Jesus is the Son of God who Died on the Cross
Debate Rounds (5)
The New Testament teaches that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt 3:16-17; 16:16; 1Mark 1:9-11; Luke 1;35; John 1:29), and that he was crucified. (Matt 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19; Acts 26:23; 1 Cor 15:3-8) Muslims don't believe these two Bible teachings, but the New Testament is more reliable than the Quar'an to give us accurate information on weather Jesus died and was the Son of God, or not, for the following reasons:
(1) The NT documents that mention his death and Sonship were written closer to the time of the original events regarding Jesus than the Quar'an;
Earlier Than 200AD
The "Bodmer Papyri" contains a text of the Gospel of John, dated circa 200-225AD. Given that John is accepted by scholars as the last written gospel, it is reasonable to conclude that the other gospels were in circulation by 200AD.
Earlier Than 180AD
Tatian's "Diatessaron" contains the four gospels before his death in 180AD.
Earlier Than 170 AD" The Muratorian fragments (170 AD) mentions Luke as canonical.
Earlier Than 150AD
Justin Martyr, in his "First Apology" (150AD) quotes and alludes to the Gospel of John Chapter 3 (1 Apol. 61, 4-5). This is consistent with the fact that Justin was Tatian's teacher and surely knew what Tatian knew about the existing gospels.
Earlier Than 130AD
Papias of Hierapolis mentioned writings by Matthew and Mark when he wrote his five-volume "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord" around 130AD. This is consistent with the fact that the famous "Ryland's Papyri" contains a fragment of John's gospel dating to the same period of time (130AD).
Earlier Than 120AD
Polycarp quoted from the gospels and other letters of the New Testament in a letter he wrote to the Philippian Church in 120AD.
Earlier Than 110AD
Ignatius wrote several letters around 110AD that quote or allude to the Gospel of Matthew.
Earlier Than 100AD
The "Didache" or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" (100AD) also quotes from Matthew's version of the Lord's Prayer in Didache 8:1.
Earlier Than 95AD
Clement utilized sections from Matthew's gospel in 1 Clement 13:1-2 around 95AD.
Earlier Than 70AD
None of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied concerning the temple when He said "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down," (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold in the temple melted down between the stone walls and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the gold. Such an obvious fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy most likely would have been recorded as such by the gospel writers who were fond of mentioning fulfillment of prophecy if they had been written after 70 A.D. Also, if the gospels were fabrications of mythical events then anything to bolster the Messianic claims -- such as the destruction of the temple as Jesus said -- would surely have been included. But, it was not included suggesting that the gospels (at least Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written before 70 A.D.
Earlier Than 64AD
The fact that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is not recorded is very strong evidence that Acts was written before A.D. 70. We add to this the omission of the Jewish war with the Romans that started in 66AD, accounts of "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of [the apostle] James (A.D. 61), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)," (McDowell, Josh, A Ready Defense, Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, Tenn., 1993, p. 80.) Since Luke was written before Acts, it must date earlier that 64AD. (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:14) When Paul wrote to Timothy in 64 AD, he quoted a passage from Luke as Scripture (1 Tim 5:10; Luke 10:7).
Earlier Than 55AD
Paul wrote to the Romans, the Corinthians and the Galatians, between 48AD and 60AD. In 1 Corinthians 15:23-26 Paul draws on Luke 22:19-20, pushing Luke's account back into the early 50s.
I've assembled these pieces of evidence that establish the early dating of the gospels and arranged them from the most recent (200 AD) to most ancient for a reason. As we read down the list of evidences, we come to understand that the first piece of evidence from 200 AD is further validated and supported by the second piece of evidence from 180 AD. Each subsequent piece of evidence then continues to support the prior evidential claims. There is good reason, therefore, to believe that the gospels appeared within the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses who claimed to write them. They therefore furnish better evidence for what happened to Jesus than the Quar'an that did not exist until the time of Muhammed around 610 CE, over 600 years after the facts. Unlike the Qur'an which was compiled much more recently, we do not find with the Gospels such an enormous gap of time between that which the New Testament speaks about and when it was written down.
(2) The Gospels have eyewitness testimony to Jeus' life. (John 1:14; 21:20-25; 1 Cor 15:3-8; 1 John 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:16-18; Matt 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). The Quar'an does not.
(3) The embarrassment criteria reflects the honesty of the writers. Joseph of Aramethea (Matt 27:57-61; Mark 15:43) is unlikely to be a Christian invention since he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin that was hated by the Jews, and condemned Jesus; women discovering the tomb empty and being the first witnesses of the risen Lord is unlikely to be a Jewish invention because women's testimony was not considered reliable in 1st century Palestine (Matt 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20); the apostles abandoned Jesus, argued among themselves about who was greater, and no Christian would have invented stories on Jesus' limitations while claiming he was God. This shows the disciples were willing to record accurate history, even when it made them, or even Jesus, look bad. My opponent must show us why we should trust the Quar'an over authors of this caliber.
(4) The dissimilarity criteria: Jews had no belief in a dying Messiah, so his death is unlikely to be a Jewish invention.
(5) Unlike Moses (Exo 4) Jesus (John 7:31), the Apostles, and Paul (Matt 10:1; 1 Cor 2:1-5) Muhammad, came with no supernatural proofs of his divine commission. Time and again his critics complained of this and repeatedly he told them that his work was not that of producing signs but merely to preach, and that his lack of signs was for the purpose of testing their faith. But what is faith without proof? Anyone could claim to be sent of God. Moses, Christ, the apostles and Paul proved it by the performance of many miracles, but where were Muhammad's miracles? He confessed in the Quran to having none. (Suras 2:118; 10:38; 11:13; 6:109, Ali) Plainly it quotes God as saying, "We refrain from sending Signs, only because men of former years treated them as false." (Sura 17:59, Ali) That explicitly does not allow for any signs, so we can't prove Mohammed was sent by God, but Jesus and Bible writers were!
Mohammed (1) was not an eyewitness like some Gospel writers, (2) was not a contemporary like other Gospel writers, (3) his Quar'an isn't as close to the time of Jesus as the New Testament, (4) had no miracles to back his claim of being God's prophet. I also showed the honesty of Bible writers from the embarrassment and dissimilarity criteria. I leave it to my opponent to overcome this evidence in favor of the Islamic view that Jesus didn't die, nor was the Son of God.
The Holy Koran holds that Jesus, although he is considered a prophet and great man, is not the son of God. One may only look at the life of Our Prophet (Praise be upon Him) and know that such a man is clearly favored by God. To say that the Christian Bible holds the truth because it was written sooner than the Koran is a falsehood, for both books describe eyewitness accounts, and not the direct writings of the eyewitnesses. This is where the similarities end though, as it is clearly evident that the Holy Koran is inspired directly by Allah, because it clearly states so.
It is important to note that the Koran does not elaborate on the life of Jesus because his message was simply part of the greater message Allah sends to us. It matters not how many times he was tempted in the desert, he did not rise from the dead. The only thing that is important is that we receive his message, and that is to love God above all else.
The bible does in fact make the apostles look bad at times. This is because the message of the Christian Bible is that humanity is subject to sin. Not once does the bible make reference of any sin to Jesus; to do so would be to undermine his supposed divinity. It is entirely possible and true that the bible was written the way it was to convey the message that humanity is not divine and can commit wrongs. I do not see it as making it realistic to convey some sort of truth.
Jesus never rose from the dead. He is not the son of God. The Holy Koran clearly states over and over again that there is only one God and that Mohammad (Praise be upon Him) is his only prophet. To say that your holy book is above another's, without considering the fact that each book has its own claim to the truth, is foolish. Only the Koran is above this as it is clearly written as the True Word of God (Allah).
Merely CLAIMING that I am wrong does not PROVE I am wrong. Give reasons why the Quar'an should be accepted as accurate historical information, until you do, you have no case. I have given Con reasons for accepting the Gospels as historically reliable: (1) they are written withing the same genration of the events, (2) by eyewitnesses and contemporaries who would be in a position to know the facts of Jesus' life, (3) the dissimilarity and embarrassment criteria, (4) the miracles of the main characters and authors show they were of God. Con has given us nothing close to this for the Quar'an except unproved assertions.
"The Holy Koran holds that Jesus, although he is considered a prophet and great man, is not the son of God."
Until Con provides testable, reasonable evidence that the Quar'an is historically accurate, we cannot believe what it says about Jesus.
"One may only look at the life of Our Prophet (Praise be upon Him) and know that such a man is clearly favored by God."
Con has not told us anything about the life of his prophet that indicates he was favored by God, so this too is not evidence. Its an empty claim.
"To say that the Christian Bible holds the truth because it was written sooner than the Koran is a falsehood, for both books describe eyewitness accounts, and not the direct writings of the eyewitnesses."
I have given evidence which Con has not responded to showing that the Gospels existed as early as the 50s CE, and definitely before 70 CE; this places them within the life-span of the genration that lived in Jesus day. Also, note that there is unanimous agreement among the Church Fathers that these books were indeed written by thier traditional authors; had there been annonymous, multiple or competing authorship would have germinated as usually did with the annonymous works. So we can be sure that Matthew and John (who personally knew Jesus) wrote their Gospels. Mark and Luke were contemporaries. A number of Church Fathers personally knew the apostles and could testify that they wrote these books, and were eyewitnesses or contemporaries of the eyewitness, for example Polycarp (69-155 CE) who was "instructed by the apostles" and personally knew the Apostle John who wrote John's Gospel (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:4) and Papias (60-130 CE) who was Polycarp's contemporary and also knew the Gospel authors. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:33:34; Eusebius, History of the Church 3:39:4) Also, the Gospels show intimate knowledge of the customs, geography, language, and so forth of the time and places they mention. This weighs strongly that they are indeed eyewitness, and at the least, contemporary accounts. At this point Con has merely asserted they are not eyewitness accounts without providing any evidence to back up this UNPROVEN ASSERTION, so he has not overturned my evidence.
Notice that Con admits the Quar'an is not an eyewitness account. Unlike the Gospels, the Quar'an isn't eyewitness or contemporary so why trust it as accurate history?
"it is clearly evident that the Holy Koran is inspired directly by Allah, because it clearly states so."
Con claim that the Quar'an is inspired by God just because it claims to be, but surely this is not a logical argument for either the Quar'an or the Bible or any other book! Joseph Smith claimed the book of Mormon was deliverd from heaven on gold plates, that doesn't prove it inspired. Anyone can make a claim to inspiration and be lying! Did Mohammed have any witnesses to the effect that this revelation was delivered by an angel of God? Who were they? How do we know he was not lying? Con provides no evidence, merely assertions. I am not even arguing that the Gospels are inspired of God, even though I believe they are. My point is that we have good reason to consider them historically accurate, and Con gave us no good reason to think otherwise. If I write a book tomorrow which claims to be God's word Con will not accept it as such, thus, a mere claim to divne origin is no PROOF of divine origin. Con has to bring evidence that the Koran's claim to be God's word is true; he hasn't, so we can dismiss it as a false claim unti lhe does.
My opponent asserts over and over that Jesus didn't die or rise from the dead. We have the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and James (7 contemporaries) who lived in Jesus time who agree that he did. Mohammed wasn't there, so why should we accept this one man's testimony over theirs? Cause the Koran is God's word? Prove it Con! PROVE IT! What evidence do you have to show us that the Koran is God's word? Is a mere claim to divine origin proof of divine origin? If so, then you should accept some Gospel writings to be inspired of God cause they make the same claim (Gal 1:11-12; 1 Cor 14:37; Rev 1:1) and yet, they agree that Jeus died and rose again. Also, the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus (Jewish Antiquities 18:3:3), and the Roman historian Tacitus writing just after 100 CE (Annals 15:44) agree that Jesus did die as the Gospels said. So we have historical testimony even from unbelievers that Jesus did die. So the historical evidence agrees with the Gospels and not the Quar'an.
"The bible does in fact make the apostles look bad at times. This is because the message of the Christian Bible is that humanity is subject to sin"
Con provided no Biblical passages to show that its theme is humanity being subject to sin, but in any case, the nature of a forgery, the nature of a lie, is not to make the authors or heroes of the story look bad! This is unheard of in forgeries of the first few centuries CE. This in facts does separate the Bible as being a more honest work. If the authors were in the business of fabricating stories about Jesus, then Con needs to give a rational explantion for why they would fabricate his not knowing the day and hour of his own coming (Mark 13:32), and why would someone who blieves Jesus is God (John 1:1-3; 20:28; 5:18) would invent the saying that the Father was greater than he was? (John 14:28) This very statement has been used by heretics through the centuries against Jesus divinity. It's far more likely that the authors recorded the truth as it happended, even when it was inconvenient for their theology. Again, the testimony of women was thought to be so unreliable in 1st century Palestine, that a woman's testimony couldn't be accepted in court! Why then, would the authors have women as the first witnesses to the resurrected Lord if it wasn't true? People usually invent stories according to the customs of their time and place, not contrary to them. Con hasn't replied to the fact that as a member of the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus, Joseph of Aramethea doing what is right by Jesus is very unlikely to be a Christian invention. No Christian would invent a story where his enemy does what is right by the Saviour. These are telling tales that the authors were honest and reliable historians.
Muhammed had no miracles to prove that he was God's servant, as did the apostles and disciples who wrote the Bible. Con made no rebuttal to this, hence it stands as proof for Pro. Further, the Quar'an commands us to follow the guidance of the Gospel: "After those prophets We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Torah already revealed, and gave him the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating that which was revealed before it in the Torah, a guide and an admonition to the righteous. Therefore let the followers of the Gospel judge in accordance with what Allah has revealed therein. Evil-doers are those that do not base their judgements on Allah's revelations."—Sura�5, Al-Ma'ida [The Table], verses�46,�47. So even the Koran agrees the Gospel is reliable. For these reasons, please vote Pro.
I do not doubt my opponents claim that a man named Jesus lived some 2000 years ago and quite possibly died by crucifixion. But, in order for my opponent to claim that Jesus is in fact the son of God, he must be able to prove his subsequent resurrection. And the only way he can do so is by putting the validity of the Bible above the laws of nature that we hold as scientific fact today.
I find it less than satisfactory that all Pro provides for evidence of something as monumental as the resurrection is a few passages from a manuscript written anywhere between 70-200 years after the actual event took place. To make matters worse, all of his sources are taken directly from the book in which this debate is trying to determine its validity. The Koran is the actual eyewitness testimony of Mohammad speaking to the angel Gabriel . I do not use this statement in and of itself to prove the validity of the Koran, but merely to highlight the fact that as far as eyewitness testimony goes the Koran is one step ahead. Instead of having questions about the origins and writers of the 4 gospels, we have very clear proof that the pieces of the Koran were almost immediately transcribed and by a team of scribes by Mohammad's side.
Anticipating my opponents next move, I offer both religions humble beginnings and now world wide acceptance as a moot point, since both religions are comparable to this.
I cannot offer a direct counter to my opponents claims of "intentional embarrassment" in the gospels. It was irregular during the time period to be sure, but this is not good enough reason to accept the fact that a man rose from the dead. Resurrection, as it currently stands, is not possible by any modern means. And if it were, too much decay had already taken place in the body of Jesus for it to be viable for resurrection.
I ask my opponent why I should believe the testimony of 11 men, who lived in an age where any sort of natural phenomena was met with a fear of God, that a man rose from the dead. Even if we do consider resurrection to be possible, they did not even examine the body of Christ. What they had experienced in the hours after Jesus' supposed resurrection was an apparition of the man, a ghostly image of their savior. So saying that the apostles were eyewitnesses to this event is stretching the truth.
All my opponent has to offer for proof is the very pages of the bible which we are debating he validity of. This is not sufficient proof. The burden of disproving scientific law is on my opponents shoulders. Also, determining which holy book contains the true word of God is paramount to this debate. Basically, it isn't possible to determine this without an incredible amount of proof, which is why religion is often referred to as "faith". But as far as evidence goes, the Koran, which was transcribed from the mouth of Mohammad and a team of scholars offers a more solid basis for evidence. This doesn't necessarily mean Mohammad's text is the word of God, but it is much more likely since it was recorded far better and with more precision than any of the four gospels.
I thank my opponent and await the next round.
It's called internal evidence. What we find in it is exactly what we'd expect to find if it was written when and by whom it purports to be. The internal evidence is further supported by external historical sources such as the writings of enemies of Christianity like Celsus and Tacitus, the Jewish historian Josephus, and the early Church Fathers. Is Con saying that internal evidence is not valid evidence?
"and holding steadfast that since the Gospels were written relatively close (read: anywhere from 70-200 years after the birth of Christ) to the actual life of Jesus that this in itself provides some kind of proof of his divinity."
I will merely ask Con to tell us what are the rules historians use to verify the historicity of the claims made by ancient documents? A "fact" shouldn't necessarily need to pass all of the listed criteria to be considered probable. Failing any one particular criterion does not necessarily make the fact false. Indeed very few, if any at all, ancient historical "facts" we rarely question would adequately pass all the requests of such a rigorous criteria as set out below. However, a fact that fails to pass a single criterion we would be justified in believing it to be improbable. Passing one or two should be sufficient to have the "fact" be at least considered probable. If a fact passes three I think we can be confident that it is very probable and so on. This methodology is the only way to establish a reasonably objective treatment of evidence - i.e. pass the evidence through a standard set of criteria using a consistent methodology that can be applied to ALL ancient events. So, using criteria such as (but not limited to)...
1. Eyewitness attestation
2. Early attestation (the earlier the better - written during the lifetime of possible eyewitnesses is preferred)
3. Multiple independent attestation (independent does not mean non-Christian, but rather independent from other sources)
4. Enemy or neutral source attestation
5. The Principle of Embarrassment (If it's embarrassing or harmful to the case it is very likely that it is authentic or actually happened. It's very unlikely to have been propaganda simply made up)
Historian Paul Maier notes, "Many facts from antiquity rest on just one ancient source, while two or three sources in agreement generally render the fact unimpeachable." In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks a Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church (1991), p. 197.
We have more than 3, but 7 Gospel writers testifying to Jesus death and Sonship. What is amazing is that unlike most classical writings of antiquity, the New Testament passes all five and more of the criteria set out above! It therefore has great claim as a historically trustworthy document. Jesus death is attested by
a) Early attestation from the Apostle Paul - (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, 2:15; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2 and early creedal passages in 1 Corinthians 15:3 - ca. 50-60AD)
b) Multiple attestation in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts (ca. 70-100AD)
c) Enemy/neutral attestation from Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities 18:64 - 96AD)
d) Enemy/neutral attestation from Roman historian Tacitus (Annals 15:44 - ca. 115AD)
e) Enemy/neutral attestation from Greek satirical writer Lucian (The Death of Peregrine, 11-13 - ca. 150AD)
f) Enemy/neutral attestation from Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a - ca. 200AD)
g) Principle of Embarrassment applies to the humiliating suffering and death of a supposed Messiah and the Son of God (as well as Principle of Dissimilarity from Jewish anticipation of a military type leader in the Messiah).
Atheist NT scholar Gerd Ludemann acknowledged, "Jesus' death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable." (The Resurrection of Christ, pg 50) The critical NT scholar and Jesus Seminar co-founder John Dominic Crossan wrote, "Jesus' death by execution under Pontius Pilate is as sure as anything historical can ever be. For, if no follower of Jesus had written anything for one hundred years after his crucifixion, we would still know about him from two authors not among his supporters. Their names are Flavius Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus...We have, in other words, not just Christian witnesses but one major Jewish and one major pagan historian who both agree on three points concerning Jesus: there was a movement, there was an execution because of that movement, but, despite that execution, there was a continuation of the movement." John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus?, pg. 5
The Church was faced with the problem of how it were possible for God himself to die, and what kind of Savior couldn't save himself from the cross. Such embarrassing details are unlikely to be Christian inventions.
"I would like to make it clear that many of the apostles, if not all, were waiting until the twilight of their lives to record such important information."
I have given evidence that the Gospels were written well before 70 CE, only 20 – 40 years at most after Jesus death; in contrast, the Qur'an was written over 500 years after Jesus walked the earth. Between Mohammed who wasn't there and the writings of the contemporaries who were around in Jesus day, it is far more logical to believe what the contemporaries say over Mohammed's Qur'an, regardless of how old they were when they wrote. People in their 80s can still remember far more complicated things than the simple fact that a man died and claimed to be God's Son, so their age isn't an issue here.
"I do not doubt my opponents claim that a man named Jesus lived some 2000 years ago and quite possibly died by crucifixion."
"he must be able to prove his subsequent resurrection. And the only way he can do so is by putting the validity of the Bible above the laws of nature that we hold as scientific fact today."
Con also puts the Qur'an above so-called scientific fact, so this is a non-issue. Con claims Allah exists. The scientific community disagrees a supernatural entity exists. But Con misunderstands my argument; I never agreed from science that Jesus rose naturally from the dead, that would be unscientific. Rather, my point is that God raised Jesus from the dead, and you can only rule this out if you can prove that God does not exist. Since Con believes he does exist, he can't rule out the possibility of resurrection. To rule out the possibility of miracles, he must also reject what the Qur'an teaches about Jesus' virgin birth! (Sura 19, Maryam [Mary], verses 16-21) What's more, scientific evidence points to the existence of God, things such as the fine-tuning of the constants necessary for life and the existence of absolute moral values…
"I find it less than satisfactory that all Pro provides for evidence of something as monumental as the resurrection is a few passages from a manuscript written anywhere between 70-200 years after the actual event took place."
I have given Con proof that the Gospels were written in the 50s and definitely before 70 CE to which he has made no rebuttal. Clements quotes Matthew in 95 AD, this alone refutes the possibility of the Gospel being written in 200 AD.
"all of his sources are taken directly from the book in which this debate is trying to determine its validity."
Not true, I also mentioned Josephus and Tacitus, both of whom mention Jesus death. Josephus mentions his resurrection. I have shown the validity of the documents as historical sources, I don't need to show them to be God's word. Con hasn't refuted the criteria for historical reliability or provided a more reasonable one. Nor has he demonstrated the trustworthiness of the Qur'an, so why should we take Mohammed's word over those of people who were there to see and hear what happened to Jesus. I will respond to the rest of Con's argument in my next post. Since the NT is more reliable than the Qur'an, vot Pro.
Secondly, since my opponent is drawing his own rules up as to determine the validity of a source material, so will I. I hold that we must know the authors and source of the material under question in order for it to gain some kind of validity. Right now, we don't know who wrote the gospels, and probably never will . It is true faith alone that we believe these words to be from the mouths of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In addition, I would like the source material from which my opponent finds the logic in using the 5 points he provided to prove something beyond reasonable doubt.
In counter to you, the works of Luke may in fact be in part derived from the writings of Josephus, not the other way around . This would cause a huge problem for you since it is widely accepted that Luke writings offered the inspiration for Josephus.
"We have more than 3, but 7 Gospel writers testifying to Jesus death and Sonship. What is amazing is that unlike most classical writings of antiquity, the New Testament passes all five and more of the criteria set out above!"
---You also forgot to mention that there are discrepancies between the different gospels, and that some were not included because they did not provide the message that early church leaders were trying to send.
This above segment is the perfect way for me to segway into my next point: The bible has been under constant reform and revision since it discovery, and all we know from the gospels have most likely been manipulated by early church leaders. Why does the bible consider some text as truthful and others as apocryphal?
You have been very adamant in sticking by your "Principle of Embarrassment". I bring forth the example of Charles Manson to display the fact that despite going past societal norms he was still able to create a group of diehard followers. In this respect, Charles Manson and Jesus are the same. Despite having committed far worse "embarrassments", Manson was still able to manipulate others around him, an they saw him as a prophet. AND-- even though his mission has failed and he has more or less revealed himself to be a sham, his followers still cling to him and vehemently claim heir allegiance. Obviously, your "embarrassment" theory doesn't hold. Now lets imagine that Charles Manson lived 2000 years ago, and all we know of him were the writings of his few followers and their adoring view of him. And they would lie for him too.
Think about that: we live in a day in age where people should know more about the world than our ancestors, but despite this we still have people clinging to radical ideas beyond logic. Now consider the apostles and the time period they grew up in. It was a much simpler time, and religion and magic and curses were considered to be powerful forces in everyday life.
You still have not even addressed the fact that no one even claimed to see the actual Jesus, all they saw was a ghost of the man. Now, you expect everyone to believe as fact that a man rose from the dead and visited the writers of his gospel in a ghost form? How about we take a step back and consider that if you saw another book, which contained even more evidence, and didn't break any of your rules, you'd be forced to believe in that too. Like the Koran. I'm trying to get the point across that since both the Bible and Koran weave fantastical tales which require a suspension of the laws of physics to believe, and that both provide historical evidence in their own way, that they in effect must cancel other out as valid sources. Since both claim to be the word of God, and since both have conflicting messages, both cannot be the word of God.
Let it be known that the resolution states that: Jesus is the Son of God who Died on the Cross. There is no mention of having to disprove the Bible, or prove the Koran, to debate this. I agree that Jesus died, all men do, but we must attach the "Son of God" title for me to concede. My opponent has done little else than invent rules to test validity, and then use the very test under question to support his claims. I have provided outside evidence, flaws in logic, and even took the side of the Holy Koran in order to prove a point.
My opponent insists on digging through questionable historical information in order to prove the existence of God instead of realizing that no one should accept anything written on papyrus to be fact. History evolves, just like science. When we find some new evidence for something, we must accept it and force ourselves to look at it in a new way. Bringing in religious beliefs complicates the matter, since those who are devout will no doubt find ways to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that so-and-so existed and that this-and-that happened. As it stands, we must accept a margin of error and reasonable doubt in order to believe in the Resurrection, and that is unacceptable.
Mohammed wan't an eyewitness to Jesus and was in no position to know who he was or if he died as the Gospel writers were. We have no witnesses to validate that Mohammed saw an angel. How do we know he wasn't lying? We have Matthew, John, Paul, Peter, and James, five witnesses who saw Jesus and wrote about him; plus 500 eyewitnesses whom Paul cites to support his case; I'll take their word over Mohammed's.
"we have very clear proof that the pieces of the Koran were almost immediately transcribed and by a team of scribes by Mohammad's side."
Who were they? I can name all the Gospel writers and show when and where they lived; I challenge Con to do the same for these mysterious scribes who wrote the Koran. Also, did they see Mohammed talking to the angel? If not, how do they know Mohammed wasn't making it all up as he shouted out of the dark hole in that cave? In contrast, the events of Jesus life were public, not hidden in a cave, so when the Gospels were written there were eyewitnesses around who would have repudiated them if they did not tell the truth about Jesus.
"I cannot offer a direct counter to my opponents claims of "intentional embarrassment" in the gospels. It was irregular during the time period to be sure,"
There you have it, vote Pro.
"Resurrection, as it currently stands, is not possible by any modern means."
But it is possible by supernatural means, true?
"too much decay had already taken place in the body of Jesus for it to be viable for resurrection."
Surah 75:1, 3, 6, 40 supports the resurrection even people long dead, so is Con disagreeing with the Qur'an?
"I ask my opponent why I should believe the testimony of 11 men, who lived in an age where any sort of natural phenomena was met with a fear of God, that a man rose from the dead."
(1) Because if you distrust them based on the time period in which they lived, to be consistent, you have to distrust all historical writers of that time, and (2) the Qur'an commands you to follow the Gospel. (Sura 5, Al-Ma'ida [The Table], verses 46, 47)
"they did not even examine the body of Christ. What they had experienced in the hours after Jesus' supposed resurrection was an apparition of the man, a ghostly image of their savior."
Thomas did examine the body in the presence of witnesses. (John 20:24-29)
Hallucination? there were too many witnesses. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the 11 disciples, the two disciples at Emmaus, the fisherman on the shore, to James (his "brother" or cousin), and even to five hundred people at once (1 Cor 15:3-8). Even three different witnesses are enough for a kind of psychological trigonometry; over five hundred is about as public as you can wish. And Paul says in this passage (v. 6) that most of the five hundred are still alive, inviting any reader to check the truth of the story by questioning the eyewitnesses -- he could never have done this and gotten away with it, given the power, resources and numbers of his enemies, if it were not true.
Hallucinations usually last a few seconds or minutes; rarely hours. This one hung around for forty days (Acts 1:3). Not only did the disciples not expect this, they didn't even believe it at first -- They thought he was a ghost; he had to eat something to prove he was not. (Lk 24:36-43) Hallucinations do not eat. The resurrected Christ did, on at least two occasions (Lk 24:42-43; Jn 21:1-14). The disciples touched him (Mt 28:9; Lk 24:39; Jn 20:27). They also spoke with him, and he spoke back. Figments of your imagination do not hold profound, extended conversations with you, unless you have the kind of mental disorder that isolates you. But this "hallucination" conversed with at least eleven people at once, for forty days (Acts 1:3).
The apostles could not have believed in the "hallucination" if Jesus' corpse had still been in the tomb. They would have checked for it; if it was there, they could not have believed. If the apostles had hallucinated and then spread their hallucinogenic story, the Jews would have stopped it by producing the body. A hallucination would not explain the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, or the inability to produce the corpse. No theory can explain all these data except a real resurrection. The hallucination theory breaks down on the fact that on three separate occasions this hallucination was not immediately recognized as Jesus (Lk 24:13-31; Jn 20:15; 21:4). If you hallucinated seeing your best friend would you not recognize him?
"Also, determining which holy book contains the true word of God is paramount to this debate."
No, it isn't. My claim is simply that the New Testament is reliable because it is eyewitness and contemporaneous testimony from people who give evidence of honesty, and is supported by external testimony and other historical proofs of reliability. Doesn't have to be God's word for this debate, just accurate history! This Con hasn't refuted.
"the Koran, which was transcribed from the mouth of Mohammad and a team of scholars offers a more solid basis for evidence."
Mohammed and a team of anonymous scholars who never saw Jesus or lived in his time is solid evidence of who Jesus was and if he died? Don't be silly Con. It doesn't matter how acuartely they recorded the Qur'an, if they were not there to see Jesus in the first century CE their testimony is mere HERESAY! Hearsay isn't evidence!
Rebuttal to Con's round 3
"The gospels are not related to Acts"
How can that be when Luke was continuing in Acts from where he left off in the Gospel of Luke? (Luke 1:1-4; 24:44-52, 1-11; Acts 1:1-14)
"since my opponent is drawing his own rules up as to determine the validity of a source material,"
I'm not, I'm using the same rules historians in general use for all ancient documents. I'll make brief points on a few of them: (1) There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. the time between Jesus's death and the writing of the gospels is just too short for this to happen. This point has been well-explained by A. N. Sherwin-White in his book Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament ((Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), pp. 188-91) Professor Sherwin-White is not a theologian; he is a professional historian of times prior to and contemporaneous with Jesus. According to Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman and Greek history are usually biased and removed one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet, he says, historians reconstruct with confidence the course of Roman and Greek history. For example, the two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than 400 years after Alexander's death, and yet classical historians still consider them to be trustworthy. The fabulous legends about Alexander the Great did not develop until during the centuries after these two writers. According to Sherwin-White, the writings of Herodotus enable us to determine the rate at which legend accumulates, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospels, he states that for the gospels to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be "unbelievable."
Unfortunately I am again out of space, but I will finish this rebuttal in the next round. I thank Con for his thought provoking remarks.
"we don't know who wrote the gospels"
The "anonymity" of the Gospels authors is something that many Skeptics claim. Yet, in making this argument, critics never explain to us how their arguments would work if applied equally to secular ancient documents whose authenticity and authorship is never (or is no longer) questioned, but are every bit as "anonymous" in the same sense that the Gospels are. The Gospel authors nowhere name themselves in their texts, but this applies equally to numerous other ancient documents, such as Tacitus' Annals. Authorial attributions are found not in the text proper, but in titles, just like the Gospels.
If Con claims these were added later to the Gospels, must provide textual evidence of this (i.e., a copy of Matthew with no title attribution to Matthew, and dated earlier than those with titles), and at any rate, why is it not supposed that the titles were added later to the secular works as well? The book, Texts and Tranmission (Clarendon Press, 1993) records similar data for classic works from around the time of the NT whose authorship and date no one questions, which are recorded as having the earliest copy between the 5th and 9th century, earliest attributions at the same period (for example, Celsus' De medicina is attested no earlier than 990 AD, and then not again until 1300), and having so little textual support that if they were treated as the NT is, all of antiquity would be reduced to a blank walls. The Gospels authorship is attested much earlier by many more witnesses!
Second-century testimony is unanimous in attributing the four Gospels to the persons that now carry their name. This suggests that they received their titles early; for if they had not, there would have been a great deal of speculation as to who had written them - a variation of titles would have inevitably risen, as had happened with the apocryphal gospels. It is rather harder to believe that the Gospels circulated anonymously for 60 or more years and then someone finally thought to put authors on them -- and managed to get the whole church across the Roman Empire to agree.
Why then were such unlikely characters chosen as authors? Luke is a very obscure personage. Matthew was an apostle, but also a tax collector - would you pick the IRS man, and an obscure apostle, to author your Gospel? Were obscure persons were deliberately chosen as authors in order to fool us into thinking that this would mean they were authentic? It is doubtful that the Gospels could have gotten anywhere unless they were certainly attributable to someone who was recognized as knowing what they were writing about. The Gospels must have received their titles immediately - not in the second century. For an anonymous author to have penned a Gospel, and have it accepted as from the hand of any authoritative person, would have required them to first produce the Gospel, then present it as the work of another; they would have to concoct some story as to how it came peculiarly to be in their possession; get around the problem of why a work by such a person disappeared or was previously unknown; then get the church at large, first in his area and then throughout the Roman Empire (and would not the claimed discovery of such a document cause a sensation, and controversy?), to accept this work as genuine.
Can Con explain how these logistic difficulties were overcome? Can he get down to the specifics of how anyone could have managed to pull off such a hoax on the church as a whole. Is there any parallel to this in secular history, where an enormous group at large was bamboozled by (and continued to be bamboozled by) not just one forgery, but four, attributed in a couple of cases to members of an inner circle, in widely separated places and times?
We have early witnesses to the authorship of some of the Gospels. Papias wrote around 110-130, and knew the apostle John. How could anyone have dared to attribute the Gospels to anyone other than the genuine authors with these first- and second-generation witnesses still alive? Believers in the 70s-90s, when critics suppose that the Gospels were authored anonymously, would have known of no works of Matthew and the others; believers after the 90s who descended from this generation and lived into the lifetime of Papias would have had no tradition of such documents.
"I would like the source material from which my opponent finds the logic in using the 5 points he provided to prove something beyond reasonable doubt."
Con can read all about in the Wikipedia under "Historical Method."
"the works of Luke may in fact be in part derived from the writings of Josephus"
I have demonstrated that Luke wrote before 70 CE, and Paul in the 50s was already quoting Luke; Josephus wrote near 100 CE, long after Luke was composed. As for discrepancies in the NT, Con didn't list any, to bad I won't have chance to reconcile them.
"The bible has been under constant reform and revision since it discovery, and all we know from the gospels have most likely been manipulated by early church leaders"
Of the four Gospels alone, there are 19,368 citations by the church fathers from the late first century on. Even if we had no manuscripts, virtually the entire New Testament could be reconstructed from these quotations. This argues powerfully that the Gospels were in existence before the end of the first century, while some eyewitnesses (including John) were still alive. Because of time and wear many of the historical documents from the ancient world have few manuscripts to which we can refer. For instance, we only have eight copies of Herodotus's historical works, whose originals were written in 480-425 BC. Likewise, only 5 copies of Aristotle's writings have found their way to the 20th century, while only 10 copies of the writings of Caesar, along with another 20 copies of the historian Tacitus, and 7 copies from the historian Pliny, who all originally wrote in the first century, are available today (McDowell 1972:42). These are indeed very few.
When we consider the New Testament, however, we find a completely different scenario. We have today in our possession 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, another 10,000 Latin Vulgates, and 9,300 other early versions (MSS), giving us more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today! (taken from McDowell's Evidence That demands a Verdict, vol.1, 1972 pgs.40-48; and Time, January 23, 1995, pg.57). With such a wealth of documentation at our disposal with which to compare, we can delineate quite closely what those originals contained. Scholars compare modern Bibles with ancient MSS and find they are substantially the same.
Con actually compares Charles Manson to Jesus; I'll simply ask Con to quote one single example of an embarrassing event recorded in a canonical writing which his followers hold to be inspired of God. He argues that people are dumb and gullible, therefore we shouldn't believe them when they say Jesus rose from the dead, yet he believes an angel delivered the Qur'an to a man in a cave?
"I agree that Jesus died,"
Half-way there, Vote Pro!
He says we shouldn't believe anything written on papyrus, that's so much history to reject its laughable!
DrStrangeLuv forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit, leaving pro with the last word.
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