Review of “The Resurrection Fact”, chapter 5 by Angus Menuge who states, Christianity is more worthy of our consideration than other religions.

“By faith, Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But is there sufficient evidence to reasonably believe that this actually happened?  Matthew McCormick [an atheist philosopher] thinks not: ‘We have too little information of too poor quality to warrant our believing that Jesus returned from the dead.’ ” p. 117

McCormick asserts that Christian faith means “believing despite insufficient or contrary evidence.”  According to Mengue, McCormick is a disciple of William Clifford an English mathematician and philosopher who argued that “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for any one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

On page 119, Menuge criticizes Christians who have “capitulated to a purely subjective and private understanding of their faith.”  In other words, Christians who refuse to defend their Christian belief system using apologetics and evidence have surrendered to the enemy.  Claiming that evidence is irrelevant to you; that you know Christianity is true based on personal experiences, miracles, and answered prayer is the coward’s way out, at least according to the authors of this book.

Menuge then dives into some deep Lutheran theology.  Faith in Lutheran theology involves three dimensions:  notitia, asensus, and ficucia.  Notitia means the content of faith (what is believed), assensus means intellectual assent to the content of faith (belief that it is true), and fiducia means the personal trust and confidence in Christ and his promises (belief in Christ).  It is important to note that the first two concepts can be achieved by human intellect, the third can only be achieved by the power of the Holy Spirit ( magic!!!).

Dr. Menuge:  “This does not mean, nor has it ever meant, that biblical faith is believing ‘despite contrary or inadequate evidence.’  Rather, faith always has content, and reasoned content at that.”

Menuge goes on to explain that faith is not based on inadequate evidence.  He explains that the reason that unbelievers do not believe the evidence is because of the last dimension of faith, “fiducia”:  non-believers, otherwise known as “sinners” hate God and hate God’s way of doing things, therefore they do not WANT to see the evidence.  Only if the Holy Spirit chooses to give them the gift of faith will they see the evidence as it truly is.

Next  Menuge complains about McCormick’s standards for evidence.

Menuge says this on page 120:  “Yet even if we consider notitia and assensus, McCormick’s brand of evidentialism is inadequate.  This is for three reasons.  First, McCormick never explicitly defines “sufficient evidence” (and so it is an ever-moving target), and his implicit definition is unreasonably demanding.  Many of the doubts McCormick raises about the New Testament record of the resurrection take the from of possibilities that the evidence does not exclude.  For example, supposing the resurrection was a hoax. “Would we expect reports of information from the whistleblowers to have survived and made it into the body of evidence concerning Jesus’s miracles or resurrection we have today?”

Gary:  I have to agree with Menuge on this one.  I suppose the Hoax Theory is possible, but I would say it is very unlikely.  I believe that there are many, much more probable explanations for the Resurrection Belief.  Still, I would say a hoax is more probable than a never heard of before or since reanimation of a dead corpse.

Dr. Menuge:  “Second, it simply is not true that anyone has, or can have, ‘sufficient evidence’ for everything that they believe.  There are a few reasons why this is so.  We cannot demand a sufficient reason for every belief for the same reason we cannot demand a sufficient reason for each premise in an argument:  it generates an infinite regress, as each reason is simply another premise requiring another reason, ad infinitum

Gary:  Baloney.  Every adult human being has his or her own criteria for “sufficient evidence” for most conditions, events, things in life.  Take for instance the necessary sufficient evidence to sky dive.  The evidence is never going to be sufficient for me, yet the evidence for the safety of this activity is satisfactory to tens of thousands of people worldwide.  However, what McCormick is talking about is sufficient evidence for very extraordinary claims.  The overwhelming majority of people in our culture will demand a very high level of evidence to accept as satisfactory, as believable, very extraordinary claims.  And I suggest that most Christians will demand the same high level of evidence for all very extraordinary claims outside of their religion.  For instance, let’s ask Dr. Menuge this question:

What would be sufficient evidence for you, Dr. Menuge, to believe that your neighbor was abducted by green, two foot tall, antenna-totting Martians last night, flown to Mars, given a walking tour, without an oxygen tank, of the Red Planet for three hours, and then returned home to his bed, safe and sound, before sunrise this morning?

I will bet that Dr. Menuge would demand a very high level of evidence to believe this claim.  I will bet that he would NOT accept eyewitness testimony for this very extraordinary claim, even if a group of five hundred alleged eyewitnesses corroborate this claim!  Before believing that this event really occurred, I would bet that he would believe that it is much more probable that these people are lying, delusional, part of a cult, etc, etc., all the same explanations than skeptics say about the Christian resurrection belief.  And it isn’t because Dr. Menuge is biased against Martians!  It is because Dr. Menuge is using common sense!

Dr. Menuge “And one can also argue, independently of evidential considerations, that Christianity is more worthy of our consideration than other religions.  Christianity should get our attention because it is the only religion that if true would do anything to solve the human predicament.”  p.123

Gary:  Such chutzpa!

If Christianity is true, the majority of human kind will experience “unspeakable suffering” for all eternity” according to the Christian holy book: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at”  Matthew 7:13  And why all this massive, eternal suffering?  Answer:  Our ancient ancestors ate some of Yahweh’s fruit!

Yea.  Sounds like a great religion.  Sounds like something that will really help the human predicament.  NOT!  If forced to pick a religion, I’d go with something like Buddhism.  But if given a choice of any worldview, I pick secular humanism.  MUCH better outlook for the individual and society as a whole and not based on a silly ancient superstition about forbidden fruit and talking/walking snakes!

Dr. Menuge“The fact that believers were enthusiastic about spreading the good news does not discredit their testimony.  These are the accounts of converted unbelievers who certainly did not expect or desire a resurrection at that time in history.  There was no antecedent ideological commitment to a resurrected Messiah in the midst of human history.”  p. 125

Gary:  Really?  No one prior to the alleged Resurrection had ever mentioned the concept of a messiah rising from the dead???  Hmm?  What about…

From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (Matthew 16:21).

 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly.  Mark 8:31-32

Nope.  No one was saying anything about one individual rising from the dead prior to Jesus’ death.

Dr. Menuge “Thus first-century Jews were strongly predisposed to disbelieve any report of a resurrection like Jesus’, and only highly compelling evidence could be expected to overcome their biases.  And that is the point–namely, that these commonplace and conventional Jews became enthusiastic about proclaiming the risen Lord and his kingdom only after experiencing compelling evidence.  They had standards for truth and the resurrection claim met those standards which…were very much like our own standards.”  p. 125

Gary:  Wow.  How does Dr. Menuge know that people living 2,000 years ago used the same standards for evaluating truth claims that we do today?  In the first century, when someone was convulsing on the ground, they assumed the person was possessed by a demon.  Today, we assume the person is having an epileptic seizure.  I think that Dr. Menuge is TOTALLY off on this point.  Today, the majority of educated people in western cultures base most of their standards of truth on the scientific method not on superstitions as in ancient times.

Dr. Menuge then goes on a long diatribe against Mr. McCormick and skeptics in general for their bias against miracles and the supernatural.  He states on page 131, “Unless it is excluded at the outset, there is no reason that a supernatural explanation should not be more probable than its naturalistic competitors.”

Gary:  I want to see it!  I want to see a supernatural explanation that is more probable than a naturalistic explanation for any event which has occurred on planet earth.  Bring it on, Dr. Menuge!

Next, Dr. Menuge presents Bayesian probability theory as evidence for the possibility of miracles.  Now, as my eyes glazed over reading this page, I thought to myself, “I wonder if Dr. Menuge would use this mathematical theory for the Hindu claim for the probability that the Buddha caused a water buffalo to speak in a human language?  I wonder if Dr. Menuge would use this mathematical theory for the Muslim claim for the probability that the prophet Mohammad flew on a winged horse to heaven?”  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I would bet that Dr. Menuge wouldn’t spend two seconds calculating the mathematical probability of these supernatural claims.  Why?  Well, because they defy the laws of nature, of course, but I don’t think Dr. Menuge would even bother to think about that.  Dr. Menuge wouldn’t spend two seconds calculating the probability of these two supernatural claims for the same reason he wouldn’t calculate the probability that leprechauns and unicorns exist.  He wouldn’t calculate the probability of any of these supernatural claims because in his mind they are silly!  The same reason that Mr. McCormick would refuse to use Bayesian probability theory to calculate the probability that a first century, bloated, dead corpse came back to life by the magical powers of an ancient Canaanite god named, Yahweh!

It’s a SILLY story.  Downright silly.

Dr. Menuge:  “McCormick asserts that the problem with the Gospel accounts of the resurrection is that ‘none of the authors were eyewitnesses to the events themselves.  They heard the stories from others and recorded them many years after the alleged events transpired.  The number of people through whom the stories passed before they were written down in the Gospels is unknown.’  But his assertion is both controversial and highly misleading.  It is controversial because John’s Gospel explicitly itself as eyewitness testimony (John 21:24-25), and this claim was not questioned until the rise of modern biblical criticism.”

Gary:  Talk about misleading, Dr. Menuge!  Why don’t you admit to your Christian readership that the consensus of scholarship is that eyewitnesses did not write ANY of the Gospels including the Gospel of John.  Not only that, the consensus of scholarship is that not only were the authors of the Gospels not eyewitnesses, neither were they the associates of eyewitnesses.  Dr. Menuge goes on to quote conservative evangelical NT scholars Richard Bauckham and Gary Habermas, who represent the rightwing of New Testament scholarship.  Why not quote anyone from mainstream New Testament scholarship like NT Wright on this subject, Dr. Menuge?

“I don’t know who the authors of the Gospels were, nor does any one else!”  —NT Wright, New Testament scholar

Talk about bias!

It’s funny how conservative Christians, especially the authors of this book, “The Resurrection Fact”,  and their first book, “Making the Case for Christianity”,  love to quote NT Wright on the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which he supports, but when it comes to the issue of the authorship of the Gospels, his opinion is no longer wanted or mentioned!  Why??  Answer:  Because NT Wright does not believe that the evidence indicates that eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.

And what about Dr. Menuge’s accusation that the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels was never questioned until the rise of modern biblical criticism, as if the fault lies with modern biblical criticism?  That is like saying that the World Wide Flood story found in Genesis was never questioned until the rise of modern geology, as if it must be modern geology that is at fault for this controversy not the fact that the Hebrew World Wide Flood story is simply an ancient myth or at best, an exaggeration of a local flood.

Dr. Menuge:  “But the real issue is not whether the individual writing an account was an eyewitness, but whether what they were recording was eyewitness testimony.  Thus, although the author of Mark was not an eyewitness;  ‘the Gospel of Mark itself, by means of the literary device of the “inclusio” of eyewitness testimony, indicates that Peter was the principal eyewitness source of this Gospel and that the authors of the Gospels of Luke and John both understood Mark to be making this claim.’ (Dr. Menuge is quoting NT scholar Richard Bauckham, author of “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”)”

(Dr. Menuge continues)  In fact, “three of the four Gospels [Mark, Luke and John} use the literary device of the “inclusio” of eyewitness testimony” (again quoting Bauckham).  p. 134

Gary:  Think about this:  If the Gospel of Mark was written by a close companion of the Apostle Peter who wrote down the sayings/teachings of Peter, why wouldn’t the author just state this in his Gospel???  Wouldn’t that give his Gospel much more authority?  Was he writing to win a Pulitzer with fancy literary techniques or was he writing to convince sinners of the truth of the Good News of the Resurrection?? “Hey, Sinners:  What I am telling you comes straight from the mouth of Jesus’ right hand man, Simon Peter!”  I know that Christians have many excuses why the author would not have openly stated Peter as his source, but instead of debating these (lame) excuses, let’s move on to the “inclusio” argument.

Dr. Menuge and Richard Bauckham point to the claim that Peter is the first disciple mentioned in the Gospel of Mark and the last disciple mentioned in the Gospel of Mark and  therefore conclude that this constitutes an “inclusio”, a Greco-Roman literary technique which points to Peter as the source of the information in this Gospel.  But that is not the true definition of an “inclusio”.  An “inclusio” was the listing of the source of the material for the document as the first and last named CHARACTER in the story.  The first named character in the Gospel of Mark is not Peter, but John the Baptist.  Limiting the “inlusio” criteria to only one of the Twleve is cherry picking.  Evangelical scholars such as Bauckham are simply on a desperate fishing expedition looking for any and all possible evidence to find eyewitness testimony in the Gospels.

Again quoting NT Wright:  “No one knows who wrote the Gospels!”

Dr. Menuge:  Quoting evangelical NT scholar Gary Habermas,  “These early Christian traditions predate the writing of the New Testament…In the case of I Corinthians 15:3ff and the Acts creeds…this material dates within a few years of the actual events.  This is not disputed by the critical community.  These creeds present eyewitness testimony for the facts that they report.”  p.135

Gary:  I am not sure to which creeds Habermas is referring in Acts, but the creed in First Corinthians refers simply to “appearances”.  No details are given in this creed.  As I have said before, for all we know, Jesus (allegedly) appeared in all of these situations in the same manner he appeared to Paul as described in Acts chapter 26:  as a bright light.  And that’s it.

Dr. Menuge:  “A second way in which McCormick’s claim is misleading is that he suggests that a long chain of hearsay communication preceded the recording of the events.  But he neglects to mention two critically important factors.  First, as Richard Bauckham argues:  the period between the “historical” Jesus and the Gospels was actually spanned, not by anonymous community transmission, but by the continuing presence and testimony of the eyewitnesses, who remained the authoritative sources of their traditions until their deaths.  p. 135

Gary:  If you read Bauckham’s book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, Bauckham comes up with the theory, based on ZERO evidence, that if the name of a character in one of the Gospel stories is given, this is a sign that that person served as a guarantor of the veracity of this story until that story was eventually written down by the authors of the Gospels.  Zero evidence, folks!  This theory is pure conjecture!

Menuge then lists First Corinthians 15 as evidence that eyewitnesses were alive and would have maintained the accuracy of the Gospel stories.  First of all, Paul expressly states that this is information which he had received from others.  We have no idea if Paul had ever confirmed this appearance to five hundred people.  Where was this appearance?  When was this appearance?  In what form did Jesus appear?  For all we know, five hundred people sitting on the side of a hill saw a bright light on the top of another hill, for a brief moment…and believed it was Jesus.

We just don’t know, because Paul doesn’t tell us.  Christians assume that these five hundred people saw and touched a flesh and blood Jesus in the same fashion as Thomas allegedly did in the Upper Room.  But this belief is based on stories written many decades later in the late first century when the Gospel of John (and the Doubting Thomas pericope) was written.  These stories may very well have been literary inventions typical of Greco-Roman biographies…never meant to be understood literally.

Dr. Menuge:  “This ongoing presence of eyewitnesses would serve as a powerful corrective to distortions of the events due to the foibles of memory, editorial modification, or propagandistic motivations.”  p.  135

Gary:  But what about the literary inventions that Dr. Menuge’s coauthors, Dr. Bombaro, Mr. Pierson and even evangelical scholar, Mike Licona, agree exist within the Gospel narratives?  Why didn’t the eyewitnesses speak out against these non-historical additions to the Resurrection Story?  If even evangelical scholar Mike Licona believes that “Matthew’s” Dead Saints Shaken Alive out of their Tombs to Roam the Streets of Jerusalem Story is a literary invention, why didn’t the eyewitnesses speak out against this “fake” story?

And why couldn’t many of the other pericopes in the Resurrection story be literary inventions?  In particular why couldn’t the Empty Tomb of Arimathea be a literary invention?  And if first century readers KNEW that it was perfectly acceptable to add fictional non-essential details to a Greco-Roman historical biography they would NOT have complained about the dead saints roaming the streets story nor the Empty Tomb story if these stories were not real because neither story changes the core facts of the Resurrection Story:  Jesus died; Jesus was buried; Jesus appeared alive to his followers after his death and burial.

Therefore the fact that no alleged eyewitness complained about inaccuracies in the stories of the Gospels does NOT prove that all the details in those stories are historically true, even by the admission of Mike Licona, John Bombaro, and Mark Pierson!

Dr. Menuge:  “McCormick also claims that we have no reason to trust the process that result in the New Testament canon recognized by Athanasius in 367 AD…”  p. 139

Gary:  “Well, if NT Wright and the consensus of New Testament scholars is correct, the Gospels were not written by Apostles, by any eyewitnesses, nor by the associates of eyewitnesses.  So why were these texts included in the New Testament canon?  For all we know, they were included in the canon just because Irenaeus in the late second century wanted four Gospels and picked these four because they best represented the proto-orthodox doctrinal positions.

The consensus of scholars is that we can only be certain that seven of Paul’s epistles were actually written by Paul.  The rest were possibly or in some cases, very probably, written by persons pretending to be Paul (fraud).  So the facts are obvious:  Neither Jesus nor the Apostles selected the books that came to be included in the New Testament.  Unless Protestant Christians believe in the infallibility of the Early Church, the inspiration of any of the 27 books of the New Testament cannot be determined with any certainty whatsoever.

Dr. Menuge:  “Thus what we have in the New Testament is a reliable text including eyewitness testimony to the resurrection.”  p. 140

Gary:  Once again to quote New Testament scholar NT Wright, “I don’t know who the authors of the Gospels were nor does anyone else.”

Dr. Menuge:  “Like Ehrman, McCormick suggests that the resurrection appearances can be accounted for as bereavement hallucinations.  It is a fairly common phenomenon for seniors to think they see a spouse or other loved one again for a short time after they have died.  But there are multiple problems with the hallucination theory.  First, in First Corinthians 15:5-8, there are many appearances on different occasions, including large and different groups of people.  Even for one group of people, it is very unlikely they would all experience the same hallucination in all the same modalities (auditory and tactile as well as visual) at the very same time.  But it is even less likely that every member of several different groups on several different occasions would share that hallucination.”  p. 141

GaryStrawman Alert!

Are there really skeptics who make this claim???  I don’t think so.  I don’t know about McCormick, but I know for a fact as someone who follows Bart Ehrman’s blog, this is not his position.  It is absurd!  Anyone with any level of intelligence knows that multiple people cannot experience the same, exact hallucination, vision, or dream.  It is impossible.  Yet Christians frequently accuse skeptics of holding this position.  It is just preposterous.

Let me tell you what most skeptics, including Bart Ehrman, mean when they say that the disciples may have had “bereavement hallucinations or visions”.  It is a known fact that family members of someone who has died, especially when the death is unexpected, frequently experience vivid dreams/hallucinations in which they “see” their dead loved one, converse with their dead loved one, touch and are touched by their dead loved.  This can occur in persons of any age, they do not have to be elderly.  This experience is seen as a real experience.  It is not seen as a dream.  Skeptics believe that some or at least one of the disciples probably had this type of hallucination/vivid dream.

But what about the claims that Jesus appeared to groups of people?

Answer:  Most skeptics believe that the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are literary inventions.  They are not real.  They are not historical.  They never happened.  That this why the details in these four stories vary so much (the original Mark has ZERO appearance stories).

What about the appearance stories in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15 in which Jesus is alleged to have appeared to groups of people?  First, Christians ASSUME that these appearances are the appearances mentioned in the Gospels.  But the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels may be later literary inventions, written in the last decades of the first century.  Paul never mentions any of these details in his epistles and the Early Creed gives no details about the group appearances listed in this creed.  So it is entirely possible that the original appearance claims were not based on seeing a body, but on seeing the very same form thought to be Jesus that Paul saw on the Damascus Road, as recorded in Acts chapter 26:  a bright light!

If the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses, nor by the associates of eyewitnesses as the consensus of New Testament scholars, including NT Wright, tell us, then we have no proof that the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are historical.  They may very well be literary or theological inventions.  That leaves us with the appearance claims in the Early Creed, but this creed says nothing about what exactly the witnesses saw which made them think they had seen “the Christ”.  For all we know, they all saw bright lights on different occasions, sometimes individually, sometimes in groups, and thought they had seen Jesus.

Dr. Menuge:  “In addition, hallucinations are derived from the content of past experience and expectation.  But Paul had never previously seen Jesus before and did not expect to do so.”  p. 141

Gary:  Paul certainly knew about Jesus and the Jesus Story.  It was Paul’s job to hunt down Jesus’ followers!  Therefore he would have known their beliefs, the history of their movement, the history of their leader, etc..  Hallucinations are derived from any content present in the brain.  Therefore an hallucination about Jesus would have been entirely possible.  Any excuses to the contrary are not based on sound medical knowledge but on nervous, Christian wishful thinking.

Dr. Menuge:  “First century Jews, and especially Jesus’ skeptical brother James, certainly did not expect to see Jesus again.”  p. 141

Gary: Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  He said all this quite openly.”  Gospel of Mark, chapter 8

Now, if this passage is correct, that Jesus was very open about his prediction that he would rise from the dead after three days, then it is very likely that his family was aware of this shocking prophecy.  It is also probable, that if Jesus was the big deal that the Gospels make him out to be, that all of Palestine was aware of this shocking resurrection prophecy.  So unless the LCMS authors of this book want to deny that Jesus ever said the words in this Bible passage (which might get them in hot water with their denomination) they can’t say that first century Jews and Jesus’ brother James “certainly” had not heard the prediction that Jesus would rise from the dead three days after his death!  Maybe they didn’t but maybe they did.  Only by ripping out  passages from their Bibles can the authors of this book make such a statement.

Dr. Menuge:  In the case of bereavement hallucinations, people recognize the person for whom they are grieving.  But as C. S. Lewis pointed out , “any theory of hallucination breaks down on the fact …that on three separate occasions this hallucination was not recognized as Jesus. [Luke 24:13-21, John 20:15; John 21:4], giving further evidence that he was not expected.”  p. 142

Gary:  Dr. Menuge, you are reading the Gospel texts in a fundamentalist fashion.  These are Greco-Roman biographies.  Not every detail is meant to be interpreted literally.  It is very probable that the detailed appearance stories in the four Gospels are non-historical but literary inventions as the original Gospel, Mark, had no post-resurrection appearances, but with each new Gospel written, the appearance stories contain more and more detail until the Gospel of John in which Jesus appears to the disciples both in Jerusalem and in Galilee, and we have a scene in which one of the disciples is told to probe Jesus’ nail wounds!  So the stories of Jesus appearing in a form that is not immediately recognizable is most probably just a literary invention, Dr. Menuge.  Let’s all try not to be so fundamentalist in our reading of the Bible.

Dr. Menuge:   “But Jesus also did things like have conversations, breaking bread, and eating fish, that an hallucination cannot do…” p. 142

Gary:  Not true.  In the Greco-Roman world it was believed that spirits (hallucinations) could eat, drink, and even have sex…with a living being!  (See scholar Gregory Riley and “Resurrected Reconsidered” for details)

Dr. Menuge:  “…and he [Jesus] frequently invited the disciples to touch him.”

Gary:  It is true that people in the first century Greco-Roman world believed that spirits could (usually) not be touched (See Riley’s book listed above).  However, the question is:  Are the detailed appearances stories historical or are they later literary inventions?   Many scholars think they are later inventions.  The original Gospel had no post resurrection appearance stories and Paul never mentions these details in any of his epistles.  So the stories of Jesus telling his disciples to touch him could well be later inventions by proto-orthodox Christians attempting to prove that Jesus really had been bodily resurrected.

But then Dr. Menuge jumps back to the “Group Hallucination Strawman” claim and quotes a psychologist who states:  “I have surveyed the professional literature [peer reviewed journals and books] written by psychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevant healthcare professionals during the past two decades and have yet to find a single documented case of a group hallucination…”

Read my lips, Dr. Menuge:  SKEPTICS DO NOT CLAIM THAT GROUPS OF DISCIPLES HAD THE SAME EXACT HALLUCINATION!!!!  This is a Strawman Argument.

Next Menuge criticizes skeptic McCormick for questioning the memory of any eyewitnesses to the events surrounding Jesus’ death.  Menuge says, “ancient Mediterranean culture valued, hence emphasized, memory to a degree Western readers consider extraordinary.”  This is just one in a long list of claims that belong to this generalization:  “Unlike people today, first century Jews/people living around the Mediterranean would never believe or do X, Y, or Z.”  Here are a couple more claims that belong in this category of generalizations:

“First century Jews would never have moved a body on the Sabbath.”

“First century Jews would never have believed that an hallucination was a resurrection because they were living in a tactile culture.”

It is impossible for any one today to know for certain what people would or would not have done or believed two thousand years ago.

Dr. Menuge:  “McCormick also does not consider the fact that the modern scientific method itself depends on both testimony and memory.  Scientists rely on other scientists’ reports of their observations and experiments, and they are not always in a position to recreate them (consider a total eclipse, the return of a comet, or a laboratory experiment one lacks the equipment to repeat).  p. 143

Gary:  What???  The scientific method does NOT depend on testimony and memory.

—The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.—

Note that there is nothing in this definition about accepting someone’s research simply because they are a trustworthy person whose word you believe we should accept.  No, all truth claims, must undergo the same rigorous testing, regardless of who is making the claim of its veracity.  And unlike religion, there are no sacred beliefs.  All beliefs, even “laws” in science can be revised and even abandoned if new evidence can be presented that proves them false.

Dr. Menuge:  “…if McCormick goes too far in discrediting the ideas of testimony and memory, it would require him to lose confidence in the modern science that he thinks discredits a supernatural world view.  If we accept the reasonable view that memory and testimony can be trusted so long as there are sufficient checks and balances , we can trust modern science; but then we must also face the powerful evidence for the resurrection.”  p. 143

Gary:  Absolute nonsense.  If the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is as powerful as the evidence for modern science, every scientist on earth would believe it to have been an historical event.  But they do not.  Why don’t they?

“A conspiracy!” say Christians.

Baloney.  That answer shows the paranoia of many conservative Christians.  Christians need to accept the truth:  the evidence for the supernatural reanimation (resurrection) of the dead body of Jesus is very, very poor.  It is highly improbable.  There are many, much more probable naturalistic explanations for the development of this first century Christian belief.

 

 

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