The resurection of Christ is the most probable explanation of the facts

When I first believed in God I studied and examined various religions trying to work out which one was the real truth. Christianity wasn’t on the top of my list but one I tried to avoid believing. I think I had a hunch or a built in awareness in my heart that it was truth, but I had to cross off or debunk a few others before I looked into it intellectually because to be honest I was hoping for a religious belief that did not require any commit or life change from me.

One of the main reasons I finally believed with my mind what I knew in my heart was that I became convinced by the evidence that Christ physically rose from the dead. I did not believe as I now do that the Bible was divinely inspired, but rater I just believed it was a religious text and historical document. What I found though was that even if you treat the New Testament as a historical document or even a work of fiction you must still come to a conclusion that resurrection is the most probable explanation of the facts. I became convinced that God miraculously raised Christ from the dead and I saw it as a vindication and sign from God that the Christian message and after that I also believed the Bible was truth. I have received a few questions on my formspring about why I am a Christian, and I have wanted to write about evidence for resurrection for a while. As it is the Easter season and resurection is a topic that comes up a lot during Easter I thought I would take the chance to write a few thoughts about it now.

It is not necessary to believe that God inspired the gospel accounts to conclude that Christ rose from the dead, but if you honestly appraise the historical evidence you might just conclude as I did that Christ and the Bible are indeed from God. There are certain facts about Christ’s resurrection that are commonly accepted by most scholars (both believers and skeptics) of the New Testament. The four facts that are accepted are that Christ died and was buried, that a group of women found an empty tomb, that a large number of people claimed to experience appearances of Jesus & that the early disciples experienced a revolutionary change and passionately believed and preached their message.

Christians believe these facts support their faith, skeptics believe they can be explained without accepting Christianity as truth. These facts must be examined honestly if someone wishes to reject or criticize Christianity as false. If someone is unwilling to examine the evidence then they forfeit any right their right to call their rejection of Christianity an intellectual decision. It is irrational to deny Christ existed (as some now do), because the historical evidence so overwhelmingly proves that he did exist. The best an honest skeptic can do is try to explain away the facts about Christ’s resurrection with alternative theories or explanations. The most common theories to explain the above four facts are as follows- the disciples stole the body, Christ’s enemies stole the body, the disciples hallucinated or Jesus has indeed risen. After examining the theories I concluded at 17 years old that Christ had resurrected from the dead and this conclusion has been reinforced time and time again since as I have heard others articulate the arguments for and against it, and as I have experienced the reality of Christ. I originally heard a debunking of alternative theories in a book by Answers in Genesis (I forget which one) and have recently appreciated the way Dr. William Lane Craig has presented similar ideas. I would like to offer a brief examination of the main arguments against the resurrection conclusion, borrowing heavily from having listened to Dr. Craig a lot and from that original reading of the AiG book.

Theory 1: The disciples stole the body and hid it
This theory is common amongst skeptics despite the lack of evidence to support it. This theory would point to a deliberate lie and conspiracy on the part of the disciples, involving them contradicting their beliefs against lying and stealing, sneaking past armed guards and concocting elaborate stories to try and convince people that Jesus had physically resurrected. It is a pretty big stretch to try and imagine that timid cowardly young disciples who were already disheartened by the death of their leader could sneak past a twenty-four hour watch of Roman guards trained to kill. In the unlikely event that it was possible for them to do this, why would they do it? They believed that knowingly deceiving was a sin in Gods eyes and that he punished sin. They also all underwent extreme difficulties, hardships, ridicule, torture and death for their message.

If the disciples hid the body and knew Christianity was not true, how can the change in demeanor and passionate focus on preaching their message be explained in light of the torture it would bring them? It is irrational to think that the disciples and Church founders would be willing to experience pain and death for something they knew was untrue. Sure people die for false beliefs all the time but those people think they are dying for the truth. Nobody dies for something they know is not true. If the disciples hid the body then Christianity was a fraud and they knew it. They would not be willing to undergo the difficult trials that they did for the gospel if they did not believe it was true.

Theory 2: Christianity’s enemies stole the body and hid it
This theory is often common amongst skeptics when they realize that it is unlikely that Christ’s disciples stole his body. It suggests that Roman soldiers or Pharisees stole Christ’s body to fool or trick the disciples or to further discourage them when their leader died. The problem that this theory has is that the missing body empowered the early Church.

Christ’s resurrection and ascension into Heaven has always been the lynchpin Christianity. The early Church boomed and thrived because of the belief Christ had risen. Christian preachers even taught that Christianity was foolish if Christ did not rise (1 Cor 15:12-19). If Christianity’s enemies had the body of Christ, all they needed to do was produce it and Christianity would have died at its inception. It is clear they did not have the body and were openly frustrated by it being missing. None of the enemies of the early Church believed this theory, it was never suggested. The missing body supported the testimony of the Church, and helped its spread. If Christianity’s enemies had the body they would have produced it.

Theory 3: Christ’s disciples hallucinated
This theory is suggested because the evidence is clear to even a casual passive skeptic that the disciples honestly believed they had witnessed and interacted with Christ after his death. It is unlikely that anyone is serious when they suggest that the appearances of Christ were hallucinated and it is a theory that is easily debunked. Even a basic understanding of psychology tells us that hallucinations are experienced differently by individuals and are not experienced the same collectively. Hallucinations are in an individuals mind and occur to people who hope for or expect them or to people who are open minded. The disciples had scattered and all but folded, they had gone back to their previous professions. They were not prone to belief, but to disbelief, as demonstrated by Thomas wanting to put his finger in Christ’s wounds and Paul encountering Christ despite not being a Christian. Also the hallucination theory does not explain why the body was missing. If the disciples hallucinated it would have been easily demonstrated by the enemies of the Church by producing the body.

Theory 4: Jesus rose from the dead
It seems that the most probable conclusion of evidence is that God raised Jesus Christ from the grave. The resurrection is the best and most plausible explanation. If a miracle occurred it suggests the existence of God. God vindicated Christ and resurrected him showing His approval of Christ and His teachings. This is the conclusion I came to when I was 17 and it is the belief I have held since.

My belief in Christ’s resurrection is not just an intellectual belief, but a heart conviction that God has given me. It is not enough to just believe with your mind, but you need to have a faith in your heart that can only come from God. I hope that as you consider the evidences for Christ’s resurrection you experience this gift from God and He gives you a repentant heart to ask for His forgiveness. While the evidence is overwhelming and gives intellectual permission for belief, it isn’t enough to merely believe with your head. The Easter celebration recognizes the importance of Christ dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sin and rising again. The evidence supports this message. You don’t need to leave your brain behind to believe in Christ’s resurrection, but you do need to leave your sin behind to experience it.

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50 responses to “The resurection of Christ is the most probable explanation of the facts

  1. You forgot to post any evidence. Tell you what, before you provide evidence for a cruciFICTION and resurrection, how about you provide evidence for a Nazareth in the time of Jesus. Same for the biblical Capernaum and Bethany (Betharba and Emmaus too). Then provide evidence that there really was an historical person named Paul. When you do all that, you can address the fact that Paul never spoke of an historical Jesus. After all of that, provide the evidence you forgot for the resurrection.

  2. In response to “noreligion”, I believe you forgot to post any evidence to the contrary? There is plenty of evidence of those places and events existing, in fact if you were to put forward those questions to any secular or christian scholars, you would not be taken seriously.

    Do you believe in Caesar existing? I am going to assume yes, but where is your evidence? Come on, show if you can. Oh but wait do not show me any writings about him, no witness accounts or third party report, no archeology or artifacts that shows he was real and please do not show any of his own writings and things he said, because going off your above post, none of this would be substantial evidence.

    If Paul did not preach a “historical Jesus”, what did he preach?
    Have you ever read his epistles ( sorry, his letters, just in case you didn’t know) ? Because maybe you should, then after that you will realize you sound like a a small child who wants a piece of candy, so determined to get it he will state plan falsehoods and ridiculous statements to get it. You probably formed your ideas by what your older brother, uni lecturer or Dawkins lover had to say about the letters, rather then read them yourself. Having studied a lot, let me assure you, Paul preached nothing but a historical Jesus. But do not take my word, or anyone else’s, study the evidence yourself.

    As for evidence for Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethany, Betharba and Emmanus, I do not get where you are going there? Clutching at straws? or just plan denial?

    Sounds like denying of widely accepted facts is something you like to do. May I suggest you read more then the back page of some “academic” books you probably claim to of read, do some proper research and drop the emotional baggage that is clearly there when you post things like “cruciFICTION” (evidence of someone you is so focussed on there agenda they will put forward irrational arguments).

    You ask for evidence of things which are widely regarded as fact, without providing evidence for vice versa. Nick has put forward his reasoning for belief, where is yours again?

    Most academics would laugh at your arguments. You are a non thinker, the kind that skims on the blurb of a book or reads the Wikipedia entry about something, then fueled by blind agenda does not take a rational look at all the evidence and come up with a probable outcome. You put forward embarrassing arguments which any thinking atheist would be ashamed of.
    I hope you respond with a more mature and thought out post then your original one. I do not mean any of this post a spiteful or hateful way to you, but in a hate for the mentality that does not seek truth truthfully, but would rather portray lies as truth, until the falsehood is told so much, people believe it.

    Steven

  3. How am I supposed to post evidence against anything when it wasn’t presented in the first place? Tell you what, if there is archaeological evidence for Nazareth at the time of jesus (and every other place I mentioned), present it. You will be the first to show a Nazareth between the 7th century BCE and 70-135 CE. Paul spoke of a spiritual jesus not an historical man. Read the book you hold so dear and you will see. BTW, before your mouth writes a check you can’t cover, you might want to read my blog to see how ignorant of the bible and church history I am. Your reply comes off like you’re a 3 year old that just got mad cause his toy broke.

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  5. Again, Can you present any evidence to the contrary?

    Nazareth was a small farming town, not large or significant in anyway. Historians do not write about small nothing towns. Why would they? But, pottery dating from 3oo B.C through to 400 A.D have been found, showing that it was indeed a place where a small community of people lived.
    There is evidence from around 70 A.D mentioning Nazareth, a list written in Aramaic of 24 families of priests who were relocated after the temple was destroyed. 1 of the families was relocated to Nazareth.
    Also I remember reading something recently about a roman style bath dated around 100 B.C being discovered close to where Nazareth is said to of been.
    (I know I do not have any references, you believe your not ignorant, so you must of come across these discoveries in your extensive research.)

    Why is it we do not find any of the of the earlier persecutors of the new testament using the argument that it did not exist? Surely, that would of been easy proof that the scriptures were false. Perhaps because it was a given that it existed.

    Remember that up until the 1900’s the city of Jericho was thought to be myth as the only reference to it was in the bible, until a number of Archaeologists dug it up and found it to be a real city.

    Early, the bible was scattered, a bunch of historical documents and letters that were brought together. So when people ask for non biblical proof of something,they are forgetting that the bible is made up of numerous sources confirming the same things. It is like me gathering up the major proof written on a topic, having them in one book, then saying, now show me evidence of this apart from these documents. It is dis regarding the key sources.

    What would you of liked Paul to of talked about? The height of Jesus? What size sandal he wore? Is that what you mean by historical Jesus? Why would Paul bother talking about historical things regarding Jesus such as where he was from? Perhaps because it was irrelevant. People just knew there was a town called Nazareth. If Paul believed Jesus was messiah, fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures, God incarnate, who died and rose, the only way to God, then it should be expected he wrote about a spiritual Jesus?

    I read some of your blog, wow so many words without really anything but opinion. What separates you from the more traditional atheists, and its something we seem to be seeing more and more of, is if you do not like a piece of evidence for something, you just plan deny its existence. Look at all the sources without the agenda of proving your point, but with the aim of finding the truth. That way you won’t pick out the bits of evidence that support your beliefs and deny the ones that don’t, but you were learn to look at all the evidence, way up the most probable conclusion from all sources (rather then a couple books or opinions.).

    Bless ya

  6. In an oddly distorted, negative universe Christian apologists declare that there is “no evidence” for their godman’s non-existence, as if it should be quite natural to believe in the most fantastic, illogical and unsubstantiated claims unless there was evidence to the contrary. If this stance had any viability, why stop at Jesus? Why not believe in Zeus, leprechauns and the tooth fairy?

    A favourite tack of the Saved is to affect a yawn, mutter “that old stuff again” and impatiently declare that Jesus’s non-existence is a 19th century rationalist’s heresy long since disposed of by “solid evidence”.

    The ringing claim of “more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for any other person of his day” is followed by a potpourri of ancient sources, as if a list made long enough could disguise the fact that NOT A SINGLE SOURCE EVER QUOTED IS FROM THE TIME OF THE GODMAN.

    But stepping around the smokescreen thrown up by evidence that early Christians certainly existed (and had a motley assortment of beliefs!), is the evidence for many of history’s greatest heroes and villains really so tenuous?

    I already said there was a Nazareth after 70 CE so why exactly are you claiming there was? In any case, 70 CE is approximately 4 decades after the cruciFICTION. During the supposed time of Jesus, the location of the biblical Nazareth was a gravesite. If you actually read the book you hold in high esteem, you will understand that no Jew (Jesus was supposedly a Jew) could live there. Now let me ask you a question, Philo of Alexandria was a contemporary of Jesus (25 BCE – 47 CE). He had quite a strong connection to Judaea. Like Josephus, he wrote on Judaism, Jewish history and politics. He certainly was in the right time and place to write about Jesus yet not one word was written. Why? Be honest with yourself and answer.

  7. Once again, can you present any evidence to the contrary?

    Because there is evidence for Jesus. Quite a lot actually. Where Zeus, lepracuans and the tooth fairy are myths with no evidence to support them being real.
    Nice tangent.

    I am just really confused to what kind of evidence you would like. Video footage? Photos? Play by play commentary? Realize blogs and twitter was not around then, for this period of history and for many years after the sources we have ate often written a couple decades after the event, but that is no reason to simply dismiss it. We have witness accounts that would be accepted in a court of law, but not by you? 2 of the 4 gospels are first hand accounts. Other accounts and letters are written within 6o years of Jesus being crucified. Going off your dismissal of these, then if you are or become a grandparent, then you better not ever tell your grand children about your child hood, or how life was when you were younger, or any of your family history. Because going off your logic, you should be dismissed as false, making up fiction, a liar.

    Do not assume I do not read the book I hold in high esteem, I read it quite often and am no expert but I read it every day. May I ask if you have read it much, or do you more read what other people have to say about it?

    They could live close by it though, in fact in the same region. I live in a place where the are quite a lot of small farming communities around, and even in our day and age you would struggle to find any information about them. If they were to pick up and leave tomorrow, there would be not much evidence of them ever being there with in a few years. This does not make them any less real, simply because they are not written about. That logic is scary.

    Could be a number of reasons. for whatever reason, perhaps not being well acquainted with it, or not knowing enough about what was taking place, he chose not to address it. You would base your entire belief about something on one source?
    Once again, you are looking only at evidence that leans to your side, rather then looking overall at the evidence and finding the most probable outcome.

    Perhaps one day, when your blind hatred for “religion” subsides and you logically weigh up all the evidence, you will be able to put forward a more clearer argument. At the moment you appear to use a lot of words to give the illusion that you are saying a lot of stuff, but if you are to strip back your presentation and look at your points, it is really nothing new and quite a weak presentation. I do not have time for it quite frankly. I love talking to people who can have an intelligent discussion, disagreements, put forward and discuss reasonably there ideas and beliefs, search out truth together. Unfortunately, at this stage in your life, you seem not to be able to so this.

    So I wish you sincere blessings, and hope you keep searching for the truth. Remember just because you do not understand something , this does not automatically rule it out as not true.

    Cheers,
    Steven

  8. Present it, you would be the first in history. Also, you would be disproving the bible since it clearly tells you to believe based on faith. Unfortunately if there were evidence, then faith would be impossible. Now I’ll step back while your head explodes 🙂

  9. Thanks for the comments noreligion and Steven. I’ve been away from my computer for a few days but enjoyed reading your discussion.

    noreligion, I think you and I have different definitions of evidence. Evidence does not always mean one hundred percent proof, but rather facts that can point to the most probable and likely account of a scenario. I provided four facts about the beginning of Christianity that are generally agreed upon by all but the most liberal scholars (religious or atheist).
    The facts were that-
    – there was a man named Jesus Christ who lived, died and was buried
    – that a group of women found his tomb empty
    – that a large number of people claimed to experience appearances of Jesus
    – that the early disciples passionately believed and preached their message
    It is not just religious scholars that accept these facts but honest secular ones as well.

    The four facts I mentioned are widely accepted because-
    – the documented accounts of Christ being a living person were not denied at the time by anyone who wanted to stop the growth of the Church (which they would have easily been able to do had he not existed). If someone debated the teaching of the early church leaders it was never on the basis of Christ not having existed because his existence was not deniable within the lifetime of the many eye witnesses.
    – At a place and time in history where women were seen as second class citizens no one in their right mind while making up a story would have used women as the chief witnesses unless that is what happened. No one would make up a lie that made themselves look as foolish as the disciples sometimes appear in the gospel accounts. No one would be willing to die for something they knew that they’d made up.

    The four facts are often interpreted differently, but to deny that Christ ever lived and died at all isn’t really an idea that is taken seriously by the bulk of scholars. After considering them I concluded that the miracle of resurrection is the most likely theory to explain them. I didn’t/don’t feel the need to discuss whether or not Jesus Christ existed historically because the argument that he didn’t holds no weight. I don’t think I will address the question of whether the geographical locations you mention existed at the time of Christ either, because it is an irrelevant tangent that does not impact upon the independent discussion of the truth of the resurrection or the arguments I provided in my post, although a simple Google search should turn up a few articles about Nazareth written by smarter people than you or I. If you like I can post you a good book on the topic called “The Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel, which I am more than willing to do on my dime. Just let me know your address over the next few days through the form at http://about.me/nickflight . I’d love to read a review of it on your blog if you do take me up on this.

    I merely wrote a few brief thoughts on the resurrection for Easter Sunday. I could have said a lot more but did this on a break at work and tried to be brief for the blog format. I guess I will grant you that my blog post is not heavy with the information or evidence you require. I don’t feel as though I need to use a lot of words to provide a objective, rational argument for the resurrection.

  10. Those four “facts” are only facts if you accept the bible as evidence. To be honest, an historic Jesus is not necessary for Christianity to begin nor is it desirable. I’ll take you up on your offer on Strobel’s book but I really hope being a former journalist he writes more lively than Josh Mcdowell. As to Nazareth, there are many articles about the absence during the time of Jesus. Rene Salm has a good book and I believe Frank Zindler has an article or two online. I think Earl Doherty does also as well as Kenneth Humphries. The geographic locations are not a tangent. If they are not true, that means the authors of the NT were not above lying. As far as most scholars accepting an historical Jesus, that is true but there is a caveat to it. Most scholars that accept Jesus either are or were Christian. As towards evidence, Go to my blog and read evidence for an atheist. Here is the link for you
    http://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/evidence-for-an-atheist/
    Basically, the evidence I ask for can’t be from the bible nor can it be hearsay.

    • I have put the Lee Strobel book in the mail this morning so you should receive it in about a week. I put with it another Strobel book “The Case for the Real Jesus”. I hope you find Strobel more lively than McDowell, who I’ll agree has a boring style. I recommend reading “The Case for Christ” first and if you think it is boring to not worry about the second book. I hope that (even if you find them unconvincing) the contentions in the book will at least show that a reasoned and rational basis for belief can be formed and that not all Christians ascribe to blind faith.

      I’ve given a bit of thought about what you have said about the geographic locations in the Bible existing and agree that you are right. For the Christian faith to hold up the Bible needs to be right about those things. I have printed out the Frank Zindler and Rene Salm articles along with two of your own to to read today (too much reading from the computer screen hurts my eyes). I couldn’t come at the Kenneth Humphries articles though, as he didn’t seem to form very strong arguments or have a lot of respect even amongst atheists.

      Even though I acknowledge that Nazareth existing at the time of Christ is crucial for the Christian faith to hold up, somebody questioning its existence does not prove its non-existence and surely the burden of proof is on those questioning its existence given that we have mentions of it in NT texts and some archaeological support. I appreciate that the biblical texts are not acceptable as reliable sources by you, but doesn’t the willingness of the authors to mention Nazareth suggest that it existed at the time? What I mean is if somebody was going to make up a false godman why would they have him come from a fictional place when they could just as easily had him come from somewhere like Jerusalem? Also why would they be willing to die for a story that they made up?

      I hope the books find you well, Lee Strobel is not the most exhaustive but I think he puts forward a respectable case. I’m not sure how long things take from Australia to USA but I can’t imagine that they’ll take more than a few weeks.

  11. Why can’t the Bible be evidence? Everything else that we know about non-recent history is from people’s diaries, letters and other similar accounts isn’t it?

    You’re right about Faith being essential though, because although I believe the Bible is reliable and provides plenty of evidence of Jesus’ existence and life, I also see that it is not proof, like photographic evidence. Then again, is there any kind of evidence or proof that would convince you?
    :] xx

  12. Is any literary work [not textbook as I know someone here will claim the bible is] evidence of anything (besides that it was written)? As far as evidence, you read my blog and even replied to Evidence For An Atheist. Why are you being dishonest and still asking?

    • I think that Catie makes a good point. The Bible is as reliable as any other historical document and more reliable than most because of the large amount of early copies we have of many of the books contained in it.

      noreligion, you are right that not every literary work is evidence of anything more but the books of the Bible are compelling in that they do not present themselves to be works of fiction but purport to be true. They are also unique in that the authors were willing to die before they denied what they wrote in them.

  13. Nick, The BOP is on those making a positive claim. The claim here is that Nazareth existed at the time of Jesus despite evidence otherwise. To be honest, there was a “Nazareth” in the Old Testament and it was named Japha. That settlement dissolved around the 7th century BCE. As a matter of fact, Tertullian (an early church father), lived in Cana of Galilee about 9 miles from the supposed biblical Nazareth yet NEVER MENTIONED IT. Asking why should it be mentioned if it were not a real place is a good question and there is a very good answer. For a moment, assume everything in the bible was made up out of thin air. Answer this, if the claim was Jesus came from Jerusalem how difficult would it be to verify the story even after 1 century passed? If the claim is made that he came from a place that didn’t exist, the story could never be disproven. This is also one reason why Christianity didn’t need and was better off if Jesus was not an historical person. If you make Jesus historical, then it is much harder since the evidence required is now objective not subjective. To me it is obvious where the idea of Nazareth came from as the hometown of Jesus. In Isaiah you read that “A stem sprouts forth from the stump of Jesse. There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” and the word used for BRANCH in Hebrew was netzer. In the gospels, the word was misunderstood and became the made up home of Nazareth. There are many instances of the NT writers “muddying” up a word from the Old Testament. As to why I can’t accept the bible as evidence, well for starters the bible calls PI 3, it confuses 40000 and 4000, it has talking animals, physical impossibilities, it’s misogynistic, genocidal, filicidal…you get the picture. You ask why the disciples were willing to die for a story if they made it up. Two possible answers. One is they did not willingly die and they had the same doubts as any condemned men do. Two is that they actually believed it regardless of it’s truth (or are you telling me the Muslim’s that flew into the world trade centers in 2001 were following the truth since they willingly died for it. I almost forgot, you mentioned that there is some archaeological support for the existence of Nazareth during the time of Jesus and you presented a link to the same evidence Steven did. That speaks of a relocation of a priestly order in 66-70 CE which is a few decades after Jesus. There is however some yelling about pottery and coins found in the northwest corner of what would be biblical Nazareth but at this point (and it has been years), there has been no verification and the “screaming” is not coming from the discoverer (who denies it) but from one of her colleagues.

    • About Nazereth-
      – The documentation of the relocation of a priestly order to the town that Christ grew up a few decades after he lived indicates that Nazareth existed extremely close to the time he lived. Presumably it must have already been established prior to the relocation which puts its existence even closer to Christ’s lifetime. While most scholars consider the New Testament references sufficient support, these inscriptions support the biblical view that Nazareth existed at the time of Christ. This makes it very hard for skeptic to argue the Nazareth didn’t exist until later without hard evidence, such as documentation of the town being founded.

      • Nick, I already said and will say again , Nazareth existed from 70 CE onward (became larger after 135 0r so). That in no way means it existed prior to that (at least since the 7th century BCE and then it had a different name). As I said, I would need extra biblical, archeological evidence (from an unbiased source) to convince me otherwise. I will not accept a Nazareth at the supposed time of Jesus based on nothing more than faith.

    • About 4000 or 40,000 horses and other apparent contradictions-
      – I can’t explain this but there seems to be a consensus that there are two or three copyist errors in the Old Testament. If this is the case, they are minor. These few (3) scribal errors all relate to copyists missing a zero in ancient times. Christians believe that God worked with the vocabulary, thoughts and talents of human authors but in such a way that the original documents were accurate and without error. If the best contradictions atheists can point to are one or two zeros then the Bible is pretty safe from honest criticism.

      • Nick, are you familiar with how numbers are written in Hebrew? The difference between 4000 and 40000 is not a zero, it is a totally different sequence of letters. In any event, if the bible was the perfect word of a perfect god, why couldn’t the all powerful and perfect god keep his word from being screwed up? So far the “answers” you are giving are extremely common and taught by thousands of theologians and apologists. You know why they don’t work? They are meant to answer the believer not the skeptic.

    • About the disciples being willing to die-
      – At the very least the disciples being willing to die shows two things: that Jesus physically/historically lived & died and that the disciples believed He was the messiah & had resurrected. The disciples cannot be compared to Islamic terrorists who believe they are dying for the truth because as the founders of the movement they would know if they had made it up or not. There willingness to die was not based on belief but on firsthand knowledge and if they were lying they would not be prepared to die for something they knew was false.

      • The disciples being willing to die shows nothing of the sort Nick. Be honest with yourself. All it takes for a willingness to die is a fervent belief. Are you telling me nobody in the history of mankind was ever willing to die for a belief that was wrong? Take the Jehovah’s Witnesses for an example (since you don’t like the correct example of an Islamic terrorist), how many have died willingly because they believed the bible prohibits blood transfusions? They believed wholeheartedly that their belief was correct and they were willing to die for it. Their belief turned lout to be wrong even though they died for it. No, it doesn’t mean a belief is true if you are willing to die for it.

  14. Catie, the bible is a book within history. It is not a historical book.

    • It is a collection of 66 books within history, written across centuries of time and huge distances by various authors from different backgrounds. Many of these books present themselves as historical recordings of true events and they all seem to line up with each other.

      • Actually there are many outright contradictions in the bible. Here is one and if you disagree that it is a contradiction it is proof you are being dishonest. Take the order of creation in Genesis 1 and recon cile it with the order in Genesis 2. I swear it seems like more and more Christians who claim there are no contradictions in the bible can’t have read the first two chapters.

  15. I forgot to mention my favorite absurdities in my abbreviated list to you Nick. Judges chapter 3 has Shagmar killing 600 Philistines with a cattle prod (which is a pointy stick about 17 inches long) and not to be outdone, in Judges chapter 15 Samson kills 1000 with the jaw bone of a donkey. Yeah, the bible is a book of history 🙂

    • About talking animals & other physical “impossibilities”-
      – The miracles in the Bible are extraordinary, and would be impossible if you presuppose the non-existence of God as atheism does (as presupposing Gods non-existence instantly dismisses Him being able to intervene and involve Himself in history). An enquiring mind with no presuppositions can become convinced that miracles are possible and this might serve as evidence of God. I think one of the most compelling miracles is the resurrection of Christ which can be argued without presupposing Gods existence. This is what my original Easter Sunday post was about.
      😀

      • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If I told you I had a car, that is an ordinary claim but if I told you I raised someone from the dead that is an extraordinary claim and would require much more evidence for you to believe (unless you want to believe it on faith). Atheism makes no presuppositions and if you think it does, you are incorrect. Atheism sees no evidence for a god therefore an atheist lacks belief in god.

  16. Sorry noreligion, I only read your blog AFTER I had posted here, I wasn’t being dishonest. I see now that you have said you’d e up for believing in God if He manifestly made Himself known to you personally. Have you considered asking Him, sincerely, to do that? I know that might seem odd if you don’t believe He is there, but it would be a step towards discovering Him if he is there?

    Also The Bible can’t be dismissed as a literary book, it is not the same as Historical books and text books we buy today, but it is a collection of accounts of the lives of God’s people, it wasn’t written as a fairytale to entertain people… do you know what I mean?

    :] xx

  17. Catie,

    Go read http://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/a-little-background/ and you will see most of the questions you are asking have been answered. Actually, prayer would negate any manifestation for the simple reason of conformation bias and other psychological reasons to lengthy to discuss here. And sadly, the bible can and will be dismissed as a literary work of fiction as long as it contains things like these..

    Top Ten Murders Of The Old Testament

    1. Jael drives a tent post through Sisera’s head while he was asleep in Judges 4. The bible sure has some gruesome imagery doesn’t it?

    2. Shechem and all his town are slaughtered when they are recovering from circumcision. The circumcision was the condition set so he may marry Dinah who’s brothers killed them in Genesis 6. Her brothers said they killed them because they were “treating their sister like a whore”. Firstly, that was Shechem and not the townspeople but it is nice to have biblical proof that honor killing is prescribed by the bible.

    3. Shagmar kills 600 Philistines by poking them to death with a pointy stick [cattle prod] in Judges 3:31.

    4. Samson was jealous of #3 so he killed 1000 Philistines with a donkey’s jaw-bone in Judges 15:15.

    5. King Ahasuerus impales Haman on a 75 foot tall stake so Queen Esther not to be less spectacular does it to Haman’s ten sons in Esther 7-9. Not exactly like #1 but #1 seems eerily similar. Maybe god was running out of spectacular ways to murder people?

    6. After Daniel escapes the lion’s den without a scratch, his accusers along with their wives and children get thrown to the lions in Daniel 6. And they say Christians get thrown to the lions?

    7. David’s son Absalom gets caught by his hair in a tree then his fathers soldiers stab him to death as he is hanging in the tree by his hair in 2 Samuel 18. Even David’s soldiers have no morals and they brutally kill his unarmed son? Guess the bible is chock full of great moral stories to teach our children.

    8. Jezebel is thrown from a window by three eunuchs then trampled by horses then her corpse is eaten by dogs in 2 Kings 9. This is just bizarre but if you read the whole story that starts with her and Ahab in 1 Kings 21, you will see this is a murder from god for them falsely accusing someone of blasphemy.

    9. Shades of Lot, a gang of men surround a house and demand that the owner send out his Levite guest come out to be raped. Instead he sends out his concubine. They rape her all night long [so this is where Lionel Ritchie got the idea for his song] and she dies. Then the man who sent her out chops her into a dozen pieces and mails them throughout Israel in Judges 19. Wonder if that’s how they disposed of Jimmy Hoffa’s body?

    10. Not spectacular but just plain weird. A woman in a town that was being besieged by King Abimelech dropped a millstone on his head. And as another proof the entire Old Testament was misogynistic, as he lie there dying, he begged his servants to stab him so nobody could say a woman killed him. in Judges 9. Need I say anything about this one?

    Top Five Weird Punishments Of The Old Testament

    1. This is just bizarre. in 1 Samuel 5-6 the Philistines capture the ark of the covenant so god gives them hemorrhoids.

    2. The cruelty in 2 Kings 2 where Elisha is made fun of for being bald. He curses the 42 kids so god sends two she bears [apparently cause females are more vicious then males] to kill them.

    3. The ultimate saltine in Genesis 19. Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed an order not to look back.

    4. The Israelites wandering in the desert got two mentions in this list. the first one is when they complained about not having meat instead of manna. God acting like an enraged Alfred Hitchcock sent The Birds. Which was just a bunch of quail for them to eat but as they were eating, he struck them down with a plague as the meat was “still between their teeth” as we read in Numbers 11.

    5. Not done with his movie writing career, 10 chapters later [Numbers 21] he performs the Samuel L Jackson punishment know as snakes on a plain. Again the Israelites complain about the manna so god sends a plague of poisonous vipers among them.

    Ok, Catie what are the good morals we learn from these 15 items? What are the things we learn about god’s people Catie?

    • About the accusation of “misogyny”, “genocide”, “filicide” and the “atrocities”, “murders” and “punishments” found in the Bible-
      – None of these are arguments against Gods existence, the resurrection or that the Bible is accurate. It can’t be argued that something doesn’t exist or isn’t true just because it is unpleasant. That is like saying that the US government doesn’t exist just because it periodically declares war or that any history book is in error because it records bad things that happen.

      • Never said that list meant anything you said I did. The meaning (or rather question) can be read in the last two sentences. Nobody is saying bad stuff doesn’t (or shouldn’t happen) but an all loving god calling for genocide is not something that can be dismissed. It is understandable that a Christian would sidestep it though cause a thorough examination will cause their faith to falter.

  18. That God’s people, like everyone else mess up, that’s why we need God’s GRACE, where undeservedly Jesus pays the ransom for all the rubbish we do. There are some really obscure things recorded in the Bible, yes, so?
    :]
    xx

  19. You know Catie, I can respect it if you were to say something like that is just what is written, I understand they are wrong and not all of the bible is to be considered true. But instead you attempt to justify atrocities. To be brutally honest, I would be afraid to meet you lest you think killing me in the name of your god was justified.

  20. I absolutely don’t think the atrocities are justified! I know they happen though, we can’t just deny the facts of anything that we wish didn’t happen.

    Personally there are some books in the Bible that I really struggle with, like Joshua, where so many people are killed. I don’t like it at all, but just because I don’t like it, that doesn’t mean that it’s not true. Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty.
    :] xx

  21. Truth, I really don’t think you know what that means. I suppose since the bible says (two times) that PI is 3, mathematics is wrong? I suppose since the bible says trees were created before the sun (they need to survive) it is true cause the bible says so. I suppose since the bible gives three names for Moses father in law, his father in law suffered from a multiple personality disorder. I suppose since the bible says the sun refused to go down (stood still) that the Earth really stopped rotating for some hours. You have a really odd definition of truth and just the fact that you can still “shove” the atrocities I listed under the table, I and others would find you to be an extremely scary individual. If atheists prayed, I would pray that you stopped deluding yourself.

    • About Pi-
      – I hadn’t heard the criticism that the Bible states that Pi = 3 before so I did a little googling around and found a lot of Christian and atheist sites which debunk this criticism.

      • That doesn’t debunk anything. It attempts to explain it. Fact is the value of PI was kn own at the supposed time of that text and it was known to a much better accuracy than 3. Anyway, that doesn’t address the talking snake, talking donkey, Earth stopping it’s rotation, etc…

  22. Yeah, I’ve thought about those things you mentioned, except for the PI thing, I hadn’t noticed that, I sometimes zone out where maths is concerned, and no I don;t think maths is wrong or that Moses’ father in law had multiple personality disorder, He could just have more than one name? And about the sun ‘stopping in the sky’ Yeah I don’t know how it happened, and yeah obviously the earth goes around the sun, but for it to stnad still in the sky would be an accurate description of what they saw… all this is trivial though, I mean this is GOD we’re talking about, He could do whatever He wants, He invented Science… but I don’t think our discussion is going anywhere, really.
    The truth is that there’s no absolute proof behind what either of us is saying, there’s evidence and we interpret it differently, coming to different conclusions. I hope you can see, even if you don’t agree with them, that Christians are not blind fools who naively accept ridiculous stories.

    I have no desire to shove atrocities under tables, or to delude myself. We’ll see in the end what happens, I will pray for you.
    :] xx

  23. The grandfather of Jesus is two different people according to the bible but according to your idiot logic, he probably had two names. You are not only deluded but after reading your last post, I doubt your sanity. If you want to go on believing non-scientific and absurd things based on faith and faith only, that is fine but when you have the nerve to claim anything about your beliefs is reasonable, logical or scientific then you are deluded and most possibly insane.

    • I had two grandfathers before they passed away, my mothers dad and my fathers dad.

      Belief in God isn’t illogical or unreasonable… nor are we deluded. Sometimes I feel a bit insane but not on account of my belief in God.

      • Sorry Nick but it wasn’t two different grandparents. The bible clearly said they were both Joseph’s father but that wouldn’t really surprise me if he had two fathers since the genealogies contain a prostitute, cursed people, an incestuous couple and their son, etc… Nick, do you realize you are speaking with someone that is intimately familiar with the bible?

  24. And so was your replying with christian blinders, so was your telling me to pray and ask god anything, so was your bargain basement anger telling me you would pray for me. Out of the three replying to me here, only Nick is being reasonable. Maybe you should learn.

    • I didn’t interpret anything that Catie said as unkind or angry and I think praying for someone is a nice thing to do.

      • To a Christian I am sure they would consider it nice. To anyone that believes prayer works it would be considered nice. I am neither. As a matter of fact I can direct you to a study (proper double blind) that was done on intercessory prayer and of all outcomes, it showed it didn’t work. It actually showed a negative effect.

  25. Sorry, that was not my intention.

  26. Don’t you see that retreating to the “god works in mysterious ways” canard is no different from an agnostic answer “we don’t know.” Just because you don’t know something does not mean god did it. For example, I can boil water while it is in a plain dixie cup. Maybe you never saw the demonstration (if you want there are videos on youtube) so you can’t explain it. Are you just going to assume god did it? There is a simple explanation and it has nothing to do with god. The bible isn’t a history book nor is it a science book.

  27. Sorry I was away for a while but work got busy, internet connection got flaky then I got an abscess to beat all abscesses.

  28. Pingback: Is there a conspiracy behind the formation of what we know as Christianity? « The Good News

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