Christopher Hitchens at his best

Because believing it was all just a hoax requires an even greater instance of blind faith and willful ignorance than the supposed “sheep” view requires. Pascal says that atheists are simply bad gamblers, and I tend to agree. You don’t have to, of course.

I never said anything about a “sheep” view–I respect your view about it.

I don’t see though why you find the evidence convincing to the degree that rejecting it amounts to “blind faith” and “willful ignorance”. For a start, I think we can safely say that the majority of the people on earth disbelieve it. The evidence is written accounts from Christians, without any kind of independent verification. All the accounts come from considerably after the fact, and they differ. I would argue that it is a matter of belief on your part to accept it, which I have no argument with. But I don’t see how disbelief is essentially irrational as you are saying.

There are some obvious problems with Pascal’s argument. Here’s one big one. What if a god actually wants us to stand by our convictions, and could even reward such behavior and punish the opposite?

That turns out not to be true. Interesting that you didn’t know.

How so? Always open to knowing things :slight_smile:

First of all, excuse me @Patrick , if I seemed to highjack your thread. Hitchen’s video is marvelously entertaining, and Christians, like anyone else, can and should occasionally be hoisted on their own pitard.
The “sheep” comment was one of Hitchen’s “gems,” so sorry if that sounded like an accusation, @John_Dalton .
I actually do agree that God wants us to stick by our convictions, while remaining open to learn more.
The Scriptures say that “God is a rewarder of those who seek Him,” and you can’t and shouldn’t get there by ignoring the hard questions, nor the hard answers… but, it’s very much worth it!


Listen to the full presentation by Gary Habermas here: Peace Be With You. Beware of atheist pseudohistory. Do not trust your polemicists.

I will, but let me outline the facts as I understand them first. In my opinion, they are not the product of “atheist pseudohistory” or “polemecists”, but of my attention to a variety of sources over the past several years. I try to be careful about such things, and I’m not in the habit of accepting things out of hand no matter who says them.

Word of the resurrection is relayed first by Paul, a Christian, probably written from 50-60 CE, and then in the Gospels, by Christians, from 65-120 CE. No confirmation can be found in non-Christian histories of the period.

Is that in error? I’m going to watch the video now.


Yes. Several contemporary non-Christian historians make reference of the existence, claims, and supposed “social nuisance” of Christians. They were regarded as atheists, because they refused to bow the knee to anyone in the pagan pantheon of the gods, and revered and worshipped Jesus only, along with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob --“YHWH Elohim.”

It’s a bit long :slight_smile: I got about 17:00 in. I think I’m getting the gist of it–there are reasons why we should especially believe Paul in the opinion of Dr. Habermas.

Fine–I’ve certainly heard plenty of similar arguments before. But I don’t see how it contradicts anything I’ve said above. Is there a short version somewhere? I’d be interested in reading more from him but I can’t sit through a whole video. Maybe he would have said something amazing and I missed it because I couldn’t be bothered :slight_smile: But he lost me a bit there–again, I’m not unfamiliar with this kind of stuff in general.

I’m aware of some, but I’m not aware of any meaningful confirmation that the resurrection occurred. To be clear, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and I’m not saying it didn’t. I’m simply saying that disbelief is a reasonable position based on the evidence.

But it’s not a reasonable one based upon an impatience with investigating the historical sources.
If you “can’t be bothered,” that’s certainly a choice. But, let me ask why such an “irrational” idea ever gained the slightest credence in the first place, historically and up to the present?
Do you have the courage to doubt your provisional certainty of this all being trivial?


Did I say trivial? I will say that even if the resurrection did happen, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to signify, so maybe it’s apt. Anyway, I believe I do have such courage, but I don’t feel obligated to watch every video about it. I’ve heard similar arguments before. I’m a bit more of a reader than a video watcher, really.

That being said, I was about to post this but I ran into a Discourse first-day poster posting limit. So I had some time, and in the interest of learning more and not being perceived as a total stick in the mud here :slight_smile:, I watched the rest of Habermas’s talk. Again, they aren’t arguments I’m unfamiliar with. I’m aware of the historical significance of 1 Corinthians 15:3, and his meetings with the “pillars”. But Habermas extrapolates too far from these nuggets IMO. We’re still getting word that has had 20 years to percolate when we read Paul, and that is significant. I’d also mention that I find it confusing that Paul claims to have had a special revelation, and how that squares with these more mundane self-attested paths of transmission. As many do, Habermas mentions the normal standards for assessing historical claims. In my view, in short, Tiberius doesn’t claim to be resurrected (or any other incredible supernatural claims) as far as I know, and if one of his historical sources claims that he was, that doesn’t mean I would necessarily believe that either.

Habermas mentions Ehrman often–but in my understanding Ehrman doesn’t believe in the resurrection. I would be interested in reading what Habermas refers to as Ehrman’s statement that the gospel can be traced back to “one year after the cross”. It’s not my intent to reject that idea. Still, I don’t see how it could give us an idea about the information’s reliability, which is more my point.

I plan to watch this later–seems fitting as WJC has been talked about a good deal here lately

Edit: hmmm it’s from 2006, a bit long ago. He’s got a debate with Mike Licona from 2011 on the topic. Still looking around a bit. Hmm, Ehrman doesn’t give any indication his views have changed here:

I didn’t call it “irrational”. That being said, all kinds of unproven ideas have gained and do gain credence among people. A list would be endless.

Seems like a good faith effort on your part. Being more of a “reader than video guy,” perhaps this transcripted debate with Ehrman’s comments will reveal the quotes you hope to find. I applaud you for making an honest, skeptical inquiry, and thank you for not trivializing the invitation to learn more. Excuse me if I’ve overspoken --but, obviously, if the resurrection is true, it’s one of the most important things to get to the bottom of thoroughly. Here’s a link you might enjoy, with Ehrman and Craig going at the subject amicably:
Cheers, and glad you’re back posting!

Thanks. I’m always interested in this stuff. So I’ve heard a lot of the arguments. That’s actually the transcript from the video I posted. I watched it earlier–it actually got a bit warm at times!

By the way that’s not accurate now that I think about it. Paul only claims that Jesus appeared to him, correct me if I’m wrong. But the claim is made in Acts.

“Ehrman and Craig going at the subject amicably” Wow you don’t know the half of it. Notice the ad homs and attacks on Craig’s academic credentials. Bit like Krauss in fact.

Ehrman after the debate about publishing it

“We agreed to stage a public debate, and afterwards I thought some of his arguments were so far removed from anything rational, that I decided giving him a platform to air them was conceding way to much.”

“And I came away from it thinking that he
had not done a very good job in defending his views – especially as he
was completely unable to answer the objections I had raised”

“But I also felt that by
publicizing the debate, it would give him the kind of credibility that he
so desparately is seeking (he claims to have written an enormous number of
books: a lot of them are simply his edited transcripts: as if that’s the
same thing as writing a book!).”

Some of the details are here (it was a long time ago)

It missed out the point that Ehrman did not even want the transcript released.

The funny thing is that Ehrman was touring America about exposing conservative Christians. His e-mail suggests he exposed a leading evangelical but does not want the event publicised. Interesting.

Craig “As for the objections, I’m glad the transcript is
available so that folks can form their own opinions!”

I noticed this about

Ehrman is still sneery and clearly sore “I would assume that since he posted the transcript he thinks he pretty much mopped me up. Maybe he did!” No - Craig wants differences of scholarship between experts, in the public domain for students and academics to listen and learn from. Gloating over the debate probably did not cross Craig’s mind.

Poor old Hitch - Hitchslapped by Craig, Lennox, D’souza and Lord knows who else.

D’souza? Come on. Not in the same league with Hitch, Craig, and Lennox.

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Not really. You are applying an artificial standard which simply ignores how historians rely on ancient documents. If scholars were to demand strictly-contemporaneous sources and never from any author with some “insider-interest” in the topic, we would have to throw away most of what we know about the ancient world.

A lot of pseudo-scholarship has been propagated by activists on the Internet which is totally at odds with what academics, both “secular” and “otherwise”, publish on these topics.

I’ve had several atheist faculty colleagues who regularly had to remind over-zealous undergrads on this point (because the students would repeat in class what they had picked up on the Internet.)

You’re right, it’s probably more like 25 :slight_smile: What I said is about what Ehrman said in his talk with Craig. What’s in Paul? A short account that he met with the pillars. A brief statement that he received the gospel. That’s very thin to draw extrapolated conclusions on. And the conclusions are miraculous events clearly not of an ordinary historical character. History doesn’t tell us that sort of thing about the ancient world in any other circumstance I’m aware of. Why can we expect it to here?

To go on a bit more, I do think we can draw some more general conclusions from what we have. A man called Jesus taught in Judea and nearby. He was crucified by the Romans, etc. But “on the third day he rose from the dead” is a huge, specific, and incomparable claim. At best, from the information we have, we can gain a sense that some people believed it around that time.

I’m sure it has, but I’m drawing my own conclusions here. I hardly think they’re some kind of crackpot theory or something; that’s honestly a bit rich.

I do miss Hitchens.

My favorite speech of his:

“On the third day, He rose from the dead” is the ONLY thing that even begins to explain why a group of scared, huddled “sheep” go on to, all of them, risk their lives, and even be martyred, for proclaiming such a message publicly. Who dies for a fairy tale?