Debating Jeremy: Can an Evangelical Objectively Evaluate the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection? Part 1

In the Resurrection, God Renders Our Expectations Unacceptable
Hoping that an evangelical Christian, who perceives he has a personal relationship with the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth, can objectively evaluate the historical evidence for this man’s resurrection, is like hoping that the mother of an accused murderer can objectively sit on his jury! The intensity of the (perceived) personal relationship is too strong for us to be confident in the objectivity of either party. The potential for bias is too great!

Jeremy is an evangelical Christian with whom I recently engaged in discussion on a Christian blog. He has kindly agreed to come to my blog to continue our discussion. I ask my skeptic readers to please “play nice” as Jeremy is my guest. Feel free to criticize/attack his views, but not him personally. Thanks, everyone!

Jeremy, evangelical Christian: …you assume that no evidence can be provided because of confirmation bias on the side of the evangelical. The funny thing is that the confirmation bias that you assume is on the other side is demonstrated in your statement. In essence you say, ‘no one that claims to have a relationship with the being in question can appropriately defend their view’. This assumes your position without presenting a single argument to the contrary.

Gary: Thank you again for agreeing to come to my blog to discuss your beliefs, Jeremy.

I am well aware of the fact that Christians can provide evidence for their belief in the resurrection of Jesus. They have been doing so for almost 2,000 years. This evidence consists of alleged eyewitness testimony of persons seeing and interacting with a resurrected corpse, claims of changed behavior on the part of the disciples, the growth of Christianity, etc. It is evidence, but I view it as very weak evidence.

Now, yes, that could be due to my own bias. But I offer this: If the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus were “good”, then this alleged historical event should appear in our public university history textbooks as an historical fact, just as they list other events from antiquity as facts, such as Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon.  But, they don’t, do they! No public university history textbook on the planet (that I am aware of) lists the resurrection of Jesus as an historical fact or even as a probable historical fact. Christians will claim that historians avoid religious historical claims or that they are biased, but this is nonsense. We know when Mohammad lived. We know when he attacked Medina, etc.. We also know historical information about Joseph Smith. The fact is that historians do not list the resurrection of Jesus as an historical fact for one simple reason: The evidence is insufficient. The evidence is poor.

That said, I do believe that many Christians can argue for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus without possessing a disqualifying bias. Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown is (was, he is deceased) one such Christian. In addition, I believe that NT Wright is capable of arguing the evidence for the resurrection without a disqualifying bias. So the fact that one is a Christian is not a disqualifier for objectively evaluating the evidence for this alleged event. However, if one is a Christian who believes that he perceives the presence of the resurrected Jesus within his body and/or believes that he perceives the resurrected Jesus communicating with him in a still, small voice, it is my opinion that this disqualifies this Christian from objectively evaluating the historical evidence. Since it is primarily evangelicals and Pentecostals who hold to the belief in a “personal relationship/communication with” the resurrected Jesus, it would be only these groups of Christians that are disqualified, in my opinion.

If you believe that you have a voice whispering into your ear that says, “Hey, Jeremy. It’s Jesus. I am very much alive and well. I really was resurrected 2,000 years ago.” there is no way, in my opinion, that you can objectively look at the historical evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

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End of post.

11 thoughts on “Debating Jeremy: Can an Evangelical Objectively Evaluate the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection? Part 1

      1. Well, if that is indeed the case Gary, it is the typical premature exit of the vast majority of Christian apologists I’ve encountered over the last 3-4 decades. I would say in MY experience with them that more than 95% simply do not want to go the full distance of the comprehensive debate and supporting evidence OUTSIDE of Christian-approved or Earliest Church Father-ordained (godly) sources. Most of them seem to pull the ostrich head-in-the-sand trick when it comes to all the Independent corroborating evidence for a Greco-Roman caricature named Christ.

        It’s like when asked to do so or pushed to equitably examine all the independent support for their Christ… they get scared or throw a tantrum that (maybe?) the Devil will snatch them away from the Fold? I don’t know honestly. They always bug out, never to be seen or heard from again. I call it simply lazy and/or scared to death of the FULLER truth.

        Oh well, maybe Jeremy will return, revitalized, and ready to continue this long, LONG journey that has been overly convoluted by Hellenistic Church Fathers and then endless Christian theologians—of all types and denominations—for over 2,000 years. Untangling that mess Gary is no easy task. Certainly not done in a matter of a few months, maybe 1 or 2 years. The later Greco-Roman Church and all descendant churches have totally EFFED UP any chance of quickly sorting out their ridiculous mess! Hell, it took me over 12-years. 😄

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      2. Nah sorry Gary! Just checked back in today to say I’ve not left. It’s been a busy weekend. I’ll probably be back at it sometime next week.

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