Thursday, August 12, 2010

Come on, let's have some real evidence!

The New Testament is propaganda, not evidence. Didn't you know that? The writers believed that Jesus was resurrected. They also wanted others to believe it. If we want real evidence, we need reports of the resurrection from people who didn't believe Jesus was resurrected. Now that would be real evidence, the kind we need in order to believe.

52 comments:

Doug Benscoter said...

I take it this is going under the "satire" genre? Point well-made, Dr. Reppert.

Steven Carr said...

'If we want real evidence, we need reports of the resurrection from people who didn't believe Jesus was resurrected.'

No, you need a resurrected body.

But the body flew off into the sky on its way to Heaven , just like the Golden Plates of Mormonism did.

All evidence for religions flies off into Heaven just before people go public with their claims.

Where's the beef?

Produce the body.

Walter said...

Why is belief so important anyway? Do the Christians here believe with 100% certainty in the bodily resurrection of a Palestinian guy who was supposed to be God?

What if I give it a 10% chance of being true? Do I still get the password to the Pearly Gates?

Steven Carr said...

Victor can have as much 'real evidence' of UFO abductions as he likes.

He will still scoff at the idea.

Because he is a sceptic and knows that 'reports' mean absolutely nothing without any evidence.

Except for his own beliefs.

Tom said...

It's not propaganda! It's a riveting historical fantasy which the acolytes of one of the numerous alleged deities use as propaganda, there's a distinction.

And it would take a whole lot more evidence than a supposed resurrection to justify belief in any deity.

BK said...

Victor is, of course, correct. The idea that somehow we would have reports of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances such as presented in the Bible and have the writer not believe them is silliness. I contend that the writers themselves did not believe in the resurrection until they witnessed it.

Glad to see Steven Carr is still around spreading his nonsense.

Steven Carr said...

I see BK has made a major breakthrough in Biblical studies and is now claiming that the Gospel writers witnessed the resurrection.

This is astonishing news, which will revolutionise theology.

Meanwhile he claims it is 'silliness' to think that evidence for a resurrection consists of a resurrected body.

But sadly, Jesus flew off into the sky, and is probably somehwere around Uranus by now.

Walter said...

I contend that the writers themselves did not believe in the resurrection until they witnessed it.

If that is indeed the case, then why should anyone else believe it who has not witnessed it?

unkleE said...

"why should anyone else believe it who has not witnessed it?"

Um, because they believe the writers told the truth??

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

Victor, sorry to break in on your discussion, but this is URGENT! A hacker has stolen my e-mail account, and is sending out hoax messages that look like they're from me, saying I'm in trouble and need money. I can't even warn people via e-mail, because the criminal has changed my password.
DO NOT OPEN ANY E-MAILS FROM ME!!! and don't believe any that you get until you talk to me over the phone.

Blue Devil Knight said...

You are basically admitting that the only textual evidence is that promulgated by the strongest advocates of their religion. This is a problem for the Christian, not the skeptic.That sounds a lot like the definition of propaganda. Doesn't imply it is false, of course, but it is a problem.

If there were Roman or other independent accounts of people seeing Jesus (who supposedly walked about for 40 days after all), that would be better for the Christian. Even if they surmised that it was a hoax, that would be better than nothing. Forty days is a long time.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Basically, Christians think that there is a huge population of reasonable people that God would rather send to hell than provide updated evidence of the truth. That's messed up. Seriously.

Walter said...

"why should anyone else believe it who has not witnessed it?"

UnkleE says Um, because they believe the writers told the truth??

The point being--according to the story-- that the disciples themselves did NOT believe until they had hands-on evidence. Supposedly these same disciples had already witnessed an incredible amount of miraculous events in relation to Jesus, yet even they could not muster up belief that Jesus had returned until they are said to have seen it for themselves. Plus they got to poke and prod Jesus a little. How much harder is to believe nowadays when we get absolutely zero first-hand evidence? I would say that it is very hard for those of us with a skeptical mindset.

Steven Carr said...

Even Christian converts were scoffing at the idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

Paul has to write letters to them explaining that Jesus became a spirit.

He then had to write a second letter to them explaining 'Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.'

In Paul's view the Corinthians were foolish, because it made no difference if corpses were destroyed.

Presumably they were scoffing at the idea of resurrection, because they knew that bodies were destroyed.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Is what Steven says in his previous comment true?

Also, again Walter makes a good point. Walter, you should start a blog.

Walter said...

Walter, you should start a blog.

Thanks. I am far too lazy.

I really like interacting with the folks here because it challenges my assumptions and hopefully sharpens my thinking.

Shackleman said...

BDK,

I don't want to be rude, but I'm having difficulty with something you wrote a day or so ago.

Do you really not see *any* evidence of the divine with respect to the poignant anecdote you shared while comforting your daughter for the very first time? I must say, if you don't see it there, your priors just seem too impossibly high for you to accept *any* kind of evidence. Certainly if you don't see a miracle in her, staring up at you in the flesh in the here and now, you wouldn't find evidence in mere ancient written texts, written millennia ago, no?

I'm not suggesting that the birth of a child is ultimate proof, or that it's even persuasive evidence (although, it sure as heck can be for some), but I am aghast that you don't consider it at least *evidence*.

This is why I say, some need their own burning bush before they will believe, and others, won't believe even then.

Gordon Knight said...

"Basically, Christians think that there is a huge population of reasonable people that God would rather send to hell than provide updated evidence of the truth. That's messed up. Seriously."

BDK: I agree this is messed up. I have written on the topic of Hell not because I find it metaphysically fascinating but because I believe it to be morally pernicious. You need to engage in some serious cognitive dissonance to hold together believe in an all loving God and hellfire and brimstone as traditionally understood.

But that is hardly a reductio of Christianity, it is only a reductio of those versions of Christianity that endorse eternal damnation. At least since Origen, and maybe since St. Paul, there have been univesalist Christians who deny eternal torment

Even Christians who are not universalists often modify the concept of Hell. If a person is in Hell because they want to be there (C.S. Lewis!) How can God be blamed?



I think one can even develop a pragmatic argument against believing that there is a God who damns people eternally (whether or not there is such a being)

The belief in eternal damnation has been the source of much evil.
If you think about it, torturing a heretic to death can be easily justified if this earthly torture is but a pale shaddow of the pain that comes from Hellfire and damnation (not only for the hertic herself, but also anyone who cares to listen and become a follower!)

But I take it that torturing someone for their beliefs is monstrous from a moral point of view. It obviousy is bad for the victim and cripples the soul of the torturer.

Gordon Knight said...

"Basically, Christians think that there is a huge population of reasonable people that God would rather send to hell than provide updated evidence of the truth. That's messed up. Seriously."

BDK: I agree this is messed up. I have written on the topic of Hell not because I find it metaphysically fascinating but because I believe it to be morally pernicious. You need to engage in some serious cognitive dissonance to hold together believe in an all loving God and hellfire and brimstone as traditionally understood.

But that is hardly a reductio of Christianity, it is only a reductio of those versions of Christianity that endorse eternal damnation. At least since Origen, and maybe since St. Paul, there have been univesalist Christians who deny eternal torment

Even Christians who are not universalists often modify the concept of Hell. If a person is in Hell because they want to be there (C.S. Lewis!) How can God be blamed?



I think one can even develop a pragmatic argument against believing that there is a God who damns people eternally (whether or not there is such a being)

The belief in eternal damnation has been the source of much evil.
If you think about it, torturing a heretic to death can be easily justified if this earthly torture is but a pale shaddow of the pain that comes from Hellfire and damnation (not only for the hertic herself, but also anyone who cares to listen and become a follower!)

But I take it that torturing someone for their beliefs is monstrous from a moral point of view. It obviousy is bad for the victim and cripples the soul of the torturer.

Shackleman said...

"Basically, Christians think that there is a huge population of reasonable people that God would rather send to hell than provide updated evidence of the truth. That's messed up. Seriously."

Yes. That is one "brand" of Christianity. But you know this is not the case for others.

This would be like me claiming all atheists have the potential to be Stalins.

You're a smart guy----I know you know this from you was little more than a little zinger against Christianity and people really ought not take it very seriously.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackleman: it was less of a zinger, as it actually describes many of the Christians I interact with. Good to know I am wrong, from what you and Gordon have said that makes me glad (seriously). Who has written about this?

The birth of my daughter 3+ weeks ago was personally transformative, significant, beautiful, etc. But literally miraculous? I don't see the chain of thought that would get from one to the other.

Shackleman said...

I admire your consistency. It just seems to me that if you don't see evidence there (again, it doesn't have to be persuasive in order to be evidential) then there's probably no hope for you to see evidence in ancient manuscripts, regardless of how well they're attested to or archeologically corroborated.

Steven Carr said...

'.... or archeologically corroborated.'?

Translation.

There is no evidence for the existence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Judas, Nicodemus, Lazarus, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Simon of Cyrene, Bartimaeus, Jairus,Barabbas etc etc.

For 30 years after these alleged events , not even Christians claimed these people existed.

Then they suddenly appear in anonymous works, which also relate how Jesus flew into the sky.

Shackleman said...

"Who has written about [alternatives to the doctrine of hell]?"

I'm pretty sure you know this already---after all, you've been a contributor to this blog for years and this topic has come up periodically.

But, for *others* who may not have heard the terms before, research Universalism (as GK suggests) and Annihilationism to get some ideas of alternatives from the doctrine of hell.

But, hidden in the very question from you is a moral judgement of God.

The Argument from Morality may not be persuasive, but it too, is evidence for God.

If the teachings of some of your Christian friends who are advocating for a god whom eternally torments people for not believing in him offends your sensibilities, then it seems to me, it would behoove you not to denounce God, but denounce those teachings.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackelman, I asked because I don't know. Annihilationism sounds good, as that's pretty much what I already believe will happen to me. I had never heard of that (the 'gnashing of teeth' and such always seemed good Biblical evidence of a real hell).

Blue Devil Knight said...

Wow very cool I never realized there was evidence for that in the NT, the Wikipedia article was enlightening. But then what of the 'gnashing of teeth' passages?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Also very cool response to passages about eternal punishment: 'annihilationism is a form of punishment in which deprivation of existence occurs, and the punishment is eternal.'

Very interesting thanks Shackelman.

Shackleman said...

Sorry if I was a bit snarky there, BDK. It's not often I happen upon something *you* are unfamiliar with.

You've been thinking on these topics for such a long time, I thought you would have already encountered it before.

Anonymous said...

@Steven Carr

"There is no evidence for the existence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Judas, Nicodemus, Lazarus, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Simon of Cyrene, Bartimaeus, Jairus,Barabbas etc etc.

For 30 years after these alleged events , not even Christians claimed these people existed."

What an amazing statement. That a person can only exist if there is surviving written documentation to validate said existence and that the evidence must be verifiable to have been created within their lifetime. So, Steven, 500 years from now if no documentation exists supporting your life, does that mean you did not exist?

Take for example the eyewitness accounts of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The only surviving written eyewitness testimony was put to 'paper' some 40 years after the event. Do we get to discount Pliny the Younger's testimony because it was so long after the event?

@BlueDevilKnight,

"Basically, Christians think that there is a huge population of reasonable people that God would rather send to hell than provide updated evidence of the truth. That's messed up. Seriously."

Not that I've meet in my 40+ years. Whereas there are a number of anti-theists who think there is a GOD who would not provide reasonable evidence of the Truth to a group of people before condemning them to Hell for their sins and refusal to believe.

Who gets to determine what level/type of evidence is reasonable? The limited, temporal creature or the transcedent Creator?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon if you haven't met such Christians, come hang out with me at the State Fair here in North Carolina. We'll eat a fried Twinkie, and then go talk to the people at the various religious booths.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor I'm surprised you haven't discussed Hell very often here. Interesting topic. I assumed the 'gnashing of teeth' was the canonical text, but apparently not for a good number of people.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackelman I spend very little time thinking about this stuff, except at this blog. The whole point of me coming here is as a personal fight against confirmation bias. Consciousness, yes, Christianity, not so much not in 15 years or so.

Blue Devil Knight said...

(confirmation bias in myself, not others)

Victor Reppert said...

I thought I had covered the issue of hell from time to time. Particularly, how one understands hell is an important element in the Calvin Wars, which I am not in much of a mood to restart at this point. C. S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce" provides an excellent starting point for thinking about this issue, which portrays the idea that God could accept anyone into heaven who is willing to part with their favorite sins, but that since persons have free will, God can't guarantee that they will do that. One can go to the "left" of that to universalism, which Christian philosophers Thomas Talbott and Marilyn Adams have one, or to the right, saying that that hell exists to satisfy God's justice for those who don't accept Christ's substitutionary atonement in their lifetimes.

Steven Carr said...

Oh dear.

Shackleman is now stating that the evidence for Vesuvius is no better than the evidence for Judas.

No wonder Christianity is in such disrepute!

Perhaps Shackleman could produce some evidence for Judas, Thomas, the famous Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea.

All I ever hear is Christians explaining why there is no evidence for these people.

And strange complaints that if no first century Christian ever names himself as ever seeing or hearing of Judas, Thomas, Lazarus etc, this is just like Pliny the Younger talking about his uncle and what he was doing on the 24th of August between 2 and 3 in the afternoon.

Pliny the Younger was talking about his uncle.

You never get one word from Peter claiming Judas or Thomas existed.

Shackleman said...

Carr,

I didn't say those things. An anonymous poster did.

It just shows how inattentive a reader you really are.

For the record, since creating a blog profile years ago, I have never purposefully posted here anonymously.

The rest of your post, as usual, doesn't merit any further response.

Shackleman said...

I find it curious how much time both the atheist and the theist spends thinking about the afterlife.

I can control only what I do in the here and now, and I am charged with the task of doing my level best. It will never be "good enough", for I am wrapped up in sin (as are we all). So, perhaps, I can only control a small portion of my ultimate fate. The vast majority of that fate is not up to me, but is up to God and His grace, so I just don't spend too much time thinking about it.

(I know, I know, my Luther is showing).

Too many, I feel, are caught up on Works-based doctrine.

Walter said...

"The Great Divorce" provides an excellent starting point for thinking about this issue, which portrays the idea that God could accept anyone into heaven who is willing to part with their favorite sins, but that since persons have free will, God can't guarantee that they will do that

Can one repent of their sins to Allah and still make it to heaven with Jesus? Is contrition all that is necessary or do people HAVE to believe certain propositional truths about Jesus before their repentance is deemed worthy of divine forgiveness? How inclusive are most of the posters here?

Just curious?

Shackleman said...

Walter,

You should read up on Luther's theology.

Walter said...

Shackleman,

How hard is it to answer this? Are you inclusive or exclusive in your salvation theology?

Many here have made comments on my skewed view of Christianity being due to my having been brought up in false sect of Christian fundamentalism. I would like to know just how different is the theology in the "correct" form of Christianity that the believers here adhere to. Frankly, I'll bet that I get several different answers from different believers here who each feel their particular brand of Christianity is the "correct" and "true" one.

Shackleman said...

Walter,

My response to you wasn't a dodge. My point was simple--If I've made you curious about Luther and his theology, you should read up on him.

"How hard is it to answer this?"

Not hard at all. But what's it matter what I believe? There is only one truth, Walter. Whatever it is I believe, I could be wrong. I can (and will) tell you what I'm *convinced* is the truth, but you should be getting your own ideas of what that truth is from your own study---from the "big fish", and, if you're so inclined, from your own prayer. Why waste your time with a minnow like me? That said, I'll be more precise in a sec....

"Are you inclusive or exclusive in your salvation theology?"

I am convinced that God exists, that Jesus really existed as a man of History who was also God incarnate. I am convinced that God saves not by works (or by allegiance to a particular proper noun), but by His grace alone.

I am convinced that we are justified by having faith in Jesus. (Justification meaning I can have *confidence* in my salvation because of my faith in Christ---but that is not to say that I *must* have faith in Christ in order to be granted salvation). But the ultimate decision on who does or does not go to heaven isn't up to me, it's up to God. So, given that, I won't be surprised if there are MANY in heaven who are not "Christians", nor will I be surprised if there are many "Christians" who are NOT there. I also won't be surprised if we are ALL there in the end. But again, Walter, what is most important here isn't what I believe. What's important is Christ.

"Many here have made comments on my skewed view of Christianity being due to my having been brought up in false sect of Christian fundamentalism."

I wouldn't classify your "sect" of Christianity as "false". I would classify it as "not offering as accurate an understanding as other teachings do". It's a nuance, maybe, but it's a BIG difference.

"Frankly, I'll bet that I get several different answers from different believers here who each feel their particular brand of Christianity is the "correct" and "true" one."

Maybe. But whatever we apologists promote, there is still only one truth.

I encourage you to continue to seek that truth out.

Now, go read up on Luther! :-)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Why is it important for people who are not fundamentalist literalists that Christ was literally resurrected from the dead? If Johnah wasn't really swallowed, if the world wasn't created in 7 days, etc., why is the Christ bit so important to take literally?

Note I know there are many liberal theologians that do not take it literally, but outside of academia they seem to be a minority.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor you probably talked about it and I didn't understand what you were talking about. E.g., superlapsarianism or whatever lost me.

Edward T. Babinski said...

The Legend of the Resurrection grew and also experienced alterations (in contradictory ways) in the tale over time. Just compare the resurrection tales chronologically, Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke-Acts, John

Also, the number of words allegedly spoken by the post-resurrection Jesus grew over time (just perform the same chronological examination).

So the NT provides the evidence of the growth and alteration of legends about Jesus' resurrection. If that's "inspired" legendary growth and "inspired" contradictory changes, then I just don't feel very inspired to rationally defend such first century miracle mongering.

Steven Carr said...

Shackleman
I didn't say those things. An anonymous poster did.

CARR
My apologies.

I just assumed you had some sort of answer as to why there is no evidence for Judas, Thomas, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, Barabbas, etc etc

It turns out that I was wrong once again.

That does happen!

You have no answer as to why there is no evidence for these people, and why Christians never mention them for decades after they allegedly existed.

Professor Larry Hurtado has an excellent article on the literary nature of Mark's Gospel.

The 'whole story' is a 'blueprint' for Christians.

Fair enough, but it means there is a smoking gun for Mark having invented the 'whole story'.

And no evidence for the historicity of almost everybody in it, just like there is no evidence for the historicity of the second gunman who shot JFK, even if those conspiracy theories also sometimes mention real people, just like the Christian stories also sometimes mention real people.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, you've got it wrong here and you don't realize what you're doing.
On the one hand you find the philosophical arguments against the probability of miracles to be weak (note, probability not possibility). On the other hand you dive right into the arguments for the resurrection without first looking at the Bible as a whole. Once you look at what biblical scholarship as a whole you will learn not to trust the Bible just because something is stated in the Bible.

Apart from my own WIBA I highly recommend you read Thom Stark's book when it comes out (I don't know when). In my opinion when it comes to understanding biblical scholarship the phrase "educated evangelical" is an oxymoron.

Until then what Bob Price said applies to what you're attempting to do lately.

Gregory said...

Steven Carr said:

"'If we want real evidence, we need reports of the resurrection from people who didn't believe Jesus was resurrected.'

No, you need a resurrected body.

But the body flew off into the sky on its way to Heaven , just like the Golden Plates of Mormonism did.

All evidence for religions flies off into Heaven just before people go public with their claims.

Where's the beef?

Produce the body."


What if you were asked to "prove" that you were a child by producing your childhood molecular composition? Where's the beef? Produce the body.

You cannot prove that you were a child in this fashion because you no longer retain the same cells you had at age 7. And depending on the type of contact you've had with toxic, chemical and/or radioactive substances, you certainly don't have the same DNA sequencing that you had as a toddler.

But let's return to something Victor had pointed out. If Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead, then any ancient "testimony" that denied this would be false. So, what difference would it make, really, whether any ancient, non-N.T. sources denied the resurrection, if the resurrection had actually happened?

What were Christians supposed to do to convince you that Christ rose from the dead? Did they have to side with the Pagans and deny Christ's resurrection, so that such "ecumenical" agreement between them might better demonstrate--for the magisterium of self-absorbed, 21rst Century skeptics--the Truth? I mean...c'mon, now.

Even if the ancient, non-biblical sources had categorically affirmed Christ as the risen Lord, I doubt that would convince many of you. In fact, I'm sure there would be the same old "let's-explain-this-away" routine by some "Amazing" YouTuber. And that would be, if you think about it, pretty amazing.

Steven Carr said...

So Gregory has no evidence except saying 'It's in the Bible'.

It is like talking to a Muslim or a Mormon - you get nothing except repeated demands that you believe what they believe.

Even if that means believing Muhammad flew into the sky.

Except Gregory seems to think sceptics cannot prove they were children.

At least that is my best shot at comprehending what he wrote.

Did anybody else manage to make out what Gregory was talking about?

If anybody has any better ideas what Gregory was talking about, please feel free to enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

We have such evidence. From Thomas, who doubted the resurrection till he encountered the risen Lord and from his own family, who weren't among his followers during his ministry but some of whom became leaders in the early church afterward the resurrection.

Gregory said...

Steven Carr:

If it is necessary for Jesus Christ to show us, today, His "body" in order that we Christians be warranted in our belief that He is risen and alive, then I ask that the skeptic "prove" that he/she was a child once by producing that body. Not merely a replica, but the actual cells that made up your infant-toddler-adolescent body.

Since it is not possible to do this, then you must resort to some other means of "proving" that you were a child. And that would come down to testimony and reliable documentation. Perhaps a photograph would suffice.

But even that may not suffice. Consider this case of "identity theft". Suppose that someone had stolen all of your personal information and created an "identity", and used that information for various unlawful purposes.

Now, consider a historian or genealogist of 3010. Suppose they were to do research into the historical person of "Steven Carr". In their research they discover not one, but two people whose exact identities match. Yet, oddly, unearthed banking transactions show that they lived very far from each other. It is clear to them that someone had stolen the others identity. And due to the ambiguity of the available evidence, they are unable to properly identify the "real" Steven Carr from the "impostor" Steven Carr. So, should they conclude that there was no Steven Carr at all? Perhaps they may conclude that "Steven Carr" was simply a phantom identity created by the Government--solely for the purpose of espionage? Hmmmm. Move over, John le Carre, there's a new kid on the block. Hehe

Anyway, I hold this "Twelfth Night" scenario as somewhat analogous to the historical case for the New Testament. But I would offer this caveat:

The New Testament has way, way more to commend itself, historically speaking, than Steven Carr's memory 1000 years from now. Note: that's a double "way" there. In fact, if you were able to see how grossly uneven the evidence for the New Testament is, compared with the millenial recollections of Steven Carr, then maybe you would start to see why the New Testament is considered "historically reliable".

Gregory said...

Let me offer this "Twilight Zonesque" scenario for further reflection. In the future, the Governments unite to bring a world-wide peace upon earth. One of the means of achieving this "peace" is to abolish all personal property containing information and status (i.e. books, money, birth certificates, genealogies, etc.) by the adoption of a network of information storing devices/machines. Much of that information is still accessible to the public via computers and scanning devices....but this Pan-Government leadership ensures that no information is available that would upset the peace of this Universal Brotherhood/Sisterhood.

But this isn't exactly "Twilight Zone". So, imagine if all those information storage devices had a meltdown and had irretrievably lost all of mankind's cumulative knowledge. How reliable would our own "memories" be in trying to salvage and maintain that lost information/knowledge? How reliable are our "memories", as opposed to the Ancients? Would mankind even bother? And what sort of future would mankind face in the event that something like this had actually occurred?

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another Dimension. A Dimension of Sound. A Dimension of Sight. A Dimension of Mind. You are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone"----Rod Serling

Anonymous said...

Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NIV)