"Almost all evangelical Christians believe that the writing of the Bible was divinely inspired and represents God's main revelation to humanity. They also believe that the Bible contains special features which constitute evidence of its divine inspiration. This would be a use of the Bible to prove God's existence within natural theology rather than within revealed theology, since the book's features are supposed to be evident even to (open-minded) skeptics. Furthermore, since a divinely inspired work must be true, those features are thereby also evidence of the Bible's truth, and thus can be used in support of Christianity as the one true religion. When expressed that way, the reasoning can be construed as an argument both for God's existence and for the truth of the gospel message from the alleged special features of the Bible. We may refer to it as 'the Argument from the Bible'."
In this tightly-argued article, Price forcefully argues for the hypothesis that 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 is a post-Pauline interpolation.
A transcript of Dan Barker's 1996 debate with Michael Horner on the Resurrection of Jesus.
New Testament scholar Robert M. Price exposes the various fallacies and sophistries in William Lane Craig's apologetic for the Resurrection.
Critique of some details of William Lane Craig's reiteration of his Empty Tomb argument, and Habermas' defense of the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus, in the book In Defense of Miracles.
Montgomery asserts that Christianity's claims survive examination using the legal tests for evidence. He does this only by misstating and twisting the rules of evidence and the facts.
From 1998 to 2000, Michael Martin engaged Christian apologist Steven Davis in an exchange on the rationality of belief in the Resurrection in Philo. In a recent article in Philosophia Christi, Davis revisits the exchange and criticizes many of the arguments Martin raised earlier. Martin continues the exchange on the rationality of belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ for Christians in this latest installment on the Secular Web.
Dan Barker discusses a contradiction between Luke and Paul's account of Paul's conversion to Christianity.
Did Jesus meet the disciples in Galilee after his resurrection? Farrell Till writes that "this meeting in Galilee poses tremendous credibility problems."
After the women supposedly saw the empty tomb, did they tell anyone what they saw or didn't they? "That's the problem that inerrantists must resolve."
William Lane Craig has argued for the historicity of Jesus' empty tomb on the basis of ten lines of evidence. In response, Jeffery Jay Lowder argued that Craig had not yet shown that any of his ten items of evidence make the empty tomb more probable than not. Anne A. Kim has attempted to defend some of Craig's arguments against Lowder's objections, but as Lowder shows in this response to Kim, Kim has repeatedly misunderstood his points and attacked caricatures of his arguments rather than his actual arguments.
The Geisler-Till Debate (1994)
A transcript of Farrell Till's debate with Christian philosopher Norman Geisler on the historicity of the Resurrection.
In these slides for his opening statement in his debate with Michael Licona on July 1, 2012 at Antioch Temecula Church in Temecula, California, Robert Greg Cavin presents one of the strongest cases against the resurrection of Jesus ever presented, decisively refuting arguments for the Resurrection by prominent Christian apologists Timothy McGrew, Lydia McGrew, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Stephen T. Davis, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, Norman Geisler, Josh McDowell, and Lee Strobel. Cavin makes three main contentions: (1) the prior probability of a supernatural resurrection of Jesus by God is so astronomically low that it has virtually no plausibility; (2) theorizing such a resurrection to explain the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus is ad hoc and devoid of nearly any explanatory power and scope; and (3) a far superior alternative theory can account for the empty tomb and postmortem appearances. In defending these three contentions, Cavin refutes sixteen myths perpetuated by Christians apologists about critics' objections to the Resurrection.
Lowder provides a point-by-point rebuttal to Craig's case for the empty tomb. Along the way, Lowder defends a naturalistic explanation of the empty tomb. He concludes that historians should be agnostic about the empty tomb story.
Kirby argues against the historicity of the empty tomb.
The Horner-Till Debate (1995)
The transcript of the 1995 debate between Michael Horner and Farrell Till on the historicity of the Resurrection.
Till surveys the inconclusive evidence about early Christian "martyrs."
"Although McKinsey occasionally raises some good points concerning the Resurrection and the extrabiblical references to Jesus, they are often hidden within many more objections that are either irrelevant, fallacious, or both. Moreover, there are many important issues related to the historicity of Jesus and the Resurrection, which McKinsey ignores. ... Given these shortcomings in the sections on the historicity and resurrection of Jesus, I can't help but wonder what deficiencies exist in the rest of McKinsey's Encyclopedia. I do not recommend skeptics rely on McKinsey's scholarship without first independently verifying his claims in a reliable source."
An interesting consideration of the central thesis of Stephen Davis's Risen Indeed, that "both the supernaturalist's belief and the naturalist's doubt in the resurrection can be rational given an awareness of the best cases for both sides". Wunder compares and contrasts Gary Habermas's core facts in support of the Resurrection with the arguments of Wells and Martin in support of the Mythicist hypothesis.
Demonstrates from sources that in the time of Jesus the Jews had the full practice of their own laws, and that these laws required that Jesus be taken down Friday, that he be placed in a temporary tomb for the Sabbath, and that he be buried Saturday night in a special graveyard reserved for criminals. Therefore, Jesus could not have been in the tomb of Joseph Sunday morning. Also, a "third day" motif in Jewish law and exegesis is examined that may relate to early Christian resurrection belief.
The Man with No Heart: Miracles and Evidence (1998) by Richard Packham
What would it really take to justify belief that a miracle has happened? This is a brief example of a resurrection miracle that would warrant belief.
In this online debate between Richard Carrier and Tom Wanchick, Carrier opens with a discussion of method followed by 5 arguments for naturalism and 2 arguments against theism, while Wanchick opens with 9 arguments for theism. In the first rebuttals, each debater criticizes the arguments offered by the other in the opening statements. In the second rebuttals, each debater defends their opening arguments against the criticisms of the other in the first rebuttals. Both closing statements focus on the purported deficiencies of the other debater's overall case.
Osiris and Pagan Resurrection Myths: Assessing the Till-McFall Exchange (2002) (Off Site) by Richard Carrier
As a degreed expert on ancient history, Carrier assesses the ongoing debate between Mark McFall and Farrell Till regarding the influence of the pagan resurrection myths on Christianity and finds that both are right--and wrong. Carrier outlines three decisive objections to the Resurrection story: 1) the event is not proportionate to the theory, 2) the evidence casts suspicion on the event being a true Resurrection, and 3) the New Testament casts suspicion on Jesus actually appearing after his death.
Richard Carrier opens this debate by defending the proposition that the Apostle Paul, our earliest source for original Christian beliefs, believed that God supplied Jesus (as he will supply us) with a new body at his resurrection, rather than raising up the body that was buried (contrary to the evolved versions of Christianity we find today). To the contrary, Jake O'Connell argues that first-century Jewish sources always use the term "resurrection" to denote a "one-body" view of resurrection, and thus Paul is likely using it to mean the same. In the end, O'Connell concludes that there are a few instances in which Paul unambiguously affirms a one-body theory, while there are none in which he clearly affirms a two-body view. By contrast, Carrier ultimately concludes that much of scholarship, as well as Paul's own words (explicitly and implicitly), supports the notion that Paul held a two-body view of resurrection.
The Perman-Till Debate on the Resurrection (1996-1997)
How did the stories of the resurrection change over time?
Wells presents evidence that the events described in the New Testament were written over time to support the agendas of the Christian church, questioning the authorship of the Book of Acts and casting doubt on the events it and the Gospels describe. In his review Price notes that while "Wells's usual targets are conservative apologists who are trying to twist the results of criticism in order to preserve an essentially precritical estimate of Scripture, this time he is going after liberal and radical theologians who readily admit that the damage to traditional views has been devastating."
In this review of a debate between atheist historian Richard Carrier and fundamentalist Christian historian Michael Licona on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Tabash summarizes the arguments offered by both sides and offers a critique of their arguments. He also points out areas where Carrier could have stressed significant points more emphatically than he in fact did.
William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith is an apologetics textbook ranging over arguments for the existence of God to the alleged evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It also includes discussions of Craig's views on faith, the meaning of life, miracles, history, and Jesus' view of himself, as well as an original chapter on the reliability of the New Testament by evangelical New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg. In this critique Chris Hallquist argues that at best Reasonable Faith provides thoughtful arguments for the existence of some sort of God, but not the Christian God specifically, and that Craig fails to adequately answer arguments that belief in miracles--including belief in the miracle of Jesus' resurrection--is unwarranted. Moreover, by implication Craig wants his audience to renounce the basic moral notion that no one deserves eternal punishment for picking the wrong religion. In the end, Craig wants us to believe something that all reason is against, though paradoxically every apologetic assumes that we must take reason seriously. This is, ultimately, why Craig's apologetic fails.
In The Resurrection of Christ liberal theologian Gerd Lüdemann tackles the biggest miracle claim of all, explaining why he no longer finds traditional Christian beliefs tenable--particularly belief in the Resurrection as described in the canonical Gospels. Moreover, he makes the case that a Christianity based on reconstructing the teachings of the historical Jesus without a miraculous underpinning is an empty creed. However, the book suffers from a number of shortcomings, from the crucial omission of any discussion of Gospel genre to the lack of informed textual criticism. Lüdemann's book would also have been more useful had he spent more time rebutting Christian apologetic defenses of the historicity of the Resurrection. Lüdemann nevertheless offers a fresh translation and analysis of the texts he surveys, and competently takes on those who think that we can still be Christians despite the nonhistoricity of the resurrection of Christ.
In the early 20th century anthropologist James Frazer proposed a recurrent dying-and-rising-gods motif in pre-Christian Near Eastern mythology. In The Riddle of Resurrection, Tryggve Mettinger attempts to revive this notion, but only by questionably redefining resurrection to mean some sort of continued existence after death. Mettinger concludes that there is no compelling evidence for a connection between this motif and Christianity, but nevertheless that the existence of such a connection remains an open question. This is an important qualification because popular Christian authors have cited Mettinger's work as evidence that there were no pagan influences on Christian beliefs about Jesus. In fact Mettinger denies having provided any sort of complete study which might support the uniqueness of the Christian concept of resurrection.
I review Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. I conclude that "Strobel did not interview any critics of Evangelical apologetics. He sometimes refutes at great length objections not made by the critics (e.g., the claim that Jesus was mentally insane); more often, he doesn't address objections the critics do make (e.g., the unreliability of human memory, that non-Christian historians do not provide any independent confirmation for the deity of Jesus, etc.) Perhaps this will be a welcome feature to people who already believe Christianity but have no idea why they believe it. For those of us who are primarily interested in the truth, however, we want to hear both sides of the story."
If the four gospel authors were divinely inspired, writes Till, "there would be no maze of inconsistencies in the juxtaposition of their stories."
Was the success of Christianity too improbable for Christianity to have been false? According to James Holding's "Impossible Faith," no one would have accepted early Christianity if it were not true. In particular, he offers seventeen hostile conditions, plus an additional critical assumption about the role of luck, that he claims would have made it impossible for Christianity to succeed--unless it was true. In this remarkably extensive chapter-by-chapter critique, Richard Carrier evaluates Holding's arguments in light of historical scholarship and identifies several troubling fallacies in Holding's reasoning.
Matson addresses the claim that the Apostles would not have died for something they knew was false.
According to Till, "just about everyone who had been associated with Jesus knew that he was supposed to be resurrected except the apostles."
In this explanation of why he is not a Christian, Keith Parsons discusses the role that Christianity has played in perpetuating suffering throughout human history, the bizarre doctrine of inflicting eternal punishment on persons for having the wrong beliefs, the composition, inconsistencies, and absurdities of the New Testament Gospels, William Lane Craig's flawed case for the resurrection of Jesus, the role of legendary development and hallucinations in early Christianity, and C.S. Lewis' weak justifications for the Christian prohibition on premarital sex.
There are many reasons that I am not a Christian. I am an atheist for reasons more fundamental than anything to do with particular religions, but the arguments in favor of the Christian creed as opposed to any other are ubiquitous and always center around the historical claim that Jesus was raised from the dead. As an historian with a good knowledge of Greek, I am now very qualified to make a professional judgement in the matter. This essay explains why I find the Resurrection to be an unconvincing argument for becoming Christian.
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