Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gimme Proof

Atheists are forever clamoring for evidence, evidence, give us some evidence. Ok. Try this. It was posted a couple years ago but atheists seem to never remember anything that doesn't support their world-view.

Absolutely none of what you’re about to read has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust), to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the following historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
Why would Josephus, Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud and John Dominic Crossan of the “Jesus Seminar” all attest that Jesus’ crucifixion is historical fact? And why would that be when all but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are non Christians?
If Jesus didn’t die on the cross, why would these historians and scholars write that He did? Why would they simply invent these stories? There was/is absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained by concocting this as a lie.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why do we have multiple, independent, extra Biblical sources attesting to the risen Jesus?
. Why do we have virtually unanimous modern historical scholarship agreeing that the disciples truly believed they saw Jesus alive after His death on the cross.
. Why would atheist historian and New Testament critic Gerd Ludemann say, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
. Why would atheist historian Paula Fredriksen say, “I don’t know what they saw, but as a historian I know they believed they saw Jesus.”
. Why would highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agree that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus."
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make sense. Why would the enemies of Christianity affirm the historical facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus if the evidence isn’t accurate and compelling?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why would all the disciples, plus hundreds and hundreds of others believe that they saw Him alive?
. Why would they say that they spoke with Him?
. Why would they say that they ate with Him at various times and various places?
. If none of that is true, why would they be willing to die for making up the lie of seeing Jesus alive? There was absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained, and everything to lose by concocting the supposed lies about Jesus life, death and resurrection. Remember these people didn’t believe someone else’s lie. Over the centuries many people have died for believing someone else’s lies. But if THESE people died for a lie, it was THEIR lie! They died for saying they saw Jesus alive again after His death. Liars simply do not make martyrs of themselves.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, their willingness to die for the “truth” doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Paul’s testimony about His encounter with Jesus and why do we have his radical transformation in character from a persecutor of the Church and a killer of Christians to the greatest missionary that the Christian Church has ever seen? Remember, Paul:
. Was a rabid sceptic when Jesus appeared to him.
. Was an enemy of the Church when Jesus appeared to him.

This is not like most conversions whereby the person reads or hears something that persuades h/her to change. Paul’s evidence for the risen Jesus was first hand and so convincing that he endured years of hardship, persecution and rejection for proclaiming the risen Lord, before finally being beheaded by Nero in 64AD.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in Paul’s character doesn’t make any sense. He had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain, and everything to lose by concocting a story of meeting Jesus while on His way to persecute the Church.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why in the world would Jesus’ brothers James and Jude go to their deaths proclaiming that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead?
. Why would they claim that they had seen Him?
. Why would they confess that Jesus is the Lord God, Messiah?
James’ and Jude’s conversions were a drastic change from thinking their Brother was insane and an embarrassment to the family.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in the beliefs of Jesus’ siblings doesn’t make any sense. They had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain and everything to lose if what they said about Jesus appearing to them after His death was not true.

Remember, Both Paul and James were sceptics at the time that Jesus appeared to them. Why would they become His followers if His resurrection wasn't historical fact?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why was His tomb empty?
. Jesus’ enemies were the ones to confirm that the body was missing by proposing that the disciples stole it.
. The disciples didn’t have the power nor the inclination to steal His body. They were hiding behind locked doors.
. Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal the body and every reason to keep it right where it was. They posted an armed guard, and sealed the tomb with the Governor’s seal to make sure that nothing happened to the body.
. The first proclamations of the empty tomb were made right there in Jerusalem where Jesus was murdered and buried. The tomb could have been easily checked out.
If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, how is it that the tomb was empty with no sound explanation other than the resurrection?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do the ancient documents written by Jesus’ followers make the “mistake” of saying that women (who at the time were seen as lower than animals and not capable of telling the truth) were the ones who discovered the empty tomb and encountered the risen Lord. If it wasn’t true, if the disciples were trying to convince others of a lie, if the resurrection wasn’t historical fact, why would the writers invent the testimony of women to say that it was true?
If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that His followers would do that.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why did Josephus, Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria all non Christians and all historians write about Jesus’ brother James, his leadership in the Jerusalem Church and his martyrdom for proclaiming Jesus as risen Lord and Saviour?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. People don’t just destroy their careers and reputations by writing lies. They would only write these things if the evidence convinced them that it was accurate.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have an early oral tradition that dates from the first or second year after Jesus’ death attesting to the fact of Him rising from the dead.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. There is no hint of legend or exaggeration in this oral tradition. And these people had their lives to lose by repeating it. Why would they do that if it wasn’t true?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the written works of the early Church with hymns, poetry and creeds, stemming from the early oral history telling about Jesus rise from the dead?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, we simply wouldn't have this.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the Christian Church? Paul told early Christians, “If Jesus did not rise from the dead, your faith is worthless.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact there wouldn’t be any Christianity. Yet here it is today, over 2 billion strong.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
How did Paul know what He knew about Jesus prior to any contact with the apostles and why would they accept Paul as one of their own based on what he was teaching about Jesus?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, and without Jesus appearing to Paul and teaching Paul about Himself, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the four ancient biographies of Jesus, one of them by historian and physician Luke who got his information from eyewitnesses all affirming the resurrection of Jesus? Why would they tell Luke that these things happened if they weren’t true? They paid for that "lie" with their lives.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Polycarp and others, all saying that they had been taught by the apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead. And THEN, all of these men were themselves martyred based on the believability of what the disciples had told them. These were not ignorant, gullible men. Yet the evidence made sense to them.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, how could that happen?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
What would account for the disciple’s radical transformation from fearful and cowardly men who denied Jesus and who ran away from Him during His trial, to bold individuals who were so confident of the truth of what they saw and heard regarding His resurrection, that they were willing to undergo years of persecution as well as torture and death rather than change their story. Without the resurrection, this change in character doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why was it that Polycarp wrote of the endurance under torture of Paul, Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus for their belief in the risen Christ?
. Why was it that Ignatius also wrote of the suffering and death of the apostles?
. Why was it that Polycarp and Ignatius were both martyred?
. Why would they be willing to die in such a manner if the accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection weren’t accurate?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would we have confirming accounts of the disciples teaching and deaths in Roman public records called “Lives of the Caesars.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would Origen write, “Jesus, who has both risen AND led His disciples to believe in His resurrection and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth that they showed to all men by their suffering how they were able to laugh at life’s troubles beholding to life eternal and a resurrection clearly demonstrated to them in word and deed by this one Jesus.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that Origen would write that.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why do we have Eusebius, Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, Hegesibous, Josephus, Clement of Alexandria, all of these sources, Christian and non Christian alike affirming the disciples willingness to die for what they believed to be true.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that these many and varied individuals would make this stuff up.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:

. Why is it that Luke writes that Jesus spent about 40 days with the disciples after He rose from the dead, and
. Why can it be further calculated that about 50-55 days after His death, Jesus’ followers started proclaiming His resurrection, and
. Why did Tacitus, an enemy of Christianity, write “Jesus’ execution by Pontius Pilot checked, for the moment, the Christian movement but it then broke out with force not only in Judea but even in Rome.”
. Why would these accounts, one from a follower of Jesus and one from a secular historian and enemy of Christianity be so similar unless they’re true?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

Absolutely none of what I’ve just written has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust) to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the above historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

If Jesus did in fact supernaturally rise from the dead, then what He taught about being the Son of God and about the existence of Creator God must also be true. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus demands a verdict. With the evidence so overwhelmingly pointing to the fact of His resurrection, one can do three things:
. Submit to Jesus as Lord and Saviour - Or
. Lie to yourself that none of this proves anything - Or
. Say to yourself, “I don’t care if God is real, I’m going to live my life, my way.”

10 comments:

Alpha Monkey said...

I appreciated your comment on my blog today and have responded.

JD Curtis said...

Good entry Mak. I'm going to archive it.

The Atheist Missionary said...

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross, why would these historians and scholars write that He did? Because they are relating second and third hand information.

Why do we have multiple, independent, extra Biblical sources attesting to the risen Jesus? For the same reason that they had multiple sources lauding the arrival of the savior for centuries before the supposed birth of Jesus.

Why would atheist historian and New Testament critic Gerd Ludemann say, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” Because it is possible that is exactly how it appeared - but that doesn't mean that they weren't mistaken.

Why would all the disciples, plus hundreds and hundreds of others believe that they saw Him alive? See Lourdes, Magnetic Hill, etc. and please read Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Jesus’ enemies were the ones to confirm that the body was missing by proposing that the disciples stole it. First of all, suggesting that this is a historically verified fact is bullshit that I suppose you can get away with on a blog that perhaps no more than a dozen people might read in a day. The historical record of the era is extensive. There is an enormous corpus of contemporaneous documentation. Strangely, not one mention of the "King of the Jews" making a big scene in the temple and Pontius Pilate playing politics with his life and so on and so forth. Not a single mention. Nope, not even one teensy weensy note anywhere.

Finally, I really wish that you would stop all of the useless references to the acts of martyrs. If I (and millions like me) am willing to sacrifice my life for a mistaken belief, how will those sacrifices make the belief any more true? Of course, it doesn't. What I don't understand is why you keep pulling out this fallacious reasoning unless you seriously think that some dummies are actually going to be impressed by the commitment of martyrs and end up agreeing with you. If so, I guess we should judge the truth of a belief by the lengths to which its believers are willing to go to suppport it. Beautiful logic. Oh, I forgot ... logic is incompatible with religious faith.

JD Curtis said...

please read Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

TAM, not having access to the book you cited, does it reference any examples of mass halucination? That is to say, a large group of people, all halucinating and all seeing the same thing?

Makarios said...

“Because they are relating second and third hand information.”

First of all, these scholars are dealing with eyewitness testimony. They know it and they accept it.

Second, are you suggesting that YOU know how to distinguish truth from error in documents from antiquity and historical scholars don’t?
===============

“For the same reason that they had multiple sources lauding the arrival of the savior for centuries before the supposed birth of Jesus.”

What sources would those be?
=================
“Because it is possible that is exactly how it appeared - but that doesn't mean that they weren't mistaken.”

That is correct. And if all we had were the disciples testimony, the issue wouldn’t be as big as it is. However, we have:
Individual and group sightings where people said they spoke with Jesus, ate with Him, walked and talked and were taught by Him.

THAT evidence is coupled with an empty tomb. If Jesus were still in the tomb He obviously wouldn’t be somewhere else.

THAT evidence is coupled with the sceptic Paul encountering Jesus plus his dramatic change of character and beliefs

THAT evidence is coupled with the sceptic James, Jesus’ own brother encountering Jesus plus his dramatic change of character (formerly thinking his brother was insane) and beliefs (worshipping Jesus as his Lord and Saviour).

THAT evidence is couple with the dramatic change in the character of the disciple’s from cowards to fearless men and women who went to their deaths claiming the risen Christ.

This is historical evidence. It is corroborated by over two dozen extra Biblical sources. That means something. It requires and explanation and I think the best explanation is the resurrection of Jesus. Unlike atheists I’m not closed-minded. I don’t have to rule out evidence before I even take it into consideration.
==============

"Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.”

I understand psychosomatic illness and recovery. This is not anything of that type. We are talking about hard physical evidence (the empty tomb); sightings that were most certainly NOT hallucinations.
=================
“Not a single mention. Nope, not even one teensy weensy note anywhere.”

Why would we have confirming accounts of the disciples teaching and deaths in Roman public records called “Lives of the Caesars.” Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.
================

“If I (and millions like me) am willing to sacrifice my life for a mistaken belief,”

Because we aren’t talking about a mistaken belief. We are talking about what would be a LIE - Their lie. Liars do not make martyrs.

You don’t make mistakes about whether you spent time with someone for over a month.

You don’t make mistakes about whether you ate with someone virtually every day for over a month.

You don’t make a mistake about whether you touched a physical body or were taught by someone, again for over a month.

There is no such thing as a group hallucination.

People will lie in order to gain something of worldly value like wealth, position or power, but people do not give up everything of worldly value for a lie. People do not allow themselves and their families to be tortured to death for a lie. I don’t understand why a smart boy like you can’t get the difference here.

The Atheist Missionary said...

JD Curtis, Mak tells us that There is no such thing as a group hallucination. He chooses to dispel everything from the Dancing Plague of 1518 to the Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962. Mak talks as if he has sworn Affidavits from 20 people who witnessed Jesus die and rise from the dead. What he conveniently ignores is the staggering absence of any mention of the events which are supposed to have occurred during Jesus' lifetime that are not mentioned by correspondents who we know were living and writing in roughly the same area at the same time. He also conveniently ignores the fact that Jewish prophets had been promising for centuries before the supposed birth of Jesus that a messiah would come. Mak, your reference for this latter assertion is: Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks, Moody Pr, 1958, ISBN 0–8024–7630–9 (which I must admit I have not read).

Makarios said...

"Mak tells us that There is no such thing as a group hallucination."

I don't think version V is out yet, so why don't you look up hallucinations in the DSM-IV or The New Harvard Guide to Psychiatry. Then you won't have to say such silly things
============

Mak talks as if he has sworn Affidavits from 20 people who witnessed Jesus die and rise from the dead."

What I have is better than that. These people swore to the truth of their statements with their very lives and in many cases, with the lives of their families. In fact, Peter was forced to watch his wife be crucified before his own crucifixion took place. Still he swore to the truth of what he'd witnessed.
=============

"He also conveniently ignores the fact that Jewish prophets had been promising for centuries before the supposed birth of Jesus that a messiah would come. Mak, your reference for this latter assertion is: Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks, Moody Pr, 1958, ISBN 0–8024–7630–9 (which I must admit I have not read)."

What is the point that you're trying to make here? Have you all of a sudden come over to my side? Not only did they say that the Messiah must come, they said that:

. He must come before 70AD - which He did.

. People would think that He was dying for His own sins - which they did.

. He would come suddently to His temple, "Purifying some of His people and bring judgment on others." - which He did.


. His glory would "fill" the second temple. That can only be referring to His presence.

. He would make atonement for the sin of all people - which He did.

No one except Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. Again, this all had to take place prior to 70AD when the second temple was destroyed.

I mean, if it wasn't Jesus:
. When did God visit His second temple in a personal way?

. Who else atoned for sin?

. When else was the glory of the second temple greater than the first?

I know that the most desperate atheists have thrown up their hands in the face of overwhelming evidence and are now trying to say, "Jesus never existed."

In light of this evidence they will next have to say that there never was a second or even a first temple built. Or perhaps they'll say that Jerusalem has never existed.

Glen20 said...

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is public domain and can be read here.

http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/m#a516

If you are interested in "memes" before they were named, it's a great read.

Makarios said...

Oh, I get it. You guys don't actually know that there's a difference between delusions and hallucinations.

JD Curtis said...

Right. Using the Magnetic Hill reference you site TAM, if all of us were there and we observed a ball roll "uphill", that wouldnt be mass hallucination. The ball is real, it is rolling, just the appearence of it going uphill is illusionary. You're comparing apples and oranges.