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It is more probable that Jesus was God than that He was not

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/28/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,001 times Debate No: 17695
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




First round is for acceptance

Jesus as referred to in the Christian Bible

More Probable: More likely to be the case or to happen

Both of us share equal burden of proof to show our position is more probable.


I accept your challenge.

Looking forward to a hopefully interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1


1. Who wrote the gospels?
a. The uniform testimony of the early church was Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If those four men were not the original authors you must explain the early church saying they did.

2. Reason to lie about who wrote the gospels?
a. Craig L Blomberg, PH.D. "Probably not. Remember these were unlikely characters. Mark and Luke weren't even in the twelve disciples. Matthew was, but as a former tax collector, he would have been the most infamous character next to Judas Iscariot […] Contrast this with what happened when the fanciful apocryphal gospels were written much later. People chose the names of well-known and exemplary figures to be their fictitious authors-Phillip, Peter, Mary, James […] So to answer your question, there would not have been any reason to attribute the authorship to these three less respected people if it weren't true." (p.23) Now John was an exception, and he is the one most disputed over!

3. More evidence for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
a. In A.D 125 Papias said Mark "made no mistake" and made "no false statement"
b. In A.D 180 Irenaeus confirmed authorship.

4. Did Jesus claim to be God?
a. One of significance. Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man. Son of Man does not refer to Jesus' humanity. It refers to the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, and nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" Jesus claims to forgive sins, which only God can do. He accepts prayer and worship.

5. Gospels written too far after Jesus died to be accurate?
a. Most believe the gospels were written 70-90A.D
b. There are two issues
i. Even if there was no evidence that the books were written earlier than the dates I previously provided the argument doesn't work because that is still within the lifetimes of hostile eyewitnesses if false teachings began spreading. We can compare biographies of Jesus those of Alexander the Great.
ii. "The two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander's death in 323 B.C., yet historians consider them to be generally trustworthy. Yes, legendary material about Alexander did develop over time, but it was only in the centuries after these two writers. In other words, the first five hundred years kept Alexander's story pretty much intact; legendary material began to emerge over the next five hundred years. So whether the gospels were written sixty years or thirty years after the life of Jesus, the amount of time is negligible by comparison. It's almost a nonissue" (p.33)
My second issue is there is evidence that suggest earlier dating of the gospels. If we read Acts, which was written by Luke, Paul is the main character. All of a sudden the book ends when Paul is under house arrest in Rome. So why is that? Well the best answer would be that Paul must have still been alive when Acts was finished. Meaning that Acts could have been written no later than 62 A.D. This also means that Luke had to have been written before that and since Luke incorporates parts of Mark, that must have been even earlier. (p.34)

6. Paul on Jesus
a. "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles." I Corinthians 15
b. Crucifixion was as early as 30 A.D. meaning Paul's conversion was 32 A.D. He was sent out and his first meeting with the apostles was about 35 A.D. Somewhere in between that time, he gave this creed.

7. Corroborating Evidence
a. Tacitus said, "Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Chrisus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one on our procurators, Pontius Pilatus […] Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty: then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind" (p.82)
b. Yamauchi (PHD) "Regardless of whether the passage had this specifically in mind, it does provide us with the remarkable fact, which is this: crucifixion was the most abhorrent fate that anyone could undergo, and the fact that there was a movement based on a crucified man has to be explained. How can you explain the spread of a religion based on the worship of a man who had suffered the most ignominious death possible? Of course, the Christian answer is that he was resurrected. Others have to come up with some alternative theory […] but none of the alternative views, to my mind, are very persuasive." (p.82)

8. Resurrection
a. Skeptics say when the gospels say Jesus began to sweat blood, it was their imagination. Alexander Metherell, M.D, Ph.D. said "This is a known medical condition called hematidrosis […] it is associated with high degree of psychological stress." (p.195)
b. "The spear apparently went through the right lung and into the heart […] some fluid-the pericardial effusion and the pleural effusion-came out. This would have the appearance of a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel!" (p.199)
c. There was no doubt that Jesus was dead

9. Jesus' Body missing from the tomb?
a. William Craig PH.D.,D.TH., "If this burial by Joseph was a legend that developed later, you'd expect to find other competing burial traditions about what happened to Jesus' body. However, you don't find these at all." (p.210)
b. "There was a slanted groove that led down to a lower entrance, and a large disk-shaped stone was rolled down this groove and lodged into place across the door. A smaller stone was then used to secure the disk. Although it would be easy to roll this big disk down the groove, it would take several men to roll the stone back up in order to reopen the tomb" (p.211)
c. "There's no doubt that the disciples sincerely believed the truth of the Resurrection, which they proclaimed to their deaths. The idea that the empty tomb is the result of some hoax, conspiracy, or theft is simply dismissed today." (p.212)
d. From these quotes we se be sure that Jesus was buried in the tomb, the tomb was protected, the disciples believed the resurrection to the point of death, and no one could have stole the body.
e. Gospel accounts are too inconsistent? Historian Michael Grant, in a book called Jesus: An historian's review of the Gospels says, "True, the discovery of the empty tomb is differently described by the various gospels, but if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was, indeed, found empty."

10. Disciples lie about Resurrection?
a. "The apostles were willing to die for something they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own hands. They were in a unique position not to just believe Jesus rose from the dead but to know for sure. And when you've got eleven credible people with no ulterior motives, with nothing to gain and a lot to lose, who all agree they observed something with their own eyes-now you've got some difficulty explaining that away" (p.247)

Case for Christ - Lee Strobel


It is important to first outline Pro’s logic in reaching the conclusion, that it is more probable that Jesus was God than not (or the Son of God, as I don’t want to be semantic).

1. The Gospels are accurate accounts of the life of Jesus.
2. According to the Gospels, Jesus demonstrates supernatural powers.
3. Thus, Jesus‘ claims of divinity are credible.

While there is a logical gap between the 2nd and 3rd point - the leap from “Jesus really did perform miracles” to “Jesus‘ claim to be the Son of God is valid” which my opponent must connect - I object mostly to the first point, which I believe will take up the bulk of this debate.

The claim of supernatural powers as a demonstration of one’s relation to God or divinity is nothing new. In what is regarded as the oldest piece of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh’s Utnapishtim is given the power of eternal life and therefore becomes a deity - a sort of halfway god. The text is fundamental in our understanding of Early Sumerian religion.

Similar to the New Testament, the virgin birth of Romulus of Rome by a Vestal Virgin serves as the Ceasar family’s justification of divine lineage. Her story is found in a number of Roman texts including Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita.

There have also been numerous claims of resurrection. For example, upon the death of Osiris, Isis erects a golden phallus and sings a song in his name, which causes him to come back to life. Because of this miracle, he becomes a a god. While most would find these claims fallacious, and deem them myth, the miracles of Jesus are seen by many as facts.

The list of similar claims can fill pages. However, virtually all Christians believe Jesus was the only Son of God. Additionally, because Jesus’ supernatural powers are used as justification of his religious insight being correct, they must also reject claims of supernatural powers by individuals whose beliefs conflict with Christianity.

As this is a debate about probability, the sheer number of others who have claimed to be God/ the Son of God in addition to those cited as having supernatural powers together with beliefs incompatible with Christianity make Pro’s position statistically impossible.

Pro, though, will undoubtably respond by saying that the sources of the claims must be taken into account. This is true. As a baseline, though, all the sources are equally credible. In order for his position to become statisticlally possible, he must prove that the accounts he uses as evidence (the Gospels) are more credible than the other texts, including the ones mentioned above, which conflict with Christianity.

Next, my opponent must demonstrate that events in the Gospels attributed to Jesus, and are generally accepted, were in fact supernatural. For example, most historians agree on the basic timeline of Jesus crucifixion, and what happened afterwards. However, no historian can say an act was certainly supernatural, for that would mean disproving every single natural possibility. Miracles are by definition very rare, so my opponent must show that the natural explanation of this event is very unlikely.

Conversely, I will be arguing that the Gospels are not a reliable source of historical information, and secondarily, that the resurrection described by the Gospels (as it is the miracle Pro puts most emphasis on) has plausible non-supernatural alternative explanations. Keep in mind this is only my opening statement, I will go further into detail about the following arguments in later rounds.

When evaluating historical claims and determining the source's (Gospels') reliability, we must ask ourselves about the degree of separation between the actual events and the writers of the source. There is absolutely no debate about whether the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses; it is highly unlikely that they were even written by the poor Aramaic-speaking direct followers of Jesus. Instead, evidence points to the texts being written by highly trained Greek-speaking writers.For example, The Gospel According to Luke has been called by a number of scholars the most elegant, sophisticated use of post-Classic Greek language, making it clear that the writer was well-trained and extremely competent(2). Furthermore, the Gospels were written between 35-65 years after the death of Jesus.

Why did it take so long to write the Gospels? Jesus made it clear to his disciples that the end of the world would come before their deaths, or the deaths of their contemporaries. In other words, before the 3rd generation. There was no point in writing a textual account considering that the end of times was fast approaching. Also, considering the fact that there was a high number of illiterate peasants in the region, there were more efficient ways to spread the faith.

Specifically, through oral story telling, in the same way that many faiths form their tradition. A great example of this is The Illiad. There is a 3-4 century gap between the the events of The Illiad and their documentation by Homer, and before the writing of the story the events were circulated orally. While we may understand The Illiad as having a backbone of history, but wrapped in many layers of myth, a closer examination of Ancient Greek opinion is due. Herodotus, considered the “Father of History” said about the epics: “It was Homer and Hesiod who composed a divine genealogy for the Greeks, and who gave the gods their titles, allocated to them their powers and fields of expertise, and made clear their forms.” Not only did the Greeks view The Iliad as a historical account, but also the foundation of their religion.

The same can be said of the Gospels. It is clear that the authors relied on oral tradition in which details have been added, altered, or removed throughout a number of decades. Because of the discrepancies between the four gospels - ranging from minor to significant - it can not be said that the authors meticulously gathered information from numerous eyewitnesses as historians - such as Herodotus - attempt to do. To summarize, the seeming historical inaccuracy of the gospels stemming from their disparate accounts of even simple events points to the use of myth-like oral story telling as the authors‘ background research. Thus, they are historically unreliable.

Even worse for Pro’s case, that the gospels are historically accurate, is that the authors are far from impartial. More than just impartial, the texts were written for the sole purpose of convincing non-believers that Jesus was divine. There is also evidence that each of the four were tailored to convert certain groups of people. For example, Matthew goes to great lengths to reinforce the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in what seems to be a conversion effort directed at Jews still unconvinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Luke was an attempt to convert upper class Greeks and Romans as a) the extremely high quality writing would resonate with them, and b) it is addressed to Theophilus (a common high-class name and an honorary title among the educated at the time), and explicitly states that its purpose is to convince him of the divinity of Jesus(3). After reading this opening, further reading is not needed to presume one is in for a miracle-packed 24 chapters. The Gospels, as sources of supernatural claims, were created for the purpose of convincing people that Jesus was probably God. The authors wrote doctrine, thus their works -being primary sources - should not be cited as accurate accounts of the life of Jesus.

I seem to be running out of space, so I’ll leave the miracle of the resurrection for my next post. I’ll briefly say my greatest objection to my opponent’s argument: point 4. You cannot compare the Gospels to Plutarch because while the former is the primary source we have about the life of Jesus, Plutarch would have used an extensive line of earlier sources, some written by contemporaries of Alexander(4). I hope to address 9, 10, and issue of hostile eyewitnesses next round.
Debate Round No. 2


When you outlined my logic at the beginning of your round, you were almost correct but not entirely. I will try and clarify and I apologize for not doing it previously because I used up all 8,000 characters. I'm simply saying that the evidence of the gospels and Paul's accounts being accurate plus the fact of the resurrection would bring us to the conclusion that it is more probable that Jesus was/is God than He was/is not.

You gave a list of writings of people who have claimed to be resurrected and performed other miracles. I will also say that I know there are many people that will claim to be God and would even die for it. I'm simply saying that you provided no evidence that I should think those writings and/or people are credible and that those things actually happened. On the contrary, I gave numerous examples of why the gospels and Paul's writings are credible, and other early century writers who have confirmed their authorship.

You said, "As a baseline, though, all the sources are equally credible. In order for his position to become statistically possible, he must prove that the accounts he uses as evidence (the Gospels) are more credible than the other texts, including the ones mentioned above, which conflict with Christianity." First off, you cannot possibly say that all sources are equally credible. That's a clear fallacy. Secondly, I did give you reasons to believe the gospels and Paul's writings are credible, while you gave me no reason to believe yours were. It is not my burden of proof to give evidence that every single person who ever claimed to be God was wrong. That would be nearly impossible.

You said, "However, no historian can say an act was certainly supernatural, for that would mean disproving every single natural possibility. Miracles are by definition very rare, so my opponent must show that the natural explanation of this event is very unlikely." I agree that just because we cannot explain something naturally, it does not mean it is supernatural. All I'm asking is: is it more likely that it was natural or supernatural? I will go threw two of the most popular natural explanations and explain why they are wrong.
1. Legends-If the appearances of Jesus after death are legends one must explain the origin of the legend. We must remember that early Jews did not believe that the Messiah would rise from the dead, or that He would even die. So the disciples would have never thought to start a rumor of resurrection. Remember what they did just after Jesus' death? They hid in a room and locked the door because they thought they were going to be killed. That is when Jesus first appeared to them and the disciples started going out making disciples. If the resurrection is a legend one must explain the reason they went from hiding to boldly proclaiming Jesus' resurrection. "[His followers] no longer had confidence that Jesus had been sent by God, because they believed anyone crucified was accursed by God. They also had been taught that God would not let his Messiah suffer death. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks. Then after a short period of time we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering, and committing themselves to spreading a very specific message- that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on a cross, returned to life, and was seen alive by them."
2. Hallucinations- "Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren't something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is possible that one person could somehow induce an hallucination in somebody else. Since an hallucination exist only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it." (p.238-239) This is a problem because Jesus appeared to multiple people at a time.

In your claim that they could not have been written by the followers of Jesus because of the language and educational differences, I almost agree with you except for one major part. Someone who was highly trained in Greek could have written down what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John told them. You might say that this makes them less credible. Maybe slightly, but we must remember the people that are actually writing it down for them, have no reason to lie or change what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John said. If you can give me a credible reason why they would lie, I would love to hear it.

You asked why it took so long to write the gospels. I gave evidence proving that whether the gospels were written 30years or 60years after the time of Jesus' death is very quickly compared to other historical figures at that time (My Alexander the Great argument.) You said, "Jesus made it clear to his disciples that the end of the world would come before their deaths, or the deaths of their contemporaries. In other words, before the 3rd generation." However, you provided no scripture to back that up. I have also never heard this argument before. The closest thing to it is in John 21:20-23 "Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?') When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.' Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?'" So yes, a rumor did start that the disciples would not die but John clearly says this is not what Jesus taught.

I apologize for maybe misunderstanding but I do not see your point in the Illiad example.

You said, "it can not be said that the authors meticulously gathered information from numerous eyewitnesses as historians " Luke 1:1-4 "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."
The gospels are not "myth-like oral story telling" as you say. Based on all the evidence I have provided.

The gospels specifically were not for converting people as you say, based on Luke 1:1-4 which I already talked about. Of course, one of their goals was to convert people to Christianity because Jesus told them to go and make disciples. Remember Paul persecuted the early Christian church before he himself became a Christian. He just went out boldly teaching about Jesus to the point where he was arrested several times and eventually put to death. Even if the gospels were solely to convert people, (i'm not claiming they are) that gives no evidence that they are unreliable.


I still believe that I outlined your logic correctly. You say “the gospels and Paul’s accounts being accurate plus the fact of resurrection would bring us to the conclusion that it is more probable that Jesus was God”. However, the resurrection and other miracles, as factual, rely on the gospels and Paul being accurate. So: gospels & Paul correct -(implies)-> resurrection/miracles. If gospels and Paul are inaccurate, there is no reason to believe that Jesus performed miracles. And it is entirely because Jesus performed miracles that Christians believe they should take his claims of being God seriously. My problem with this is that there is absolutely no logical connection between one’s supernatural powers and his claims about his own divine status being true.

To say that as a “baseline” all sources are equally credible is not incorrect at all. This is because all that is directly given to a reader in textual claims are words on a page. Outside evidence, such as cross-referencing and dating, is needed to demonstrate that one is more credible than the other. It’s not an argument, but an introduction. However, while I never meant that my opponent should argue about the non-credibility of each other source, or myself their credibility, it’s a good introduction because it highlights the fact that there are so many conflicting divine claims - and as I argue - no decent evidence to suggest that the gospels/Paul should be taken with any more seriousness than the rest.

When I said Jesus made it clear to his disciples that the end was coming you said I provided no scriptural evidence. Matthew 24:29-35: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven....Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” As for not hearing the argument before, I try my best to be innovative.

The Illiad was used as an example because I believe it was written similarly to how the New Testament was written. While there is some historical backbone, as Troy was probably invaded by the Greeks, I doubt anyone today will say that Achilles was probably a deity. However, like the New Testament, Ancient Greeks believed it to be a historically and religiously accurate account. The supernatural parts of it must have been developed through years of oral storytelling.

Pro maintains that the Gospels were not written like this, saying that they could have been the accounts of Jesus’ original followers transcribed by Greek writers. However, there are certain parts of the Gospels which are extremely awkward in Aramaic, and very difficult to translate to that language or English. But they sound perfectly elegant, and even poetic, in Koine Greek. John 3:3-8, for example, is only comprehensible in Greek because of “ἄνωθεν”, a double entendre of again and from above only present in Greek. When Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:3 NRSV), Nicodemus thought Jesus said “…without being born again.” Jesus meant “…born of the Spirit.” This exchange only makes sense in the eyes of a) a well-trained Koine Greek speaker, who b) believed that the spiritual realm was in heaven above (John 3:31). Thus, these kinds of passages (I used the most obvious), could not have been told by Jesus’ original Aramaic speaking followers.

Once again, I reiterate that the Gospels were written by liberate Greek writers as doctrine intended to convert people to Christianity. Why else would it be repeated throughout Matthew that Jesus was the Old Testament Messiah, in addition to the test being filled with Old Testament references, than to convert unconvinced Jews? You say “Even if the gospels were solely to convert people, (i'm not claiming they are) that gives no evidence that they are unreliable.” However, because they are used by us as primary sources, the fact that they have a purpose other than giving an objective historical account is a reason not to take them as such.

In addition, they give disparate accounts of events that, if meticulously researched as the author of Luke claims, should not be contradictory. For example, did Jesus carry the cross or did Simon carry the cross? Did both robbers mock Jesus during the crucifixion, or was it just one? Were Jesus’ disciples frightened or overjoyed when they saw the supposed reincarnation? It depends which Gospel you choose to believe. Thus, they do not appear to be precisely researched from objective contemporary sources such as eyewitnesses, but more likely based off whichever version of the oral myth the author thought himself most knowledgeable of, or just his favorite.

As for the resurrection, it is not necessary for someone to actively try to start rumors for it to be based on legend. Rumors spread and evolve due to the broken-telephone system which is oral storytelling. If one eyewitness said something along the lines of “I swear, I ‘felt’ Jesus personally after his death”, that ambiguous statement can easily evolve into “Jesus’ disciples personally felt Jesus after his death”, and it’s not a long-shot for “felt” to be changed into “saw”. That’s not necessarily the specific way it must have happened, but that’s how rumors work. Even if only one disciple had a hallucination of Jesus and said he saw him, rumors can easily alter that to “all of them saw Jesus” in the course of 3-6 decades.

My opponent raised a good point in the first round about hostile eyewitnesses. However, in a vast, largely illiterate area that the rumors would have spread, there is no way an eyewitness could effectively stop them. If someone was inaccurately telling the story of Jesus to a group of people at one corner of Israel, that version is what every person in that group believed. They then tell more people. As the story is propagated exponentially (and likely with greater deviance from the truth each time), how can the relatively few eyewitness mass communicate the true version to everyone? The only realistic way would be through an eyewitness's written account, but there is no evidence this existed.

In conclusion, the Gospels, by being sourced disparately from oral legends, and not objectively, should not be taken as accurate historical accounts of Jesus‘ life. I also restate my first objection about the logic of Jesus divine claims being correct. i hope to go evidence from Paul next round.

Debate Round No. 3


You said, "My problem with this is that there is absolutely no logical connection between ones supernatural powers and his claims about his own divine status being true." I think that since we have already seen the gospels are reliable and that there is a high probability that the resurrection did occur and Jesus claimed to be God, it would lead us to the conclusion that Jesus is God. Yes, just because someone claims to be God and "supposedly" has supernatural powers doesn't make them God but I haven't seen you give any other reliable evidence that someone else claimed to be God, had historically accurate text written about them, and was resurrected.

You then said in your next point, "it's a good introduction because it highlights the fact that there are so many conflicting divine claims - and as I argue - no decent evidence to suggest that the gospels/Paul should be taken with any more seriousness than the rest." In nearly all of my points in the second round point to the gospels or Paul being historically accurate. If you feel that one of them is not "decent evidence" just let me know and I will gladly explain it for you.

When you somewhat quoted Matthew I like how you included the beginning and end but left out a lot in the middle. Your conclusion was based on a bad interpretation of the verse. I will quote a bible commentary ( If you feel that this is not a reliable source please tell me and give me a reason why, but until then I will use this commentary. For the problem you talked about this commentary says, "What generation did Jesus mean? It cannot be the generation of the disciples, because they never saw Jesus return in glory as described in Matthew 24:30. It is undoubtedly the generation that sees these signs. These events and Jesus' return won't be on some 1,000-year timetable, but will happen in succession." Your argument was based on a misinterpretation. Glad I could clear that up.

Just because supernatural parts of the Illiad developed through years of oral storytelling doesn't mean the supernatural parts of Jesus did. In fact you are making a great case for my point of view. You said, "threw years of oral storytelling" this can not be the case because Paul was making claims as early as 3 years after Jesus death which is exceptionally early compared to other text written at that time. You just proved my point that these things could not have come up threw simple oral storytelling.

In your example of John 3:3 I apologize but I don't understand completely, but I will try to interpret and make my point as best I can. Whether it says born from above or born again does not make a difference theologically. So which ever way one interprets the Greek word, it makes no difference to my claim that someone trained in Greek could have written the books for Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

You then said,"However, because they are used by us as primary sources, the fact that they have a purpose other than giving an objective historical account is a reason not to take them as such." I have already given evidence they are historically reliable pieces of information but regardless of that, you saying we use them as a primary source adds to my point that they are reliable. According to wikipedia a primary source,"is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. Similar definitions are used in library science, and other areas of scholarship. In journalism, a primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document created by such a person." Just because they are historically reliable and converted people to Christianity doesn't mean they are unreliable as you claim. And remember, a lot of people have already heard about Jesus and his resurrection. You said, "Why else would it be repeated throughout Matthew that Jesus was the Old Testament Messiah, in addition to the test being filled with Old Testament references, than to convert unconvinced Jews?" We must remember that these were not new ideas. The disciples and people like Paul had already been talking about those things for years. So if the Jews didn't believe them when they told them, why would they believe it when Matthew wrote it down? Matthew was just writing down what he, and everyone else, had been preaching already for years.

The "contradictions" you pointed out, are very easy to explain. For your question about who carried the cross, Jesus had gone threw such physical torture that day that it is perfectly reasonable to think He would not be able to carry the cross all the way. After Jesus could not carry the cross any longer the Romans drafted Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. You also asked where the disciples frightened or overjoyed. There is no need to over think this. When they saw Jesus, yes the were terrified because what were they doing at the time? They were hiding with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. Think about it, if you were hiding from someone, in a locked room, already scared, and all of a sudden someone just appeared in that room wouldn't you be terrified? But then when they realize its Jesus, who the disciples had been following, who the disciples believed was the Messiah, who had been crucified on a cross before their eyes, and now they see Him resurrected standing right in front of them! Wouldn't if make sense for them to be frightened at first and then overjoyed? Of course!

I am so glad you brought up the point of the "broken-telephone system." You said, "If one eyewitness said something along the lines of [...]" The problem with that statement is, it wasn't "one eyewitness" saying something. This was numerous, credible eyewitnesses going out and telling people what happened. If one person had tried to start something that wasn't true no one would believe it because there was so many people saying what actually happened. So in short, no, this is not like a "broken-telephone system." You also said "Even if only one disciple had a hallucination of Jesus and said he saw him, rumors can easily alter that to "all of them saw Jesus" in the course of 3-6 decades." The main problem with this is, in Paul's account, Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time. Now, looking at when this was written, it would not have been even close to 3-6 decades after. In that same account he even says that most of these witness' are still alive. He is basically inviting any skeptic to go and check it out for themselves! If he was lieing wouldn't it make sense for him to say everyone who was there was now dead?

I want you to give me a reason to believe that the gospels are unreliable. The fact that they were written 30-60years after Jesus death is an argument that they are reliable based on all the other text we have of that time which I have clearly demonstrated. Jesus performed miracles, claimed to be God, died on a Cross, and was resurrected as prophesied. Wouldn't that lead us to believe it is more probable that Jesus was/is God than that he was not?


db forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


snapbacks forfeited this round.


I thank Pro for forfeiting his fifth round after I did not post.

I do not agree with Pro's interpretation of Matthew. There are 3 parts to that section: 1) Disciples ask when apocalypse will happen. 2) Jesus says there will be wickedness, tribulation, a heavenly sign (interpreted as a second coming), then the world ends. 3) Jesus says "I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place." The adjective use of "this", grammatically, means something close at hand. Your interpretation tries to prove "this" means "that" by saying it could not have referred to the contemporary generation because they never saw the second coming. Completely illogical considering Jesus made it clear that the events were to happen sometime in the future, and thus the disciples of his contemporary generation would have been waiting for it.

Though the Iliad mythology was created in more years of story telling than the New Testament, it was also much more developed. Christianity evolved only to the point of a God, a Son of God, and the Virgin Mary, but if a few hundred more years of broken telephone took place before it was set in text, it may have resulted in Christians currently worshiping a pantheon. There was more than enough time for broken telephone to take place, and the disparate accounts reinforce this. Thus, I maintain that because the New Testament based its accounts on narrative that developed and evolved through years of story telling, it should not be considered historically credible.

I'm glad Pro mentioned Paul, as I hoped to get to him in round 4. When citing a specific instance with Paul, one must refer to the epistle, as the authorship of many are questionable. However, I assume Pro means 1 Corinthians, as that is the Epistle that supposedly proves the resurrection. In the text "Paul was making claims as early as 3 years after Jesus death" although I honestly believe that's a typo. The average date given to the text is 56 AD, so I'm guessing Pro meant 30 years, using a late date.

There Paul says the risen Jesus appeared to: Cephas, the 12, 500 followers (whom he says were mostly still alive at the time of writing), James, the apostles, then himself. In total, 514 individuals besides himself. Yet, Paul was not with any of these other people; he was on the road to Damascus at the time. So how did he know that it was 500 people who saw Jesus, except through hearsay? Likewise, how did Paul know that most of these 500 people were still alive after 20 years? He definitely did not do a survey, so it must have been interjected as an unfalsifiable claim adding credibility to the resurrection, or just a guess statement. Unfalsifiable because who would find these 500 people (already a problem because they were not named) and count how many are still alive. This also addresses Pro's objection to my point about the broken telephone system. In fact, Paul's witnessing of the resurrection consists solely of being blinded by bright light, something that has a very plausible natural explanation.

I agree that "which ever way one interprets the Greek word, it makes no difference", but the fact that it was interpreted both ways does. An Aramaic speaker could not have told this exchange to a Greek writer because the double entendre-ed word for "from above" and "again" does not exist in that language. Only in Koine is ἄνωθεν a homonym for "from above" and "again". Thus, Gospels could not have been written or told to writers by Jesus' followers.

It seems the Wikipedia definition changed since round 4 (or Pro got it from a different part of the page): "Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied." The reason I mentioned primary source is because a biased or non-objective historical account should not be discredited on that basis alone. For example, many history books set out to argue a revisionist account of certain events in history; many of them might be right. However, these books must cite objective primary sources to make their case, and also eyewitnesses if they are to be considered credible. The gospels and Corinthians are the primary sources. They are not objective and were written with the intention to convert. Pro argues though, that this was not so, specifically looking at Matthew. His logic is as follows: Paul and the disciples were spreading certain ideas (Jesus as the Old Testament Messiah) before they were written; thus, it would be redundant to write a book to convert Jews. The problem with this logic is that text was a form of mass communication, so it could reach out to the Jews who did not hear the account of Jesus orally. Also, there is no evidence that Paul and the disciples were preaching an account of Jesus' life that emphasized Old Testament prophesies. Therefore, I believe the evidence points to these texts as being doctrines meant for converting, not giving historical accounts.

Pro repeatedly states that the texts were written closer to the event than other historical accounts. We only mentioned Plutarch's Alexander in this debate, but it used primary sources from the lifetime of Alexander, as opposed to being a primary source itself. As a primary source, the fact that the New Testament was written as doctrine, and not objectively, is why it should not be considered historically credible.

While Pro's anecdote about Jesus' disciples was inventive, it was not based on scriptural evidence. In John, the disciples were filled with joy immediately after Jesus spoke, while the disciples in Luke have the opposite emotion immediately after. That is not to mention that the two dialogues are completely different, which is something that cannot be harmonized. The problem with the harmonization of the cross-carrying, and many others, is that they rely purely on conjecture. If one considers the accounts of such events as they are written, they are contradictions because the series of events that readers are led to believe by the author - i.e. without suppositions created to harmonize accounts - are incompatible. I am not going to pile on these contradictions as it would be unfair to do so in the last round, though I believe the three I used adequately represent the historical disparity of the accounts of Jesus' life. This is another reason why the New Testament should not be considered historically credible.

I feel my strongest point is the illogical connection between one's supernatural powers and their divine claims being true. Pro says "since we have already seen the gospels are reliable and that there is a high probability that the resurrection did occur and Jesus claimed to be God, it would lead us to the conclusion that Jesus is God". However, it would not lead us to that conclusion at all. Jesus' supernatural powers are a logical dead end; they don't imply anything further that is not self-referential. "But I haven't seen you give any other reliable evidence that someone else claimed to be God, had historically accurate text written about them, and was resurrected." It would not matter, as I don't suppose one's supernatural powers lead to the conclusion that their godly claims are true. You do though, and that opens the door to all the others who have claimed both supernatural powers and their holiness. Yet if one approaches this logically, which I propose, he will accept that the former does not prove the latter in any case. The assumption that because one has supernatural powers his claims are correct is purely based on faith, not mathematical probability. So even though we spent quite a few characters arguing on scripture, their historical accuracy ultimately doesn't matter. If they are historically accurate, which I deny, all that's proven is that Jesus had supernatural powers, not that he was God - which is the topic
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by snapbacks 5 years ago
When it says "this generation" it clearly does not mean the generation of the disciples. Its not even arguable.
Posted by db 5 years ago
Once again, thats exactly what it says. Some of the articles only talk about wars and conflicts, but many of them talk specifically about the apocalypse. "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place", speaking of the apocalypse mentioned in the lines before (Matthew 24, and Jesus speaking). I am of the opinion, along with many experts, that it could not be clearer. Honestly though, I don't want to continue this debate in the comments section - that's why we have 5 rounds. As for it being a non existent verse, I cite the verse number in the debate (and quote it), so voters (even though it doesn't look like we'll have many), can decide for themselves if its non-existant. You can have the last word, but I really don't want to have a comment war here.
Posted by snapbacks 5 years ago
I am not concerned with the disciples believing the end would come within their lifetime. As I have already given examples of, sometimes they do not interprett what Jesus said correctly at times. (Like the fact some thought they wouldn't die) Im more concerned with what Jesus said. In that artical it says, "He tells them about wars and conflict and wickedness and evil, that then ends with the promise, 'All these things shall be fulfilled in your own time. So yes'." That verse is no where in the bible that I could find. As far as im concerned they quoted a non-existant bible verse.
Posted by db 5 years ago
Fair to ask, as I did not cite any. But yes, there are quite a few credible individuals with the interpretation that the gospels (including Matthew) show that Jesus and his followers believed the end would come in their lifetimes. PBS gathered a number of scholarly opinions on this issue:
Posted by snapbacks 5 years ago
Hey db, I was just wondering if you found any bible commentaries that supported your interpretation of the verses in Matthew. I looked at a few more but couldnt find one that did. So I was just wondering if it was just your interpretation or someone else thats credible had the same interpretation.
Posted by snapbacks 5 years ago
I did not want it to be unfair by me posting an extra round so i forfeited my round
Posted by db 5 years ago
Sorry about the forfeit. I'll make sure to post in round 5 though.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Marauder 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Good on both sides, but in the end arguments to Pro