Jesus), and no plausible naturalistic theory works, I would have no problem with these miracles happening. As I see it, it causes no problems for the Christian worldview, but it would cause huge problems for naturalism. Secondly, unfortunately, in most cases, we don't have that evidence, and naturalistic theories account for it well. Take the example of Sathya Sai Baba. There are literally videos on Youtube that prove many of his 'tricks' were done by sleight of hand and other things. Further, this isn't sent in a histori-religious context like Jesus, as we have him predciting his death and resurrection. However, if you disagree, and would like to subject these miracle accounts to the same historical criterion that I have, and show it has a great degree of historical probability, I would accept it. In order to show the resurrection is not the best explanation, one must erect a plausible naturalistic theory to account for the data better than the resurrection.

Now in this section, Con commited several blatant errors, so let me refute them point by point
"What Sam is getting at here among other things I think is that there is more evidence and better evidence for the miracle claims of Sathya Sai Baba than Jesus"

Sam Harris is not a New Testament scholar, or historian of Indian gurus. He can claim this all he wants, the bottom line is his opinion doesn't matter on this subject in the scholarly world.

"The fact is people who tell these stories desperately want to believe them, all to my knowledge lack the kind of corroborating evidence we should require before believing before natures laws have being abrogated.

Two blatant errors in this sentence alone. 1. The disciples and Paul were not predisposed to the resurrection. They had no interest in believing that Jesus would rise from the dead as 1st century Jews.
2. I do not accept that miracles are violations of the laws of nature. It is simply a false dichotomy. A miracle is no more the violation of natural law than me picking up a box is a violation of the law of gravity.

Empty Tomb

Con seems to think that I am suggesting the empty tomb alone proves the resurrection, and this is incorrect, as what I am doing is using the historical bedrock to build a cumulative case for the resurrection. If we had no appearances, I would agree 100% that the body would have been moved (I would still agree with the burial....), but that is not the case. However, if Con really wants to assert a stolen body thesis, I welcome him to find a motive and a culprit.

Con complains about my methodology on my case for the empty tomb, not refuting it, and apparently not realizing I was using standard criterion of authenticity that historians use every day!
In regard to the next Carrier quote, I will respond by saying we don't have those things for the Rubicon either, nor should we expect that in ancient history!

Finally, in regards to what Bart Denton Ehrman said, I must strongly correct him. We DO have tradition of the burial (Mentioned in the 1 Cor. 15 creed, and Pre-Markan passion source) going back very early (definitely in the 30s, and the vast majority of critics agree), and we wouldn't expect Paul to mentioned Joseph, as Paul wasn't writing biographies. Further, though Ehrman has recently took the position that the burial isn't historical, he interestingly doesn't even interact with the research in the field, including material by people in his own department (Jodi Magnus), so he is hardly an expert in this matter. I have given strong reasons to accept the burial and empty tomb traditions, and that has not been refuted.

Closing

Have we seen good evidence thus far that the best explanation of the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead? I think we have, as I have laid out historical facts that are so well evidenced that the vast majority of critics agree with them. We have also seen thar the resurrection hypothesis passes the criterion for being the best explanation of the facts. Now have we heard any strong arguments in response? No, we have heard unsubstantiated claims about the Gospels, which aren't even my main source, as I gave sources far earlier than the Gospels. We also heard appeals to the argumentation of David Hume, and we have shown that in light of probability theory, the arguments fail. We have also heard miracle claims in other religions, where there are strong naturalistic theories to account for them, as well as the fact that even if true would not affect the evidence for the resurrection. I remain convinced that the evidence for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is convincing!

[1] Licona, Mike. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. (p. 196)
[2] S. L. Zabell, “The Probabilistic Analysis of Testimony,” Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference 20 (1988): 327-54.
[3]Holding, James Patrick. The Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Succeeded When It Should Have Failed. Xulon, 2007. Print.
[4] Earman, John. Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
[5] Malina, Bruce J., and Jerome H. Neyrey. Portraits of Paul: An Archaeology of Ancient Personality. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1996. Print.
[6] Such as Matthean priority, though this is not a position I hold to.
[7] See Robinson, John A. T. Redating the New Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976. Print.
[8] Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2006. Print.

Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for their reply.

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

I don't really want to fight on the nature/definition of the "extraordinary" in regards to that all to famous quote. I am not too fussed here cause here the fundamental point is one about skeptism, rational inquiry, examining the evidence, examining the reason used in addition to that evidence and conclusions one can justifiably make or not make from it.
So in that context I offer another claim of David Humes..." "In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence.A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence." [1]

And which Academic/scholar etc etc is going to disagree with that ?

Prior Probabilities of miracle claims being true

Pro brings up prior probabilities point for God. Well I would like to bring some up too in regard to humans and claims of miracles.
In short, people make false miracles claims..........ALOT. Whether they are sincerely believed, just flat out bullsh*t or a complicated web of beliefs and circumstances and how that all works in the complexities of the human brain and the line between truth and lie is somewhat blurred the important prior probably point is that the prior probability that a miracle claim is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is low.

The time of now vs the time of Jesus

Pro points out the lack of privacy and the mindedness of different groups of one another. Okey I accept this, how does this refute the various points made here to show the lack of professional, rigorous, unbiased, accountable, transparent truth seeking people and systems in such an age ? It doesn't.

The Gospels

So here is my main argument at this point, there is enough doubt here that we can't just accept the gospels as first hand independent accounts.

Consider where Pro says..." Further, Ehrman claims the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses"

Pro can challenge all he wants but more importantly how certain can we be that the gospels are first hand independent accounts ?

There is room for reasonable doubt here in that area, and that's all I need.

The creed

Consider where Pros says..." I based my case on material much earlier than the Gospels, such as the Pre-Markan passion narrative, and the 1 Cor. 15 creed, which most probably goes back to eyewitnesses."

In his own words even "probably" which also entails..........maybe not.

And this narrative, what exactly is it ? is it a first hand account ? is it a multiple first hand account that are independent of each other ?

Multiple independent first hand accounts of miracles in of themselves isn't enough to establish a miracle has occurred

There is an irony here, Pro them self pretty quickly concludes there are no miracles here. And in a way that is the point, we have to be able to investigate the alleged miracle we can't just take peoples word for it.

As such I stand by the argument here, you need more than multiple first hand account of miracles to justify the claim a miracle took place.

Now in the same way lets investigate the miracle of Jesus...........oh wait we can't, I guess we will just take their word for it ? No, Not good enough for some guy in the modern age, not good enough for some guy 2000 years ago.

Once again consider Sam Harris point here..." all to my knowledge lack the kind of corroborating evidence we should require before believing before natures laws have being abrogated."

After reading Pros response I think we have very very different Idea's of what constitutes "corroborating evidence" that justifies a miracle has occurred within the context of multiple, independent, first hand accounts of said miracle.

Consider what Pro says here within that context..." 1. The disciples and Paul were not predisposed to the resurrection. They had no interest in believing that Jesus would rise from the dead as 1st century Jews."

Well golly cause of an assertion that some one is not predisposed to miracle claim X yet made claim miracle claim of X, this in some way justifies corroborating evidence to justify that miracle claim X did happen ?

I repeat myself again here..." Pros case here rests upon too much well if such and such did not happen such and such would not or would have claimed this."

I claim the standard of evidence is such that even if those educated westerners who claimed to Sam Harris the various miracles of that guru were not "predisposed" to believe in the first place, but now they do, this is not the kind of corroborating evidence that justifies the belief a miracle took place.

An empty tomb

Recall how I argued here the lack of evidence to establish that Jesus was buried in a tomb and later on that tomb was found empty.

Pros arguments here is based on a link of "facts" in order to get to the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead.

How certain are we ? how certain SHOULD we be about the tomb fact in their argument ?

Well Pro claims..." We DO have tradition of the burial (Mentioned in the 1 Cor. 15 creed, and Pre-Markan passion source) going back very early (definitely in the 30s, and the vast majority of critics agree), and we wouldn't expect Paul to mentioned Joseph, as Paul wasn't writing biographies."

lets break that down.........

1) Tradition ? is that oral tradition ?

2) Pre Mark source that claims as such ? (SO what exactly is this source ?)

3) And once again an assertion about what some one would do or would not do in such and such a case.

I really need to point this out again, Pros case rests way to much on bare assertions of what person would or would not do.

Now consider some counter points I bought up in regard to lack of evidence concerning the claim that Jesus was buried in a tomb and later that tomb was found later

Lack of physical evidence
Lack of unbiased corroboration
Lack of Paul mentioning Joseph of Arimathea

Here is the problem, your fact chain to get you to the miraculous is only as strong as your weakest link.

How certain can we be that the Jesus burial and empty tomb is truth, the truth and nothing but the truth ? well we can't, so we must consider that perhaps Jesus was not indeed buried and then found not there as claimed.

Now combine that with claims of the claims of the disciples and the claims of Paul that indeed Jesus did appear to them in the flesh after his death, without the corroborating evidence of a kind to justify said claim, just their say so plus some assertions about how well it just has to be true other wise they would of not claimed such and such and done such and such.

I don't think the evidence is so strong and compelling that we can rule out (within reason) that some false hood is not involved in this story.

As such I don't think Pros has made the case that Jesus rose from the dead is a historical certainty.

I look forward to Pros reply. I am out of time (sad face).

Sources

[1] David Hume,An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Debate Round No. 2
BTP47

Pro

I would like to thank Con for this stimulating debate. I will hopefully touch on some final issues and draw together some of the threads from this.

The Big Problem with Con's Argument

The problem is that Con seems to have taken the thesis and ran with it in the complete wrong direction. I said I could prove with an adequate and reasonable degree of historical certainity that the best explanationof the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead. I did NOT say that I could prove 'without a reasonable doubt' or 'with 100% certainity'. In fact NOTHING in history is '100% certain', just very probable. Let me quote Licona again, documenting the conclusions of professionals. This is standard historical methodology:

"Therefore, when historians say 'x occurred' in the past, they are actually claiming the following-Given the available data, the best explanation indicates that we are warranted in having a reasonable degree of certainty that x occurred, and that it appears more certain at the moment than competing hypotheses. Accordingly, we have a rational basis for believing it."[1]

One has to deal with the evidence, and come up with an explanation that best explains the data. I have done this, and shown that the resurrection IS the best explanation of the facts, and without a better hypothesis, this still stands. So therefore, his assertions without evidence that it is 'possible that the creed doesn't go back to eyewitnesses and that's all I need' doesn't work, because of this blunder I came to see. We are dealing with probabilities, and if he does not even attempt to refute the evidence I gave that it is very probable, he hasn't refuted it.

Extraordinary Claims

I am glad that we agree on this section. I fully agree that we do need to be critical and examine the evidence for these events, something that I have done using standard historical criterions, something I posit Con did not do.


Prior Probabilities of Miracle Claims Being True

A miracle is an event when God, in His plan, breaks into history to do something outside normal human experience. I still do not think that one can assign a prior probability to such a thing.

However, if I were to discount that, I think that there is strong evidence, corroborating evidence, that miracles do indeed happen today, and many of these have been documented by Craig Keener in a huge scholarly tome on the subject.[2]

Time of Now vs Jesus

I responded to what I thought was the most important argument of the Carrier quote. But as for the rest of it, I think that much of it is due to the apriori assumption that the ancient people were gullible, ignorant, and stupid, and I assume that this is asserted by Con without evidence. Further, I could document scholar after scholar asserting, that given the social context, miracle claims would not have been accepted at face value. For example,

""In antiquity miracles were not accepted without question. Graeco-Roman writers were often reluctant to ascribe miraculous events to the gods, and offered alternative explanations. Some writers were openly skeptical about miracles (e.g. Epicurus; Lucretius; Lucian). So it is a mistake to write off the miracles of Jesus as the result of the naivety and gullibility of people in the ancient world."[3]

Gospels

Still not providing evidence here, he runs on the assumption that if I have left room for reasonable doubt, it undermines my case. Further, the bottom line is that the Gospels are historical in the subject of the facts I talked about. I have shown there are earmarks of historicity in regards to it's account of the crucifixion, burial, etc. using standard historical criterion of authenticity.

1 Cor. 15

Once again, I am using the term as 'historical probability'. Everything in history is either probable or improbable. There is no 100% certainty, only degrees of certainity. The bottom line here is that the vast majority of New Testament critics hypothesize that this material very probably goes back to eyewitnesses, as it indeed is a non-Pauline oral formula. Scholars have concluded this for many reasons, including the following quickly and nicely summarized by Bill Craig-

'(i) the phrase “for our sins” using the genitive case and plural noun is unusual for Paul; (ii) the phrase “according to the Scriptures” is unparalleled in Paul, who introduces Scriptural citations by “as it is written”; (iii) the perfect passive verb “has been raised” appears only in this chapter and in a pre-Pauline confessional formula in II Tim. 2.8; (iv) the phrase “on the third day” with its ordinal number following the noun in Greek is non-Pauline; (v) the word “appeared” is found only here and in the confessional formula in I Tim. 3.16; and (vi) “the Twelve” is not Paul’s nomenclature, for he always speaks of the twelve disciples as “the apostles.”'[4]

Paul says he went up to Jerusalem to get the Gospel three years after he was converted and met with Peter and James, and he most likely (historical probabilites) got this material there, as this was the kerygma of the church (central teaching). This is documented well by Gary Habermas and other scholars.

This is why leading scholars such as Ludemann, Ehrman, and Dunn are so impressed with this material. The very critical Ehrman even says that this is the closest we get to eyewitness material in the New Testament!

Miracle Claims

What I said was we need to investigate the evidence, and see if the naturalistic hypotheses fit better with the data. If you would've done that with the resurrection, I would have GLADLY come back and refute you on whatever theory you want to posit, but you didn't go by standard historical methodology as I did.

Further, in discussing predispositions, Con miscategorizes my point. My point concerning the dispositions of the disciples is that it is another brick that needs a historical explanation, and I think that the resurrection is the best explanation for it.


Empty Tomb

We haven't heard much in my defense of the empty tomb, and burial I gave in my opening. He does ask a few questions that I will answer.

1. The tradition is both the Pre-Markan Passion Narrative, probably a written source. This is documented by scholars such as Rudolf Pesch. There also is the formalized creed that was the kerygma, and an oral formula of the early church that we now have in 1 Cor. 15:3-8.
2. I explained already in 1. If you want a detailed discussion, I recommend Pesch's work. It is a narrative about the events of the passion.
3. Still, this is standard historical criterion of authencitity!

Now-to Con's 3 'arguments'

1. Why should we expect physical evidence of an empty tomb of a 1st century Jew. It is a ridiculous standard that can't be applied to most of history.
2. It is mentioned in MANY early accounts I already showed, and every historical account is biased. If you think the NT is too 'biased' and should be thrown out, then you must be willing to say the same of Tacitus, an extremely biased ancient historian. For more on bias and NT, see Glenn Miller's material on it.[5]
3. Already refuted in rebuttal

The rest is all resting on the assertion that I must prove with 100% certainty all of this, something I never claimed. My evidence has remained unrefuted, and my case for the resurrection has not been harmed here.

Conclusion

In this debate, I have shown that the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, and post portem appearances of Jesus. I used trustworthy sources that scholars agree are very early and authentic, such as the impressive 1 Cor. 15 creed. We saw Con attempt to deny the empty tomb, but we saw his arguments were weak, and demanded too high a burden of proof that they couldn't apply to most of ancient history.

Interestingly, we have not seen any naturalistic hypothesis, so we certainly have not seen that another explanation is the best explanation of the facts. Curiously, we haven't even see him say that we cannot investigate a miracle, and therefore it must not be the best explanation.

We have also seen Con attempting to say that since other miracle accounts are shoddy, Jesus' probably is too. This is a presuppositional error, and guilt by association. Further, I applied consistent standards, and saw a strong naturalistic hypothesis for the miracles of Sathya Sai Baba.

We have seen much blind assertion without evidence on Con's part, while not proposing another explanation, therefore disproving the resurrection of Jesus as the best explanation of the facts.

Con asserting that 'we can't be sure' is not enough to undermine my case, as he doesn't give any evidence against my position, and I never claimed we could be 'certain beyond a reasonable doubt' that these events occurred. He mainly argues from silence, and sets the burden of proof very high, too high in my opinion. I gave strong and reasonable evidence that Jesus was alive, then dead, and then alive again, using standard criterions of authencitity, to which Con responded to with a lot of 'such and suches'. I think all will be able to see how objectively weak that argument from silence is on Con's part.


We may then conclude that I have shown with reasonable and adequate historical certainty that the best explanation of the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead. It greatly passes the categories of explanatory power, scope, plausibility, and less ad hocs. I believe this has divine implications, and needs to be taken seriously by all. Thank you Con, and thanks to all who vote and read!


[1] Licona, Mike. The Resurrection of Jesus: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010
[2] Keener, Craig S. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011
[3] The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton. Oxford, 1989 p. 235
[4] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
[5] http://christianthinktank.com...;
Illegalcombatant

Con

The burden of proof

Now consider Pros claim that...." There is enough historical evidence to say with a reasonable degree of historical certainty that Jesus rose from the dead." This is the burden that Pro carries in the debate and was clarified before.

This is the burden that Pro took upon them self.

The time of now vs the time of Jesus

I accept that in Jesus time that skeptical people did exist. The important fundamental point is this, we are not talking about a miracle claim that during or near it's alleged event was put under anywhere near the kind of scrutiny that we would expect had a miracle claim being claimed in today's age that is expected to be taken seriously.

The miracle claim in that regard doesn't get a free pass on lack of scrutiny just because it happened a long time ago.

Prior Probabilities of miracle claims being true

Recall I made the argument that..."In short, people make false miracles claims..........ALOT. Whether they are sincerely believed, just flat out bullsh*t or a complicated web of beliefs and circumstances and how that all works in the complexities of the human brain and the line between truth and lie is somewhat blurred the important prior probably point is that the prior probability that a miracle claim is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is low. "

I don't think Pro disagrees here.

The Gospels

I did argue here we can't accept the gospels as independent first hand accounts, Pro didn't seem to accept the claims of Carrier or Ehrman.

Multiple independent first hand accounts of miracles in of themselves isn't enough to establish a miracle has occurred

Consider where Pro says..."We have also seen Con attempting to say that since other miracle accounts are shoddy, Jesus' probably is too. This is a presuppositional error, and guilt by association. Further, I applied consistent standards, and saw a strong naturalistic hypothesis for the miracles of Sathya Sai Baba."

But was that my argument ? no, firstly my argument was that "Multiple independent first hand accounts of miracles in of themselves isn't enough to establish a miracle has occurred" Sathya Sai Baba is just a modern example to demonstrate that point.

Pro did seem to agree with that, but seemed to suggest that co-oberating evidence does exist to justify the miracle claim cause Paul and the apostles were not "predisposed" to believe in the miracle claim of Jesus raising from the dead and claimed they had interacted with a non dead Jesus in the flesh after his death.

But as I argued this isn't enough, cause even if those educated western people were not predisposed to believe in those miracles yet claimed that they saw such and such a miracle this isn't enough to justify that claim.

Not good enough for mystic modern gurus, not good enough for Jesus 2000 years ago. And once again cause of the circumstances the Jesus rose from the dead claim can't be investigated and put under the same scrutiny, thus it can't be said that the miracle claim has passed some kind of scrutiny test. Jesus doesn't get a free pass here.

Consider where Pro says..."We have seen much blind assertion without evidence on Con's part, while not proposing another explanation, therefore disproving the resurrection of Jesus as the best explanation of the facts."

Firstly I am disputing the alleged tomb facts. I will go into that again in more detail later.

Consider where in my last comments last round I said..."I don't think the evidence is so strong and compelling that we can rule out (within reason) that some false hood is not involved in this story."

Man made false hood being part of the story is an explanation that doesn't require an appeal to the divine and or miraculous.

1 Cor. 15 creed

I don't think even Pro is presenting this as evidence of a sort that is multiple independent eye witness account, the best we can claim is well probably goes back to an eye witness..........

Hardly a strong case here, there is room for reasonable doubt here.

An empty tomb

Concerning the alleged empty tomb fact I argued there is a lack...........

Lack of physical evidence
Lack of unbiased corroboration
Lack of Paul mentioning Joseph of Arimathea

Pro doesn't think the lack of physical evidence means much, ok.

Also recall how I argued..."Thirdly for Caesar we have unbiased corroboration even Ceasers enemies like Cisaro reported the crossing of the rubicon as well did other hostile or neutral observers. Where as we have no hostile or neutral records of an empty tomb by any non christian until well after christians started telling the story after Pauls death and long after any facts could be checked."

Pro doesn't dispute the lack of unbiased corroboration nor the lack of Paul mentioning Joseph of Arimathea.

There is reasonable doubt on the tomb fact in Pros argument.

Why Reasonable doubt matters

Remember Pros conclusion here isn't a list of naturalistic explanations and thus argues which one is the most probable or least improbable. Rather Pros argument is the evidence is such that we must be compelled to come to the conclusion that a miracle took place, that being Jesus rose from the dead, the trouble is as a starting point that is the most IMPROBABLE explanation.

If we can't be sure beyond reasonable doubt that an important fact that Pros case rests upon the empty tomb is true, then we are not, nor should we be compelled to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. This is still the case even if you have multiple eye witness accounts of people who claimed Jesus talked with them in the flesh after his death and were not predisposed to such a miracle claim beforehand.

A modern Jesus/Holy Joe

Consider the following scenario, in today's age, right now, a religious figure called Holy Joe exists. Holy Joe preachment's are outside "mainstream" never the less he has a small following. Holy Joe has a close inner circle of 12 people.

Holy Joe is killed by Islamic extremists, they shoot him and cut his head off, this is multiple witnessed and recorded (over 100 people) plus it just so happens that news agencies were in the area recording all of this too, CNN, Fox news and who ever.

The dead body of Holy Joe is put in a tomb, this once again is recorded and witnessed by many people plus CNN and Fox news are still around recording cause they have nothing better to do.

A few days later the company that runs the tomb service discovers they put him in the wrong tomb. They go to fix their error by putting the body in right tomb, but when they open the tomb they find the body of Holy Joe absent. This again is recorded by news agencies and various people.

Shortly after the 12 people of Joes inner circle claim that Holy Joe has visited them after his death in the flesh, he has risen. Also a planner of the Islamic attack claims to have being visited too, and boy he is super sorry that he helped plan the murder of Holy Joe.

First consider how the "facts" are much more certain and indisputable than those of Jesus those being...........

1) Holy Joe died
2) Was buried in a tomb
3) Tomb was found empty
4) The claim of the inner circle of 12 plus 1 bad guy that they have being visited by Holy Joe in the flesh after his death.

So it is put to you, is the evidence is so compelling, so beyond dispute that we should believe that a miracle took place here, that Holy Joe rose from the dead ?

But there is something missing here, I think we would like to take a closer look at Holy Joe after his death and his alleged miracle rise from the dead.

But you see, Holy Joe it is claimed has now left the earth and as such no one will be able to verify independently the claims of the disciples.

Maybe It's just me, but I think I am going to have to insist on some independent verification, cause we can't rule out there is some falsehood involved and if we can't rule that out we are not going to just accept the miracle claim and certainty not accept it as "a reasonable degree of historical certainty" fact.

And if it is insufficient for Holy Joe then it's insufficient for Jesus.

Closing remarks

If you think that miracles can't happen or that the dead can't come back to life in the flesh, or that the case for the resurrection of Jesus is so without merit to be discarded straight of the bat then your going to agree for my side more than I agree with my side.

What I have argued for is the more modest position that based on the evidence we don't have enough to accept the claim that Jesus rose from the dead with a reasonable degree of historical certainty.

I thank Pro for the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SNP1 1 year ago
SNP1
Damn. I wish I was here earlier, I would have voted for Con (clear win). I guess this debate didn't get much attention.
Posted by BTP47 1 year ago
BTP47
I am treating what I already wrote as an opening. You can give your own case against the resurrection, and then we will have a round of rebuttal, and then closings/final rebuttal. 72 hours up to 10000 characters
Posted by Illegalcombatant 1 year ago
Illegalcombatant
Well that's pretty crappy of you, you have already poisned the well against a possible arguments for the negation.

So how do you want to do this, you make your arguments for the resolution, I make mine for the negation.
Posted by BTP47 1 year ago
BTP47
My resolution is: There is enough historical evidence to say with a reasonable degree of historical certainty that Jesus rose from the dead.

(By the way, I know what you are doing, as I read your last debate on the subject, and trying to attack my methodology concerning other evaluating miracle claims won't work for two reasons:
1. I am completely open to those miracle claims being true.
2. Concerning Sathya Sai Baba, it is a very weak analogy, as the cultural context is completely different, and I highly doubt you can evaluate his miracle claims under the same standard historical criterion I laid out. Even if you can,it does not matter, as I am completely open to the evidence. For this debate, you will actually are going to need to talk about Jesus' resurrection.
Posted by Illegalcombatant 1 year ago
Illegalcombatant
Sorry what I should of asked is the resolution is there is sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus rose from the dead ?

The reason I am pressing you on this is because there is a huge difference between evidence existing for X and evidence existing that justifies belief that X is true.
Posted by BTP47 1 year ago
BTP47
Yes.
Posted by Illegalcombatant 1 year ago
Illegalcombatant
Okey so the resolution is there is sufficient evidence that Jesus rose from the dead ?
Posted by BTP47 1 year ago
BTP47
I would say God is a good candidate, but I would be willing to leave that question open. I would also say you cannot mix historical facts with their theological implications. Finally, I would also say that a historian cannot presuppose nor exclude God from this.
Posted by Illegalcombatant 1 year ago
Illegalcombatant
For the sake of precision would you agree that the resolution based on evidence there is justification to believe that God rose Jesus from the dead ?
Posted by BTP47 1 year ago
BTP47
You know you want to.....
No votes have been placed for this debate.