Saturday, January 2, 2010

Science > A Search for Cause

When a bridge collapses.

When a person misses an appointment without calling

When someone goes from being an atheist to a Christian

We all ask “Why?”

It's perfectly normal for us to ask "Why?" for the things we experience and observe. Science itself, is, at its base, a search for cause, or the asking of the question, “Why are things as we find them?”

There are several historical events that are related to the life of Jesus that require and answer. These events require of us to ask, “Why would that be?”

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.

The reason that I’m not using the documents that were later compiled into what we now know as the New Testament is of course, atheists have a double standard when it comes to judging ancient documents. Something that critics seem to forget is that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as well as Acts of the Apostles and the other letters that are included in the New Testament weren’t written FOR inclusion into the Bible. What are now part of the Bible were once independent documents circulating throughout the Christian and non Christian community. These guys weren’t journalists working for something like, “Bible Magazine.” The documents that were compiled into what we know today as the New Testament were separate ancient documents, written by people who were interested in the life of Jesus. Some had been followers of or students of Jesus. Others, like Dr. Luke were historians. These people had no idea that what they’d written would one day become part of the biggest and most important movement in the history of humanity.

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.

In a manner of historical forensics, this post asks, “Why would the following have occurred if the facts of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection weren’t as described?” I believe that there is no sustainable reason for the following historical events to have occurred (and they did occur) unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

Rather than just skim over these questions or dismiss them as the ramblings of some no account Christian, I ask you to ask yourself in a genuine manner, the questions that follow. Even if you assume that an answer upholds your current beliefs, I encourage you to name the answer. Put it into coherent thought. Whether you agree or don’t agree with the conclusion at which I’ve arrived, for the sake of your ability to debate the issue, ask yourself in frank and honest manner:


If Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
Why would Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud, Josephus, and John Dominic Crossan, the Founder 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."
. Why would atheist and founder of the Jesus Seminar state, “That Jesus was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be” if Jesus wasn’t a historical figure?

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 alive after His death?
. Why would they confess that Jesus is the Lord God, Messiah?
. Why would Jesus whole family become part of the Christian movement?

Think about it! This was their half-brother, someone that they’d previously mocked and ridiculed. James’ and Jude’s conversions were a drastic change from thinking their Brother was insane and an embarrassment to the family.

For a moment, put yourself in James' place. What would it take for you to make this kind of change? What would it take for you to die for that change? For me, it would take nothing LESS than a resurrection.

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 dogs 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. I think 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 or creed that dates from the first 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?


Think about it! 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? This was an “outsider” eager to kill the leaders of the early Jesus movement, now coming to them with a knowledge of Jesus’ teaching equal to those who had been insiders.

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.

Peter watched his own wife being crucified just prior to his own crucifixion. Surely, if the risen Jesus was a lie concocted by Peter himself, he wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Without the resurrection, this type of behaviour 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 historicity of Jesus and 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 - Pay attention now -
. 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.

These questions, stemming from this evidence demand more than just a flippant, “People rising from the dead is impossible.” Something totally “other” happened back then and ignoring it is not a rational nor a logical thing to do.

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, you can do one of 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.”

20 comments:

Ginx said...

All that typing and you never even addressed the obvious reasons someone would in fact lie about events such as these.

*sigh*

Zzzst said...

"All that typing"? It's a cut and paste job.

Makarios said...

The obvious reason being?

Makarios said...

Z, you seem to have a problem with how I do MY blog.

Is there a rule somewhere that bloggers are only allowed to say things once?

Ginx said...

Mak, I died and rose from the dead. Now worship me.

Why would I lie?

Zzzst said...

And I say this unto you - there were 600 witnesses to Ginx rising from the dead. (I won't list them)
And there's proof Ginx exists! Documents, etc.

Submit to Ginx as Supreme Overlord - Or
. Lie to yourself that none of this proves anything - Or
. Say to yourself, “I don’t care if Ginx is real, I’m going to live my life, my way.”

You've lucky Ginx gives you a choice.

Makarios said...

“Mak, I died and rose from the dead. Now worship me. Why would I lie?”

“Birds have nests and foxes have holes, but I, the Son of God don’t have anywhere to lay My head.”

Besides the fact that neither you nor I would want to follow the path that Jesus took (He had nothing of worldly value in mind for His ministry) this post has nothing to do with the actions of Jesus and you know it.

This post has EVERYTHING to do with the behaviours of the followers of Jesus AFTER His resurrection. And THAT you know also.

Makarios said...

This is your answer Z?

This is your carefully constructed response?

This is how you explain the existence of historical events that demand a verdict?

This is how you explain the empty tomb?

This is how you explain the conversion of the sceptic and brother of Jesus', James?

This is how you explain the conversion of the sceptic and Pharisee Paul?

This is how you explain the dramatic change in character of Jesus' followers from cowards hiding behind locked doors to fearless evangelists?

This is how you explain the existence of the Christian movement?

That’s pretty sad. Peurile and pathetic. You really should just read this post and not comment.

Hugo said...

Well, that was a lot of writing for not much content, I cannot believe I actually read it all...

Two comments, first concerning this small part:

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.

It's really funny that you specified this, because I think it's the complete opposite; even if we were to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, why would we suddenly believe anything he said about his "Father", the Holy Spirit, or eternal life to be true!?
Since when does a particular action makes the saying of a person, not related to that action, true?

Anyway, 2nd thing... the sad part is that, as Ginx pointed out, you are really delusional to think that people would not die for a lie they know is a lie...

Go check this:

http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-martyrs.html

It's kind of long though, but that's the answer I would give to all your questions so it's worth it. They also discuss it on the TV show of the same week so you could go watch that too, but Tracie said basically the same things that she wrote on the blog if I recall correctly.

JD Curtis said...

I died and rose from the dead. Now worship me.

Just waiting for the miracles you performed along with a core group of followers who will withstand every manner of torture or horrific death rather than recant the "fact" that you are resurrected G.

Hugo said...

Oh Lord Ginx, please heal my painful ankle that I twisted on New Year's Eve.

.
..
...

Dammit, I think you are right JD, my freaking ankle still hurts... why Lord G, why? what should I do?

By the way, you too JD should take the time to go read the blog post on dying for lies...

JD Curtis said...

The "Atheist Experience"? You actually visit/quote that intellectually dodgy, echo chamber-circle jerk of like minded fools, frauds and synchophants? Anyone that moderates comments of opposing viewpoints doesnt even rise to the level of "intellectual bitch" in my estimation.

Makarios said...

Over the years, I’ve witnessed a lot of dismal efforts on the part of atheists attempting to rationalise the events surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in a manner that allows their naturalist world-view to stand.

But to suggest that the early followers of Jesus endured years of hardship, loss of virtually everything people consider valuable by worldly standards and eventually the loss of their very lives by, in most cases torture, and to suggest they did this because they were desperate for attention or that they were after fame and fortune is, I think a sad, sad commentary on atheists everywhere.

That atheists are dull of mind and slow of thought is nowhere more clearly shown than in these "arguments."

That the gates of hell are locked from the inside is nowhere more clearly shown than in these asinine, preposterous and absurd suggestions.

But then, absurdity, illogic, incoherence and peurility are each and every one the hallmark of atheism.

Zzzst said...

the early followers of Jesus endured years of hardship, loss of virtually everything people consider valuable by worldly standards and eventually the loss of their very lives by, in most cases torture,

Jeez, they're just stories.

Hugo said...

The "Atheist Experience"? You actually visit/quote that intellectually dodgy, echo chamber-circle jerk of like minded fools, frauds and synchophants? Anyone that moderates comments of opposing viewpoints doesnt even rise to the level of "intellectual bitch" in my estimation.

lol, ya I am watching it right now actually! started 10 min ago...
http://www.ustream.tv/channel-popup/The-Atheist-Experience

They talk about how kids drop their beliefs gradually regarding things like Santa, Dragons, etc... some fail to finish that de-belief curve apparently

They don't really moderate the comments by the way, it's just to avoid SPAM. They turned it on and off on a few occasions. If you want to see a real censorship of comments, you'll have to look on theists' blogs... Hovind (the young one) is a good example.

Hugo said...

Makarios, you don't get it. You cannot pass over the emotional appeal of these embellished stories and the death of people who happened to believe the same things as you. The problem is that very few had to lie to convince a bunch of people who in turn convinced others, etc... eventually, you can get thousands of martyrs that do not lie, because they really think that it's true, they just don't know that it was a lie originally, and they think that it's such a great message, such a great hope to go to heaven, that yes, they will die for that.

JD Curtis said...

They talk about how kids drop their beliefs gradually regarding things like Santa, Dragons, etc... some fail to finish that de-belief curve apparently

Of course, they never get around to comparing the archeological evidence for Santa and Dragons as opposed to the history of the Bible.

They don't really moderate the comments by the way, it's just to avoid SPAM. They turned it on and off on a few occasions.

Which is their current version of their story. If they are so concerned, why can't they just delete "spam" as it occurs? I flat out called one moderator, "Martin" a "bald faced liar" in a public forum with the hope that he would sue me and thus I could subpoena their records and put forth the exchanges that actually occurred between him and me rather than people just taking his word for what occurred. Odd that I havent been sued though.

Hugo said...

Which part of the word "gradually" don't you understand JD ?

Gorth Satana said...

Tower of Babel - History and the explanation for our different languages?

JD Curtis said...

A unification of all languages would be one way to debunk that which is said in the Bible. D' accord?