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The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ Historically Occurred

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,604 times Debate No: 98726
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
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First Round is acceptance, treating first round as anything but acceptance is a forfeit. Read all instructions for pre-acceptance requirements. Last opponent did not and garnered an automatic forfeit. I've made this debate impossible to accept to begin with, but this is a reiteration.

This debate is over whether Jesus, a Judean individual in the first century, rose from the dead historically as recorded in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

This is not a spiritual resurrection or one of a new body, but instead one in which Jesus' body which he died in physically was resurrected as depicted in Luke 24:39 and John 20:27, complete with the wounds in his hands and feet.

This is centered around historical evidence. I will not say nonsense like "people don't just rise from the dead; it's scientifically impossible" if my opponent doesn't resort to "God did it."

This is also separate from a question of God. Jesus rising from the dead may have been a miracle from God, or it may have been a physiological abnormality.

Undisputed Pauline Epistles are the only sources to be used as by the hand of Paul himself.

Round Specifications
Round 1 is for acceptance
Round 2 is for opening arguments only
Round 3 is for rebuttals
Round 4 is for counter rebuttals and conclusions only. (i.e. Counter rebuttals cannot address material brought up in Round 4, only material from 3)

Debate Specifications

1) I expect a high level of education in my opponent on this subject. This includes knowledge of:

-Disputed Pauline Epistles (Does not need to accept that they were not written by Paul)

-The Synoptic Problem and Acceptance of the Two-Source Theory OR Farrer Hypothesis (Including Q and Markian Priority). I will be operating under Two Source assumptions but will change if my opponent is more accepting of Farrer.

-Dispute over traditional authorship of the Gospels (Does not need to accept they were not written by the traditional authors)

-Textual Criticism (Needs no stance on specific texts)

2) Only undisputed Pauline epistles are to be used as written by Paul

3) Use Proper Sources - This is up to the discretion of the debaters, but they should be well-respected, peer-reviewed authors, professors, and researchers with a PhD

4) Pro has the burden of proof. It is much more difficult to prove this event did not happen than that it did. Am I to also prove the collapse of the unicorn meat market was not the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? I will provide evidence against the resurrection, but it will be up to my opponent to provide the evidence for the resurrection. This will be the main place of discussion.

5) Comment in the Debate before acceptance to discuss the rules and any ambiguities. This includes affirming the rules and clarifying whether Farrer or Two-Source is to be used. Acceptance without commenting is an automatic forfeit


Thank you, divergent_ambon, for allowing me to debate you in this topic.

I accept that we will debate under the assumptions of the minimalist approach to Pauline authorship, and we will also assume that the two-source hypothesis is the best theory for understanding the texts of the Gospels.

I hope for a polite and engaging debate, and I look forward to having this important discussion!
Debate Round No. 1


First off, I think it's fair to say that my opponent has an uphill battle. This is quite a substantial claim. Jesus, who was flogged, crucified, and stabbed, actually rose from the grave bodily after death? That really just doesn't happen in the world we see. Now, that's not saying it CAN'T happen, nor does it mean it should be disregarded immediately. It's a huge claim, but I can't just say "people don't rise from the grave" and call it a day.

Further, as with most spectacular historical claims, it is much more difficult to prove this event did not happen than that it did. Am I to also prove the collapse of the unicorn meat market was not the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? I will provide evidence against the resurrection, but it will be up to my opponent to provide the evidence for the resurrection. This will be the main place of discussion.

Content to come
My arguments against the bodily resurrection of Jesus are two-fold:

1) The Spiritual Nature of The Resurrection in Earliest Traditions

2) The "Revelation of Gabriel" Stone

1) Spiritual Nature of the Resurrection in Earliest Christian Traditions

In passages such as Luke 24:39 and John 20:27, the resurrection is a physical event. The very scars on Jesus' hands and feet are still there. In Luke 24:39 in particular, Jesus says "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Clearly, Jesus is not a spirit and is instead made of flesh and bone. These two traditions come around 100 CE, about 70 years after Jesus was alive. That is plenty of time for embellishments to take place.

The earliest material, which we will look at, has something very, very different to say.

1a) The Apostle Paul Believed the Resurrection was Spiritual and Percieved through Visions

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul discusses what the resurrected body is like. He specifically says "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (v. 44)

He also says "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (v. 50) If your body isn't the new spirit body, you won't get into the Kingdom of God! A "natural" flesh and bone body is replaced by a spiritual one at the resurrection.

Now, couldn't he just be talking about other believers, not Jesus? Well, he goes even further "the last Adam became a life-giving spirit." (v. 45) Jesus himself (The "Last Adam" in Scripture) in fact himself became a spirit! This is the same Greek word Pneuma (in a different grammatical form) found in Luke 24:39! (1) So how can Jesus be a "spirit" without flesh and blood in Paul's literature, but he is definitely not a spirit and of flesh and bones in Luke?

Simple. Luke is a later legend, not what the earliest believers actually thought.

1b) No empty tomb
Further, it is very notable that the empty tomb never appears in the authentic epistles of Paul. That would be odd, as it is the lynch-pin for all 4 Gospels. Why wouldn't Paul mention it? It simply was not important to him! The Jesus resurrected was spiritual. not flesh and blood!

1c) The Appearances Mentioned Are Spiritual
So, how then did Jesus "appear" to the apostles as also in 1 Corinthians 15? The Greek word used here is Horao. It indicates a spiritual, visionary experience. (2) NOT a flesh and blood man being seen by your eyes alone, which would be the Greek word Blepo. (3) After all, when Jesus "appeared" to Paul in Acts, it was a visionary experience, not one in which the physical fleshly Jesus was seen.

Putting this all together, Paul believed Jesus was spiritually risen (not in human flesh), appeared in visions to the disciples, and did not seem to know anything about the empty tomb. Are visionary experiences in one's mind the same as someone bodily rising from the dead? No. No it is not. It is more likely a mass religious hallucination, an event which occurs in many different religions.

1d) Q and the Lack of Any Bodily Resurrection
This one is going to be a little shorter, less to say on the matter. Q was the earliest Gospel written, around the same time or before 1 Corinthians was written, (4) and it comprises material copied, often verbatim, by Matthew and Luke. Q is a well-documented fact that my opponent has widely chosen to accept.

Q is often mischaracterized as a "sayings Gospel." But that's not the case. It has a narrative, starting at baptism, leading through events and sermons, and ending with an apocalyptic pronouncement of judgment. (5) Oddly, the resurrection is never mentioned at all! Now, the crucifixion is alluded to, but not described either. Why? Q focuses on the sayings of Jesus, but there's one place where it implies Jesus was simply "taken." The resurrection, to the Q community, was not important. Moreover, if there is on mentioned in allusion, it was a resurrection of assumption, as all spirits do after they die. (6)

1e) The Gospel of Thomas and the Lack of the Resurrection

We have texts outside of proto-Orthodox Christianity which are called "Gnostic" texts. The most famous of these is the "Gospel of Thomas." The Gospel of Thomas is also the oldest Gnostic text, reaching back as far as 70 CE in its final form and as old as Q (40-60 CE) in its sources. (7) It is a true "sayings" Gospel, starting off its passages with "Jesus spoke" more often than not, and it has no narrative. In this early Gospel, like Q, there is no explicit mention of the resurrection.

1f) Argument One Conclusion
Putting this together, the lack of resurrection material makes sense. Jesus' death was an embarrassing event they were unsure of how to deal with. The Q and Thomas communities sought mostly to just ignore it and focus on the teachings of Jesus passed down to them. Why no visions? They were separated from the Jerusalem church and its visions geographically. (8) They did not inherit those teachings. They, instead, had their own Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus. You'd think if Jesus was actually out and about, this is something they would talk about. But no. They do not. This backs up the "visions" view of the resurrection.

2) The "Visions of Gabriel" Stone

(I want to make it perfectly clear I don't make connections between "dying and rising Gods" in Greco-Roman society like Carrier, Price, and their lot claim. That I want to be clear before I start.)

The Revelation of Gabriel is a rare ink-on-stone record relates a prophecy that may be of great impact to the debate of Christianity. It was written in the 1st century BCE and describes an apocalyptic event at the end of days. This has similarities with Christianity, but the biggest is later on in the stone.

Lines 80-81 describe something especially interesting

"In the third day, I command you to live, Prince of Princes!"

A messianic figure called the "Prince of Princes" who was said to be raised on the third day? This is a post-event prophecy, common in those days. These things had already occurred. The followers of this figure wrote this out as a "prophecy" of the events. The followers of this man believed he was to usher in God and was raised from the dead. However, this resurrection event too came from visions. This shows precedence for an apocalyptic preacher like Jesus being said to have been risen on the third day, specifically in a vision. (9)

Josephus and Acts 5:36-37 relate many other Messianic claimants who met with death. Is this one of them? Or another? And is this the only other one before Jesus said to be raised to life on the third day? These questions will be very important as the sands of Israel reveal more of their secrets.


What do we learn here then?

1) The earliest traditions of the resurrection with Paul show visionary experiences and a spiritual resurrection, even to the extent that the empty tomb is not mentioned.

2) Other early materials like Thomas and Q do not mention the resurrection at all, or speak of it in a natural sense of ascending to heaven as a spirit

3) If Jesus was up and around, we would expect Thomas and Q to record this material. They do not. This shows their separation from the vision centered Jerusalem church.

4) Other texts pre-dating Jesus show a messianic figure being raised on the third day in a vision

I hope this gives a good overview of what the earliest Christians believed about the resurrection. It was the later Gospel traditions and Epistle traditions that changed Jesus to being physically and bodily. The early material showed no resurrection or a spiritual one experienced in visions, and this has precedence in Judaic literature.


4) Marcus Borg, "The Lost Gospel Q: The Original Sayings of Jesus," pg. 13
5) John S. Kloppenberg, "Q: The Earliest Gospel," pg. 123-144
6) Ibid., 80-84
7) Marvin Meyer (ed), "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures," pg. 136-137 --- Robert J Miller (ed), "The Complete Gospels," pg. 280-281
8)"Q: The Earliest Gospel," 65-69



When trying to argue for the proposition that Jesus was resurrected by God, a necessary condition would be to first prove the existence of God. By looking through my opponent's profile, I can see that they at least agree that some kind of God exists, so I will not burden the length of this debate by adding in unnecessary arguments.

The second necessary condition for Jesus' resurrection is that there is a God who does intervene in human affairs and performs miracles.

Argument 1: God Intervenes with Miracles

Dr. Craig Keener received a Ph. D in New Testament Studies and Christian Origins from Duke University. He has written a book, entitled “Miracles” (1). Short dialogues with him addressing the issues of modern day miracles can be found on youtube (2).

A summary of Keener's arguments goes like this:

Throughout history and throughout the world, there have been thousands of miracle claims. While it is obviously likely that many of the claims can be false or have psychosomatic explanations, it is important to investigate this issue to see if any of these claims do lead to good evidence of divine intervention. In the book, a variety of miraculous claims are explored, from healing of illnesses, resurrections, and even power over nature. In eastern societies, Christianity is spreading at a rapid rate merely because of the instances of miracles. Given the numerous accounts of these instances, and the direct correlations to people praying in the name of the Christian God immediately before the event of sudden healing or resurrection, it seems there are two options for explanation: coincidence or divine intervention.

I grant that my opponent may readily defend the position that mere coincidence can explain all these miracles. To counter this, I propose that this position is the less likely explanation by way of principle. For an analogy, imagine you are the owner of a poker house. You see that a certain player continually wins great money by having statistically unlikely hands. Now, it is possible that this player may be very lucky, but you, as the owner, are justified in acting out on the assumption that the player is intentionally cheating. You investigate this player to find if he uses any cheating methods, and if you find any, you ban him from your building.

If God exists, and it is more likely to assume that God does intervene in human affairs, and multiple resurrections have been recorded in human history, then it leaves open the possibility that Jesus was also resurrected.

Having fulfilled the two necessary conditions for the main proposition, I move on to:

Argument 2: The Empty Tomb

The Nazareth Inscription (3) is an edict from Caesar criminalizing by death the act of removing a body from a tomb, describing that someone had done so for religious purposes.

This edict fits the historical event of the empty tomb of Jesus. Jesus' tomb was empty, and this caused many people to formulate a religion, namely Christianity.

Argument 3: The Eyewitness Testimony of the Gospels

James Warner Wallace is a homicide detective, and has been featured on Fox, truTv, and NBC. He decided to apply his investigative skills on the four gospel accounts to see if the claims of Jesus' resurrection was reliable. After investigating these claims, he switched from atheism to Christianity, and wrote a book entitled, “Cold-Case Christianity” (4).

Given that Wallace was a master at being a detective, and that he regularly had to piece together different testimonies to come to understand the actual event, it shows that the four gospel accounts are also likely to have testimonies reliable enough to warrant the conclusion of Jesus' resurrection. Wallace argues that, when investigating a crime, it's important to immediately separate the different witnesses so that they don't share their story. Having slightly alternate accounts is part of human nature, and those different accounts allow him to find the truth easier, rather than having one combined account from all the witnesses.

Argument 4: Jesus was Resurrected

In my second argument, I have shown that there was indeed a Jesus whose body disappeared, and a religion formed around him. What is now important is to figure out how and why the religion formed.

The first possibility is that Jesus was truly resurrected, he appeared to his followers, and this inspired them to spread the good news to as much of the world as possible.

The second possibility is that his disciples stole his body. This is unlikely, because this would require the early followers of Jesus to have spent their whole lives in persecution and were ultimately killed because of something they knew to be a lie. Because it his highly unlikely for people to die for something they know to be a lie, this scenario is a bad explanation.

The third possibility is that Jesus' disciples all hallucinated his appearances. While this scenario does explain most things, it relies on a proposition that has never been demonstrated- mass hallucination. Because this type of thing has never been recorded, this scenario remains highly unlikely/

There are other numerous possibilities, each requiring some proposition that is highly unlikely or improbable. In order for my opponent to disprove the claim that Jesus was resurrected, they must adequately defend some other possibility.


The best historical explanation of the evidence leads to Jesus being resurrected, and this miracle, along with numerous others, caused Christianity to spread throughout the world and become the biggest religion the world has ever seen.

1 (2011). Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic
4 J. Warner Wallace. Cold-Case Christianity, January 1, 2013, David C. Cook, ISBN 1-434-70469-6
Debate Round No. 2


Introduction to Rebuttals

In this rebuttal round, I will simply take my opponent's arguments point-by-point to show how they are unsatisfactory as evidence that Jesus was bodily resurrected. Further, I will show how my opponent's arguments only make sense in light of his confirmation bias with similar events and ways the arguments can be used.

A) Rebuttal against Argument 1: God Intervenes with Miracles

I specified to my opponent that this debate was unrelated to theism in the rules.
Jesus may have been raised from the dead, but God may not exist. Or perhaps God does exist, but Jesus did rise from the dead. They are not necessarily linked. The event has to established before an explanation can be proposed.

On that basis, this argument is irrelevant.

Further, my opponent's source was fortunately at my school's library. It contains, at best, dubious sources like televangelist Pat Robertson. I researched one in particular, Mahesh Chavda. (1) One of Chavda's online videos contains a claim that a boy named Nick from a town in Michigan was in a car accident and put into a coma but recovered thanks to prayer. Police and newspaper records showed that no accident in the named city on the date provided. And it was a town of 12,000. Even small fender benders were mentioned. This was faked.

Overall, this argument is irrelevant and uses completely false information. Dangerously so. It supports dangerous faith healers.

I do wonder if my opponent would also accept the "evidence" from the Christian Science cult leaders showing over 50,000 healings, hundreds of which "medical documentation." (2) Why would my opponent accept traditional Christian miracles but not the Christian Science cult leaders' stories if not confirmation bias?

(Christian Science beliefs denies other Christian are true believers. They are classified as a cult and have been the cause of the death of many children) (3)

B) Rebuttal Against Argument 2: The Empty Tomb

My opponent bases his argument for the empty tomb on extremely flimsy evidence. The so-called "Nazareth Inscription" is an interesting piece. First, it was not excavated in Nazareth, nor does the text name the area. Second, the date is also debated and most likely dates to before Jesus lived. (4) Further, the text addresses grave robbery (Line 20-22) and the desecration of graves and theft of tomb items (Lines 5-15), but it does not mention theft for religious reasons as my opponent said. Instead, it was the burial that was for possible religious reasons (Lines 1-5). (5) It mentions no particular incident, and there are many other decrees about grave robbery throughout the Roman world with similar language. (6) Are we to believe that all of these instances are in response to resurrections? That's simply absurd.

My opponent took a text about grave robbery and desecration of graves and made it into a text about the resurrection. Other laws with similar wording exist, and my opponent isn't trying to link them with a resurrection... so why do so here except for confirmation bias?

C) Rebuttal Against Argument 3: The Eyewitness Testimony of the Gospels

My opponent has chosen here to rely on a man who did his research without any prior education on these subjects. To take a detective and make him a credible historian is inane. I doubt a New Testament historian doing CSI work would be counted as credible in court. So why the other way around?

Further, my opponent did not actually provide arguments. He instead appealed to an authority, and a poor one at that.

Let me be clear that the Gospels were not written by eye-witnesses. The titles attributed to the Gospels were later additions to the works and not from the original authors.

In the traditional attributions, Luke and Mark aren't eyewitnesses in the first place.

The book of Matthew is essentially just a composite of Mark and Q as both me and my opponent agree. Why would an "eyewitness" simply copy other works for his own? Why not actually write your own material? Why speak of yourself in the third person (Matthew 9:9)? Why not claim yourself as a disciple of Jesus to give yourself credibility? Outside of later tradition, nothing can attribute Matthew to being the author of the first Gospel, and there is evidence against it.

This leaves us with John. But there's a problem: John was illiterate and uneducated according to the Biblical tradition (Acts 4:13). Difficult to write one of the greatest and most complex Greek works of all time when you are illiterate and speak Aramaic.

Overall then, it's clear that the Gospels were not eyewitnesses.

D) Rebuttal Against Argument 4: Jesus was Resurrected

My opponent claimed that "In my second argument, I have shown that there was indeed a Jesus whose body disappeared." No. He did no such thing. He instead showed an inscription of unknown origin and dating that condemns grave robbers to death. But again, there are other laws of these sorts throughout the Roman Empire. Does this mean all these were spurred on by resurrections?

My opponent also took a shot at the "hallucination" theory. This is close to what I was arguing, but it is simply not the same. It assumes the physical resurrection of Jesus as the view of Paul. As we already saw, that's not what Paul believed. Instead, as we saw in round 2 as well, the believers "experienced" Jesus spiritually in visions and internal spiritual understanding based off the Greek word Horao. Mass experience is well recorded as "mass hysteria." We see it often in Pentecostal environments and other places. People take to fits of dancing, biting, religious experiences, and even physical symptoms when they believe they are sick! (7)

I also doubt my opponent, a Protestant, thinks the Virgin Mary appeared in Egypt multiple times over 2-3 years in the 1960's. Yet multiple times, sometimes to crowds of thousands, people believed they saw the Virgin Mary appear to them (8).

So why call the mass spiritual experience and sighting of the Virgin Mary or those suffering from mass hysteria false and the Biblical ones true if not for confirmation bias?


My opponent's role in this debate was to provide evidence that Jesus rose from the dead that met the burden of proof.

He failed in that regard.

We were provided with dubious and irrelevant anecdotes of "miracles," a law against grave robbery, the opinion of a detective-turned-apologist, and an assumption that Jesus' body disappeared based on an ambiguous grave robbery law that never mentions Jesus and may not have even been from the time frame after Jesus lived.

Would this convince you of the resurrection of a modern day human? No?

Then it cannot be convincing of an individual from 2,000 years ago.

I hope it is clear that the supposed evidence for the resurrection of Jesus presented here is scant, fallacious, and unconvincing. It only makes sense in light of my opponent's confirmation bias and assumptions.


(1) Craig S Keener, "Miracles," (v.2) pg. 1062, 1134
(5) ibid.
(6) ibid.


A Brief Note

Before I begin with rebuttals, I'd like to address the matter of conduct:

Con stated, “my opponent's arguments can only make sense in light of his confirmation bias...” “is in[s]ane”.They made the assumption that I am a Protestant.

Everyone has biases. The intellectual individuals do as best they can to separate their biases from their decisions. So, to argue that, just because someone disagrees with your opinion, that must make them unable to form rational decisions because of their emotional appeal to an issue is severely disingenuous. Also, to make sweeping assumptions about someone and to then label them is a very poor form of conduct. I do not consider myself a Protestant. If I was pressed to it, I would say that I'm a deist, and am arguing for the position that Jesus was resurrected merely because of the evidence, even though it goes against my personal ideology.

Spiritual Nature of the Resurrection

In the beginning of Acts, it is claimed that the disciples witness Jesus going up into heaven, taking the physical body with him. Some 20 years after this event, Paul witnesses some type of vision of Jesus. Whether Paul witnessed a physical Jesus or had some type of spiritual vision is entirely irrelevant. According to the account of the gospels, the physical body of Jesus left the earth. Actually, it would be incorrect theology for Paul to have claimed that he actually saw the resurrected body of Jesus.

Empty Tomb

If Paul doesn't mention something that isn't in the Gospels, that doesn't mean those beliefs weren't held by early Christians. This is an argument from ignorance.


Q is debated to even exist. For the purposes of this debate, I conceded the theory that it exists to be plausible. However, we don't even have the original manuscripts of any of the gospels, so for Con to claim that we have any knowledge of what may have been contained in Q, let alone all of it, is impossible. So, to make the claim, “Q didn't mention the resurrection” is entirely an argument from ignorance.

The Vision of Gabriel

I don't understand how this argument helps out my opponent. Sure, many Jews at this time were apocalyptic, expecting the Messiah. There are plenty of texts with this type of material. However, rather than detract from the probability that Jesus was resurrected, this actually helps establish it. This tablet was written after the events of Jesus, so this is another piece of archaeology that corroborates that a Jewish prophet was killed and believed to have been risen, showing evidence of an empty tomb.

God Intervenes With Miracles

My opponent argues that arguing for God is unnecessary in this debate. However, if I'm arguing that Jesus was resurrected, it also necessitates providing a mechanism for the resurrection will strengthen my argument. If I give an argument that the God that Jesus claimed would resurrect him, also resurrects other people, then yes, this argument is definitely relevant.

My opponent claimed that the book was contained in his library, and that he was then able to research its claims. I believe my opponent was entirely disingenuous when stating that claim. They provide a reference that is found over a thousand pages into the book, so unless they read that much in the limits of a couple days, they were instead were just searching for the weakest described miracle of that book. Not only that, the “miracle” he describes is not even listed in the book, as far as I can tell. (I own a digital version of the text, so I cannot use your page number, but using the keyword search, I cannot find this story in the book. I apologize if I'm incorrect.) What my opponent did, was find some evangelist briefly mentioned in the book, and then took a miracle from that evangelist and discredited it. And I agree with my opponent's conclusion, I wouldn't consider that event as a miracle. People come out of comas without God at all.

The book, the actual book, lists miracle claims from people all around the world. The author admits that not all of the stories are actual miracles with God intervening. Some stories can be explained naturally, and some people may be lying about the proclaimed miracle. However, there are also miracle claims in the book, around the world, that are very convincing, that do have actual evidence and materials to account for. If my opponent had actually done research, they would have realized this. Rather, they chose to find the weakest argument of something not even in the book to miss the entire point of my argument.

My opponent even gives yet another argument that supports my position, not their own. They give evidence that the cult of Christian Science members claim miracle events. That's wonderful! I never claimed someone had to have the perfect and correct theology and beliefs about God in order for a miracle to occur. They are still praying to the same God.

My opponent obviously concedes that miracles occur.

The Empty Tomb

I definitely grant that the Nazareth Inscription causes debates among scholars. Sure, its possible this was written before Jesus and may not have been referring to him. What I claimed was that this inscription fits the historical narrative of the empty tomb- something that virtually all teaching scholars in universities agree upon- atheist or Christian. If my opponent disagrees with the historical agreement that Jesus died under Pilate and his body went missing from the tomb, they are fully in their right to be skeptical of that event. But this is a fact not disputed, and I gave a simple evidence to corroborate this historical fact. So yes, it is possible that the Nazareth Inscription doesn't refer to Jesus, but that's very unlikely, and being skeptical of that position is not easy to defend in the least.

Eyewitness Testimony of the Gospels

I did not argue that a detective made a good historian. This is mis-representing my argument. A detective is highly skilled at having to look at different testimonies, and then piece those together to make a reasonable abduction of what actually happened.

I am not skilled in psychiatry. So, if I use an expert in that field to help me to come to a psychiatric diagnoses, then yes, it is a fallacy of authority to merely argue that whatever the psychiatrist says is true. But, if I rely on their skill to believe that their conclusion is probable and reliable, that is not a fallacy. If this detective looked at the four gospels and made an abductive conclusion about their reliability due to his skills and background, then it is justified to accept his conclusion as probably reliable.

Papias, a church father from the 2nd century, stated that the tradition was that the apostle Matthew wrote Matthew, the apostle John wrote John, and the Mark was the student of Peter (so no, Mark wasn't an eyewitness, but he wrote the account of an eyewitness). No sure, you can be skeptical and argue that Papias is a generation removed, and his claims could be false.

However, your conclusion, that it's clear the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses, is demonstrably false. It is not clear. We have tradition stating that at least two were eyewitnesses. Even though the questions can be asked, “why would matthew speak in third person, use other material, etc,” these are questions that can be easily answered, and don't in themselves disprove the tradition. In history, if we have documents or traditions claiming that an event happened, you have evidence that the event happened. Mere questions about it don't “clearly disprove it.” You can raise doubt about it, but the reasonable position is to accept an historical event when there is enough actual evidence in support of it.

Jesus was Resurrected

My opponent confuses mass hysteria with mass hallucination. Mass hysteria is a real and documented symptom of the human condition. Mass hallucination is not, and I challenge my opponent to find me one medical journal that documents this. It may take a while, because there aren't any.

Different people at different times claimed that they interacted with a physical person. They were so certain of this event that they separated themselves from each other, journeyed into the world, and then were tortured and martyred for that belief.

The point of this debate is to explain how Christianity originated. Christianity dominates 1/3 of humanity. We both need to explain how this even started.

My opponent is claiming that one group of people at one time had mass hysteria (not hallucination, that's completely separate), and then somehow convinced most of the ancient world that the claims were true. My opponent must have a very negative view towards the intelligence of ancient humanity if they were simply convinced by hallucinated individuals of a silly religion.

Debate Round No. 3


My opponent, unfortunately, broke the rules by posting the counter rebuttals in Round 3 as opposed to 4, giving him an unfair advantage if he gets two sets of counter rebuttals. I will not be addressing his counter-rebuttals to keep in check with the rules. He should refrain from a second set of counter-rebuttals or rebuttals. This round should be for him, in effect, a forfeit, to keep the discussion equal.

I will deal with the rebuttals with counter rebuttals... since that was the purpose of round 4, not 3.

Let me also address two things:

1) Inane is a real word and not an insult. I was saying that making a detective a scholar, like making a scholar a detective, is foolish and does not follow as an argument. I did not mean to write "insane." I was precise with my language.

2) Clearly, everyone has a bias, but I was pointing out a form of a specific fallacy being used that undermines his entire argument. Again, I was precise with my language.

3) I also assumed you were a Protestant based off of an exclusive use of Evangelical apologetics, previous debates where you defend inerrancy, and a debate where you specifically said deism was wrong and a Protestant version of theology was correct.

4) Deism by nature is God not interfering in the world, and certainly not raising Jesus from the dead and not performing thousands of miracles. Belief in a God who performs miracles for Christians and raised Jesus from the dead is the opposite of deism.

Now, on to the actual arguments.

1) Spiritual Nature of the Resurrection

My opponent attempts to use Acts as evidence that Jesus was bodily raised. Acts was written by the same individual who wrote Luke, and it is decades later than Paul (1) and is written as a Greco-Roman novel, not history. (2) Indeed it contradicts Paul as we saw. My opponent did not deal with 1 Corinthians 15 in any way, which was the crux of my argument from Paul. It remains valid.

2) Empty Tomb
My opponent missed the point of the argument. If Paul thought Jesus was spiritually resurrected, his lack of mention of the empty tomb makes sense. It misses the point. This is an argument from absence, not ignorance, with an explanation as to why.

3) Q
My opponent was specifically asked if he accepted the 2-source theory. Not if it was possible, but if he accepted it. Either he has lied, or he did not understand the question. Either way, he broke the rules again. I specifically listed Kloppenberg as a source. He is the world's leading scholar on Q and a major player in the critical ediction of Q. Those scholars who accept Q know much of its context. My original argument is, again, an argument from absence, not ignorance, with a specific explanation. The rebuttal, however, is indeed an argument from ignorance as it simply doesn't take into account any methods or conclusions of Q scholars.

4) The Vision of Gabriel
My opponent stated, "This tablet was written after the events of Jesus."

This is false. The tablet was written in the 1st century BCE, as I stated and cited. This was BEFORE Jesus may have even been born and certain before his death.

My opponent misunderstood and did not deal with my point: previous Jewish groups believed their Messiah was resurrected on the third day, specifically as appearing in visions.

This argument still stands.

Final Conclusion

I'll make this quick.

1) My opponent did not specifically address my treatment of visionary and experiential "appearances" of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15. This argument still stands.

2) My opponent did not deal with my evaluation of contradiction between Luke and 1 Corinthians 15 with the spiritual resurrection of Jesus. This argument still stands.

3) My opponent misunderstood and misrepresented my arguments from Q and Paul's mention of the empty tomb. He also did not address Thomas. These arguments still stand.

4) My opponent should not have a second round of counter-rebuttals or deal with what in this round. This is in accordance to the rules he agreed with, and it ensures equal amount of time for debate. He should concede this round. I did not deal with his counter rebuttals to keep the rules. As of now, we are equal in opportunities to argue.

I hope you enjoyed the debate and will vote for the side which aligns best with the evidence. May your journey to truth be strong and exciting.


(1) The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pg. 1919.
(2) Bart D. Ehrman, "The Near Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings," (ed. 5), pg. 156, 160-161.


I apologize to my opponent; I had misunderstood the rules from round 1. I had thought I was able to rebut all arguments they had posted. Because of this misunderstanding, I will forfeit this round.

Before I conclude, I do want to make some clarifications against what my opponent has said, because these statements are attacks on my character.

1) If you are ever having a discussion with someone, if you find their logic to be flawed, argue that their logic is invalid or unsound. Do not insult the integrity of a person.

2) Confirmation bias is not a fallacy, it is a psychological phenomena. You seem to be making a habit of confusing psychological states with logical fallacies. Now, If I had made the claim that only Christian miracles are allowed, and no other, then that would be the fallacy of special pleading. However, I did not make that fallacy, as I never argued that only Christian miracles were valid.

3) I've had many debates on this website over the course of a few years. My positions may have changed, and some debates I've played devil's advocate. You shouldn't associate past debates with the contemporary position of your opponent.

4) Yes, Deism is by nature God not interfering with the world. I stated that this was more or less my current belief. Yes, Christianity is the opposite of Deism. I stated that the arguments in favor of Christianity seemed to be very strong, so strong that, because I have an open mind, I am open to changing my position based on the evidence. You should try the same. It may be that Christianity is false, which is why it's necessary to further investigate the issue as much as possible.

For a brief conclusion, I want to reiterate that the point of this debate is to best describe the most likely scenario of what happened in the 1st century. Which narrative best explains the willingness of the first Christians to be martyred for the claims that they made? How did that religion spread throughout all of the world, across many different belief systems?

I posit that the best explanation of events is that Christ was actually resurrected. The mass hallucination hypothesis is one that is not scientifically credible, and it doesn't explain how it spread.

I thank my opponent for the debate. They seem to be very intelligent, but they need to work on the conduct of the way they debate in the future.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago
I'm not an atheist. So.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago
It's chill as long as you just write a conclusion without any rebuttals or counter rebuttals so we have equal amounts of time to write. I'll make sure to add that for future reference.
Posted by Lupricona 1 year ago
In round 1 you stated:

"Round 3 is for rebuttals"

You never stated that I couldn't respond to your material from round 3. I apologize if my responses were not what you wanted, but they did not go against your rules, at least in the way you described them.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago

What "limited scope?"
Posted by Kyris 1 year ago
How can two truly debate in such a limited scope.

I find it futile.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago
I hold to a minimalist view of Pauline authorship. Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

And I just needed to know 2 source or Farrer because I have two separate arguments for each. I'll use two source if that's not a problem.

If there's no issue with the rules, I'll change the challenge to you and put my opening argument in.
Posted by Lupricona 1 year ago
I would like to debate you. If you could list your accepted texts from Paul, I will agree to only consider those as reliable for the purposes of this debate. Also, as for the two source or farrer hypothesis: I'm not convinced one way or another whether "Q" exists, but I don't think this issue will alter my debate strategy. But, I do accept both of those hypotheses as the best explanations, if that's where your concern lies.

If you accept me, I hope to give you an engaging and meaningful debate. Cheers!
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago

Most likely conclusion when analyzing the evidence using historical critical methods.
Posted by canis 1 year ago
What does "historically" mean ? 3 people seing "bigfoot" or ..?
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago

It is under religion.

And I'm not really interested in lower standards on this. It's difficult to understand the arguments if you don't know these points.
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