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TheConservativeSocialist
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buildingapologetics
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2017 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 283 times Debate No: 106259
Debate Rounds (4)
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TheConservativeSocialist

Pro

Hello and welcome! I'll be honest, I have no idea what to debate about, but I feel like debating something. You can choose whatever topic you want and I'll represent the pro side even if I don't agree with it. ANY topic you want! Well, I guess try to be reasonable!

Here's the structure:
Round 1 - State the Topic and Define any Terms (NO ARGUMENT)
Round 2 - Arguments (NO REBUTTAL)
Round 3 - Rebuttal
Round 4 - Final Rebuttal and Closing Statements

Good luck!
buildingapologetics

Con

I will be defending the statement: The best explanation for the facts surrounding the supposed ressurection of Jesus is that He really did rise from death.

For this debate, all gospels and other accounts will be treated for the sake of argument as historical accounts. They may be scrutinized like any other ancient document. I will defend the proposition that Jesus really died, and He really rose 3 days later. This is the best explanation given the historical facts wer have.

Also, you can choose whether or not you want to accept the following statement; I think it would be useful. "God may or may not exist, so miracles may or may not be possible." Keep in mind that if you deny that statement, you will be guilty of circular reasoning.

Also, I would be interested in knowing your actual position on this topic, but I think it would be most interesting for you to tell me after the debate is complete.
Debate Round No. 1
TheConservativeSocialist

Pro

Thank you for accepting this debate! This is a very interesting topic and I look forward to debating it with you! :)

In accordance with the terms you set in round one, I will be opposing your claim that Jesus Christ really did rise from death. I accept your insistence that all gospels and other accounts will be treated as historical accounts open to scrutiny. I will also accept the statement: "God may or may not exist, so miracles may or may not be possible.

Theory One - Denial by Historical Agnosticism
This first argument is more theoretical and philosophical, but I am interested to hear your opinion on it. As an agnostic, I neither believe nor disbelieve in a supreme being. I have never had contact with a supreme being, however, I acknowledge that a supreme being may still exist. For this first argument, I will apply agnosticism to history. Since (I can safely assume) that neither of us - nor anyone alive today - witnessed the resurrection firsthand, I argue that we don't know for sure if the resurrection ever really happened. Think about it like this: In school, we all learn that George Washington was the first president of the United States and commander in chief of the Continental Army. While Washington's existence is accepted as historical fact, neither of us met Washington in person; by this logic, we don't know if Washington truly existed, however, we acknowledge that simply because we haven't met Washington firsthand, he could still have existed. Similarly, I could deny the resurrection ever happened because I didn't witness it. The same goes for you; since you didn't witness the resurrection firsthand, you can deny it as well. That being said, I acknowledge that the resurrection may have occurred despite not seeing it in person. Basically, what I'm saying is if you weren't there in person, you can't be 100% sure that it happened.

Theory Two - The Gospels Are Wrong About the Resurrection
Despite varying opinions on specific dates, it's commonly accepted by historians that the gospels were written long after Jesus was crucified and long after His resurrection. The first accounts of the resurrection in the gospels were recorded nearly 40 years after the resurrection. While some would argue that Paul wrote about the resurrection prior to the gospels, Paul's writings date nearly twenty years after the resurrection. According to Bart Ehrman, an American New Testament scholar, we don't have any eyewitness accounts of the resurrection that were published at the time of the resurrection. Moreover, none of the gospel writers were firsthand eyewitnesses to the resurrection because most gospels were written anonymously in the third person. Furthermore, most of Jesus's followers were lower class, uneducated men; in Acts (4:13), Peter and John are revealed to be illiterate. The authors of the gospels, therefore, were likely educated Greek scholars who never claimed to be disciples of Christ. With all this information taken into account, it's hard to deny that these stories - which were told orally until they were documented by Greek scholars decades after the resurrection - were altered over time. In fact, as evidence, there are many discrepancies and contradictions between the accounts of Mark and John regarding the death of Christ regarding things like the date and time of day, who carried the cross, the actions of the robbers, etc. Regarding the resurrection - the topic of this debate - there are also discrepancies. In John (20:1), it is revealed that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb alone whereas Mark (16:1), Matthew (28:1), and Luke (24:1) all claim that Mary Magdalene went with other women. Mark (16:4), Luke (24:2), and John (20:1) claim that the stone at the tomb was rolled away whereas Matthew (28:2) upholds that the stone was not rolled away. Mark (16:5) claims that the women saw a man in the tomb, Luke (24:4) claims that the women saw two men in the tomb, and Matthew (28:2) claims that the women saw an angel in the tomb.

Synthesis - How My Theories Connect
My first theory discusses how I, nor my opponent, know whether or not Jesus truly rose from the dead because we were not present at the time of the resurrection. It applies agnosticism to history. Because of this, we must rely on historical evidence. The gospels that record the resurrection, as I demonstrated in my second theory, are a flawed account due to the contradictions that likely result from slight changes in the story as it was recited orally for decades until anonymous Greek scholars finally recorded it. In essence, I argue that Jesus Christ did not rise from his tomb because the evidence we rely on is flawed and we did not witness the resurrection firsthand.

Because I'm very inexperienced with religious topics, this argument took longer for me to research and write. I'd like to thank my opponent for their patience!

--
Links to Sources Used and Referenced
Official Definition of 'Agnostic' - https://www.merriam-webster.com...
Bart Ehrman Video - https://www.youtube.com...
buildingapologetics

Con

Thank you for your response. It seems to be pretty well thought out, although I do see a few problems with it.

"Theory One - Denial by Historical Agnosticism"
I completely agree with you and accept the fact that neither one of us can prove our case 100%. That is why we each have the equal burden of proof of demonstrating that the resurrection is or is not the best explanation given the facts we have.

Now I will address your points and give positive evidence for the resurrection of Christ simultaneously.

When were the gospels written?
I do not accept the conclusions of Bart Ehrman on this one, nor do I believe him to be an honest man. While he rarely says anything blatantly historically false, he also rarely gives the whole truth.
"Despite varying opinions on specific dates, it's commonly accepted by historians that the gospels were written long after Jesus was crucified and long after His resurrection." The problem with this is New Testament scholars have long believed that the gospels were too late, and they are shown they are wrong over and over again. Even the date you cited of within 40 years of the resurrection would have been unthinkable for scholars just a little over a hundred years ago. Also, 40 years of the resurrection makes it perfectly reasonable to conclude that the authors were really the eyewitnesses, but I think it is even earlier.

I will begin this analysis by examining the book of Acts. This book basically contains the early history of the church. Since it was written by Luke, a historian, it has absolutely incredible detail. This is why scholars are constantly amazed by how accurate and specific this book is. Interestingly, Acts chapter 7 recounts the death of Simon. Simon did not have a large impact, nor was he famous in his time. Even though Simon is more of a minor character, his death is mentioned. You would then expect Acts to at least mention the death of one of the biggest characters: Paul, who died in the year 68 AD. Why would it mention the death of Simon but not Paul or even Peter? This is because Acts was written before 68 AD, when neither Paul nor Peter had died. This also explains why the destruction of the temple was never mentioned in the New Testament. This event was prophesied by Jesus and occurred in 70 AD. You would think that the disciples would at least mention this event if they had written after 70 AD.

Therefore, we can safely place the book of Acts conservatively around 65 AD or within 35 years of the resurrection event. In the beginning of the book of Acts, we get this statement "Theophilus, I first wrote to you about all that Jesus did and taught from the very first until he was taken up to heaven." (Acts 1:1-2). What is this other book? That turns out to be the book of Luke. Assuming a span of time of around 3 years, we can safely place Luke around 62 AD. In the book of Luke, we see the statement:

Luke 1:1-4
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke, a careful historian, records that there was another account that was written by an eyewitness, but Luke saught to write a chronological account to make everything clear. What account is Luke speaking of? The only synoptic gospel written by an eyewitness: Matthew. We can, therefore, place Matthew around 55 AD. Since we know that Matthew copied from Mark, we can then place the book of Mark around 50 AD, or within 20 years of the resurrection. Combine this with the fact that the disciples were either teens or young adults when they walked with Jesus, this is well within the range of their lifetimes. It is therefore easy to believe that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses or by recorders of eyewitness testimonies in the case of Mark and Luke. Lastly, I would like to address an interesting statement made by Paul:

1 Corinthians 15:3-9
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: [that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Unfortunately, I do not have the space to explain all of the importance of this text. Suffice to say that this record is actually being quoted from Paul from another source. The rhythm of the portion in brackets suggests that it was originally written in Aramaic, not Greek. Because of this, even Bart Ehrman believes this saying dates within 2 years of the resurrection! This is much too little time for oral tradition to take over since oral tradition is usually accurate within 200 years.

Who really wrote the gospels?
While the dates show that the supposed authors could have written the gospels, that does not mean they necessarily did.

"Moreover, none of the gospel writers were firsthand eyewitnesses to the resurrection because most gospels were written anonymously in the third person."

This is false. Every single one of the gospel writers titled their gospel by their own name, such as "the gospel according to John." Also, if the titles had been added on later, there would be several problems. Firstly, it would be the customary to write "John's gospel" rather than "The Gospel According to John." Secondly, we would have all sorts of manuscripts of the same book with different titles. Because, out of all four gospels, we have not a single instance of a contradictory title, the most logical conclusion is that the titles were written on the originals. Secondly, the gospels were widely attributed to the same authors in every ancient account that we possess including in the gospel of Luke.

Also, the fact that the gospels were written in the third person is not good evidence. All ancient accounts at this time were written in the third person, even if the author was in the story. This is just another established custom of that time. This argument is not new and was debunked thoroughly by Augustine over a thousand years ago.

"Furthermore, most of Jesus's followers were lower class, uneducated men; in Acts (4:13), Peter and John are revealed to be illiterate." Acts 4:13 says they were uneducated, not illiterate. Most uneducated Jews at this time were fully literate. Secondly, the verse you cite proves the opposite of your point. It says that the leaders were astonished by how much these supposedly uneducated men knew. It gives me much reason to be able to believe they could have written the gospels.

Unfortunately, I do not have the space to address your supposed contradictions. I just ask: do a little more homework on them.

Lastly, the gospels record information that could not have been known to the writers unless they were eyewitnesses or copied eyewitness's accounts. Jesus is recorded as sweating blood. Why would the writers make up something like this? In fact, critics mocked the gospels for this, and Christians questioned whether it should be included. Today we know that sweating blood is condition found mostly in people who are on death row. Since it is unreasonable to assume the writers made this detail up, it could only have come from an eyewitness. Another similar piece of information is that blood and water came out of Jesus when he was stabbed according to the gospels.
Debate Round No. 2
TheConservativeSocialist

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for their argument. I did see in the comments section where you acknowledged that you violated the structure of this debate. Don't worry about it, though. :)

So just to recap, you acknowledge that you "completely agree" with my first contention (which was the denial by historical agnosticism). You also admit that neither of us can prove our case 100%.

Criticism of Bart Ehrman:
You began by attacking Dr. Bart Ehrman, who was my primary source for my second contention. While you admit that he rarely makes false claims, you asserted that he rarely gives the whole truth. I'd like to see a source and/or example(s) to back up this claim. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying I don't believe your criticism is valid.

Date of the Gospels:
You refute my claim that the gospels were written 40 years after the resurrection, however, you claim "we can safely place the book of Acts conservatively around 65 AD or within 35 years of the resurrection event." In the same paragraph, you claim that "we can safely place Luke around 62 AD." Now just to clarify, I said the gospels were written "nearly" 40 years after the resurrection. Despite your criticism, we actually agree on the general time the gospels were written. I also made sure to say there were other records documented earlier than 40 years after the resurrection. As an example, I brought up Paul's writings from approximately 20 years after the resurrection. So we both agree that there were documents written nearly 20 years after the resurrection as well. The issue I brought up is that there are no eyewitness accounts of the resurrection that were recorded at the exact time of the resurrection.

Reliability of Oral Tradition:
You claim that "oral tradition is usually accurate within 200 years." That's a very interesting claim and I noticed you didn't provide any sources or examples of it. Essentially, you're claiming that all oral renditions of the gospels that were later documented remained completely unaltered as they were passed along. That's a very bold claim.

Writers of the Gospels and Illiterate Disciples:
I got this information from the video featuring Dr. Ehrman. He claims that the gospels were originally written in Greek, meaning they were likely written by highly-trained Greek scholars rather than the uneducated disciples. I now agree with you that the gospel itself explicitly states that Paul and John were uneducated rather than specifically illiterate. But that doesn't disprove that they were illiterate. You then claim that most uneducated Jews at the time were fully literate. I have no idea where you got that idea from. According to Christian apologist and professor of chemistry John Oakes, the Jewish literacy rate may have been slightly higher than 1.5% of the entire population around the time of Jesus Christ. That's extremely small! Now neither of us can prove or disprove that the disciples were literate; we can only assume. I argue that its safer to assume that Paul and John - two "uneducated" lower class men - were part of the 98.5% of the Jewish population that wasn't literate. You later claim in the same paragraph, "it says that the leaders were astonished by how much these supposedly uneducated men knew." That's not what it says though. It says that they were astonished by the courage of the uneducated men, not their knowledge.

Contradictions in the Bible:
This is actually one of my most significant points and you completely glossed over it. These aren't "supposed contradictions", they are genuine discrepancies over the date of the crucifixion, the time of day the crucifixion took place, who carried the cross before the crucifixion, and what the robbers did before the crucifixion among other contradictions. Specifically relating to the resurrection, I brought up and even cited discrepancies over how many women were at Jesus's tomb, the placement of the stone at the tomb, and who the women saw in the tomb when they entered. I think you ought to take a look at these discrepancies and at least address some of them. I understand that we are limited to 8,000 characters, however, you can't just dismiss my argument altogether.

Sweating Blood Argument:
You brought up how it is recorded that Jesus was sweating blood like inmates on death row prior to his crucifixion. You then claim that this could only have been documented by an eyewitness, as its inclusion in the Bible has allegedly been ridiculed. There's nothing disproving the possibility that this detail could have been passed down orally from an eyewitness. In fact, that's how the gospels were spread and shared before they were documented by presumably highly skilled Greek scholars.

--
Jewish Literacy Rate - http://evidenceforchristianity.org...
buildingapologetics

Con

"Thanks to my opponent for their argument. I did see in the comments section where you acknowledged that you violated the structure of this debate. Don't worry about it, though. :)" Thank you for your understanding!

Criticism of Bart Ehrman.
The main reason I question the honesty of Ehrman is that his scholarly writings seem to come to a different conclusion than his popular works. To the general public, he makes it sound as if we don't know that the gospels really said or who the authors really are, but when he writes to those who know better, he is more honest. Sources:
http://crossexamined.org...
https://www.youtube.com...

"I said the gospels were written "nearly" 40 years after the resurrection" I was under the impression that you believed the earliest gospel was written at this point, while I argue that the latest gospel was written at this point. I am happy to see that you agree with the general timeline. I acknowledge your mention of the earlier works of Paul.

"The issue I brought up is that there are no eyewitness accounts of the resurrection that were recorded at the exact time of the resurrection."
So it seems the issue you have is why would the writers wait so long? The answer is the authors of the gospels started writing down their accounts when some of the disciples were being killed. Historians have argued that the writers worried that if they died, the information would be lost. This is the most plausible reason for the wait. Also we don't need the writers to write down the information originally for the information to be reliable.

Reliability of Oral Tradition:
I think something needs to be stated before I address this. The gospels are not cases of oral tradition; they are cases of memory. If the Gospel writers truly are eyewitnesses or interviewers of eyewitnesses, the only element of doubt is the memory of the witness. This is not an example of the telephone game where 20 people pass the information on. It seems difficult to imagine an eyewitness forgetting something and filling in the idea that Jesus rose from the dead. Such a powerful event would certainly be beyond forgetting. As for the reliability of oral tradition, here is my source: http://reknew.org...

Writers of the Gospels and Illiterate Disciples:
Firstly, the dialect of Greek was Koine Greek. This was known as the common dialect of Greek, making it more likely that uneducated men would understand it. While you may be correct that most Jews at the time could not read Greek, I still submit that many could. In fact, John's father was certainly no illiterate peasant, as he owned a fishing fleet and had several employees. It is likely that he was literate and taught his son. Matthew was a tax collector, so he certainly knew how to read because of his job. Peter's home was excavated in 2011 and reveals that he was no peasant. While he was not formally educated, it is easy to believe he was literate. This combined with the evidence that they wrote their names on the gospels, and none of our manuscripts contradict these title, the most reasonable belief is that they actually did write the New Testament.
http://www.apologeticsguy.com...

"You brought up how it is recorded that Jesus was sweating blood like inmates on death row prior to his crucifixion. You then claim that this could only have been documented by an eyewitness, as its inclusion in the Bible has allegedly been ridiculed. There's nothing disproving the possibility that this detail could have been passed down orally from an eyewitness. In fact, that's how the gospels were spread and shared before they were documented by presumably highly skilled Greek scholars."
I disagree with you that this is actually what happened, but I would actually be okay with conceding this. You just provided me with everything I need to establish that Jesus really rose from the dead. If the gospel accounts really include information from eyewitnesses (even if it was simply passed on from them), and the information is reliable enough to believe that Jesus sweat blood, it is also reliable enough to demonstrate this fact: the disciples claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.

If the disciples really did claim that they saw Jesus, we have three options. 1) They were lying. 2) They were wrong 3) Jesus really rose from death.

Did they lie?
The first reason we know that they could not have lied is that they include embarrassing information. If they were making up a story, they would not portray themselves as unintelligent, unfaithful, followers of Jesus. They would not have made women the ones who first saw the tomb, and they would not have made up the fact that Jesus sweat blood.

Secondly, they never could have had a successful conspiracy. According to detective J Warner Wallace, there are several things that make conspiracies successful: limited participants, limited pressure, tight connections, and easy communication. Based on these criteria, the disciples never could have made up a story like the resurrection of Jesus. There were 12 apostles and many other disciples who attested to seeing Jesus alive from the dead. That is way too many. Most successful conspiracies involve 2 or 3 people. Also, the disciples had enormous pressure to stop. Many were starved, imprisoned, stoned, whipped, beaten, and crucified, and none recanted what they claimed to have seen. That is a lot to go through for a lie. Thirdly, the disciples had no tight connections. Only a few of them were related, and none of them knew eachother long enough too keep a conspiracy like that silent. Lastly, the disciples were spread out and had no good form of communication. Peter had no way of communicating with Paul at times to make sure they got their story straight. Any idea that they lied is simply unreasonable.

The reasons above and many more are what have led the majority of historians and New Testament scholars to believe that the disciples had actual experiences of Jesus alive from the dead. While they are quick to say, that doesn't mean they actually saw Him, this fact is telling. This is one of the minimal facts that nearly all scholars accept:
https://ses.edu...

Were they mistaken?
I don't think you would make the claim that Jesus never really died, so I won't provide evidence now. If you question it, I will then provide such reasons.

How could the disciples think that they saw Jesus when they really did not? One example is that they had hallucinations. This, however, is simply not reasonable. The fatal problem for this is hallucinations only affect individuals, just like dreams. If you and I each have a dream, it is practically impossible that we will each have the same exact dream with all of the same characters. If one wants to assume hallucinations, one must assume that multiple people happened to hallucinate the exact same thing at different times and locations. Such would be a greater miracle than the resurrection itself.

Conclusion:
Since the disciples believed what they saw, and they were not mistaken, the most reasonable explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead. This relies upon the fact that the gospels are reliable enough to tell us what the disciples said and did. Such a fact, is well within the range of modern scholarship, so the conclusion that I draw is also well within such range.

Contradictions:
The timing contradiction is solved if you realize that the Jews had a different form of time than the Romans. Mark wrote to the Jews, while John wrote to the gentiles. The rest of your "contradictions" rely upon a particular fallacy. You assume that if one account leaves out a detail that the other mentions, there is a contradiction, which is simply false. Realizing this solves the rest of the supposed contradictions.
Debate Round No. 3
TheConservativeSocialist

Pro

Criticism of Bart Ehrman:
Thank you for responding to this point. I wasn't disagreeing with you, I just wanted further clarification. After viewing your sources, I now agree with your claim that Dr. Ehrman has two sides; "scholarly" Bart Ehrman doesn't really doubt the New Testament whereas "popular" Barth Ehrman does. The problem with this accusation is that it doesn't necessarily apply to the source I provided. In the article and video, the main issue that is raised about Dr. Ehrman is his contradicting perspectives. In the video I used as my source, he doesn't doubt the New Testament; he simply highlights discrepancies and discusses background information regarding the accounts of the resurrection of Christ.

No Eyewitness Accounts Published At the Time of the Resurrection:
The problem I have with the lack of immediate eyewitness accounts is that the stories may have been altered - even slightly - before they were documented, which was years after the resurrection allegedly occurred. I would be more open to accepting the resurrection if it was recorded in writing much closer to the time of the resurrection. I understand your argument about the disciples being killed, however, the resurrection story would be more plausible if eyewitness accounts were documented immediately following the resurrection.

Reliability of Oral Tradition:
My Bart Ehrman video from round two upheld that accounts of the resurrection were told orally for decades until they were eventually documented by highly trained Greek scholars. I agree with your statement that "the only element of doubt is the memory of the witness." This is one of the main reasons why I question the validity of these oral stories. Furthermore, you can't assume that the eyewitnesses didn't forget anything because the resurrection was such a fantastic event. They, like all other humans, are susceptible to forgetting things and getting details mixed up. You have no evidence that their memory was completely unaltered from the time they witnessed the resurrection to the time it was documented. Even the source you provided concedes that the oral traditions were "generally reliable", meaning that they're not always reliable. I'd also like to point out that the source you provided is biased because it is a Christian source, so it will obviously uphold that the early church's oral traditions were reliable.

Writers of the Gospels and Illiterate Disciples:
In the case of John, you claim that "it is likely that" his father was literate and that he taught John how to read and write. This is simply an assumption, not a historical fact. Also, simply because John's father was slightly influential, doesn't mean he was literate. You're assuming that he falls into 1.5% of the population. The source you provided is based on assumptions as well. For instance, it relies on phrases such as "it's not a stretch to think", "was probably not an illiterate peasant", "was probably bilingual", and "probably knew Greek." I acknowledge that some of these assumptions seem plausible, however, they're little more than assumptions. You're making a bold statement by asserting that the disciples fell into 1.5% of the population because they may have been literate based on their backgrounds. I would like to agree or at least compromise, however, these assumptions shouldn't be accepted as sound evidence of literacy among the disciples.

Sweating Blood Argument:
I was using your argument to demonstrate that it's possible for eyewitnesses of the crucifixion (not the resurrection) to have described Jesus sweating blood prior to His death. I'm not conceding that these eyewitness accounts are legitimate or reliable. I think we have a misunderstanding on this point.

Three Options for What Happened:
So I see you've narrowed the possibilities into three categories: the disciples lied, the disciples were wrong, or the resurrection actually occurred. I'll admit you've made some pretty solid arguments against the first two, however, I won't concede this debate to you. My position is not necessarily that the disciples lied or that they hallucinated (though I admit these ideas may be possible); instead, I believe the argument for the resurrection is shrouded in assumptions and discrepancies within the gospels to be taken as historical fact. I see you debunked the discrepancy regarding the date of the crucifixion, however, you simply generalized all of the other discrepancies as false. These discrepancies severely discredit the possibility of the resurrection and therefore make the resurrection appear less plausible. In the next round, I would encourage you to respond individually to the other discrepancies I listed. They are: who supposedly discovered the empty tomb, where the stone was placed when the tomb was entered, and what was found in the tomb.

Conclusion:
I will continue to negate my opponent's claim that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead. The accounts of the resurrection are too unreliable and based on assumptions to be considered valid, historical facts. This is demonstrated by the discrepancies within the gospel over the crucifixion and the resurrection as well as the timing between the resurrection and the documentation of supposed eyewitness accounts.

Thank you to my opponent for choosing an interesting topic! I really enjoyed debating with you! :)
buildingapologetics

Con

Overview:
It is my goal to demonstrate the following statement: "The best explanation for the facts surrounding the supposed resurrection of Jesus is that He really did rise from death."
The explanation you provided is the loss of memory, as you agreed with the statement "the only element of doubt is the memory of the witness." The evidence you provided is alleged discrepancies in the testimonies. Therefore, I will address the issue of memory, discrepancies, and authorship if I have space. I now have the burden of showing that the resurrection is the best explanation by showing that it is a better explanation than memory loss.

Discrepancies:
Before I address the individual passages, I would like to make several points. Even if such contradictions are in place, that would not make the testimonies less reliable. Eyewitness testimonies always disagree on minor details, but they are reliable for the accuracy of main events. I don't need to be certain of every detail surrounding the resurrection, I just need the account to be reliable enough to tell me that he was seen after death.

Secondly, if you remember this statement, most "contradictions" will disappear: If you have to assume something for there to be a contradiction, it isn't actually a contradiction. For example, if one account mentions one person and another mentions two people, a contradiction will appear if you assume the first account means there is ONLY one person. Solution: don't assume that, and there is no contradiction.
- Two angels were in the tomb in the form of men. One account describes them as men, the other as an angel; they are both correct.
- Multiple people discovered the empty tomb; either at the same time or at different times. An account is not obligated to repeat the list of every character for every event; that would be silly. By not mentioning someone, accounts are not claiming that the person wasn't there.
- According to Matthew, the stone was being rolled away by an angel as Mary was going towards the tomb. Therefore, the other accounts are also correct.

There is not even a hint of contradiction in the above examples. You are also mistaken that the gospel accounts are not generally reliable. They are enormously accurate in every way we can test them. Take a look at the articles below for more information: http://crossexamined.org...

Memory Loss:
Let's use an example for this. Imagine a good friend or relative of yours that has passed away. For the case of this example, I will say it is your grandfather. Imagine that your grandfather appeared to you when you knew he was dead. You would likely be quite shocked and amazed. Imagine that you hugged him and had lunch with him. Now imagine you continued to talk and do things with him over the course of weeks before he left for good.

Now let's say 20 years later, you are writing down this story for some reason. You might have forgotten some things like what you ate for lunch with your grandpa, but you would never forget that you saw your grandfather alive from the dead. Such an experience is completely unforgettable, even if details are.

I don't care about the details of Jesus resurrection; I care that He rose. Memory can easily remember that for decades. Combine this with the fact that we are not relying on the memory of one person but many eyewitnesses.

Authorship:
The evidence I provided that John may have been literate doesn't exist in a vacuum. If the fact that he was certainly not a peasant is all I had, it would be reasonable to doubt his literacy. However, this is not all I provided.
-John wrote his name on his gospel, and the evidence shows the title was not a late addition. We have more manuscripts of the gospel of John than any other gospel, and none cite a different author. John was well known at this time, and it was common knowledge that he wrote the gospel of John. There is no reason to suppose another author.
-Luke was a historian. He was obviously literate and excruciatingly detailed. If his account is not a reliable account of what the disciples did and said, we can't trust any document including most modern works.
-Matthew was a tax collector and certainly knew how to write. He should be treated as a reliable eyewitness since he spent three years walking with Jesus. He wrote his name on his gospel, and there are no contradictory manuscripts that suggest a different author. Furthur, the style of writing, especially the genealogies is characteristic of a Jew of his time.

Unintended eyewitness support statements:
We have already gone through several things that had to come from eyewitnesses (embarrassing details, sweating blood, blood and water pouring out), but there are more instances of eyewitness accounts.
If one account seems unclear until another account fills in a detail that the first account left out, we have an unintended eyewitness support statement. According to cold case homicide detective J Warner Wallace, this is extremely common in eyewitness testimonies and in the gospels. In fact, everything in the gospels is typical of eyewitness accounts.
One example is a guard hit Jesus and asked Him to prophesy who hit him. That seems like an odd request since the guard was presumably standing next to Jesus. The detail is filled in by another gospel which says that Jesus was blindfolded right before He was hit.

*All I need is for one account to be reliable enough to record that the disciples claimed to have seen Jesus alive from the dead*
If this point is granted, the rest of my case simply falls into place. As the disciples could not have lied or been mistaken, Jesus must have risen.

Change in Disciples:
I have clearly shown that it is not reasonable that the disciples lied or that they were mistaken. Therefore, if I have shown that the disciples actually claimed to have seen Jesus, my case falls into place. But, as I assume you are still skeptical, I will provide one more reason to accept the resurrection as the best explanation we have for the facts.

The following facts that I will present are accepted by pretty much all New Testament scholars because they are multiply attested in several reliable accounts. These are not necessarily Christian scholars, as much of the scholarly community is skeptical and secular. One of those scholars includes Bart Ehrman.
1) Jesus died by crucifixion
2) That Jesus was buried in a rich man's tomb. (Thus making the burial site common knowledge)
3) After Jesus' death, his disciples became discouraged and retreated.
4) That Jesus' tomb was found empty by women 3 days later.
5) That the disciples had real experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
6) The above experiences happened to different individuals and groups of individuals at different times and locations.
7) That the lives of the disciples were transformed as a result of these experiences to the point where they would spread the gospel around the world and die for what they saw.
8) That James, the brother of Jesus, became a Christian as a result of his experience with the risen Christ.
9) The Christian persecutor Paul became a Christian after a similar experience.
https://ses.edu...

Any explanation must be able to account for all of the above facts that are agreed upon in mainstream scholarship. One alternative is to come up with one explanation for the empty tomb, another for the experiences, another for the transformed lives, and another for the conversion of Paul. On the other hand, it is much simpler to have only one explanation of the above facts: Jesus rose from the dead. Since my opponent agreed that miracles are possible, this is the most likely possibility.

Conclusion:
I think I have shown quite conclusively that there is no superior explanation to that of resurrection. I thank my opponent for a most intelligent, respectful, well-rounded, kind debate. It was a pleasure.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by buildingapologetics 9 months ago
buildingapologetics
After posting my response, I realized that you said no rebuttal for response 2. I'm sorry, I missed that statement, and I assumed this was like most debates on this site. Il leave it up to you how you would like to proceed for the upcoming rounds.
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