Why did Apologist Michael Licona Become a Christian: Evidence or Emotions?

Image result for image of michael licona

I’m conducting a non-scientific experiment.  Let’s take a look at some of America’s most popular Christian apologists/evangelists and see what it was that caused them to become a Christian.  What was it that caused them to believe that a Jewish peasant who lived and died 2,000 years ago is the Creator God and that his bloody execution on a cross bought them eternal life in an unidentifiable location called heaven…if only they believe.   Did these paragons of Christian apologetics and evangelism intensely study the evidence for the claims of Christianity, reading both Christian and non-Christian perspectives, both the pro and the con arguments, before choosing to believe?   Or, did they believe based on other factors, such as their emotions?

As we saw in a previous post, people who have already decided to believe something and have a strong emotional attachment to that belief, are very reluctant to change that belief.  They will often seek out evidence which confirms their decision.  Evidence contradicting their belief, even if supported by a majority of experts, is either ignored or rejected.  It rarely changes their mind.  These believers simply dig in deeper when they feel their belief is under assault.  This process known as confirmation bias, and I suggest that most Christians believe what they believe not because of evidence, but because of their emotions!  They only use evidence to support their original emotion-based decision.  They do not look at the evidence from an impartial standpoint as they would for any other fantastical, extra-ordinary claim.

In short:  The idea that the Creator of the universe loves them; wants a personal relationship with them; and will be with them and comfort them through all of life’s ups and downs is just too good a promise to pass up.  They make a decision to believe with the heart. Their brain simply tags along, accepting whatever the heart says is true.

 

From the website of apologist Michael Licona:

Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1961, Mike became a Christian at the age of 10 and grew up in a Christian home. He attended Liberty University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance (Saxophone). During his undergraduate studies, he had a strong desire to know God, devoting himself to studying the Bible daily. He decided to learn Koine Greek in order to read the New Testament in its original language and later completed a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies.

Toward the end of his graduate work in 1985, Mike began to question the veracity of his faith and wondered if there was any evidence to support it. He decided not to go into Christian ministry at that time. Finding answers to his questions consumed him and he almost jettisoned his faith. He investigated the evidence for Christianity and a number of other major world religions. He also considered the arguments for atheism. His investigation solidified his belief that God exists and that he has actually revealed himself to mankind in Jesus Christ and that the Christian view provides the most plausible and unified theory of reality.

In July of 1997, Mike formed TruthQuest Ministries in order to give an official name to his growing ministry and to allow future donors to make tax-deductible gifts. In October 2001, the ministry was renamed “RisenJesus” in order to avoid confusion with other ministries named “TruthQuest” and more closely reflect its vision of equipping 100,000 Christians to share their faith using the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

[emphasis, Gary’s]

Gary:  I compliment Mr. Licona for investigating “the arguments for atheism”.   Before making major life decisions, we all should investigate all sides of the issue in question. But notice that Licona had already made up his mind to believe Christianity’s fantastical supernatural tales at the age of ten!  How can a ten year old make an informed decision regarding the alleged historicity of the reanimation of a first century corpse; a reanimated (“resurrected”) corpse who at this very moment allegedly rules the universe from a golden throne at the edge of the cosmos; a reanimated corpse with whom he can allegedly have a “personal relationship”?  And note:  Licona says he went looking for evidence to confirm his belief.  That is classic case of…confirmation bias.

confirmation biasthe tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.

53 thoughts on “Why did Apologist Michael Licona Become a Christian: Evidence or Emotions?

  1. Your “experiment” (as you call it) in your last few posts, is not at all asking the right question.

    People “become Christian” for lots of different reasons, and, for the vast majority of people, those reasons do involve emotions: Somebody prays, and they feel a “peace”. Somebody “cries out to an unknown God”, and they open their eyes, and see something that reminds them of a cross, and they “feel connected to something”..

    In other words, they have “subjective experiences”, that tell them that Jesus is real.

    And, most of them go their whole lives thinking “my experience was profoundly real, and therefore, Jesus must have really been raised from the dead”. In other words, for them, their experience is “proof” that Jesus was resurrected, and “proof” that there is a God, and blablabla…

    But, the real question is this: Was Jesus really resurrected?

    If he was, then those “subjective” experiences may very well be “objective” experiences: An experience of something that is real, and exists in it’s own right.

    Even if a person “comes to know Jesus” on purely an experiential level, and never even questions whether Jesus’ resurrection was an historic event, it still does not mean that the “knowing on an experiential level” is invalid: It may be entirely valid – because Jesus was really resurrected – and yet, they have no idea of even how to begin to answer the question of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection.

    Bottom Line: If a person claims to have experienced something – like, for example, falling from an airplane without a parachute, and surviving – the fact that the person experienced that, especially as an emotional event, does not negate the underlying reality of the thing. If there is evidence that the underlying reality – the historical event of the person falling from the airplane – really happened, then, it is what it is, emotions and all, even if it seems “unreal” to us that somebody should fall from an airplane without a chute and survive.

    So, just because someone “comes to know Jesus” on an emotional / experiential level, does not mean there is not an underlying reality to the thing. If Jesus were really resurrected, then, there is a God, and God does interact with humans, via the mind / brain / thoughts, and so on.

    Once again, then, the question gets down to: Was Jesus resurrected?

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    1. If Jesus were really resurrected, then, there is a God, and God does interact with humans, via the mind / brain / thoughts, and so on.

      Maybe. But even if Jesus was resurrected, that is not in and of itself evidence that this resurrected corpse lives inside the bodies of Christians; giving them secret (magical) wisdom and insight; while at the same time, ruling the cosmos from a golden throne on the edge of the universe (or from another dimension). The resurrection of Jesus, if it occurred, does not even prove that Jesus was the Creator. If it occurred, it could simply have been a miracle of Yahweh (or a generic Creator), raising from the dead a good man.

      A verified bodily resurrection of Jesus certainly helps the Christian argument, but it is no way is evidence that evangelical Christians possess a “personal relationship” with him. Even the majority of Christendom rejects this evangelical concept. Catholic Christians (RCC, EOC, Lutheran, Anglican) believe that God has a personal relationship with the Church, not with individuals. Catholic Christians believe that God does not speak to Christians individually but through the Bible and the Magisterium (the RCC) or the Bible alone (Lutheran).

      There are some Christian apologists who claim to have evaluated the evidence for Christianity and other world religions prior to becoming a Christian, such as Lee Strobel. I commend them for this. I believe that that is the proper process for evaluating any major universal truth claim. Believing first, and then hunting for evidence to confirm your belief is nothing more than confirmation bias. And I will bet that if I continue my “experiment” we will find that the overwhelming majority of Christians believed prior to evaluating the evidence.

      You and Lee Strobel are the exceptions, ft.

      What the OTF asks Christians to do is to evaluate the supernatural claims of their religion using the same method they use to evaluate the supernatural claims of other religions. Let’s try it. How would you evaluate the supernatural claims of Hinduism, ft?

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      1. I think it’s virtually guaranteed that your “experiment” (or, really, “study”) will indeed reveal that the vast majority of those that profess a belief in “Jesus, risen”, believed before they examined any kind of evidence at all for much of anything.

        Now, re this: “[Jesus’ resurrection] is not in and of itself evidence that this resurrected corpse lives inside the bodies of Christians; giving them secret (magical) wisdom and insight; while at the same time, ruling the cosmos from a golden throne on the edge of the universe (or from another dimension). The resurrection of Jesus, if it occurred, does not even prove that Jesus was the Creator. If it occurred, it could simply have been a miracle of Yahweh (or a generic Creator), raising from the dead a good man.”

        Resurrection is nothing at all like “raising from the dead a good man” (or, any other man, for that matter). Simply “raising from the dead” is resuscitation, not resurrection.

        If you don’t understand the nature of resurrection, then trying to discuss with you what it may or may not be evidence of is like trying to discuss whether my radio, receiving signals (that come out of my radio sounding like speech or music) is evidence of a radio station. There’s utterly no point in fooling with the discussion, since, you clearly have not acquired any frame of reference within which to have the discussion.

        So, if you are thinking that Jesus’ resurrection could have been God simply raising a man to life, then, you haven’t quite understood what the difference between the two concepts is. So, I’m not at all sure how to proceed…

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        1. I am fully aware of the orthodox/traditional/conservative Christian definition of “resurrection”: The once dead physical body is instantaneously revived to life (the original cells, tissues, etc. come back to life) but at the same time, this body is transformed into a supernatural body with supernatural capabilities, including eternal life. So it is the same body but it has been transformed from a natural human body to a supernatural human body.

          So with that definition, why is it impossible for a generic Creator to have resurrected Jesus from the dead simply because he was a good man?

          Romans 8:11 (NRSV)

          If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ[a] from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through[b] his Spirit that dwells in you.

          Gary: So even Paul used the term “raised from the dead” as synonymous with “resurrection” when referring to what (allegedly) happened to Jesus.

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      2. OH – in my previous post, I should have said something about “discussing with a primitive man about radio… (etc)…

        Just wanted to add that…

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    2. If Jesus were really resurrected, then, there is a God, and God does interact with humans, via the mind / brain / thoughts, and so on.

      This would seem to be a huge non-sequitur to me. Even if Jesus was resurrected, I see no reason to believe it was necessarily by God.

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      1. oh, well, you’re right… Jesus’ resurrection could have happened because of space aliens. Perhaps they have developed the technology to somehow “catch” a human spirit, then put that human spirit into some body they’ve constructed.

        Heck, maybe even YOU yourself have developed that kind of technology… Hmmmmm…..

        Are you keeping secrets from us? Come on… tell us about this secret lab you’ve got… 🙂

        (and yes, I’m attempting to being humorous here….)

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        1. Once again, it is within the realm of possibilities that the Creator God or some other divine being resurrected Jesus. How is that evidence that he is your “savior” and will give you eternal life in “heaven”?

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  2. I have asked a similar question and discovered the following concerning some.notable apologists

    Michael Bird converted before he began to study the Bible academically, when he was still a paratrooper. Craig Keener converted at 15. And I discuss William Ramsay’s testimony along with C. S. Lewis’s in “The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience” http://infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/experience.html

    Antony Flew is the only significant former defender of atheism on the list (as his academic publications questioning Christianity attest) but even after becoming a theist he didn’t become a Christian nor even a believer in a personal afterlife.

    For discussion of A. S. A. Jones’s testimony (Jones is a woman named Amy, and not a “he”), see this piece on “The Assymetry of Conversion” https://www.sites.google.com/site/leavingxtianity/home/asym

    Lee Strobel was a Christian for 16 years (including over 10 years as a minister in his church’s Sunday school) before he wrote, The Case for Christ, and in that book he only interviewed conservative Christians to build his case, not exactly the way investigative journalism works. Moreover, he converted not long after his wife, and after attending her church, and Strobel has never told us what he actually knew about Christianity, or had read about it, prior to converting, which was probably relatively little since he wasn’t even a religion reporter.

    Compare Strobel’s testimony to that of Robert M. Price who started out an enthusiastic Evangelical Christian defender of the faith who rushed to attend a conservative Christian seminary after high school (Gordon-Conwell), but also began to read widely in theology, and went on journeys to ask theological questions of a diverse array of Christian scholars in the Harvard/Boston area. Two of Price’s books that I recommend are
    1) Beyond Born Again, written after his questions with Evangelicalism had surfaced en masse, but before Price obtained his first Ph.D. in New Testament (in theology);
    2) The Case Against The Case for Christ (a response to arguments in Strobel’s book).

    Strobel’s testimony also pales in comparison to that of William Lobdell, ex-Christian and former national Religion Reporter for the L. A. Times. Lobdell was an enthusiastic dedicated Christian who strove to report on religion in a positive light instead of the negative way he saw others reporting on his faith, but after eight years of prayer, theological study, and in-depth reporting he reluctantly called it quits and wrote a book about his years of struggle, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace.

    And speaking of peace, Christians have admitted in their own magazines that depression remains a widespread problem among Evangelical ministers. Christians who suffer depression, including the apologist Michael Patton, (not to mention cases of Evangelical ministers and/or their children who have committed suicide) are mentioned here https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/08/christians-or-non-christians-who-suffer.html Depression is a problem that many triumphalistic churches don’t want to admit exists. Another thing Christians shy away from mentioning are cases of Christians who suffer from addictions to alcohol or drugs, or even die from them in the case of famed faith healer A. A. Allen. Furthermore, some people who left booze or drugs for Christianity can latter leave behind their Christian beliefs as well, and not go back to the booze or drugs. Here are some testimonies https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2014/10/on-recovering-from-alcoholism-drug.html

    And instead of individual testimonies consider that entire institutions of higher learning that were formerly bastions of conservative Christian teaching have moved in the direction of moderation, more inclusive views. Read about the histories of Harvard, Yale (founded by conservative ministers in reaction to Harvard’s widening spectrum of theological questions being raised, but now look at Yale), Princeton (former home of B. B. Warfield, defender of inerrancy), Fuller Theological Seminary, and others.

    The oft repeated mythical stories that warned about the dangers of higher education, which often include an enthusiastic young preacher who goes to seminary (“cemetery”) and comes back doubting everything are not so mythical. From the world famous evangelist Chuck Templeton (who preached with Billy Graham for many years) until going to Princeton to engage in Biblical Studies, to Robert Funk, the agnostic historical Jesus scholar who had been a fundamentalist in his youth, these myths are real, they are the stories of thousands of people who lost their zeal after engaging in biblical studies.

    As the top conservative New Testament textual scholar in America, Dan Wallace, said:

    “As remarkable as it may sound, most biblical scholars are not Christians. I don’t know the exact numbers, but my guess is that between 60% and 80% of the members of SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) do not believe that Jesus’ death paid for our sins, or that he was bodily raised from the dead.”

    Also from Dan Wallace:

    “In one of our annual two-day meetings about ten years ago, we got to discussing theological liberalism during lunch. Now before you think that this was a time for bashing liberals, you need to realize that most of the scholars on this committee were theologically liberal. And one of them casually mentioned that, as far as he was aware, 100% of all theological liberals came from an evangelical or fundamentalist background. I thought his numbers were a tad high since I had once met a liberal scholar who did not come from such a background. I’d give it 99%. Whether it’s 99%, 100%, or only 75%, the fact is that overwhelmingly, theological liberals do not start their academic study of the scriptures as theological liberals. They become liberal somewhere along the road.” [The quotations above are part of another leaver’s multi-part testimony on his blog, The Reluctant Skeptic]

    As for myself, I was a zealous born again Christian on my secular college campus, president of the most Evangelical group on campus. After leaving the fold I edited a book of a few dozen testimonies of former conservative Christians who either decided to enter more moderate or liberal pastures, or who became adherents of more inclusive religions, or who became agnostics or atheists. https://etb-former-fundamentalists.blogspot.com/2012/04/edward-t-babinski-if-it-wasnt-for.html

    See also

    Debunking Christianity – Women Speak Out http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/09/debunking-christianity-women-speak-out.html

    Debunking Christianity – Women Speak Out #2 http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/10/debunking-christianity-women-speak-out.html

    See also this list of 300 books on deconversions from Protestant Christianity most published in the last few decades, including books by former devoted missionaries and ministers https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3JQ7OLD5KDHWQ/ref=cm_sw_su_w

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  3. Gary –

    re: “The once dead physical body is instantaneously revived to life (the original cells, tissues, etc. come back to life) but at the same time, this body is transformed into a supernatural body with supernatural capabilities, including eternal life. So it is the same body but it has been transformed from a natural human body to a supernatural human body.

    So with that definition, why is it impossible for a generic Creator to have resurrected Jesus from the dead simply because he was a good man?”

    I can’t really work with that definition at all.

    The NT understanding of resurrection has nothing at all to do with a “dead physical body”, “instantaneously revived to life (the original cells, tissues, etc come back to life), but at the same time, this body is transformed into a supernatural body…(etc)”.

    One simply has to consider what happens at the “general resurrection”, to those that are still alive at the time, who will (according to Paul) “all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”. They clearly do not have dead cells that are suddenly brought back to life, they are not “reanimated”, and yet, they are “changed” into something that is “imperishable”.

    What you haven’t quite understood is that the “old body” is GONE. Jesus’ corpse wasn’t reanimated at all. It basically vanished. Old bodies – dead ones – generally “go away” (ie, cease to exist as bodies) as a result of decomposition. But, those that are still living at the time of resurrection? They don’t decompose, yet, they also “go away”.

    Resurrection doesn’t result in an “old body” – with it’s cells, tissues, etc – somehow being “reconstructed”. Not in the NT, at any rate. In the NT, the spirit is (essentially) “clothed” with an altogether new body. Resurrection is an act of Re-Creation, not an act of re-constitution.

    So, I just can’t even answer your question according to your definition, but, your definition is, in my view, entirely wrong…

    Not sure what to do here…

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    1. One simply has to consider what happens at the “general resurrection”, to those that are still alive at the time, who will (according to Paul) “all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”.

      According to orthodox Christian teaching, believed by all Trinitarian Christians, living people may be transformed at the Second Coming, but they are not “resurrected”. Only the dead are “resurrected”. I suggest you consult your local Trinitarian Christian pastor or priest on this issue. If you are arguing from a non-Trinitarian definition of “resurrection”, that is not a debate I care to participate in. I am using the standard Trinitarian definition of the term.

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      1. Gary, I’m not a Trinitarian… What concern is it of mine what Trinitarians teach?

        I’m talking about what Paul says about the resurrection.

        The body, as it now exists, ceases to exist. It is “changed”, or “transformed”. The word used for “changed” is “ἀπαλλάσσω”, which means “I free (a person) from (anything), oftener in the middle voice: I am released from, am rid of (a person or thing), depart” (Dodson), or “to set free, release, deliver” (LSJ).

        In other words, those that are living will be “set free” or “release from” the “corruptible”, and will “put on the incorruptible”.

        I used the word “vanish”, but that was probably a bad word choice. However, I also said the “old body goes away” (which may be a bit more accurate), and the spirit becomes “clothed” in a new body.

        That new body has nothing to do with the old and corruptible body (which is my very point, and which is quite supportable from Paul’s text).

        There is absolutely no purpose whatsoever in decomposed bodies having to be “reconstituted”. Not according to the NT view, at any rate. In fact, there is no reason at all to think that the body of the resurrected Jesus was a reconstituted corpse. That corpse had ceased to exist.

        Nobody knows exactly what happened in that tomb. For all we know, Jesus’ corpse, in that tomb, may well have simply gone “poof”, and vanishing like a person in a Star-Trek teleporter (again, for all we know — and this of course means that I do not know either, so I can only speculate).

        What we DO know, from what Paul says, is that the “corruptible” will be discarded, and the “incorruptible” will be “put on”.

        So, you can argue with Trinitarians all you want. But, I’m merely arguing from Paul’s standpoint (and I do not, for a moment, believe Paul was a Trinitarian).

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          1. I got no idea why you now think Jesus was a ghost.

            Being given a new, “incorruptible BODY” is hardly a description I’d apply to a ghost. Ghosts don’t have bodies.

            But, this all goes back to what I originally said: If you can’t understand what is meant by resurrection, then, there’s really no point in trying to discuss this with you.

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            1. True. If we don’t agree on the term “resurrection” it is going to be difficult to discuss if such a thing has ever happened.

              But again, even if a resurrection, as you define it, did happen 2,000 years ago how is that evidence that the person involved in this event, so long ago, is now alive and able to give you and other Christians “eternal life”?

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              1. Gary –

                re: “But again, even if a resurrection, as you define it, did happen 2,000 years ago how is that evidence that the person involved in this event, so long ago, is now alive and able to give you and other Christians “eternal life”?”

                It’s a “given” that everyone has an “eternal life”. What’s at question is the quality of that eternal life.

                Jesus’ resurrection isn’t evidence that Jesus can now “give” an eternal life, as if, before Jesus, and eternal life wasn’t avaliable. It already WAS available. The resurrection of Jesus is the “proof” that there is an eternal life. It takes the matter (of eternal life) out of the “theoretical”, and puts it into the realm of “knowable reality”.

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                1. Ok. But my point is, even if Jesus was resurrected, how is that evidence that he lives in your “soul” and that he will give you eternal life in heaven?

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                  1. Gary –

                    re: “Ok. But my point is, even if Jesus was resurrected, how is that evidence that he lives in your “soul” and that he will give you eternal life in heaven?”

                    First, can we agree in principle (meaning, I don’t expect you to agree “in fact”) that if God can somehow “momentarily” enter into our minds / brains / consciousness (or however it works) in order to, say, “speak” to us or “reveal” things to us (which is, of course, a very commonly-held notion), then, could it not be said that if God chose to come “permanently” into our minds / brains / consciousness (or however it works), that it could be said that “God dwells in us”?

                    Again – I’m not trying to trick you into agreeing that any of this stuff actually happens. No tricks here. BUT, if this business of God – a spirit – “entering our minds (or whatever)” to communicate with us is understandable to you as the commonly-held concept of “hearing from God”, then, would it be too much of a stretch to say that God’s coming, and staying in that “position” or “location” might be called, or understood as Him “dwelling” in us?

                    I’m just seeing if we can get this far…

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                    1. Gary –

                      I asked you, in all seriousness, this question: “can we agree in principle (meaning, I don’t expect you to agree “in fact”) that if God can somehow “momentarily” enter into our minds / brains / consciousness (or however it works) in order to, say, “speak” to us or “reveal” things to us (which is, of course, a very commonly-held notion), then, could it not be said that if God chose to come “permanently” into our minds / brains / consciousness (or however it works), that it could be said that “God dwells in us”?”

                      Your response was “anything is possible”.

                      I have absolutely no idea what that means.

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                    2. Yes. Yes, it is possible, allowing for all possibilities. But we really aren’t talking about what is possible, but what is probable. Even you said that it is possible that space aliens are responsible. So the real question is: Why is it probable that a man who lived and died 20 centuries ago lives inside your body and gives you life guidance?

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                    3. Gary –

                      We’re talking theology here, not history. “Probability” doesn’t enter into this equation.

                      The “space aliens” thing was in regards to an historic event – specifically, the resurrection.

                      So, do you want to talk about theology, or not? If you don’t, then I don’t know why you brought the question up in the first place…

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                    4. I’m talking about reality, the here and now, not theology and not history. I’m asking you how you know that an executed first century peasant lives inside your body at this very moment and gives you eternal life in heaven. That’s it. I’m asking you for evidence. The same kind of evidence that would be asked of you to confirm your claim that someone lives with you in your house (a roommate or a wife). You wouldn’t give a theological explanation for how you know that someone does or doesn’t live inside your house with you so you don’t need to give a theological explanation for how you know that an executed first century peasant or his spirit lives inside your body.

                      I’m asking for evidence, not theology.

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                    5. Gary –

                      re: “I’m asking you how you know that an executed first century peasant lives inside your body at this very moment and gives you eternal life in heaven. That’s it. I’m asking you for evidence. ”

                      And, I’m telling you I got no idea what you mean when you say “an executed first century peasant lives inside your body”.

                      Knowing you as I do, from our many previous conversations, my first guess is that you are asking how some physical being, who is a person in their own right, can somehow fit into my physical being.

                      That’s why I got to ask about theology, because YOU’RE talking about it. According to some odd understanding – “Gary theology” – it looks very much like you’re asking me about some other physical person living inside MY physical person.

                      If that’s not what you mean, then you’re gonna have to tell me what you do mean, and the answer will be “theological”, whether you like it or not.

                      But, if I can’t understand what you’re asking, then I can’t answer, can I?

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                    6. Gary –

                      re: “Do you believe that you have a personal relationship with Jesus and that his spirit resides within you?”

                      I believe I have a personal relationship with God, and the spirit of God “dwells” in me.

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    2. What you haven’t quite understood is that the “old body” is GONE. Jesus’ corpse wasn’t reanimated at all. It basically vanished. Old bodies – dead ones – generally “go away” (ie, cease to exist as bodies) as a result of decomposition. But, those that are still living at the time of resurrection? They don’t decompose, yet, they also “go away”. Resurrection doesn’t result in an “old body” – with it’s cells, tissues, etc – somehow being “reconstructed”. Not in the NT, at any rate. In the NT, the spirit is (essentially) “clothed” with an altogether new body. Resurrection is an act of Re-Creation, not an act of re-constitution.

      I don’t know of any Trinitarian Christian denomination which teaches that the original body vanishes. If you are aware of one, please provide a source.

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  4. Gary –

    re: “Do you believe that you have a personal relationship with Jesus and that his spirit resides within you?”

    I believe I have a personal relationship with God, and the spirit of God “dwells” in me.

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      1. Gary –

        I have a relationship with a girl from Germany. I’ve never met her in person. We just talk on the phone from time to time. I have no idea what possible “evidence” I could give you that I have such a relationship. But, I have it. And, it is quite irrelevant to me if you believe I have such a relationship or not. In fact, it’s not relevant to me that you even believe that girl exists or not.

        It’s basically the same kind of thing in regards to my relationship to God. What on earth do I need to provide you with any kind of evidence for? In fact, what do you even need any such evidence for? What’s that got to do with you?

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        1. If you have zero interest in other people believing that Yahweh is God and that they too can obtain eternal happiness in heaven by believing in him, then evidence be damned. But if you want rational, educated, modern people to believe in Yahweh as God; a God with whom they, like you, can enjoy a personal relationship, you need some evidence.

          Your relationship with the girl in Germany can be verified. It will take some effort and expense, but it can be done. First, we would interview you and have you tell us about yourself, about your girlfriend, and in particular, what you two have talked about on the phone. Then, we could obtain your calling history from your phone company and find out if you are truly calling someone in Germany, the phone number, and for how long you speak to someone at this number each time. Once we have the phone number in Germany, we can contact the German phone company and obtain the name and address of the person to whom that phone number is registered (We might need the assistance of a court order to do this, but, that is still within the realm of possibilities). We can then fly to Germany and interview this person. We can interview this person in person, confirm that they are a female, ask her if she communicates with anyone in the United States (or wherever you are), if she gives your name, ask her what you have talked about, to see if she confirms what you have said.

          Your relationship with a woman in Germany can be verified.

          Can you do anything remotely similar with your alleged personal relationship with Yahweh?

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          1. re: “But if you want rational, educated, modern people to believe in Yahweh as God; a God with whom they, like you, can enjoy a personal relationship, you need some evidence.”

            The only evidence of the existence of God which I offer to anyone is the resurrection of Jesus. That resurrection speaks volumes about the nature of God, and His extreme interest in humankind, and His desire for relationship to Man. If one comes to know that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected, then the very foundation for a real relationship to God is established, and it’s very establishment is done by, and through, a work of God. In other words, it would be something He initiated, in ever respect.

            A persons response to the resurrection – his/her acknowledgement of it – is a response to the God who initiated the transaction; hence, it is the formation of a relationship.

            At that point, it is entirely irrelevant whether you or anyone else is convinced of their relationship.

            It might be true that my relationship to the girl in Germany could somehow be verified. It is also entirely correct to say it is of no importance whatsoever to me if it is verified by anyone else.

            Now, I don’t know where you got the idea that I don’t think Jesus is God. What I think is that you are presently incapable of understanding what that even means, so, I just don’t bring it up. For my purposes, then, it is simply easier to say “I believe in God, I have a relationship to God, and I believe the spirit of God dwells in me”.

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  5. Did Jesus resurrect? I guess we’d be better asking an expert, like, say, one of his ministers here on Earth:

    “The resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality. It is important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus’ original earthly body.

    …Jesus’ early followers felt His presence after His death as strongly as if it were a physical presence and incorporated this sense of a resurrection experience into their gospel accounts.

    But (the gospels) are not historical records as we would expect history to be written today; they are symbolic images of the breaking through of the resurrection spirit into human lives.”
    Rev’d Dr John Shepherd, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ambassador to the Vatican (https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/We-must-challenge-belief-in-Jesus-physical-resurrection-Anglican-leader-claims-video)

    Seems to me that the reverend has got it just about right here, don’t you? Though I expect your resident amateur expert will know better…

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  6. Well, Neil – I notice you’re leaving out a few important things from the article:

    “But his suitability for the role has been questioned after video footage emerged of him appearing to question the traditional Christian understanding of Christ being raised from the death.”

    Director, Dr Lee Gatiss wrote on Twitter: ” We need clergy who actually believe that Jesus rose again from death – so basic!”

    Member of the Church of England’s governing body, Dr Ian Paul told the Sunday Telegraph: “Is this a good moment to appoint as the Archbishop’s envoy to Rome someone who doesn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus?”

    It would appear to me that there has certainly been some level of “push-back” on Shepherd’s views, and, with good reason.

    In other words, I’m hardly alone in my “bodily-resurrection-of-Jesus” stance. In fact, I’d say that the vast majority of Christians agree with me.

    But, thanks for throwing this in to the discussion. Maybe next you could go find a Muslim that believes Jesus wasn’t crucified, and throw that into the conversation.

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      1. Gary –

        re: “But why is Jesus’ bodily resurrection evidence that you and other Christians have a “personal relationship” with God the Creator?”

        I just explain that in my earlier post.

        When a transaction occurs between two people – ie, an invitation by one, a response by another – that is the establishment of a relationship.

        You keep on asking how the “bodily resurrection [is] evidence that [I] and other Christians have a personal relationship with God the Creator”, but, I think you’re asking the wrong question.

        The resurrection – the bodily resurrection of Jesus – is not just something that just happened to some “random guy”, as if by some kind of Divine Accident. “Whooppsss”, said God, “I didn’t mean for that to happen!”

        If God meant it to happen – which is to say, if God had a purpose for it happening, and, if God in fact were the instigator of the resurrection of a particular person, then one might be led to believe that the event means something in the bigger picture.

        The Christian understanding of the meaning of that event is that Jesus is the Messiah, and he is the “firstfruits” – the first to be resurrected, the first in a new creation, a “new heavens and new earth”.

        But – that’s “Jesus” – that particular individual. The fact that it was Jesus that was raised is to say that God chose Jesus to be raised, as the first resurrection (of many to come), and thus Jesus is the “herald” of the beginning of the new creation. Jesus. Personally.

        What I’m getting at is that it is NOT the “event” called “resurrection” that is evidence of anyone’s personal relationship with the Creator. You just made that up. I don’t know of anybody who actually believes that.

        What they (Christians) believe (and what I believe) is that Jesus – the person – was God’s actual intervention into this worlds system, and into this physical universe. The resurrection is the evidence that Jesus was “sent by God” – a messenger, a Messiah, “God With Us”.

        Thus, if Jesus was a messenger sent by God – God’s chosen Messiah – then Jesus – the person, Jesus – is “The Message” – the communication to Man made by God. And, if Man responds, then there has been a “transaction” – hence, a relationship is established.

        The problem is, you keep on asking questions that do nothing but show that you do not have any understanding of that which you question. You are like a scientist – a very poor one – who keeps on questioning how atoms can be made of molecules, when, in fact, no other scientists think that atoms are made of molecules…

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        1. What evidence do you have that the Creator God resurrected Jesus??? You haven’t given any evidence, only the assumptions and theology of Christians. I want to see the same type of evidence for this alleged historical claim that would be requested for any other historical claim. Just because Jesus’ followers say that they saw him alive again, with a supernatural body with supernatural powers, is not evidence that the Creator God had anything to do with it.

          Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, and others all have their own laws-of-physics defying historical claims. Was the Creator God behind these events? How would you know?

          Maybe the universe occasionally allows for an aberrant defiance of the laws of nature, and Jesus’ resurrection was just one of those rare events; Mohammad’s trip to outer space on a winged horse was another; and the Buddha’s ability to cause a water buffalo to speak in a human language for half an hour was another; etc., etc..

          You are ASSUMING that the Christian supernatural event was caused by the Creator God and assuming that this assumption proves that you have a personal relationship with the Creator, but you have given zero evidence for these claims.

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          1. I thought you didn’t want to discuss theology. Yeh, I’m pretty sure you said that.

            So, now, you want to discuss theology? Am I understanding this right? Because if I’m not, then, I’m surely not going to bother responding to your last post (beyond this response)

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              1. re: “You are ASSUMING that the Christian supernatural event was caused by the Creator God and assuming that this assumption proves that you have a personal relationship with the Creator, but you have given zero evidence for these claims.”

                Well, granted – the existence of a “Creator God” is an extraordinary claim, and, as I’m sure you’ve quoted, “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence”.

                So, the “Creator God” claim is extraordinary. But, let’s then consider this: “Maybe the universe occasionally allows for an aberrant defiance of the laws of nature, and Jesus’ resurrection was just one of those rare events”

                This idea that “Maybe the universe occasionally allows for an aberrant defiance of the laws of nature” must be an ORDINARY claim, requiring only ORDINARY evidence.

                Please show it to me.

                Take your time.

                Since it’s an “ordinary” claim, the “ordinary” evidence should be availible. Try googling it.

                Looking forward to getting this evidence. It may be that my Theist days are coming to an end. All you gotta do is just show me some evidence that that a resurrection has occurred before in history as an aberrant defiance of the laws of nature.

                Easy job… It’s ordinary.

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                1. This is typical Christian obfuscation. Ask a simple question; get complicated (contorted) answer.

                  You either have evidence that the creator of the universe was responsible for your religion’s primary supernatural claim, and not those of the other world religions, or you don’t. It is very simple.

                  You cannot answer the question because you don’t have an answer. Therefore you throw up smoke and mirrors in an attempt to change the subject. I’m really not interested in talking to you anymore, ft. It is a waste of time. You are not interested in truth. You are only interested in protecting your religious superstitions.

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                  1. Gary, the not-too-subtle point is that you, nor any other “naturalists” have any evidence whatsoever of your claims about the creation of, or existence of the universe.

                    Most people have figured out that one can either assume the existence of a supernatural reality from which this existence – our current existence – is derived, or, one can simply assume this existence as reality.

                    You see, Science, as a discipline, assumes this current existence as a reality. Science provides no “proofs” at all about whether this present reality is, in fact, “real” or not. This is why, even now, there are scientists engaged in research to discover whether we’re just avatars in someone else’s computer simulation.

                    Either way, though, you have to assume something. There’s no way around that.

                    I, like the vast majority of people on the planet, believe (or, “assume”, as you might want to say) that the universe does not exist “on it’s own”, but rather, it’s existence – and, indeed “existence itself” – is dependent on “a Creator” – something outside this universe that brought it into existence.

                    You? You “assume” that the universe invented itself, and you assume that things are “real” just because you assume they are.

                    It’s a dead end argument, Gary. You can’t just throw the word “assume” in a sentence, as if that therefore “proves” something. I can (and do) throw the same word in what I contend about the Naturalist approach.

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                    1. Science provides no “proofs” at all about whether this present reality is, in fact, “real” or not. This is why, even now, there are scientists engaged in research to discover whether we’re just avatars in someone else’s computer simulation.

                      Statements like this are the best evidence for the pathetic weakness of the Christian argument: Apologists desperately attempt to pull science down to an equal status with religion. Sorry! But the scientific method is a HIGHLY accurate method for evaluating universal truth claims, unlike religion, which can’t even agree on the identity of the creator!!!

                      I don’t assume anything about the origin of the universe. Since the experts have not come to a consensus on this issue, I remain non-committal on the origin of the universe. You on the other hand have rushed to a decision on this issue in order to force the evidence to be compatible with your emotion-based, superstitious, worldview.

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                    2. re: “I don’t assume anything about the origin of the universe.”

                      Good. Then, you have no reason whatsoever to deny the theist view OR some “future scientific view”, should it ever gain “consensus”. You can remain firmly in the middle. You might therefore want to start a new blog in which you argue against scientific claims, since, so far, there is no consensus.

                      I think science will prove to be a dead-end on this matter, so you’ll be able to argue ad-infinitum on the issue. Heck, as far as I can make out, the popular trend among scientists is that more and more of them are throwing in the towel and concluding we will probably never know how the universe got here.

                      Meanwhile, there is this issue of the resurrection of Jesus.

                      I still remain convinced that his resurrection – his being brought back to life in a body that had transcendent qualities – is more plausible than any naturalist explanation I’ve seen so far. And, that resurrection, in turn, strongly implies a “supernatural”.

                      Of course, you can argue “no, it doesn’t” (from your firm view of having no firm view). You can argue it was space aliens with a new technology that caused the resurrection.

                      I’d say that’s a great theory. Just show me some proof of it. Some evidence.

                      Otherwise, I think I’m just going to stick with the theistic option. It seems to explain a great deal more than “no view at all”.

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                    3. Ft: You can’t even give a concise summary of the evidence for this alleged resurrection. I challenge you: Give a summary statement on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, limited to 250 words or less, and let’s see just how good this evidence is. If you can’t summarize the evidence in 250 words or less then the evidence is weak.

                      I will copy and paste your summary and publish it as a post. My bet is that your “evidence” will be based on alleged eyewitness testimony. My goodness, DNA testing has demonstrated just how unreliable eyewitness testimony is for relatively common events like murders, let alone the sighting of a never heard of before or since “resurrected” body.

                      I don’t think you’ll do it because you realize just how very weak your evidence really is.

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                    4. Gary –

                      I’m not even going to bother with your “request”. You and I have had countless discussions on that very topic, post after post after post, over the last year or two.

                      I’d suggest you go back and read your own blog.

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                    5. Yes, if you go back and read my blog you will see that “ft” continuously refuses to give a concise summary of the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

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  7. This is strange – why the arbitrary figure of 250 words or less to summarise the evidence of the resurrection? What makes that figure the litmus test for a strong argument? Is there a summary like that to support atheism?

    I have found no where that says that a 250 words or less summary is necessary to make an argument strong. Where did you get that idea? (I could have missed it – point me in the right direction here.)

    I know that if anyone does an objective analysis of the evidence, they must admit that Christianity is true. If they deny this, it isn’t evidence that has determined their beliefs (or lack thereof).

    Here’s the thing: your own testimony is fraught with emotive reasons for rejecting the faith. Bart Erhman became a strong agnostic based on the problem of evil, not because of a lack of evidence for the veracity of the resurrection. This perplexes me, since various solutions have been suggested that would satisfy anyone who thinks through the issue. Plantinga’s free-will defence,for example, means that philosophers had to concede that it is not illogical to affirm God’s existence despite the existence of evil.

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    1. Here is my 250 word or less summary for my definition of “atheism”:

      Although there may be be evidence which can be interpreted as evidence for an intelligent creator, such as the existence of the inviolable laws of physics (the orderliness of the universe), it is this very evidence (the inviolable laws of physics) which rules out, with an extremely high degree of certainty, the miracle-producing deities of the world’s major religions, including the first century peasant, Jesus of Nazareth. Although a supernatural act may have created the universe, all available evidence suggests that since the creation, the laws of physics have never once been violated. This is why I am an atheist (non-believer) regarding all the gods of the world’s major religions.

      Now, Liam, how about you try giving a short, succinct summary of the evidence for the existence of your god, Lord Jesus the Christ, the eternal ruler of Heaven and Earth. You are not limited to 250 words, just don’t turn it into a doctoral thesis. Make it succinct. The 250 word limit is for “ft” who complains that he needs pages and pages of space to justify his belief in Lord Jesus.

      Important: I am not interested in your evidence for a generic creator god, only YOUR specific god, Lord Jesus the Christ.

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  8. Gary, I can give that – and will, since you asked so nicely.

    BUT – WHERE is the PROOF that you NEED to be able to make a 250 word or less statement about your beliefs in order for them to be true?

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  9. Also:

    IF Mike Licona had decided to believe that the earth was a sphere at the age of 10, and then he began to doubt that this was true a decade later, and so investigated the evidence for and against the earth being a sphere etc, and then saw that he had been correct to believe that the earth was a sphere, and continued to believe and even teach on the spherical nature of the earth – would you fault him for being correct when he was 10 and having that belief affirmed a decade later? Is that just confirmation bias?

    I think not.

    Why would the belief about Jesus be any different?

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