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Author Topic: Historical Jesus and his "Miracles"  (Read 6589 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 30, 2010, 11:42:35 PM »

There exists little in the way of historical documentation for Jesus' life beyond the Biblical Gospel, and it is likely that these accounts were not written by eyewitnesses. This lack of evidence makes it very difficult to discern actual historical facts behind the Christian stories that describe him.

A historical Jesus to be a red herring and argue that, while a person named Jesus may or may not have existed, there is clearly no reason to believe that he had special powers, was the son of God, or performed miracles. Even if it could be firmly established that Jesus, the man, existed, this would not be evidence for the extraordinary claims that make up the foundation of the Christian religion.

Jesus believed the world would end within his lifetime, and is based on numerous passages within the Gospels, such as Mark 13 , where Jesus at least seems to express such a view. It makes sense within the context of the general apocalyptic fervor of the time, as well as the beliefs of John the baptist and early Christians such as Paul and the author of the book of Revelation. There is almost no evidence for the miracles of Jesus outside the hearsay reports of the Gospels. For this reason, there is no basis for accepting that he worked actual miracles. On the other hand, faith healings and exorcisms happen today, though investigations show there is no reason to regard them as actual supernatural events. This suggests a possibility that Jesus was a fraudulent or self-deceived wonder worker and there were witnesses who really believed they had seen him work miracles.

Unlike Jesus' other miracles, Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in I Corinthians. Unlike the Gospels, I Corinthians probably was written by its traditionally assigned author. However, the reference provides no better evidence for the resurrection than the evidence for angelical authentication of the Book of the Mormon. It is also not the sort of evidence that many psychical researchers would demand for the existence of ghosts or telepathy.

Many Christian apologists have claimed that the high quality of Jesus' moral teachings is undisputed and is evidence of his divinity. However, Jesus' status as a moral teacher has been disputed on many occasions.

In Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell argued that while many of Jesus' teachings were good, the Gospels clearly portray him as believing in eternal punishment, and this is unbecoming of a truly humane person.

Ancient historian Richard Carrier has argued thatt the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus was a better moral teacher than Jesus. Among other things, Carrier cites Rufus' belief in equality for slaves and his belief that "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think."

In chapter 7 of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins praised Jesus because he "was not content to derive his ethics from the scriptures of his upbringing... Since a principle thesis of this chapter is that we do not, and should not, derive our morals from scripture, Jesus has to be honoured as a model for that very thesis." However, Dawkins criticizes New Testament ethics on the issues of original sin and Jesus' demand that people must abandon their families to follow him.

It should be noted that some secularists hold very positive views of Jesus' ethics. For example, there is a website called Atheists for Jesus whose stated mission is "to provide a method of communication between religious and nonreligious people who believe in the message of love and kindness put forth by Jesus" and which argues that Jesus' actual teachings were at odds with the stance of modern Christian fundamentalists.

According to accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was either born in the year 6 CE (during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea; during the reign of Quirinius) Luke 2:2  or in the period 37-4 BCE (during the reign of Herod the Great) Matthew 2:1 . Traditionally on December 25th, although the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to celebrate Christmas for the reason that the gospels suggest that sheep were still out in the fields suggesting that it wasn't the start of winter (among other reasons). So, at best there are 9 years (4BCE - 6CE, no year 0) where neither Gospel allows Jesus to be born and the rest of history where at the least one Gospel contradicts the date.

Anyone to counter this?
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2010, 11:47:25 PM »

The Tomb was empty. Nothing else matters.
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2010, 11:55:06 PM »

Alternatively, from the Talmud: "Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b)
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2010, 12:12:13 AM »


Anyone to counter this?

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I told you before on the other thread, no one is going to be able to demonstrate any of this to you.  God is not an intellectual concept or construct, and what Dawkins and Russell and Hitchens (who I've read all their work, and truly Augustine or John Chrysostom actually offer more substantial,  intelligent and sophisticated arguments for atheism setting up their own rebuttals than any of these sensationalist, bitter, muckrakers!  Meh..

I was not impressed with those guys, there was not substantial science, not mathematics, no superior logicians or rhetorics, nothing anywhere near as impressive as the Latin Quarters of England and France outside the great cathedrals in the 12th and 13th centuries.  These guys are actually quite boring, I'd rather read Stephen Hawkings or Richard Feynman or Albert Einstein.  

We can not prove God to you, we can not prove the divinity of Jesus Christ.  It is a revelation from God, and the only way to find it is to sincerely pray in your heart to the Father, our God, to give you the Spirit of revelation and Grace to unveil His Godhead to you..  

Sorry, you will not find it with calculus, no matter how sincere Sir Isaac Newton's gamatria was..
You have to learn to directly experience God, you cannot just think about it, He is not a figment of our collective imagination.  If you'd like to get to know me, you must actually ask me, directly.  So to is God in our midst, but too many of us (Christians included and especially) do not take the opportunities to connect directly with God on a spiritual level rather than feeble intellectual attempts.
I explained it a bit differently here, let me quote it.

Quote
I had a meditation today at Liturgy for the Virgin Mary monthly holiday.  I was talking before about how God is like gravity, it is universal, fundamental and yet subtle.  God gives us the free-will, but like gravity, or like the programmer of a video game, we have absolute free will to make any decision we'd like, but yet are absolutely limited by the parameters of gravity or the programming.  God gives us the free-will to make decisions, and He just might not necessarily know what decisions we will make, but since He is the parameters themselves, He knows every single possible outcome, because He designed them all.  Thus God and free-will are perfectly harmonious, God gives us the freedom to make our own decisions, but entirely limits the possibilities of these decisions by the parameters of reality and then knows every possible outcome.  Just as you can freely move your hand anywhere you'd like in time and space, but then again gravity and the other 25 fundamental cosmological forces will actually determine every possible choice of movement.

Also like gravity and these forces, God operates so smoothly in our lives that we rarely even notice until we learn what to look for.  You do not necessarily feel or consciously think about gravity, and yet it is always there operating in our midst.  Only when you exercise, or practice a sport with running or jumping or lifting heavy things, do you feel the presence of gravity very consciously and learn from experience how to operate with an through it.  Orthodox worship are the spiritual sports and exercises which make you take notice of the perception of God directly, just as learning to play a sport teaches you to work with gravity.  The Liturgy is the most powerful force in the Universe, and yet a common person might see the Blood and Body and might think nothing of it but a glass of wine and some bread.  But we who practice the spiritual exercise of prayer, and move the spiritual weightlifting of worship, feel the very presence of the Eternal Godhead when we stand in the presence of Jesus Christ Flesh and Blood on the altar.  Today standing before the Real Presence, my heart felt the highest perfections of God like Saint Theresa, and yet there was nothing necessarily out of the ordinary occurring.  Only from the revelation of God did I feel this, and only because through His Grace, I have found the spiritual exercise which enhances the perception.

When we evangelize to outsiders who are not of the Orthodox persuasion, we must always remember that its not necessarily obvious to them, they do not feel the strength or the pull of the Divine Mysteries yet, just as a person inexperienced will not necessarily start running 4:30 minute miles, or hit 400 yard home-runs, or lift 200 lbs on the weight bar.  Only after spiritual practice of prayer, and strength training of worship in the Liturgy, does God begin to reveal the spiritual strength and adeptness to begin to understand and experience the fullness of His presence.

You have to give God an honest chance sometimes, you just might be surprised Smiley
stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2010, 12:50:33 AM »

Alternatively, from the Talmud: "Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b)
of course, we know why. Mat. 27:51.


Citing Dakwins et alia as his authorities here, and citing fundamentalist preachers as his authorities elsewhere, our little seeker seems quite confused.  If the OP could make a coherent argument, rather than throwing mud and hoping something sticks, I might be tempted to answer.
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2010, 01:05:43 AM »

There exists little in the way of historical documentation for Jesus' life beyond the Biblical Gospel, and it is likely that these accounts were not written by eyewitnesses. This lack of evidence makes it very difficult to discern actual historical facts behind the Christian stories that describe him.

A historical Jesus to be a red herring and argue that, while a person named Jesus may or may not have existed, there is clearly no reason to believe that he had special powers, was the son of God, or performed miracles. Even if it could be firmly established that Jesus, the man, existed, this would not be evidence for the extraordinary claims that make up the foundation of the Christian religion.

Jesus believed the world would end within his lifetime, and is based on numerous passages within the Gospels, such as Mark 13 , where Jesus at least seems to express such a view. It makes sense within the context of the general apocalyptic fervor of the time, as well as the beliefs of John the baptist and early Christians such as Paul and the author of the book of Revelation. There is almost no evidence for the miracles of Jesus outside the hearsay reports of the Gospels. For this reason, there is no basis for accepting that he worked actual miracles. On the other hand, faith healings and exorcisms happen today, though investigations show there is no reason to regard them as actual supernatural events. This suggests a possibility that Jesus was a fraudulent or self-deceived wonder worker and there were witnesses who really believed they had seen him work miracles.

Unlike Jesus' other miracles, Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in I Corinthians. Unlike the Gospels, I Corinthians probably was written by its traditionally assigned author. However, the reference provides no better evidence for the resurrection than the evidence for angelical authentication of the Book of the Mormon. It is also not the sort of evidence that many psychical researchers would demand for the existence of ghosts or telepathy.

Many Christian apologists have claimed that the high quality of Jesus' moral teachings is undisputed and is evidence of his divinity. However, Jesus' status as a moral teacher has been disputed on many occasions.

In Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell argued that while many of Jesus' teachings were good, the Gospels clearly portray him as believing in eternal punishment, and this is unbecoming of a truly humane person.

Ancient historian Richard Carrier has argued thatt the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus was a better moral teacher than Jesus. Among other things, Carrier cites Rufus' belief in equality for slaves and his belief that "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think."

In chapter 7 of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins praised Jesus because he "was not content to derive his ethics from the scriptures of his upbringing... Since a principle thesis of this chapter is that we do not, and should not, derive our morals from scripture, Jesus has to be honoured as a model for that very thesis." However, Dawkins criticizes New Testament ethics on the issues of original sin and Jesus' demand that people must abandon their families to follow him.

It should be noted that some secularists hold very positive views of Jesus' ethics. For example, there is a website called Atheists for Jesus whose stated mission is "to provide a method of communication between religious and nonreligious people who believe in the message of love and kindness put forth by Jesus" and which argues that Jesus' actual teachings were at odds with the stance of modern Christian fundamentalists.

According to accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was either born in the year 6 CE (during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea; during the reign of Quirinius) Luke 2:2  or in the period 37-4 BCE (during the reign of Herod the Great) Matthew 2:1 . Traditionally on December 25th, although the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to celebrate Christmas for the reason that the gospels suggest that sheep were still out in the fields suggesting that it wasn't the start of winter (among other reasons). So, at best there are 9 years (4BCE - 6CE, no year 0) where neither Gospel allows Jesus to be born and the rest of history where at the least one Gospel contradicts the date.

Anyone to counter this?

You're rather long post brings up questions that can be summed up as this: 1) Is there a God?  2) Is that God good?  3) Can a good God involve Himself directly in His creation?  and 4) If God is good and can work miracles, then was Jesus the Son of God and God Incarnate?

By calling the historical veracity of the Gospel account into question, you are questioning the divinity of Jesus.  In answering the question of Jesus' divinity we must take the four points I listed above into order.

Is there a God?  As you are asking on a Christian forum (an Orthodox Christian forum at that) the consensus around here is going to be yes (aside from a few dissenters).  Now, as Orthodox Christians we don't really waste too much time coming up with proofs of God's existence.  For us, God is more known in His unknowableness than what we can prove.  But let us assume (in order to skip ahead to the actual questions you have asked) that the answer is "yes".

Is that God "good"?  It is only fairly recently that this question has become such a hot topic.  Bertrand Russell and those who followed after him have an old fashioned humanism that assumes divine punishment is somehow divine injustice (as opposed to Nitchze who would argue that God gives us a "slave" morality to follow while the Superman invents his own "master" morality, and that the problem with Jesus was that He embodied the "slave" morality through His teachings and sacrifice).  Now, I have a hard time believing that anyone could question that some people do indeed deserve divine punishment after the horrors of the 20th century (a more inhumane age could never before have been conceived), but Richard Dawkins is on the best seller list, so there you go.

Regardless, it seems to me that the question "Is God good" really asks the question "Is there Good?"  Going outside of Christian philosophy, we are told in the Tao that to deem is to allow for the opposite.  Once one deems something "dry" that creates the possibility for there to be something else that is "wet".  Once one names something "good" that allows for the opposite "bad".  Without a God to look at Creation and say "this is Good" there is no reason to look at something counter to that Creation and say "this is bad".  Since all the universally held moral principles deem some form of negation to be "bad" (murder, theft, destruction of the environment, etc) there must be some outside factor deeming existence to be "Good" or else we live in a total moral vacuum that leads to self-destruction and suicide.

Now for the third point: Can a Good God interact with His creation?  Or as it is often put: "Why would an infinite God care about some sub-atomic person on an insignificant speck in one tiny corner of an immense universe?"  But within the very beginning of the question lies the answer: "Infinite God".  The human mind boggles at infinity, is terrified by vastness, feels dwarfed and insecure at the sight of even a finite yet uncountable number of stars.  But infinity suggests not the disinterested giant that would be man looking into a microscope but something that can fill to overflowing every single quark and photon in Creation.  It is the very infinity of God that would allow Him to care.

Now, let us look at the situation as it exists with Man, would a Good God interact with Man?  Would a parent be good and caring if he allowed his children to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences?  Would a good parent allow his child to stick a finger in a light socket or would he intervene?  If the child, through sheer stubborness, still managed to stick his finger in the socket, would the parent just let the child lie there, or provide medical aid?  

A Good God not only can work miracles, a Good God must work miracles to be good.

Which brings us to the meat of your question: The Gospel account, and is Jesus Christ the Son of God and God?  Now, you bring up questions as to whether or not the Gospels were based on eye-witness accounts.  The idea that the Gospels were written later than the lives of the disciples is horrendously out of date, yet very tenacious amongst the non-Christian circles.  All evidence shows that the Gospel of St Mark was written no later than AD 40, the Gospels of Sts Luke and Matthew no later than AD 60 (and current theories state that there must be some "Sayings Gospel" or "Q" document which predates these three.  I personally don't believe it exists as such, but that the common source for those three Gospels is most likely the notes of the many followers we know Jesus had) and the Gospel of John was almost certainly written by St John himself.  As for the authorship of St Luke, the writer of St Luke is the same as the writer of the Acts of the Apostles (hence the date of AD 60 as the very latest for the writing of the Lucan Gospel.  The Acts of the Apostles neglects to mention the martyrdom of St Paul, something that surely would have been included had it been written after that event).

Now, what else do we know of the Apostles?  They were all Jews, and as such all staunch monotheists.  Despite several proclamations on their part prior to the Resurrection to the effect that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they really did not seem able to grasp that He was in actuality God.  The miracles Jesus performed seem quite extraordinary in our materialistic times, but in the context of Jewish tradition there was nothing Christ did in His earthly ministry that was not accomplished earlier by the prophets (with the exception of the announcement at His baptism and the Transfiguration).

Now it is interesting you mention St Paul, because here we have the strongest evidence, not only of the Resurrection, but of Christ's divinity.  St Paul, before his conversion, was a Pharisee, opposed to Christianity and Christ, and basically the head of the Jewish Inquisition.  You liken St Paul's account to the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but there is not the slightest bit of correlation.  Joseph Smith was a con-man before he wrote the book of Mormon and his claims for the authorship of the book of Mormon fit all the qualifications of a con (much like scientology is exactly the type of religion you would expect a science fiction author to invent), while St Paul was a Jewish priest who left a high position, cushy job, retirement package, and 401k plan to be beaten and stoned and finally killed.  St Paul's conversion would be like Torquemada telling the King of Spain just where he could stick those red-hot pokers, Luther was right all along.

So basically, the reply to this final question is John of the North's:
The Tomb was empty. Nothing else matters.
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 01:12:54 AM »

St Paul: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

St Peter: For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.


Unlike Joseph Smith's sole testimony, we have several hundred eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain by claiming to have seen these things. At the time of the writing, most were still living. You could have gone and asked any of them to tell you. Eyewitness accounts are valid evidence, even if they're in the Bible. To treat them differently from any other historical document is special pleading, and a fallacy of logic.
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2010, 01:19:03 AM »

Looking up who in the hell Richard Carrier was, I ran across this:
Quote
Leading Atheist Philosopher Concludes God's Real
NEW YORK  —  A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism (search) for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew (search) has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England....

...The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.

The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.

This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his "God and Philosophy," scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Books.

Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."

Last week, Richard Carrier, a writer and Columbia University graduate student, posted new material based on correspondence with Flew on the atheistic www.infidels.org Web page. Carrier assured atheists that Flew accepts only a "minimal God" and believes in no afterlife.

Flew's "name and stature are big. Whenever you hear people talk about atheists, Flew always comes up," Carrier said. Still, when it comes to Flew's reversal, "apart from curiosity, I don't think it's like a big deal."
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,141061,00.html

Carrier went on to argue that Flew was just senile from that time on and continues to do so even after Flew's death this year.
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 01:30:35 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

God is a Mystery. He is an apparent contradiction, He is not supposed to make sense.  The Greeks seek widsom, and the Jews seek legalism, but we preach Jesus Christ crucified, a stumbling block all together to those others.  God is supposed to seem a paradox, so that you dive inwards to the realm of the intuitive heart, the comprehension of the inner soul, away from the weakness and insincerity of intellect and mind.

You can't approach God like a math equation, because you will get the "not-equal-to" sign in response, but I assure you, go back and check your work, because with an Infinite God the answers are infinite.

Jesus Christ is not supposed to make sense to anyone, even Christians.  It has always been beyond comprehension, from the 1st century through the 21st century, each and every generation has not been able to make any sense of the Nature of Christ.

Who could believe that the Infinite, Immortal, Self-Existing God could take on weak, fragile, utterly human flesh and blood.  How can God die a human death on the Cross, and enter the realms of Death and Hell? Who could comprehend the Resurrection? Forgiveness? Salvation? Turning the other cheek?  This is Jesus Christ, a paradox, a Mystery, he who as ears let him hear.

You can not squint intellectually to see Jesus Christ, you must experience Him.  That is the Mystery of the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, how could a Virgin give birth? The Jews tell us we misinterpret Isaiah, nonsense, we do not need Isaiah to believe in the Virgin birth, that fact becomes self-evident in the revelation of the Jesus Christ.

Moses saw a bush burning in the wilderness, and yet the wood there-in was not consumed by the fire, and he marveled. The Virgin, a simple, humble, human being was that Bush, and when the All-Consuming Fire of the Eternal Godhead dwelt in her womb, she did not vaporize like an atom bomb, and neither do we when we stand in His Real Presence.

Quote
Virgin, O Saint, O Bearer of
God, since thou didst bring
forth the KING, a
marvellous mystery dwelt
upon thee for our salvation.
We will hold our peace, for
we are unable to search
into the matter completely,
as the greatness thereof
requireth, and will descr
ibe
that Doer of good things,
through the exceedingly
great wonder of the
manifestation. So then

8. He was the Living Word of
the Father Who came down
on Mount SINAI, and gave
the Law to MOSES (Exodus
xix. 16 ff.) whilst the top of
the mountain was covered
with mist, and with smoke,
and with darkness, and
with storm, and with the
terrifying blasts of


trumpets. He admonished
those who were standing
there in fear, So then
Wedasse Mariam (Tewahedo hymnal to Our Lady)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2010, 04:21:00 AM »

And this OP was pulled directly from here:

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Jesus

It appears we have quite the ironchariots fan here. Please start posting your sources, sir. I'm sure Matt wouldn't appreciate you shamelessly passing his work off as your own.
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2010, 04:26:10 AM »

And this OP was pulled directly from here:

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Jesus

It appears we have quite the ironchariots fan here. Please start posting your sources, sir. I'm sure Matt wouldn't appreciate you shamelessly passing his work off as your own.
Like we said, troll.
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2010, 04:39:55 AM »

As before thought it was interesting to bring up
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 05:46:11 AM »

TryingtoConvert


I'm not a Orthodox Christian, rather a Deist. 

Here's a couple of books thats helping me on my journey.

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies - David Bentley Hart
The Story of Christianity - David Bentley Hart
Apostolic Fathers - J.B. Lightfoot
How We Got the Bible - Neil R. Lightfoot
Heretics for Armchair Theologians - Justo L. González & Catherine Gunsalus González
Christian Faith - L. Michael White
History of the Church - Eusebius of Caesarea
Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew - Bart D. Ehrman
Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament - Bart D. Ehrman

Historical Methods.

Short Guide to Writing about History - Richard A. Markus
The Information-Literate Historian: A Guide to Research for History Students by Jenny L. Presnell

Science.

Finding Darwin's God - Ken Miller
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief - Francis S. Collins
The God Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, And What's Behind It All - Bernard Haisch


One of my favorite books that got me thinking about the Christian faith. 

Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity -  Gregory A. Boyd


What Orthodox Christians Believe - http://www.protomartyr.org/believe.html
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 07:35:34 AM »

As before thought it was interesting to bring up

TryingtoConvert,

I would like to recommend two books related to the historical Jesus topic that helped me a lot in my own journey, since this was a big issue for me as well.

The first is "The Case for Christ" wherein an ex-atheist Chicago Tribune journalist tells the story of how his investigations on the historicity of the facts in the Gospel led him to become a believer. Basically he was astonished by the fact that his wife had converted. He knew she was an intelligent woman and couldn't even conceive that an intelligent person could be Christian. The fact that she was becoming even sharper and more intelligent just increased his curiosity that there could be more to it than he imagined. He then used his contacts to talk to some authorities in historical, archeological and other areas of study to enquire about the issue. The good thing is that the book touches all the basic questions related to the historicity of the Gospels and even provides bibliography to study each topic further.

The second book that helped me was "Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way". The topic here is more restricted, focusing on the historical value of the Gospels and the historiography surrounding them. Basically, it shows how the fringe historical studies of biased minor groups with vested interests is presented by the great media as the status quo on Jesus historical study whilst the real scientific consensus lies far closer to traditional expectations (that the Gospels were written within the life time of the Apostles, if not by them directly at least by first generation disciples registering their narratives).  

Another thing that you may be interested is the criticism of much of the mentality of the modern age that prevents us from even studying these topics in a unbiased way. To have a better perspective on that I would recommend the following books:

C.S. Lewis "Abolition of Man" and "Mere Christianity"
G.K. Chesterton "Orthodoxy"
René Girard "The Scapegoat"
Fr. Seraphim Rose "Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age"

Also, about dealing with post-modern mentality, I recommend the following online articles by and about the Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho:

What is Miracle?
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/texts/miracle_en.html

The Structure of the Revolutionary Mind
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/texts/structure_revolutionary_mind.html

How to read the Bible
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/080117jb_en.html

The Revolutionary Mentality
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/070813dc_en.html

More on the Revolutionary Mentality
http://www.theinteramerican.org/commentary/191-more-on-the-revolutionary-mentality.html

The Revolutionary Inversion in Action
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/080721dc_en.html

The Collective Imbecille
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/imbecile.htm

The Juvenile Imbecille
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/juvenileimbecile.htm

Truth and Pretext
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/pretext.htm

Apeirokalia
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/apeiroeng.htm

Metaphysics and the Fundamentals of Objectuality
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/objectuality.htm

The Problem of Truth and the Truth of the Problem
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/truth.htm

Descartes and the psychology of doubt
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/doubt.htm

Philosophy is not for the timid
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/philosophytimid.htm

Epicurus and Marx
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/epicurus.htm

The Naïveté of the Smart
http://www.philosophyseminar.com/texts/articles/121-the-naivete-of-the-smart.html
* Although not directly related, I recommend this article in consideration of the studies of the historical Jesus because it explains a lot of the mentality behind the "debunking" many "historical" studies claim to perform today.

Living Free of Guilt
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/articles/990513jt_en.htm

« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 07:49:09 AM by Fabio Leite » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2010, 03:18:53 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2010, 03:40:20 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.

So what you are saying is that you are too lazy to read anything about what you are inquiring? Why should we waste our time finding helpful articles for you, if you refuse to read them? I have found that many, NOT all, atheists simply will not give equal, and fair time to Christian rebuttals. What do you want from us anyway? Are we here to watch you wax eloquent?
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2010, 03:41:18 PM »

At first I thought your screen name "TryingtoConvert" was about you. Now, I see, it is about trying to convert us.

With what real evidence can you prove the falsity of the Gospel accounts?

It seems like you are only arguing from authority. The problem is, Dawkins is not an authority. Neither is Bart Ehrman.
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2010, 03:46:14 PM »

I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.

 Cheesy  Come now, fess up, you're pulling our legs... you're trying to play with us, aren't you?
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2010, 03:52:02 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


Tryingtoconvert,

quit your arrogance. If you can't bother to read a couple of books, there is no reason to respect your claim to have any interest in the subject, and much less your pose of intellectual argumentation. If you want to stand on the ground of reason, intelligence and culture, reading source material is the very least you have to do about any topic. In school, in university, in life. Put your time and effort where your mouth is.

By the way, I was not making a point. I was giving you a study schedule. You obviously lack even the premisses to comprehand an argument in this issue and has to acquire them, a fact that would not have to be addressed explicitily had you not tried to vest your ignorance with a gelatinous mask of intellectual superiority that I doubt that even you believe. Reading just one side of the argument is not "intelligence", is just your laziness showing and you know that. It will not be easy to be the kind of person you're pretending to be. Be humble and get to study.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 04:01:02 PM by Fabio Leite » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2010, 03:57:39 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


If you are not willing to invest the spiritual capital and time, then you will never learn to perceive God.  God is always there, but as I said, He operates so subtly that we do no notice, until we learn through spiritual practices to heighten our awareness.  You must sincerely give it a chance, but you mock and blah blah us all to death, you will burn more bridges than you will cross.  Its your life, we're just trying to share because, believe it or not, believers and faithful do not live perfect lives.  We are afraid, we are anxious, we have doubts, we have skepticism, we have misunderstandings, we lose hope, we lose faith, we learn to cling to God to make an understanding of an otherwise baffling and mysterious life where we seemingly have no real control.  

There is no evidence, period.  God is not a matter of evidence, it is a matter of faith. Faith is something, like any human art or skill, that must be continually cultivated.

We empathize with atheists and skeptics because in our hearts we are often in similar situations, where circumstances of life bring us into a challenge of our faith, and we have to wait patiently, sincerely, in the Spirit for revelation and guidance to understand what the purpose of the flow is.  Christians are not perfect, in fact, the aim of Orthodox Faith is penultimate humility, to say that an individual knows nothing with surety, and that God alone is in charge.  We learn to react and reflect the way God operates in our lives, but we are not always necessarily theologians, or priests, or so sure of ourselves.  We cling to God to make sense of an obviously hostile world we live in where it seems the deck is always stacked against us.  

Give it more of a sincere chance, after all you know what they say about sitting on the pot too long Wink

stay blessed,
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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2010, 04:00:06 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.

So what you are saying is that you are too lazy to read anything about what you are inquiring? Why should we waste our time finding helpful articles for you, if you refuse to read them? I have found that many, NOT all, atheists simply will not give equal, and fair time to Christian rebuttals. What do you want from us anyway? Are we here to watch you wax eloquent?
Evidently not, as I've seen no demonstration of elquence. For that matter, most of it, as ortho-cat has uncovered for us, isnt even his own words.
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« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2010, 04:57:42 PM »

If you wish to draw in a specific argument from a particular source, feel free, I will address it. I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


oooooo  Okay..Then time to move along sonny. You're wasting everyone's time.
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« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2010, 07:47:59 PM »

Well, I know you won't read all of this, but I'll post it anyone, if for any other reason than you might try to say no one came "come up with any responses."

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian Era? Christ’s church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that…All the power in Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.”  -   Henry Schaefer III, Ph.D. (1944- ), Professor of Chemistry and Director at the University of Georgia

“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”   - Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University 

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” - Anthony Flew, Ph.D. (1923-2007) British Philosopher, atheist and author

"I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus of Nazareth (3-35) Jewish peasant and prophet

Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
-  When the phrase “most scholars” is used, this is accurate and not an assumption.  Dr. Habermas conducted a study of every scholarly work on the resurrection, published since 1975, in French, English and German, creating a table of each scholar, their work, and their position, resulting in a 500-page document.
-  Given that most people reject the Bible, it will not be used in any other manner, than simply being a work of ancient literature.  On top of that, we will only use those portions that are so strongly evidenced historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, skeptic or otherwise.  So if (and when) you come across a biblical reference for something, and your gut says, “Hey, that’s from the Bible, it can’t be trusted,” keep in mind we are only using portions that hardly any scholar publishing works over the last 40 years would reject.
-  Historical data, such as archaeological finds, documents, and eyewitness reports, are all we have to tell us of events that occurred and people who lived in antiquity.  When sifting through all of this, certain principles (seen below) are applied by historians to determine if something is historically reliable:
•   Multiple, independent sources support historical claims.
o   When an event or saying is attested by more than one independent source, there is a strong indication of its historicity.
•   Attestation by an enemy supports historical claims.
o   If testimony affirming an event or saying is given by a source who does not sympathize with the person, message, or cause that profits from the account, we have an indication of authenticity.
•   Embarrassing admissions support historical claims.
o   An indicator that an event or saying is authentic occurs when the source would not be expected to create the story, because it embarrasses their cause and weakens their position in arguments with opponents.
•   Eyewitness testimony supports historical claims.
o   Eyewitness testimony is usually stronger than a secondhand account.
•   Early testimony supports historical claims.
o   The closer the time between the event and testimony about it, the more reliable the witness, since there is less time for exaggeration, and even legend, to creep into the account.

Basically, since we don’t have a certified video record of what occurred in antiquity, these principles are commonsense guidelines for evaluating the written record of something that is alleged to have happened.  It is all we have to go on…
-  The approach taken can be described as a “minimal facts” approach.  Meaning, we consider only those data that are so strongly attested historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.  The facts presented, in this case, must meet two criteria: (1)They are well evidenced (multiple independent sources) and (2)nearly every scholar (remember Habermas’ laborious study) accepts them.

In reality, no fact or theory finds total agreement or disagreement.  Skeptical scholars are notorious for disagreeing with one another.  Extreme, radical positions can always be found.  If we look hard enough, we will find people who deny that even we exist.  Thus, the “minimal facts” approach includes what nearly all scholars hold as authentic.  Seldom can we speak about what all agree upon, for seldom do they all agree….
So, what are the facts?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fact One:  Jesus died by crucifixion.

That Jesus was executed by crucifixion is recorded in all four gospels.  However, a number of non-Christian sources of the period report the event as well.
•   Josephus writes, “When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified…”
•   Tacitus reports, “Nero fastened the guilt (of the burning of Rome) and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.”
•   Lucian of Samosata, the Greek satirist, writes, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”
•   Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to his son from prison, comments, “Or what advantage came to the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them?”
•   The Talmud reports that, “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged.”
The highly critical scholar of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, writes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Fact Two:  Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

There is a virtual consensus among scholars who study Jesus’ resurrection that, subsequent to Jesus’ death by crucifixion, his disciples really believed that he appeared to them raised from the dead.  This conclusion has been reached by considering data that suggest 1) the disciples themselves claimed that the risen Jesus had appeared to them, and 2) subsequent to Jesus’ death, his disciples were radically transformed from fearful, cowering individuals who denied and abandoned him at his arrest and execution to bold proclaimers of his resurrection.  We’ll take a look at a number of ancient sources that lead to this conclusion.

They claimed it.  Paul provides very strong evidence for establishing the resurrection claims of the original disciples (remember, he wasn’t one).  He reported that he knew at least some of the other disciples, even the “big three” of Peter, James and John.  The Book of Acts reports that the disciples and Paul knew and fellowshipped together.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:11 that whether “it was I or they, this is what we preach,” talking about the resurrection.  Paul knew them personally and says they claimed Jesus rose from the dead.  Yes, this is from the Bible, but remember in our minimal facts approach, we’re treating the NT as any other book, and beyond that, are only entertaining the data that is well evidenced and accepted.  Virtually no one doubts the authenticity of Pauline authorship here.  Plus, Paul is a source independent of the original disciples.

Aside from Paul’s writings, we have oral tradition.  Remember, the ancients did not have our tools for recording and passing along information, like tape recorders, video cameras, etc., and the individual copies that could be made by hand couldn’t reach very many people, never mind the fact that most of them couldn’t read them if they did.  They relied heavily on oral tradition.  And a key point about oral tradition is that it had to exist prior to the NT writings in order for the authors to include them.  So this takes us back to some of the earliest teachings of the Christian church.

An example of this is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (A.D. 55).  He said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  How do we know this was an oral creed of the early church?
•   “Delivered” and “received” communicates that Paul is giving them a tradition he himself was given.
•   It contains indicators of an Aramaic original:
o   Fourfold use of the Greek term hoti is common in creeds
o   “Cephas,” is Aramaic for Peter (he obviously knew his real name)
o   The content of the text contains parallelisms
o   The text contains non-Pauline terms (he used words he doesn’t use anywhere else)

Many critical scholars believe that Paul actually received this creed from the disciples themselves (Peter and James) when he visited them in Jerusalem, because he uses the word historesai in Galatians 1:18-19 (his account of their time together), which means, “to get an historical account.”
So we have Paul, oral tradition, and now, the writings of the early church/Church Fathers.  Despite their apparent bias, the Gospels cannot be ignored either.  It is well accepted that all four gospels were written during the first century, which means we have accounts written within 70 years of Jesus at the very latest, containing reports that the disciples believed they saw him raised from the dead.  On top of the Gospels, we have the writings of the apostolic fathers, who are the church leaders directly succeeding the Apostles.  Several apostolic fathers taught that the Apostles were dramatically impacted by Jesus’ resurrection.
•   Clement, bishop of Rome (c. 30-100, likely the same Clement Paul refers to in Philippians 4:3) in a letter to Corinth (which is quoted by Irenaeus) says that he “had seen the blessed Apostles, and had been conversant with them, and might be said to have the preaching of the Apostles still echoing, and their traditions before his eyes.  Nor was he alone, for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the Apostles.  In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brothers at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians.”  Tertullian goes on to say, “For this manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers:  as the church in Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the Church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter.”  If Irenaeus and Tertullian are correct, Clement had seen the Apostles and had fellowshipped with them, particularly Peter.  I mention all of that, because it lends great historical value to Clement’s writings concerning the Apostles and their teachings.  He actually knew them.  So what does he say they taught?  “Therefore, having received orders and complete certainty caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit’s certainty, preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is about to come.”
•   Polycarp, is in the same situation, having been appointed a successor by John, writing that the Apostles, “did not love this present age, but him who died for our benefit and for our sake was raised by God.”
Combining this with Paul and the oral tradition, we have 9 sources, in 3 different categories pointing to multiple, very early, eyewitness testimonies to the disciple’s claims of witnessing the risen Jesus.

You might ask yourself why this is so important.  It’s important because we have to establish that the resurrection of Jesus was really what the disciples taught, and more importantly, what they really believed.  They didn’t make it up, they didn’t lie about it.  They were in actuality completely transformed by their experience.  I’m not saying here that this is proof Jesus was really raised, but that the disciples genuinely believed he was.  This is the foundation for the rest of the argument.

As University of Chicago New Testament scholar Norman Perrin (who denies the resurrection) states, “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.”  Jesus died by crucifixion, and the disciples claimed they had seen him raised from the dead.

They believed it.  After Jesus’ death, the lives of the disciples were transformed to the point that they endured persecution and even martyrdom.  Such strength of conviction indicates that they were not just claiming that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them in order to receive some personal benefit.  They really believed it.  Compare this courage to their character at Jesus’ arrest and execution.  They denied and abandoned him, and they hid in fear.  Afterward, they willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ.  These facts are validated by multiple accounts, both from early sources in the NT as well as outside sources.
•   Clement of Rome reports the sufferings (and what appears to be the martyrdoms) of Peter and Paul:
o   “Because of envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and contended unto death.  Let us set the good Apostles before our eyes.  Peter, who because of unrighteous envy endured, not one or two, but many afflictions, and having borne witness went to the due glorious place.  Because of envy rivalries, steadfast Paul pointed to the prize.  Seven times chained, exiled, stoned, having become a preacher both in the East and in the West, he received honor fitting of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, unto the boundary on which the sun sets; having testified in the presence of the leaders.  Thus he was freed from the world and went to the holy place.  He became a great example of steadfastness…They are in the place due them with the Lord, in association with him also they suffered together, for they did not love this present age…”
•   Tertullian also reports the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul:
o   “That Paul is beheaded has been written in their own blood.  And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem.  We read the lives of the Caesars:  At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith.  Then is Peter girt by another, when he is made fast to the cross.  Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom.”
This quote in particular is interesting in that Tertullian is saying if one did not want to believe the Christian records concerning the martyrdoms of some of the Apostles, he could find the information in the public records, namely “the lives of the Caesars.”
•   Origen, a church father, in his work Contra Celsum relates how the disciple’s devotion to the teachings of Jesus “was attended with danger to human life
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« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2010, 07:56:16 PM »

[and that they] themselves were the first to manifest their disregard for its [death’s] terrors.”
•   Eusebius is called the “first church historian.”  In his Ecclesiastical History he quotes the works of Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, and Origen for the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul.  And he sites Josephus, Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria in regards to the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus.
All of these sources, biblical and non-biblical alike, affirm the disciple’s willingness to suffer and die for their faith.  Obviously, the conviction of the disciple’s that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them does not mean they were right.  But this misses the point.  The disciple’s willingness to suffer and die for their beliefs indicates that they certainly regarded those beliefs as true.  The case is strong that they did not willfully lie about the appearances of the raised Jesus.  Liars make poor martyrs.

At this point you could argue that many people die for their beliefs, such as a Muslim terrorist blowing himself up in public or the Buddhist monk who burns himself alive in a political protest.  Extreme acts do not validate the truth of their beliefs, but willingness to die indicates that they regard their beliefs as true.  But there is an important difference between people like this and the Apostles.  Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them.  The Apostles on the other hand, died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus.  Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true.  The Apostles died for what they knew to be true, from their own experience (whether true or false).

What do contemporary scholars have to say about the disciple’s beliefs?
•   Highly critical NT scholar Rudolf Bultmann agreed 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.
•   Atheistic NT scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, “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.”
•   Paula Fredriksen of Boston University comments, “I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus.  That’s what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attest to their conviction that that’s what they saw.  I’m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus.  I wasn’t there.  I don’t know what they saw.  But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.”

Going back to that massive undertaking of Dr. Habermas I mentioned early, he says:

“I recently completed an overview of more than 1,400 sources on the resurrection of Jesus published since 1975.  I studied and catalogued about 650 of these texts in English, German and French.  Some of the results of this study were certainly intriguing.  For example, perhaps no fact is more widely recognized than that the early Christian believers had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.  A critic may claim that what they saw were hallucinations or visions, but he does not deny that they actually experienced something.”

Since the original disciples were making the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, his resurrection was not the result of myth making.  His life story was not embellished over time if the facts can be traced to the original witnesses, which we have seen is historically believed to be the case.
Moving on, are there any data that will lead us to believe that the disciple’s claims to have seen the risen Jesus were actually true?

Fact Three:  The church persecutor Saul of Tarsus was suddenly changed.

Saul of Tarsus (now known as Paul), changed from being a skeptic who believed that it was God’s will to persecute and stomp out the church to becoming one of its most influential messengers.  His notorious pre-Christian activities and conversion are attested to by multiple sources.  We have Paul’s own testimony, Luke’s record in the Book of Acts, and a story that was circulating among Christians in Galatia.

What caused Paul to change so drastically?

Both Paul himself, and Luke the Physician, report that it was because he believed firmly that he had experienced an encounter with the risen Jesus.  Paul’s conversion is so interesting because he was an enemy of the church when he claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.  Which, if you’ll recall, is a red flag of historical authenticity because friend and foe are now testifying to the resurrection.

Paul’s experience is affirmed in the works of Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth and Origen, as well.
You could ask yourself, “What’s the big deal?  People convert all the time?”  The difference here is of primary versus secondary sources.  Paul believed because he experienced it for himself, rather than relying on the testimony of someone else.

Fact Four:  The skeptic James, the brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.

James, if you’ll recall, was one of at least four brothers of Jesus mentioned in the gospels.  We know James was a pious Jew as Paul states in Galatians that legalistic men were claiming affiliation with James in order to keep the Jewish Law.  Hegesippus reported that:

“James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the Apostles.  He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Savior to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James.  He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.  No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the public bath.  He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments.  And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people.  Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, ‘bulwark of the people’ and ‘justice,’ in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.”

We don’t have the same wealth of historical information about the life of James (like we do for Paul) but we do have enough information to conclude that after the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection, James, the brother of Jesus, became a convert to Christianity because he believed the risen Jesus appeared to him.  This conclusion is arrived at because:
•   The gospels report that Jesus’ brothers, including James, were unbelievers during his ministry.
•   The ancient creedal material quoted in 1 Corinthians (which we discussed earlier) lists an appearance of the risen Jesus to James, (“then He appeared to James…”).
•   Subsequent to the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection, James is identified as a leader of the Jerusalem church.
•   Not only did James convert, he died as a martyr, as is mentioned by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.
With James, we have another example of a skeptic converting to Christianity based on what he perceived to be a personal appearance by the risen Jesus.  As with Paul, we have to ask ourselves:  What happened to James to cause such a conviction?

Fact Five:  The tomb was empty.

The empty tomb is the one “fact” of ours that does not meet the “minimal facts” approach, because it is not accepted by nearly all scholars, but there is still fairly strong evidence for it.  According to Habermas’ survey, roughly 75% hold this to be true.

Jesus was publicly executed in Jerusalem.  His post-mortem appearances and empty tomb were first proclaimed publicly there.  It would have been virtually impossible for Christianity to get off the ground in Jerusalem if the body had still been in the tomb.  His enemies in the Jewish leadership and Roman government would only have had to exhume the corpse and publicly display it for the hoax to be shattered.  Not only are Jewish, Roman, and all other writings absent of such an account, but there is a total silence from Christianity’s critics who would have jumped at evidence of this sort.
The empty tomb is attested not only by Christian sources.  Jesus’ enemies admitted it as well, albeit indirectly.  Rather than point to an occupied tomb, early critics accused the disciples of stealing the body (Matt. 28:12-13; Justin Martyr, Trypho 108; Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30).

We also have the testimony of women.  Given the low first-century view of women that was frequently shared by Jew and Gentile, it seems highly unlikely that the Gospel authors would either invent or adjust such testimonies.  That would mean placing words in the mouths of those who would not be believed by many, making them the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.  The empty tomb appears to be historically credible in light of the principle of embarrassment.

The empty tomb is, therefore, reasonably well evidenced for historical certainty.  Former Oxford University historian William Wand writes, “All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of the empty tomb, and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history.”

Conclusion

We have presented evidence for Jesus’ resurrection using a “minimal facts” approach, which considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that even the majority of non-believing scholars accept them as facts.  We have not appealed to, or even suggested, the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible in order to support the case.

Using the “minimal facts” approach, we considered four facts that meet these stringent criteria and one additional fact (empty tomb) that enjoys acceptance by an impressive amount of scholars, though not nearly all of them.

What we covered:

Shortly after Jesus’ death, his disciples believed that they saw him risen from the dead.  They claimed that he had appeared to individuals among them, as well as to several groups.  Two of those who once viewed Jesus as a false prophet, later believed that he appeared to them risen (Paul, the church persecutor, and James, the skeptic and Jesus’ brother).  Both became Christians as a result.  Therefore, not only do we have the testimony of friends; we also have enemy attestation.  And finally, the empty tomb.

Any opposing theory to Jesus’ resurrection is going to have to account for all of these facts as well as others.  For example, some might speculate that the disciples experienced grief hallucinations, or that they lied, or that they stole the body, or that the whole story is simply a legend developed over time, etc.  But these 5 facts that we have covered accomplish two things:  (1) they provide compelling evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and (2) they stand as data that must be accounted for by any opposing theory.

Since the first reports of Jesus’ resurrection, critics have formulated opposing theories to account for the known data.  These are commonly referred to as naturalistic explanations, because they appeal to a natural cause for the event rather than a supernatural one.  Interestingly, liberal scholars of the 19th century both rejected Jesus’ resurrection and provided refutations of most of these naturalistic theories.  Neo-orthodox scholar Karl Barth was perhaps the most influential theologian of the twentieth century.  Barth pointed out how each opposing theory to Jesus’ resurrection suffers from many inconsistencies and concluded, “Today we rightly turn our nose at this.”  Raymond Brown, a moderate New Testament scholar echoed Barth, writing that 20th century critical scholars had rejected existing theories that oppose the Resurrection.  He added that contemporary thinkers both ignore these theories and even treat them as unrespectable.

Today the prevalent view among sophisticated critics is that the disciples seem to have experienced something, but what it was may not be known, and the general bias is against resurrections.  As Charles Hartshorne articulated in his comments pertaining to a public debate between Habermas and prominent atheist philosopher Antony Flew, “I can neither explain away the evidences to which Habermas appeals, nor can I simply agree with Flew’s or Hume’s positions…My metaphysical bias is against resurrections.”

It is fair to raise questions regarding an opposing theory to Jesus’ resurrection.  Aside from the faith factor, when it comes to reports of miracles, the historian must seek a natural explanation before considering a supernatural one.  It’s the responsible thing to do.  Even Christians do this continually in examining reports of miracles in other religions.  Our own faith is not exempt from similar investigation.  When no plausible natural explanation is available—as appears to be the case with Jesus’ resurrection—and a historical context with obvious religious implications exists where a resurrection is at home—for example, if Jesus performed miracles and claimed divinity—there are then no reasons why a supernatural cause cannot be considered.
At times, the skeptic demands that an explanation be so strong that no questions can be raised against it.  If historians took this approach, I think you’d agree, we could know very little about history.

Opposing theories to date simply cannot account for this collection of historically granted facts, thereby leaving Jesus’ resurrection as the best explanation.
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« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2010, 08:53:04 PM »

Well, I know you won't read all of this, but I'll post it anyone, if for any other reason than you might try to say no one came "come up with any responses."

indeed. So, years later, when someone wastes his time with "trying"'s trying post, that future reader can clear their mind.
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« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2010, 09:26:21 PM »

Sleeper, thank you for your incredible post.
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« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2010, 10:25:01 PM »

My pleasure, James.  Thanks for reading Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2010, 12:46:34 AM »

I got nothing. The only logical conclusion I have is he did Resurrect.

But the Orthodox church is a different matter Wink
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« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2010, 05:22:07 AM »

I got nothing. The only logical conclusion I have is he did Resurrect.

But the Orthodox church is a different matter Wink

So now you're convinced that Jesus resurrected from the dead?
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« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2010, 07:49:53 AM »

Haha this guy is goofy
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2010, 10:01:52 AM »

Haha this guy is goofy

TryingtoConvert does make me laugh also. It is like he is building this huge Rube Goldberg machine of reason and logic to try and explain God's love, God's creation, and God's energies warming his heart like the sun shining on a beach.  As we lay on the beach enjoying the rays of God's love, he is running around trying to build a wall of sand to keep the ocean tide away. We just can't help to laugh as he tries to use his little shovel so desperately

God's creation is so wonderful that he makes many things for us to laugh, enjoy, and marvel at. It really is not that hard to let God love you. The hard part is loving back and realizing how little we have to offer in return.

Keep digging! You'll find God no matter where you look. He is everywhere.

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« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2010, 05:23:11 PM »



Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Well, I know you won't read all of this, but I'll post it anyone, if for any other reason than you might try to say no one came "come up with any responses."

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian Era? Christ’s church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that…All the power in Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.”  -   Henry Schaefer III, Ph.D. (1944- ), Professor of Chemistry and Director at the University of Georgia

“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”   - Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University 

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” - Anthony Flew, Ph.D. (1923-2007) British Philosopher, atheist and author

"I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus of Nazareth (3-35) Jewish peasant and prophet

Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
-  When the phrase “most scholars” is used, this is accurate and not an assumption.  Dr. Habermas conducted a study of every scholarly work on the resurrection, published since 1975, in French, English and German, creating a table of each scholar, their work, and their position, resulting in a 500-page document.
-  Given that most people reject the Bible, it will not be used in any other manner, than simply being a work of ancient literature.  On top of that, we will only use those portions that are so strongly evidenced historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, skeptic or otherwise.  So if (and when) you come across a biblical reference for something, and your gut says, “Hey, that’s from the Bible, it can’t be trusted,” keep in mind we are only using portions that hardly any scholar publishing works over the last 40 years would reject.
-  Historical data, such as archaeological finds, documents, and eyewitness reports, are all we have to tell us of events that occurred and people who lived in antiquity.  When sifting through all of this, certain principles (seen below) are applied by historians to determine if something is historically reliable:
•   Multiple, independent sources support historical claims.
o   When an event or saying is attested by more than one independent source, there is a strong indication of its historicity.
•   Attestation by an enemy supports historical claims.
o   If testimony affirming an event or saying is given by a source who does not sympathize with the person, message, or cause that profits from the account, we have an indication of authenticity.
•   Embarrassing admissions support historical claims.
o   An indicator that an event or saying is authentic occurs when the source would not be expected to create the story, because it embarrasses their cause and weakens their position in arguments with opponents.
•   Eyewitness testimony supports historical claims.
o   Eyewitness testimony is usually stronger than a secondhand account.
•   Early testimony supports historical claims.
o   The closer the time between the event and testimony about it, the more reliable the witness, since there is less time for exaggeration, and even legend, to creep into the account.

Basically, since we don’t have a certified video record of what occurred in antiquity, these principles are commonsense guidelines for evaluating the written record of something that is alleged to have happened.  It is all we have to go on…
-  The approach taken can be described as a “minimal facts” approach.  Meaning, we consider only those data that are so strongly attested historically, that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.  The facts presented, in this case, must meet two criteria: (1)They are well evidenced (multiple independent sources) and (2)nearly every scholar (remember Habermas’ laborious study) accepts them.

In reality, no fact or theory finds total agreement or disagreement.  Skeptical scholars are notorious for disagreeing with one another.  Extreme, radical positions can always be found.  If we look hard enough, we will find people who deny that even we exist.  Thus, the “minimal facts” approach includes what nearly all scholars hold as authentic.  Seldom can we speak about what all agree upon, for seldom do they all agree….
So, what are the facts?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fact One:  Jesus died by crucifixion.

That Jesus was executed by crucifixion is recorded in all four gospels.  However, a number of non-Christian sources of the period report the event as well.
•   Josephus writes, “When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified…”
•   Tacitus reports, “Nero fastened the guilt (of the burning of Rome) and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.”
•   Lucian of Samosata, the Greek satirist, writes, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”
•   Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to his son from prison, comments, “Or what advantage came to the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them?”
•   The Talmud reports that, “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged.”
The highly critical scholar of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, writes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Fact Two:  Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

There is a virtual consensus among scholars who study Jesus’ resurrection that, subsequent to Jesus’ death by crucifixion, his disciples really believed that he appeared to them raised from the dead.  This conclusion has been reached by considering data that suggest 1) the disciples themselves claimed that the risen Jesus had appeared to them, and 2) subsequent to Jesus’ death, his disciples were radically transformed from fearful, cowering individuals who denied and abandoned him at his arrest and execution to bold proclaimers of his resurrection.  We’ll take a look at a number of ancient sources that lead to this conclusion.

They claimed it.  Paul provides very strong evidence for establishing the resurrection claims of the original disciples (remember, he wasn’t one).  He reported that he knew at least some of the other disciples, even the “big three” of Peter, James and John.  The Book of Acts reports that the disciples and Paul knew and fellowshipped together.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:11 that whether “it was I or they, this is what we preach,” talking about the resurrection.  Paul knew them personally and says they claimed Jesus rose from the dead.  Yes, this is from the Bible, but remember in our minimal facts approach, we’re treating the NT as any other book, and beyond that, are only entertaining the data that is well evidenced and accepted.  Virtually no one doubts the authenticity of Pauline authorship here.  Plus, Paul is a source independent of the original disciples.

Aside from Paul’s writings, we have oral tradition.  Remember, the ancients did not have our tools for recording and passing along information, like tape recorders, video cameras, etc., and the individual copies that could be made by hand couldn’t reach very many people, never mind the fact that most of them couldn’t read them if they did.  They relied heavily on oral tradition.  And a key point about oral tradition is that it had to exist prior to the NT writings in order for the authors to include them.  So this takes us back to some of the earliest teachings of the Christian church.

An example of this is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (A.D. 55).  He said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  How do we know this was an oral creed of the early church?
•   “Delivered” and “received” communicates that Paul is giving them a tradition he himself was given.
•   It contains indicators of an Aramaic original:
o   Fourfold use of the Greek term hoti is common in creeds
o   “Cephas,” is Aramaic for Peter (he obviously knew his real name)
o   The content of the text contains parallelisms
o   The text contains non-Pauline terms (he used words he doesn’t use anywhere else)

Many critical scholars believe that Paul actually received this creed from the disciples themselves (Peter and James) when he visited them in Jerusalem, because he uses the word historesai in Galatians 1:18-19 (his account of their time together), which means, “to get an historical account.”
So we have Paul, oral tradition, and now, the writings of the early church/Church Fathers.  Despite their apparent bias, the Gospels cannot be ignored either.  It is well accepted that all four gospels were written during the first century, which means we have accounts written within 70 years of Jesus at the very latest, containing reports that the disciples believed they saw him raised from the dead.  On top of the Gospels, we have the writings of the apostolic fathers, who are the church leaders directly succeeding the Apostles.  Several apostolic fathers taught that the Apostles were dramatically impacted by Jesus’ resurrection.
•   Clement, bishop of Rome (c. 30-100, likely the same Clement Paul refers to in Philippians 4:3) in a letter to Corinth (which is quoted by Irenaeus) says that he “had seen the blessed Apostles, and had been conversant with them, and might be said to have the preaching of the Apostles still echoing, and their traditions before his eyes.  Nor was he alone, for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the Apostles.  In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brothers at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians.”  Tertullian goes on to say, “For this manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers:  as the church in Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the Church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter.”  If Irenaeus and Tertullian are correct, Clement had seen the Apostles and had fellowshipped with them, particularly Peter.  I mention all of that, because it lends great historical value to Clement’s writings concerning the Apostles and their teachings.  He actually knew them.  So what does he say they taught?  “Therefore, having received orders and complete certainty caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit’s certainty, preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is about to come.”
•   Polycarp, is in the same situation, having been appointed a successor by John, writing that the Apostles, “did not love this present age, but him who died for our benefit and for our sake was raised by God.”
Combining this with Paul and the oral tradition, we have 9 sources, in 3 different categories pointing to multiple, very early, eyewitness testimonies to the disciple’s claims of witnessing the risen Jesus.

You might ask yourself why this is so important.  It’s important because we have to establish that the resurrection of Jesus was really what the disciples taught, and more importantly, what they really believed.  They didn’t make it up, they didn’t lie about it.  They were in actuality completely transformed by their experience.  I’m not saying here that this is proof Jesus was really raised, but that the disciples genuinely believed he was.  This is the foundation for the rest of the argument.

As University of Chicago New Testament scholar Norman Perrin (who denies the resurrection) states, “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.”  Jesus died by crucifixion, and the disciples claimed they had seen him raised from the dead.

They believed it.  After Jesus’ death, the lives of the disciples were transformed to the point that they endured persecution and even martyrdom.  Such strength of conviction indicates that they were not just claiming that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them in order to receive some personal benefit.  They really believed it.  Compare this courage to their character at Jesus’ arrest and execution.  They denied and abandoned him, and they hid in fear.  Afterward, they willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ.  These facts are validated by multiple accounts, both from early sources in the NT as well as outside sources.
•   Clement of Rome reports the sufferings (and what appears to be the martyrdoms) of Peter and Paul:
o   “Because of envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and contended unto death.  Let us set the good Apostles before our eyes.  Peter, who because of unrighteous envy endured, not one or two, but many afflictions, and having borne witness went to the due glorious place.  Because of envy rivalries, steadfast Paul pointed to the prize.  Seven times chained, exiled, stoned, having become a preacher both in the East and in the West, he received honor fitting of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, unto the boundary on which the sun sets; having testified in the presence of the leaders.  Thus he was freed from the world and went to the holy place.  He became a great example of steadfastness…They are in the place due them with the Lord, in association with him also they suffered together, for they did not love this present age…”
•   Tertullian also reports the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul:
o   “That Paul is beheaded has been written in their own blood.  And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem.  We read the lives of the Caesars:  At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith.  Then is Peter girt by another, when he is made fast to the cross.  Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom.”
This quote in particular is interesting in that Tertullian is saying if one did not want to believe the Christian records concerning the martyrdoms of some of the Apostles, he could find the information in the public records, namely “the lives of the Caesars.”
•   Origen, a church father, in his work Contra Celsum relates how the disciple’s devotion to the teachings of Jesus “was attended with danger to human life

Amen Amen!

I assure you, those of us who were blessed enough to have the time to read this post are beyond appreciative of your heartical effort, much much thanks and love for this!

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2010, 05:42:46 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I got nothing. The only logical conclusion I have is he did Resurrect.

But the Orthodox church is a different matter Wink

We have only been humoring you with logical, systematic approach. We have already been trying to explain to you that God does not ever make any reasonable sense.  God is not logical.  God is not mathematical.  God is a Mystery.  Jesus Christ Resurrection is precisely meant to confuse us, it does not make sense, after all, we have all seen a dead body or two, and sometimes under bitterly hurtful circumstances which sting and haunt us, and yet we are supposed to believe that God could raise up Jesus Christ and indeed others?  It is not SUPPOSED to make sense, it is a matter of inward faith.  It is like a rhetorical question, you are not necessarily supposed to answer it, rather meditate deeply in the stillness of your heart for the feeling of understanding, experiencing the Resurrection.

The Incarnation does not make any sense.  Salvation or Forgiveness or Mercy or Grace do make sense.  Why should God take on flesh and become a weak, limited, helpless and hapless infant? Why would God grant us salvation or forgiveness of things we willfully committed in error, and for that matter why should we humans forgive any other humans who wrong us in that same Spirit? These do not make sense, unless you experience first hand the relief of forgiveness, in forgiving someone and letting go any anger or fear or pain or grudge or judgment and feeling the true inner bliss of harmony, serenity, and love.

God does not make sense, and honestly, I wouldn't worship Him if it was that easy as to make any kind of logical sense.  If God appealed to my sense of reason rather then my heart, I would probably notice Him no more than those algebra classes I seldom reminisce about or apply myself towards Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #33 on: December 03, 2010, 10:14:44 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?
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« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2010, 10:45:10 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?
We can tell you what was important for us but that doesn't matter. What is important is what matters to you. Now that your a father, what is important to you is likely to change. Go spend some time loving your family and leave this forum for awhile. God will find you when your ready. Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2010, 10:58:30 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?

St. Matthew 7:6.

You have been asked several times what you see as the basis of truth. Did I miss your answer?
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« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2010, 10:58:46 PM »

Well so long as we can prove the ressurection we don't need to defend any other miracle. For instance, and it may sound like I am borrowing arguments from DR William lane Craig, which I am, but I do find them logical and i have yet to see an adequate responce to the facts of the empty tomb, the women being the witnesses of it, and the desciples dying. All of which according to Doctor Craig are facts in the scholarly community I assume this individual accepts. What is the best way besides the ressurection to respond to these facts? I am at a loss for one.

But I would question a few things in this article which stood out to me. First of all, that the appaerances of Jesus to the 12 and the 500 are on the same level as the angels appearing to Joseph Smith. I fear the author has not thought of it, that an appearance to 12, let alone 500 or so are much stronger evidence of attestation and authenticty than appearing to ONE individual or maybe some select others in secret. It begs the question as to why the apostle Paul would lie about others in his time (as not all were dead) saw the risen Christ, he could ahve his claims thrown right back at him.

As for the morality argument. How can such atheists have any basis to what they say? It is merely subjective personal views on what they postulate to be "good." Surely the greater morality is in the one who defines the morality, that being God? Or else its just a pointless excersise in human ethics which are not bounding on any individual except by their own irrational conscience.

Now while it is good to ask questions if you are earnestly seeking truth, I would ask you to form your own argumentation, not just copy and paste which I believe you have been doing. PLease correct me if I am mistaken. As I feel that means youv've at least put some effort into your questions.
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« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2010, 11:44:40 PM »

A link to someone else's article from 1999?  Tongue Yeah, that changes things.

 Roll Eyes
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« Reply #38 on: December 04, 2010, 12:05:51 AM »


And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you adhere to a strictly scientific standard for belief, there will always be a more logical explanation than the supernatural. You will not come to the faith by intellect alone. It is a journey of the heart that must be lived.
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« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2010, 02:20:01 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 02:23:00 AM by Nero » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: December 04, 2010, 03:30:47 AM »

I think much of the movement to find the "Historical Jesus" is simply just wrong. I've spent this whole semester learning about various views of Christ throughout time, and many modern ones have been influenced by this movement. Why not ask the Body of Christ about Chirst? Why not ask the first Christians about Christ?
Who was it that wrote the scripture? It was simply the Church. (of course, St. Paul, St. Luke, St. Matthew, St. John, St. Mark, etc... were all a part of the Church) So why not ask the Church what it meant and how they ought to be interpreted?

Scholars cannot come close to the "historical Jesus", especially when they, like those in the "Jesus Seminar" discredit most of scripture and assume they know better than the Church about who Christ is.
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« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2010, 03:38:54 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
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« Reply #42 on: December 04, 2010, 03:49:03 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...
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« Reply #43 on: December 04, 2010, 04:07:21 AM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...

Any secular historians?
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« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2010, 05:49:55 AM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?

St. Matthew 7:6.

So let me get this all straight. You enter into my threads, what, expecting to find an easy convert? And then for me who isn't won over by your sermonizing alone, you whip out that old chestnut and openly liken them to a sub-human creature? Sounds like the perfect strategy for success to me!
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« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2010, 05:51:48 AM »

I see reason and evidence as strong components of truth.
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« Reply #46 on: December 04, 2010, 09:17:03 AM »

I see reason and evidence as strong components of truth.


Do you believe they are the only components of truth?
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« Reply #47 on: December 04, 2010, 10:21:02 AM »

Tryingtoconvert: You haven't answered my question about the apostles in the previous post.

Ortho_Cat: I don't know of any secular sources, but that shouldn't surprise anyone, because very few ever mentioned Jesus himself outside of  passing mentions. I don't think the Romans would've really been concerned with a couple of men in [what they thought of as] a cult.
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« Reply #48 on: December 04, 2010, 11:33:13 AM »

I see reason and evidence as strong components of truth.


And you have demonstrated little of either, and this platitude doesn't add to that.

The devil is in the details. Give us some details, because you cite militant atheists and fundamentalist preachers without discretion as equal authorites.  That demonstrates neither reason, nor evidence, but a confused mind.
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« Reply #49 on: December 04, 2010, 11:55:09 AM »


And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you adhere to a strictly scientific standard for belief, there will always be a more logical explanation than the supernatural. You will not come to the faith by intellect alone. It is a journey of the heart that must be lived.
By definition the supernatural is beyond scientific standards. If it was within the reach of natural science, it would not be supernatural.

I recall a freshman at college trying to be clever, who argued that since the Resurrection of Christ wasn't provable by the scientific method (for one thing, it could not be replicated by others) it could not be true. He was oblivious to the fact that much is not provable by the scientific method-one cannot redo DaVinci's Mona Lisa and expect Southerby's to auction it off for a fortune.  Nor are all things true proved only after experimentation: a random mathematical equation done correctly the first time is true without need of replication.

One cannot give enough evidence to make the leap of Faith, nor reason youself to Faith without the leap. What one can do is give enough evidence that there is no reason not to take the leap, and reason enough that it is illogical not to take the leap.  But some won't take the leap anyway.  As Churchill noted on someone "He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened."
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« Reply #50 on: December 04, 2010, 12:14:47 PM »

In the end I'm still not quite satisied.

This response is more to Fabio, and if anyone wants to respond by all means

This is more of a response to Irish Hermit, but anyone feel free to respond.

I'm about to debunk Strobel for you: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?

If one book won't convince a skeptic and you admit as much is this not a recognition on your part that there is nothing of substance in any of them? If you can find even a single irrefutable fact that is verifiable and would logically contribute to a god hypothesis that would at least be something to a skeptic reader. Maybe it would not help them unravel the entire story just as any single scientific writing may not, but any skeptic would surely at least take something worth considering from it and perhaps find motivation therein to continue unravelling the whole story.

So can you bring any such facts to the fore from all of your recommended materials for us to consider? Or are you just giving up and/or still insisting it is our responsibility to scour every apologist writing known to man until we find it ourselves?

It isn't that I, and skeptics like me, don't want to know and believe the truth. We do. That's why we are skeptics. But we need reason to believe it. If any apologist writing would offer such reason we would give it due consideration. But not everyone has time to stay current on all the latest attempts, particularly when they all tend to say the same basic things over and over. So at some point you trust other skeptics (whose reason you tend to agree with) to review them before even considering to read it yourself. And you also must posit that if any of them had anything worth considering in them there would be a lot more buzz about it everywhere...including among skeptics, scientists (who also tend to value truth), and the mainstream media (read: not the 700 Club or ultra-conservative bloggers and "news" outlets with their own agendas).

So here I am. You have an opportunity to reach me. You have the ears of every skeptic who reads this thread. If you have read these books and can present to me the worthy content that will give us motivation to reopen the case file of "God", why on earth would you back away from the task?

St. Matthew 7:6.

So let me get this all straight. You enter into my threads, what, expecting to find an easy convert?

So let me get this all straight. You enter into our forum, what, expecting to slay us with your plagerism?

Quote
And then for me who isn't won over by your sermonizing alone,

You haven't worked your way up to be the object of sermonzing yet. I've see nothing to indicate you came do anything but take pot shots, and then cry "I'm wounded" when the troops shoot back with better aim and superior weapons.

I haven't found your posts serious, and have responded accordingly. Prov. 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Your self proclaimed skeptic friends see a contradiction in that with the preceeding verse, because they lack any sense of discernment.  Cutting and pasting indiscriminately from atheists and fundamentalists, you demonstrate that lack as well.

Quote
you whip out that old chestnut
An oldie but a goodie.  Stick to the tried and true.

Quote
and openly liken them to a sub-human creature?
If it walks like a duck....

Quote
Sounds like the perfect strategy for success to me!
Worked so far.

Since you are "seeking," do you also post your "hard questions" on the atheist fora you plagerize from? Or do you only troll on believing fora?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 12:16:03 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #51 on: December 04, 2010, 12:39:51 PM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...

Any secular historians?

Would you say that someone who has faith cannot accurately do history?  That's not a snarky comment by the way! I'm curious about the relevance of a "secular" source.  Just because these historians were members of the Church does not mean they were officially sanctioned by the Church to do their work and achieve a desired result, you know?  

I can understand someone's gut reaction to rejecting the Scriptures, but to reject data because it was written by a Christian seems like an exorbitant amount of prejudice.  Do we reject the work of Jewish historians in regards to the Holocaust, simply because they have a vested interest or even bias?  On the contrary, it is because of that vested interest and bias that their works are so highly detailed and accurate.

I'm not accusing you of any of these things Ortho_cat!  I'm just thinking out loud here Smiley
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« Reply #52 on: December 04, 2010, 01:00:14 PM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...

Any secular historians?

Would you say that someone who has faith cannot accurately do history?  That's not a snarky comment by the way! I'm curious about the relevance of a "secular" source.  Just because these historians were members of the Church does not mean they were officially sanctioned by the Church to do their work and achieve a desired result, you know?  

I can understand someone's gut reaction to rejecting the Scriptures, but to reject data because it was written by a Christian seems like an exorbitant amount of prejudice.  Do we reject the work of Jewish historians in regards to the Holocaust, simply because they have a vested interest or even bias?  On the contrary, it is because of that vested interest and bias that their works are so highly detailed and accurate.

I'm not accusing you of any of these things Ortho_cat!  I'm just thinking out loud here Smiley
If the Christians were going to fudge the data, they would have edited out the part where all the disciples fled (not to mention all the times the Gospels tell us they didn't understand Christ and He had to upbraid them for their disbelief and ignorance) in Christ's hour of need, in particular the betrayal of St. Peter, the event which has the lion's share of the mentions of St. Peter in the NT, the most mentioned figure in the NT after Christ.

Nothing in the non-Christian sources (pagan/Jewish) contradict the Church on this.
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« Reply #53 on: December 04, 2010, 01:06:09 PM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...

Any secular historians?

Would you say that someone who has faith cannot accurately do history?  That's not a snarky comment by the way! I'm curious about the relevance of a "secular" source.  Just because these historians were members of the Church does not mean they were officially sanctioned by the Church to do their work and achieve a desired result, you know?  

I can understand someone's gut reaction to rejecting the Scriptures, but to reject data because it was written by a Christian seems like an exorbitant amount of prejudice.  Do we reject the work of Jewish historians in regards to the Holocaust, simply because they have a vested interest or even bias?  On the contrary, it is because of that vested interest and bias that their works are so highly detailed and accurate.

I'm not accusing you of any of these things Ortho_cat!  I'm just thinking out loud here Smiley

Not to mention that we cannot and should not hold our modern standards of "history" to the historians and accounts of the past. Even the Roman "Secular" Historians were very bias in their writings, so according to modern standards, their account would be inaccurate.

It is important to see the scriptures & the church fathers in their historical contexts. It is also important to analyze them Biblically. But as for movements like the "Jesus Seminar", they are frankly un-Christian and many of their conclusions are just as un-Christian. We don't believe the Bible is inerrant or infallible, but we certainly don't say that St. John was completely wrong in his account, and that only 1% of what Jesus says in the Bible is actually what he said.

Again, we must be careful about this "Quest for the Historical Jesus", as it has led many away from Christianity because it seeks to discount Christ's Church, the Apostles and even Christ himself. (that is, lowering him to simply just another human)
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« Reply #54 on: December 04, 2010, 01:10:54 PM »

And are you admitting there is no good verifiable evidence for the resurrection? Or are you sticking to the story that the burden is on every one of us to read poorly written apologetics over and over until our brains are so fried by circularism that we finally accept it ourselves?


If you're looking for logic, consider this: 11 out of the 12 Apostles went willingly to their death [martyrdom] after reportedly seeing Jesus rise from the grave. Why did they do that, if they knew he actually didn't? If they knew that they had made it up, why would they have died for a lie?
On the contrary - they all preached the faith, and except for one who died from other causes, they all chose death rather than deny Jesus's ressurection. That seems highly unlikely to me if it was all made up - at least one (heck, probably the majority) would've said "the jig is up" and spilled the beans. But that wasn't the case... why?

From what sources do we know these apostles were martyred?
Most of the Early Christian writings...

Any secular historians?

Would you say that someone who has faith cannot accurately do history?  That's not a snarky comment by the way! I'm curious about the relevance of a "secular" source.  Just because these historians were members of the Church does not mean they were officially sanctioned by the Church to do their work and achieve a desired result, you know?  

I can understand someone's gut reaction to rejecting the Scriptures, but to reject data because it was written by a Christian seems like an exorbitant amount of prejudice.  Do we reject the work of Jewish historians in regards to the Holocaust, simply because they have a vested interest or even bias?  On the contrary, it is because of that vested interest and bias that their works are so highly detailed and accurate.

I'm not accusing you of any of these things Ortho_cat!  I'm just thinking out loud here Smiley

Not to mention that we cannot and should not hold our modern standards of "history" to the historians and accounts of the past. Even the Roman "Secular" Historians were very bias in their writings, so according to modern standards, their account would be inaccurate.

It is important to see the scriptures & the church fathers in their historical contexts. It is also important to analyze them Biblically. But as for movements like the "Jesus Seminar", they are frankly un-Christian and many of their conclusions are just as un-Christian. We don't believe the Bible is inerrant or infallible, but we certainly don't say that St. John was completely wrong in his account, and that only 1% of what Jesus says in the Bible is actually what he said.

Again, we must be careful about this "Quest for the Historical Jesus", as it has led many away from Christianity because it seeks to discount Christ's Church, the Apostles and even Christ himself. (that is, lowering him to simply just another human)
As for the Historical Jesus, just applying the same standards that are applied to examining the history of any person of the period (Augustus, Tiberius, Josephus, Pliny etc.), the historical accuracy of the Church on Christ and the Apostles withstand scrutiny.
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« Reply #55 on: December 04, 2010, 01:14:44 PM »

As one who has been where TryingtoConvert is now, and not that long ago, let me just point out that no apologetics works currently in existence will convince a person at that level of skepticism.  For every popular apologist you cite (Strobel, Lewis, etc.) there are tons of documents online refuting their arguments in exquisite detail.

For me it wasn't argumentation or apologetics that brought me back to faith - in fact, those things just put me on the defensive and drove me further away.

No, for me it was time, and circumstances in my own life, which I believe God used to draw me back to Him.  God doesn't spend a whole lot of time and energy arguing apologetics. He just loves. Smiley
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« Reply #56 on: December 04, 2010, 01:41:16 PM »

Let me quote Sleeper's long post on the Resurrection, of course what I said earlier was tongue and cheek..
Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
See, this is why I can't take you seriously.
When you're trying to present something as fact, it's all about proof. Otherwise it's just BS.

"Alright your honor. I will prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that my client is innocent. But understand when looking at the evidence that I don't really have, and the "witnesses" that weren't even there, It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is."



Post edited to replace forbidden profanity with something more acceptable...  -PtA
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« Reply #57 on: December 04, 2010, 02:14:04 PM »

Let me quote Sleeper's long post on the Resurrection, of course what I said earlier was tongue and cheek..
Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
See, this is why I can't take you seriously.
When you're trying to present something as fact, it's all about proof. Otherwise it's just BS.

"Alright your honor. I will prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that my client is innocent. But understand when looking at the evidence that I don't really have, and the "witnesses" that weren't even there, It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is."

LOL...Your knowledge of Jurisprudence is equal to your understanding of Christianity. Not good.

The standard for guilt or innocence  is not "Beyond a shadow of a doubt".. it is "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"

The case for the claims of Christianity are well beyond reasonable with considerable evidence both circumstantial and direct.
We don't have photos but the evidence is strong enough to convince an ordinarily prudent and reasonable person.

Youre just playing around to make yourself feel good about your life decisions... Grow up



Text in quote box edited to replace forbidden profanity with something more acceptable...  -PtA
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
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« Reply #58 on: December 04, 2010, 02:22:15 PM »

Let me quote Sleeper's long post on the Resurrection, of course what I said earlier was tongue and cheek..
Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
See, this is why I can't take you seriously.
When you're trying to present something as fact, it's all about proof. Otherwise it's just bullshit.

"Alright your honor. I will prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that my client is innocent. But understand when looking at the evidence that I don't really have, and the "witnesses" that weren't even there, It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is."

Talk about BS:You are trying to retry a case tried nearly two millenia ago. A little past the statute of limitations.

I Cor.  15:3 Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Don't know what witnesses that weren't even there you are talking about.

Let's give you an event of comparable antiquity and comparable (in worldly terms) as to the Resurrection of Christ: Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon.  Tell us, how would you prove that event happened?
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« Reply #59 on: December 04, 2010, 04:26:28 PM »

Let me quote Sleeper's long post on the Resurrection, of course what I said earlier was tongue and cheek..
Notes, Disclaimers & Things to Remember
-  It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is.
See, this is why I can't take you seriously.
When you're trying to present something as fact, it's all about proof. Otherwise it's just BS.

"Alright your honor. I will prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that my client is innocent. But understand when looking at the evidence that I don't really have, and the "witnesses" that weren't even there, It’s not about proof but about what the reasonable, logical and likely conclusion is."

Therein lies the rub.  At no point did I claim to be presenting the Resurrection as a fact.  In fact, you just quoted where I said that!  What I presented was an argument based on solid historical evidence (evidence of the highest caliber in fact) that leaves one pining for a better explanation than the Resurrection.

You can't take me seriously, yet your reply to my post was that you "got nothing" and had no other conclusion than that Christ rose from the dead.  That lasted until, what, you went scurrying back to a "skeptic" website where they could finally tell you what to think?

Do your own research TryingtoConvert.  Be a man about it.  Draw your own conclusions.  Think for yourself...
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« Reply #60 on: December 04, 2010, 05:34:47 PM »

I might suggest something about history (that I saw on a great vid) that we don't need to be absolutely certain in the realm of history when it comes to anything, as history is mostly defined by probobablies (as ones historical theory could be proved wrong in the future), but this is like science as well I think, which constantly changes and evolves with better theories as to what happened, and thus the scientist says Its most probably right, not definetly. Just in case you foun. Rather history needs to be sufficient not definite. And I think there is sufficient evidence and more for the ressurection.
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« Reply #61 on: December 04, 2010, 10:15:02 PM »

EDIT: Alright Sleeper let me debunk your "Simple Facts" approach. I look forward to seeing what you have to counter my argument

Moving on to the real discussion, I am going to redirect your attention to your own words in this thread yet again to clarify the current state of the discussion:

Quote from: Sleeper
He then supported these assertions with verifiable historical data without appealing to Church authority or the inspiration of the New Testament.

Did you miss the part where I said there is verifiable historical data that does not appeal to the Church or the New Testament?
I am going to examine your post in search of such verifiable data/evidence, which is what I requested you to reveal to me, and see what I find.  Feel free to highlight anything I may have missed.

Fact One:  Jesus died by crucifixion.

A fact that Jesus existed and was crucified would have nothing to do with the plausibility of his resurrection.   Such a fact would be irrelevant to your original claim in question.

Fact Two:  Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

First of all, as you surely know, evidence of belief is not equivalent to evidence of evidence supporting said belief.
Remembering that we are looking for verifiable historical data that does not appeal to Church authority of the New Testament, your “9 sources" are all irrelevant to your claim in question.  

As a side note, I did not count 9 among those you mentioned.  I count Paul, Clement, Polycarp, “Matthew", “John",  and Luke = 6.  I encapsulate two in quotes because I suspect you would contend these gospels were written in their entirety directly by the original disciples themselves (making them perhaps the most important), while in reality all points of that claim are quite open for debate.  The “creed" (or hymn as I’ve heard it called) from 1 Corinthians was recorded by Paul, making him the only actual known source as far as your argument here goes.  I also find it suspicious you would consider a brief “hymn/creed" that had only been alive perhaps 20-30 years (as it refers to Christ’s death in the past tense, describes follow-up events, and as 1 Corinthians was dated in the mid 50’s) to have lived long enough to be referred to as “oral tradition" or particularly “ancient" at the time as you call it in Fact Four.  You seem to be puffing it up to be far more important to the argument than it actually is just so you can add 1 to the small count of sources.  I will say more on this creed later after I have addressed the rest of your post.  I do not count Mark’s gospel because it makes no claims (that I am aware of) about who had visionary experiences.  If I did count Mark and the creed, I would arrive at 8.  What was the 9th?

In your attempt to provide me with historical data in support of “Fact Two" that does not appeal to Church authority or the New Testament, you’ve given me the words of some Church fathers and the New Testament.  Is this correct, or did I miss something?

If you would call these 6/9 sources “independent", your definition of independence is a far cry from what most reasonable people would accept.  You are talking about a small group of contemporaries in direct contact with one another, who derived a common belief system from one another and shared common motivations—or subsequent students of these whose own writings are merely derivative.

Now, say I grant that there was in fact a group of people, including the disciples and Paul, who truly believed they had witnessed evidence of Christ’s resurrection (be his appearance physical, spiritual, or a little of both).  I suppose I have no problem granting that so that I can continue reading your thoughts about “Fact Two".   You really didn’t have to work so hard to convince me of that possibility.

I wonder, have you ever heard of Hopkinsville Goblins Case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly-Hopkinsville_encounter)?  Here we have multiple witnesses who truly believed they had an otherworldly experience, and we even have a daughter of a primary witness testifying 55 years later just how much her father truly believed his interpretation of what he had experienced (comparable weight to that of any Clement/Polycarp testimony about Apostle/Paul beliefs).  What do you make of that?

Quote from: Sleeper
Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The Apostles on the other hand, died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The Apostles died for what they knew to be true, from their own experience (whether true or false).
You emphasize a distinction between "believe" and "knew" in these two final statements.  I contend there is none here and you are just playing with words to assign more importance to Apostle martyrdom (which itself is uncertain, historically, but let's put that aside).  Please define these two terms so I can understand your distinction; as I see it now there is none.

You gave two examples involving suicide (Muslim, Buddhist) in reference to non-Christian martyrs.  Committing suicide is altogether different from falling victim to homicide in this line of discussion.  Did any Apostles or early Christians literally commit suicide in support of their cause?  I take it you further consider your two examples as differing from Apostle martyrdom because they both lack first-hand experiences backing up their beliefs (how do you know that?).  Along the lines of suicide I might propose a more apt example that may have been based on some degree of first-hand experience.  That example would be Marshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate infamy.  But I won't seriously consider this case because the jury seems out on whether his beliefs first formed as the result of a near-death experience resulting from a heart attack, or due to some degree of insanity.  And yet, this example serves to suggest at least one alternative way in which a person can come to believe something strongly enough to die for it--insanity.

I am actually much more interested in how you would distinguish the martyrdom (as held by LDS) of Joseph Smith from that of Paul or Peter.  So if you could address this it would be appreciated.

Last on this subject, quite normal people die willingly for principle all the time.  Principle.  Belief.  Knowledge.  Closely related, if not identical, concepts.  That’s why I am interested in your definition of “believe" and “knew", that distinguishes them as distinctly separate reasons for assuming a risk of death.

Quote from: Sleeper
Since the original disciples were making the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, his resurrection was not the result of myth making. His life story was not embellished over time if the facts can be traced to the original witnesses, which we have seen is historically believed to be the case.
You've made a gigantic leap here.  You’ve asked me to go from accepting that a bunch of people truly believed they all had a similar experience of some kind, to accepting that the supporting story surrounding that belief which has survived until today did not evolve over time.  The latter does not follow from anything you’ve said thus far, that I can see.  Can you clarify the logical progression here?

In summary, Fact Two appears irrelevant to your claim in question, and is also irrelevant as far as legitimate evidence for a “miraculous"/"supernatural" occurrence.  Nevertheless I have posed some questions for you, since you wrote the most about Fact Two.

Fact Three:  The church persecutor Saul of Tarsus was suddenly changed.

As evidence for Paul’s experience, you’ve again referenced exclusively Church fathers and the New Testament.  Thus Fact Three appears irrelevant to the claim in question.

Nevertheless, not to leave Fact Three echoing around completely uncontested, one can fathom many reason a person might have a change of heart.  And when one does, what better way to gain acceptance among the old enemy than to become convinced one has had a relevant vision from God of one’s own?

Fact Four:  The skeptic James, the brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.

This fact and the evidence supporting it are no different in nature from Fact Two.  I will spare you from me repeating myself here.

Fact Five:  The tomb was empty.

I can’t help but chuckle a little here.  You lay out the definition of the “minimal facts" approach, and then apparently you conclude that 4 (3 actually, since I contend #4=#2) “facts" are maybe a little too minimal so you try to throw in a 5th one while openly admitting it doesn’t even meet the approach.  For this, I am perhaps a lunatic to even respond to it, but I will.

You say the empty tomb is attested not only by Christian sources.  Such as?  The only things you list are Christian sources.  You’ve got a couple of New Testament references, you’ve got a Church father, and you’ve got an early apologist.  As you’ve again given me nothing outside of appeals to Church authority and the New Testament, Fact Five would also appear irrelevant to the original claim in question.

What is the reasonable evidence William Wand refers to?  Why did you leave that out and only supply the two things you claimed you would not need to appeal to?

What does the existence of an empty tomb actually prove to anyone, anyway?  

Furthermore I’ll tell you one good reason to attribute the claim of its mystical emptiness to women—contemporaries opposing the claim might easily shrug it off and say “ah, well, who can trust a woman?" rather than summon & enact hostility toward an actual claimant (or the hostility would be redirected safely upon an imaginary or inconsequential scapegoat).

Conclusion

You have presented no evidence for Jesus’ resurrection except that which appeals to Church authority and the New Testament.  Feel free to try again, or, if you like, revoke the original claim in question.

Miscellaneous

Some other thoughts raised by your post…

Regarding the "creed" to which you referred, let me summarize something I’ve read lately:

Quote from: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (NAS)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
buried -- Greek word "etaphe", meaning "burial". Not "tomb" (mnema), not "sepulchre" (mnemeion).

raised -- Greek word "egeiro, egergetai" - meaning "to wake up, awaken".  Not "resurrected" (anastasis, anistemi).  Egeiro is used throughout the New Testament; when not being used in the literal sense it refers instead to a metaphorical, spiritual awakening, not bodily resurrection.  Romans 13:11.  Ephesians 5:14.  

appeared -- Greek word "ophthe".  Paul & other New Testament writers use this word elsewhere when referring to non-physical appearances, or "visions".  Acts 9:12.  Acts 16:9.  Matthew 17:3.  Paul continues using "ophthe" in 1 Corinthians 15:6-8, finally referring to his own vision which we know was non-physical because nobody with him saw anything.

This early creed of the church thus makes no apparent explicit mention of a tomb or of physical resurrection.  When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, held to be the earliest of the New Testament writings, why would he avoid explicitly mentioning these aspects of the story?  Could it be that the story had not yet developed?

My source on the above is a debate between Michael Horner and Dan Barker (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dan_barker/barker_horner.html).  Related topics of course include redaction criticism.

Regarding something you quoted of Clement:

Quote from: Clement
Therefore, having received orders and complete certainty caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit’s certainty, preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is about to come.
What do you suppose he meant by "about"?  That was roughly 2,000 years ago.  Many Christians would have me believe the world is 6,000 years old.  At a point on that timeline of 4,000 years, Clement says "about to come".  Yet here we all still are, halfway through another period of similar size to what Clement may well have regarded as the entirety of human history.  Would Clement consider a period of length equal to or exceeding half the entire period of human existence as being so near on the horizon as to be described by the phrase "about to come"?
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« Reply #62 on: December 04, 2010, 10:31:16 PM »

Also Sleeper I do not appreciate you throwing potshots at me.
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« Reply #63 on: December 04, 2010, 10:51:15 PM »

TtC, you present some seemingly unassailable arguments.  Obviously no one here is going to be able to tell you anything you don't already knowm or can't find for yourself over at IIDB.

So why are you here?  I find it hard to believe you're seriously interested in converting to Christianity - seems more like you're trying to convert others *away* from it.

Which is fine - just be honest about it. (And if you were, and I missed your statement thus, my apologies.) Smiley
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« Reply #64 on: December 04, 2010, 10:56:29 PM »

Both actually. Christianity is fascinating, but in order for me to convert to the claims made by the faith I must throw at it all that I know.
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« Reply #65 on: December 04, 2010, 11:02:14 PM »

Both actually. Christianity is fascinating, but in order for me to convert to the claims made by the faith I must throw at it all that I know.
But the thing is, faith isn't something you prove. You can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that matters of faith are absolutely true. That is what makes it faith. Reason and logic are definitely important, but they are secondary to faith.
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« Reply #66 on: December 04, 2010, 11:30:09 PM »

Both actually. Christianity is fascinating, but in order for me to convert to the claims made by the faith I must throw at it all that I know.
Conversion does not merely consist in accepting a new set of claims.
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« Reply #67 on: December 04, 2010, 11:32:02 PM »

Both actually. Christianity is fascinating, but in order for me to convert to the claims made by the faith I must throw at it all that I know.
Thank you! Now we know what your intentions are. I really have a new found respect for you TtC. Peace be with you. And hopefully others will be more friendly with you as well. I hope you find what you are looking for.
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« Reply #68 on: December 04, 2010, 11:50:45 PM »

Quote from: theistgal
For me it wasn't argumentation or apologetics that brought me back to faith - in fact, those things just put me on the defensive and drove me further away.

No, for me it was time, and circumstances in my own life, which I believe God used to draw me back to Him.  God doesn't spend a whole lot of time and energy arguing apologetics. He just loves. Smiley

True. For me, what brought me back was prayer. I experienced it. I also missed the majesty of the Gospels-- there's really something there, something was pulling me back. Going through the Holy Week services is something that has to be done to know what it is. You can't hear a painting, you can't taste a smell. Asking to 'show' a faith the same way I might draw directions to my house, isn't going to pan out.
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« Reply #69 on: December 05, 2010, 12:06:34 AM »

Trying to Convert, what is your first language? You have a very unusual communication style.
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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

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« Reply #70 on: December 05, 2010, 01:48:35 AM »

EDIT: Alright Sleeper let me debunk your "Simple Facts" approach. I look forward to seeing what you have to counter my argument

Moving on to the real discussion, I am going to redirect your attention to your own words in this thread yet again to clarify the current state of the discussion:

Quote from: Sleeper
He then supported these assertions with verifiable historical data without appealing to Church authority or the inspiration of the New Testament.

Did you miss the part where I said there is verifiable historical data that does not appeal to the Church or the New Testament?
I am going to examine your post in search of such verifiable data/evidence, which is what I requested you to reveal to me, and see what I find.  Feel free to highlight anything I may have missed.

Fact One:  Jesus died by crucifixion.

A fact that Jesus existed and was crucified would have nothing to do with the plausibility of his resurrection.   Such a fact would be irrelevant to your original claim in question.

I mention this because there are some that claim Jesus either never existed, or that he didn't actually die.

Fact Two:  Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

Quote
First of all, as you surely know, evidence of belief is not equivalent to evidence of evidence supporting said belief.
Remembering that we are looking for verifiable historical data that does not appeal to Church authority of the New Testament, your “9 sources" are all irrelevant to your claim in question.  

I'm not appealing to their belief as if it's evidence that it happened.  That would be rightly scoffed at.  I'm simply saying we have people who genuinely believed their experience to be real.  This plays in later...

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The “creed" (or hymn as I’ve heard it called) from 1 Corinthians was recorded by Paul, making him the only actual known source as far as your argument here goes.

Actually, it is known to be a hymn/creed precisely because it is not Pauline in its source.  Did you even read what I wrote???

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In your attempt to provide me with historical data in support of “Fact Two" that does not appeal to Church authority or the New Testament, you’ve given me the words of some Church fathers and the New Testament.  Is this correct, or did I miss something?

Actually, I did not at any point say I wouldn't appeal to the New Testament but that I would be treating the New Testament as any other historical work from antiquity, granting only those passages that the vast majority of scholars would classify as "historically reliable."  I'm not appealing to the authority of the Church nor to the New Testament as an inspired or somehow "special" document.

I think I'm the one who's missing something...

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If you would call these 6/9 sources “independent", your definition of independence is a far cry from what most reasonable people would accept.  You are talking about a small group of contemporaries in direct contact with one another, who derived a common belief system from one another and shared common motivations—or subsequent students of these whose own writings are merely derivative.

If you'd care to back this assertion up, that would be nice.

Quote
I wonder, have you ever heard of Hopkinsville Goblins Case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly-Hopkinsville_encounter)?  Here we have multiple witnesses who truly believed they had an otherworldly experience, and we even have a daughter of a primary witness testifying 55 years later just how much her father truly believed his interpretation of what he had experienced (comparable weight to that of any Clement/Polycarp testimony about Apostle/Paul beliefs).  What do you make of that?

I'm not familiar with it, no.  Do I need to make anything of it?  I try to take things on a case by case basis, so I'm not sure what relevance this would have to the Resurrection...

At any rate, my logic was missed by you somehow, because again, you're asserting I claimed something that I didn't claim.  I'm not saying we should believe the Resurrection because these people said they had experiences.

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You emphasize a distinction between "believe" and "knew" in these two final statements.  I contend there is none here and you are just playing with words to assign more importance to Apostle martyrdom (which itself is uncertain, historically, but let's put that aside).  Please define these two terms so I can understand your distinction; as I see it now there is none.

Again, you're missing my logic.  I'm not demonstrating their belief for the reasons you think I am.  Please, go back and read it again.

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I am actually much more interested in how you would distinguish the martyrdom (as held by LDS) of Joseph Smith from that of Paul or Peter.  So if you could address this it would be appreciated.

I've never researched the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.  I'm not interested in it, so I don't think I ever will.  It's pretty much irrelevant to the Resurrection.  At any rate, I'm guessing the same logic would apply though.  There is a difference between dying for something you believe and dying for something you know, even if it's true or not.  I can die for my belief that the world will end tomorrow.  That is not the same as dying because I saw the risen Christ.

Quote
Quote from: Sleeper
Since the original disciples were making the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, his resurrection was not the result of myth making. His life story was not embellished over time if the facts can be traced to the original witnesses, which we have seen is historically believed to be the case.
You've made a gigantic leap here.  You’ve asked me to go from accepting that a bunch of people truly believed they all had a similar experience of some kind, to accepting that the supporting story surrounding that belief which has survived until today did not evolve over time.  The latter does not follow from anything you’ve said thus far, that I can see.  Can you clarify the logical progression here?

I'm not speaking of the time that has lapsed from then until now.  I'm speaking of the time that had lapsed from Jesus death/Resurrection to the time the Apostles made the claims.  If you're implying that it's the claims of the Apostles themselves that have evolved over time, then I'd just have to hope you're comfortable going against the vast majority of scholarship on the subject.  Again, I'm only allowing those pieces of data that have very wide support as historically authentic.

Quote
Fact Three:  The church persecutor Saul of Tarsus was suddenly changed.

As evidence for Paul’s experience, you’ve again referenced exclusively Church fathers and the New Testament.  Thus Fact Three appears irrelevant to the claim in question.

I don't dispute this.  I have no problem using these sources as they are historically authentic pieces of data.  You have no grounds to dispute them simply because they were believers and besides, that's not the reason I'm appealing to them anyway.  Again, my logic is lost on you for some reason.

Quote
As you’ve again given me nothing outside of appeals to Church authority and the New Testament, Fact Five would also appear irrelevant to the original claim in question.

*sigh* I'm beginning to wonder if you read my post at all.  How in the world is quoting the New Testament or a Church Father an "appeal to Church authority"?  I'm not asking you to consider them because of their source.  I'm asking you to consider them because a great deal of historical inquiry and research has been put into these sources and I'm only using that which finds a vast amount of support amongst historians.

In other words, what you're trying to do here is say, "Hey! You can't use that because I don't believe in the New Testament and the Church's authority means nothing to me!"  And what I'm saying here is that you could go talk about these sources to the scholars who specialize in them and you'd basically get laughed at because their own research has overwhelmingly concluded that the information is historically authentic and reliable.  If that means nothing to you then of course my line of reasoning isn't going to work.  But you'd have bigger problems than that...

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What does the existence of an empty tomb actually prove to anyone, anyway?

Nothing on its own.  It's part of a cumulative case.

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You have presented no evidence for Jesus’ resurrection except that which appeals to Church authority and the New Testament.  Feel free to try again, or, if you like, revoke the original claim in question.

I'd actually like to ask you to try again because you so obviously did not follow my line of reasoning.  How in the world you could finish reading that and think that I appealed to Church authority in any way, completely baffles me.  But I also can't say I'm surprised. 

As for your "miscellaneous" thoughts, if you were in any way actually interested in this topic, I'd refer you to the painstakingly researched "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by N.T. Wright.  If you had any doubts that a literal, bodily resurrection was indeed the exact and only thing claimed by these people, they would be completely obliterated.

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« Reply #71 on: December 05, 2010, 02:34:06 AM »

But then TtC will just cut and paste an article from IIDB or one of the other skeptic sites refuting Wright's arguments.

Trust me, I used to be a moderator at IIDB, I know how this stuff works. Smiley
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« Reply #72 on: December 05, 2010, 02:53:02 AM »

I would like to know why the New testament is an unrealiable source as well as the church fathers... Are we to dismiss everything they say for simply believing and making claims? is this what historians do? I think not.
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« Reply #73 on: December 05, 2010, 11:39:30 AM »

Well, let me try and help you see it from TtC's point of view.  Imagine a world where Mormonism is the dominant world religion.  And you are trying to investigate its claims.  Would you be content if the only sources you could find were practicing Mormons?
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« Reply #74 on: December 05, 2010, 04:04:05 PM »

Both actually. Christianity is fascinating, but in order for me to convert to the claims made by the faith I must throw at it all that I know.
Conversion does not merely consist in accepting a new set of claims.

Right. The main event is participation in the mysteries of the Church and the transformation of your soul.  It's not an intellectual exercise.
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« Reply #75 on: December 05, 2010, 08:03:59 PM »

Sleeper, I truly appreciate you following up with me. Of course the Resurrection is a very important topic to discuss, anyway onwards...
Actually, it is known to be a hymn/creed precisely because it is not Pauline in its source.  Did you even read what I wrote???
I spent a considerable part of yesterday reading every last word of what you wrote, and more than just that, I performed occasional background research along the way to help verify/understand your words before replying.

As far as whether your creed should be considered a source, it really seems irrelevant to the current discussion we are having (which you've already redefined, and I'll get to that momentarily). That is why I discussed it in a paragraph labeled "a side note", so at this point let's avoid a debate on the acceptance of oral tradition as a source via the historical method. You'll note I did say:

Quote
If I did count Mark and the creed, I would arrive at 8. What was the 9th?

I see no answer to this question. You seem very disinterested in clarifying your response to me.

Quote
Actually, I did not at any point say I wouldn't appeal to the New Testament...
Actually, at one point, which I quoted already, you did:

Quote
Did you miss the part where I said there is verifiable historical data that does not appeal to the Church or the New Testament?

It was at this point that I said:

Quote
Are you saying that the Bible is entirely absent from the argument? If this is true then let's hear your "verifiable historical data".
You ignored this question, while I continued to make it clear in my posts that I was personally interested in hearing the data you have found in all of your studies that does not appeal to either:

Quote
Here in this very thread he has just recently claimed that he found concrete, verifiable evidence that stands on its own outside of the Bible and of Church authority, but refuses to even give us a single such example.
...
You are the very one who himself just said in this very thread that there is verifiable, extra-Biblical evidence in support of the resurrection. I have said a couple of times now that if you presented any examples that held water you might gain some traction.
The reason I want to hear this kind of evidence is because it would stand apart from the usual arguments that ultimately rely on the New Testament as a non-fiction, fully verified source. Remember what I originally said in the first place? For starters, you will ultimately rely on a non-verifiable interpretation of scripture to justify your interpretation of scripture.

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...but that I would be treating the New Testament as any other historical work from antiquity, granting only those passages that the vast majority of scholars would classify as "historically reliable." I'm not appealing to the authority of the Church nor to the New Testament as an inspired or somehow "special" document.

I think I'm the one who's missing something...
First, if any of your evidence relies in ANY way, uninspired, non-special, or otherwise, on the New Testament then (per all the above) you are not addressing my actual request.

Apparently you either didn't understand my real request, or you thought I wouldn't notice if you went ahead and redefined the discussion (moved the goal posts).

Nevertheless, moving on... Whenever you cite the New Testament as evidence for anything, you are necessarily regarding the cited portions as fact. So you do ascribe "specialness" to it -- the quality of being non-fiction. So when you tell me that these claims only require that I regard the Bible as a work of ancient literature, you are being disingenuous. These claims require that I regard the portions highlighted as being wholly factual.

Quote
If you'd care to back this assertion up, that would be nice.
Back what up, everything you already laid out for me yourself? Sure, why not? To whom do you turn in asking me to accept the relevant parts of scripture as fact?

1) Paul - An author of that very scripture! An eyewitness of his own visionary claim (which he curiously never bothered to describe in any detail himself), but only an indirect witness of the visions of the rest. "I saw a UFO, these other pals of mine say they did too!"
2) An oral creed - Taken from that very scripture (or do you have other record of it?)! Recorded by Paul! And what would it's ultimate source have been...the very pals Paul refers to!
3-6) Authors of Gospels - More authors of that very scripture! Who the majority of scholars today agree were not themselves the original eyewitnesses! More indirect reports of what Paul's pals believed!
7) Clement - More indirect reports of what the original eyewitnesses believed! From a guy who was allegedly ordained by one of them to propagate their beliefs!
Cool Polycarp - Again with the indirect reports of what the original eyewitnesses believed! From another guy who, according to Irenaeus, was ordained by one of them to propagate their beliefs!

So you have one eyewitness, Paul, with his own agenda, who never even recorded the details of his experience firsthand. The only other ultimate source hiding behind the rest is the same group of original eyewitnesses whose own records of their accounts remain suspiciously absent from the New Testament. The rest are just people saying "uh huh, yep, I talked to them, they sure believed they saw somethin'!"

And yet you insist these are all "independent sources". Sources of what, repetition of hearsay? In that case, who cares?

And so, by these sources you ask me to accept that "they sure believed they saw somethin'!" Great, I can imagine that, now what? What they believed they saw, an actual description of it in their words, and when and in what order they saw it, is pretty important in my opinion, but you sweep all that under the rug and say it's not.

All you think is important is that they thought they saw something and later endured strife because of it, which you claim means that their interpretation of what they saw must be so entirely true (yet we have none of them, save Paul, even giving us their interpretation directly) that we must call it "knowledge" and not "belief".

Quote
I'm not familiar with it, no. Do I need to make anything of it? I try to take things on a case by case basis, so I'm not sure what relevance this would have to the Resurrection...
The reason I wonder what you make of the Hopkinsville Goblins Case is that it is a more contemporary example of a situation which I immediately recalled as being similar to your Fact Two situation:

Similarities to the Resurrection story:
- Multiple eyewitnesses to an event they could only describe as otherworldly.
- Secondary sources (indirect witnesses) attesting to the fact that the eyewitnesses truly believed what they saw.

Differences from the Resurrection story:
- The original eyewitnesses have actually provided, in their own words, descriptions of what they saw.

From what I have read, there seems to be as much (actually, more) reason to believe they saw what they claimed than to believe what the disciples and Paul saw what they claimed. There seems to be far better definition of what it was they claimed to have seen. They certainly seem to have endured strife (but admittedly not death) for claiming it, yet continued to claim it. They seem to have "known it to be true".

I suppose I wonder, would you consider this "fact" equally as meaningful as your "Fact Two", or do you require death over belief for said belief to achieve apparent/relevant truthfulness? And, I wonder, if you did know about it, what you might offer as counterpoint against its truthfulness because then I might be able to better understand why you would place the disciple/Paul claims at a higher level of truthfulness. If you have no interest in reading about it I suppose these wonders will remain wonders.

Quote
At any rate, my logic was missed by you somehow, because again, you're asserting I claimed something that I didn't claim. I'm not saying we should believe the Resurrection because these people said they had experiences.

Again, you're missing my logic. I'm not demonstrating their belief for the reasons you think I am. Please, go back and read it again.
I did read it. And I read it again just now. Allow me to expand my previous quotation of your post:
Quote
Extreme acts do not validate the truth of their beliefs, but willingness to die indicates that they regard their beliefs as true. But there is an important difference between people like this and the Apostles. Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The Apostles on the other hand, died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The Apostles died for what they knew to be true, from their own experience (whether true or false).
This seems to be what you spend the majority of Fact Two building up to! A distinction between strife resulting from belief in first-hand experience, and strife resulting from belief in in what others have said. You quite clearly imply this assigns additional truth to their beliefs (and yet you curiously continue to grant that what it was they experienced first-hand is vaguely defined and up for questioning).

If this is not the reason you think that granting their belief is an important, relevant fact, then what is the reason? I need clarification because I can't find it.

Quote
I've never researched the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. I'm not interested in it, so I don't think I ever will. It's pretty much irrelevant to the Resurrection. At any rate, I'm guessing the same logic would apply though. There is a difference between dying for something you believe and dying for something you know, even if it's true or not. I can die for my belief that the world will end tomorrow. That is not the same as dying because I saw the risen Christ.
It is not irrelevant to your argument for the resurrection by any means. Are you at least aware that Joseph Smith claimed to have had first-hand, visionary, God-driven experiences on which his beliefs were founded? And that he endured much strife and was allegedly killed for adhering unflinchingly to those beliefs, according to the LDS church? If I replaced "Joseph Smith" with "Paul", and "LDS church" with "Orthodox church" in the above, there would be no difference. But yet I imagine you would tell me there is a difference because clearly you do not believe Smith's claims to be true while you do believe Paul's to be true. I'd like to know, for the record, what that difference is as you see it -- to help me understand the distinction you are trying to make between different types of martyrs.

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I'm not speaking of the time that has lapsed from then until now.
Neither am I.

Quote
I'm speaking of the time that had lapsed from Jesus death/Resurrection to the time the Apostles made the claims.
I'm speaking of the time that lapsed from Jesus's death/resurrection to the time any pieces of it were recorded and accepted into the New Testament.

Quote
If you're implying that it's the claims of the Apostles themselves that have evolved over time, then I'd just have to hope you're comfortable going against the vast majority of scholarship on the subject. Again, I'm only allowing those pieces of data that have very wide support as historically authentic.
From what I have read, there is no wide scholarly support today, if you are truly including all biblical scholars, for the idea that the twelve apostles, or any of the others to experience visions before Paul, actually recorded their visions themselves (moreover, Paul never personally detailed the nature of his vision). Did Habermas claim as much? So I am implying that by the time anybody got around to writing it down (20...50...70...however many years later) there had been ample time for evolution of the supporting story--any amount of modification to the who/what/when/where of these visions could have occurred. You've shown no data nor logical thought process which opposes that proposition, that I can find. If you contend that you have you are going to have to clarify it for me.

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How in the world is quoting the New Testament or a Church Father an "appeal to Church authority"? I'm not asking you to consider them because of their source. I'm asking you to consider them because a great deal of historical inquiry and research has been put into these sources and I'm only using that which finds a vast amount of support amongst historians.
When you cite the New Testament, you unavoidably ask me to accept some interpretation of the citation to be correct. The interpretation, and especially in these cases where you are counting up "independent sources", requires consideration of authorship. From what I can tell, your Church still holds the authorship conclusions of the Church fathers with respect to the gospels to have been correct, am I right? This, in the face of the majority of contemporary scholars who have concluded otherwise. If you tell me we can count authors of the evangelist gospels as eyewitnesses in the argument for Fact Two, you are thus appealing to Church authority, are you not? So, are you telling me that?

Still, maybe I have been loose with the term "authority" because of its special meaning in the phrase "argument from authority". But you have been loose with it as well--in the second assertion you made that contributed to my request (which I already quoted but will quote again here) you dropped the word altogether:
Quote
Did you miss the part where I said there is verifiable historical data that does not appeal to the Church or the New Testament?

As the Church fathers you mentioned were of course members of the Church and crucial in establishing its sense of authority, and since you seemed to equate "appeals to the Church" with "appeals to Church authority" yourself, perhaps you can forgive me for also equating them in my evaluation of your response.

Yet if we replace "authority" with "fathers" in my post it does not make any of your facts any more relevant to my original request for extra-Biblical, non-circular evidence because no fathers are anything other than indirect witnesses with their own agenda of establishing the church. The words you cited of theirs offer no new testimonies of the nature, sequence, or distribution of visionary experiences outside of the Bible -- just mere secondary parotting that experiences were had and beliefs were thus held.


Quote
In other words, what you're trying to do here is say, "Hey! You can't use that because I don't believe in the New Testament and the Church's authority means nothing to me!" And what I'm saying here is that you could go talk about these sources to the scholars who specialize in them and you'd basically get laughed at because their own research has overwhelmingly concluded that the information is historically authentic and reliable. If that means nothing to you then of course my line of reasoning isn't going to work. But you'd have bigger problems than that...

TryingtoConvertwrote:
You have presented no evidence for Jesus’ resurrection except that which appeals to Church authority and the New Testament. Feel free to try again, or, if you like, revoke the original claim in question.
I'd actually like to ask you to try again because you so obviously did not follow my line of reasoning. How in the world you could finish reading that and think that I appealed to Church authority in any way, completely baffles me. But I also can't say I'm surprised.
What I've ultimately said, perhaps more clearly now, is that I don't see the relevance of these sources, or of your 5 facts supported by them, to proving the resurrection actually occured as described or interpreted by you. I stand by the conclusion that you have yet to offer any compelling extra-Biblical evidence for your interpretation.

-----------------------------------------------------------
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As for your "miscellaneous" thoughts, if you were in any way actually interested in this topic, I'd refer you to the painstakingly researched "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by N.T. Wright. If you had any doubts that a literal, bodily resurrection was indeed the exact and only thing claimed by these people, they would be completely obliterated.
I'll investigate Wright's book and consider adding it to my reading queue (which I'll admit is pretty long, and which I seldom have time to progress through). Meanwhile here is a relevant portion of a review I just found (2nd search result in my search for the book) by Robert M. Price, whom I've come to admire a bit. Maybe you can read the quote and provide some counterpoint to help convince me to read your book.

Hopefully you don't find Price to be a "militant atheist" or I'm afraid you are going to have to belittle me again. By the way, I see you made no attempt to back up the accusations you made about me before, as I requested. I suppose now you will just use this post-accusation pasting exercise I am about to engage in as your sole example in support of those claims, but oh well.

Here is the relevant portion of Price's review:
Quote
Part of Wright’s agenda of harmonizing and de-fusing the evidence is to smother individual New Testament texts beneath a mass of theological synthesis derived from the Old Testament and from the outlines of Pauline theology in general. He is a victim of what James Barr long ago called the “Kittel mentality,” referring to the approach of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, in which articles on individual New Testament terms and words synthesized from all uses of the term an artificial and systematic semantic structure, leading the reader to suppose that every individual usage of the word was an iceberg tip carrying with it implied reference to all other references. In other words, each article in the TDNT composed a “New Testament theology,” topic by topic. In just this manner, Wright first composes a streamlined Old Testament theology of historical and eschatological redemption (akin to that of Von Rad, without the latter’s understanding that much of it was based on fictive saga rather than history); then Wright synthesizes a Pauline Theology, then a New Testament theology, then an early Christian theology; and finally he insists that the synthetic resurrection concept he has distilled must control our reading of all individual gospel and Pauline texts dealing with the resurrection. In short, it is an elaborate exercise in harmonizing disparate data. The implications of 1 Corinthians 15, for example, with its talk of spiritual resurrection, are silenced as the text is muzzled, forbidden to say anything outside the party line Wright has constructed as “the biblical” teaching on the subject.
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/rev_ntwrong.htm

Your move Sleeper
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« Reply #76 on: December 05, 2010, 08:10:24 PM »

I see no answer to this question. You seem very disinterested in clarifying your response to me.

Why would anyone want to spend their time on you?

Maybe if you lost the snarky hyper-aggressive tone and seemed genuinely interested. Right now you seem to just want attention.
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« Reply #77 on: December 05, 2010, 11:52:54 PM »

Well, let me try and help you see it from TtC's point of view.  Imagine a world where Mormonism is the dominant world religion.  And you are trying to investigate its claims.  Would you be content if the only sources you could find were practicing Mormons?
I think the fundamental difference is that the only witness was Joseph Smith to these miracles and appaerences, plus three other men I think. Im not completely up to date with Mormons beliefs nor do I care to be so. But the thing is if we are to emply such radical skepticism and throw out any source written by someone supporting the position, how much history is left? For instance what sources would we have of Alexander the great? We have the secondry sources such as Arrian (not to be confused with Arrius) but he relied on sources written by contemporaries of Alexander, therefore we might conclude that Alexander did not exist? Of what of various roman emperors?
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« Reply #78 on: December 05, 2010, 11:58:24 PM »

But it doesn't really matter to us today whether or not Alexander really existed - whereas Jesus' existence is literally a matter of life and eath. Hence the need to provide substantive proof is much greater.
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« Reply #79 on: December 06, 2010, 12:56:14 AM »

TryingtoConvert, I too want to thank you for your replies and the time it took to do so.  I also want to apologize that I won't be able to continue this back and forth with you in such great detail.  I started a new job recently and I don't have as much time as a topic of this magnitude deserves.  I was able to post my original lengthy post because I had it saved on my computer from some of the research I did when I was investigating the Resurrection a few years ago.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up on the conversation, but it's just so you know why I can't address every single question or point you bring up.  I wish I could because it's a worthy conversation!

To address some of the overall points, here's what I'm saying and what I think you're missing.  These 5 minimal facts are not in themselves proof of anything.  I said that outright and you'll note that the first point I made was that "it's not about proof."  I still maintain that.  I'm not out to prove the Resurrection to you.  What I'm out to do is to answer this question:  Given the sources that we have, the methods that we have, and the scholarly work of credentialed historians on the subject, what facts can we gather that enjoy a wide acceptance as being historically reliable and authentic, by both believer and skeptic alike?

These 5 facts are what we have.  These are 5 facts that virtually no honest historian worth their salt would dispute.  That's the point.  That's why they're used and why, even though you accuse me of it, I'm not appealing to the "inspiration" of the New Testament or Church authority as many others might be tempted to do.  I'm saying if you gathered every professional scholar who deals with the subject, who have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals over the last 25 years, and were to ask them, "What can we really know, based on good research and solid history?" more than 90% of them would tell you, "We know that Jesus died by crucifixion, that his disciples genuinely believed they had real experiences of Jesus risen from the dead, that there was a man named Saul of Tarsus who converted because of a similar experience, that there was a man named James who converted because of a similar experience and that there was a known tomb, where Jesus was known to be buried and that it was found empty.  And we know these things because we have data that meets the most rigorous of historical standards.  We have eyewitness accounts from very early sources, which are multiple and independent, from friend and foe alike, containing all the hallmarks of authenticity."

Now, here's the important part of this:  You have 5 variables that you must account for, with a hypothesis that must make sense out of all of them; not just some.  You have to have a good answer for why Saul converted, why James converted, why the tomb was found empty and why these people genuinely believed they saw Jesus risen from the dead.  And I want to make this point very clear because it appears you're not following me here:  I'm not saying you should believe the Resurrection because these people said it happened.  And there is also a huge difference between believing something happened, and claiming that it happened.  These people didn't just make claims and hope people believed them.  That's why I spent time giving good reasons for their martyrdoms.  They died specifically for this belief that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead.  They really believed it, and that's something that we have to account for.  Do you see this important nuance?  I'm not offering it as a proof of the Resurrection, I'm offering it as an historical phenomenon that demands an explanation.  This is a big difference and the questions you ask imply that it's being missed by you.  Let me know if it still doesn't make sense.

Do you see how this works?  I'm not saying, "Believe the Resurrection because people a long time ago say it happened."  I'm not saying, "Believe the Resurrection because the Bible says so, and the Bible is true."  I'm not saying, "Believe the Resurrection because the Church says it's true."

I'm saying, believe the Resurrection because it is the only thing that makes sense out of what we can know.
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« Reply #80 on: December 06, 2010, 04:14:23 PM »

^ Well stated. The historical evidence removes many of the intellectual objections to the resurrection and tilts towards the actual resurrection as the most reasonable answer to what happened that first Easter.
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« Reply #81 on: December 06, 2010, 04:17:18 PM »

I highly recommend The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright as a scholarly discussion of the matter from a pro-resurrection point of view.




You can find it here at amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796
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« Reply #82 on: December 06, 2010, 04:24:53 PM »

Well, let me try and help you see it from TtC's point of view.  Imagine a world where Mormonism is the dominant world religion.  And you are trying to investigate its claims.  Would you be content if the only sources you could find were practicing Mormons?

LOL. I would, as that would be enough: the BoM has the testimony of the 3 and 8 witnesses at the beginning of every issue. What they do not tell you in every issue is that everyone of them besides Joe Smith's relatives apostacized/were expelled from Mormonism.
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« Reply #83 on: December 06, 2010, 05:09:10 PM »

I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


Translation: "Don't bother me with facts or information. My mind is made up."
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« Reply #84 on: December 06, 2010, 05:25:31 PM »

I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


Translation: "Don't bother me with facts or information. My mind is made up."

It is a fair response. You can't expect in an argument for someone to read thousands or even of pages of what you think is important, unless you both are getting paid for it.

I think Fr. Hopko has the right of it. As I have posted elsewhere he has a few podcasts on dealing with questions like these. He simply doesn't for the most part with anyone anymore unless they are *doing* certain things.

I know that a lot of my hang-ups about Christianity and then Orthodoxy just came undone by following his "experiment". All the reading and discussion in the world didn't make things like the "miracles of Jesus" intelligible or of importance until I began to repent, act differently.

Jesus didn't have long drawn out conversations with people to get them to follow him.

It seems that the kinda conversations which developed among practicing Christians who were struggling together to understand their faith more deeply through argument, often ugly and vehement, leaked out to the evangelizing process.

TryingToCovert,

If you would like to know how I had the beginning of a change of heart, I recommend you listen to a mere 60 minutes or so of a priest speaking at a retreat. In fact, the the first 40 minutes sums up most of what grabbed me. Maybe it will grab you too. I know a wiki article and even writing which I so admired and loved never did. I had to change my life a little first, for a little while.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/teaching_doctrine_in_the_world_we_live_in_today_part_1
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/teaching_doctrine_in_the_world_we_live_in_today_part_two
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/teaching_doctrine_in_the_world_we_live_in_today_part_three

Let me know what you think. Then again maybe asking someone to listen to 40-60 minutes of someone talk is too much to ask as well.

Good luck!



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« Reply #85 on: December 06, 2010, 05:35:45 PM »

It is a fair response. You can't expect in an argument for someone to read thousands or even of pages of what you think is important, unless you both are getting paid for it.

I respectfully disagree with you on this point. If one has the time to read and listen and study and come to certain conclusions, as well as the time to post these conclusions on a forum such as this, inviting responses, then surely one would have the time to consider responses to one's arguments.


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« Reply #86 on: December 06, 2010, 05:36:53 PM »

It is a fair response. You can't expect in an argument for someone to read thousands or even of pages of what you think is important, unless you both are getting paid for it.

I respectfully disagree with you on this point. If one has the time to read and listen and study and come to certain conclusions, as well as the time to post these conclusions on a forum such as this, inviting responses, then surely one would have the time to consider responses to one's arguments.



Exactly. I think that for many it is intellectual laziness that keeps them from the truth.
Further, this a huge topic, and it would be impossible to answer all of the questions and objections that the OP raises in this format (online forum). If he is truely interested in the topic, he needs to be honest, and see what the other side has to offer as far as scholarship and evidence. This whole, "These books are too long and they don't agree with my conclusions" attitude will get Trying nowhere, except further entrenched in his own views for no other reason than the lack of desire to read.
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« Reply #87 on: December 06, 2010, 05:39:39 PM »

Oops, I just realized this is the "faith issues" subform. I am out.
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« Reply #88 on: December 06, 2010, 05:42:37 PM »

It is a fair response. You can't expect in an argument for someone to read thousands or even of pages of what you think is important, unless you both are getting paid for it.

I respectfully disagree with you on this point. If one has the time to read and listen and study and come to certain conclusions, as well as the time to post these conclusions on a forum such as this, inviting responses, then surely one would have the time to consider responses to one's arguments.

Well, really you should read . . .
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« Reply #89 on: December 06, 2010, 05:48:16 PM »

It is a fair response. You can't expect in an argument for someone to read thousands or even of pages of what you think is important, unless you both are getting paid for it.

I respectfully disagree with you on this point. If one has the time to read and listen and study and come to certain conclusions, as well as the time to post these conclusions on a forum such as this, inviting responses, then surely one would have the time to consider responses to one's arguments.



Exactly. I think that for many it is intellectual laziness that keeps them from the truth.
Further, this a huge topic, and it would be impossible to answer all of the questions and objections that the OP raises in this format (online forum). If he is truely interested in the topic, he needs to be honest, and see what the other side has to offer as far as scholarship and evidence. This whole, "These books are too long and they don't agree with my conclusions" attitude will get Trying nowhere, except further entrenched in his own views for no other reason than the lack of desire to read.

OK, where does Jesus have an extended debate with anyone who ends up following him? None of my Bibles are a couple thousand pages long and none of the Gospels even come out to a hundred and the one Bible I have with red letters, I could probably fit all those read letters on a single spaced A4 page in 10 pt. type.

I've tens of thousands of pages around this stuff and it didn't matter one iota. There is a difference between following and leading. But I could be wrong, maybe most Orthodox and Roman Catholics do become so by studying dozens of books other than the Bible first. Again for those who can't detect it without a smiley, that was irony.
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« Reply #90 on: December 06, 2010, 06:43:53 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

OK, where does Jesus have an extended debate with anyone who ends up following him? None of my Bibles are a couple thousand pages long and none of the Gospels even come out to a hundred and the one Bible I have with red letters, I could probably fit all those read letters on a single spaced A4 page in 10 pt. type.

I've tens of thousands of pages around this stuff and it didn't matter one iota. There is a difference between following and leading. But I could be wrong, maybe most Orthodox and Roman Catholics do become so by studying dozens of books other than the Bible first. Again for those who can't detect it without a smiley, that was irony.

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not have to have this extended debate or discussion in the Gospels because Jesus is not a historical character of a book or dead, musty events of the past.  Jesus Christ is living, operative, real.  These discussions are not in the Scriptures because they are ongoing, continuous conversations which the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ directly and continually keep up with us who are living in this temporal realm.  Jesus Christ is ALWAYS explaining Himself, is always making His points, is always hearing us out and also clarifying our misconceptions.  Life is in His hands, and we Christians who follow Him must always have it explained to us. 

I can't speak for you all, but I personally feel Jesus Christ guiding me, speaking to me, consoling me, explaining things to me, whether in the Scriptures are just making sense almost allegorically of my day-to-day life.  THIS is the fundamental reality with unfortunately TryingToConvert, though increasing in sincerity in these discussions, has yet to truly understand.  We are not debating a character of history or a novel, analyzing the author's/individuals intentions through the foggy lens of passed time, be we are talking about a real, active, ever-present and always living God, in the person of Jesus Christ.

While we can all have a nice discussion here, and I have been enjoying it, none-the-less, the truth of the matter is that the only Person who could every possibly get to TryingToConvert's heart (or ours, or mine or any other person seeking understanding of God) is Jesus Christ directly, personally.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #91 on: December 06, 2010, 09:47:15 PM »

well said. I second the motion
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« Reply #92 on: December 06, 2010, 10:32:18 PM »

Thank you HabteSelassie.

I should note too, that this approach I've been putting forth is only to help people get over some of the intellectual hurdles they might have on their way to considering Christ.  Logic will most certainly not take you all the way.  That's hard for some people to swallow, but it's true. 

All it takes is the willingness to humble yourself and step into the unknown with as much faith as you can muster that Someone will be there waiting for you.
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« Reply #93 on: December 06, 2010, 11:30:45 PM »


Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Thank you HabteSelassie.

I should note too, that this approach I've been putting forth is only to help people get over some of the intellectual hurdles they might have on their way to considering Christ.  Logic will most certainly not take you all the way.  That's hard for some people to swallow, but it's true. 

All it takes is the willingness to humble yourself and step into the unknown with as much faith as you can muster that Someone will be there waiting for you.

No no, your posts here where more than appreciated by all.  Just because some of us  are already convinced, does not me we don't also ask and discuss the same questions and have the same experiences as those who are less than convinced.  It is good for us to edify and fellowship in this regard, but what those who are less than convinced need to understand is that those of us who are convinced, though we may be able to wax poetic at times, in truth only the powerful Spirit of the Trinity can possible explain Itself.  Of course, we who know, who have ears, do not need to be reminded of this Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #94 on: December 07, 2010, 11:41:05 AM »

It is a fair response. You can't expect in an argument for someone to read thousands or even of pages of what you think is important, unless you both are getting paid for it.

I respectfully disagree with you on this point. If one has the time to read and listen and study and come to certain conclusions, as well as the time to post these conclusions on a forum such as this, inviting responses, then surely one would have the time to consider responses to one's arguments.



Exactly. I think that for many it is intellectual laziness that keeps them from the truth.
Further, this a huge topic, and it would be impossible to answer all of the questions and objections that the OP raises in this format (online forum). If he is truely interested in the topic, he needs to be honest, and see what the other side has to offer as far as scholarship and evidence. This whole, "These books are too long and they don't agree with my conclusions" attitude will get Trying nowhere, except further entrenched in his own views for no other reason than the lack of desire to read.

OK, where does Jesus have an extended debate with anyone who ends up following him? None of my Bibles are a couple thousand pages long and none of the Gospels even come out to a hundred and the one Bible I have with red letters, I could probably fit all those read letters on a single spaced A4 page in 10 pt. type.

I've tens of thousands of pages around this stuff and it didn't matter one iota. There is a difference between following and leading. But I could be wrong, maybe most Orthodox and Roman Catholics do become so by studying dozens of books other than the Bible first. Again for those who can't detect it without a smiley, that was irony.

And I'm not disagreeing with you on this. Your point is well-taken that no one is necessarily convinced of the truth by sheer volume of information. Or by argument itself.
But in this specific instance, the OP states certain conclusions, posts those conclusions on a forum, invites responses and discussion.
When people respond with links and information, it does seem to me to be disingenuous at best (and perhaps a wee bit intellectually dishonest, though that's certainly just my jaundiced opinion) to repudiate all proffered evidence without examination. (hence my comment)
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« Reply #95 on: January 12, 2011, 10:52:32 PM »

Alternatively, from the Talmud: "Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b)

Forgive my ignorance but could you explain what this means?
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« Reply #96 on: January 13, 2011, 05:45:56 PM »

Both actually. Christianity is fascinating, but in order for me to convert to the claims made by the faith I must throw at it all that I know.

I would suggest instead throwing away all you know. The mysteries of existence can be experienced, but nothing in our tiny minds prepares us for any genuine encounter with God. It is so immense as to overwhelm our puny little ideas about logic. Similarly, the only genuine response to the mysteries of the church, it seems to me, is wonder. Bewilderment. Astonishment. We say with the Theotokos, "How can that be??" And yet...It is. Be it done unto me according to God's Word..
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« Reply #97 on: January 14, 2011, 01:14:12 PM »

I wish I could remember where I stole this from.

The opposite of faith isn't doubt; it is certainty. I was out in the hallway a long, LONG time waiting for my brain to convince me of something the nous already "knew." I can't tell you how much I'd like to have those 40-odd years back, not that they didn't take me to some interesting and useful places, spiritually speaking. What Christ did was to liberate the experience of God from legalism and logic. He made it personal and experiential. Like breaking bread together and feeling His presence. And by taking part in the life of the church, I can deepen the initial experience until it becomes a basis for life. A crucial first step is to allow one's own ego to be shattered--the conversion experience. As long as God is just something I "know," in the sense of "if p, then q," then I don't really know God.
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« Reply #98 on: January 15, 2011, 01:58:49 AM »

To TryingToConvert:
I suppose you understand me that I did not read all the posts until now. Actually, I've read only your first post.

Now, here's my view:
First off, you've asked a lot of questions, I would have asked you before WHAT IS YOUR ACTUAL QUESTION, WHAT IS THAT YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW, but now the discussion has went far (and I've just registered), so I can't just wait until you reply to that.

So I'm just going to try to answer all your questions...
If I say things that people have said before, sorry.

About the miracles of Jesus:
Quote
There exists little in the way of historical documentation for Jesus' life beyond the Biblical Gospel, and it is likely that these accounts were not written by eyewitnesses. This lack of evidence makes it very difficult to discern actual historical facts behind the Christian stories that describe him.
A historical Jesus to be a red herring and argue that, while a person named Jesus may or may not have existed, there is clearly no reason to believe that he had special powers, was the son of God, or performed miracles. Even if it could be firmly established that Jesus, the man, existed, this would not be evidence for the extraordinary claims that make up the foundation of the Christian religion.
What makes it likely that these accounts were not written by eyewitnesses, but by people whom did not know what they were talking about? Is it more than a simple non-provable assumption?

There are some books of the New Testament in which it says who they (the authors) are. In Luke 1.1-4 it is written about eyewitnesses. In Galatians 1 Paul says that he was not eye-witness, but the knowledge he has received he has received from God, Paul also doesn't appear in the Bible just so, but it is written in the book of Acts about him (he also mentioned by Peter in 2 Peter 3.15), also Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are mentioned in the books of the New Testament (And it seems that Matthew and John were two of the apostles Mat 10.2-4). So, you can take what is written as a lie or not. However, if they were false witnesses then perhaps they would have convinced a bunch of people their story and contradicted one another in many places (e.g. one to invent the story that Jesus went in Egypt and other 'apostle' who has never heard that story before to say that He never went in Egypt), but it would have been impossible that in the following more than 300 hundred years for the christianity to spread throughout the entire Roman Empire because of these 'apostles' who have visited different places and taught their stories everywhere - and consider people saying "tell us more, tell us more" to a 'false witness' then hear another 'false witness' saying his own version of story, etc. and so get to the end of the 4th century with all together and see the great majority believing very common things and possessing the same writings. How that?

These 4 gospels and the other books of the new testament are the writings most spread in the ancient times and translated in different languages (e.g. aramaic) in that time, who agree one with another, unlike one piece of fake writing of which we have only one manuscript that did not survive pretty well called “Gospel of Thomas” or other thing and that remained local and was not spread anywhere, not to Greeks, not to people in current Italia, nowhere. Consider that in the 4th century there were already compilations of the books of the New Testament. That is, a New Testament. I’m talking about Codex Siniaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, while Codex Alexandrinus was in 5th century; Peshitta (written in Aramaic/syriac, whatever) became the standard in the syriac-speaking languages in 5th century:
“The Peshitta Old Testament is the earliest piece of Syriac literature of any length, probably originating in the 2nd century AD (although there are also differing views on this among scholars).”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peshitta)

 They are complete New Testaments, not just a book or two, not just a piece of a manuscript. There are also manuscripts (of the New Testament) before the 4th century (of course) and pieces of manuscripts, and the Church Fathers quote from them. For instance, a writing of the Early Church Fathers is the Didache which quotes from Matthew, I don’t remember if from others as well), and it is“dated by most scholars to the late first/early second century.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache)

So in the 2nd century we have even New Testament commentators?
And compare the New Testament writings with a writing like the Gospel of Thomas, of which it was found, if I remember well, only some pieces of a single manuscript, which, because it is broken, cannot be translated all (missing phrases, etc.) found in Egypt, which says that Jesus was crucified on a tree (and guess how many teach otherwise) and has a story that no other writing supports it.

Besides all this, consider the fact that Christians have been persecuted first when they appeared in Israel (by Jews) and then by the Roman Empire who has massacred, tortured, etc. them until the 4th century (in 313 BCE Constantine I proclaimed religious tolerance of Christians throughout the empire). Now if all that originated from some fables of some false witnesses how could have people not only accept to die and be tortured to keep their faith, but also to spread Christianity that much? And how did the Jews that ‘invented’ them (the apostles), seeing the persecution of the Jews and then the Romans, continued to teach and believe what they were saying, even to death? If some people would try to fool a group of people with a story, perhaps they would have succeeded. But could have they made so many people to accept death and torture instead of happiness in paganism? And how could the ‘false preachers’ or “don’t know, just heard” preachers (the apostles) better accept death, beatings, etc. and continue to spread their story, if it was all a fable invented by them or nothing certain in their minds? When it was soooo easy to do and say like everybody else!

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Jesus believed the world would end within his lifetime, and is based on numerous passages within the Gospels, such as Mark 13 , where Jesus at least seems to express such a view. It makes sense within the context of the general apocalyptic fervor of the time, as well as the beliefs of John the baptist and early Christians such as Paul and the author of the book of Revelation.
I don’t see how you read in Mark 13 that Jesus believed that the world would have ended in his lifetime. I read in Mark 13:
“4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.”

In verses 5 to 9 it is obvious that could have not happened in Jesus’ lifetime! Come on, it says that would come wars and wars and wars, and still that would not be the end. Does it sound that he was speaking “after a few years”? In verse 10 it says that the gospel must be preached to all the nations. Now it should have been obvious that that was impossible in a lifetime! They must have been aware how large the Roman Empire is and about Persia, and the fact that they are also surrounded by unknown territory. Verses 21-23 speak about false Christs. But if all happened in Jesus’ time (while Jesus was with them) how could there have been people claiming to be Him and fool the multitude?

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There is almost no evidence for the miracles of Jesus outside the hearsay reports of the Gospels. For this reason, there is no basis for accepting that he worked actual miracles.
Well, when the apostles told these events to the gentiles, the gentiles were pretty in the same situation, don’t you think? They didn’t see Jesus performing miracles, they’ve only heard people that were saying that they are the eye-witnesses of the events. Now I think that it is the same hard for you to believe what is written as it would have been to them when they’ve heard the apostles.

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On the other hand, faith healings and exorcisms happen today, though investigations show there is no reason to regard them as actual supernatural events. This suggests a possibility that Jesus was a fraudulent or self-deceived wonder worker and there were witnesses who really believed they had seen him work miracles.
Well, show me a faith healing that makes a man blind from birth to see, show me a man walking on the water in the middle of the storm, show me instant healings like those that Jesus did. Grab the Bible, read the Gospels and tell me which exactly can be done. As about exorcism, it’s a sensitive issue: we cannot check to see if there are indeed spirits (demons), like to meet one and check it day by day to see what it is and how it is. And by the way, demon does not mean “fallen angel”.

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Unlike Jesus' other miracles, Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in I Corinthians. Unlike the Gospels, I Corinthians probably was written by its traditionally assigned author. However, the reference provides no better evidence for the resurrection than the evidence for angelical authentication of the Book of the Mormon. It is also not the sort of evidence that many psychical researchers would demand for the existence of ghosts or telepathy.
I don’t know what exactly evidence in 1 Corinthians you speak of, but the book of Corinthians’ objective is not in any case to prove Jesus’ resurection, because it speaks to people who already believe that.

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Many Christian apologists have claimed that the high quality of Jesus' moral teachings is undisputed and is evidence of his divinity. However, Jesus' status as a moral teacher has been disputed on many occasions.
It’s always the same way: grab 10 men and you have 10 different views. Now I don’t believe that Jesus’ behaviour and teachings should conform with everyone’s imagination and desire how things to be.

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In Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell argued that while many of Jesus' teachings were good, the Gospels clearly portray him as believing in eternal punishment, and this is unbecoming of a truly humane person.
Wow! That’s interesting! And if he thinks that believing in hell is unhumane, does it mean it must be? For everyone? Anyway, many times it happens like this: a man rapes, then tortures a woman and kills her. And people say “oh, poor him! Would he go to hell? It cannot be so!” and no one cares about the woman.

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Ancient historian Richard Carrier has argued thatt the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus was a better moral teacher than Jesus. Among other things, Carrier cites Rufus' belief in equality for slaves and his belief that "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think."
Another one’s opinion. And now, I think... am I suppose to make up my own story and then get frustrated that Jesus did not teach it that way? About freedom of speech, I’m sure that too many people do not agree with swearing and speaking dirty words and insulting people in the parliament in a conference, though that’s what one might have chosen to think (and thus, say)! So I’m curios both of what this philosopher was thinking when he said that and what is the freedom of speech he was talking to, about the Bible, so I would compare and draw a conclusion.

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In chapter 7 of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins praised Jesus because he "was not content to derive his ethics from the scriptures of his upbringing... Since a principle thesis of this chapter is that we do not, and should not, derive our morals from scripture, Jesus has to be honoured as a model for that very thesis." However, Dawkins criticizes New Testament ethics on the issues of original sin and Jesus' demand that people must abandon their families to follow him.
Excuse me for not caring what others thought and think and write in their theories, etc. It would have been better if you would have told me how YOU think that things are rather than saying what everybody else is thinking. I think there is a little confusion about the original sin so I can’t say anything here. As about abandoning families to follow Jesus, no, Jesus does not teach that whoever wants to serve God must abandon his family. The discussion would expand too much, so I won’t start explaining everything now.

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It should be noted that some secularists hold very positive views of Jesus' ethics. For example, there is a website called Atheists for Jesus whose stated mission is "to provide a method of communication between religious and nonreligious people who believe in the message of love and kindness put forth by Jesus" and which argues that Jesus' actual teachings were at odds with the stance of modern Christian fundamentalists.
Again, I don’t care who thinks what. If one has something he wants to talk to me (debate), that’s ok, I’ll talk, but I don’t care what others do and others say and others think (as you’ve written above)

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According to accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was either born in the year 6 CE (during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea; during the reign of Quirinius) Luke 2:2  or in the period 37-4 BCE (during the reign of Herod the Great) Matthew 2:1 . Traditionally on December 25th, although the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to celebrate Christmas for the reason that the gospels suggest that sheep were still out in the fields suggesting that it wasn't the start of winter (among other reasons). So, at best there are 9 years (4BCE - 6CE, no year 0) where neither Gospel allows Jesus to be born and the rest of history where at the least one Gospel contradicts the date.
I don’t care when people chose to date Jesus’ birth. Be it 25 dec, or other date, it doesn’t matter.

About the dates and events, that’s a bit of unclarity due to the fact that there are actually few informations (resources, details, etc.) available.
It is a possibility that Josephus has written the year errorneusly when he said “When Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus’s money, and when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the thirty-seventh year of Caesar’s victory over Antony at Actium”, there’s no way to check that, for instance. And errors like that happened in history.

Also, Josephus wrote:
„Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-persuaded by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it.”

So it is possible that it lasted a few years since Quirinius (Cyrenius) became the governor and the censsus has been executed, because the jews have responded with rebellion. However, there should then be more attempts for this census to take place and it is possible that there were jews that went to it while others refused (starting rebellions, protested, etc.). In this case, in Luke it might have been stated that this was a census to whom not everyone responded, and the censuses have began in Quirinius’ times. That would make it possible for Jesus to be born before 6 CE. This is just a probability. It might have been Josephus’ mistake, it might be that Quirinus was governor of Syria some time before as well, or something else, etc.

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Anyone to counter this?
Did you write all these only to keep people busy? That is, are you seeking to show flaws only to see if people can answer to them? Or, what is your purpose?
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Ninjaly Awesome
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« Reply #99 on: January 15, 2011, 08:57:43 PM »

I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.


Translation: "Don't bother me with facts or information. My mind is made up."

Yep. TtC is being lame.
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饥 渴 慕 义 的 人 有 福 了 ! 因 为 他 们 必 得 饱 足 。

馬 太 福 音 5:6
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« Reply #100 on: January 15, 2011, 09:08:43 PM »

Quote from: TryingToConvert
I'm not going to spend my entire day reading every one of your links & books to piece together your argument by myself, just to further discussion with a person who so far has shown little interest in actually responding to counterpoint. Note, however, that I have read skeptical evaluations of a couple of the books you've mentioned so far, and I've also listened to some debates on the subject and have read some other things online. I remain so wholly unconvinced of any kind of verifiable argument for the resurrection that even the phrase "I remain unconvinced" might suggest too high a degree of possible convincedness.
If you want to find evidence (proofs) that Jesus really did all those things, and all that is written in the Bible has happened exactly so, you will never find them. If they were, then perhaps by now 99.999% of the population of the globe, if not all, would have been Christians.
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