Resurrection Arguments, Refuted

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 18, 2010 in Funny,Historical Jesus

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Garren October 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

I’m often amazed how even skeptics accept the non-miraculous elements of the Gospels as unbiased history. It comes as a package. If you take the miracles out of the Gospel accounts, of course you will get miracle shaped holes.

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Reginald Selkirk October 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

This would be the perfect place to use the “empty palm” argument for the existence of invisible pink unicorns, but I did that one just a week or two ago.

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Wes Widner October 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm

The reason the resurrection argument continues to be as powerful as it ever has been is because the arguments against it as as paltry as the comic above depicts.

In all reality, the evidence for the resurrection is quite strong.

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Garren October 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Wes, story elements like the empty tomb are quite explicable as things Christians would have wanted to make up to support their religious claims.

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ShaneSteinhauser October 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Luke, don’t you understand?

1. Anything that is reported by at least three ancient non-anonymous scources, and has enemy attestation is fact. This is true because random New Testament historian X says so, and he is not biased at all in anyway whatsoever.

2. The three gospels report the empty tomb. And we know that the gospel writers are not baised at all because they are Jesus’ disciples who died for their belief, and we know this because early church fathers say so and they are not biased either. Also we know that the gospels are totally reliable even though they were written at least 20 years after Jesus died. We know this because studies in africa have shown that Oral Transmission is extremely accurrate. And obviously studies of african traditions have merit on middle eastern traditions.

3. The three gospels were written by Jesus’ followers and we know this because the early church fathers who are not biased at all said so.

4. The jews admit that there was an empty tomb and we know this because one of the gospels says so. And that is all we need for enemy attestation. No, we do not actually need a word from an actual jew of the time we just need a gospel saying that he said so. That is good enough. Also Luke recently said that he thinks christianity is totally true. We know that he said that because I just told you so.

So now that I have proven that there was an empty tomb how do you explain it Luke? Obviously since you don’t have a good explaination Jesus coming back from the grave wins by default. Also since nobody can explain what made that bumping noise in my closet last night it must be the boogeyman.

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Andrew Reid October 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm

That cartoon pretty much sums it up. Maybe we can take the Licona defense:

1. Use the phrase “relevant historical bedrock” over and over in the hope that your opponent will eventually credit it.
2. Appeal to consensus amongst biblical scholars instead of making primary arguments.

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Thomas October 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

No, Wes, the resurrection “argument” is not powerful and never has been. All the “evidence” for the resurrection essentially comes down to this:
http://coasm.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/break-the-cycle.jpg
A book of Ancient Near Eastern mythology is simply not good enough evidence for the belief that there was a wizard living in the Iron Age who will take you to another dimension when you die.

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Rob October 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I love this cartoon.

I think certain prominent atheists, such as Richard Carrier, make a mistake by concocting elaborate stories (swoon theory, stolen body, etc.) to account for the alleged empty tomb.

Human beings make shit up, that’s all.

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Gil S. October 18, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Bravo, the comments here are a marvelous representation of this comic… except it’s “vice versa” and more dumb than ever. Seriously, are you guys completely unaware of how the Resurrection argument really works? Probably not because scholars don’t raise these objections, ignorant blabber mouths do.

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Jeff H October 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Gil, you can’t leave us hanging like that. I’m really interested in how you think the resurrection argument works. Please, do tell.

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Gil S. October 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Didn’t say it actually worked, just claimed that the comments here have clearly misunderstood the argument with their objections. It’s like criticizing evolution on the basis that you do not see new life forms coming about from say ducks. It just does not work that way, even if evolution was false. Thus I find it to be a straw man as it lacks a comprehension of the arguments. Now I could engage in explaining why it is more reasonable than what has been presented here but I don’t think this is the most appealing format to do that in.

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Patrick October 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Gil S: I have an argument that TOTALLY blows you out of the water. Seriously, it makes you look like a complete chump. I’m laughing at you behind my keyboard, and everyone else is doing the same.

But I’m not going to tell it to you. Its a secret.

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Steven October 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Alright, time for a little story to show why Resurrection arguments are not very credible:

I live in China. I invited my friend Joe from So Cal over to my home. Now, Joe is convinced that a Dragon attacked San Diego. He tells me the story of how the Dragon burned the library, how his buddy Mike died fighting it, and how the dragon stomped through the beach. Me, being a skeptic, demand evidence. Rather than produce some conclusive evidence of the Dragon’s attack, he asks “How do you explain the burned library then?” I point out that the story itself cannot be used to prove the validity of the story. Now, let us suppose that Joe manages to produce a news article that shows that a Public Library did burn down AND a blog post by a 60 year old man with no training in forensics or fires. Because the blogger insists that the only possible explanation for the library’s “mysterious” burn can only be a 5 ton lizard that can fly, Joe assures me that this is conclusive evidence of his story. He also asks me why the blogger–and himself–would put his reputation on the line making such a wild claim as a Dragon rampaging through San Diego unless it were true. Would you believe Joe?

Are you drawing the parallels here? I certainly hope I don’t have to explain what everything stands for.

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Garren October 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Gil,

Apologists do, of course, present their argument in a more complex form. It’s just that they always seem to end up demanding we believe Christian friendly historical claims purely on Christian say-so. The only thing going for such an argument is that some secular historians try to be generous because ancient history would loose a lot of content if we didn’t include the dubious bits.

I go by the criterion of dissimilarity. If early Christians probably wouldn’t have wanted to say something, they probably had to include it because it was already established in the tradition…or it actually happened.

I believe Jesus was a historical figure who was crucified purely on Christian say-so because I don’t see why anyone would want to make that up. (If you convince me the crucifixion was prophesied I will stop being confident Jesus even existed.) But the empty tomb and the bodily appearances would have very likely been made up to support early Christian doctrines if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.

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G'DIsraeli October 19, 2010 at 2:56 am

WTF have you done to the web-site deign LUKE?!

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Ken Pulliam October 19, 2010 at 4:30 am

If you take the miracles out of the Gospel accounts, of course you will get miracle shaped holes. Garren, that is a classic.

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Mazen Abdallah October 19, 2010 at 4:44 am

The reason the resurrection argument continues to be as powerful as it ever has been is because the arguments against it as as paltry as the comic above depicts.In all reality, the evidence for the resurrection is quite strong.  

That’s not a paltry argument. It’s a perfectly logical counter-argument. If we’re asking for independent, reliable evidence that the story happened, how can one element of it act as evidence? I don’t even really consider this one a debate.

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Martin October 19, 2010 at 11:53 am

Well, this is only anecdotal but there are a ton of non-Christian theories to explain the empty tomb. Look no further than the Da Vinci Code, for one. So there is some kind of hole there that needs filling.

It seems to me that if you want to get rid of the empty tomb altogether, you may be turning the “filter” up so high that much of history would disappear as well. Goodbye, Battle of Thermopylae, only attested to by Herodotus decades after the fact.

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Patrick October 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Martin- I reject the idea that you can separate one aspect of a story from another, and judge them all as individual historical claims. The fact that the empty tomb is part of a larger narrative about magical beings, throngs of the risen dead, and miraculous faith healing is not irrelevant.

An easy example of why, if its not blatantly obvious, is found by reference to existing works of fiction. A tale of fiction may incorporate real world elements like locations, world events, or even persons, or it may incorporate entirely fantastical versions of the same. Our standard for figuring out which is which cannot possibly be to take a fictional narrative, remove all of the parts we think are obviously fictional, and then believe whatever remains. That way lies madness.

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Reginald Selkirk October 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I think certain prominent atheists, such as Richard Carrier, make a mistake by concocting elaborate stories (swoon theory, stolen body, etc.) to account for the alleged empty tomb.

I would grant there may be some merit in demonstrating that even if we grant the actual occurrence of an empty tomb, the Christian explanation is not the only one, nor the most likely one. I.e. there can be multiple counter-arguments at different levels.

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Garren October 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm

@Reginald

I would grant there may be some merit in demonstrating that even if we grant the actual occurrence of an empty tomb, the Christian explanation is not the only one, nor the most likely one. I.e. there can be multiple counter-arguments at different levels.  

Aha, so you admit there was an empty tomb!

*apologetics impression*

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Rob October 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I became a weak atheist (lacking belief in god/s) some time this year after finishing my masters in systematic theology, but I often had niggling doubts about the correctness of my non-belief, mostly due to cosmological arguments and NT Wright/Pannenberg-type arguments for the historicty of the resurrection. This comic made me smile, but also did a great job of encapsulating the problem with resurrection arguments, which seemed to make so much sense, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why they felt ‘wrong’.

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mojo.rhythm October 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Bob Price made reference to this cartoon in his debate with Licona and Habermas on the Infidelguy radio show.

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Robert Tobin October 26, 2010 at 5:28 am

The “Holy” Bible is the worst book of fiction ever written. Nothing about Jesus actually happened. There is no independent evidence a Jesus actually existed. The real names of the authors of the New Testament are unknown. There are no original authored manuscripts of any of the bible. The whole story is a poor plagiarism of Egyptian Astrotheology

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C November 2, 2010 at 7:18 am

The story of Jesus is actually 4 separate stories, written by 4 different people. It is interesting how people discredit the Bible by simultaneously claiming “you can’t use the Bible as its own evidence” and by saying “the accounts found in the Bible are completely different and don’t even agree.” If the accounts are so different, why can’t we use them in their individual form as separate pieces of evidence? The writers didn’t put them together that way. The gospels are separate accounts that were later compiled into one book. Not only do the 4 gospels tell the same story, but there are other books that were written hundreds of years before the events the gospels describe: try Isaiah 53, the whole chapter.

But, in keeping with the light-hearted nature of the comic, it is frustrating not to have a wealth of evidence with which to conclusively support or refute the Bible. Then again, with such evidence 1. would we accept it? 2. how could we have faith?

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Rcreative1 November 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm

For many years, the SF Bay Area was “blessed” with a 24-hour TV preacher named Gene Scott who was quite a hoot to watch, and the rant that comes to mind now is the one about how the entire truth about Christianity rests on the resurrection. I remember thinking, “What a relief! You mean all I have to do is not believe this crazy story that has been told so many different ways about so many different gods and I can just forget about Christianity completely? No problemo!”

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