Vesuvius and the Evidence for the Resurrection

I am not suggesting we depart from good evidentiary practice. I would argue that you can have “good” evidentiary practice outside of historic standards.

There are many paranormal events that are generally accepted such as the many origin events that have occurred over time.

Sure, as in empirical inquiry where you are able to generate, observe and evaluate evidence. That’s not historic, but it is sound – much more sound than history when evaluating paranormal events.

Now, I know that within theology inadequate evidence is routinely accepted for all manner of things. But one has got to remember that theology is not the study of “theos,” but the study of itself. Theologians study old writings, and study the writings, new and old, of other people writing about those old writings. When a discipline has got no empirical input at all, and instead has a bunch of people chasing each other in circles, all manner of conclusions will be reached without any firm foundation, but this is not good evidentiary practice.

I have no idea what you are referring to.

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The origin of matter, the origin of life etc.

I don’t know anyone who would think (except by way of baseless paranormal speculations about gods and the like) that the formation of matter or the origin of life is a paranormal event. And I do wonder what on earth might come under the banner of that “etc.”

We’ll add “paranormal” to the long list of terms Bill doesn’t understand the meaning of. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I would argue that there are poor players in every discipline. I used to have the view you do for Theology especially Judaeo Christian theology but now I have lots of respect for this academic discipline.

Here is the definition of paranormal events I am using.

denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.

Theology is a valuable and respectable discipline when is adheres to the practice of studying the nature and history of beliefs people have held and continue to hold about gods. I suspect this is what most theology consists of, and the disparagement the field often suffers can be blamed on the indiscretions of some of its celebrity practitioners, like William Lane Craig, who stray way out of their lane and start thinking they have some expertise to help determine what actually exists and occurs in the universe apart from the beliefs of humans…

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Another bullseye, Tim.

If you are saying that the majority of scholars (which includes Christians) have concluded that the gospels are not eyewitness accounts then you may well be right, I don’t claim to have counted them. But if you are saying that the majority of scholars who are Christians have concluded they are not eyewitness accounts then that is quite different, and I would want to see proof of that. And what is “beyond serious dispute”? That the majority of scholars believe this is beyond dispute? Or that the accounts are not eyewitness accounts is beyond dispute? Because in my reading on the subject I would say that the latter is still very much in dispute. Furthermore you seem to be conflating “based on oral tradition” with “not eyewitness accounts” but that is not necessary. One hypothesis is that the disciples established the oral tradition as they discussed what they had witnessed and what it meant among themselves before later writing it down. Thus their accounts could be both based on shared oral tradition and still be eyewitness accounts.

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That is what I am saying.


No conflation. Something based on oral tradition is not an eyewitness account.


It may be different, but is it better? Should we believe the conclusions of Christian scholars more than those of others? It seems to me that they would be less credible, not more, because of the possibility of bias. Is your tribalism showing here?


The notion that the personal religious beliefs of the historians even matter when it comes to decide on the facts behind the narrative tells you all you need to know about the amount and the quality of the evidence.


If you don’t believe in a creator you will filter the facts very differently then if you do. There is lots of documented testimony confirming the resurrection. If you automatically discount paranormal events you will discount the documented testimony.

After I became firmly convinced that we lived in a created universe I listened to debates between Christian and Secular scholars. A lot of the differences came out to how each was or was not filtering documented testimony. If the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Messiah created the universe then the resurrection should be a chip shot. :slight_smile:

Bill actually has a point there, believe it or not. If we first accept that the Christian God exists, the Resurrection quickly becomes much more credible. The evidence doesn’t get any stronger, but the prior certainly does. Of course, that’s a big “if”, and the evidence is lacking for it.

Then again, some people here seem to be going the opposite direction: Resurrection, therefore God. I don’t think that works at all.


My point is slightly different. If you believe we are in a created universe then the documented evidence in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the New Testament becomes more credible. The resurrection is one piece of that evidence. Other paranormal events are additional evidence. An example that appears historical is King Hezekiah’s prayer based on a recommendation from the prophet Isaiah that resulted in the analyzation of the Assyrian army without a fight from Israel.

Another piece of evidence is the prophetic nature of the Bible especially the predictions of the Messiah that are documented by most of the Jewish prophets.

My point is that there might well have been such strong evidence that withholding belief would be entirely unreasonable, even for people who do not believe in a creator. Clearly, we are not in that situation. The fact is that a majority of people do not believe in the resurrection, so that must certainly be a point against the quality of the evidence.

Yes, I know that there are always some people who won’t believe in well documented history because of their own agenda, e.g. Holocaust deniers. The point is that such people are invariably just a tiny subset of the population, simply because the evidence is so overwhelming that the vast majority of people consider it very unreasonable to doubt the historicity. When it comes to the resurrection though, we are clearly not in that territory.

A different issue is that using the Bible to support the historicity of the Bible is pretty dodgy reasoning. Has it ever occurred to you that religious zealots might have embellished the accounts precisely to make them look like fulfilled prophesies? How could we establish if this happened or not?

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What is a “paranormal” event, and how can we know when one happens?

For instance, many of the people who believe in the resurrection dismiss the possibility that the disciples could have had a mass hallucination of a resurrected Jesus. Evidently, then, such a hallucination is not a “paranormal event” and cannot be accepted as a possibility even if we assume “paranornal events” can occur. Resurrections, OTOH, are to be considered “paranormal events” and are within the rules.

Honestly, I cannot see the rational justification for this. It just looks like some people are stacking the decks to make it easier to win an argument.

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The documented evidence of Jesus life and ministry is generally accepted. On what basis is the resurrection not accepted?


Do you accept the documented acts of the Greek Gods during the generally accepted Trojan war? If not, why not?