The Evidence for the Resurrection is no better than the Evidence for my Flying Milk Cow

Evangelical pastor:

Although “Gary” claims that he “once was a member of your cult,” it is unclear what he actually understood historical biblical Christianity. In determining whether or not Christianity is true, the first question to be answered is, does God exist? An interesting short video I just saw is helpful on that question. “Believe in God in 5 Minutes (Scientific Proof)”:




This is an important question to answer. We know that from nothing, nothing comes – so how did everything which exists come from nothing in the beginning? (Darwinism). Now that is an appeal to magic!

We believe that the evidence shows that God exists and has revealed Himself in history, especially in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This is confirmed by the physical resurrection of Jesus. There are many proofs for the resurrection of Jesus, which I will not go into here, but are available to anyone who wants to examine them. But how do we respond to Gary’s claims of Christianity being a magical faith?

I do appreciate “Gary’s” expressed concern that we might be deceived. Unfortunately he doesn’t offer any rational reason or evidence to support his claim. He might do well to read Geisler and Turek’s book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist and then either debunk or embrace the evidence presented here.


Gary:

Hi Don.

Thank you for your reply to my comment.  I listened to the video.  It is very interesting.  However, it only addresses the issue of whether or not there is evidence for a Creator, not WHO that Creator is.  This is one of the biggest assumptions in the Christian belief system:  The evidence for a God is evidence for the Christian god.  There may very well be a Creator.  The constant laws of the universe do appear to point to some type of Creator, but to jump to the conclusion that this Creator is Yahweh and Jesus is based on what?

You state that the proof that Jesus is the Creator God is his alleged resurrection and that there is good evidence that this supernatural event happened.  I would challenge you on that assertion.  The only evidence that Christians have for the Resurrection is very, very weak:  the accounts in four anonymous books, written decades after the alleged event, in far away lands, and, the testimony of one vision-prone Jewish rabbi who never says he saw a resurrected BODY.  That’s it.  The rest of the “evidence” that Christians assert are simply assumptions and hearsay.

For instance, just because people are willing to die for a belief is not proof that the belief is true.  We have ZERO evidence that any alleged eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus was executed for refusing to recant his eyewitness testimony of the resurrection.  For all we know they were all executed just for being a new religious sect.  Many people of religious minorities and sects have been killed through the ages.  That does not prove their beliefs were true.

So why do modern, educated, 21st century people believe four anonymous first century accounts, filled with inconsistencies, and the word of one wild-eyed rabbi?  Let me give you an example of why I think that believing based on this weak evidence is unreasonable.

If I told you the following story, would you believe it:

Four books have been found that tell the story of a flying milk cow living in Uganda 60 years ago.  The stories say that one day a group of eleven men were in a farmer’s pasture in central Uganda when one of the milk cows began to speak to them.  The cow told the men that she was God, Ruler of Heaven and Earth.  After finishing speaking, the cow levitated 20 feet off of the ground, then shot off into the sunset with the speed of a jet fighter plane.

These four books are anonymous; written in French; and appear to have been written in Italy approximately 30 years ago.

The eleven men told their story to villagers in the nearby villages.  Many people believed and became followers of the Cow.  Belief in the flying, talking cow spread throughout Uganda and even to surrounding countries.  Many believed.

Three years later, a Jewish rabbi, traveling on a highway to Kenya, says that he was stopped by a bright light which blinded him.  The bright light said that it was the Cow.  The Cow told the rabbi that she wanted him to be her missionary to the world, spreading her message of Cowness.

This converted rabbi wrote a letter to a group of Cow believers in Greece, stating that the Cow appeared to 500 Ugandan villagers at once, and that if they didn’t believe him, they could travel to Uganda to ask them themselves, as most are still alive.

Thousands of Flying Cow believers have been persecuted for their belief in Her Cowness, some have even been executed.

Based on this “evidence”, do you believe that this Ugandan milk cow is the Creator of the Universe??

Now, I’m sure that my milk cow scenario seems absolutely ridiculous to Christians, but your dead man reanimation story and the weak evidence you use to justify your belief in this alleged supernatural first century event seems just as ridiculous to us as skeptics.

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22 thoughts on “The Evidence for the Resurrection is no better than the Evidence for my Flying Milk Cow

  1. Gary opines: “If I told you the following story, would you believe it….”

    The Flying Milk Cow (hereafter 'FMC') story is somewhat imaginative but misleading and clearly shows a lack of understanding on your part as how one should evaluate eye witness testimony. The skeptic doesn't dismiss the experiences of the people who claim to have seen an FMC. What the skeptic will do is gather the testimony and look for evidence as to what would have caused their belief. Perhaps those seeing a FMC saw something that can be perfectly explained through natural means. It could have been a well orchestrated hoax. The real skeptic looks for some plausible reason for why these people really believe they saw something extraordinary.

    What you have done is dismissed the FMC out of hand just as your routinely accuse Christians of doing. That my point is plain is easily seen by your implication that no reasonable person would accept the claim of a FMC ergo the reasonable person wouldn't accept the Christian claim of Jesus' resurrection out of hand.

    I suppose you are correct at one point and that is most of us today wouldn't accept a FMC based upon eyewitness testimony. Just like most of us don't accept that UFOs have come to Earth and for most of us Big Foot is nothing more than a mascot for a jerky commercial. Yet this says something about our culture and not whether or not UFOs and Big Foot actually exist. Yes it tells us that our culture has become more secularized for better or for worst.

    The point to be made here is that still you have only shown how radically skeptical *you* are. As I point out above, a skeptic will take time to evaluate the claims being made and try to find a reasonable explanation and if one can't be had they will reserve judgement unless it is obvious that someone has lied or that a hoax has been devised.

    The disciples of Jesus certainly believed in the resurrection of Jesus. The accounts of Jesus' resurrection are given to us through the Gospels and in the Pauline epistles. Only a hyper-skeptic will dismiss these accounts on the basis of presuppositions that miracles can't happen and therefore the claims made in the Gospels and by Paul must be false.

    There are plausible reasons for taking the truth claims of the resurrection as being true at face value. For one Paul staked his life on the truth of the resurrection. He died a martyrs death in Rome right around the time Peter was crucified, according to tradition. These sort of martyrdoms do not prove the resurrection occurred but they do tell us that those giving up their lives strongly believed they had the truth of the mater. You will dismiss that out of hand to your own loss.

    But my point is that you aren't even a good skeptic. You haphazardly handle evidence and jump to conclusions. Your entire blog is a testament to your disinterest in truth and of your sheer hatred of Jesus.

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  2. What evidence would you require for you to believe:

    1. A milk cow can speak a human language.
    2. A milk cow can levitate off of the ground and then shoot across the sky at the speed of a jet fighter?

    Could these events have happened, allowing for the supernatural? Answer: Yes. But, what is the probability that these events happened? Answer: very, very, very, low.

    That is my position. I am NOT saying that it is absolutely impossible for milk cows to speak in a human language, levitate, or fly. What I am saying is that the chances of these events happening are so very low that I would not believe that they had happened without extraordinary evidence.

    Just because eleven people, five hundred people, or even one thousand people are willing to testify, in a court of law, that they all witnessed this talking, flying milk cow, at the same time, I would NOT believe it…and I don't think that you would either.

    That's my point.

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  3. I am not sure your point takes into consideration the broader context of Christ's life and teachings that build up to the resurrection making it much more probable that He did rise from the dead than the probability of any other story.

    Your reference to eye witness testimony regarding law is interesting and really does speak against your point. All it takes is one good eyewitness and enough circumstantial evidence to get a solid conviction. If you had 500 people testifying in court that they saw you murder someone then you are going to prison whether you did it or not. That's just a fact.

    The court system during Jesus' day established facts on the basis of two or three witnesses and those typically had to be men. It would not have been extraordinary for an ancient Jew to accept that Jesus was the Messiah who had risen from the dead because Old Testament prophecy (including non-canonical books such as the book of Enoch) are pregnant with ideas of a suffering servant who is the Messiah. Add to the Hebrew Bible three witnesses who come forward and swear they saw the resurrected Jesus and now you have firmly made the case that Jesus is alive after death, for the ancient thinker.

    So the question is really, “What evidence does the scoffer require in order to believe?” I think the Bible is pretty clear in teaching that the extreme skeptic like you will not accept *any* evidence. The next question is “Why do you bother?” It is evident to me that you are working hard to suppress your natural knowledge of God and to divorce yourself from the revelation of Jesus Christ that you once knew. You were told the Gospel and received it joyfully. Along the way you wanted 'freedom' to do as you please and so your journey took a turn of questioning what God really said and that sounds really virtuous in today's postmodern culture. You raised your self up as sort of a 'hero' of independence and critical thinking. Except you've only enslaved yourself to sin and the devil once again and have lost the freedom you had in Jesus Christ.

    You have become nothing more than a blasphemer dead in sin. You can line up all the psychologists you want who will tell you that you are really 'free' now but that is merely fiction. You're not free and neither are any of your cohorts who have rejected Jesus.

    That's really sad.

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  4. Tens of thousands of people would be willing to testify in court that the Virgin Mary has bodily appeared to them. Based on your criteria of evidence above, their claims MUST be true.

    Do you believe that the Virgin Mary bodily appears to people?

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  5. On September 21, 1995 tens of thousands of Hindus watched on television as Hindu stone idols drank milk from spoons offered to them.

    By your criteria of evidence, we should all believe these stones really did drink milk.

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  6. Alleged Muslim miracle:

    A Turkish grocer from the Regent Quarter of The Hague, Holland, bought some eggs fresh from the farm and had them on sale in his shop. But two of the eggs seemed slightly strange. “I noticed that the shells were a little misshapen,” he said. “Very odd, just like Arab letters. And then suddenly I saw it: ‘Allah.’” He had also bought about five kilos of beans, about 500 grams of which bear the name ‘Allah.’ Out of respect he did not feel he could sell the remaining beans: he decided to give them to the mosque. “About 40 people enjoyed a complete meal from these beans and there was still food left over.”

    There is no end to this nonsense. This is what happens when people believe in the supernatural: a coincidence becomes a cosmic wonder. However, Christians don't believe the Hindu and Muslim supernatural tall tales, only their own.

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  7. Gary you're still not quite grasping the enormity of my point. I am not giving you a novel idea of what counts as reliable evidence. I am telling you what the accepted threshold of evidence has been for ages even here in America. Your view is that of the logical positivists which has been flatly rejected by most since it is recognized that verificationism is incoherent.

    You are also being dishonest. I said that a good skeptic will look for a plausible explanation for an extraordinary claim. You are a dishonest hyperskeptic because you can't bear to try to understand the evidence as presented. It really is ironic how you rail against fundamentalists and you're the biggest fundamentalist in the room!

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  8. You didn't answer the question: Do you believe that thousands of people have seen the Virgin Mary in the flesh and other thousands have witnessed Hindu gods (stones) drinking milk from spoons?

    If you say, “no”, then you have proven your position inconsistent, if you say, “yes”, then we should all become Chriso-muslo-hindus.

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  9. I *did* answer your question. Let me try again. Thousands of people *believe* they have seen Mary. Thousands *believe* they saw some idols slurping water. Understand? So the question is how to explain these phenomena. We don't need to explain the 'belief.' My belief about what these people believe is they are likely sincere. Furthermore I am not going to jump to conclusions to support your habit of doing so. I don't know what these people have seen and neither do you. I certainly will have my doubts and I already pointed that out earlier.

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  10. So it is your position to believe all supernatural claims are true…until proven false??

    Wow. What a superstitious, chaotic, fearful life you must lead.

    No thanks, friend. I'll stick with the Scientific Method for my basis of determining what is real and what is not.

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  11. Once again I am confronted with your dishonesty. Did I say anything about “truth” concerning the claims made in your examples? No I didn't.

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  12. Gary would you write a post detailing the methodology you use to determine truth? Please provide a example and the steps you go through. I think it would be helpful in understanding your approach.

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  13. The steps of the scientific method are to:

    ◦Ask a Question
    ◦Do Background Research
    ◦Construct a Hypothesis
    ◦Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    ◦Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    ◦Communicate Your Results

    It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A “fair test” occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.

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  14. Question: Did Caesar cross the Rubicon?

    Research:

    1. Documents show Caesar's generals said he did.
    2. Documents show enemy Roman generals said he did.
    3. Documents show Roman senators said he did.
    4. Documents show Caesar said he did.

    Hypothesis: Caesar crossed the Rubicon
    Experiments: Review all evidence, in support of this hypothesis, and all evidence against this hypothesis.

    Conclusion: Based on the evidence, very high probability that Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

    I now send out research and conclusion to every other historian in the world to review my data, analyze my research method to confirm or refute my conclusion.

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  15. Unlike testing the boiling point of water at sea level and obtaining repetitively reliable results, one cannot reproduce Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon as Caesar is dead. However, one can examine the evidence and arrive at a probability. Is there a high, average, or low chance that Caesar crossed the Rubicon based on the evidence?

    The same can be done with the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was from the dead. We have multiple eyewitness accounts of Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, including statements by enemies. Do we have such evidence about Jesus?

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  16. “However, one can examine the evidence and arrive at a probability. Is there a high, average, or low chance that Caesar crossed the Rubicon based on the evidence?

    The same can be done with the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was from the dead. “

    Finally, somewhere I can agree with you! 🙂 The point is that we can't repeat a 'Rubicon crossing in the lab.' Historiography is about rating the strength of evidence for events in history. So for example what evidence do we have for the Trojan wars or that there even was a city in Greece called “Troy?” The only documentary evidence we have for the existence of Troy is from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and a couple Greek tragedies. Many thought Troy was simply a mythological city and that the Trojan wars were a fabrication. However in the 1800s the first layer of the city of Troy was discovered by using the 'mythological' writings about the Trojan wars. We now know through archaeological evidence that the city of Troy is not a mythological city and this increases the probability that the Trojan wars are an actual historical event.

    What I am getting at here is that there is far more archaeological and textual evidence supporting the existence of Jesus and His crucifixion than there is for the Trojan wars but hardly anyone will reject that the Trojan wars was not a real event in history.

    The resurrection is a different matter though because we are dealing with a supernatural event and eyewitness testimony. So the historiographer will rate the resurrection with a probability skewed by their own biases. What then happens at this juncture in a debate is that you trot out your biased scholars and I trot at mine and we come to an impasse. Agree?

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  17. I agree that my skeptic scholars and your Christian scholars will most likely come to the issue with biases. Therefore, I would suggest that we gather the evidence and submit it to a neutral party. Any suggestions for neutral parties?

    Let's do this: You give a brief, concise list of the evidence FOR the Resurrection, and I will briefly refute your evidence. You then will have the opportunity to rebut my rebuttal, and then me the same. We then find someone we both agree as neutral and see what they say. Agreed?

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  18. Uh… no, Gary. This entire debate of the resurrection has been done over and over again. I believe you want to rehash the debate to effect more of your suppression of who Jesus is. Sorry, you're going to have to find another person to enable you in your new abuse.

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  19. No problem.

    Here is my point: If Christians only want to convince themselves of the historicity of the Resurrection, the level of probability for this alleged event is irrelevant. Christians can believe it solely by blind faith and no one is going to convince them they are wrong.

    However, if Christians want to convince (and convert) educated, internet savvy, 21st century non-believers that their first century miracle really did occur, then they are going to need to prove their position using the methodology for determining truth used by those educated, internet savvy unbelievers. Just saying that “the Bible says so” is not going to cut it anymore.

    I believe that this is why all Christian denominations in North America and Europe are in steady decline. Look at the membership numbers and baptism numbers of all Christian churches, including such conservative stalwarts as the Southern Baptist Convention and the LCMS, and you will see a continued downward spiral. Young people are leaving the Church every year by the thousands.

    Unless Christianity comes up with better evidence for the alleged Resurrection, conservative Christianity is headed toward extinction in the educated, western civilized world.

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