Many Christians believe that the evidence for the bodily Resurrection of Jesus is so strong and so convincing that this evidence alone will convince the average person of the veracity of Christianity. I don’t think so. I believe that the overwhelming majority of conversions to Christianity today are for emotional reasons, not due to the strength of evidence for a miracle claim that occurred twenty centuries ago.
I have challenged the Christians on Theology Web, specifically, Christian apologist Nick Peters, son-in-law of evangelical Christian apologist, Mike Licona, to come to an agreement with me on the evidence for the Resurrection (as agreed upon by the majority of scholars). I have then said that I will conduct a random, non-scientific survey using that agreed upon evidence to get a sample of public opinion on the internet, in the United States and in other countries, asking people if the evidence supports the miracle explanation of Christianity or is a more naturalistic explanation more probable.
I need your help!
I and the Christians on Theology Web have agreed to the accepted evidence for the Resurrection and the Christian interpretation, however, they are suspicious of the survey because I cannot guarantee that it will be asked in a scientifically precise manner. However, that was not my intention. It is simply a sampling of random people.
Dear Readers: please copy the survey below and conduct a random survey of people in your town or online. Please avoid surveying only people who agree with your position on this issue. Leave your survey results below this post in the comment section. (Please be honest!)
It is my bet that the only people who will believe the miracle claim of the Resurrection will be persons who were raised Christians.
Dear _____________. This survey asks your opinion regarding the central alleged historical event of the Christian Faith: The Resurrection of the Dead Body of Jesus of Nazareth. We will present you with the evidence surrounding this event as agreed upon by the majority of historical experts. We will then present the Christian explanation for that evidence. At the end of this survey, we will ask you whether or not you believe that the preponderance of the evidence points to a miracle as described in the traditional reading of the Christian Bible, or whether you believe that the preponderance of the evidence can be explained by a more probable, naturalistic explanation.
The majority of scholars/experts believe that Jesus of Nazareth was executed by the Roman Empire, by crucifixion, in Jerusalem, Palestine, in circa 30 AD. In addition, the majority of scholars/experts agree on the following as historical facts regarding Jesus’ death, burial, and the period of time shortly after his death:
1. Public execution.
2. Public burial.
3. Sealed tomb.
4. Guards at the tomb for most of the period of time in question.
5. Empty tomb, three days and two nights later, with stone rolled away. (No known witnesses to the body leaving the tomb, however)
6. Post-death sightings of the resurrected body, sometimes by hundreds of people at once.
7. Dramatically changed behavior of disciples.
8. Very shameful, very strange new belief system in an Honor-Shame society.
9. A belief never heard of in Judaism, yet believed by several thousand devout Jews.
10. Rapid spread of Christianity.
11. Willingness of thousands of Christians to be persecuted, tortured, and painfully executed for their beliefs.
12. The apostles of Jesus believed in the bodily resurrection and preached it.
Christians claim that this evidence points to the following miracle, as described in their holy book, the Bible, and that this miracle is the best explanation for the evidence:
— the dead man, Jesus of Nazareth, was brought back to life by the Jewish/Christian God, Yahweh (his Father),
—exited his sealed tomb by some manner other than moving the stone,
— appeared in a body—that could walk through locked doors and appear and disappear in a matter of seconds—to hundreds of disciples and family members on multiple occasions,
— and then, forty days later, after a final meeting with this disciples, he ascended into the clouds,
— and after ascending into the clouds, he entered his home, “heaven”, a place of unknown location,
— and once Jesus arrived there, he sat on a throne next to his Father, God the Father, where he still sits today, ruling from his throne as the all-powerful, all-knowing Ruler of the Universe.
Question: Do you believe that this miracle explanation of Christianity is the most probable explanation for the evidence above, or, do you believe that there are other more probable, naturalistic, explanations for this evidence?
Please select one of the following by marking with an X:
Miracle explanation more probable: ______
Other naturalistic explanation more probable: _____
Are you religious: ____ If so, are you: Christian: ____ Muslim: ____ Hindu: ____ Buddhist: ___ Other religion: ___
Not religious: ___
Thank you for participating in our survey!