The Instigator
Bible-Defender
Pro (for)
Winning
23 Points
The Contender
Nicholas_Covington
Con (against)
Losing
19 Points

It is reasonable to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a historical event.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
Bible-Defender
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/1/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,497 times Debate No: 11942
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (9)

 

Bible-Defender

Pro

I contend that the Resurrection of Jesus is a historical event that probably happened. It is impossible to reach 100% certainty. However, that should not detract from the discussion since that is the way it is in all of history. One can only prove what probably happened. The historical methodology used to ascertain whether something is to be considered a historical fact is whether the reasons for accepting it outweighs the reasons for rejecting it. Also if the theory explains the facts moreso than alternative theories, then according to historical methods, it probably happened. Therefore the Resurrection stands on good ground.

For evidence, my case is cumulative. IF Jesus was crucified, IF his disciples honestly had what they considered to be experiences of the risen Jesus, IF it can be demonstrated that Paul had suddenly converted, IF James who was skeptical brother of Jesus suddenly converted, and IF the tomb was found empty, and IF the alternative theories are not able to provide an adequate answer for the aforementioned facts that lends strong evidence for the Resurrection. It is my contention that each of these are indeed facts. In fact, they are admitted by most if not nearly all scholars both believing and skeptical to be historical events. It is also my contention that there are no alternative theories that can adequately account for the facts as well as the Resurrection. Therefore, the reasons FOR the accepting the Resurrection outweigh the reasons for rejecting it and thus meet the requirements for historicity, which is called argument to the best explanation.

As for naturalistic theories I will not comment on them as yet. I want to know what my opponent thinks happened. How does he account for those facts? I don't want to waste time and refute something that he himself might not believe in.

It is my contention that:

1.Jesus was indeed crucified and buried. This is attested to not only in the Gospels, but also by Paul and extra-biblical sources. And is admitted to as fact by almost all scholars.
2.It is also my contention that Jesus' disciples believed that He rose from the dead and appeared to them. This is attested to by the fact that they willingly suffered for that message. That is accorded to in Acts, as well as extra-biblical sources and is also accepted as historical fact by nearly all scholars.
3. Paul, who was an enemy of the church suddenly changed. This is stated by Paul himself in a number of N.T. texts and have claimed to have seen the risen Christ. Usually people will convert on the word of someone else, that is a secondary source. But Paul's conversion is due to something that he himself experienced. That is a primary source.
4. James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, suddenly changed. This is attested to in the Bible, and extra-biblical source reports that he was a strict Jew. The Bible also testifies that after the Resurrection, James became a leader of the church.
5. The tomb was found empty. This is accepted by the majority of scholars also (Gary Habermas did a study on the state of scholarship to date. He reports that 75% of scholars agree that the tomb was indeed found empty).

I do not want to get into the specifics right away as to exactly why these are facts or not. I do not want to waste my time in doing so if my opponent is going to agree to them. First I will see what my opponent has to say before responding.

It is also my contention that since there are no naturalistic explanations that can account for the above facts, the only explanation left is that Jesus has indeed been raised from the dead and therefore it is reasonable to believe that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.
Nicholas_Covington

Con

Hi Bible Defender,

Thank you for challenging me to the debate. I agree with you that you need not prove Jesus rose from the dead with 100% certainty. All you need to do is show that the resurrection of Jesus is more likely than not. Likewise, I do not bear the burden of proving with 100% certainty that Jesus did NOT rise from the dead. I will only argue that it is signifigantly more likely than not that Jesus did not come back to life.

For my first point, I'd like to draw attention to the reason that most nonChristian people do not believe Jesus rose from the dead. The reason many of us find it so difficult to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is because all of our experience points to the conclusion that dead bodies do not rise naturally or supernaturally. That the dead stay dead is attested by all of our direct experience with corpses, by most (or all) of the reported experience of everyone we know personally, and is even supported by the vast majority of personal testimony from those we do not know personally. That dead bodies do not return to life is an inductive generalization with extremely strong support.

Of course, being an inductive generalization, it cannot be 100% certain. Nevertheless, it is extremely close to certain. Any evidence or argument seeking to overturn this strong generalization would need to be supported by even stronger evidence, which is a very high burden of proof to have to meet(not to say that no one could ever possibly meet it).

I'd like to turn to my opponent's "facts". First, I'd like to note that, properly defined, none of these things are facts. They are hypotheses, or inferences, made from/about the actual, physical texts that we have. As Richard Carrier has written, "Proper facts are actual tangible artifacts (such as extant texts and archaeological finds) and
straightforward generalizations therefrom. Everything else is a theory as to how those facts came about."[1]
The existence of ancient documents like the Pauline letters is FACT. The events these documents describe are not facts, although we may hypothesize that certain events recorded in these documents actually happened in order to explain (for example) why the events were recorded in the first place, or why they were told a certain way, etc. But we must recognize that our hypothesis from the text is a hypothesis, not a fact. All of this isn't intended to downgrade the importance of historical hypotheses. Some hypotheses can be considered so well confirmed that they are far beyond reasonable doubt and cannot be doubted by rational people.

With that said, my response toward my opponent's "facts" will fall into two basic categories: 1. I will deny that some of his "facts" are sound historical hypotheses. That is, I will argue that there are better hypotheses available, or at least that there is such considerable doubt lingering over his hypotheses that they add no weight to his case. 2. I will argue that his "facts" are better explained by a non-resurrection hypothesis.

Now, onto your case:

I agree that Jesus was crucified and buried, although I don't see how this adds any weight to the resurrection case.

I agree that at least one or a few of the disciples believed that they experienced Jesus (in some sense) after his death. I also concede the point that first century Christians very likely suffered some forms of persecution, i.e., that at the very least they were made fun of, ridiculed, probably beaten or even killed on occasion. I expect that these Christians actually believed what they said they believed.

I agree that Paul converted to Christianity from Judaism and that he converted on the basis of some type of profound experience (probably a vision, as the Bible says, or something like that).

I concede that James the brother of Jesus was an active leader in the early church. I dispute the fact that James was skeptical of Jesus. Jesus' mother and brothers may have been portrayed as skeptical of Jesus in order to make the point that those who follow Jesus are closest to him (As Mark 3:34-35 says, "Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother"). I also beleve that the bible verses used to support James' Skepticism (Mark 3:31-35), do not necessarily imply that James was always skeptical of Jesus, but simply that there was some animosity early in Jesus' life [2]. Finally, I don't think we are in any position to say how the gruesome death of Jesus would have affected James and his attitude toward Jesus, so I don't think his previous skepticism should be seen as some great obstacle blocking his conversion that couldn't be overcome without someone returning from the dead.

I do not agree that there was an empty tomb as I do not see sufficient evidence for it. Although I believe that we layman should generally trust the consensus of historians, I do not think that Habermas' study provides adequate grounds for us to believe that the majority of scholars believe in an empty tomb. In Habermas' article[3] he states,
"[T]he majority of publications on the subject of Jesus' death and resurrection have been written by North American authors. Interestingly, my study...indicates an approximate ratio of 3:1 of moderate conservative to skeptical publications..." ["Moderate Conservatives" are those who think Jesus rose, "Skeptics" believe that Jesus did not rise].

In the nearest endnote to this statement, Habermas informs us "These percentages reflect only those publications that answer this specific question"; Evidently meaning that Habermas only took into account publications that specifically stated whether or not Jesus rose from the dead.

Are believers more likely to publish works answering the question of Jesus' resurrection than nonbelievers? If so, (which certainly seems plausible) then there might appear to be more support for the resurrection (or the other facts, like the empty tomb) because believers are over-represented in his study. Secondly, what about those who are agnostic on this question, or deny that such things can be answered by historical inquiry? Taking such agnostics into account might bring the percentage of "Moderate Conservatives" down quite a bit.

I agree that some of the earliest Christians believed that Jesus appeared to them and that Paul, the former persecutor, converted. How do I explain these facts? I propose that early Christianity was a typical cult. That is, early Christianity was analogous to cults we observe today. Studies have shown that individuals who join cults often have schizotypal tendencies,[4] and that schizotypal personalities (Which make up more than one-half percent of the population)[5]
are more prone to hallucinations and anomalous perceptual experiences.[6] In fact, one study has shown that, in an altered state of consciousness, the individual hallucinating (or dreaming) will see a holy man but not recognize him at first.[7] (Compare this to the reports found in Luke 24:36-53 and John 20:11-13). If Christianity was a typical cult, it is no coincidence that they "saw him" after his death: they were predisposed to.

As for Paul's conversion, I think that we can hypothesize some plausible factors which would have been sufficient to cause Paul's conversion experience (and subsequently his actual conversion): exhaustion (Paul's conversion occurred on a travel to Damascus), disgust at the hypocrisy and corruption of the Pharisees, guilt over persecuting the Christians, temporal lobe epilepsy[8], and/or schizotypal personality, as mentioned above.

Now for my last point: my hypothesis explains at least one fact that the resurrection doesn't. It explains why Jesus did not appear to everyone on earth after his death (which would have caused more to convert, thereby saving more souls, which would have surely been something a loving God would want to do if the Christian story was true).

See the Comments section for my references.
Debate Round No. 1
Bible-Defender

Pro

Hi thanks for your wonderful rebuttal. I will get right to the meat of the matter

People don't rise naturalistically. I absolutely agree. People stay dead, naturalistically and generally. But that is not what we are trying to discover is it? Nope, we are trying to discover what happened in THIS case? And if it happened, then it was a supernatural event.

Now on to James. "I also believe that the bible verses used to support James' Skepticism (Mark 3:31-35), do not necessarily imply that James was always skeptical of Jesus, but simply that there was some animosity early in Jesus' life."

Here are some things to consider. Historians use what is called "principle of embarrassment". The fact that the bible records James' skepticism (as well as his mother's and other members of his family) is an embarrassment and counterproductive. Why should I believe in you when your own family didn't?
All we do know from James is that during his life he was skeptical, then the next time he shows up is at the Jerusalem council. Question is what happened during that time? WHY did he convert?
However, what you suggest is nothing more than speculation, evidence please.
Just seeing the gruesome death of someone isn't going to make you believe in experiencing a resurrected person, exactly the opposite, it would confirm your skepticism.

The disciples were schizophrenics? Please provide historical evidence that they were. That is nothing more than a claim. And saying that people today join cults for weird reasons, so that is what happened in this case is a logical fallacy.

Did they hallucinate? There were too many witnesses. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective. Not only did the disciples not expect this, they didn't even believe it at first -- neither Peter, nor the women, nor Thomas, nor the eleven. They thought he was a ghost; he had to eat something to prove he was not (Lk 24:36-43).

Here are more things to consider concerning hallucinations. [1]

Then what about the empty tomb? If all they did was hallucinate, then how did the tomb get empty? If the tomb wasn't empty, then the opponents of the "cult" would have certainly examined the resurrection claim (since it is physical) and simply produced the body.

Which brings me to the empty tomb. You say that there is not enough evidence. But simply stating that there is not enough evidence is not an argument. How much evidence do you need? And not only that, but where is the historical evidence that it wasn't empty? In order to show that something else happened at the tomb you have to provide evidence for that.[2] Not just saying there isn't enough evidence.

Here is why I believe in the empty tomb.
1. The Jerusalem factor. It is conceded by everyone that the disciples first started their preaching in Jerusalem, right where everything is said to have taken place. Since the resurrection is a bodily one (Jews who believed in a resurrection held that it was a bodily event to happen at the end of time). N.T. Wright, in his landmark study of what the ancient pagan and Jewish thought of the resurrection is that it is a bodily even. However, that being said, if the tomb was not empty, Christianity would be dead right out of the starting gate.
2 There is no historical evidence whatsoever that those who opposed Jesus produced a body, which again would have destroyed their preaching.

3. The testimony of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul mentions the crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Since, according to ancient Jews who believed in a resurrection, it is a physical, bodily event. Therefore, since Paul, an enemy of the early church, clearly believes in a resurrection, it implies an empty tomb. Therefore we have a first century historical witness, even before the gospels!. Why is that? Paul himself states that what he is passing on he received, from the apostles. It is universally accepted that the apostles preached the resurrection. Since that is so, it again implies an empty tomb.

4. The testimony of the women. Female testimony in the first century was not considered entirely trustworthy. Especially in matters of great importance. Again most scholars who comment on this state that if they were making it up, they would not have used women as the first witnesses. This is called the principle of embarrassment.

5. As my opponent already admitted, the apostles really did believe in the resurrection. But, to proclaim a resurrection is to admit an empty tomb. And they were in a position to know (right place, right time) if indeed the tomb were empty or not. If not, then they would have been found liars, but, as my opponent admits they were sincere, therefore not conscious liars. This leads to my next clue.

6. The earliest polemics against the Christians from their opponents admit and empty tomb. From Matthew (Matthew 28: 12-13) to Justyn Martyr (Dialogue with Trypho) to Tertullian (De Spectaculis 30), we know that the Jewish opponents were, for over two centuries, trying to explain the empty tomb. Which means that they too believed it to be empty.
Therefore, since there are reasons leading to the fact of the empty tomb, and no historical evidence against it, it is reasonable to believe that it was indeed empty, as the majority of critical scholars admit.

Now to Paul conversion. "As for Paul's conversion, I think that we can hypothesize some plausible factors which would have been sufficient to cause Paul's conversion experience (and subsequently his actual conversion): exhaustion (Paul's conversion occurred on a travel to Damascus)"

Evidence please, not just speculation. I didn't read anywhere he was exhausted.

"disgust at the hypocrisy and corruption of the Pharisees,"

Evidence please. At the time he didn't see anything wrong with the Pharisees.

"guilt over persecuting the Christians"

Evidence please.

"temporal lobe epilepsy[8], and/or schizotypal personality, as mentioned above."

Evidence please. In order to diagnose someone with temporal lobe epilepsy, you need to do an actual physical examination.[3]

Also your reference to TLE, the conclusion was challenged in the same journal (J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1988;51;886-887) by J.R. Brorson and K. Brewer who stated that this hypothesis failed to explain why Paul's companions heard a voice (Acts 9:7), saw a light (Acts 22:9), or fell to the ground (Acts 26:14). Furthermore, no seizure, depressed mental state, nor lack of awareness of blindness (a characteristic of cortical blindness) were reported in Acts. Additionally, Paul's blindness remitted in sudden fashion, rather than the gradual resolution as is typical of post-ictal states.

So, what do we have so far? Jesus died, the believers were schizophrenics, Paul was an epileptic that hallucinated and the tomb wasn't empty, and James was a skeptic until he saw Jesus' brutal death. All this with no historical evidence what-so-ever.

So, in order to account for the data, my opponent has to pile on four theories that try to explain the data. However, that doesn't make it more probable, but less probable. For example lets say that each theory has 50% chance of being right. .5x.5x.5x.5=.0625. In other words when compiled, the probability of all four being right on is 6.25%. Not good.

Here is why my opponents' argument fails. He claims that the disciples were schizo's. But it fails to account for the tomb either way. It fails to account for James and Paul. His theory for Paul, doesn't take into account the disciples, nor James, nor the tomb. So, he has to combine improbable theory upon improbable theory.

I only have one and it explains all of the data. "if the scope and strength of an explanation are very great, so that it explains a large number and variety of facts, many more than any competing explanation, then it is likely to be true."[5]

So, according to historical methodology, the resurrection is still the best explanation, therefore reasonable.
Nicholas_Covington

Con

You state that you agree that people do not rise naturalistically. I never argued that Jesus' resurrection had to be natural in order for it to occur. Rather, I argue that we know inductively that the dead do not rise, and that is true even concerning a supernatural resurrection, because we don't see anyone rising from the dead supernaturally either, do we?

Re: James being skeptical of Jesus, you ask what could have changed his mind. I submit that there are several possible answers: perhaps this bit of Mark is a rumor in the early church born of slander against James. Perhaps James liked the idea of leading his brother's cult after his death, and so took to leading it in order to gain power. Perhaps James had a grief hallucination and was more open to accepting his brother's religion after watching him cruelly and unjustly punished.

"[S]aying that people today join cults for weird reasons, so that is what happened in this case is a logical fallacy."
No, it's inductive reasoning. Christianity must be assumed a typical cult until proven otherwise because most cults are typical ones.

You say Jesus' resurrection had too many witnesses? The evidence that we have is too scanty to support such a conclusion. Paul does recite a creed in 1 Corinthians 15 in which he states that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once, but there are numerous doubts about this passage. Kris Komarnitsky suggests that Paul had picked up a fringe legend from the Christian community and was using it to support his argument for the resurrection. He cites some evidence for this: he points out that such a sighting would be so incredible that the gospels would not have failed to report it if it were true[1]. Robert Price suggests that this passage is an interpolation [2](although his case is not widely supported amongst NT scholars). I would suggest that even if Paul was telling the truth, we know that group hallucinations can and do happen, and so this isn't really a big obstacle for naturalistic theories [3].

As for your citation of Luke, we have plenty of reason to believe that Luke is inventing a legend, given the fact that such stories are absent from Paul and Mark, and the fact that legends can arise very rapidly [4], whereas Luke was probably not written until the latter half of the first century (at the earliest).

"If the tomb wasn't empty, then the opponents of the 'cult' would have certainly examined the resurrection claim (since it is physical) and simply produced the body." False. First of all, the church allegedly did not begin preaching until 40 days after the resurrection, and the authorities may not have found out about the preaching until even later than that. How do you know Jesus' body would have been preserved to the point of recognition? How do you know that the presentation of Jesus' corpse would have been recorded by Christians, or that they would have recanted their faith, instead of dismissing such a thing as a test of their faith? The cults of John Frum are composed of South Pacific villagers whose ancestors (somehow) got the idea that an American soldier John Frum would one day return from America and bring all the great riches to their people that the Americans enjoyed. Maj. Samuel Patten set out to convince the islanders that the American forces had nothing to do with John Frum; the American forces were never intending to bring the natives endless supplies of cargo as Frum had allegedly promised. The natives didn't believe the major, and the movement continues to this day.[5]

"[S]imply stating that there is not enough evidence is not an argument."

But it is an argument:
1.If there is not sufficient evidence to support the empty tomb story, then we should not believe it.
2.There is not sufficient evidence to support the empty tomb story.
3.Therefore, we should not believe it.

"How much evidence do you need?"

A lot. We know that tombs and graves don't turn up empty very often at all, so you need some strong evidence to support the conclusion that the tomb was empty. But you do not have it.

"[W]here is the historical evidence that [the tomb] wasn't empty?"

Some evidence exists in the fact that Paul never mentions the empty tomb, even though it would have been a key piece of evidence for his argument that resurrection was possible because Jesus had been raised (1 Cor. 15). If women had discovered it, Paul may have felt that he could not use it. However, if Peter or some other male witness had checked the tomb (as Luke 24:12 reports), he could have used this testimony, yet he does not.
Now, onto your reasons for believing the empty tomb story:

1 and 2. See John Frum example.

3 and 5. I agree that early Christians believed in a bodily resurrection, that they believed Jesus was resurrected bodily, and that such a belief logically entails that Jesus physically left wherever the Romans and/or Jews last placed his body. However, just because the Christians held a belief which logically entailed an empty tomb does not mean that they had any evidence of an empty tomb. How do you know that they knew where Jesus was buried? Or that they would not have rationalized contrary evidence like the John Frum cult.

4. The fact that women allegedly found the tomb is of no use to your case. The testimony of women may have been part of a literary theme in Mark in which he reverses the expectations of the reader. The first shall be last and the last shall be first (Mark 10:31). Those who were last, the women, have the honor of being first to see the risen Jesus.

6. How exactly are polemics against Tertullian and Justin Martyr evidence of anything? They were writing over 100 years after Jesus' death. It's historically worthless. As for the polemic in Matthew, at least some Jews would have accepted the claim of the empty tomb (for the sake of argument) and simply challenged the notion that an empty tomb meant a resurrection. I've done the same thing!

Re: Paul's conversion, its perfectly OK to discuss plausible factors that may have led to it. Sure theres no direct evidence of them, but we know that every factor I mentioned occurs, and any one of them, or perhaps a combination of two or three, would easily renders Paul's conversion experience probable. We would expect such factors to be at work in conversion experiences that involve those who are originally hostile to the cult, because such an experience is the only way such a person would join the cult. Besides, the epileptic Paul hypothesis explains quite a few facts which aren't explained by a single hypothesis otherwise.

My hypothesis (that Christians were typical cult members) explains why Christians saw Jesus after death (they were individuals with tendencies towards hallucination), it can explain why James changed his mind (the cult, being a group of devout sheep, looked attractive to James because of the power he could attain), why Jesus did not do something to convince the entire world (he was an ordinary cult leader, not a God) which would certainly be the kind of thing a loving God would want to do, given Christian beliefs. When conjoined with the epileptic Paul hypothesis, it is consistent with Paul's conversion and explains even more facts. My hypothesis is not falsified by the possibility that early Christians knew of some disconfirming evidence, since they would have simply explained it away like most cults do today.

You said that I needed four theories to account for the all the data, whereas you only needed one. That is false. Some of the "data" like the empty tomb for example, is not reliable enough for us to be sure it is true. Further, your hypothesis assumes that a miracle-working God exists who would want to raise Jesus from the dead. Each of those is questionable. For example, I argue that even if God existed he would not be inclined to raise Jesus, because Jesus was a failed doomsday prophet[6].
Debate Round No. 2
Bible-Defender

Pro

Bible-Defender forfeited this round.
Nicholas_Covington

Con

Since my opponent has forfeited this round, I thought I'd take the time to clear up somethings that have been bothering me. I'm not going to overwhelm my opponent with material to respond to, so all of this will simply be either clarifications of things that I have already said, or more neutral statements about our methods.

I feel my opponent has made the mistake of confusing theories and facts. As I've said before, the only "facts" are that we have documents called Mark, Luke, 1 Corinthians, etc. and that those documents say such and such. When my opponent says that the empty tomb is a "fact" he is simply wrong: it isn't a fact, it is a theory created to explain the facts (the "facts" being the text which attest to an empty tomb) [This is something I brought up in my opening statement]. He doesn't seem to want to acknowledge this or to count it as a hypothetical explanation. However, when I come up with a hypothetical explanation for the empty tomb stories, he wants to say that this counts as an additional assumption in my overall theory, and use that to make my theory seem ad-hoc (or contrived).

What is really going on here is the following: we are both taking the facts, drawing inferences from the facts, and then coming up with an over-arching theory to explain those inferences. Here are the facts, and listed below them are some possible explanations:

*The report of an empty tomb* could be explained by...
(1) An actual empty tomb
(2) A literary theme in Mark

*The report of Jesus appearing to individuals after death* could be explained by...
(1) An actual appearance of Jesus after his death.
(2) Grief Hallucinations

*The report of the conversion of the once skeptical James* could be explained by...
(1) Conversion of a once-skeptical James by overwhelming evidence of a resurrection of Jesus.
(2) Conversion of James because he desired power and wanted to be the leader of Jesus' sect.
(3) James never actually being skeptical, but reports of skepticism being due to malicious rumors about James.
(4) James promoting exaggerated stories of his skepticism in order to make himself seem like someone who was thrust into leadership by God. [1]. NOTE: I will write the reference for this in the comment sections as soon as I am able, which should be within 24 hours. Be sure and read it, it should be interesting to all.

*Paul's reported conversion* (which I think we both agree is explained by his actual conversion) could be explained by...
(1) Having an actual encounter with Jesus.
(2) Having a hallucination brought on by guilt, exhaustion, or by temporal lobe epilepsy, or schizotypal personality.

Most of these inferences that we could make would be explained either by (1) An actual resurrection or (2) Christianity simply being a typical cult. For example, an actual empty tomb and actual appearance of Jesus after death would be easily explicable through the over-standing theory resurrection. However, the same is true of my theory: it would explain many of these inferences. It would explain the grief hallucinations, James' conversion, Paul's conversion experience, etc. As I've already explained, if Christianity was a typical cult we could expect them to have hallucinations. If Christianity was a typical cult we might expect it to be something with positions of power that were desired by its members, and we can expect that James would have wanted such a position for himself.

My theory gains some explanatory scope in the fact that if Paul suffered temporal lobe epilepsy, then that also explains several other facts, such as Paul's interest in religion, why he never married, his tendency to write long letters, etc. (all of which are tendencies found in those who suffer from epilepsy).

My theory does not explain the report of an empty tomb, since the gospel writers employing a literary theme is not explained by the theory that they were a typical cult. So it loses some explanatory scope in that it does not explain one fact.

However, the Resurrection theory also has something that it cannot explain: It cannot explain why Jesus did not appear to everyone after his death, whereas my theory does explain that: Christianity, being a typical cult, had not discovered any truth in Jesus. It was wrong. God did not raise Jesus, and so that is why Jesus did not appear to the whole world. He couldn't because he was not a supernatural being.

But let's return to the resurrection explanation: if God exists, and he raised Jesus, and he wants everyone to be saved, why didn't he raise Jesus and then have Jesus go and preach to the Native Americans? Why did he let the Native Americans grow up, generation after generation, without knowing the truth? That is the question I'd like my opponent to answer. (It isn't a different question from the one asked above, just a different way of stating it, and I have already asked this once in the debate).
Debate Round No. 3
Bible-Defender

Pro

I apologize for missing the last round, military service doesn't wait for debates unfortunately, neither do criminal investigations. So I will just respond to as much as space provides.

Empty tomb. According to the historical method, something can be said to be fact if the reasons for believing in it outweigh the reasons against it. I have given for the empty tomb. My opponent has given that it may just be a literary device used by Mark. What about the other gospels, and 1 Corinthians? What of the earliest polemics of the opponent's of Christianity accepting the fact of the empty tomb? And what evidence is there for Mark just being a literary device?
There is another problem with the full tomb view. My opponent says that the preaching didn't start to occur until 40 days later, and to believe that Jesus would be recognizable is outlandish. I'm not saying that at all. If ANY body was in the tomb, Christianity would be dealt a death blow.

Even in your prior post, all you state is there is not enough evidence for the empty tomb. That is not good enough. Even when asked how much evidence you would need all you state is "a lot" which goes to shows how subjective of your methodology is.

You have to provide historical evidence that the tomb wasn't empty.[1] Since you only hold that the story was only a literary device, then it seems that thomb would still have a body inside the tomb.

Paul mentions the crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Since, according to ancient Jews who believed in a resurrection, it is a physical, bodily event. Therefore, since Paul, an enemy of the early church, clearly believes in a resurrection, it implies an empty tomb. Therefore we have a first century historical witness, even before the gospels!.

>The testimony of women may have been part of a literary theme in Mark in which he reverses the expectations of the reader<

May have been? Evidence please. I have already given reasons why historians believe the testimony of the women is valuable (principle of embarrassment). This is what I am talking about, all you have given so far is speculation.

Your treatment of Tertullian and Justin Martyr is special pleading. Other ancient historians (ie Tacitus) also write of things that happened a hundred years before, that doesn't automatically mean that the testimony is worthless.

>How do you know that they knew where Jesus was buried<

The wrong tomb theory, really? Do you really want to go there?

So, the first theory is literary device.

Jesus' appearance are. Grief hallucinations? Here is what is wrong with that theory. No evidence for it. There is no evidence that Paul felt any kind of guilt at all. That is just speculation. Please provide historical evidence for the hallucinations. A hallucination may be defined as "a false sensory perception that has the compelling sense of reality despite the absence of an external stimulus". [2]

Also, there is also no known group hallucination. [3]

But there is one other problem with the hallucination theory, the empty tomb. If the disciples and Paul all experienced hallucinations, then the tomb should still have a body in it. It is a full tomb view. So now my opponent has to account for the tomb.
Here is more:
If everyone did have hallucinations, a simple check at the tomb by their enemies would have erased any misguided beliefs.

Diversity of appearances can't be explained by the theory. He appeared not one time but many times, not just to individuals, but also to groups, at different locales, not just to believers, but to skeptics and enemies.

Hallucinations cannot be shared, therefore are not a group phenomenon. Since that is true, they also will not have the same hallucination. [4]

Hallucinations come from what is already in the mind. Hallucinations do not provide anything new since it cannot go beyond what is already in the mind.

Paul, wasn't in the right frame of mind. He was an enemy of the Church, he didn't want to see Jesus alive. He believed that Christians were blasphemers.

James, was also a skeptic, and didn't believe during his lifetime, and was a devout Jew wasn't in the right frame of mind.

It even has problems accounting for the disciples' belief. In Judaism, the resurrection was to occur at the end of history, but not in the middle of history. So, at best, they would be looking for the resurrection on judgment day, now so soon after the crucifixion. They were also skeptical of the women's claims which shows that they weren't in the right frame of mind.

This theory is also improbable because those who are promoting this theory are trying to psychoanalyze historical figures. But the data to do this is simply insufficient. Historians reject psychobiography precisely for this reason.

It is begging the question whether such experiences could possibly be objective, or even supernatural. In other words, why must a naturalistic, subjective explanation be assumed?[5]

Some proponents admit that group hallucinations have a "dubious status" because it is not possible to ascertain whether these individuals were actually hallucinating![6]

In fact regarding Paul you admit that there is no evidence that he had hallucinations. It is not whether people have hallucinations therefore he had to have had one, the question is did PAUL have one? And where is the evidence for that? Yup you said it, there is none.

James' conversion. My opponent gave six theories. But again notice no historical evidence for them, just speculation. Please give historical evidence for James' hunger for power, his not being a real skeptic, etc. I have given historical reasons as to why I believe what I stated. Just giving alternatives without supporting evidence for them is speculation and again doesn't take into account the empty tomb.

Now for my opponents question. It is off subject but I will answer it. Jesus didn't need to show himself alive to everyone on the planet. In the Bible there is what is called Natural Law, even though people who never knew of Christ has enough evidence from nature that there is a God. [7] But the debate here is not why Jesus did or didn't show himself to everyone on earth, it is to see if Jesus' resurrection is a reasonable belief.

So what do we have so far? Again my opponent has to combine at least four theories to try to explain the data. The problem is, he offers no historical evidence for it, and each one that he offers suffers from a myriad of problems! He states that there is not enough evidence for the empty tomb and it's just a literary device (theory 1), but offers no evidence otherwise.[see ref. 1] He offers hallucinations (theory 2), but offers no evidence. He says that James' might not have been skeptical but a power monger etc (theory 3), but again no historical evidence to back up the claim. And Paul the epileptic (theory 4)? The historical evidence is…..? Nothing. So, to wind up, my opponent has to stack one improbable theory upon another in order to try to account for the facts. But that just makes it more IMprobable. That is ad hoc. I say facts because the reasons for them outweigh the reasons against them. While the resurrection takes into account for all of them.

"if the scope and strength of an explanation are very great, so that it explains a large number and variety of facts, many more than any competing explanation, then it is likely to be true." [8]

Mine does, which is why my opponent has to add theories on top of each other to try to explain the facts. Therefore according to historical method, the resurrection is the more reasonable belief.
Nicholas_Covington

Con

I'm a little frustrated. My opponent's "rebuttal" (if it can even be called that; it wasn't much of a rebuttal) ignored a lot of points that I had previously addressed, which means that he either didn't read what I wrote or doesn't know how to respond to my points and thinks that just repeating the same assertions like a broken record will pass for a response. For example, he says that there is no evidence that mass hallucinations occur even though I provided some earlier in the debate. He also thinks that Paul provides evidence for the empty tomb because Paul preached a bodily resurrection (which would have logically entailed an empty grave). Although it is true that Paul's beliefs logically entailed an empty tomb, that does not mean that Paul knew of any evidence for any empty, as previously stated. How many times will I have to bring up these points before they are acknowledged?

In light of what I said above, I'm not going to even bother responding to any of my opponent's comments that I have already refuted.

My opponent is using different terminology than I am. He thinks that something is a "fact" when the reasons for believing it outweigh the reasons for disbelieving it. Fair enough, this is nothing more than a semantic point.

He asks about the evidence that the women in the empty tomb story is a literary device. I'll tell you: in the gospels it is taught that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In the gospels it is the marginalized, the weak, the downtrodden, who understand Jesus rather than the Jewish authorities or even Jesus' disciples. It only makes sense that the underlings (the women) are the ones who discover the tomb.[1]

Further, there seems to be a theme of "reversal of expectation" in the gospel of Mark: Who carries Jesus' cross? Not Simon Peter, the one whom prompted Jesus to say "You must take up your cross and follow me" (Mark 8) but another Simon, Simon of Cyrene. Who buries Jesus? Not his father Joseph (which customary for Jews) but another Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea. Who discovers that Jesus has risen? Not the male disciples, but the lowly female followers.

My opponent says that if any body were in Jesus' tomb, it would have dealt Christianity a death blow. As if Christians couldn't have simply claimed that the body was not Jesus'. As if the authorities would have even bothered citing such weak evidence. As if cults don't continue in spite of disconfirming evidence, as I already showed.

Re: subjective methodology, to give a precise answer to your question, you'd have to determine the frequency of missing bodies (which I assume would be very low). Let's say the odds are 1 in 1000. Then you would have to find some fact which has an even lower probability of existing if there was no empty tomb. William Lane Craig has explained the principles for how can you can do this; indeed, he explained Bayes' Theorem in a debate with Bart Ehrman.

The next objection that keeps cropping up is that I don't have any evidence. Apparently my opponent once again did not absorb the points I made in a previous post: all we are doing is taking the facts we have and explaining them. When a fact is "evidence for" some explanation, that means that the fact is predicted (or expected) by the explanation. A hallucination of jesus predicts someone believing that they saw jesus just as well as an actual resurrection appearance. Further, hallucinations occur very frequently in comparison to resurrections, which either never or almost never occur.

I find it somewhat amusing that my opponent criticises me of psychoanalyzing historical figures, but nevertheless thinks that he can tell us that James and Paul weren't "in the right frame of mind" to hallucinate Jesus.

Why can't we postulate mental illnesses for historical figures? No reason is given. And if we can't assess the mental status of a historical figure, what makes my opponent think that he can assume these individuals were sane, or that they "weren't in the right state of mind" to hallucinate?

"In Judaism, the resurrection was to occur at the end of history, but not in the middle of history."

Exactly. And that's why most scholars don't believe that the early Christians thought they were living in "the middle of history" but at the end of history. It's one reason among many that scholars think of Jesus as a failed apocalyptic preacher and his followers as failed apocalypticists. Jesus thought the end of the world was near[2]. He was wrong. Why do you think God would raise a false prophet?

"It is begging the question whether such experiences could possibly be objective, or even supernatural. In other words, why must a naturalistic, subjective explanation be assumed?"

No it isn't begging the question, and I'm not assuming a natural explanations. I postulated a natural explanation to account for certain facts, and it does account for those facts, and I also know that the kind of natural explanation (hallucinations) occur pretty frequently, more frequently than resurrections. So I'm simply concluding that the explanation for the facts which is objectively determined to be more likely is probably correct.

In regards to James: "I have given historical reasons as to why I believe what I stated."
No you didn't. You didn't give one shred of evidence to show that James' skepticism lasted for more than just a temporary period of time.

You say that God did give everyone enough evidence to believe in him from nature. That is debatable. But even if he did, what is there in nature that shows that human beings need to turn specifically to Jesus? If there is something in nature that serves to teach man about Christianity, why did no other culture discover Christianity independently of (direct or indirect) middle-eastern influence? And this question is not off-topic, since the fact that Jesus never proved to the entire world what he was is a fact that pretty much every non-resurrection theory can explain, but which the resurrection theory cannot, as previously explained.

To wrap up, I'd like to restate something I stated before:

When my opponent says that the empty tomb is a "fact" he is simply wrong: it isn't a fact, it is a theory created to explain the facts (the "facts" being the text which attest to an empty tomb) [This is something I brought up in my opening statement]. He doesn't seem to want to acknowledge this or to count it as a hypothetical explanation. However, when I come up with a hypothetical explanation for the empty tomb stories, he wants to say that this counts as an additional assumption in my overall theory, and use that to make my theory seem ad-hoc (or contrived).

Why hasn't my opponent acknowledged the above point at all? Why has he chosen to ignore the lesson I just taught him and continue in error?
Debate Round No. 4
Bible-Defender

Pro

There are great problems with his hallucinations theory as already stated above. However my opponent makes a false accusation. Even if I said that mass hallucinations occurred here and now, what is the evidence that it happened repeatedly to different groups, individuals with different states of mind over a 40 day period following THAT Easter morning? I am sorry that my opponent is frustrated, but just making claims without proof will not do, it is irresponsible research to do so. It is also is a fallacy of composition.

Paul and the empty tomb. As stated earlier in the debate, 1 Cor 15 has a well known, early creed. That creed is about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He also states in his letter to the Galatians that he personally met with the apostles. He also states in 1 Cor 15 that what he was preaching is the same that they were. And as my opponent agreed, Paul believed in a physical resurrection which entails an empty tomb. He was also in the right place and right time, he certainly could have checked out the tomb for himself.

Literary device? My opponent refers to Mark 10:31 (Matt 19:30).[1] However, even a superficial reading of the texts IN CONTEXT reveals that Jesus is speaking of who will enter the kingdom of heaven. Even my opponent's explanation is insufficient. Just because the women were the underlings that "understood Jesus the best", it doesn't follow that they didn't discover the empty tomb. It also goes against what he has accepted as fact. My opponent agrees that they really believed that they experienced the risen Jesus. But if they really believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and as my opponent agrees, it is a physical event, why even need a "literary device" to explain the tomb? Not only that, but it would make them liars. Which is contrary to what my opponent agreed to as fact. And it doesn't take into account or refute the other historical evidences for the empty tomb that I had given above. Also, the literary device theory itself gives rise to more questions than it answers. If the empty tomb was just a "literary device, " then the tomb must have been full. So how does one account for that? Yet another theory has to be brought in.

>Further, there seems to be a theme of "reversal of expectation" in the gospel of Mark: Who carries Jesus' cross? Not Simon Peter, the one whom prompted Jesus to say "You must take up your cross and follow me" (Mark 8) but another Simon, Simon of Cyrene.<

Again, just a cursory reading of the text reveals that Peter wasn't even around to carry anything.

>Who buries Jesus? Not his father Joseph (which customary for Jews) but another Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea.<

After the birth of Jesus, his father is mentioned little if at all. Most NT scholars contend that Joseph was probably dead by that time. Hence, not around.

>Who discovers that Jesus has risen? Not the male disciples, but the lowly female followers.<
Exactly right! That falls right into the principle of embarrassment. And that is what makes the discovery of the tomb more likely than not, not to mention the other factors I had already mentioned.

So, just taking verses out of context isn't enough to validate it as a literary device. And which literary device is it? None that I am aware of.

Again producing any body would be hard for Christians who preached the resurrection (and hence an empty tomb, especially to Jews), if any sort of body was discovered. The opponents of Jesus would certainly want to investigate and provide a body. Not only that, but the historical evidence we DO have point to the empty tomb, such as enemy attestation.

"By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb." [2]

"All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of the empty tomb, and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history." [3]

Again I am asking for evidence that a hallucination occurred in THIS instance. You yourself said that you have none. Just predicting that a hallucination will lead someone to believe in the risen Jesus runs into problems. For example, so would an actual resurrection! Not to mention the mountain of problems the theory has right out of the starting gate, and there is not a shred of historical evidence that they actually hallucinated.

I say that they weren't in the right frame of mind because of the evidence. They didn't believe the women, when it would seem that they should have, Paul certainly didn't want to see Jesus alive (he was quite content arresting the blaspheming Christians) James was a skeptic (as Mark and John both report). About postulating mental illnesses, that is because there is no evidence for it.

>No you didn't. You didn't give one shred of evidence to show that James' skepticism lasted for more than just a temporary period of time.<

Sure did. Mark and John both state that the family of Jesus was skeptical of Jesus. That is two independent, first century documents. We also have Hegesippus, who reports he strictly followed Jewish Law. Then, in the book of Acts, James is head of the Jerusalem council. Something happened. My opponent says that James was a power monger, the disciples exaggerated his skepticism. However he offers no evidence for such speculations. All I am saying is that James was skeptical during Jesus' life and then shortly after, he became a believer. What happened that made him change?[4]

Again notice what my opponent has to do. Again, what my opponent has to do is pile on one theory on another. But that just makes it more improbable. For example. My opponent has to combine at least four theories. Lets say that each one has a 60% chance of being correct (that is being generous), .6x.6x.6x.6=.1296 or 13% chance of being true. And that is IF all sub-theories are true! And in order for the combination theory to succeed every one of the sub-theories has to be correct.

>we are both taking the facts, drawing inferences from the facts, and then coming up with an over-arching theory to explain those inferences<

Right on. However, my opponent doesn't have one. He has to combine four. And again according historical method the theory that explains the greatest amount of data is the best explanation, therefore more probable.

When I ask for evidence for a speculation I mean exactly that. If they hallucinated, where is the historical evidence (ie. Ancient polemic that stated that they hallucinated). If James were hungry for power, where is the historical evidence for that assertion. THAT is what I mean.

So, what do we have so far?
We agree that Jesus died and was buried. The disciples had hallucinations (but no evidence is provided, and the many problems it faces). So it is safe to conclude that they didn't hallucinate. James was a skeptic then became a believer (no evidence is given to his power mongering etc.). So it is safe to conclude that James wasn't on a power trip from what we know of him. Paul was an epileptic (no evidence is given in support of this as you admit). So again it is safe to believe that he wasn't an epileptic. The empty tomb is a literary device (but since there is no evidence of this) it is safe to conclude that the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea was found empty.[5]

It is also noteworthy that historians realize that naturalistic theories have failed to account for the data, [6] and be open-minded[7][8].

So, if Jesus died and was buried, the disciples did really believe that they experienced the resurrected Jesus, James suddenly converted, Paul suddenly converted and the tomb was found empty, and no naturalistic theory explains the facts, then what happened? According to historiography, the simplest explanation that explains all the data is the best. According to historical method, therefore, it is reasonable to believe what they said happened, he has risen.
Nicholas_Covington

Con

"[W]hat is the evidence that [mass hallucinations] happened repeatedly to different groups, individuals with different states of mind over a 40 day period following THAT Easter morning?"

As I've repeatedly explained, it is incorrect to ask for evidence of hallucinations just as it is incorrect to ask for evidence that the appearances were real appearances of Jesus, since both are just hypotheses that are there to explain the data.

"[A]s my opponent agreed, Paul believed in a physical resurrection which entails an empty tomb. He was also in the right place and right time, he certainly could have checked out the tomb for himself."

Yes, Paul's beliefs did entail that he believed Jesus left wherever he was buried. But Paul never says Jesus was buried in a tomb (he may have been buried in the ground) nor does Paul say that he checked the tomb, nor is there any reason to believe he would have or could have. Nor does it mean that Jesus' corpse would have been still recognizable at the time Paul converted. Nor does it mean that Paul could have recognized Jesus' corpse, since Paul had never met Jesus during Jesus' lifetime, and there were no photographs in those days.

"Literary device? My opponent refers to Mark 10:31 (Matt 19:30).[1] However, even a superficial reading of the texts IN CONTEXT reveals that Jesus is speaking of who will enter the kingdom of heaven."

No, Mark 10 simply says that those who have followed Jesus will recieve 100 times as much as they have lost in the present age and the age to come. The female followers, who were less respected in society, are therefore portrayed as recieving the honor in being the discoverers of the empty tomb and the first to see Jesus.

"Just because the women were the underlings that "understood Jesus the best", it doesn't follow that they didn't discover the empty tomb."

Right. It just means that the evidence you cite for the empty tomb (the 'embarassing' testimony of women) is worthless and therefore you have no evidence for the empty tomb.

"[I]f [early Christians] really believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and as my opponent agrees, it is a physical event, why even need a 'literary device' to explain the tomb? Not only that, but it would make them liars. Which is contrary to what my opponent agreed to as fact."

No, telling symbolic or ironic stories does not make one a liar. And the author of Mark wasn't one of the earliest Christians. He was not a disciple and may not have written until 40 years after Jesus' death.

My original response: >Further, there seems to be a theme of "reversal of expectation" in the gospel of Mark: Who carries Jesus' cross? Not Simon Peter, the one whom prompted Jesus to say "You must take up your cross and follow me" (Mark 8) but another Simon, Simon of Cyrene.<

"Again, just a cursory reading of the text reveals that Peter wasn't even around to carry anything."
I didn't say Peter was around. I'm just noting the irony and reversal of expectation in the story.

My original response: >Who buries Jesus? Not his father Joseph (which customary for Jews) but another Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea.<

"After the birth of Jesus, his father is mentioned little if at all. Most NT scholars contend that Joseph was probably dead by that time. Hence, not around."
So what? Jesus wasn't buried by the person, Joseph, who would normally have buried him (perhaps because he was dead) but by another Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea. The story portrays an ironic reversal of expectation.

>Who discovers that Jesus has risen? Not the male disciples, but the lowly female followers.<
"Exactly right! That falls right into the principle of embarrassment."
Nope. It falls right into the literary theme I've been explaining.

"Again producing any body would be hard for Christians who preached the resurrection (and hence an empty tomb, especially to Jews), if any sort of body was discovered. The opponents of Jesus would certainly want to investigate and provide a body. Not only that, but the historical evidence we DO have point to the empty tomb, such as enemy attestation."

And I've already addressed that point by giving you evidence of cognitive dissonance seen in cults. And enemy attestation means nothing because the opponents may have simply assumed the empty tomb for the sake of argument in trying to persuade people otherwise. In other words, your "evidence" for an empty tomb is EPIC FAIL.

"I say that they weren't in the right frame of mind because of the evidence. They didn't believe the women, when it would seem that they should have,"

The reports of the women not being believed all come from later sources. It's not in Paul and not in Mark (the original ending of Mark ends at verse 16:8). Besides, just because later sources something doesn't make it true.

"Paul certainly didn't want to see Jesus alive (he was quite content arresting the blaspheming Christians)"

But you don't know that he was "content". He may have felt guilty.

"James was a skeptic (as Mark and John both report)."

And you have never shown that James' skepticism had not disappeared long before Jesus' death. Just because James was doubtful early in Jesus' career does not mean that he stayed doubtful.

"About postulating mental illnesses, that is because there is no evidence for it."
Except that most cults have more mentally ill members, and Christianity must be assumed a typical cult until proven otherwise. And the evidence in Paul which shows that he was epileptic (the references I gave for that earlier list numerous peculiar things about Paul which are common in epileptics).

My original response:>No you didn't. You didn't give one shred of evidence to show that James' skepticism lasted for more than just a temporary period of time.<

"Sure did." No you didn't. Your sources state that James was doubtful earlier in Jesus' career, and later on mention that he joined the group. But they don't say when. Could've been well before Jesus' death, and even if it wasn't, there are a million reasons (like gaining power) that James might have wanted to join the cult.

"Again notice what my opponent has to do. Again, what my opponent has to do is pile on one theory on another. But that just makes it more improbable. For example. My opponent has to combine at least four theories. Lets say that each one has a 60% chance of being correct (that is being generous), .6x.6x.6x.6=.1296 or 13% chance of being true."

Using your reasoning, you also have four theories: that the disciples actually saw the risen jesus, that the tomb really was empty, that Paul was completely sane and in a sound state of mind, etc. etc. If we give each theory of yours a 60% chance, then your theory is just as improbable as mine. Hopefully this will prove to you, and the readers, that your above reasoning is completely bogus.

My original response: >we are both taking the facts, drawing inferences from the facts, and then coming up with an over-arching theory to explain those inferences<

"Right on. However, my opponent doesn't have one. He has to combine four."
No, my overarching theory was that early Christianity was a typical cult. Much of what I postulated (hallucinations, etc.) followed from that theory, as I showed before.

In conclusion, I'd like to note that my opponent never responded to the evidence that I cited against the empty tomb (the fact that Paul never mentioned it). Nor did he respond to the point that every hypothesis I have advocated is more likely than a resurrection (since lying, hallucinating, etc. occur all the time and resurrections have never occurred as far as we can tell-- we have no direct experience of them). I refer to my posts in Rounds 1 and 3 that show why my theory is better.

I offer my opponent an e-handshake, and walk away with the confidence of knowing I have argued my case correctly and won the debate (at least in my own eyes).
Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Nicholas_Covington 7 years ago
Nicholas_Covington
Congrats to BibleDefender on the win.
Posted by skepthinker 7 years ago
skepthinker
(response to Evilove cont.)
In summary, its ok that Evilove would like to have a different topic for debate, but we cannot fault Con for that. The basic criteria is if the resurrection is more reasonable/likely historically than Con's explanation or any other explanation. If not, than the vote goes to Con. So, assuming the information- evidence is basically as given in the bible, which is a big presumption in itself, the question is is it more likely that a corpse disappearing from a tomb somewhere on or between three days of decomposition was actually resurrected and seen by followers and only followers (the number of whom varies and is uncertain), or can such be more reasonably explained and thus be more likely that the body was stolen or those seeking it went to the wrong tomb(etc.), all of which have happened on other occasions to other people in the past, and that it is more reasonably likely that the cult followers had hallucinations of seeing the person/corpse alive the same as many other followers of other cults have had in the past and present. Thats the only question up for a vote.
Posted by skepthinker 7 years ago
skepthinker
On the literary device, Evilove needs to read the point again as I don't think her criticism actually deals with what he said. Remember the book was not written for us in the modern age, it was written for individuals almost 2 thousand years ago using their literary styles and methods. None of us know for sure , so we cannot make any overarching claims of knowing "what the author really means to say" therefore everyone else's evidenced interpretation is wrong. We must consider the point and support and provide evidence. Con has.
Posted by skepthinker 7 years ago
skepthinker
Also on the Greek point; the Greek word for "buried" used by Paul is "thapto". It doesn't in itself imply tomb. Nor has it in any of the other translated contexts in the bible or other literature in Greek. Don't trust me or my many classes in Greek; hell, don't trust my Professors in Greek. Just look it up for yourself next time before making false assertions of truth and others' ignorance.
http://www.searchgodsword.org...
http://www.biblestudytools.com...
http://www.greekbiblestudies.com...
Posted by skepthinker 7 years ago
skepthinker
I think Evilove, below, is missing the point rather obviously concerning this debate in general. The Con did not need to disprove the possibility of or provide exact counter evidence to the claims of the disciples; if that were so, the topic would be "What the Disciples said about the Resurrection is True". The topic of the debate was, for reclarification, "It is reasonable to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a historical event." The Con need only to show that there are more reasonable explanations for the evidence given that does not entail a historical resurrection to win the debate (as there would be a more reasonable explanation thus making it "non-reasonable" to believe in the prior resurrection claim). By offering plausible alternatives that fit (i.e. explain) the same information and facts put forth to support the resurrection, Con is proving that there is a more "reasonable" explanation for the same information and that assuming a "resurrection" from such evidence is unreasonable as it has never occurred and his explanations have been witnessed to occur on many occasions. It would be like me claiming that Jesus ate my doughnut off of my kitchen counter during the night and Con noting that rats have eaten doughnuts of kitchen counters on several occurrences in the past. Does it prove Jesus didn't eat it. No. Does it prove it would be more reasonable to think rats ate it than Jesus. Yes. Thats the point. Con doesn't need to prove the negative, just something more reasonable and more likely thereof.
Posted by evilove 7 years ago
evilove
I just got done reading this debate. At first I was excited that someone could give a good response to the resurrection. But on closer inspection, it is just like the one that I had read before. Con's side pretty much ended up saying that since some cult members are more prone to hallucinations today, that is what must have happened back then. Again disappointedly, no evidence was given that actually supports the claim that the disciples were that way. Likewise with Paul.

Con said that Paul never mentions Jesus was buried in a tomb. But if you look at the Greek word for buried, it actually means to be buried in a tomb. That was poor research on Con's part and Pro should have picked up on it. In my history class it is taught, that if a text states something, and there are good reasons for believing it, such as confrimatory evidence, then it can be believed as a fact.

As for literary devices, I am not aware, nor did Con ever state what the device is, hyperbole? Metaphor? Simile? He doesn't say.

Then Con has to completely deny and misconstrue what the book actually says in order to make his literary device work. Likewise, Con didn't refute all of the points that BD put out about the empty tomb, and totally ignored the fact that if they preached a bodily resurrection, then the place where Jesus was supposedly buried would be empty. So, to me, if there was anything in the tomb, that would have to be explained. The bible plainly says that the enemies of the Christians anticipated that the disciples would be preaching the resurrection, hence the sending of the guard.

The legendary material doesn't work becausee BD's treatment of 1 Cor 15 showed that what was preached was always part of the story. And hallucination theory is hard to believe. EVERYBODY just happen to have these hallucinations? At the same time, the same thing? I think the Pro side did a good job in refuting it. So at the end of it all, I have to admit, in substance, Pro did the better job.
Posted by Bible-Defender 7 years ago
Bible-Defender
1. 23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" … 28 Peter began to tell Him, "Look, we have left everything and followed You." 29 "I assure you," Jesus said, "there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, 30 who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time -- houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions -- and eternal life in the age to come. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first." –Mark 10:23-31.
2. Jakob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien--Geschichten um Geschichte (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977), pp. 49-50.
3. William Wand, Christianity: A Historical Religion? (Valley Forge, Pa. 1972), 93-94
4. "We can be certain of the fact that the brothers of Jesus were not impressed, were not followers of Jesus during his lifetime. They wre scoffers, cynics, suspicious of Jesus' sanity. But something happened…Look at James before Easter. Look at James after Easter. What caused a change that was so dramatic?
5. http://www.infidels.org...
6. Jesus: God and Man, Pannenberg. P.96
7. "The historian must be open-minded as he can. If physical causation does not seem sufficient to explain the phenomena with which he has to deal, he will not regard a ‘supernatural' cause as impossible."
William Wand, Christianity: A Historical Religion? (Valley Forge, Pa. 1972), pp 29-31
8. "there may well be occasions when such evidence as we have may seem to make a supernatural cause the most likely hypothesis" William Wand, Christianity: A Historical Religion? (Valley Forge, Pa. 1972), pp. 51-52
Posted by Nicholas_Covington 7 years ago
Nicholas_Covington
Evan Fales, "The Case of St. Teresa (Scientific Explanations of Mystical Experiences, Part 1)," Religious Studies 32.n2 (June 1996): 148. Quoted in pp.84-85, Kris Komarnitsky, "Doubting Jesus' Resurrection" Stone Arrow Books (2009).
Posted by Nicholas_Covington 7 years ago
Nicholas_Covington
Round 3: Reference.

1. I refer you you to the following quote:

"Central possession...typically begins with involuntary affliction interpreted as a mystical invasion; it involves gradual mastery of that affliction (and of the invading spirits); and it is a technique which, successfully deployed, is a means to social status and power...[The] invading spirit is a deity of the central cult, abnd us therefore a representative and guardian of the moral and institutional order...The victim must be someone whose backround places him (the gender here is usually male) in a position to aspire to social authority...However, there is a pattern. In those societies in which access to power is determined ascriptively - normally, by the passing of office from father to son or from uncle to nephew - possession does not occur. Possession is a concomitant of what are sometimes called "big-man" societies, societies in which any man...can compete for social authority. Such societies are more fluid, more meritocratic; and in them, power comes to those who have the greatest initiative or are the most charismatic. It is in that context that someone can claim [that]... he has been involuntarily chosen by the gods as their medium for communicating with humans, [and] has a means for making effective a claim to legitimate leadership. To become a "big man" requires recruiting a large enough (and influential enough) following; and the best way to recruit followers is to demonstrate that one has been oneself recruited by the gods... [The] involuntary character of the initial affliction, and its onerous character...serve to reflect and convey the crucial message that leadership has been thrust upon a resisting and unwilling individual; and therefore, that the pursuit and exercise of power does not reflect the motive of self-aggrandizement, but rather is in the service of the social whole."
(The reference for this will be given in another comment, my character limit is approaching).
Posted by Bible-Defender 7 years ago
Bible-Defender
Referrences for round 4 (4-8).

4. "Here, Zusne and Jones repeatedly refer to collective hallucinations, even though they conclude, conversely, that these groups may be seeing actual phenomena. So the "final answer to these questions has not been obtained yet" Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones, Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Extraordinary Phenomena of Behavior and Experience (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1982), 135–36.

5 For a number of critical observations and responses to such phenomena, see Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples, The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), esp. chaps. 11–14 and appendix A.

6. Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones, Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Extraordinary Phenomena of Behavior and Experience (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1982), 136; cf. 134–35. For the more common assessment against group hallucinations, see Phillip Wiebe, Visions of Jesus: Direct Encounters from the New Testament to Today (New York: Oxford, 1997), 210; J. P. Brady, "The Veridicality of Hypnotic, Visual Hallucinations," Origins and Mechanisms of Hallucinations, ed. Wolfram Keup (New York: Plenum, 1970), 181; Weston La Barre, "Anthropological Perspectives on Hallucinations and Hallucinogens," Hallucinations: Behavior, Experience and Theory, ed. R. K. Siegel and L. J. West (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1975), 9–10.

7. "So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences testify in support of this, and their competing thoughts either accuse or excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus." Romans 2:14-16

8 C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions, p. 19
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