Did Jesus rise from the dead

Jesus waited three days to come back to life. It was perfect! If he had only waited one day, a lot of people wouldn’t have even heard he died. They’d be all, “Hey Jesus, what up?” and Jesus would probably be like, “What up? I died yesterday!” and they’d be all, “Uh, you look pretty alive to me, dude…” and then Jesus would have to explain how he was resurrected, and how it was a miracle, and the dude’d be like “Uhh okay, whatever you say, bro…” And he’s not gonna come back on a Saturday. Everybody’s busy, doing chores, workin’ the loom, trimmin’ the beard, NO. He waited the perfect number of days, three. Plus it’s Sunday, so everyone’s in church already, and they’re all in there like “Oh no, Jesus is dead”, and then BAM! He bursts in the back door, runnin’ up the aisle, everyone’s totally psyched, and FYI, that’s when he invented the high five. That’s why we wait three days to call a woman, because that’s how long Jesus wants us to wait…. True story

Barney Stinson

In his post Robert claims to have provided enough evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It is taken for granted that Jesus lived, a question that I will say hasn’t been settled and unless the fellow shows up holding his mother’s hands will not be settled conclusively.

He tells us our sources of information will be

  1. The four Gospels in the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  2. The New Testament letters.
  3. Material predating the New Testament letters.

While Robert believes the business here has to be left to the investigative journalist only, I disagree with him. I will bring the scientist, the philosopher and the historian to give their expertise on this question. It isn’t the greatest question of all time, there are greater questions to be answered.

The gospels are not reliable as eyewitness accounts nor as historical accounts. We do not know their authors, their motives and what they knew. Because the gospels are anonymous and later works, they are inadmissible in the case. I will add they are further inadmissible because the believers claim they are divinely inspired. If their divine authorship cannot be demonstrated, they have no standing whatsoever. They remain what they have always been, the works of overzealous and credulous, superstitious people and nothing more.

It is important to note here in passing that for most of the 1st and 2nd century, what we have as the NT wasn’t considered as authority and many of the church fathers referring to scripture at this time meant the OT. To the unknowing, it is important to remind you there were several gospels written at the same period that didn’t make it to the canon.

Paul, nowhere quotes Jesus. And those who read my post on Paul know that even back then questions were raised about him that I need not repeat here. The claim by Robert that

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15 is evidence in support of his assertion is easily demonstrated as false. Paul claims he has received whatever he writes directly from a god. He nowhere pretends to know anything about other extant writings. The appearance to the 500 is not known by the synoptic writers. It only appears in his writing. His writings are unreliable as evidence.

I wasn’t able to get from his post what he meant by materials predating the NT.

I could end this post here. The materials that were present before the court are wanting. They instead of helping the defence give credence to the prosecution’s case that there was no resurrection. But I will oblige Robert and consider what else he brings to the court’s attention.

  • The tomb was empty

This isn’t new evidence. It is from the material we rejected as evidence. It is useless in supporting the story.

Postscript: There is a big gaping hole in the empty tomb as evidence. Mathew who alone writes about it says

“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[a] of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”[b] 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.”
—Matthew 27

which means there was a hell lot of time for a grave robber to take Jeebus away among other possibilities.

  • Resurrection appearances

These suffer the same fate. It isn’t new evidence. It is from the claims of the biographers and their claims were already shown to be unacceptable.

  • Origin of church’s belief in the resurrection

It is impossible to separate the history of the church and the resurrection. In this case, I don’t think it is possible to tell which gives birth to which. They are intertwined at the umbilical cord. The idea of resurrection isn’t a new thing, not in Jewish history and the only difference in the case of Jesus isn’t that he brought himself back to life but that god did so without the help of another prophet. It is not a special event. It would be a special event were there no such reported cases of people being brought back to life.

  • Sunday becoming the day of worship

I have no idea and I would like to know. The two articles I have read on this matter do not give me much to go with. More here. However, I don’t think this is evidence of anything. The Jews have honoured the Sabbath and the Passover and we now have every reason to believe Yahweh does not exist and that there was no Passover, the two events being related.

  • The changed life of the first disciples

That there have been ascetics isn’t proof of the truth of their beliefs. If their lives changed and we have only the claims of the gospel writers, we have nothing great to go on.

  • Conversion of Paul

Paul claims he saw a light. Paul claims he saw Jesus. Who tells us this? Paul. Does Paul quote Jesus anywhere in his writings? He doesn’t. Does Paul quote the synoptics? He doesn’t. His conversion claim is just that. It is not evidence in support of our query.

Whereas Robert thinks the following

  1. Jesus’ tomb was found empty by women.
  2. Multiple people on multiple occasions were convinced they’d seen Jesus alive.
  3. The early church suddenly believed in a resurrection contrary to prevailing expectations.
  4. Sunday becoming the day of worship contrary to Jewish custom.
  5. The lives of the first disciples were changed in a manner consistent with such a dramatic event.
  6. Paul, the great opponent of the Christian faith, was converted.

must be explained before we dismiss the claim in the resurrection, I submit that this is starting the investigation from the wrong end. The question we must answer if we are to help the believer are

  1. Is there evidence for divine revelation? And how can we know it?
  2. Are miracles credible?

By answering the two questions conclusively, the question of the virgin birth and later resurrection can then be sensibly answered. And I must say here that I don’t think the questions are answerable conclusively. The ongoing investigations by apologists is really like examining whether Thor really does have a big hammer. They ignore the central issue to the religious problem.

I conclude there is no reason to believe in the resurrection and until scripture can be shown to be divinely revealed, we will be wasting time.

The atheist’s extraordinary evidence

A theist has written the following address to us

Many of these people have had experiences which they have assessed to have been caused by a super-natural agent or force. Many have come to believe in the super-natural on the basis of arguments and evidence that their rational faculties have told them are sound. And yet you tell us that all these people—billions and billions of people in all sorts of different settings, cultures, and social groups—are wrong. Only your comparatively tiny group—the “bright” luminaries of humanity—are right. But that, my friends, is an extraordinary claim.

and then asked

Where is your extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claim that everyone else is wrong but you?

And I as an atheist, I will attempt to answer him. First, I want to tell him the claim by the atheist isn’t extraordinary. And doesn’t need extraordinary evidence.

To say more, the atheist doesn’t deny the experiences people have had across the ages. What we are saying is they have been attributed erroneously to divine or not so divine agency. As far as we can tell, humans have no faculty for detecting the supernatural. All our experiences involve natural stuff, they could be inexplicable but they are still natural.

It is the theist who is making an extraordinary claim when he claims his very natural inexplicable experience is the working of a supernatural agency. It is the theist who must tell us how they know that the experience is supernatural and which supernatural agency caused it.

And I hate to destroy the believer’s bubble but I must end his party abruptly by telling him that whereas he has written

And please note, since you are the ones making the positive claim that the rest of us are all mistaken, the burden of proof is on you to prove that claim….have fun!

the burden is on him to demonstrate that the experiences are supernatural. The believer has to tell us how they know a particular event is supernatural. So we will have fun, yes, but we will be doing so waiting for you to demonstrate that the experience is not natural or not caused by some natural agency.