Evangelical Apologist Randal Rauser: Finding the Bones of Jesus Would Probably Not Convince Me that Christianity is False.

Comment by Gary on Rauser’s blog: Very interesting post, Randal. You recognize that it is ok and rational for us skeptics to ask Christians what it would take for them to give up their faith. However, you admit that even finding the bones of Jesus would not necessarily persuade you to reject Christianity. Wow. And why not?

Answer: “I have encountered God.”

This is what I was trying to discuss with you under another post, Randal. If you perceive God (when you say, “God”, you really mean Lord Jesus the Christ), no amount of historical evidence is going to change your mind, not even the discovery of Jesus’ bones!

The primary evidence for the overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians (I know because I used to be one) for the veracity of Christianity, in particular the bodily resurrection of Jesus, is NOT historical evidence. It is their perception that the resurrected Jesus is actively engaged in their lives: their subjective perceptions and personal experiences!

I suggest that skeptics stop asking evangelical Christians what historical evidence it would take to cause them to stop believing the claims of their faith. Rather, they should ask, what evidence would convince you that your perceptions and experiences of Jesus have nothing to do with the historical Jesus and the supernatural, and everything to do with random chance and your own internal monologue with yourself?

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Evangelical Apologist Randall Rauser Refuses to Answer the Question: Do You Perceive the Presence of Jesus?

5 Things to Do When You Can't Feel God's Presence

From a conversation with popular evangelical Christian apologist Randall Rauser on his blog:

Gary: What evidence would convince you that Jesus does not dwell within you, Randall?

Rauser: Is that your way of asking what would persuade me that Christianity is false? Well, for example, encountering a very irritated looking Allah after death: that would certainly do it. Various experiences, likely the bones of Jesus discovered in a tomb, perhaps a group of first century letters outlining the means and motive for the resurrection story being a hoax, etc.

Gary: No, I’m not talking about the historical evidence for Christianity. I am asking about your belief that the spirit of the resurrected Jesus dwells within you. What evidence would you need to reject as false your perception that the spirit of Jesus dwells within you? (evidence prior to your death.)

Rauser: Jesus doesn’t literally “dwell within me”. And Rod Stewart’s beloved is not literally in his heart and soul. That’s a spatial metaphor conveying the existence of a relationship.

Gary: As a former evangelical myself, many evangelicals are taught that it is possible to perceive “Christ in you”. It isn’t just intellectual knowledge it is perceptible through the senses. Many evangelicals believe that the spirit of Jesus speaks to them in an non-audible voice. They describe it as a perception of being “moved” or “led” or “directed” to do this or to do that. For some evangelicals, a denial of the perception of “Christ dwelling within you” is a concerning sign as to your status as a true born-again believer.

Randall, do you now or have you ever perceived the presence of Jesus Christ within you?

Rauser: I’ve written a couple of books that offer extended treatments of Christian epistemology: “Theology in Search of Foundations” and “The Swedish Atheist…” You can read about my epistemological views there. Just be sure you don’t confuse a spatial metaphor with literal language. That’s a big mistake.

Gary: Randall, do you now or have you ever perceived the presence of Jesus Christ within you?

Rauser: LOL, trying to have a conversation with you is analogous to a child trying to talk to Dora the Explorer on TV. The child initially thinks there actually is a meaningful back-and-forth conversation, but eventually they realize otherwise.

I’m going to go walk the dog now.

Gary: Dear Readers of Randall Rauser’s blog: This is the exact same reaction I received from evangelical scholar and apologist Michael Licona when I asked him the same question. He too did NOT want to answer this question. He twisted himself into a pretzel to avoid answering it. Why is that?? All Licona and Rauser need to say is: 

“I do not believe that anyone can perceive the presence of Jesus’ spirit or that of the Holy Spirit through the senses. The presence of Jesus is not something one experiences but something one believes intellectually.”

Why can’t they say that?





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Popular Evangelical Apologist Admits that the Power of the Holy Spirit is Pretty Pathetic

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I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. —Ephesians 3:16-20

Gary:  Do you agree with William Lane Craig (here) that the simplest Christian, who has zero knowledge of the historical evidence for the resurrection, can know that this event really did occur, thanks solely to the testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart?

Evangelical apologist:  Whatever source of assurance a Christian may have subjectively, there is ample evidence for their beliefs, especially for the resurrection. So, in a debate, may the best arguments win. Typically, debates do not persuade the opposite debater to change his or her mind. They are more for the audience. For myself, the objective evidence is significant for my beliefs. If someone presented a powerful argument against the resurrection, I would study it out and be open to having less reason to believe in Christianity. However, I would still have my Christian experience and other reasons to believe.
Gary:  Would you still believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus even if there were zero historical evidence for it?  If so, is belief in a universal truth claim (not just a personal preference) based on subjective perceptions and personal experiences rational?

Evangelical Apologist:  I would not.

Gary:  Excellent.  So you disagree with William Lane Craig.  What I find interesting about your position is that it seems to indicate that the alleged “power” of the Holy Spirit isn’t that powerful after all.  Why does God the Creator need historical evidence to convince people?  Why isn’t his presence so overwhelming that no other evidence is needed? Food for thought.

Evangelical apologist:  The Holy Spirit works through evidence and argument.
Gary:  According to their interpretation of the Christian Scriptures, Evangelical Christians are “filled” with the fullness of God the Creator, and, believe that God communicates secret truths to you…but you still need historical evidence to believe.  Wow.  If I knew and perceived that the FULLNESS of God the Creator lived inside of me, I wouldn’t need historical evidence to believe. 
Bottom line, the evidence that an all-knowing spirit lives inside of you, giving you secret insight and wisdom, is pretty weak, my Christian friend.  That is why intelligent persons like yourself do not buy WLC’s appeal to belief without objective evidence.  He and Jesus had it wrong:  those who believe without seeing evidence are not blessed…they are foolish.
I challenge you to think about this:  Even if it is true that Jesus was seen alive again after his “death”, what evidence do you have that he is still alive today and that his spirit “dwells” within you?  Answer:  Nothing…nothing but subjective perceptions and personal experiences.  That is not good evidence.  Such belief defies the criteria for Critical Thinking.  I urge you to reassess.
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The Question Every Evangelical Scholar and Apologist Should Answer

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Do you, in any way, perceive that the Holy Spirit/Jesus “testifies with your spirit” that the core claims in the Gospels—that Jesus of Nazareth was/is the Son of the Creator (even the Creator himself), that he was born of a virgin, that he was bodily resurrected from the dead, that he ascended into the heavens, and that he currently rules the universe as King—are true, and therefore, historical?

If your honest answer is “yes”, your scholarship/research is hopelessly biased, my friend.




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The Absurd Irrationality of Evangelical Christian Apologetics

How to Hear from God: Standing Still & Hearing His Still, Small ...

“In point of fact, we can know that Jesus rose from the dead wholly apart from the historical evidence.  The simplest Christian, who has neither the opportunity nor wherewithal to conduct an historical investigation of  Jesus’ resurrection, can know with assurance that Jesus is risen because God’s Spirit bears unmistakable witness to him that it is so.”

–William Lane Craig, evangelical Christian historian and apologist in his book, The Son Rises, 1981

6 Ways God Speaks to You in Prayer - Presbyterian Reformed ...

Why should skeptics bother debating evangelical Christians regarding the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth if at the end of the day their belief in the historicity of this event is not based primarily on historical evidence but on their subjective perception of a spirit (ghost) living somewhere inside their bodies?  Regardless of how much evidence we skeptics are able to produce against the eyewitness authorship and historical reliability of the Gospels (the lynchpin arguments of evangelical apologists), evangelicals will refuse to concede an inch of ground due to the alleged “testimony of the Holy Spirit”.

4 Ways to Know If You're Hearing God's Voice - My Daily Devotion

If you believe that the spirit of God the Creator tells you that the Gospels are historically reliable sources of information no amount of objective evidence against that position is going to change your mind!

I therefore suggest that skeptics refuse to debate evangelical Christians regarding historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus until evangelicals first provide the evidence for their belief that the spirit (ghost) of Jesus is at this very moment living inside their bodies, communicating with them in a “still, small voice”!

Did God Really Say That?” — Three Signs I've Heard His Voice | The ...

Due to this core evangelical Christian teaching and belief, how can any evangelical scholar or apologist deny that their research is hopelessly biased?


Hearing the Still Small Voice of God - Knowing When It Is and Isn ...



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Scholars Discover the Truth: The Resurrection Story Originated in One of Simon Peter’s Trances

Peter's Dream in Acts 10 | We Are Israel

About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” 15 The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.17 Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. 

–the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10


Late Saturday night after Jesus’ crucifixion, while in deep emotional despair; agonizing over the sudden, unexpected death of his Master; ashamed and devastated by his cowardice in denying  Jesus three times; exhausted from not sleeping the last three nights, not eating, and maybe after embibing too much wine to drown his sorrows— Simon Peter falls into another one of his “trances”; a bizarre experience which leaves Peter wondering what it means, and maybe too, whether or not his experience was real or a figment of his imagination.

In this “experience”, Jesus appears to Peter; tells Peter than he is forgiven for denying him, and tells him that he will be the rock upon which Christ will build his Church. Peter asks Jesus if he is having a dream or if Jesus is real. Jesus responds that he is very real, “Just reach out and touch me, Peter”. Peter does so and takes hold of Jesus’ hand. Jesus tells Peter that God has raised him from the dead! Jesus tells Peter that within a very, very short period of time, he will come to establish the New Kingdom, placing Peter and the other ten on thrones of gold next to him. But…in order for all this to come to pass, they must follow him without fear, preaching the Gospel to anyone who will listen.

Peter is ecstatic!!!

The Kingdom WILL come! The Romans WILL be defeated. Jesus will rule the world from Jerusalem! The misery and suffering of the Jewish people will soon end!!!

Peter tells the other disciples. The small group is gripped by joyful hysteria! Sunday morning, they travel to Jesus tomb and find it empty.  “He is risen!”  (But that is not the reason the tomb is empty:  the Sanhedrin had only buried Jesus in that particular tomb because of its proximity to Golgotha; using it in an emergency to get Jesus’ dead body into the ground before sunset and the beginning of the Sabbath). Saturday evening, after the Sabbath had ended, they moved the body to an unmarked pauper’s grave—without telling Jesus’ family or his disciples.

The empty tomb confirmed (in the minds of the disciples) that Peter was telling the truth! God has raised Jesus from the dead! The once timid, fearful disciples now become proud evangelists, fearing nothing. (“Jesus is coming very, very soon. We are going to rule the world as princes! So why worry?”)

Soon other disciples are having “trances”, visions, illusions, and false sightings of Jesus.

Years later (we don’t know how many years, even though evangelicals think they know), someone formulates a “Creed”; a list of alleged eyewitnesses to the original appearances of Jesus. This author really, really wants people to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. So he spices up the story. He embellishes some of the details. Why not, if it brings sinners to Christ???

And this new “creed” repeatedly uses the word “ophthe” (to literally see with the eyes) for every alleged appearance of Jesus, even though this was not necessarily what the original claimants had said.

“Who will ever know??”

“Let God be true and every man a liar!”





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Dear Evangelical: There is Still a Problem with Moving Mt. Sinai to Arabia

MOUNT SINAI - True Discoveries\


Christian reader of this blog:

Quoting Gary, from the post: “Dear Pastor Jordan Cooper: The Earth is not Flat”]: “And then there is the Sinai. Two million Hebrews wandered for forty years in a small, confined land mass and not one Hebrew artifact or piece of pottery has ever been found! And even more damning: God killed off all the Hebrews over age 20 who had left Egypt, barring them from entering the Promised land due to their complaining and lack of belief. Therefore, one million to one and a half million Hebrews died in the Sinai, sometimes all at once, such as in the incident with the serpents…and not one single Hebrew skeleton has ever been found in the Sinai!”

The small land mass you are referring to is between the west branch and the east branch of the Red Sea. In Galatians 4:25 it says: “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” Arabia is a much larger land area than what you call the Sinai Peninsula, and Arabia is on the eastern side of the east branch of the Red Sea.


Are you saying that several million Hebrews traveled from Egypt proper (Africa) directly to the Arabian peninsula without ever stepping foot in the Sinai??? If so, do you have a professional archaeologist who supports this theory?  If several million Hebrews made it to a mountain in the western Arabian peninsula, how the hell did they get there without going through the Sinai?

Air Saudi??

If several million Hebrews crossed the Sinai, even if it was just once on their way to western Arabia, there would still be significant archaeological evidence of this mass movement of people.  The fact is:  There is none!





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Evangelicals, Please Admit the Real Reason You Believe: The Perception of a Ghost Living in your Body!


William Lane Craig Ministries:

Gary, I think you’re misunderstanding what Jesus was saying.  Notice, for example, that he expressly appealed to evidence in order to substantiate his claims (John 5:39, John 10:38, John 13:19).  Additionally it was his lead disciple that commanded Christians to be ready to provide reasons for their faith (2 Peter 3:15).I’m really not sure where you are going with this.  Whatever you might think about faith is somewhat irrelevant.  We don’t need to trust in Jesus without evidence…there is plenty of evidence.  So even if some people do believe for spurious reasons…no one is asking you to believe for spurious reasons.

What exactly is the complaint?

As far as the reliability of the Bible, it is not widely disputed among the scholarship.  If you want to learn more about this topic then I recommend The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Holden and Geisler.  You can say that you don’t believe what they have written, but that they wrote it is not much in dispute.  Even so…I wouldn’t appeal to scholars to tell you to believe in the reliability of the Bible (hence my recommendation that you read the book I recommended).  Given the number, diversity, and dating of the manuscripts as well as the extensive quotations of it by the early church fathers and early manuscripts in other languages we can be very confident that what we have in our hands is what the original authors wrote.



“We walk by faith, not by sight.”

Walking not by sight, means walking blindly. Jesus and his disciples called for blind obedience, not belief based on a careful analysis of the evidence. But we will have to agree to disagree.

I have read MANY books on the subject of the authorship of the Gospels. I can give you a long list of quotes from prominent scholars who all state that the majority of scholars doubt the traditional authorship of the Gospels . But since this assertion is paramount to evangelical Christian apologetics, evangelicals will never acknowledge this fact no matter how much evidence is presented. So let’s move on. Let’s assume for a moment that most scholars do believe that associates of Jesus or associates of one of his disciples wrote the Gospels. Would that make a difference in the believability of the resurrection of Jesus claim? No, and here is why:

If another religion claimed that five hundred people living in the first century saw a cow fly through the air would you believe them? I doubt it. What if this other religion has four books, from four different authors alleging to be eyewitnesses, describing this alleged flying cow event? Would you believe it then? I doubt it. Why? Answer: Because it is a silly, preposterous story most likely based on religious hysteria, legend, and rumor.

Let’s get back to my original assertion: The trustworthiness of evangelical scholarship, and let’s add into that the trustworthiness of evangelical Christian apologetics. When you get down to the nitty gritty, historical and objective evidence is not the primary basis for belief among evangelicals. I know because I am a former evangelical. The assurance of salvation among evangelicals is not found in a book of apologetics. The assurance of salvation is found in “the testimony of the Holy Spirit”: the perception of the presence of Jesus/God/the Holy Spirit in one’s “heart”. Dr. Craig clearly laid out this position in his book, “the Son Rises”. To paraphrase, Dr. Craig said, “The simplest Christian can know that the resurrection of Jesus is an historical reality by the testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart. Even if there were no historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, a true Christian can know it really occurred by the testimony of the Holy Spirit.”

No matter how much evidence I present to the contrary, you nor most other evangelicals will ever doubt the historicity of Christianity’s supernatural claims as long as you believe that the spirit (ghost) of Jesus has taken up residence somewhere in your body. Here is the key question, Matt: What evidence do you have that a spirit lives inside your body, giving you life direction and secret wisdom?





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Dear Christian: Trust and Faith are NOT the Same Thing!

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(Christian word salad)


Spokesman for William Lane Craig, evangelical apologist and historian:

Christian theologians wouldn’t ask you to believe “by faith” as you are using the term.  The Bible actually commands us to give you reasons to believe…not just call you to believe (see 2 Peter 3:15).  So asking people to believe the claim “by faith” in the way you are using the term would be un-biblical.  Remember that the meaning of the term “faith” in Christian theology is simply “trust”.  If one trusts God then one can be said to have “faith” in God.  So it is sort of an odd usage of the term to talk about believing by “faith” in the way you seem to be using it.


Thanks for the response.

Good. So your definition of faith is “trust”. That is good to know because not all Christians define faith in the same way.

Jesus, if correctly quoted, encouraged people to trust (have faith in) the supernatural claims he was making about himself with the maturity of a small child. Small children do not use reason and logic to evaluate truth claims. Small children accept as truth whatever their authority figures tell them. They do not conduct research on the evidence to verify the accuracy of the claims. Asking educated adults to believe very unusual claims based on “trust” in one’s word violates the principles of critical thinking. It is not rational.

Extremely unusual, outlandish claims, regardless of who is making them, should be viewed with skepticism until substantial evidence is presented to support the claim. Simply taking Jesus’ word (or that of any other “teacher”) is foolish.

Jesus also (allegedly) once said this: “Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Here, Jesus is praising and promoting belief in dead body re-animations/transformations (resurrections)– based on hearsay. Again, that is a violation of critical thinking skills.

Christians have little if any objective evidence for their core belief—the bodily resurrection of Jesus. This claim is primarily based on alleged eyewitness testimony contained in four alleged eyewitness sources, but the fact is that this claim is heavily disputed among historians. Many historians and scholars, including the Catholic Church, doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels.

I would suggest that the primary evidence for many evangelicals, including Dr. Craig, is the “still, small voice” in their heads, as I mentioned in my first comment to Dr. Craig. The problem with this “evidence” is that evangelical Christians cannot prove to anyone that this “voice” is anyone other than themselves…their inner monologue.

Trust in your doctor, lawyer, general contractor, etc. is supported by substantial, verifiable evidence of their expertise and accuracy in decision making (licenses, board certifications, reviews, etc..).  That is very different from the faith/trust Christians profess in Jesus.

Christians may have questionable eyewitness claims that a few people saw Jesus alive again after his death, but they have zero evidence that Jesus is still alive and ruler of the universe—other than their subjective perceptions of him living in their “heart”.

That is not trust, that is wishful thinking.




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African-Americans Deserve Reparation Payments

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When my white ancestors came to this country, many of them were given the opportunity to homestead free land.  That opportunity gave my poor, landless, European ancestors the opportunity to accumulate wealth which has been passed down through the generations.

For African-Americans, no such free distribution of wealth was ever given to their ancestors.  Their ancestors came to this country in shackles, and once here, performed back-breaking labor without compensation every day of their lives until dead.  When slavery ended, not one cent was put into the pockets of the former slaves to start a new life.  Yes, they were free, but on their own to struggle for their very existence, while at the same time, experiencing massive discrimination at every attempt to get ahead.

It is time for America to do the right thing:  Every African-American deserves significant financial compensation in reparation for the massive injustices they and their ancestors have endured.

Come on, America!  Let’s do it!



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