Michael Alter: The Man and His Argument Against the Resurrection

Theology

(Michael J. Alter) #1

Hello Everyone:

Thanks to Vincent, I just became aware of the site: Peaceful Science. [For the past few days, I have been at the hospital to attend a family matter.]

I appreciate the discussion, from both sides of the philosophical/theological aisle. Open and frank communication will assist “ALL” of us to better understand the events reported in the resurrection narratives and elsewhere.

However, to be up front, I would prefer evaluations of my text by reviewers who actually read the work. Vincent’s review provides a healthy examine of The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry. Thank you! Although my text totals 912 pages, many relevant topics were not discussed. Many of those topics will be examined in a future text, The Resurrection and Christian Apologetics: A Critical Inquiry. Among the topics that will be examined are: the Minimal Facts strategy, Best Evidences, and a number of issues identified by William Lane Craig and Christian apologists.

I look forward to the continued discussion.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has contributed to the discussion.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Alter


Torley Presents Alter's Case Against the Resurrection
The Resurrection: Torley Responds to Peaceful Science
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #2

@MJAlter welcome to the conversation. I’m glad you are here.

We have been engaging the argument you have made as presented by @vjtorley and, perhaps, as presented by you here. We are not reviewing your text, but the arguments presented here.


Perhaps the most important question is this one. Is @vjtorley accurately presenting your case and his explanation of it correct? If not, it would be helpful to know what he is missing.

If this summary is approximately correct, it raises many objections among us about the methodology you are using. It reminds of something called a “Gish Gallop” (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop#In_written_debate). That is currently where things stand in my mind, so it would be good to know if there was any wrong turns that were made as VJ was presenting your case.

From there, it will make much more sense where things go next. Regardless, thanks for coming here and participating!


(Michael J. Alter) #3

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write. Your opinion is respected. Later, I will try to slowly read [reread] the comments of those who have participated in the discussion. As a general rule, I almost always learn something new! Also, I will also try to respond to those contributors on theskepticzone.com

Thanks to Vincent, I am now acquainted with your blog and look forward to examining its content.

However, soon, I need to take off to visit my Mom.

Take care and be safe.

Mike


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #4

Thanks for engaging. @MJAlter

I’ve moved this exchange to a new thread so you can have a clean slate from which to work. Before we get in some prolonged argument it would be good to know more about you and your motivations.

From what I gather, you are Jewish, and have a written a few popular books. You were a teacher. This the first book, it seems, that engages with a historical question in this time period. Why did you find it so important to engage this question? Can you tell us more about yourself?

I am also hopeful you can elaborate on your personal beliefs. You are Jewish. What type? Do you believe in God? Why?


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #5

@MJAlter Thank you for joining us. I haven’t read your book and I only took a short look at the long review by @vjtorley but I am very interested in your arguments. So I will be in the listening mode for a while and then interject with questions if I have them. Again that for joining us here at Peaceful Science. Oh, I forgot to mention, @Alice_Linsley an anthropologist participates here as well. She has some amazing insights and artifacts that she shares on here facebook group.


(Alice Linsley) #6

Michael attempts to refute the belief that the Messianic Faith involves bodily resurrection. This should be interesting!


#7

From Alter’s book:

FOR THE SAKE of discussion, this text will accept as a premise thirteen basic ideas or tenets. The first three assumed facts relate directly to God, whereas the last ten facts are in reference to Jesus. These last ten facts were adopted from E. P. Sanders’s In Jesus and Judaism (1985, 11; cf. Ehrman 2012; Johnson 1996, 121-22; Lenowitz 1998, 34-49; Loke 2009, 570-84; Sanders 1993, 10).

Does Alter actually accept the historicity of Jesus or not?

And if Alter does accept the historicity of Jesus, which facts about the life of Jesus does he accept as historical?

And if he accepts these facts about the life of Jesus as historical, upon what basis does he do so? IS it because other non-Christian authors accept them as historical?

What source of these historical facts about the life of Jesus does he have, other than these very same New Testament texts, texts which he finds so unreliable?

… the reason that this text rejects Jesus’s physical, bodily resurrection is because there is no unequivocal evidence that this historical event occurred.

Seems like a fairly low bar.


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #8

Please ask him those questions directly (and politely) :sunglasses: Let’s keep it professional. (wow I can’t beleive I just said that.) :rofl:


#9

For your reading enjoyment:

http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/michael-alters-bombshell-demolishes-christian-apologists-case-for-the-resurrection/comment-page-3/#comment-234017

http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/michael-alters-bombshell-demolishes-christian-apologists-case-for-the-resurrection/comment-page-3/#comment-234021


(Michael J. Alter) #10

Thank you for your reply!

You wrote: it would be good to know more about you and your motivations…Can you tell us more about yourself?

Response: The best source to examine is my bio found at https://michaeljalter.wordpress.com/biography/

You wrote: This the first book, it seems, that engages with a historical question in this time period. Why did you find it so important to engage this question?

Response: Actually, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry is my eighth book. I have published with Human Kinetics, five books that deal with the topics of flexibility and stretching. I have also published two books with Jason Aronson

  1. What is the Purpose of Creation: A Jewish Anthology

  2. Why the Torah Begins with the Letter Beit

Insofar as The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry, I was challenged by Anthony Buzzard, a Biblical Unitarian, to prove that Jesus did NOT physical rise from the dead. The key correspondence appears in the first paragraph of my text. An additional explanation is found on page xiv. I would also encourage you to examine my bio.

You wrote: Why did you find it so important to engage this question?

Response: Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians 15:1-20 provides the best answer. If there is no resurrection, Christians cannot evangelize or proselytize those of the Jewish faith. The Christian mission [Mt 28:18-20], rises or falls with the resurrection. Obviously, the resurrection is the foundation of Christianity. However, please note that it is NOT my objective to “convert” Christians to Judaism! This issue is discussed at the end of Volume II. That work is tentatively titled The Resurrection & Christian Apologetics: A Critical Inquiry.

Please let me know if you require further details or have additional concerns.

Take care

Mike


Guide to Alter and Torley on the Resurrection
(Michael J. Alter) #11

You are absolutely correct: BODILY RESURRECTION, nothing spiritual…

And, I strongly believe that you and others will find the text (topic) compelling, relevant, and current.

Take care.

Mike


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #12

Can you please elaborate. thanks.


(Michael J. Alter) #13

Thank you for writing.

I actually discussed the question that you have raised in the comment section of the Skeptical Zone:

  1. Now let be specific on a few details about Jesus:

A. I do NOT believe that Jesus in 1/3 of the Godhead.

B. I do NOT believe that Jesus in God incarnate.

C. I do not believe that Jesus was conceived through a virgin conception.

D. I do not believe the numerous “miracles” reported about Jesus: embellishment, legendary, theological, natural explanations

E. I do not believe in that Jesus met Moses, etc.

F. I do not believe most of the arresting narratives

G. I do not believe most if not all of the trial accounts

H. I do not believe most of the crucifixion narratives

I. I do not believe the visitation narratives

J. I do not believe the appearance narratives

K. I do not believe the Judas episode

L. I do not believe the martyrdom of the apostles (most) – extensively discussed in Volume 2.

Why do I not believe the above? Well, kindly re-read Justin’s honest review of my text and most important, read my text. The text clearly explains why… And, Volume 2 will further the discussion why.

the reason that this text rejects Jesus’s physical, bodily resurrection is because there is no unequivocal evidence that this historical event occurred.

You wrote: Seems like a fairly low bar.

RESPONSE: Why should anyone accept the resurrection if there is no proof of that purported event?

RESPONSE: Why should anyone accept the resurrection if the resurrection narratives, Acts, 1 Corinthians…are contradictory, embellished works, or works written to fulfill a theological agenda?

RESPONSE: I would be interested to know what you consider to be a “high” bar?

Take care

Mike


Guide to Alter and Torley on the Resurrection
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #14

Thanks for the response. To be clear, I have no “concerns” per se. I’m just genuinely wanting to understand you.

This is really interesting. It seems like very personal concern. Why does it matter to you what others believe? Why would it matter if a Jewish person chose to follow Jesus?


(Michael J. Alter) #15

Resurrection is NOT the same as the 'resuscitation" or “reanimation” of a body or the “reincarnation” or “immortality” of a soul. Please see page xlii. Neither was Jesus’s purported resurrection spiritual: a phantom, a ghost, etc. According to the Christian traditional and evangelical line, the resurrection was a PHYSICAL, BODILY resurrection. Of course, Paul adds a few caveats in 1 Corinthians 15… My position is to refute the assertion/belief/notion that Jesus experienced a physical, bodily resurrection.

Take care

Mike


(Michael J. Alter) #16

Thank you for your warm welcome. I appreciate your thoughtful words.

Take care

Mike


(Michael J. Alter) #17

Hello Patrick:

I just sent a reply to Mung. That message was cut and pasted from my initial response on the Skeptical Zone. Here is what I wrote.

I actually discussed the question that you have raised in the comment section of the Skeptical Zone:

  1. Now let be specific on a few details about Jesus:
    A. I do NOT believe that Jesus in 1/3 of the Godhead.
    B. I do NOT believe that Jesus in God incarnate.
    C. I do not believe that Jesus was conceived through a virgin conception.
    D. I do not believe the numerous “miracles” reported about Jesus: embellishment, legendary, theological, natural explanations
    E. I do not believe in that Jesus met Moses, etc.
    F. I do not believe most of the arresting narratives
    G. I do not believe most if not all of the trial accounts
    H. I do not believe most of the crucifixion narratives
    I. I do not believe the visitation narratives
    J. I do not believe the appearance narratives
    K. I do not believe the Judas episode
    L. I do not believe the martyrdom of the apostles (most) – extensively discussed in Volume 2.

Why do I not believe the above? Well, kindly re-read Justin’s honest review of my text and most important, read my text. The text clearly explains why… And, Volume 2 will further the discussion why.

the reason that this text rejects Jesus’s physical, bodily resurrection is because there is no unequivocal evidence that this historical event occurred.

You wrote: Seems like a fairly low bar.

RESPONSE: Why should anyone accept the resurrection if there is no proof of that purported event?

RESPONSE: Why should anyone accept the resurrection if the resurrection narratives, Acts, 1 Corinthians…are contradictory, embellished works, or works written to fulfill a theological agenda?

RESPONSE: I would be interested to know what you consider to be a “high” bar?

Take care

Mike

Well, I hope that my response clears up any questions. If not, feel free to write me.

Take care

Mike


(Michael J. Alter) #18

Here is my response [#1-6; I already sent you #7] that was posted on Skeptical Zone

Does Alter actually accept the historicity of Jesus or not?

RESPONSE:

  1. Currently, I believe that “a” Jesus existed during the first century. Therefore, I do not accept the Christ Myth. However, I respect the opinion (but do not necessarily agree with “all of the “words” of its advocates. Their contributions must be careful read and evaluated. Perhaps, they too, reveal kernels of truth.

  2. It is possible that portions (many?) of the accounts of Jesus’s life were based on several first century Jesuses. Therefore, the Jesus in the NT is a composite Jesus.

  3. Given that miracles exist, Jesus’s resurrection need not have been one of them, not to mention the approximate 30 miracles reported in the NT. For clarification, some miracles in the Hebrew Bible are midrashic allegory [e.g., Jacob wrestling with the angel.]. Torah is interpreted on a four level scheme: PARDeS.

  4. If the Gospel narratives are carefully examined, they unequivocally display embellishment, an evolving storyline, and written for a theological agenda. Healthy examples of these claims are found throughout my text. As an inerrantist (if my information is correct, if not please correct me), you will not accept my opinion and the opinion of many other Christian scholars and theologians on this matter of Scripture. But, the bottom line is that we should respect one another and maintain a civil conversation. And, I thank you for being civil…

  5. You ask: Does he discuss how he decides which elements of the text are historical and which are not? Credulity? Well, if you kindly examine my text, in my opinion, your question is answered. And, there are numerous “Christians” who would probably beg to differ with your opinion.

  6. When I employed the phrase “for the sake of discussion” – I was trying to avoid going of into tangents (yes, possibly interesting). My text was already 912 pages long and that was after deleting material that I hoped would be in the text. In Volume 2, I intend to incorporate that material. Included, is a brief discussion about some issues raised by Lydia (And, she really is AWESOME!)

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Take care

Mike


Guide to Alter and Torley on the Resurrection
(Michael J. Alter) #19

Take care

Mike


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #20

@MJAlter it would be helpful if your posts were less repetitive. It might be easier to do this is you make you posts on the discourse forum website, rather than email.