Atheist John Loftus, apologists Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, Discuss Christianity with Doubting Christian Leader, Marty Sampson

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Marty Sampson, songwriter, Christian worship leader

Atheist apologist, John Loftus, on his blog, Debunking Christianity:  

Marty Sampson, formerly of the worship team “Hillsong” is in the throes of doubt. I know one other person who became a blogger here at DC [Debunking Christianity], who eventually emerged from doubt as a Christian. Check his story out right here. So I don’t predict how Sampson’s journey will go. I wish him well on his journey. I know that belief is powerful and bolstered by a whole lot of very strong social ties that can be extremely hard to break away from, even if there are an overwhelming number of good solid reasons to walk away from it. So I won’t accept praise or blame for his final decision even though I’m in contact with him.

I was honored to join in a discussion with apologists Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, known as experts resurrection apologetics, at Marty’s request.

(Continues)

Click here to continue reading Loftus’ post.

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atheist apologist, John Loftus

Gary’s response:

Great job, John! Every Christian (and skeptic) should do what Marty Sampson is doing: Listen to and understand both sides of the Christian-skeptic debate regarding the truth claims of Christianity! Read the books of prominent Christian apologists and read the books of prominent skeptics. Here is my recommended reading list:

Christian authors:
–“The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
–“The Death of the Messiah” by Raymond Brown
–“Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh and Sean McDowell

Skeptic authors:
–“Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman
–“The Outsider Test for Faith” by John Loftus
–“Why I Believed, Reflections of a Former Missionary” by Kenneth W. Daniels

Last point: In my opinion, the most devastating evidence against the conservative Christian position is the fact that most scholars, including many scholars who believe in the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus, doubt the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Conservative Christian apologists try to convince their lay Christian reading public that this majority scholarly opinion is due to a bias against the supernatural; that this majority scholarly opinion is only held by liberal and atheist scholars. Not true!!! The overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic scholars, who very much believe in the supernatural, miracles, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, doubt the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. One only has to go to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to see this is the case. If the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses, no modern, educated person should believe non-eyewitness gossip, rumor, and legends that a three day brain-dead corpse came back to life, ate a broiled fish lunch with his former buddies, and forty days later levitated into outer space!

The fact that most scholars, including most Roman Catholic scholars, doubt the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is the knockout blow to conservative (Protestant) Christianity, since the final authority of conservative Protestants is the Bible, not the authority of Councils and popes.

Image result for image of the resurrection
The Resurrection of Jesus: Historical fact or an ancient legend?

 

 

 

End of post.

64 thoughts on “Atheist John Loftus, apologists Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, Discuss Christianity with Doubting Christian Leader, Marty Sampson

  1. re: “the most devastating evidence against the conservative Christian position is the fact that most scholars, including many scholars who believe in the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus, doubt the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels.”

    I’d agree – I also very, very much doubt the eyewitnesss/associate authorship of the Gospels. In fact, I doubt a whole LOT of things about the Gospels. They’re nice literature to have, and as far as “theology” goes, they have something to offer, but, they’re not “historical” writings, by any means.

    Yet, I remain convinced that Jesus was bodily resurrected. Despite the Gospels, actually.

    So – my question: Are you opposed to (basically) only “conservative Christianity”?

    If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t have the slightest opposition to the fact that I (along with many others) are convinced that Jesus was bodily resurrected.

    OR – are you opposed to that, as well?

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    1. I am opposed to ALL superstitions, however, I believe that our (non-supernaturalists’) first goal should be to debunk fundamentalist (religious) superstitions. If one’s superstition does not include the belief that non-believers are evil and deserving of punishment, I am less interested in spending my time convincing you of your error.

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  2. I think Loftus raises a number of important questions regarding, in particular, the “Trinity” doctrine – questions which, in some cases, are representative of the very reasons I don’t buy into the Trinity doctrine myself.

    But, one thing Loftus does – to his discredit (IMHO) – is assert “special pleading” a bit inappropriatedly.

    The reason i say this is because this is Loftus’ article, it’s his questions, and, it’s in regards to “supernatural stuff” – his topic, presented on his blog.

    If he is to raise the topic, pose the questions, etc, then he must allow for at least a certain level of indistinctness in responses, because, none of us live in the “supernatural”, and thus, many assumptions, presumptions, estimates, wild-ass guesses, and even answers of “I’m not sure how that works” must be allowed for – without then turning around and accusing “special pleading”.

    His use of the “special pleading” accusation is, in this situation, very akin to the circular reasoning used by many Christians who might say “I believe the bible is the word of God because it says it is”. In other words, while the “particulars” of my two examples are quite different, they both equally represent something of a “stacked deck” or “loaded dice” type of reasoning.

    Other than this one complaint, I’d say it’s a good article – one that Christians should read (because, God knows, Christians aren’t likely to either hear about in a Sunday morning sermon, or have honest discussion about in a typical Wednesday night bible study.

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    1. Even conservative Christians will admit that, at most, only two of the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses: Matthew and John. Here is what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has to say about the authorship of these two Gospels:

      The Gospel According to Matthew:

      The questions of authorship, sources, and the time of composition of this gospel have received many answers, none of which can claim more than a greater or lesser degree of probability. The one now favored by the majority of scholars is the following.

      The ancient tradition that the author was the disciple and apostle of Jesus named Matthew (see Mt 10:3) is untenable because the gospel is based, in large part, on the Gospel according to Mark (almost all the verses of that gospel have been utilized in this), and it is hardly likely that a companion of Jesus would have followed so extensively an account that came from one who admittedly never had such an association rather than rely on his own memories. The attribution of the gospel to the disciple Matthew may have been due to his having been responsible for some of the traditions found in it, but that is far from certain.

      The unknown author, whom we shall continue to call Matthew for the sake of convenience, drew not only upon the Gospel according to Mark but upon a large body of material (principally, sayings of Jesus) not found in Mark that corresponds, sometimes exactly, to material found also in the Gospel according to Luke. This material, called “Q” (probably from the first letter of the German word Quelle, meaning “source”), represents traditions, written and oral, used by both Matthew and Luke. Mark and Q are sources common to the two other synoptic gospels; hence the name the “Two-Source Theory” given to this explanation of the relation among the synoptics.

      In addition to what Matthew drew from Mark and Q, his gospel contains material that is found only there. This is often designated “M,” written or oral tradition that was available to the author. Since Mark was written shortly before or shortly after A.D. 70 (see Introduction to Mark), Matthew was composed certainly after that date, which marks the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans at the time of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66–70), and probably at least a decade later since Matthew’s use of Mark presupposes a wide diffusion of that gospel. The post-A.D. 70 date is confirmed within the text by Mt 22:7, which refers to the destruction of Jerusalem.

      Source: http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Matthew&ch=

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      1. Statement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the authorship of the Gospel of John:

        The Gospel According to John:

        Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person. Jn 21 seems to have been added after the gospel was completed; it exhibits a Greek style somewhat different from that of the rest of the work. The prologue (Jn 1:1–18) apparently contains an independent hymn, subsequently adapted to serve as a preface to the gospel. Within the gospel itself there are also some inconsistencies, e.g., there are two endings of Jesus’ discourse in the upper room (Jn 14:31; 18:1). To solve these problems, scholars have proposed various rearrangements that would produce a smoother order. However, most have come to the conclusion that the inconsistencies were probably produced by subsequent editing in which homogeneous materials were added to a shorter original.

        Other difficulties for any theory of eyewitness authorship of the gospel in its present form are presented by its highly developed theology and by certain elements of its literary style. For instance, some of the wondrous deeds of Jesus have been worked into highly effective dramatic scenes (Jn 9); there has been a careful attempt to have these followed by discourses that explain them (Jn 5; 6); and the sayings of Jesus have been woven into long discourses of a quasi-poetic form resembling the speeches of personified Wisdom in the Old Testament.

        The gospel contains many details about Jesus not found in the synoptic gospels, e.g., that Jesus engaged in a baptizing ministry (Jn 3:22) before he changed to one of preaching and signs; that Jesus’ public ministry lasted for several years (see note on Jn 2:13); that he traveled to Jerusalem for various festivals and met serious opposition long before his death (Jn 2:14–25; 5; 7–8); and that he was put to death on the day before Passover (Jn 18:28). These events are not always in chronological order because of the development and editing that took place. However, the accuracy of much of the detail of the fourth gospel constitutes a strong argument that the Johannine tradition rests upon the testimony of an eyewitness. Although tradition identified this person as John, the son of Zebedee, most modern scholars find that the evidence does not support this.

        Source: http://www.usccb.org/bible/john/0

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      2. And what about the two Gospels allegedly written by “close associates of eyewitness”, the Gospels of Mark and Luke? Most scholars agree that the first gospel written was the Gospel of Mark. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees with this scholarly consensus. But what about authorship? Does the Roman Catholic Church claim (as do conservative Protestants and evangelicals) that John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark? Answer: No. To Catholic Bible scholars, the idea that John Mark was the author of the first gospel is merely (another) Catholic tradition!

        The Gospel According to Mark:

        Although the book is anonymous, apart from the ancient heading “According to Mark” in manuscripts, it has traditionally been assigned to John Mark, in whose mother’s house (at Jerusalem) Christians assembled (Acts 12:12). This Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10) and accompanied Barnabas and Paul on a missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:3; 15:36–39). He appears in Pauline letters (2 Tm 4:11; Phlm 24) and with Peter (1 Pt 5:13). Papias (ca. A.D. 135) described Mark as Peter’s “interpreter,” a view found in other patristic writers. Petrine influence should not, however, be exaggerated. The evangelist has put together various oral and possibly written sources—miracle stories, parables, sayings, stories of controversies, and the passion—so as to speak of the crucified Messiah for Mark’s own day.

        Traditionally, the gospel is said to have been written shortly before A.D. 70 in Rome, at a time of impending persecution and when destruction loomed over Jerusalem. Its audience seems to have been Gentile, unfamiliar with Jewish customs (hence Mk 7:3–4, 11). The book aimed to equip such Christians to stand faithful in the face of persecution (Mk 13:9–13), while going on with the proclamation of the gospel begun in Galilee (Mk 13:10; 14:9). Modern research often proposes as the author an unknown Hellenistic Jewish Christian, possibly in Syria, and perhaps shortly after the year 70.

        Source: http://www.usccb.org/bible/mark/0

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      3. The author of the Gospel of Luke states in the opening passage of his Gospel that he believes that he has received eyewitness information about Jesus. However, conservative Christians should note, the author of Luke never states that he received this (alleged) eyewitness information directly from eyewitnesses. The author never once mentions his sources. So he may very well have sincerely believed that his information regarding Jesus was historically accurate, but if he cannot provide us with the names of his sources, we are left with information that has very possibly been passed down through multiple re-tellings of the story, by mutiple people, over who knows what period of time before it finally got to the author himself. Hardly “eyewitness testimony” that would be allowed in a modern court of law! Here is the statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the Gospel of Luke:

        The Gospel According to Luke:

        Early Christian tradition, from the late second century on, identifies the author of this gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles as Luke, a Syrian from Antioch, who is mentioned in the New Testament in Col 4:14, Phlm 24 and 2 Tm 4:11. The prologue of the gospel makes it clear that Luke is not part of the first generation of Christian disciples but is himself dependent upon the traditions he received from those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (Lk 1:2). His two-volume work marks him as someone who was highly literate both in the Old Testament traditions according to the Greek versions and in Hellenistic Greek writings.

        Among the likely sources for the composition of this gospel (Lk 1:3) were the Gospel of Mark, a written collection of sayings of Jesus known also to the author of the Gospel of Matthew (Q; see Introduction to Matthew), and other special traditions that were used by Luke alone among the gospel writers. Some hold that Luke used Mark only as a complementary source for rounding out the material he took from other traditions. Because of its dependence on the Gospel of Mark and because details in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 13:35a; 19:43–44; 21:20; 23:28–31) imply that the author was acquainted with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, the Gospel of Luke is dated by most scholars after that date; many propose A.D. 80–90 as the time of composition.

        Luke’s consistent substitution of Greek names for the Aramaic or Hebrew names occurring in his sources (e.g., Lk 23:33; Mk 15:22; Lk 18:41; Mk 10:51), his omission from the gospel of specifically Jewish Christian concerns found in his sources (e.g., Mk 7:1–23), his interest in Gentile Christians (Lk 2:30–32; 3:6, 38; 4:16–30; 13:28–30; 14:15–24; 17:11–19; 24:47–48), and his incomplete knowledge of Palestinian geography, customs, and practices are among the characteristics of this gospel that suggest that Luke was a non-Palestinian writing to a non-Palestinian audience that was largely made up of Gentile Christians.

        Source: http://www.usccb.org/bible/luke/0

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      4. Even conservative Christians will admit that, at most, only two of the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses: Matthew and John.

        Perhaps instead of “Conservative Christians” — which typically consists of Fundamentalists or ideological radicals — a more accurate label would be Moderate Christians? I have always found Moderate Christians to have more quality ‘faith’ in their God’s omnipotence, omniscience, etc, etc, on all those omnis because they believe in the end God will separate the chaff Xians from the wheat Xians rather than human Christians here on Satan’s planet filled with anger, arrogance, and impeccable self-perceived perfection. 😉 🤭

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        1. You are right,Taboo, but moderate Christians are a slippery bunch. They hold to all the central superstitions of Christianity but snicker at the fundamentalists on issues which science has overwhelmingly disproven, like Creationism and the Flood.

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          1. Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more Gary. Their postures — even the religious hardliners too; pick any of the religious “elites” in the world, they’re all the same — and their mimicking of inerrancy and unequivocal black-n-white “certainty” or precision are more confusing, more contradictory, more embarrassing for the theories of “Faith” as they are for orthodoxy, if orthodoxy is even possible within a group/institution of more than 10 members! 😉 😄

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  3. since Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Herodotus, and numerous other historians were not eye-witnesses to historical events, but remain our sources for many historical events, how the Gospels being written by historians who were not eye-witnesses suddenly means we have to doubt the historicity of what they claim, doesn’t make sense. Anyone making that claim doesn’t know how ancient history works.

    The works attributed to Tacitus are all in fact anonymous works, with a tradition that attributes authorship to Tacitus. The same with the works of Plutarch. This is like the gospels, though the Gospels and NT have a stronger tradition. NT Wright, Raymond Brown etc don’t make that connection – but it’s there. And NT Wright still regard the Gospels as historically reliable, even if the Gospels are anonymous.

    So cling to this bad reason to dismiss the physical resurrection, but you have to special plead away facts and evidence to cling to your stance.

    Succinct overview: https://www.risenjesus.com/review-of-bart-ehrmans-book-forged-writing-in-the-name-of-god

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    1. Liam, please present ONE historical claim made by Plutarch or Tacitus which is not corroborated by other independent sources which historians accept as historical fact.

      If Plutarch had made the claim that Caesar levitated into the clouds in front of a large crowd, what historian would accept this claim? None. The same standard must be applied to the Gospels. If outside sources corroborate a claim made in the Gospels then we should take that claim seriously.

      Conservative Christians will claim that the four Gospels corroborate the stories about Jesus. But the problem with the Gospels is that we cannot be sure that they are independent. Most scholars believe that Luke and Matthew borrowed from Mark and at least 50% of scholars believe that the author of John had heard or had access to the three Synoptic Gospels.

      Give us some corroborating sources for the stories about Jesus’ and we will take your position more seriously, Liam. The problem is we do not have such corroborating sources for ANY deed of Jesus other than his crucifixion, his burial, and the claim that some of his followers believed that he had appeared (in some unspecified fashion) to them after his death.

      That’s it. That is POOR evidence by any standard!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. YES! THERE IT IS, FOLK! HE’S FINALLY DONE IT! THE THING HE’S BEEN DYING TO DO EVER SINCE HE STARTED COMING TO GARY’S BLOG – HE’S POSTED A LINK TO HIS OWN WEBSITE!!!!

          Ah, the immense satisfaction you must now feel, Baboo – you get to draw some more attention to YOU!

          chuckle

          I’ve been wondering why it’s taken so long for you to get around to doing this…..

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          1. (yawn) 😴

            Ft, I thought we had a gentleman’s agreement to ignore each other so as NOT to waste Gary’s comment-space and his reader’s time? Why do keep breaking your promises and undermining ANY remaining integrity you struggle with? Why continue with your childish school-yard behavior?

            Just move along. Chit-chat with others, Gary, whomever, but we are done. We both agreed on that many weeks ago. 🙄

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  4. My Big Question:

    I’m guessing (and, it’s only a guess) that probably most people writing in this thread – including myself – agree, along with many Christian scholars (and certainly, along with many “secular” scholars) that the Gospels were not written by eye-witnesses, and very likely not even by companions of eye-witnesses.

    The question: So what?

    We can say the Gospels were written by non-Palestinian Gentiles that had never even heard an eye-witness speak of Jesus, much less having known an eye-witness personally. We can say the Gospels were all written from varieties of sources, including (perhaps even to a large degree) the writers own imagination. In fact, we could even say that none of the Gospels were written before the beginning of the second century, if we’re so inclined.

    But what has any of that got to do with whether Jesus were resurrected or not?

    Nothing. Not one bit of relevance whatsoever.

    I would suggest that it could (and should be) openly taught (among Christians) that the Gospels have been retained ONLY because they are the oldest writings we have that contain “biographical” information about Jesus (some of which may be true, some which may not be) – aside, of course, from Paul’s authentic letters (which contain scant “biographical” info about Jesus).

    And, I would suggest that this could be the widely-taught view of the Gospels – and – it wouldn’t change a thing about whether someone believed that Jesus had been bodily resurrected. That story clearly pre-dates the Gospels, and had been in circulation (according to the majority of scholars) since shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. The “facthood” of Jesus’ bodily resurrection (whether it occurred or not) has exactly ZERO dependencies on the Gospels. You can no more “prove” that Jesus was bodily resurrected by using the Gospels, as you can prove that he wasn’t bodily resurrected, by using the Gospels.

    So, the Gospels weren’t written by eye-witnesses, or even companions of eye-witnesses?

    So what?

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    1. If the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts then Christians have no good evidence that anyone in the first century claimed to have seen a walking, talking, fish-eating, into-the-clouds-levitating, resurrected body. Yes, people may have sincerely believed that Jesus had “appearred” to them—in some fashion—but thousands of people down through history have claimed to have received appearances from dead people. Grieving people claiming to have received an appearance by a dead loved one is NOT good evidence, folks!

      The non-eyewitness/non-associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is the death blow to conservative Protestant Christianity. “Faith” (wishful thinking) may have been respectable in the first century but wishful thinking alone is not respectable in the modern, educated West. Educated people today demand evidence for extra-ordinary claims. Without good historical evidence, conservative Christianity’s belief in Jesus the King of Heaven and Earth is doomed to the dustbin of history, right alongside Zeus and Jupiter.

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  5. re: “If the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts then Christians have no good evidence that anyone in the first century claimed to have seen a walking, talking, fish-eating, into-the-clouds-levitating, resurrected body. Yes, people may have sincerely believed that Jesus had “appearred” to him—in some fashion—but thousands of people down through history have claimed to have received appearances of dead people. Grieving people claiming to have received an appearance by a dead loved one is NOT good evidence.”

    Neither you nor I have any idea of what did, or did not “appear” to anyone in the first century. But, that is entirely beside the point.

    The POINT is that the very earliest believers – ie, Peter, John, James, Paul, (and who knows who else) – claimed Jesus to have been resurrected, and that he was Messiah. Clearly, those claims themselves have no dependencies whatsoever on the Gospels (which weren’t written until much, much later).

    Whether Peter, John, James, Paul (or whomever) saw Jesus eat fish is utterly irrelevant. It is equally irrelevant whether any of them saw “Jesus, levitated”. The only thing that is relevant is whether they saw a “resurrected Jesus”, in corporeal form that could be declared as Messiah.

    Now, was Jesus actually resurrected as such? I am convinced He was, but, not on the basis of stuff written 50 or more years after the fact (although, I think Liam has a good point – there are many historians that are regarded as authoritative, yet, did not witness the events they write about).

    re: “The non-eyewitness/non-associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is the death blow to conservative Protestant Christianity. “Faith” (wishful thinking) may have been respectable in the first century but wishful thinking alone is not respectable in the modern, educated West.

    If the non-eyewitness/non-associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is a “death blow to conservative Protestant Christianity”, then perhaps it needs to die. But, clearly, the Very Early Church (ie, pre-Gospel church) had no dependency at all on whatever the Gospels had to say – because – well – they hadn’t even been written at the time. And yet we know, as historical fact, that the story of Jesus the Resurrected Messiah was being told by that pre-Gospel church. Was that story true? That’s a different debate than what we’re having at the moment. At the moment, the relevant thing is that long before the Gospels were written, the story of Jesus, the Messiah, Resurrected, was clearly being told, and that has no dependencies on the Gospels whatsoever.

    re: Educated people today demand evidence for extra-ordinary claims. Without good historical evidence, conservative Christianity’s belief in Jesus the King of heaven and earth is doomed to the dustbin of history, right alongside Zeus and Jupiter”.

    I’d agree. But, I’d also note that time and time again, you reject evidence on the basis of whether or not it is “empirical”, when it suits you, rather than accepting as evidence the kinds of evidences that historians accept. You’ll be the FIRST to quote the mantra “no evidence, no evidence” – meaning “no empirical evidence, no empirical evidence” – yet, historians, like courts of law, accept testimonies as evidence (yet, it isn’t empirical). You’re an educated guy (so you claim), and yet, you have repeatedly failed to develop any consistency whatsoever in your criteria of evidence. If you were consistent in your insistence that only empirical evidence were allowable, then, you would have to conclude that Julius never crossed the Rubicon. But, you are not consistent. And, that is why I find you, and so many other skeptics, as having entirely unreliable judgement.

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    1. “The only thing that is relevant is whether they saw a “resurrected Jesus”, in corporeal form that could be declared as Messiah.”

      Yea? Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…except the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth. You have an obvious bias to believe this one “dead person sighting”. Why?

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      1. re: “Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…”

        EXACTLY. And NOW you’re getting it. Finally.

        re: “…except the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth.”

        And, dang it, you hit it right one the nose. That one. For some reason, that one was taken seriously.

        Jesus gets crucified, and sometime between 1 to 3 years, this story comes up: “Jesus was crucified, buried, rose again on the third day, was seen by Peter, then by The Twelve. and so on…”

        So, the idea is to explain why – out of all the thousands that had claimed they saw a dead person – was this story taken seriously?

        Peter was certainly available to explain what he meant

        Q: So, Jesus got crucified. He’s dead. And yet, you claim to have seen him.
        P: Right.
        Q: OK, so…. ummm… explain what you mean by “seeing him”.
        P: Well, I was sitting there, and.. he appeared to me.
        Q: AH!!! He appeared to you. Describe that.
        P: Well, you see… There were these bright lights. And, they were strange. And, I had been praying, and asking for a sign. And, then.. those bright lights. I don’t know what they were. But, I believe it was Jesus, and he was present with me.
        Q: Okee Dokee. Next…

        I could think of a billion imaginary conversations – (and, little did you know, I’m a playwright) – but, I’ve really tried hard to figure out how to write this conversation in a scene, where the end result is that “Q” (the questioner) sees anything credible about Peter’s story – UNLESS Peter claimed something beyond, and more substantive, than simply “seeing” Jesus.

        What I come up with is always a scenario in which “Q” might say “well, if you want to believe you saw Jesus alive, then, it’s fine with me, but, it’s a little crazy… But, no harm done”.

        I mean, you well know the Jews weren’t real “sticklers” about the afterlife, or even if you had an afterlife. If you wanted to believe you’d be reincarnated, that was fine. If you wanted to believe your dog went to heaven, that was fine. If you wanted to believe somebody else “rose from the dead”, that was fine. (and, it’s not as if that, or even stranger things, hadn’t been reported in OT scriptures). And, heck, if you wanted to believe in no afterlife at all, that too was fine. So, Peter (et al) claiming to have seen Jesus after he died? No big deal. Maybe somebody else might believe you, maybe not, but, it flat wouldn’t matter. People could believe what they wanted about the afterlife. So if it were just a matter of Peter having had some “experience” which he interpreted as a visitation from a dead Jesus, then, fine. That’s no big deal. Again, no harm done.

        But, the “no harm” scenario is not what happened. Why? Because Peter (et al) didn’t just claim to have “seen Jesus”, and leave it at that. Nope. They claimed he was Messiah. And that was going to cause some serious problems on a lot of levels – and not just “religious belief” levels.

        The first level it was problematic on was that saying “Jesus is Messiah” is to say he was literally alive – after death. And this was seen as lying to people, being deceptive. It’s like “sure Peter, you can believe you saw Jesus, and that’s fine, but when you go saying he’s Messiah then you’re saying, as a matter of ‘fact’, that you know he’s alive”. And that, of course, was taking things to a whole new level. That was beyond “bright lights on the wall” or “sensing a presence in my room”, or any other such thing. This was not a claim of “I believe he’s alive”, but rather, one of “I know he’s alive”. And it was that claim that was objectionable. After all – everybody knows – Dead People Stay Dead. So, it must be a lie that Peter was telling. Nobody could claim that Peter was lying if he just said “I truly believe I saw Jesus after he was crucified”. But to claim Jesus as Messiah was to make the claim he was literally alive, and that MUST be a lie. And, that was the problem. That’s why Paul was out persecuting the church – they were deceiving people.

        Paul wrote in 2 Cor: “… in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live…”

        Paul says right there that “believers” were “regarded as deceivers”. It is no deceit whatsoever for a person to say “I really believe I saw my dearly-beloved, deceased grandma last night”. It is a great deceit to tell Grandpa “I know Grandma is still alive, and living in Barbados under an assumed name” (unless, of course, it is true).

        So, yes, I’d agree that you are EXACTLY right in saying “Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…”

        Except, of course, in this Strange Case of Jesus of Nazareth.

        And – that’s what historians try to explain: How to account for this instance being taken seriously, when no other instances have been?

        Of course, what most historians do is claim “bright lights on the wall”, or “hallucinations”, or “mistaken identities” – but all they’re doing is proposing scenarios that have NOT been taken seriously throughout the ages in thousands of other cases. I mean, those very explanations themselves are the very REASONS that all the thousands of other such claims have NOT been taken seriously – because, dang, people claiming to have seen dead people is either blown off (because, it’s “just hallucination”, or “just imagination”, or “just wishful thinking”, or “just a mistaken identification”) – or – maybe (in some cases) turned into “ghost stories”.

        So, this is the very point that needs explanation: How do we get from Jesus’ crucifixion, to this story (from within 1 to 3 years after the crucifixion) that Jesus was seen by X-number of people, and is the living Messiah? How does that story get taken seriously, when, over the ages, there have been thousands of claims of people having seen dead people and weren’t taken seriously?

        Fill me in on why Peter, John and James’ story was taken seriously, when nobody else’s story about seeing a dead guy were….

        Like

        1. Tell me why thousands of people have claimed to see animals do laws-of-nature-defying feats and no one believes them—-yet one guy claims that he flew on a winged horse into outer space and millions of people believe him. (Mohammad)

          Superstitious human beings are willing to believe the most amazing things given the right circumstances! That is why there are hundreds if not thousands of religions, sects, and cults on the planet, each believing some pretty bizarre claims; each believing that everyone else’s bizarre claims are preposterous and stupid!

          That is what you fail to grasp, ft. I suggest you look at other world religions and look at their supernatural claims and ask yourself how these bizarre claims came to be believed when it is obvious they are purely nonsense. To start, read the story of the Hindu god, Ganesh. To westerners, it is a preposterous story, but to Hindus it is the absolute truth!

          The story of Lord Ganesh:

          Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati and he is the brother of Karthikeya (or Subrahmanya), the god of war. He was created by his mother using earth which she moulded into the shape of a boy. As Shiva was away on his meditative wanderings, Parvati set her new son as guard while she bathed. Unexpectedly, Shiva returned home and, on finding the boy, and outraged at his impudence in claiming he was Parvati’s son, Shiva called for his gang of demons, the bhutaganas, who fought ferociously with the boy. However, the youngster easily held his own against such fearsome adversaries and Vishnu was forced to intervene in the form of Maya and, whilst the boy was distracted by her beauty, the demons, or Shiva himself, lopped off his head. At the commotion, Parvati ran from her bath and remonstrated with Shiva for so summarily killing their son. Repentant, Shiva ordered a new head to be found for the boy and, as the first animal available was an elephant, so Ganesha gained a new head and became the most distinctive of the Hindu gods. As a reward for his great courage in fighting the demons, Shiva made Ganesha the leader of the bhutaganas, hence his name.

          Source: https://www.ancient.eu/Ganesha/

          Why do millions of people believe that the head of an elephant was attached to the decapitated body of a boy, ft, when it is such a preposterous claim??? I say it is due to the same reason why so many people in the West believe that a dead body was resurrected and given supernatural powers to levitate, teleport, and to live forever.

          Superstitious gullibility!

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    2. “At the moment, the relevant thing is that long before the Gospels were written, the story of Jesus, the Messiah, Resurrected, was clearly being told, and that has no dependencies on the Gospels whatsoever.”

      Ghost stories!!! So what if people were telling ghost stories! Why do you choose to believe ONE ghost story but not the thousands of other ghost sightings??? My guess is that your subjective feelings and perceptions tell you that this particular ghost is living somewhere inside your body!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. “If you were consistent in your insistence that only empirical evidence were allowable, then, you would have to conclude that Julius never crossed the Rubicon. But, you are not consistent. And, that is why I find you, and so many other skeptics, as having entirely unreliable judgement.”

      As I said to Liam, if you can give me multiple, independent, corroborating sources for any of the deeds of Jesus, I would take your beliefs more seriously. Can you??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gary, on a sincere and serious note… I’ve noticed in the past the Ftbond also posts comments under another alias/name — who knows why. Does he have more than two? Is he also Liam or Liam#2, or many other disguises? I’m asking because if he is also Liam then I want to ignore those guys too! Or rather him… with multiple personalities? LOL 😉

        Like

  6. Gary –

    forget fables of Ganesh. Let’s keep apples with apples, shall we?

    Find me ONE INSTANCE in actual history where the known companions and (at least) one family member have claimed that another, mutually-known person had been raised from the dead, and were taken seriously.

    That – not fables of Ganesh – are what we are talking about. Real, actual people who knew the deceased, firsthand, and claimed that he was alive again – and – were taken seriously. Because that is what happened.

    Stick to your own topic, Gary. The “apples to oranges” stuff you throw out there doesn’t stick.

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    1. Find me ONE INSTANCE in actual history where the known companions and (at least) one family member have claimed that another, mutually-known person had been raised from the dead, and were taken seriously.

      Ok…

      What evidence do you have that any of the original twelve or James claimed that Jesus had appeared to them? Please provide ONE uncontested statement by any alleged eyewitness who claimed to have received an appearance of the resurrected Jesus other than Paul who never tells us in his own words what exactly it was that he saw. You can’t. If we exclude the Gospels, all we have is Paul’s version of a creed which claims that these people received “appearances” of Jesus. We have no confirmed statements from any of these people making such a claim.

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    2. You did not address Mohammad and his flying horse. Please explain why millions of people came to believe that this one man’s horse could fly when all other claims of flying horses are not believed.

      Like

  7. You just keep on dancin’…

    But it was YOU who pointed out that thousands of people have made claims of having seen dead people, and none were taken seriously — except Jesus.

    Why were claims of Jesus taken seriously, Gary?

    Give me one of your “imagined conversations”, and tell me what Peter would have had to say in order to convince James (for example) that Jesus was, in fact, alive. What could he have said that would make anyone believe his story, when, as you point out, there have been thousands of people who have told such tales, and none were taken seriously.

    Give it your best shot. Because at some point, Peter had to have convinced somebody.

    So, what did he say, Gary?

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    1. How do you know that James needed to hear someone else’s appearance tale to believe in the resurrection of his brother? How do you know that Peter needed to receive an appearance of Jesus to believe in his resurrection? What evidence do you have for these claims?

      Answer: None.

      Your belief that the family of Jesus believed in his resurrection based on the appearance stories of others is based on ASSUMPTIONS…not evidence. We have no idea why any of the original disciples and family members of Jesus came to believe in his resurrection because we have no undisputed testimony from any of them!

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      1. we have the creed from 1 Cor 15, as you know. THAT was the story that was going around in the lifetimes of Peter, John, James and others. And, scant few scholars have any doubts that that was the story being told in the early church. Certainly, it is the story that Paul told, and he knew Peter, John and James personally.

        I don’t know of any credible scholar these days that doesn’t think that Peter, John, and James all claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead, and was Messiah. In fact, from what I’ve seen, it very much appears that the top scholars (and, I’m most assuredly including skeptics, like Ehrman, Ludemann, Funk, Crossan, et al) go so far as to agree that Peter (and maybe / probably others) “saw something“.

        So, nobody really doubts this stuff, Gary.

        I repeat my earlier request:

        Give me one of your “imagined conversations”, and tell me what Peter would have had to say in order to convince James (for example) that Jesus was, in fact, alive. What could he have said that would make anyone believe his story, when, as you point out, there have been thousands of people who have told such tales, and none were taken seriously.

        (And, BTW – I suggested “James” as a “for example”, as I clearly state. It doesn’t matter whether Peter told James or not. Use some invented character, if you like)

        Getting tired of your dancing…

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        1. we have the creed from 1 Cor 15, as you know. THAT was the story that was going around in the lifetimes of Peter, John, James and others. And, scant few scholars have any doubts that that was the story being told in the early church. Certainly, it is the story that Paul told, and he knew Peter, John and James personally.

          What evidence do you have that James believed in the Resurrection because of an alleged appearance by Jesus to him? Your position is based on many, many assumptions and conjecture, my friend.

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          1. I didn’t SAY James believed in the resurrection boecaus on an alleged appearance to Jesu by him.

            I repeat my earlier request:

            Give me one of your “imagined conversations”, and tell me what Peter would have had to say in order to convince James (for example) [ ed – or anyone ] that Jesus was, in fact, alive. What could he have said that would make anyone believe his story, when, as you point out, there have been thousands of people who have told such tales, and none were taken seriously.

            really really tired of your dancing, my friend.

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        2. I don’t know of any credible scholar these days that doesn’t think that Peter, John, and James all claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead, and was Messiah.

          I never claimed that they didn’t. But the fact is that we do not know why Peter, John, and James came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was the messiah because we have no undisputed testimony from them!!! I am simply pointing out that your belief on this matter is based on the assumption that their belief in Jesus’ resurrection was based on sightings of a resurrected body. The truth is that is assumption is based on stories found only in the Gospels and Acts, the very books you claim are unnecessary for your belief in the Resurrection!

          In fact, from what I’ve seen, it very much appears that the top scholars (and, I’m most assuredly including skeptics, like Ehrman, Ludemann, Funk, Crossan, et al) go so far as to agree that Peter (and maybe / probably others) “saw something“.

          Correction: These scholars would all probably agree that Peter and others BELIEVED that they had “seen something”. That in no way means that these scholars believe that these people actually saw a body of some type. As I have pointed out, many people throughout the ages have claimed to have “seen” many bizarre things, including dead people, in vivid dreams, trances, delusions, and hallucinations.

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          1. Gary – use your HEAD for just a minute…

            I was the one who POINTED OUT that good number of scholars agree that they “saw something”. There is NOTHING in ANYTHING I’ve said that has ANYTHING to do with ANY assumption on my part that they saw a resurrected body. NOTHING.

            I repeat my earlier request:

            Give me one of your “imagined conversations”, and tell me what Peter would have had to say in order to convince James (for example) [ ed – or anyone ] that Jesus was, in fact, alive. What could he have said that would make anyone believe his story, when, as you point out, there have been thousands of people who have told such tales, and none were taken seriously.

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            1. Please provide a reputable source which states that most scholars believe that the disciples literally saw “something” with their eyes that made them believe in Jesus’ resurrection. You can’t. Even Gary Habermas does not go that far. Habermas would say that most scholars believe that the disciples had “experiences” which led them to believe that Jesus had been resurrected.

              Here is Gary Habermas’ 12 Minimal Facts about the Resurrection of Jesus:

              1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
              2. He was buried.
              3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.

              4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).

              5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).

              6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.

              7. The resurrection was the central message.

              8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.

              9. The Church was born and grew.

              10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.

              11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).

              12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

              Source: http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/garyhabermas.htm

              Note: I would like to see the evidence that most scholars believe that James converted based on an alleged appearance. There is ZERO evidence for this position. All we know is that James converted. When and why he converted is unknown.

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              1. why would I bother? When I said scholars agreed the disciples “saw something” (as I had punctuated it), it does not at all imply that the thing they “saw” was really there.

                You want to use “experienced” If I wanted to do the “Gary Dance”, I’d come back and say “maybe it wasn’t an experience – maybe they really saw someone, but, it wasn’t Jesus. Or, maybe they really saw ‘bright lights’, but, thought it was a ‘sign’ that Jesus was there”.

                Gary, quit dancing. Answer my question.

                Like

                1. You are the one engaging in nonsense. Your position is based on the assumption that James and the others believed because of “appearance experiences”. Outside of the Gospels, which you state you do not need to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, there is ZERO evidence for this position. It is entirely possible that all the disciples and the family of Jesus believed that he had been resurrected due to the empty tomb or for some other reason. You are ASSUMING that they believed due to appearances (of some type) of a body.

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                  1. re: You are the one engaging in nonsense. Your position is based on the assumption that James and the others believed because of “appearance experiences”.

                    No. Totally wrong.

                    It was YOU who brought this whole matter up when you said “Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…except the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth.”

                    I’m asking YOU to explain this. This is YOUR contention, Gary. Explain it. Explain why “the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth” were taken seriously, when “thousands” of other such claims were not taken seriously.

                    Like

                    1. “Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…except the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth.”

                      I did not ask why James and Peter believed in the resurrection of Jesus because of an appearance, I am asking YOU why do YOU believe that the alleged appearances of Jesus were real if you reject all other claims about dead people appearing to their grieving loved ones and friends?

                      Without the Gospels, it is entirely possible that James, Peter, and every other alleged eyewitness to an appearance of Jesus had previously believed that Jesus was resurrected based on other factors, such as an empty tomb. Your entire position is based on the assumption that it was the appearances that brought about belief in the Resurrection. You have ZERO evidence of this outside of the Gospels, books which you claim you do not need to believe this ancient tall tale.

                      The weakness of your position has been exposed, ft. Accept the facts and concede that your belief in the resurrection of Jesus is based on assumptions, conjecture, and emotional factors, not on good historical evidence.

                      Like

                    2. re: “You are the one engaging in nonsense. Your position is based on the assumption that James and the others believed because of “appearance experiences”.

                      That is what Ehrman, Funk, Crossan, Ludemann, and many others likewise assert.

                      Outside of the Gospels, which you state you do not need to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, there is ZERO evidence for this position.

                      Wrong. There IS evidence that this for this position. Ehrman, Funk, Crossan, Ludemann, and many others argue that the creed of 1 Cor 15 is evidence that James and the others believed because of “appearance experiences”. They believed those “appearance experiences”, and therefore, they believed that Jesus had been resurrected.

                      re: “It is entirely possible that all the disciples and the family of Jesus believed that he had been resurrected due to the empty tomb or for some other reason. You are ASSUMING that they believed due to appearances (of some type) of a body.”

                      Anythings “possible”. But if scholars like Ehrman, Funk, Crossan, Ludemann and many others are correct, then, it was because of “appearances” – whether it be “some type of body”, or, even bright lights on the wall.

                      Are you now attempting to argue that you yourself didn’t say the following?”

                      “The Empty Tomb did not trigger the resurrection belief. The “appearances” of Jesus to multiple individuals and to groups triggered (eventually) the resurrection belief.”

                      (Your comment from your blog entry entitled “The Appearance to the Five Hundred and the Ascension were the Same Event!.”

                      Like

                    3. re: “You are the one engaging in nonsense. Your position is based on the assumption that James and the others believed because of “appearance experiences”. That is what Ehrman, Funk, Crossan, Ludemann, and many others likewise assert.

                      Please provide quotes and sources.

                      I agree that these scholars believe that the early Christians had experiences which they interpreted as appearances of the resurrected Jesus but I would like to see quotes which state that these scholars believe that it was the appearances that FIRST caused the early Christians to believe in the resurrection.

                      Like

                    4. forget that, Gary.

                      you already know well what they said. I’m not gonna go off and hunt up stuff you already know.

                      Besides, it’s irrelevant — After all, it is YOU that argues ““The Empty Tomb did not trigger the resurrection belief. The “appearances” of Jesus to multiple individuals and to groups triggered (eventually) the resurrection belief.”

                      So, that’s YOUR argument, whether Erhman, Funk (etc) agree or not.

                      I’m just asking you to then explain to me what one of these “individuals” you mention actually said to someone else that would convince them that this “appearance” was somehow different than all the thousands of other such stories of “I saw a dead man”, which, as you state, were not taken seriously.

                      Go ahead. Explain it to me. What made THIS story different? What did Peter, or any of these other “individuals” SAY that was somehow “taken seriously”, when there have been thousands of other stories that were NOT taken seriously?

                      (I’m beginning to wonder how many times I’m going to have to ask that same, simple question, before I get an answer)

                      Like

                    5. You are a bald face liar.

                      You are taking my comment above out of context. If anyone reads the context they can see that I was discussing a hypothetical scenario to explain the initial resurrection belief. I never stated that I believe as historical fact that it was the alleged appearances that first triggered the resurrection belief.

                      You are acting like a desperate man, ft. The weakness of your position has been exposed. Instead of admitting this, you resort to lies and tricks. Typical Christian apologist behavior.

                      Like

                    6. I already responded to this, and accepted your statement that it was “hypothetical”.

                      Clearly, though, I didn’t lie. You DID make the statement.

                      If I “mistook” it for an actual position held by you, then that error has already been rectified.

                      I noticed in another response in this thread that you write off the belief that Jesus was resurrected as “confirmation bias”.

                      I’m not sure how someone believing Jesus was resurrected is an instance of “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories” (the definition of confirmation bias).

                      Are you suggesting that Peter, John, James – or whomever the first actual “resurrection believers were named – were taking evidence, such as a missing body, to somehow confirm something they already believed??? In other words, you’re saying they believed Jesus was resurrected even before the empty tomb was found? Am I understanding you correctly?

                      Like

                    7. Confirmation bias says that human beings interpret evidence through the colored lens of their own beliefs and superstitions. An early first century Greek or Roman would not find the empty grave of a recently deceased friend or loved one and come to the conclusion that the deceased had been raised back to life from the dead. However, an early first century Jew might come to that conclusion because the concept of resurrection was part of the Jewish belief system.

                      I know what your next objection will be so I will address it: “No first century Jew believed that one person would be resurrected. According to first century Jewish thought, the resurrection of the righteous dead would involve ALL the righteous dead, not just one person.”

                      I agree that individual resurrections were not part of first century Jewish thought, but the concept of a dead body coming back to life (resurrection) was. The definition of a sect is a branch of a mother religion which has
                      significantly altered one of more beliefs of the mother religion. Early Christians were experiencing a great deal of emotional trauma regarding the unexpected, sudden death of “the messiah”. They were searching for an explanation for his death which resolved their cognitive dissonance surrounding an executed messiah, something that they had never expected. They came up with the idea that Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. The general resurrection had begun, but it would occur in stages: Jesus first, everyone else “at any minute”.

                      I believe that this is what happened with early Christianity. Cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias resulted in the Resurrection of Jesus belief.

                      Like

                    8. re: “However, an early first century Jew might come to that conclusion because the concept of resurrection was part of the Jewish belief system.”

                      I’m entirely unfamiliar with ANY first-century Jewish concept of resurrection other than a “general resurrection”. I know nothing of any concept of a “singular resurrection” in Judaism at that time, or that a “singular resurrection” was any part (at all) of the Jewish belief system, of any sect.

                      I’d like to think I’m fairly well-read up on this topic, but alas, you’ve stumped me. I hate to ask this, but, can you at least point me to some info that supports the idea that the Jews had a concept of a “singular resurrection” at that time? Because my (evidently limited) reading – which has NOT included anything that makes the claim that a “singular resurrection” was a part of the belief system of any sect of Judaism in the first century – seems to actually say, very much to the contrary, that the story that Jesus had been resurrected was very largely rejected because there was nothing but a “general resurrection” expected (by those who believed in resurrection).

                      So, if you would, please let me know where you get this info from. As you know, I usually don’t demand sources from you, because we’re both pretty well-read in many of the same sources. But, in this instance, I suppose I need to read the materials you have (and, which I don’t have), so I’d really appreciated it if you could point me to a source.

                      Like

                    9. You obviously have a reading comprehension problem. Nowhere did I claim that first century Jews had a “single person resurrection” concept. What I said was that first century Jews had a “general resurrection” concept which the new Jewish sect, later known as Christians, altered to “a general resurrection in phases” concept: Jesus, first, everyone else shortly thereafter.

                      I have proven your position weak and indefensible: You cannot prove that appearances were the original cause of the Resurrection belief. Therefore your claim that no one would have come to believe in the Resurrection without seeing a resurrected body is baloney. It is entirely possible that the concept of Jesus’ resurrection resulted from his empty tomb or some other event. The alleged appearances only confirmed a previously held belief (confirmation bias). Your argument collapses.

                      Period.

                      Like

                    10. There IS evidence that this for this position. Ehrman, Funk, Crossan, Ludemann, and many others argue that the creed of 1 Cor 15 is evidence that James and the others believed because of “appearance experiences”. They believed those “appearance experiences”, and therefore, they believed that Jesus had been resurrected.

                      Quotes and sources, please.

                      How can anyone possibly know that James first came to believe in the Resurrection because of an appearance experience??? Do we have any sources which quote James’ conversion testimony? Answer: No!

                      Like

                    11. Are you now attempting to argue that you yourself didn’t say the following?” “The Empty Tomb did not trigger the resurrection belief. The “appearances” of Jesus to multiple individuals and to groups triggered (eventually) the resurrection belief.” (Your comment from your blog entry entitled “The Appearance to the Five Hundred and the Ascension were the Same Event!.”

                      You are either not thinking clearly, ft, or you are being very dishonest. The post and comment you refer to were HYPOTHETICAL. I will give the link to that post and readers can judge my statements for themselves. No where do I claim as historical fact that it was the appearances that first caused belief in the resurrection. How could I or anyone else possibly know that???

                      Post: https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/the-appearance-to-the-five-hundred-and-the-ascension-were-the-same-event/

                      Important point: Even if the scholars you refer to hold the position you claim, it would not matter to me. I only care what the majority of scholars say, not what a handful of scholars believe. Ehrman doubts that Jesus was buried in a rock tomb. I do not. Please provide a source which states that the majority of NT scholars believe that it is an historical fact that the INITIAL belief in the Resurrection was based on appearance experiences.

                      Like

                    12. OH, OK. fine.

                      In this thread, you argue it was ONLY the empty tomb that was necessary.

                      In another thread, you argue that the empty tomb wasn’t enough to convince anyone.

                      the bottom line? You say “No where do I claim as historical fact that it was the appearances that first caused belief in the resurrection. How could I or anyone else possibly know that???”

                      Bingo.

                      In other words, everything you’re saying is just blather. Hot air. A whole bunch of admitted suppositions and assumptions. Heck, lemme be nice and say “hypotheticals”. After all, “how could [you] or anyone else possibly know” what first caused belief in the resurrection?

                      But, we do know, historically, that something did cause a belief in the resurrection.

                      And, we know – from your own words (which I’m sure are based in sound research) that “Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…”

                      But, then you add “…except the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth”.

                      Which brings us full circle back to the same question I’ve asked you repeatedly, and which you won’t answer:

                      If nobody believes stories about a dead person being alive again, then what could (for example) Peter, John or James have had to say to someone that would be convincing in the case of Jesus, when nobody believes such stories?

                      How do you explain your own contention?

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                    13. Do you have evidence that the original persons who claimed to have received appearances of the resurrected Jesus believed that he was “alive again” in the sense that the same body as had existed before death was now alive again; a body that still needed to eat, drink, and defecate like every other normal body??? Of course not. You don’t believe that Jesus was “alive” again. You believe that a supernatural being appeared to the disciples that resembled the earthly Jesus’ body, just like thousands of grieving family and friends have believed that the spirit or image of their dead loved one has appeared to them.

                      We are talking about ghost stories, ft. You believe in the reality of ONE ghost story! Why???

                      Like

            2. Based on what little evidence that exists outside the Gospels, isn’t it entirely possible, ft, that James, Peter, John, Andrew and the other members of the “Twelve” came to believe that Jesus had been resurrected based on the empty tomb? The alleged appearance “experiences” only confirmed this belief?

              Like

              1. Heck, even Ehrman, in “How Jesus Became God”, argues that “nobody” believes in the resurrection on the basis of the empty tomb story.

                But, again – YOU said “Thousands of people down through history have claimed that they saw a dead person. How many of these people do you take seriously? None, I bet…”

                And, I agreed.

                “…except the claims about seeing Jesus of Nazareth. ”

                Right. So, explain it to me, Gary. Why do people blow off all the thousands of other stories, but, take the story of Jesus seriously? What could (presumably) Peter have said that would have been convincing, when none of the other thousands of stories through history have been convincing?

                Spell it out for me.

                Because this is the point at which all these skeptic scholars skip over details in their suggested scenarios. They’ll assert “Peter, suffering from deep grief, had an hallucination, and convinced others that he had seen Jesus”… BUT – HOW did he convince them? What magic words did Peter use to convince others that he had seen a dead man, alive again, when THOUSANDS of such stories have never been taken seriously?

                That’s YOUR contention, Gary. So, explain it to me.

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                1. @ft

                  Right. So, explain it to me, Gary. Why do people blow off all the thousands of other stories, but, take the story of Jesus seriously?

                  Muslims don’t, Jews don’t Hindus don’t Jainists don’t, just as Christians do not believe the ridiculous supernatural claims of other religions – including tales of resurrection.

                  Like

                  1. Exactly. It’s called “confirmation bias”.

                    Confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.

                    Examples:

                    –Jesus’ empty tomb: the Judeo-Christian God must have raised/resurrected Jesus from the dead (not that someone moved the body).

                    –Vivid dreams of Jesus appearing to his family and friends: evidence that the empty tomb was due to a resurrection (not that they experienced bereavement delusions).

                    –the change in behavior of the disciples is proof that the Resurrection had really occurred (not proof that superstitious people are incredibly gullible and can be fooled into believing and dying for the most bizarre beliefs imaginable).

                    –a devout rabbi such as Paul would not have converted unless he had truly seen the resurrected Jesus (not that history records many very religious, superstitious people converting to another religion/belief system for all kinds of bizarre reasons).

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          1. Paul allegedly makes this claim in the Epistle to the Romans but I don’t trust one single word that Paul allegedly said. The man was clearly deranged. Any person who is unsure whether or not he has taken an intergalactic space voyage to a “seventh” heaven is not dealing with a full deck! Why do Christians put some much trust in the ravings of ONE man??? If the Gospels are not eyewitnesses sources, as most scholars believe, the entire Christian religion rests on the testimony of one man who never even met Jesus while Jesus was alive. Would any educated, modern person take the word of one person regarding such fantastical supernatural claims occurring today? Of course not! So why do Christians trust the statements of one man who lived 2,000 years ago? Answer: Because they so desperately want Paul to be right!

            The Christian religion is based on assumptions, conjecture, and A LOT of emotional baggage, not on good historical evidence.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I hope you realise I was casting no aspersions on your post , Gary? The comments were for ft.
              (Of course I appreciate your answers, as his will only be a hand wave at best.

              Ark.

              Like

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