Torley Presents Alter's Case Against the Resurrection

What you claim is true in certain cases but the faith of 30% of the worlds population is also based on evidence of a created universe and historical evidence that God incarnate visited us 2000 years ago.

The evidence is quite compelling if you look at all of it and don’t play the cherry pick game with certain pieces of it.

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I don’t consider it my job to persuade anyone out of the religious faith they hold. I also think peace is better than war, that multi-faith secularism can work with goodwill on all sides. I accept that many find religious faith comforting and consoling.

That said, I do find the claim that evidence supports religious belief an odd one. Both for the fact that once you eliminate hearsay and (in the case of Christianity) Biblical texts, there is none. And if Jesus’ ideas make sense, then the trappings, the embellishments, don’t matter a jot. I may be an odd fish but it’s not that I’m not intellectually curious (to an extent) about the influence religious belief has had and still has on the history and politics of humans, I just have no emotional need myself and find it hard to understand it in others. Such discussions - on the emotional aspect of religious belief - are doomed to failure due to the mutual lack of comprehension. The solution is to guarantee everyone’s personal space. But if you voice a public opinion, you can’t complain when you are challenged, especially when the word “evidence” crops up…

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Perhaps a little sweeping! “A solution…”

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Evidence of a created Universe? Well, there’s evidence that the Universe was once much hotter, denser and smaller. A reasonable supposition is that it was once either a singularity or nearly so. There’s no evidence any supernatural powers were involved but none that they weren’t. But linking these events to the Christian God is just story-telling.

As I keep saying, there’s no evidence regarding the veracity of any of the many versions of Christianity other than hearsay and text. There’s nothing to link Jesus, as a single or composite historical figure - maybe with a nub of historical fact, to the events of the early Universe. But I’m not asking for any - as I don’t see the relevance. As I keep saying, if Jesus makes sense, the miraculous claims are unnecessary - if he doesn’t, no amount of supernatural embellishment is going to improve the story.

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In that case, our viewpoints may turn out to be very similar, after all.

Let me make it more concrete, by focusing on the burial of Jesus. There are five possibilities:

  1. Jesus didn’t get a proper burial at all. Pilate never handed over the body; it was just dumped in a pit, along with those of other crucified criminals. (This is Professor Bart Ehrman’s thesis, and he backs it up by arguing that we have no historical record of a person executed as a political criminal [as Jesus was] being disposed of in any other way.)
  2. Jesus’ body was handed over to the Jewish chief priests and leaders (including Joseph of Arimathea), who gave him a dishonorable burial in a dirt grave. No family members were present, and there were no mourners.
  3. Jesus’ body was handed over to the Jewish chief priests and leaders (including Joseph of Arimathea), who wanted to give him a dishonorable burial in a dirt grave, but ran out of time before the Jewish Sabbath, so they placed his body in someone’s family tomb, as a temporary measure, planning to bury it later on. Once again, no family members were present, and there were no mourners.
  4. Pilate handed Jesus’ body over to a private individual, Joseph of Arimathea, who, in opposition to the wishes of the Sanhedrin, buried Jesus in his own rock tomb. Because it was a family tomb, there would have been other bodies inside the tomb as well.
  5. Pilate handed Jesus’ body over to a private individual, Joseph of Arimathea, who, in opposition to the wishes of the Sanhedrin, buried Jesus in his own rock tomb. Because it was a new tomb, there were no other bodies inside the tomb as well.

As I argued in my OP, on purely historical grounds, 1 is the most likely scenario, 2 is nevertheless quite possible, as is 3, 4 is altogether unlikely, while 5 is extremely unlikely. But here’s the thing: Christian Resurrection apologetics is all about trying to demonstrate scenario 5, which is the least likely scenario. Without scenario 5, the argument for the empty tomb falls flat. For if scenarios 1 or 2 are true then there was no tomb, and if 3 or 4 are true, then there was a tomb, but it wasn’t empty: there were other bodies inside as well. Alter’s book points out this fact, as well as many others.

Now ask yourself: do you really think the evidence for scenario 5 is as strong as the evidence for evolution?

Personally, I’m inclined to favor scenario 3, as it would explain the Gospel traditions about Joseph of Arimathea and the tomb. But I certainly wouldn’t consider scenario 3 historically probable; at most, I’d say it’s possible. And I certainly wouldn’t say the evidence for it compares with the evidence for evolution.

I’d appreciate hearing your take on this issue, Joshua.

I am inclined to favor scenario 1 as it is the most likely one considering the man was just executed as some Jewish radical. It was just another day’s work in hellhole Judea for the Roman soldiers.

19 posts were merged into an existing topic: Alter on The Resurrection: Take Two

29 posts were merged into an existing topic: Torley on The Resurrection: Take Two