My Response to the Apologist’s Question: What Evidence Would Convince You that Jesus Was Bodily Resurrected from the Dead?

Christian apologists frequently ask skeptics:  What evidence would convince you that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead?  My response:  The same kind of evidence that would convince you that Mohammad flew to heaven on a winged horse.

They don’t like that response and usually give me a weak argument for why the two situations are not comparable, such as, “We know that Mohammad was a fraud” or something similar.  Of course, they would never consider the same argument against Jesus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

33 thoughts on “My Response to the Apologist’s Question: What Evidence Would Convince You that Jesus Was Bodily Resurrected from the Dead?

  1. I see now you’re figuring all Muslims to be “fundamentalists” as well, and accept Muhammad’s “Night Journey” as a literal journey…

    Interesting. Does your own fundamentalism basically color everything you see?

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    1. I guess you missed it but I asked you a question:

      I think it would be helpful to see how we both look at historical evidence. Let’s look at three historical claims, and let’s both give our level of confidence that each alleged event is a historical fact:

      1. Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.
      2. Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in the first century BCE.
      3. Jesus of Nazareth was bodily resurrected from the dead in the first century CE.

      Here are my answers:

      1. 99%
      2. 70%
      3. 0.005%

      And yours?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting. So you have dedicated your life to a belief system which is based upon an event which allegedly occurred in Antiquity, an alleged event about which you have only 70% confidence in its historicity.

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        2. I would have no hesitation dedicating my life to a belief system based on the belief that Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 because I am so confident (99%) that this event is an historical fact. But would I dedicate my life to a belief system based on the belief that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon? No way! I only have 70% confidence that this event actually happened! I only accept it as fact because the majority of experts (historians) believe it is an historical fact. I would never make a belief for which I have such a low confidence level the core, foundational belief of my life.

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          1. your question had to do with “historical evidence”, and that’s all.

            The (very basic) reason historians agree that Julius crossed the Rubicon has scant little to do with “historical evidence” (because there is scant little of it). It is generally accepted as fact by historians because we know that the XIII Legion (I think it was XIII, but I’d have to verify) was assigned to the province bordered (partly) by the Rubicon, and Julius was the head of it. So, to get to Rome (which we know happened), they were going to have to cross the Rubicon. Heck, I’m not even sure that historians know exactly where the Rubicon is/was. From my understanding, it was more like a creek.

            Same thing with the resurrection. According to historical evidence alone, I give it about the same rating as I give to Julius crossing the Rubicon.

            But, as you know (or, should know), reconstructing ancient history relies very heavily on probabilities.

            So, I was answering your question about evidence. But, that is not all that goes into the determination of whether something actually happened or not.

            I figured you’d know that. Looks like I was wrong. But I’m not the slightest bit surprised.

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            1. Here was my original question:

              I think it would be helpful to see how we both look at historical evidence. Let’s look at three historical claims, and let’s both give our level of confidence that each alleged event is a historical fact:

              Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.
              Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in the first century BCE.
              Jesus of Nazareth was bodily resurrected from the dead in the first century CE.

              Gary: You responded that your confidence in the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is 70%. Are you now revising your statement? If you are stating that your belief in the historicity of ancient claims is based on more than just historical evidence, please state what it is besides historical evidence that gives you this confidence. Faith??

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              1. I didn’t respond that my “confidence in the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is 70% – at all. I flat didn’t say anything about my “confidence in the historicity of the resurrection”. Not one thing. You’re twisting my words entirely.

                Your question began “I think it would be helpful to see how we both look at historical evidence. ”

                You were inquiring about “historical evidence”. Based on the given historical evidence, then what is the “level of confidence” that these three events are historical fact?

                And, that’s precisely what I responded to.

                But the “historicity” of an event is not ever entirely “evidence-based” — not when making determinations of the historicity of ancient events for which there may be scant evidence.

                So, either read your question, or read my answer, or do something besides twisting my words.

                Bottom line, though, is the same as the top line — I didn’t say a single word about my “confidence in the historicity of the resurrection” AT ALL. Didn’t mention it. Not once. I responded to your request that we “both give our level of confidence that each alleged event is a historical fact”, having first seen “..how we both look at historical evidence”.

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                1. Ok, let’s try this again: How confident are you that Jesus of Nazareth was bodily resurrected from the dead, giving a percentage between 0% confident and 100% confident. Then please breakdown by percentage what it is that causes you to be confident of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Here is an example:

                  Historical evidence: 70%
                  The opinions of theologians: 10%
                  The opinions of Christian New Testament scholars: 10%
                  Faith: 10%

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            2. By the way, I could care less if Caesar did or did not cross the Rubicon. Whatever happened is done and long past. The historicity of this event has no impact on me today.

              You, on the the other hand, view the historical evidence for the most important belief in your entire world view, the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, with the same confidence level as another alleged event from Antiquity (the Rubicon crossing), an event that the overwhelming majority of people living today could care less about whether or not it really occurred.

              Doesn’t that reveal a problem in logical thinking…or are you willing to admit that your belief in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is not entirely based on evidence…but on hope/wishing (faith).

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              1. I’m totally willing to admit that my belief in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is not entirely based on evidence. Absolutely willing to admit that. And, my confidence in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is 99%. (I leave off 1% primarily for statistical reasons…)

                As I’ve stated, as Ehrman and many others have stated in some form or fashion, history – in particular, ancient history – for which the actual evidence may be scant) – is determined on the basis of probability. No real historian looks at “nothing but the evidence” to determine whether this-or-that happened.

                And, neither do I. But, your original “request for a response” from me had to do with evidence.

                But, I, exactly like you, do not make the determination based on nothing but “evidence”. Neither do any real historians. If one were to make a determination about the resurrection based solely on evidence, the only real answer one could come up with is “I don’t know”.

                However, that’s not how ancient history works. So, I put the probability, hence the historicity of the resurrection at 99%. But, that’s not what you were wanting to know at first.

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                1. Ok, so what you meant with your original answer was that based on historical evidence alone, your confidence in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is 70%. Very good.

                  Now, would you kindly tell us what the other 29% (that added to 70%, makes you 99% confident of the historicity of this alleged event) consists of?

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                  1. re: “Now, would you kindly tell us what the other 29% (that added to 70%, makes you 99% confident of the historicity of this alleged event) consists of?”

                    Good question. And, to keep it really brief (and, incomplete, in fact) I’d start with this:

                    Going way back, to the 18th-century beginnings of “higher criticism”, it has always been historians that have shot down the theories put forth by other historians. Be it the swoon theory, the theft theory, the “moved body” theory, and so on, ultimately every theory has been taken to task by other historians such that there has never been anything resembling a “majority consensus” regarding “The Mystery of the Missing Body of Jesus”. For every theory that comes out, some other historian finds holes in it (and then probably produces a theory of his/her own, which is later shot down by somebody else).

                    Even Ehrmans theory of “no empty tomb, because most likely, the body was put in a trench grave or communal burial pit” is a redeux — It was proposed long ago by some German guy, and then, subsequently shot down by other historians. Ehrman’s view is a “modified” view, but I have a very high degree of confidence than in the annals of historical studies, it too will be shot down.

                    Heck, even you don’t agree with Ehrman any more than I do (albeit for different reasons).

                    In short, it is historians that debate and refute the probability of the theories of other historians. So, it’s utterly impossible to conclude that any of them have it right.

                    Of course, there are some very credible historians, equally “pedigreed” as guys like Ehrman, that conclude that Jesus was indeed resurrected. Of course, they are largely ignored by those who want only to read what supports their own views.

                    For me, then, in looking at “probabilities” (since that is really the only way we can reconstruct ancient history that has limited evidence), I believe the probability of Jesus’ resurrection is higher than that of all those other theories that other historians refute.

                    BUT – that’s just a “starting point”, as I said, and not the “complete answer”. The complete answer is too long, and I know you can’t handle long posts…

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                    1. When you say that “historians” have debated the reasons for the early Resurrection belief, don’t you really mean “Bible scholars”, the overwhelming majority of whom are Christians?

                      If we took a poll of every historian on the planet (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., etc.,) do you really believe that the majority of all historians would state that a literal bodily resurrection of a first century brain-dead corpse is the most probable explanation for the early Christian resurrection belief?

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                    2. re: “When you say that “historians” have debated the reasons for the early Resurrection belief, don’t you really mean “Bible scholars”, the overwhelming majority of whom are Christians?”

                      No. I mean “historians”.

                      re: “If we took a poll of every historian on the planet (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., etc.,) do you really believe that the majority of all historians would state that a literal bodily resurrection of a first century brain-dead corpse is the most probable explanation for the early Christian resurrection belief?”

                      No. And I have no idea whatsoever of why you’re even asking me that question. I most certainly never once posited that “every historian” or even “a majority of all historians” ever would state that Jesus’ resurrection is the most probable.

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                    3. Since the majority of historians from all over the world do not believe that the resurrection is a probable historical fact (as evidenced by the fact that no public university world history text book on the planet lists this event as even a “probable” historical event), doesn’t that STRONGLY indicate that the majority of historians believe that there are “holes” in the traditional Christian explanation for this event? Therefore, if you are discounting explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief based on the fact that “historians” can or have poked holes in that explanation, shouldN’T you also abandon belief in the Christian explanation???

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                    4. If that were true (that the majority of historians in the entire world believe in the probable historicity of the Resurrection), we should find the Resurrection listed in public university history texts as a (probable) historical fact right along with the (probable) historical fact that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon. But we don’t do we? In fact, I would bet that there is no public university world history text on the PLANET that states that the resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact, with the same probability of other alleged events in Antiquity, specifically Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon.

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                    5. re: “If that were true, we should find the Resurrection listed in public university history texts as a (probable) historical fact right along with the (probable) historical fact that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon. But we don’t do we? In fact, I would bet that there is no public university world history text on the PLANET that states that the resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact, with the same probability of other alleged events in Antiquity, specifically Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon.”

                      If what were true? Are you just responding to yourself now???

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                    6. If that were true (that the majority of historians in the entire world believe in the probable historicity of the Resurrection)

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                    7. re: ‘If that were true (that the majority of historians in the entire world believe in the probable historicity of the Resurrection)”

                      yeh, but as far as I can see, nobody in this thread has said such a thing…

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                    8. The fact that not one single public university history textbook on planet earth lists the resurrection of Jesus as an even probable historical event is evidence enough for me (and I would bet most educated people) that most historians do not view the resurrection as a probable historical event.

                      You are grasping at straws, ft. Why don’t you just admit it: You believe in the resurrection primarily because YOU WANT TO. It gives you a sense of security, comfort, peace, etc..

                      Do you evaluate the historicity of other historical claims based on how the possible reality of that claim makes you feel? I hope not.

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                    9. re: “The fact that not one single public university history textbook on planet earth lists the resurrection of Jesus as an even probable historical event is evidence enough for me (and I would bet most educated people) that most historians do not view the resurrection as a probable historical event.”

                      This fact means nothing except to reflect the fact that as a discipline, historians can not and do not consider supernatural events.

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                    10. Just a few comments earlier you said,

                      “In short, it is historians that debate and refute the probability of the theories of other historians. So, it’s utterly impossible to conclude that any of them have it right.”

                      So what you are saying is that the opinion of historians can be used to refute skeptics’ natural explanations for the first century Christian resurrection belief, but the Christian supernatural explanation for this belief cannot be refuted by historians because it is not their discipline/field of expertise???

                      How convenient.

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                    11. re: “So what you are saying is that the opinion of historians can be used to refute skeptics’ natural explanations for the first century Christian resurrection belief, but the Christian supernatural explanation for this belief cannot be refuted by historians because it is not their discipline/field of expertise???”

                      Nope, I’m not saying that. Didn’t say it, not saying it now.

                      Next question?

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                    12. re: “The fact that not one single public university history textbook on planet earth lists the resurrection of Jesus as an even probable historical event is evidence enough for me (and I would bet most educated people) that most historians do not view the resurrection as a probable historical event.”

                      This fact means nothing except to reflect the fact that as a discipline, historians can not and do not consider supernatural events.

                      However, your statement has nothing at all to do with anything I’ve said. So, it’s an interesting (although fallacious) viewpoint, but, not one I care to talk about.

                      Now, if you’d care to talk about what I said in response to your original question, then, yeh, that would be fine. But I’ve got no idea why you’re even bringing up this other notion. Besides, it’s a notion based entirely on a lack of understanding the limits of the discipline of historians… Why would I be interested in that at all?

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  2. Resurrection is the Achilles heel of belief. Visions of a soul leads to dreams of the eternal and an afterlife. The supernatural is a delusion. And, it seems Steven Hawkins has made it official, “There is no God.” GROG

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  3. I like your answer. Another possible answer is “I don’t know, but an all-knowing all-powerful god would already know what I would find convincing, better than I would. Yet, I’m still not convinced, so apparently this omnimax god doesn’t care about me enough to send me what I would need.”

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      1. I have to disagree with what Grog said. Salvation is by faith. Knowing Jesus was risen from the dead is not. But they’re two different things.

        If Jesus being raised from the dead was just a matter of “choosing to believe it’s true”, then there was no necessity whatsoever of Jesus having appeared to anyone at all. He could have just been crucified, buried someplace, and then, people could just start saying (with stars in their eyes) “I just believe he’s been resurrected from the dead”. But, this kind of belief is commonly known as “wishful thinking”.

        The historical fact that Jesus was resurrected is one thing; understanding that it is by this resurrection that we ourselves are recipients of salvation is a matter of faith.

        When it comes down to believing Jesus was resurrected, I don’t do wishful thinking. If the thing is true, it’s true whether I believe it or not. On the other hand, someone “just believing that it happened” can’t make it true, if it’s not.

        So, while I very much appreciate Grog’s position, the one thing I do not at all believe that God wanted us to “take on faith” was the resurrection of Jesus. That one is based in “fact”, in the view of those who first told the story.

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        1. All I said was: There is no evidence, and if there were, God would keep it from you because salvation is by faith, not from knowledge! GROG
          Let me put it this way, If a person has the right kind of faith in salvation (and they follow the rules) they will be saved (an afterlife) for eternity. A person doesn’t need knowledge to get into heaven, only faith is needed. And, if I might add, blind faith.
          Try to imagine that there is no heaven. Imagine this earth and this life on it is all there is. Make of it what you will, and if we are lucky, life can be more than we ever deserve. GROG

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