The Resurrection of Jesus From the Dead: Fact or Fiction?

resurrection of jesus

Several months back, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to answer. If you would like to ask a question, please leave your question here.

Wefo asked:

What do you make of 1 Corinthians 15, which is an early christian creed held by majority of biblical scholars (with a few exceptions like Robert Price) to be written no more than five years after Jesus’ death and it being held as proof of a belief in the resurrection?

Also what changed your mind on the resurrection?

While the majority of biblical scholars think Paul was quoting an oral tradition in 1 Corinthians 15, it is not all clear who Paul actually received this tradition from or whether it was some sort of vision. I certainly understand the importance of the gospel creed in 1 Corinthians 15 to those who base their entire worldview on the death and resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but this singular record is not enough to convince me that the claims the Bible makes for Jesus are true.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 states:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Paul says that the death and resurrection of Jesus were “according to the Scriptures.” What Scriptures is Paul referring to? There is no record of the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Old Testament and 1 Corinthians was likely written several decades before the gospel of Mark. (biblical scholars generally think Mark was the first gospel and Matthew and Luke use Mark as a source) In Galatians 1:11-12, Paul states he received the gospel, not from any man, but by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Which is it?

In his latest book, How Jesus Became God, Bart Ehrman details what we can historically know about the resurrection of Jesus:

In the previous chapter I argued that there are some things, given our current evidence, that we can not know about the resurrection traditions (in addition to the big issue itself—whether God raised Jesus from the dead): we cannot know whether Jesus was given a decent burial, and we cannot know, therefore whether his tomb was discovered empty.  But what can we know?

We can know three very important things: (1) some of Jesus’s followers believed that he had been raised from the dead; (2) they believed this because some of them had visions of him after his crucifixion; and (3) this belief led them to reevaluate who Jesus was, so that the Jewish apocalyptic preacher from rural Galilee came to be considered, in some sense, God. [page 174]

While some of Jesus’ follower believed he had been raised from the dead, this doesn’t mean he actually was. Belief does not equal fact. People believe many things that are untrue. Did they believe his resurrection was bodily? Spiritual? Since Gnosticism deeply influenced the early church, perhaps Paul thought Jesus’s resurrection was spiritual. There is no way for us to know.

It’s been a long time since I looked at the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. As I read various articles and blogs, I came away thinking that there’s no possible way to know, from history, if Jesus resurrected from the dead. If a person presupposes there is a God and that the Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, then they are likely to believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead. For those of us who are not Christian, we are left with determining whether the Bible accounts of the resurrection should be considered factual.

According to the Bible, Jesus was buried in a grave belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. There is no evidence for a man named Joseph or a place called Arimathea. Since Jesus was executed as a criminal, it is unlikely he was given a proper burial.  The Godless Skeptic writes:

More interesting are the two things Dr. Ehrman says he has changed his mind on regarding what we cannot know about the resurrection. Like his colleague John Dominic Crossan, Professor Ehrman now believes that the tradition of an honorable burial of Jesus is doubtful. He makes note of the suspicious backstory of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the same Jewish council that condemned Jesus to death, absent from the early Christian creeds, and a figure who is progressively portrayed across the four gospels as more and more of a sympathizer to the Christian cause. Citing a handful of ancient examples, he observes that Roman crucifixion victims were not usually given proper burials because humiliation was an important part of the practice, intending to deter potential criminals from committing acts of rebellion against Rome. Those who were crucified were often laid in common graves or left to decay and be eaten by scavenging animals.

It is sometimes remarked that Jesus was buried by Joseph in accordance with Jewish law, since the Sabbath was close at hand. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 gives instruction in this vein, but as Dr. Ehrman points out, it’s an open question of whether or not the Romans, particularly Pilate, would have respected such a rule. Though the Pharisees and the Jewish Sanhedrin had accused Jesus of blasphemy, the charges brought against him in front of Pilate were more political – inciting crowds, forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be king (Luke 23:1-3). If Jesus was executed as an insurgent, under certain circumstances perhaps he would have been left unburied. If, however, he was executed in accordance with Jewish law, it’s not so obvious where he was buried. In a chapter of the anthology The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave,  Peter Kirby writes that there is some evidence for a dishonorable burial tradition in passages like Mark 12:8 and Acts 13:27-29, which allude to Jesus being buried by his enemies rather than by his followers.

While I find all the back-and-forth debate over what the Bible does or doesn’t say about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead quite informative and entertaining, the reasons for why I reject the resurrection of Jesus are quite simple.

First, there is no record outside of the Bible for the resurrection of Jesus. I find it astounding that no historian recorded anything about the life, execution, and resurrection of Jesus. We are left with the Bible and its accounts of the life of Jesus, accounts that contradict one another. The fact that they contradict one another is not proof that Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, but the contradictions do cause me to wonder if I should put much stock in what the Bible says.

Since history is silent on many of the “historical” events and figures in the Bible, why should I accept as factual what it says about the resurrection of Jesus?  For me, accepting the resurrection of Jesus from the dead requires faith, a faith I do not have.

Second, accepting the resurrection of Jesus from the dead requires believing in miracles. According to John 14:12, Jesus said

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

According to the Bible, Jesus worked many miracles, including turning water into wine, walking on water, walking through walls, healing the sick, and raising the dead. Jesus told his followers that they would do greater works than he did. Yet, everywhere we look we see a lack of the miraculous. In fact, many Christians argue that the miracles of the Bible were only for a certain time, and once the canon of Scripture was completed, there was no longer a need for the miraculous. However, this isn’t what Jesus said. He clearly stated his followers would do greater works than he did, yet we have no historical evidence that his followers were in any way miracle workers. Where can I find a modern-day miracle worker? Where I can I go to see the dead raised back to life?

Third, if there is one thing I know it is that living people die and do not come back to life. Every time I drive by a cemetery, I see the evidence for once dead, always dead.  This alone is sufficient evidence for me to say that Jesus lived and died, end of story.

But, Bruce it is possible that a miracle of some sort could happen. Sure, anything is possible, but now we are talking about probabilities. Based on the evidence, is it probable that humans can die and come back to life? No. Once dead, always dead. Is it more likely Jesus lived and died or Jesus lived, died, resurrected from the dead, and is currently alive sitting at the right hand of God, the Father? The latter requires a suspension of reason and the exercise of faith. I am not willing to do this. I know what I see with my eyes and what history tells me; once someone dies they stay dead. Since, outside of the Bible, we have no record of someone dying and miraculously resurrecting from the dead, it is safe for me to say that the resurrection of Jesus is improbable.

If you would like to read more on the subject of the resurrection of Jesus, I recommend reading:

(if readers have other book titles they think will be helpful, please leave their name in the comment section and I will add them to this list)

In the last part of Romans 14:15, Paul stated “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”  After looking at the evidence, I am persuaded that Jesus did not resurrect from the dead. Whatever he may or may not have been, he was a man who lived and died. Everything else Christians say about him requires faith, a faith I do not have. When new evidence becomes available, say the actual tomb where Jesus was supposedly buried, I will look at it, but, for now, count me one who does not believe.

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53 Comments

  1. August Rode

    I’d like to recommend Richard Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus”. Even if one is not persuaded by the arguments that Carrier puts forward (and a *lot* of people aren’t), this particular book is replete with fascinating references to the works of early authors.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I will add this title to the post. Thanks!

      Reply
  2. wefo

    Sure, I could accept that point that belief in the resurrection doesn’t actually mean Jesus resurrected. But does the fact that the belief in the resurrection can be traced back (based on 1 Corinthians 15) to within 5 years of Jesus’s death weaken the legend hypothesis? The time period between the belief being held as a creed and his death is merely 5 years. I do struggle with this at times to belief that the accretion of the belief could occur in such a short time period and have been doing much reading about the topic.

    What are your thoughts on how the passage impacts on the legend hypothesis

    Again thanks for the quick reply

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      For me, it doesn’t affect it at all since my problems with the Biblical narrative goes far beyond whether Jesus resurrected from the dead. Take a look at the Mormon church, a sect built on a foundation of lies and fantasy. Yet, people quickly believed the Mormon narrative, so much so that in less than 200 years, over 15 million people claim the Mormon faith. While most Evangelicals consider Mormonism to be a cult, why should Christianity be treated any differently?

      All we have, to date, is what so and so said so and so did and believed. We have no way of knowing this for sure because we have few corroborating sources and the extant texts are many years removed from the events they record. This is why historians debate the historicity of I Corinthians 15. For me, the resurrection is just one of many fantastical claims made for Jesus, claims I find utterly lacking.

      It’s up to you to determine if the evidence is sufficient, not only for the resurrection, but the virgin birth and all the other other miracles Jesus supposedly did. Again, these miracles are recorded only in the Bible. If Jesus was who and what Christians claim he is, you’d think some secular author of historian would have made a note…hey some dude named Jesus was seen walking on the Sea of Galilee today. He later fed thousands of people with 5 loaves of bread and two fishes. They didn’t and this leads me to think that Jesus was a minor, unimportant figure during the first century.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
      1. wefo

        I’m in the midst of determining the sufficiency of the evidence for the resurrection only. To be honest, it would be too exhausting to search for evidence for the other miracles such as the virgin birth and feeding of the five thousand (the resurrection itself has turned out to be a massive research project for me spanning so far 3 years ever since I started reading about it).

        Since the resurrection is the only miracle on which Christianity stands or falls, its probably the only thing worth scrutinising. To me, the other miracles I could concede as over enthusiastic scribes or the early Christian community adding details to serve their own evangelistic or theological agendas, even after conceding that those (eg. Josephus passage, tearing of the curtain, rising of the saints from the tombs) could be legendary additions, they would still not affect the resurrection, since each miracle must be evaluated on its own, and I feel the only miracle worth evaluating is the resurrection.

        Of course it throws into question the reliability of the whole book since those additional details were added, but if those additional details could be seen as such (agenda driven), the resurrection becomes the main point of contention since all the agendas are there to emphasise that incredulous miracle (the resurrection)

        So I think I could accept that the other miracles could be total BS but the resurrection could be some significant moment in history (whatever it consisted of) that turned the Jesus movement from a unknown Jewish rabbi (yes he was probably unknown back in his day) into a movement that sprang up soon after with the belief in the resurrection

        Ironically it was the search for the truth that lead to more uncertainty, I was always a nominal Christian (by name only, family and whole social circle is christian the whole deal) so the irony in taking the gospel more seriously lead to apologetics which lead to higher criticism that lead to doubt and now am stuck in intellectual limbo, evaluating the evidence however minute and circumstantial it may be

        Reply
        1. Chikirin

          “Since the resurrection is the only miracle on which Christianity stands or falls, its probably the only thing worth scrutinising.”

          Another so called miracle would be the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christians claim God lives inside them and gives them power, so that’s something that can be tested to see whether that’s true.

          Reply
          1. August Rode

            You’ve got me stymied, Chirikin. How would you propose testing that? It isn’t as though you could simply open someone up and look for the Holy Spirit as though it was some sort of parasite… presumably.

    2. sgl

      “…the fact that the belief in the resurrection can be traced back (based on 1 Corinthians 15) to within 5 years of Jesus’s death weaken the legend hypothesis? The time period between the belief being held as a creed and his death is merely 5 years. ”

      my (albeit limited understanding) is that the “5 year” time period comes from the assumptions that paul must have gotten the creed from the Jerusalem apostles, and therefore must have gotten it when he visited. paul himself says that he didn’t visit jerusalem until 3 years after his vision, but somewhere else (luke?) it says that he went to jerusalem right away. (so right away, seems a rather errant book in which to put one’s full faith in.)

      the first of paul’s epistles are usually dated ~20 years after jesus’ death. it’s also possible that the phrase “which I have received” means that he got it straight from jesus via revelation, when he visited the seventh heaven, etc. or perhaps he got a letter from the other apostles after his visit to them, but that letter was never noted or published. or visitor from the jerusalem apostles told him.. or perhaps paul visited again later but it was never written about. or perhaps he just made it up. somewhere doesn’t he say it’s justified to lie for jesus?

      in short, the “within 5 years” is by no means a “fact”, it’s based on a whole bunch of assumptions, including the assumption that he must have gotten in a personal visit to jerusalem. there are numerous other possibilities.

      as for me, like bruce, my (lack of) faith doesn’t hinge on this one argument. i see a huge number of inconsistencies in the bible, so i don’t feel any need to try to “explain” them other than to say it looks like it was written by humans, not by a god. why did jesus not tell his disciples that the old law (circumcision, kosher laws, etc) was over, and only told paul, such that there was an argument between paul and the jerusalem contingent? i suspect it was pragmatic “getting butts in pews” by paul among the gentiles, who were unlikely to want to get circumcised as an adult in a society without anaesthesia, that clinched the deal, not revelation. and after the temple was destroyed in 70 ad, paul’s branch won by superior numbers, not theological truth. in my mind, the list of these issues is huge. so why try to take one miracle that’s only mentioned in this one highly inconsistent set of books, and claim that i have to make sense of it? why does everything always get even more fuzzy when you look at it closely? and in the end, why would a god care more about whether you believed improbable things like the resurrection, vs. whether you love your fellow man?

      if you really want to take the resurection and the “5 years” issue to the mat, you might call on dagoods, who sometimes lurks here. (and like a pagan god, sometimes comes when summoned! hi dagoods!)

      Reply
      1. wefo

        Thanks for the reply. Yes I do agree the more I look into the resurrection the more mysterious the story gets. Saints rising from the grave, temple curtains being torn, sky turns dark… the number of embellishments are intriguing and how does one differentiate embellishment through metaphor to drive home a theological point vs actual historical events.

        The mystery deepens

        Reply
  3. wefo

    Since you reject the resurrection hypothesis, what hypothesis do you subscribe to that explains the whole new religion of Christianity that came out of a small part of the world and swept across the Roman Empire?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You speak as if there was some sort of pure Christianity at the start, but there wasn’t. I would argue that the Christianity of Jesus was fundamentally different from the Christianity of Paul. Even among the disciples, there is diversity in what it means to be Christian. While Christians must harmonize these strains in order to maintain a coherent story, a student of history is not obligated to do so. What I see is competing gospels, each with a different twist on what makes one a Christian. Baptism? Circumcision? Faith? Works? Obedience to the law? Or perhaps the Gnostics are the true Christians?

      While Christianity certainly expanded over the first two centuries, it was harnessing the power of the state that ultimately led to the meteoric rise of Christianity.

      I’m not sure the resurrection is the best place to start. Before a person can decide if Jesus resurrected from the dead by/through the power of God, shouldn’t a person first determine if said God exists? Is the God of Genesis the God of the resurrection?

      Reply
      1. wefo

        I don’t know what pure Christianity is, just have an intellectual curiosity as to what your position/theory/thoughts are regarding how the whole religion started (slowly accreting over legends, sudden onset, what prior movement did Paul hijack?) and why? Or is your position that we can’t know for sure?

        I don’t see why the resurrection isn’t a good place to start, since “miracles” are a hint of the existence of the supernatural (unless you rule out miracles apriori). And the reason I focus on the resurrection and not on the miracles of the other religions is that I do have prior commitments to hope for Christianity to be true (hence the focus on the resurrection) but nevertheless won’t be disappointed if the search for the truth leads me away from Christianity.

        Reply
        1. wefo

          To clarify the part about “pure Christianity”, I have done a bit of reading about the movements the arose and the agendas/politicking behind the different sects and how Pauline Christianity died out.

          But what was the actual event that triggered this cascade of divergent movements?, movements (abeit diverse) all surrounding a singular figure Jesus (with varying interpretations of his nature) all point to something/some event

          You say you can’t know for sure, and I agree to some extent but to me it provides circumstantial hints to a experience that was lifechanging for whoever involved. Thats probably not enough to say its a definite evidence for the bodily resurrection, but its so far what I feel I have uncovered in my resurrection studies so far

          What are your thoughts Bruce

          Regards

          Reply
  4. marfin

    Its interesting to see what people will and won`t believe , I personally believe Jesus rose from the dead , so yes I believe a man was dead and came back to life . How stupid , how ridiculous , how innocent you are, to believe such fairy tale`s.But by comparison to those who believe in such things as the big bang I find my beliefs quiet reasonable.
    The big bang say that for the first 300 thousand years after the initial bang all there was , was and expanding cloud of hydrogen gas, so out of this expanding gas cloud we have, birds, bees, butterflies, the works of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart , the space shuttle, the human brain, love, and even life itself yes life from hydrogen gas, hmm somehow I find belief in life come from life a lot easier to believe than life coming from an inert gas. Now before you attack me for my ignorance re science please provide the science that allows hydrogen gas to become the music of Mozart and the human brain, and if you can`t then please accept that you have great faith as faith is the belief in the unseen and I am sure you have not seen gas becoming people and cannot show by experimentation how this could happen, so we are all believers just some beliefs are more reasonable than others.

    Reply
    1. wefo

      Marfin, whether one believes in the big bang or not does not have any theological implications. Whereas if you got the god belief wrong (aka were unfortunate to have been born in Saudi Arabia where highly likely 99.99999999% you would be a muslim) and the Christian god was true then according to evangelicals you would go to hell.

      The big bang theory is just a theory that is open to change from new evidence. The very nature of a theory is that it is falsifiable and once proven false the whole scientific enterprise is better for it. The majority of scientists around the world adhere to the Big Bang theory at the moment but are happy to change their minds should the evidence shift in favour of another theory. You do not see the same phenomenon in religion, where the ideas and religions are confined within geographical boundaries and ones religion is dependent largely on the sociological and geopolitical factors. You don’t see all scientists in one country believing in one big bang theory and all scientists in another country believing in another model of cosmology

      The comparison between a ‘belief’ in the Big Bang and ‘belief’ in God (and which one?) are very different things and the confusion probably stems from the shared use of the word belief

      Reply
      1. marfin

        I was born in catholic Ireland in a time when the catholic church and its clergy were gods, but I am not a catholic go figure. Yes the big bang is just a theory but is it a reasonable explanation of everything we see today I think not, and presently there is a group of well know highly regarded scientist who have signed a petition which says they should get funding to do research in areas which disagree with the big bang theory , they cannot get any funding because you cannot question the orthodoxy.I was an atheist and believed in evolution , but have spent some time looking at the evidence and I personally find a creator God easier to believe than a creator NOTHING.

        Reply
    2. Jada

      Jesus told his followers they would perform greater miracles than he did. This certainly hasn’t been ‘proven by experimentation.’

      ‘Expectations’ might be a better term for what I have than ‘faith.’ Neither can necessarily ever be completely depended upon, however; but then again, I don’t have a burning need that everything must be knowable or provable. The journey itself is satisfactory.

      Reply
    3. sgl

      so instead of believing that the big bang happened out of nothing, you believe that an even more complex entity, god, happened out of nothing, and that somehow is more logical and a better explanation? seems to me that all you’ve done is add one level of unknown to the equation. how did god come into existence? shouldn’t there be a meta-god that created god?

      furthermore, you then jump from there must be “a god,” to, it must be “the christian god.” that’s actually a pretty big leap.

      furthermore, you have to believe that this god only talked to one particular tribe, the jews, and not the chinese, or the india indians, or the natives of the americas, etc. so aside from atheists and agnostics, you’d also get an argument from the jews, the hindus, the muslims, etc.

      furthermore, you have to believe that despite jesus not mentioning salvation thru faith alone to the original disciples, decided to do that additional revelation to paul. and he didn’t mention the trinity either, but decided to save that little theological nugget for an additional couple hundred years. (is the trinity required to avoid hell or not? what happened to the souls of the believers before the doctrine of the trinity was finalized, because they couldn’t have believed in a doctrine that didn’t exist yet? what day did the changeover occur?)

      in short, the logic of “the universe couldn’t have just happened, therefore an even more complex being, god, exists, and wants me to chop off my foreskin” is an incredibly rube goldburg-ish theology to anyone who takes a serious look at what all that belief entails, and the process by which christianity arose, and the process by which the bible was written. then compare it to other religions, which you presumably think are false, and notice the parallels of human fingerprints you can easily spot in islam or hinduism or mormonism or scientology, but somehow you are blind the the same fingerprints in your own religion.

      but the problem isn’t what you personally believe. i have no problem with what the amish/mennonites believe, so long as they don’t try to force me to limit my technology use to horses and buggies, and limit my education to 8th grade. alas, the fundamentalist religious political activism attempts to force the rest of society to cow-tow to their interpretation of their religion thru the gov’t. that is not acceptable in a diverse culture.

      much easier to say, “here’s the best guesses we have that fit the data: big bang, evolution. not sure exactly what/how dark matter fits into this, or what was occuring before the big bang happened, but we’ll keep looking. not sure exactly what triggered the first chemical compounds into forming life, but we’ll keep looking. meanwhile, we’ll keep trying to find better ways to get along with each other, and more inspiring forms of art and architecture, and new technologies.”

      Reply
      1. marfin

        To much to reply to but the idea that belief in God is anti science is a nonsense. Look into the work of the following men all who believed in God, based on what they knew from science.
        1 Ernst Boris Chain , the father of modern vaccination
        2 Louis Pasteur , the father of the germ theory of disease
        3 Wernher von Braun , the man who invented modern rocket science
        4 Isaac Newton , need I say anything.

        Now before you say these lived in past times , please compare their work and its practical value to mankind
        against Dawkins, Krauss , Hawking,coyne, et al and see who has been the real scientists and really benefited mankind.

        Reply
        1. sgl

          you didn’t address any of my points.

          the people you listed are known for their scientific achievements, not their religious views. so if i list a bunch of people thru the ages that had amazing accomplishments in non-religious fields (science, math, the arts, etc) that are islamic, or hindu, or worshipped the roman or greek gods, etc, does that prove that their religious beliefs are therefore correct?

          are you saying that all religions make sense, because they believe in the supernatural instead of blind materialism? or does only christianity make sense, as it’s the one true religion?

          many times in history, it’s political or economic suicide to publicly be non-religious, so it’s certainly not hard to find people who were publicly the dominant religion of their time and place, but expressed a different view in private letters.

          re: “…the idea that belief in God is anti science is a nonsense”

          frankly, you yourself seem to be in that anti-science category. your original remarks seem to say you do not believe the big bang happened. (presumably you believe the 6 day biblical creation?) some catholics believe in the big bang and evolution, but guided by god. that is not overtly anti-science. however, it appears to me to be a minority view, not a majority view, altho perhaps it’s just a more quietly expressed view.

          as for belief in god being anti-scientific, there is a very large (or at least very loud) contingent of christians in the usa today that seem to think so. hence the ongoing debates over teaching creationism/intelligent design in schools, among other issues. are there some religious people that are also scientificly minded? sure, but i’ll bet very few of them are fundamentalist.

          so overall, you don’t address my questions, and you don’t explain your own position to any degree either. i’m not interested in playing a cat-and-mouse game, or arguing what famous people may or may not agree with you.

          Reply
          1. marfin

            It was you who brought up the Amish and I assume it was to show how religion is anti technology anti science , I was not quoting famous people I was quoting scientist and those who publicly said it was science and their work in science which pointed to a God, I did not say which God just a God.
            I never said the big bang did not happen I quoted what the scientist`s say was the initial condition of the universe for hundreds of thousands of years after the initial bang, I then asked how can an expanding cloud of hydrogen gas become , birds, bees, whales, Mozart, Shakespeare , and all us other talking apes, please show me scientifically how that happens.And what Christians in the USA think is irrelevant to me as I am not from the USA, and also don`t believe they are very christian , those conservatives who support the bombing of Iraq, who invade Afghanistan, obviously have never considered to any extent the person of jesus , killing men , women and children from 50,000 feet in the air not something I can see Jesus doing.

          2. sgl

            re: “It was you who brought up the Amish and I assume it was to show how religion is anti technology anti science ,”

            you lack reading comprehension skills. i specifically said why i brought up the amish — because they’re fundamentalist (theologically), and yet i have no problem with their views because they keep it to themselves.

            there’s no point in having a discussion with you. you ignore the points of an argument, and just drive by and spray point your vague theological graffiti on whatever anyone else says. then do it again with any response. play cat-and-mouse word games with definitions like “faith”. so i’m done responding to you.

    4. August Rode

      Quick question for you, Marfin… How do you personally determine which beliefs are more reasonable and which are less so?

      Reply
      1. marfin

        Through evidence, reason, logic, and faith, and you how do you determine ?

        Reply
        1. August Rode

          Through reason, in which evidence and logic play a significant role. I don’t understand how faith helps determine which beliefs are more reasonable than others. Perhaps you could explain to me how that works.

          Reply
          1. marfin

            Faith is to me just another word for belief or trust, so unless you have actual hands on and I mean literal hand on contact with the evidence it involves trusting some people are being honest in their
            interpretation of that evidence.So take the fossil Lucy is she our sub human ancestor some say yes and some say no both base their decision on the same set of bones , now you or I will never get our hands on that skeleton so who do we trust .Also we are unlikely to go back to college for enough time to become an expert in every field of science so we have to believe some people. But when you can know, you need to be as rigorous as possible to look at the evidence and make an informed decision.

        2. August

          “Also we are unlikely to go back to college for enough time to become an expert in every field of science so we have to believe some people.” I think I see your problem right there, Marfin. No, you don’t have to believe “some people”. Putting trust in people is precisely where most people go wrong. You have to assess the quality of the arguments that people put forward and if you aren’t able or willing to do that, the right and proper course of action is to *withhold* belief.

          In the example you used regarding Lucy’s status as a “sub human ancestor”, if you aren’t able/willing to assess and contrast the arguments in favour and against that position, you should take no position whatsoever if you’re going to be intellectually honest. You don’t need to “trust” one side or the other, and you shouldn’t.

          If you don’t understand cosmology, physics, chemistry, biology, neurology and any of the other numerous fields of study needed to explain how we get from “hydrogen gas” to “Mozart”, you ought to be withholding judgement on the matter until such time as you understand it better than you do now. To rush to judgement in favour of a hypothetical deity simply because it requires less intellectual heavy lifting on your part is lazy.

          Reply
          1. marfin

            No I have accessed the evidence where possible but what you need to realise in a lot of cases we dont`t get the actual evidence but interpretation of the evidence, take Lucy for instance the actual evidence are the bones themselves, everything after that is interpretation of evidence.
            My judgement on many things are hence based on what I know not what I don`t know.
            So we know to this point life always , ALWAYS comes only from preceding life this is show by experimentation , observation, and is a law of nature so hence I don`t believe life came from dead inorganic mater . If I am wrong here please show me the facts, evidence , data or what ever you wish to call it to contradict this position.I use the same reason and logic to access , the big bang, the fossil record, natural selection and random mutation, etc.I never said I don`t understand the evidence I just said who can you trust , the gravitational waves, dust , bicep2 being a case in point.

        3. August Rode

          “So we know to this point life always , ALWAYS comes only from preceding life this is show by experimentation , observation, and is a law of nature so hence I don`t believe life came from dead inorganic mater .”

          A few things here, Marfin… Firstly, I don’t know why you’re discussing inorganic matter given that the vast majority of matter involved in living organisms is *necessarily* organic, whether life is present or not. Secondly, matter is neither alive nor dead; it’s just matter. Life is the chemical processes that occur with some specific forms of matter interact with other forms of matter. It is not the matter that is alive or dead; it is (at least partially) the presence of self-sustaining chemical processes that determine whether life is present or not. Thirdly, you’ve effectively argued against the Resurrection which would require that life comes from “dead” matter, something that you’ve correctly pointed out hasn’t been shown by experimentation, observation and is against “a law of nature”.

          Reply
          1. marfin

            Was there ever a time when there was no organic matter or did the big bang create organic matter?
            So yes I am discussing organic matter and asking how it became organic , if you know how please cite the paper, or research.
            Yes I know the resurrection is against the law of nature thats why we are discussing it , its supernatural, a miracle, by I believe, a miracle worker, the alternative is life from hydrogen gas without a miracle worker.You are saying you don`t need life to get life, the science since Louis Pasteur tells us you do need life to get life so are you saying Pasteur was wrong.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            We don’t know how everything first began. That’s why we continue to do science. What we do know is that science best explains the world we live in. Through the scientific method we continue to observe, test, and learn. As I have told you before, I put my faith in science.

            You put your faith in the Bible and the Christian God. You think whenever science can’t explain something your God is the answer. You claim you are a man of science, yet when science says your belief is wrong, you ignore it. How? Science tells us that dead people stay dead. That’s a fact, Marfin. Yet, you reject this fact and believe Jesus resurrected from the dead. Thus, you are not really a man of science. When science fits your beliefs you accept it, when it doesn’t, you don’t.

            You are stuck with a belief system that says the world was created in 144 hours, 6019 years ago. Science tells us your belief is wrong, yet you believe anyway. Again, this shows you are really not a man of science.

            And at this point, Bruce says to Marfin what he has said to him numerous times….fine I grant you the premise that a God of some sort created everything. Now, show me how we can know that this God is the Christian God revealed in the Bible.

            And just like every other time, Marfin will run to faith, to his presuppositions, thus proving, once again, that he is really not a man of science.

            Bruce

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Here’s an excerpt from an article I read today:

            “Brute Fact: Universe or God?

            One way out of this quagmire is to posit a supernatural intelligence that poofed the world into existence. If God exists, then the answer would be: ‘because God did it that way’. This, of course, is also man’s oldest answer. It is valid as concerns the proximate question, but skirts the one underneath. In the same way that positing a multiverse to explain our universe merely kicks the discussion downwind, introducing God to explain our universe naturally begs the question of God’s existence. If the universe needs a cause, does God not need one as well?

            Philosophers and theologians have tussled with this dilemma in various ways. Leibniz and Plotinus invoked the principle of causa sui (“cause of itself”) to argue that God is self-caused: among the set of features of an all-powerful being is the ability to answer for its own existence. Aquinas rejected this outright, arguing that nothing can cause itself because it would have to exist prior to itself—a logical contradiction.2 Instead, he adduced the argument from contingency, which says that all causes depend on some prior cause, and since there cannot be an infinite series of causes they must terminate in a necessary, or non-contingent, being. The Thomistic formulation is but another face of Aristotle’s Uncaused Cause (known variously as Unmoved Mover, Prime Mover or First Cause).

            Holt finds these arguments problematic. And he is in good company; Hume, Kant and Russell had their suspicions as well, though for different reasons.3 Holt’s contention is not so much with the notion of self-explanation but that the cosmological argument simply reframes the original question, trading one conundrum for another. Positing an eternal being with no origin to explain the world’s origin is no answer. ‘Why is there a universe rather than no universe?’ becomes, ‘Why is there a God rather than no God?’:

            “[God] is a fitting ontological foundation for a contingent world. Yet he himself has no ontological foundation. His essence does not include existence. His being is not logically necessary. He might not have existed. There might have been no God, nothing at all.” (p. 119)

            Whatever logic we apply to God can also be applied to the Universe. If you want to say that God is uncaused and requires no explanation, there is no reason why the Universe can’t exist uncaused and unexplained as well. If you assert that God exists as a function of its own essence, on what non-arbitrary grounds can you deny this feature to the Universe? Both represent unique metaphysical claims, and both propositions can be derived through logical means.

            Nor does God fulfill the precondition of ex nihilo that is often thrown at the naturalist’s feet. Like quantum fields and the laws governing the spontaneous creation of particles from a vacuum, God certainly is not ‘nothing’. In both cases we start with ‘something’ to produce another ‘something’, neither of which is ‘nothing’. Whatever new entities we might insert to fill the explanatory void ushers us right back to square one.

            This Great Chain of Regress is the kind of gridlock that causes Adolf Grünbaum, a philosopher of science Holt interviews early on, to shoo away the question as prima facie incoherent. He says there can’t be a reason, and that those who demand one are buying into a bit of Christian theology (ex nihilo) that arose in the second century in order to counter the Hellenistic competition. “Don’t worry about why there’s a world,” he says, “it’s an ill-conceived question.”

            If we decide to ignore Grünbaum’s counsel and, like Holt, persist in the astonishment of Being, we are left with two options. We can throw up our hands, reject the aforesaid PSR and accept one or another brute fact, the balance of which tends to settle along ideological lines. Or we can take solace in the words of Martin Amis, who once responded when the question was put to him, “we’re at least five Einsteins away from answering that question”, and get on with the hunt.”

            http://www.waivingentropy.com/2015/08/10/review-why-does-the-world-exist/

            I’m with the get on with the hunt crowd. You are stuck with an ancient text mostly written by unknown people thousands of years ago.

  5. Brian

    One primary stumbling block for me as a youngster growing up in a Fellowship Baptist environment was that although the Bible’s ways (interpreted via our particular Christian group/pastor) was supposedly unchangeable, it changed over time. A simple example was to do with sports. We were not allowed to do anything sporty on Sunday, nothing, not even toss a baseball. After some years, it became okay to do some quiet sports but nothing organized. Later, my preacher dad was watching TV sports while Jesus died for his sins! Nobody would address this evolution. I fell away, (it was more than lack of sports!) wrote poetry and got interested even in the idea (now proven fact in my life) that life goes on in change, constant change. Science at least honors that reality and only demands that we show it with scientific method. It does not claim some final, immutable truth as far as I can see.
    As for people who get visions and hear voices, die and come back to life, well, I have just lost interest. I would rather read Neruda: (this from memory so probably not exact)
    “Although I grew up in a tree and should have something to say on the matter, my deepest wish now is to be silent….”
    A wonderful! poem that ends with an orange in your hand.

    Reply
  6. VinceH

    Is there really a consensus among scholars that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 was written no less than five years after the death of Jesus? It seems to me that the consensus would be that the traditions upon which the creed is based are very early, but I have never seen anyone other than a conservative Christian apologist express certainty that the tradition was put in the form of that particular creed at such an early date. What Paul is referring to by “received” and “passed on” in 1 Cor. 15:3 is the gospel message itself rather than a particular verbal formulation of that message.

    Reply
  7. Geoff

    This 5 year thing gets tossed about very lightly. I have no idea whatever about biblical history, but I do cringe at the idea of a belief based on writings made more than 5 years after the purported event took place. 5 years may seem a short time in the context of all the other time scales referred to, but it is far too long to take seriously anything the writings supposedly report.

    The resurrection is a fiction. Why do I know this? Because every piece of evidence that is adduced to support it is shown to be worthless, and narratives that discount the resurrection as pure myth become much more plausible. It’s the Ockham’s Razor principle, which is that the simplest explanation is usually correct.

    Reply
  8. marfin

    So the facts are one one side you have a Supernatural Creator God who in his word speaks of talking snakes, virgin births, and resurrection from the dead, have you ever heard such nonsense, but on the other hand you have a completely materialist, natural, undirected process which speaks of a universe from nothing, life coming from dead matter, literature, symphonies ,art, and every living animal we see today including rational, reasoning and talking apes (us) all from hydrogen gas, have you ever heard even greater nonsense.
    And before you reply , as far as things go there are only two alternatives supernatural or natural , if anyone knows of a third please let me know.

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      Oh I entirely agree, the choice is between natural and supernatural. I choose natural but I don’t pretend to be able to understand it.

      As for the words you use, they are poorly chosen, intended it appears only to incite and confuse. Picking up on two phrases. ‘Life coming from dead matter’. A scientist would say inorganic material becoming organic, and this is something that will almost certainly be demonstrably true within the next couple of decades. And ‘universe from nothing’ isn’t a useful phrase. We have no idea of what is meant by the term ‘nothing’, so using it in such a casual way is pointless.

      Ultimately, as I think it was SGL pointed out, if god exists you have all the problems of where did he come, but magnified.

      Reply
      1. Martin Finnegan

        Its life from hydrogen gas as if you care to look into the big bang thats pretty much all there was for hundreds of thousands of years.You say organic from inorganic within the next couple of years , you should go and collect your nobel prize now so , try win any court case , debate, or argument with I have not got the evidence now, but I will have it for you in a few years and see how far you get . Its not what we don`t know about life from dead matter thats the problem its what we do know , it takes intelligence to assemble the parts.

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          I said decades not years. The evidence is already there of abiogenesis, the only issue is turning the theory into lab results, not exactly easy considering the early universe conditions needing replication.

          Incidentally nothing to do with assembling parts; that’s not how evolution works.

          Reply
  9. marfin

    Please cite the evidence of life arising by a non directed process , because before life there is no natural selection , so please cite the scientific paper which show`s how this random process works , and I will cite the pigs can fly paper I was reading.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You do know this post was on the resurrection of Jesus and you have totally hijacked it?

      Reply
      1. marfin

        Not my intention to hijack it , but lets be honest being resurrected from the dead is a supernatural
        event and not one of us were there to witness it so it has to be believed by faith.As I have said before science cannot prove historical events, so the point I was making was that its as reasonable to believe a once live man came back from the dead as believe life and everything else arose from hydrogen gas.
        As a by the way re difficulty proving history did Shakespeare write his own play as proving that he did is proving very difficult so proving an itinerant preacher rose from the dead is going to prove even more so.If you believe the bible a credible witness you might believe and if you believe its not credible you won`t.

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          Rubbish. Science, in its widest sense, is the only thing that gives credence to history. Are the plays of Shakespeare really written by Shakespeare? If we are ever to know the truth it will be via detailed gathering and analysis of evidence, not by clinging longingly to a cherished desire that it be true. All accepted history is dependent on evidence from multiple sources, peer reviewed in the proper scientific way.

          The resurrection of Jesus is a tradition, with no historical basis. Academics can’t even come to agreement on whether Jesus actually existed, so it is hard to see how the claim that he came back to life (or whatever resurrection theory you might entertain) can possibly be taken seriously. To equate it with properly researched and evidenced history is ridiculous.

          Reply
          1. marfin

            You were not listening , when it come to history it will be the credibility of the witness`s
            and how well those events have been recorded that we are dependent upon to know the truth of the matter.So take Washington crossing the Delaware , show me scientifically that this actually happened, you can look and say yes it possibly happened but you cannot say it did happen without believing in the credibility of the witness`s who recorded it.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Well…we have Washington’s own words and the words of those who participated in the event. By all means, point me to Jesus’s first hand account or that of any other person.

  10. August Rode

    Bruce, you quoted: “Positing an eternal being with no origin to explain the world’s origin is no answer.” That is most certainly true. One does not explain a mystery by appealing to another mystery and especially not to a greater mystery than one is trying to explain in the first place.

    Reply
    1. marfin

      Before I hijack this any more , the whole point was that Jesus being resurrected is just not credible, and yes I agree it is incredible, but no more incredible than a universe from nothing, every living creature from hydrogen gas,every complex and amazing living creature came about by a non directed process, love, morals, consciousness, etc came from nothing, now you who are so sceptical about a God need to be honest enough to look at the facts of science not just the philosophies of the scientist`s. Its ok to admit I am not sure but to be taken in by people who are just trying to sell more books, Dawkins , Coyne , et al is not sceptical enough in my book.You look for me to explain how someone can raise from the dead and when I say miracle you mock my gullibility , but when I ask how a universe from nothing , life from hydrogen gas you say , you don`t know but Laurence Krauss, Stephen Hawking , they know.
      Please be more sceptical.

      Reply
      1. August Rode

        Marfin, when it comes to “life from hydrogen gas”, science has so far provided us with a large chain of facts with a a significant number of unknowns sprinkled in. The Resurrection, on the other hand, is little more than a small chain of bald assertions. That you think that these ought to carry similar weight is more than a bit saddening.

        Reply
  11. marfin

    Please quote these chain of facts and the repeatable experimentation that show them as evidence for life from gas, if you cannot or will not please accept you need to be more sceptical of scientific stories are not not based on real Popperian science. And also if you are just the product of hydrogen gas through a random purposeless process, how can you even trust you own reasoning as all you are in reality is neutrons firing in you own head and and this may just be a world those neurons have created for you.When you think and reason are you really thinking and reasoning or its that just the perception your brain gives you , please explain how we can know the difference.

    Reply
    1. August Rode

      Marfin, when I said “large chain of facts”, I was talking about millions or billions of facts. It’s not practical for me to do your heavy lifting for you. If you want to know how it all is believed to have happened, you’ll have to rely on your own google-fu. This assumes, of course, that you are actually the least bit interested. Not a good assumption given your efforts to attempt to make the process look absurd by looking only at the end points of the process and trivializing the millions of stages and processes in between.

      Reply
  12. marfin

    Bruce the Gospel of John chapter 21 , I know you will say the earliest copies of this are 100 years after the event , but as I said do you believe it credible or not , I do, you dont.

    Reply
  13. Sean G.

    Is this statement from your blog correct?
    “and 1 Corinthians was likely written a century before the gospel of Mark.”

    I always thought that Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written around 50 AD and Mark was written around 70 AD. That’s only a difference of about 20 years – not an entire century as you stated. Please help me understand this.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks for catching this. I will correct the post when I get home tonight. I am at a basketball game. ?

      Reply

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