The Instigator
Installgentoo
Pro (for)
Losing
13 Points
The Contender
Samreay
Con (against)
Winning
36 Points

Jesus was Raised From the Dead

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 11 votes the winner is...
Samreay
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/28/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,069 times Debate No: 58294
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (11)

 

Installgentoo

Pro

I believe it can be proven that Jesus was raised from the dead using historical facts.

Anyone can debate this, so long as they leave any personal prejudices about Christianity/ God at the door.
Samreay

Con

I would be glad to accept this debate. As con, I will argue that the historical evidence we do have does not justify accepting that a person named Jesus rose from the dead.
Debate Round No. 1
Installgentoo

Pro

My evidence for the ressurrection of Jesus can be found in two paces, the first is in the Bible.

In the NT's eariest documents Jesus' cave tomb is said to be found empty, despite it being sealed off by a rock, a rock that was almost impossible to move back over the cave entrance according to the Mark's Gospel.[1]

My second piece of evidence is also in the Bible, in Paul's epistles where he describes Jesus as having risen from a cross yet more proof that he did do that because Paul was so persecuted for his belief that he wouldn't have wanted to lie, but merely get his beliefs out.[2]

The second place you can get evidence of Jesus being resurrected are select Roman and Jewish historians writings, some of the people who wrote about Jesus being raised from the dead are Josephus, Mara-Bar-Serapion and Celsus. I will list their writings here and source them one-by-one

Josephus- Antiquities of the Jews

"Jesus, a wise man... appeared to them alive on the first day, and the sect named after him, the Christians, have not died out to this day.[3]

Mara-Bar Serapion- letter to Mara-Ben Serapion

"...what did the Jews gain by hanging their wise King? ...after they killed him their kingdom was abolished." (the Bible describes how the Jews will have their kingdom abolished if they reject the Messiah) [4]

Celsus- History of Rome

"Jesus accordingly exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality
so wounded as He is described to have been."[5]

1. https://www.biblegateway.com...
2. http://www.bethinking.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://thedevineevidence.com...
5.http://thedevineevidence.com...
Samreay

Con

For my post I wish to highlight the nature of the historical explanations, why supernatural explanations are not considered academically, and why the presented historical documentation is insufficient to fulfill the extraordinary claim of resurrection.

Why supernatural explanations are not considered by academic historians

The goal of historians is to take the available historical facts (documents), and extrapolate from them the most plausible historical explanation - what most probably happened [1]. For a trivial example, the historical fact of Julius Caesars bust being found on Roman coins is best explained by his status as Emperor. So why are supernatural facts not considered in academic circles? Two reasons.

One, supernatural and miraculous explanations, due to their vary nature, can not be the most probable explanation, given that a miracle (by definition) is essentially the least probably explanation.

Secondly, supernatural explanations are not considered because they are not academically rigorous. Literally anything can be explained perfectly using supernatural explanations. For example, if we have conflicting records of Genghis Khan's location during his invasion of western Europe, this can be explained by Khan being (supernaturally) in two places at the same time. Or to have a non-historical example, if I remember placing my keys on the bench, cannot find them initially, but find them eventually on my work desk, I could posit a supernatural explanation that my keys teleported from the bench to the desk. This now explains all the historical facts (my memory of the bench and finding it on the desk), and in fact a supernatural explanation will always explain the facts as well as or better than a natural explanation (for instance, I forgot that I had relocated my keys).

On the nature of the claim

Taking this out of an academic context so that we can consider resurrection, we should acknowledge it is a supernatural, miraculous and extraordinary claim. As such, the amount of evidence we should have for it occurring should be overwhelming before we accept it is being a likely or plausible explanation.

So what overhwelming evidence do we actually have? What independent, contemporary accounts can we rely on? The answer is possibly none.

Independence

For starters, let us consider the Gospel accounts. There are three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Unfortunately, the Gospels are not independent documents, and this is known academically as the Synoptic Problem [2], with the most accepted theory being the Two-Source theory, where Mark and the Q source were used for Matthew and Luke. Unfortunately, this means that when considering the documentation claiming resurrection, we cannot consider the Gospels as independent attestation, as the Gospels are not independent of one another.

Later additions

The problems with the Gospel's run deeper though. A particularly damning problem is that the ending of Mark (16:9-20) which attests to the resurrection is not found in the earliest manuscripts, and appears to be a later addition [3][4][5]. From Wikipedia, we have:

"The vast majority of contemporary New Testament textual critics (see also Textual criticism) have concluded that neither the longer nor shorter endings were originally part of Mark's Gospel"

From the Christian site "gotQuestions?.org", they state:

"Although the vast majority of later Greek manuscripts contain Mark 16:9-20, the Gospel of Mark ends at verse 8 in two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. As the oldest manuscripts are known to be the most accurate because there were fewer generations of copies from the original autographs (i.e., they are much closer in time to the originals), and the oldest manuscripts do not contain vv. 9-20, we can conclude that these verses were added later by scribes."



External Sources

If we move onto non-Christian sources, I actually wish to use my opponents sources, as I believe they bolster my position. I will cite them again for easy link following. If we take Josephus, and we temporarily allow use of the Testimonium Flavianum even though it is the most conclusive case of tampering and later additions we have in ancient documentation [6], notice the quote my opponent supplies does not say that Jesus rose from the dead, but that the "sect named after him, the Christians, have not died out to this day". This quote says absolutely nothing about a resurrection, simply that the religion continued. Moving onto Mara-Bar Serapion [7], notice again the evidence supplied by Pro says absolutely nothing about resurrection, at all, and only states that their "wise King" was hanged (one might also doubt the credibility of a source that confuses hanging with crucification). Finally, my opponent quotes Celsus. My opponent attempts to reference a work called "History of Rome", which seems odd to me as the only work published by Celsus was The True Word. I find it even more odd that my opponent is going to use Celsus as an affirmative source, as his work "is the earliest known comprehensive attack on Christianity" [8]. In it, Celsus proposes that Jesus did not die on the cross, but was only wounded (as evident in the quote by Pro) [9]. However, Celsus's arguments and ideas were rebutted and dispelled in the third century by Origen. However, I believe I have shown clearly that not a single source provided by pro actually supports the resurrection as a historically accurate in any way.

Just as interesting is that none of these historians Pro has quoted were contemporary, they are all second or third century writers, writing long, long after the fact, and in a time when the Gospels were a source of much of their information (again bringing up the independence problem). For example, Celsus's attack on Christianity comes not from witnessing any event himself, but on his reading of the Gospels [10]:

"The attack Celsus makes against Christianity is wide-ranging, well-researched, andalmost virtuosic in its thoroughness. On the resurrection, he is gleefully dismissive. Addressing his imagined Christian audience directly, he says of their Jesus that “even though he did not accept the challenge to remove himself from the cross or to escape his persecutors when he was alive, yet he overcame them all by rising from the dead and showing themarks of his punishment, pierced hands and all, to others. But who really saw this? A hysterical woman, as you admit.” The whole affair is beyond ridiculous to Celsus."

Conclusion

I believe my opponent has successfully shown that Christianity continued to after the death of Jesus, and that Christian literature was indeed commented on in the second and third century by ancient writers. Unfortunately, I believe this says absolutely nothing about whether or not Jesus was resurrected. The extraordinary claim of resurrection should not be convincing in a historical context given the gross lack of independent and contemporary accounts and is far from the overwhelming evidence we are looking for. In my next post, I will show that if we accept the resurrection as probable based on the scant documentation we have, this leads us to accepting massive amounts of supernatural phenomenon based on their accounts.

[1] https://www.youtube.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.gotquestions.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://www.bible-researcher.com...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://thedevineevidence.com...
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[9] http://biblehub.com...
[10] https://www.academia.edu...;
Debate Round No. 2
Installgentoo

Pro

My opponent has put down quite a few arguments, all of which I believe to be fallacious.

My opponent argues first that we cannot accept supernatural explanations of events as historical.

This is all well and good, because it is not necessary in history to completely prove that something happened. All that can be expressed by historians is whether something probably happened. For example, it's probable that King William II of England had six daughters. It's not certain, but it's probable given the circumstances surrounding him. Similarly, I believe that given the historical evidence of Jesus' empty tomb found in the first recorded Gospel of the Bible, the Gospel of St. Mark, and given other facts, such as the fact that the disciples were ready to die for their belief Jesus had risen from the dead, I believe it is probable that Jesus was raised from the dead, at least more probable than other explanations of why Jesus disappeared from the tomb in which he was placed by Joseph of Arimathea.

My opponent's second counter-claim is that the claim of the resurrection is not well attested at all by historical writing. But there are many accounts which have been dated to around when Jesus' disciples were around which attest to the historicity of many facts which make the resurrection plausible. Some of these sources are in the Gospel of Mark, which my opponent seems to think has been altered, and the epistles of St. Paul, which I notice he does not address. The problem with saying that the gospel of Mark has been altered and is therefore not a historical document is that there are other earlier versions of Mark, like QMark, which is an early version of Mark's Gospel, which makes an acount of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalane and other women followers of Christ. I believe this demonstrates the historical facts which make the resurrection of Jesus historically probable.

My opponent then makes disparaging remarks about Josephus, which I believe can be answered by historians nowadays. It is true there is some interpolations in the quote by Josephus about Jesus, but most of the interpolations can be shown to be from a non-canonical manuscript of Luke's Gospel, and so you can take out the words which favour Christianity and get to a ore passage. Most historians believe that the Jesus reference in Josephus' Flavianum is not entirely made up.[1]

On the other historical quotes, they demonstrate more than my opponent lets on, I shall let the voters decide on them.
Samreay

Con

In his final comment, Pro states further evidence of that makes the resurrection of Jesus the most probable explanation as to why "Jesus disappeared from the tomb" is in the Gospels, the sincerity of the disciples belief, the epistles of Paul and that Josephus's Testimonium Flavium should still act as a credible source. I wish to address these points briefly.

1. The Gospels

I have already provided sources attesting that the earliest copies of Mark lack the ending section in which Jesus is resurrected. More than this, we know the Gospels are both written decades after the fact [1][2] and are not independent sources [3], meaning they do not provide any strong evidence. I also wish to point out to Pro that Mark stating multiple witnesses does not mean we count Mark as more than one source. For example, if I wrote down that a thousand people saw me perform a miracle, you do not have a thousand and one sources for that claim, you only have one (mine). As to the Pauline Epistles, they are again not considered strong evidence, as there is contention on if Paul ever physically met Jesus [4]. Thus I would defend the statement that the Gospels and Epistles are insufficient evidence for the miraculous event of resurrection.

2. Sincerity of belief

Someone dying for their belief gives us only one piece of information: their sincerity - not that their belief was correct. After all, people have died for [other] people they thought were their messiah, or for their religion. Modern examples are easy to find to, just take cult suicide. We have cases where scores [5], or even hundreds [6] of people have died for their belief, and yet we know this does not mean they were correct.

3. Testimonium Flavium

Pro states here that there is probably an original Christian reference to Josephus's writings, however he has provided no reason nor source for his claim. In fact, this is true, and Josephus does mention a crucification. However, Jospehus does not mention anything about resurrection, which is what this debate is about (I do not dispute at all that Jesus was crucified). Many early Christian leaders and church fathers prior to the 4th century commented on Josephus's work (Justin Martyr, Theophilus Antiochenus, Methodius, Melito of Sardis, Minuscius Felix, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Julius Adricanus, Pseudo-Justin, Irenaeus, Minucius Felix, Sextus Julius Africanus, Terulian, Hippolytus, Anatolius, Methodius, and Origen) and in the vast majority of cases they make absolutely no comment (in their very detailed commentaries) on Testimonium Flavium. Those that are not silent on the original works very brief mention actually explicitly criticise Josephus for not mentioning Jesus or his resurrection- see Origen's Contra Celsum (Book 1, Chapter 47 [7]). In addition to this, early Arabic translations of Jospehus's works also lack any reference to resurrection [8][9]. This is makes it clear that we cannot use Josephus's works as historical evidence of resurrection, given its absolute silence on the issue.


4. On probability

I admit that I am not sure how one can calculate how probable a supernatural explanation is - miracles seem hard to quantify. However, Pro argues that the resurrection is the best explanation of [at least] the empty tomb. For the sake of argument, I can present a hypothetical alternate scenario. The Romans crucify Jesus, but fearing that his tomb and remains will become a gathering or rallying point for his followers, they move his body at night and dispose of it in a common grave. This also explains an empty tomb, and given that is a scenario we know is physically possible and has plausible motives, I would wonder on what grounds Pro could claim that resurrection - a miraculous event which no one alive has ever seen occur, is deemed a more likely explanation. I should note that I do not actually support the prior explanation (I personally am skeptical that the tomb was even found empty given I do not view the Gospels are historically reliable), however I believe it is far more likely than the scenario presented by pro.

To further illustrate this point, let us realise that Pro has claimed that it can be proven historically that Jesus was raised from the dead. In making that claim, Pro has assumed the large burden of proof and set about presenting the strongest evidence he can for this extraordinary phenomenon. So far, the evidence Pro has presented to the readers are the Gospels and Epistles, both of which I have shown we have at least some reason to be cautious of as using as accurate historical sources (emphasis on historical, as I am considering them from a historical perspective only and not a religious one). Pro also presented several historians, however did not realise that none of them actually referred to the resurrection itself and are thus not relevant to if resurrection can be historically proven. I feel I can show that this small amount of historically uncertain evidence is insufficient to fulfill the burden of proof through use of two simple examples, where I can quickly provide stronger historical evidence for other extraordinary claims which most likely will be rejected by readers as being true.

a) Sathya Sai Baba - An Indian Guru and miracle worker, with first hand accounts of miracle healing, resurrections, clairvoyance and bilocation [10] from people thousands of people that are still alive today. He had over six million followers [11], many claiming to witness his miracles. Most readers will be unconvinced Sai Baba did in fact perform miracle healing or resurrections, and yet the evidence for this is far stronger than that presented by Pro

b) UFO's - Historical records of people observing UFOs number in their thousands. To give just one example, the Westfall UFO incident in Australia had "more than 200 students and teachers" at a school witness a UFO descent into a field for twenty minutes [12]. I would state this alone is stronger evidence than Pro has supplied, let alone when you combine it with the thousands of other UFO sightings [13]. And yet most people do not consider this compelling enough evidence to satisfy the BoP.



Conclusion

In this debate, pro has failed to meet his burden of proof. Pro made an extraordinary claim of resurrection to start this debate, and has only managed to support it via a few historical documents around which academic historians are still arguing about their credibility and accuracy. Pro has not managed to provide any accounts by external historians vindicating the resurrection, and instead presented accounts about the spread of Christianity or the crucifiction of Jesus, neither of which I dispute and neither of which are relevant to the thesis in question. To leave our bias "at the door" as Pro asks, I believe if this debate was the only exposure to Jesus and resurrection a reader had, Pro's lack of solid argument and evidence would definitely not convince said reader. It has been a good debate, and I learnt several new things in my research for this debate, so I thank Pro for the opportunity to discuss this topic.




[1] http://carm.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://gracethrufaith.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...'s_Gate_(religious_group)
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://www.ccel.org...
[8] Page 95 http://www.amazon.com...
[9] http://www.earlychristianwritings.com...
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[11] http://rationalwiki.org...
[12] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org...;
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
Samreay
Neutral, mind explaining your RFD? Given my conduct, grammar and sources were at least equal to my opponent, it seems like you're just giving a full seven points because you agree with pro's position.

To other users: New to this site - is this common behavior when the side you like is losing?
Posted by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
Crap produces Methane, so Jesus may have been so full of crap that his body arose from all the methane produced inside his dead body.
He has risen, look everybody, Jesus has risen, oh, he's getting higher.
Pffffftt
Jesus just took off to Heaven leaving a cloud behind.
Don't hold your noses people, suffering is what Jesus wanted us to Do.
ARRGH,
Thank You Jesus, Cough, Choke!
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
Samreay
Thanks for all the votes. Not expecting to change your mind Garrett, but in your rfd you bring up Muslims in the comment about the Arabic translations of Josephus's work. I talking about early translations, before the fourth century, and before Islam existed.
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
Samreay
Dsjpk, did you actually vote based off the debate or just what you believed? No one in this debate either bought up or believes that the resurrection was a hoax, and yet that appears to be main point in your reason for voting.
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
Samreay
Damn, that timing. It's midnight here, and I have work in the morning, so I'll get back to this tomorrow night for me.
Posted by Installgentoo 2 years ago
Installgentoo
Source for my round three argument http://www.tektonics.org....
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
Samreay
Helium, unconventionally. It was the only way to make him keep rising after they turned the temperature down.
Posted by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
Hmm Raising Jesus?

Did they use baking powder or yeast to make Jesus rise?
Posted by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
This is going to be interesting.
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
Samreay
This should be a fun debate. Thanks Installgentoo
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by neutral 2 years ago
neutral
InstallgentooSamreayTied
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Reasons for voting decision: All Con did was appeal to single verse without actually detailing the evidence, his further treatment of the Gospel of Mark is not the consensus opinion of period scholars either - it is, as Pro points out, fallacious cherry picking of data. Not that its poorly argued, but Con simply cherry picks his points and never actually addressed the available evidence to determine whether or not the resurrection occurred. Not one bit. And if we avoid evidence and the critical examination of it to make a determination? Then we have not made much a determination at all.
Vote Placed by alyfish126 2 years ago
alyfish126
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Reasons for voting decision: As stated in the final conclusion, with little exposure to Jesus and the resurrection, I was unconvinced. Con gave sufficient reason for the I reliability of Pros claims, and Pro did not build more reliable claims to fulfill bop. Con used more sources, and pro lacked sources in round 3
Vote Placed by InnovativeEphemera 2 years ago
InnovativeEphemera
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and S&G were good, Con provided not only superior argumentation but the only sources which are sufficient to examine the question. Con correctly pointed out that using the Bible to prove the Bible is tautological and circular and can't be attested to for historical purposes because of a lack of independence. Pro failed in his burden of proof and could not demonstrate that Jesus was Raised From the Dead with his argumentation.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
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Reasons for voting decision: Fundamentally, the BoP is on Pro here, and what he had to do was show that Jesus must have risen from the dead. The only basis he has for this is historical analysis that, as Con showed, was far removed from the time period. The lack of responses to Con's points (despite having plenty of extra space to do so in R3) is glaring, as Con's analysis constantly attempts to show that, even with historical analysis, we should favor his case. Specifically, the response to Con's points about the supernatural (I personally thought of "when you hear hoofbeats, you think horses, not zebras) is too weak, and leaves me, at the very least, uncertain about whether any given historical analysis could verify an obviously supernatural event. Lacking that, Pro's case is at least weak enough to ensure that he never meets his burden, thus I vote Con.
Vote Placed by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not successfully provide the Burden Of Proof needed. All the evidence presented by Pro was successfully refuted by Con. Also Con provided great sources.
Vote Placed by MrJosh 2 years ago
MrJosh
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO had the BoP, but was unable to satisfy it once CON showed how the bible is not good evidence.
Vote Placed by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
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Reasons for voting decision: Most of Pro's extra-Biblical sources do not address the resurrection and the one that does actually contradicts the Bible. The Bible is NOT a reliable source on its own.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
FuzzyCatPotato
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Reasons for voting decision: Con proved Pro had insufficient proof for an event of this improbability, with sources.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro set out to prove the Resurrection *historically* and he did so. Con can't even articulate what it would take to satisfy Pro's burden of proof so I'm forced to conclude Con has presupposed Pro is wrong and zero evidence would convince Con that Pro's right. Con's examples of Indian healing and UFOs fail. I'm open to the possibility of some Indian guy performing miracles and UFOs are almost necessarily a reality by definition. Con says the Romans might have hid Jesus' body to avoid a riot, but that would be stupid since absence of Jesus' body caused a riot. Seems like the Romans would have brought the body back once they realized the ruckus rumors of his Resurrection caused. Saying Arabic sources don't mention Jesus' Resurrection don't convince me; Muslims might not have liked that idea so intentionally omitted it. Con's Genghis Khan example is silly and misses the point entirely, because nobody is arguing that Khan was capable of teleporting himself. That's Con's strawman.
Vote Placed by Phoenix61397 2 years ago
Phoenix61397
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides gave fairly good arguments, however, pro was just short of meeting his burden of proof, as con put slightly reasonable doubt on his assertion. Con wins, by a hair.