The Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection, Part 8: Some Unanswered Questions

by Evan Minton 

This is part 8 in a blog post series on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. In parts 3, 4, 5, and 6 of this series, we’ve seen powerful historical evidence that (1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion, that (2) His tomb was found empty the following Sunday morning, that (3) the twelve disciples believed they saw Jesus alive after His death, that (4) a church persecutor named Paul converted to Christianity on the basis of what he perceived to be an appearance of the risen Jesus, and (5) a skeptic named James converted to Christianity on the basis of what he perceived to be appearance of the risen Jesus.

In part 7, we looked at various ways that skeptics have tried to account for the minimal facts, and we saw that they all fail. No naturalistic theory can account for all 5 of the minimal facts. The only theory that can account for them is not a naturalistic theory at all, but a supernaturalistic theory: God raised Jesus from the dead. The hypothesis that God The Father miraculous raised Jesus to life explains all of the data perfectly. It explains why Jesus’ tomb was found empty, why His disciples (and Mary Magdalene) believed they saw Him alive after His death. It explains why a hard-headed, hard-hearted terrorist like Saul of Tarsus would become one of the people he sought to destroy virtually overnight, and it would explain why James, despite being skeptical of his brother’s claims, would become such a firm believer that he would be willing to die a martyr’s death. The resurrection explains every piece of data that is in need of explanation, but even the best of the naturalistic theories could explain one of the five facts at most. The majority didn’t even explain that many. The “He Is Risen” hypothesis has exhaustive explanatory scope and power and ergo outshines any other proposed explanation.

So Why Do People Still Deny It?

In fact, In a lecture titled “Evidence For The Minimal Facts” given on October 14th, 2017 at The National Conference On Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, North Carolina,[1] Dr. Gary Habermas said that in scholarship today, the vast majority of non-Christian historians affirm the 5 minimal facts as true, and they also will admit that they can come up with no naturalistic explanation to account for them. Their attitude can basically be summed up in this sentence: “We admit these 5 facts are true, and we admit that we cannot come up with a good alternative to explain them, but we will not conclude that Jesus rose from the dead.”

Why is that? If you have an empty tomb, and various people claiming and believing that they saw Jesus alive after his death, and every single naturalistic theory that can be posed is an abject failure, why would you not conclude that the best explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead? I mean, it has the ability to explain all of the data, it meets C.B Mcullah’s 6 tests for being a good historical theory[2], why would you just dig in your heels and say “I don’t know how to account for this data, but I know Jesus didn’t rise from the dead”?

*It’s A Heart Issue, Not A Head Issue

Well, one reason could be what I said in Part 1 of this series; namely that this is not merely a matter of whether the evidence is sufficient, this is a moral and/or emotional issue for them. As I point out in my blog post “What Is The Significance Of Jesus’ Resurrection”, if Jesus rose from the dead, the entire Christian worldview is vindicated. For some non-Christians (scholars and laypeople alike), they just don’t want Christianity to be true. If Christianity is true, then they know that they’ll either have to change the way they’re living so they can have a nice afterlife or else face God’s judgment for living in rebellion against him. Atheism is a crutch for these people; if they can make themselves believe there’s no God, then they can live however they want and not have to worry. If there’s no God, there’s no soul. If there’s no soul, there’s no afterlife. If there’s no afterlife, there’s no Hell. If there’s no Hell, then they can sin, sin, sin away and have a perfectly clear conscience about it. It may also be that they had family or friends die who weren’t Christians, and they know that if Christianity is true, those people are in Hell now, so it’s more comforting for these people to just continue believing it isn’t true.[3]

Read this candid statement from a famous atheist, for example:

“[A fear of religion] has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life. […] I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact… that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” – Thomas Nagel[4]

Of course, this applies to atheists and agnostics. For other non-Christians, like Muslims or Mormons, their non-intellectual aversion is slightly different. Ask any Christian who has been converted out of Islam and he or she will tell you that it’s hard. Your family turns your back on you, perhaps they’ll try to murder you in an honor killing, your friends will leave you, every loved one you had who was also a Muslim will shun you and maybe even try to kill you.

Let me just quickly say something to those of you who may fall into the above category; having a relationship with Jesus Christ is worth more than anything you could ever have in this world. The apostle Paul, who, as we saw in part 6, endured severe hardships for being a Christian, wrote; “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8). According to Paul, having a relationship with Jesus Christ is worth so much, that everything else is garbage by comparison! Nabeel Qureshi, whose family turned his back on him when he converted to Christianity wrote; “All suffering is worth it to follow Jesus. He is that amazing.”[5]

Speaking as a Christian myself, I wholeheartedly agree with Paul’s and Nabeel’s statements. My relationship with God means more to me than anything this world has to offer.

*Unanswered Questions May Linger

Of course, for others, it may be the case that unanswered questions still linger. Some readers may be thinking “Gosh, there sure is a lot of evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, but I still have unanswered questions. Why didn’t Jesus appear to any of His enemies after He rose, such as Pontius Pilate or Caiaphas? This would have convinced them that they were wrong to crucify Him, they would repent and become Christians? Also, why is it that Mark’s gospel records no appearances? If Mark’s gospel is the earliest gospel as most scholars say, does this imply that the appearances were legendary embellishments? I don’t think I can commit my life to Christ when there are still so many answered questions.”

Dealing With Unanswered Questions 

First of all, you shouldn’t need to have all of your questions answered before you can make a decision for Christ. We will never have every question answered in this life. What you should do is weigh the evidence. Imagine a scale with the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection on one side and your unanswered questions on the other. Does the totality of the evidence tip in favor of Jesus’ resurrection? If so, then you should conclude that Jesus rose from the dead, despite there being a few unsolved mysteries about it. Would your question, if left unanswered, affect the weight of the arguments in any way? If not, then you should be comfortable with it being left unanswered.

  1. Warner Wallace, cold case homicide detective, and Christian Apologist said this about unanswered questions:

“After a long career as a cold-case detective, I’ve learned to get comfortable with unanswered questions. In fact, I’ve never investigated or presented a case to a jury that wasn’t plagued with a number of mysteries. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, there is no such thing as a perfect case; every case has unanswered questions. In fact, when we seat a jury for a criminal trial, we often ask the prospective jurors if they are going to be comfortable making a decision without complete information. If potential jurors can’t envision themselves making a decision unless they can remove every possible doubt (and answer every possible question), we’ll do our best to make sure they don’t serve on our panel. Every case is imperfect; there are no cases devoid of unanswered questions. Every juror is asked to make a decision, even though the evidential case will be less than complete. As detectives and prosecutors, we do our best to be thorough and present enough evidence so jurors can arrive at the most reasonable inference. But, if you need ‘beyond a possible doubt,’ rather than ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ you’re not ready to sit on a jury. The standard of proof is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ for a good reason; no case is evidentially complete; no case maker can eliminate every possible reservation.”[6]

I think the evidence is sufficient to warrant the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead and Christianity is true, even in spite of some unanswered questions. Think about it for a moment; would the absence of an answer as to why Jesus’ didn’t appear to Pilate and the Pharisees undermine the powerful historical evidence that He did appear to the disciples, Paul, and James? How would an inability to answer that question undermine the evidence for those 3 minimal facts? Would it undermine the evidence for the empty tomb? Would it mean that the resurrection isn’t the best explanation for the 5 minimal facts? Certainly not. I think we could say “Why didn’t He appear to his enemies? It’s kind of weird that he didn’t do that. But the evidence that he did appear to the disciples, Paul, and James is strong enough, and since no naturalistic theory can account for them, I’m still justified in concluding that Jesus rose from the dead.”

Answering The Unanswered Questions 

But do answers to these questions exist? I think they do. Let me take the time address these one by one.

Question 1: Why Didn’t Jesus Appear To Pilate And The Pharisees? 

This is a common question that skeptics and believer alike have asked. If Jesus really rose from the dead, then why didn’t he appear to Pontius Pilate, the Pharisees, and all who doubted him? Surely He would have done this for scripture teaches that God wants all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4) and that Christ died for the entire world (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2), and that confession of Jesus’ lordship and in His resurrection are requirements for salvation (Romans 10:9), so then why didn’t Jesus appear to Pilate and the Pharisees so that they could believe in Him so that they could be saved? I propose several answers.

1: Who Says He Didn’t Appear To Them? 

This is often overlooked, but there’s a passage in the book of Acts that suggests that Jesus did appear to at least a few of the religious leaders, resulting in their conversions. Acts 6:7 says  “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Emphasis mine). Now, granted, it could be that these might not be the same Pharisees who were constantly trying to trip him up and voted to condemn him to death, but they could be. It’s possible that some of the people who ridiculed Jesus, opposed him throughout his ministry, and voted for his death were among the 500 individuals whom Jesus appeared to in 1 Corinthians 15, and that these are the priests Acts 6:7 referred to. So, while this verse isn’t irrefutable proof that Jesus appeared to those who opposed him throughout his ministry, it does at least open to the door.

2: It’s Possible That It May Have Done No Good

If the skeptics of today are any indication, it doesn’t matter how good the evidence is; they will always find a way to avoid following it where it leads. People who don’t want to believe something, won’t believe it, no matter how strong the evidence is. It could have been the case that had Jesus appeared to Caiaphas; he would have said that Satan was trying to deceive him. After all, the religious leaders appealed to demonic forces to try to explain away his other miracles, like his exorcism in Mark 3:20-30, for example. Pilate might have explained his appearance away as a hallucination or a vision, and blamed it on a guilty conscience. Only God knows how these people would have responded to a postmortem appearance of Jesus. If it would have done no good, then Jesus would have just been wasting his time appearing to them. In the book of Exodus, Pharoah had more than enough evidence to know that Yahweh existed and wanted him to let the Israelites go free. Yet, it took about a dozen plagues over a period of time before he finally consented. But even after consenting, Pharoah changed his mind again and chased after the Israelites who were on their way to The Red Sea. People who truly desire not to believe and repent, won’t.

Question 2: Why Are There No Appearances In Mark’s Gospel? 

According to most scholars, Mark’s gospel is the earliest gospel to have been written. Matthew and Luke were written sometime later, and John’s gospel was written last. However, Mark’s gospel contains no appearances. There is a longer ending to Mark which does include appearances, but most scholars agree that these were added by a scribe later on. Most are in agreement that Mark’s gospel ends at verse 8. If this is true, then the earliest gospel contains no appearances while the later ones do. Is this a sign of theological embellishment over time?

1: Mark Doesn’t Include Appearances, But He Does Predict Them 

While it’s true that the ending to Mark’s gospel includes no narrative where Jesus shows up and says “Hi, Y’all. I’m back!”, Mark includes predictions that there will be appearances. The young man told the women “Don’t be alarmed; You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:4-5, emphasis mine).

So, certainly, Mark believed there would be appearances. He just didn’t record any interactions between the risen Jesus and his apostles.

2: The 1 Corinthians 15 Creed Predates Mark 

Secondly, remember that in part 5 of this series, we saw that the earliest tradition of Jesus’ postmortem appearances is the creed cited in 1 Corinthians 15. This creed contains several appearances, including appearances to the twelve disciples, and this creed dates to within 5 years of Jesus’ death. Moreover, all scholars, Christian and non-Christian alike affirm that all of Paul’s letters predate the gospels. So, if any embellishment went on, it was going in the opposite direction; appearances to non-appearances!

3: The Evidence From Paul and The Church Fathers Let Us Trace The Claims Of Resurrection Back To The Disciples 

Even if we threw out the gospels entirely, we could affirm that the disciples claimed they saw Jesus alive and that they really believed it through the writings of Paul and the church fathers. I talked about this in part 5 of this blog post series. Paul says that the disciples were claiming that Jesus appeared to him since he took two trips to Jerusalem to meet with them. One of these trips is recorded in Galatians 1, the other in Galatians 2. In Galatians 1, Paul says he spent 15 days with the apostles Peter and James. Don’t you think that the resurrection would have come up once in that conversation? Indeed, in Galatians 2, he specifically says that that’s why he went to Jerusalem; to compare the gospels that he and the other apostles were preaching. He wanted to make sure that the gospel he was preaching was the same gospel the twelve disciples were preaching, and he said: “They added nothing to my teaching.” After citing the 1 Corinthians 15 creed, he says in verse 11 “Whether it is they or I, this is what we preach” (i.e., Jesus’ postmortem appearances). Paul gives us a direct link to what the disciples were claiming. Moreover, the early church fathers Irenaeus and Tertullian said that Polycarp and Clement were students of the apostle John. Polycarp and Clement wrote in their writings that the disciples claimed that Jesus rose from the dead. Polycarp and Clement are a direct link to what John and the other disciples believed. They say that the disciples were preaching Jesus’ resurrection.

Additionally, church history is unanimous that all of the disciples were brutally killed for making this claim. No one would ever die for something they consciously believed is a lie. The fact that they died for preaching that Jesus rose from the dead, proves they really believed it. Why did they believe it? Because they saw him.

In conclusion, the faith that Mark doesn’t report any postmortem appearances doesn’t hurt my case one iota.

Question 3: Don’t Miracle Stories In Other Religions Discredit The Resurrection? 

It has been argued by skeptics, both scholars, and layman, that miracle stories in other religions disprove or cast doubt on the resurrection of Jesus and the other miracles reported in The Bible. Sometimes this is posed in the form of this question “You reject all of these other miracles as being credible or true, so why do you accept the resurrection of Jesus as being a fact of history? Aren’t you being inconsistent? Aren’t you cherry-picking which miracles you want to believe and which you want to disbelieve? Moreover, if you’re going to accept the miracles of The Bible, you should accept the miracles of Islam and Buddhism, and Mormonism.”

What should the Christian Apologist say in response to this objection? I can give 3 reasons why this objection doesn’t carry any weight.

1: The Historical Evidence Establishes That Jesus Rose From The Dead

Most people who make this objection don’t even realize that there is any evidence of the resurrection of Jesus. But as we saw in parts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of this blog series, there is excellent evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Just using the standard criteria of authenticity that historians use, we’ve determined that (1) Jesus rose from the dead, (2) His tomb was empty, (3) his twelve disciples believed they saw him alive after his death, (4) that a church persecutor named Paul converted on the basis of what he perceived to be a postmortem appearance of Jesus, and (5) a skeptic named James became a Christian because of what he perceived to be a postmortem appearance of the risen Jesus. In part 7, we saw that no theory can account for these 5 facts other than that Jesus rose from the dead, and therefore we are within our rational rights in coming to this conclusion.

Now, by contrast, other miracle claims in other religions tend to be rather poorly attested. Sometimes the sources come centuries after the event is alleged to describe (such as the miracles of Buddha and Krishna)[7], and/or is found in only one source (like Islam’s Hadith, which report the miracles of Muhammad). This isn’t the case with The New Testament records. Even the most skeptical liberal scholars date all of them to within the first century, only mere decades after the event.[8]

The fact that other miracles are poorly attested or are made up cannot be used as an argument that the resurrection of Jesus is likewise poorly attested and made up. In fact, each miracle claim has to be examined on an individual, case-by-case basis.

2: If Christianity Is True, We Need Not Necessarily Explain Away Or Reject Other Miracle Claims 
If the Christian worldview is true (and we’ve seen good evidence throughout this series to believe that it is), then we should expect to find at least a few miracle claims in other cultures at different points in time. Even in Scripture, God acted supernaturally among unbelievers, such as healing Naaman’s leprosy (see 2 Kings 5). According to The Bible, demons can perform actual supernatural wonders or counterfeit miracles intended to confound people, such as the magi of Pharoah (in Exodus 7-8), the Anti-Christ (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Matthew 24:24), and the fortune teller who harassed the apostle Paul (in Acts 16:16-18), for examples.

Thus, Christians have no obligation to disprove miracle claims in other religious traditions and writings. In fact, I’ve sometimes conjectured whether an actual angel appeared to Muhammad, but that it was a demon. This would be plausible given the fact that The Bible says that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

3: Miracle Claims In Other Religions Can Usually Be Explained By A Naturalistic Theory

Often times, these supposed miracles can be explained by a natural explanation. For example, legendary embellishment can account for the miracles of Muhammad and Buddha. But this explanation fails for Jesus since (1) The epistles of Paul which mention the resurrection only dates to within a few decades after Jesus’ death (1 Corinthians being dated to A.D 55), (2) There’s good evidence, as we saw in part 5 of this series, that the creed contained in 1 Corinthians 15 dates to within only 5 years after the death of Jesus (WAY too early for legend to develop), and (3) through the apostle Paul, and the church fathers Clement and Polycarp, we can trace the claim that Jesus rose from the dead back to the very lips of the apostles, as explained above and in part 5. Since the claim that Jesus rose from the dead can be traced to the very lips of the apostles, the resurrection of Jesus isn’t a legend that developed over time.

Question 4: Isn’t This Whole Approach Dishonoring To God’s Word? I Mean, You’re Scrutinizing It and cross-examining The New Testament documents like a witness on trial. 
This objection comes, not from skeptics or seekers, but Christians. Isn’t The Minimal Fact Approach Dishonoring to God’s Word? Isn’t it sacrilege to subject the inspired text to the same historical scrutinizing that we subject secular texts to? Aren’t we expressing that we doubt God’s word when we need some criterion of authenticity to tell us whether an event mentioned in it is true?

It’s important to realize that The Minimal Facts Approach is trying to reach people who don’t believe The Bible is the inspired word of God, and maybe believers who are doubting. It’s not meant to reach people who already believe its claims. The Minimal Facts Approach reaches unbelievers where they are epistemologically. It’s not that I personally doubt or am skeptical of what The Bible says, but the people I’m trying to reach are. This approach is entirely biblical. The Apostle Paul was a skilled apologist. Acts 17 records two occasions on which Paul argued with people, trying to convince them of Christianity’s truth. The first occasion was with Jews in a synagogue and the second occasion was with the Greeks on the hill in Athens. In the first occasion, Paul appealed to Old Testament prophesies to convince his fellow Jews that Jesus truly is the Messiah. But when speaking to the Greeks, he didn’t use the New Testament. He appealed to general revelation (i.e. the natural world), he quoted their Greek poets, and he used philosophical arguments to reach his gentile hearers. He knew that the Athenians didn’t care about The Old Testament or what it had to say, so he changed his tactics. His message didn’t change, and neither did his goal. But his method did change.

To help you get in their shoes: imagine if a Muslim tried to convince you of Islam by citing from the Quran. You wouldn’t be persuaded, would you? Why? Obviously, because you don’t think the Quran is inspired! You think it’s a fabrication by Muhammad. Well, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and other non-Christians see The Bible the same way. If a Muslim were to convince me of Islam, he would have to take an approach to proving his religion that didn’t presuppose the inspiration of his holy book.

The Minimal Facts Approach does this. When we Christian Apologists argue for the 5 minimal facts undergirding the inference to the resurrection, we don’t quote from The New Testament as inspired scripture. We do use The New Testament, but not as scripture. We use it as we would any other ancient document that claims to tell of historical events.

Question 5: Why Did The Women Go Down To The Tomb To Anoint The Body Of Jesus If They Knew That It Was Sealed? Do Their Actions Really Make Sense?

This is a question Lee Strobel posed to William Lane Craig in their interview in the book The Case For Christ. Craig responded to Strobel with the following:

“Lee, I strongly feel that scholars who have not known the love and devotion that these women felt for Jesus have no right to pronounce cool judgments upon the feasibility of what they wanted to do. “For people who are grieving, who have lost someone they desperately loved and followed, to want to go to the tomb in a forlorn hope of anointing the body— I just don’t think some later critic can treat them like robots and say, ‘They shouldn’t have gone.’ … Maybe they thought there would be men around who could move the stone. If there were guards, maybe they thought they would. I don’t know. Certainly, the notion of visiting a tomb to pour oils over a body is a historical Jewish practice; the only question is the feasibility of who would move the stone for them.”[9]

I find Craig’s response to Strobel to be intellectually satisfying. Also, notice that even if this question went unanswered, it wouldn’t have altered our case. It wouldn’t have undermined any of the arguments for the 5 minimal facts nor would it have given us a non-supernatural way to account for them. This question, like the others in this blog post, have answers to them. But even if they went unanswered, it wouldn’t affect the case for the resurrection.

Question 6: You Said In Part 3 That Jesus’ Death By Crucifixion Was Multiply Attested in 7 Independent Sources. But Why Aren’t There More Sources?

For one thing, very few documents from ancient history have survived up to the present time. As Ryan Turner, author for CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) wrote in an article on Carm.org:  “There are a number of ancient writings that have been lost, including 50% of the Roman historian Tacitus’ works, all of the writings of Thallus and Asclepiades of Mendes.  In fact, Herod the Great’s secretary named Nicolas of Damascus wrote a Universal History of Roman history which comprised nearly 144 books, and none of them have survived. Based on the textual evidence, there is no reason to doubt the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.”[10]

The fact of the matter is; there may have been more sources that spoke about Jesus and his death by crucifixion for all we know. But they most likely decayed away or they simply haven’t been discovered yet by archeologists. If documents aren’t copied over and over again at a quick enough pace, they aren’t likely to survive for 2,000 years.

Moreover, the evidence we have for Jesus’ death by crucifixion is still overwhelmingly strong. Four secular sources and 3 biblical sources attest to His death by crucifixion, which adds up to a total of 7. As I said in part 3, it is statistically impossible for 7 independent sources to all make up the same fiction and then proceed to treat it as a historical event. The principle of multiple attestations applies here. Secondly, Jesus’ death is attested in two enemy sources (sources which are ridiculing Christianity in the very passage they mention Jesus’ death by crucifixion, those sources would be Tacitus and Lucian. So this minimal fact is likely to be true on the basis of the principle of enemy attestation. Also, the principle of embarrassment verifies Jesus’ death by crucifixion in 3 different ways; (1) Crucifixion was not only a painful death but a shameful one. If the gospels fabricated a tale of Jesus’ death, they would have had him die in a more dignified way, such as death by stoning. (2) All of the disciples except John abandon Jesus, and only the women stand before the cross to be with Him in His final moments (save for John). Why the author of John’s gospel paint the disciples in such a bad light if that didn’t actually happen? (3) Jesus said on the cross “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!” Although an explanation for this saying exists, it’s still extremely awkward as it makes Jesus look like He’s doubting the Father and forgot his mission. It’s unlikely this saying of Jesus is made up, but this saying is in the context of Jesus dying by crucifixion.

You can ask “Why aren’t there more sources?” but it’s foolishness to say that the evidence we do have is insufficient.

Question 7: Aren’t Jesus’ Postmortem Appearances Like Elvis Sightings? 

Several years ago, when I was debating the evidence for the resurrection with an atheist on Twitter (Twitlonger to be precise), he compared the postmortem appearances of Jesus to alleged sightings of Elvis. People have claimed to have seen Evil after he died, yet we don’t give these claims any credibility. In fact, we have a tendency to dismiss them out of hand. Why don’t we do the same with sightings of Jesus?

First of all, Jesus left an empty tomb behind (see part 4 of this series), Elvis didn’t. Anyone interested in disproving any resurrection of Elvis could go down to his tomb, exhume the corpse and prove that Elvis didn’t re-enter the building. Had the opponents of Christianity did this back in the first century, they would have persuaded everyone that Jesus was still dead. Christianity would have died before it even began. Since it’s still around, we can conclude that they didn’t exhume Jesus’ corpse, and they didn’t exhume Jesus’ corpse because there was no corpse in the tomb to be exhumed.

Secondly, Elvis sightings can be explained naturalistically. If only one person saw him at one time, that might have been a hallucination. Certainly, we know that Elvis impersonators are about, so maybe what these people are seeing are just these impersonators. Thirdly, it’s possible that Elvis never died, but faked his death. While this is somewhat unlikely, it’s still possible. But we saw in part 7 that multiple people on multiple different occasions (including 2 skeptics) saw the risen Jesus, and group hallucinations (especially ones that occur over and over) are impossible. We also know based on medical evidence, that Jesus was dead when they took him down from the cross. There’s no way Jesus could have faked his death. So while there are plenty of plausible non-supernatural explanations for Elvis, none exist for Jesus.

Thirdly, Elvis never claimed to be divine or performed any miracles. Jesus did. Jesus’ resurrection occurred in what scholars call “A religious-historical context.”

Conclusion
We’ve seen that the lingering questions some of my readers may have had up until this point have good answers to them. Most of them wouldn’t affect the case for the resurrection of Jesus even if they went unanswered.

So, at this point, if you’re an unbeliever, let me ask you a question: are you convinced yet? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Notes 

[1] This lecture can be purchased as an MP3 file at http://www.catapes.com/viewresults.cfm?cid=363

[2] See the previous blog post in this series.

[3] I tackle this issue in chapter 9 of my book A Hellacious Doctrine: A Defense Of The Doctrine Of Hell. Losing a loved one who wasn’t saved can be hard, but that’s no reason why you should shake your fist at God and end up there yourself.

[4] Thomas Nagel, The Last Word, Oxford, 1997

[5] Nabeel Qureshi, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity”, February 11th 2014, Zondervan, page

[6] J. Warner Wallace, from the article “How Can You Trust Christianity When There Are So Many Unanswered Questions?”, March 26, 2014, http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/how-can-you-trust-christianity-is-true-when-there-are-so-many-unanswered-questions/

[7] See Edwin Yamauchi, Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha, Socrates, Mohammad, Revised Edition (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1972), esp. 4– 7, 18, 38– 41.

[8] This is because the early church fathers quote from The New Testament very frequently in their writings. These church fathers, like Polycarp, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Tertullian, etc. are writing in the second, third, and fourth centuries. Obviously, the books they’re quoting from had to pre-exist their own writings. I can’t quote from a book in a book of my own unless the former had already been written and published. This is why all scholars from all theological perspectives agree that the entirety of The New Testament had been completed before the end of the first century. Most scholars date Mark in the 60s, Matthew and Luke in the 70s, and John in the 80s, with Paul’s epistles being completed between 50 and 60 A.D. More conservative scholars, like Craig Blomberg, have given very compelling arguments for gospel dates between 50 and 62. And I happen to agree with these arguments for more conservative dating.

[9] Strobel, Lee; Strobel, Lee. Case for Christ Movie Edition: Solving the Biggest Mystery of All Time (Case for … Series) (Kindle Locations 4436-4443). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[10] Ryan Turner, “Did Jesus Ever Exist?”, CARM – Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, https://carm.org/jesus-exist

 


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109 replies
  1. gary says:

    Hi Evan,

    I provided a very possible natural explanation for the Resurrection Belief under your last post. You can read it here:

    https://crossexamined.org/the-evidence-for-jesus-resurrection-part-7-reasoning-to-the-resurrection/#comment-149101

    But there is a very serious flaw in your argument: You, like many conservative Christians, believe that the Gospels are reliable, primary source documents, recording the testimony of multiple eyewitnesses. However, the overwhelming majority of Bible scholars do not believe this to be true. The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars doubt or reject the idea that eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels. And without eyewitness testimony, the four (very different) resurrection stories in the four Gospels could very well be literary embellishments, perfectly acceptable in the genre of literature in which the Gospels were written: Greco-Roman religious biographies.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      Hi Gary,
      I read much of your thorough reply (from the link)! Yes, stolen body theory is much more plausible than coming back from the dead. But if one already assumes God exists, as many theists do, it will be hard for them to see this truth (that a body being stolen is much more likely than a person coming back from the dead, when they clearly have died, as if returning from a cremated state).
      Nice work, Gary.

      Reply
      • gary says:

        That is the real issue, isn’t it: Is Yahweh real? If Yahweh exists and is who the Bible says he is, then of course the resurrection is possible and probable.

        Many Christians assume that evidence for a Creator (which even I believe exists) is evidence for Yahweh. But even if a Creator exists, who is he (she/they/or it)? Some Christians will say that the Resurrection proves that Yahweh is the Creator. But now they have created a circular argument. One cannot appeal to the existence of Yahweh to increase the probability of a supernatural resurrection but then appeal to the resurrection as evidence for the existence of Yahweh. One must provide good evidence for Yahweh without appealing to the resurrection.

        Reply
        • bob says:

          This is something I have thought for some time now. I have observed that Christians (or at least those few who attempt to justify their beliefs in the supernatural) will gravitate to a few of the cardinal doctrines or beliefs. They march out epistles like this one, trying to make a particular supernatural action believable – yet – they never give the same treatment to a talking donkey, or a staff transformed into a snake, or a disembodied hand writing on a wall.
          Why is that?
          Point is – even if one single ancient supernatural event (that is described in the bible) is even shown to be remotely plausible…?…that does not make (by default) any of the other supernatural claims found in the bible, easier to believe.

          Reply
          • gary says:

            The reason that many Christians assume that they have good evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is because conservative Christian apologists have convinced them that the Gospels are four, independent, eyewitness accounts. The problem is, the overwhelming majority of Bible scholars say this claim is false. And it isn’t just liberal and atheist scholars who say this claim is false. It isn’t just Bible scholars who do not believe in the supernatural who say this claim is false. The overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic Bible scholars say this claim is false, and last I checked, Roman Catholics very much believe in the supernatural and the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

            The reason that the overwhelming majority of Bible scholars doubt or outright reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is due to EVIDENCE, not due to a bias against the supernatural.

            So if the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts, what does that do to the reliability of the stories in the Gospels? Answer: Their historical reliability takes a major nosedive! Yes, most scholars believe that Jesus lived, was crucified, and after his death some of his followers believed he appeared to them. But the big question is: Why? Did they really see a walking/talking/broiled fish eating corpse or did they see an illusion, such as a bright light that they believed was Jesus, or have a vivid dream about Jesus that seemed so real it must be true, or some other natural phenomenon that they confused with a literal sighting of a dead-but-alive-again body?

        • Philip Rand says:

          Gary
          .
          The fact is that the Bible itself satisfies constraints that suggest its source is outside time.
          .
          The text of the Bible satisfies these following artefacts:
          1/ broad information frequency band made of simple underlying elements;
          2/ long complicated sequences that repeat precisely;
          3/ a diversity of kinds of sequences;
          4/ something complicated that satisfies simple constraints.
          .
          The above provide an authentication of the message.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            Many works of fiction would satisfy those constraints. Could you address any of the points Gary makes in his posts?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Great. Where?
            .
            Here’s one of his points: “The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars doubt or reject the idea that eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.”
            .
            Either you’re addressing another thread by Gary that I haven’t seen (where he, for example, claims that the Bible fails to contain long complicated sequences that repeat precisely), or you think you addressed his points here on another thread. If the latter, to take one of Gary’s points, where do you either argue that the majority of Bible scholars do NOT doubt that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels, or argue that if they DO doubt, they are wrong to do so? Because claiming that the Bible contains ‘A diversity of kinds of sequences’ doesn’t appear to address either of those ideas, let alone ‘demolish’ anything Gary says.

          • Philip Rand says:

            Andy, I really enjoy your comments…
            .
            You write:
            “Here’s one of his [Gary] points: “The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars doubt or reject the idea that eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.”
            .
            And you ask “Where?” ,i.e. where did I address Gary’s comments….
            .
            Well, Andy….my very first statement addressed his point directly:
            The fact is that the Bible itself satisfies constraints that suggest its source is outside time.

          • bob says:

            Philip – Well, Andy….my very first statement addressed his point directly:
            The fact is that the Bible itself satisfies constraints that suggest its source is outside time.

            Satisfied Andy? The bible it’s self is evidence that the source of the bible is “outside of time”, what ever the heck that means.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Philip, you’re going to need to be clearer. You’ve not even said which of the two you agree with. I’ll try again – are you saying:
            1) The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars do NOT doubt or reject the idea that eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels?
            Or are you saying:
            2) They may doubt it, but they’re wrong to do so?
            Please try to give a straight answer, making sure to include which of those two you agree with, because regardless of how clear your point may be to yourself, at the moment your responses look like non sequiturs.

          • gary says:

            This sounds like something written by a cult when their beliefs are attacked, not by a mainstream Christian. It is a clear sign of fear; fear that the weakness of your argument has been exposed. Nonsensical statements such as the above are why educated young Christians are leaving the religion in the tens of thousands.

            .

            If you can’t defend the supernatural claims of your belief system with rational dialogue why not just be honest and admit it?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            I like “my very first statement addressed his point directly” in reference to a statement that doesn’t even tangentially refer to your point. Whether or not the Bible has a source outside time tells us nothing about what the opinions of Bible scholars are.
            .
            Philip’s replies would fail the Turing Test. There’s nothing in them to suggest he’s actually responding to anything we’ve said. An AI could have posted them.

          • jcb says:

            This is not to PR, but the rest:

            1. The “constraints” PR talks about are pretty vague. But still:
            2. How would the fact that the Bible has “long complicated sequences that repeat precisely (huh?)” make it probable that “its source is outside time”?
            This is pure nonsense. This doesn’t follow at all.
            We nothing about entities existing “outside time”, and thus we cannot correlate such things (that we know nothing about) to things we do know.
            3. Can anyone explain what it means to be “outside time”? This sounds like gibberish also. I understand what it means to be outside of California, and I understand what it means to be before or after noon. I do not understand what it is to be “outside time”. (Nor does anyone else, it seems).

        • Philip Rand says:

          Gary
          .
          Here is one of the most basic examples; here we have the prediction of the state of Israel being founded in 1948.
          .
          The Orthodox Jewish Bible is the Leningrad Codex (1008 AD)
          The Dead Scrolls suggest that the Leningrad Codex remained unchanged from 70AD.
          Therefore, the Orthodox Jewish Bible has remained unchanged for 2000 years.
          .
          The verse in Deuteronomy 30:3 happens to be a 5708 sentence:
          “And the Lord, thy God, will turn thy captivity and have compassion on upon thee and will return and gather thee from all the peoples whither the Lord, thy God, hath scattered thee.”
          .
          It is in cluster form; this is because clusters are a useful aid to communication because they allow lossy compressions. It is also the sentence with the first mention of God returning.
          .
          Brief categories are sufficient to identify objects; the aim is to convey in as few bits as possible a reasonable reproduction of a picture; the way this is done is to divide the image into N small patches.
          .
          These patches are labels, i.e. k1=turn thy captivity, k2=compassion on thee, etc. This type of clustering is called vector clustering.
          .
          A vector clustering can be formalised in terms of an assignment rule x->k(x) for assigning datapoints x to one of K codenames (k1, k2, k3, k4, k5) and a reconstruction rule k->m, the aim being to choose the functions k(x) and m to minimise the expected distortion.
          .
          In our case (k1, k2, k3, k4, k5) are the patch labels, datapoint x is sentence number 5708 and m is the conversion rule; Hebrew calendar year, 5708 to modern calendar year, m=1948.
          .
          A virtual plain-text quote is accounted for in K-clustering… what is being used is the chain-rule for information content… In other words, the information content of x=sentence number and y= (k1, k2, k3, k4, k5) +m; y is the information content of x plus the information content of y given x.

          Then we have two hypotheses:
          H1: the evidence that sentence number 5708 was a non-random event.
          H2: the evidence that sentence number 5708 was a random event.

          If one chi-square tests the two hypotheses one gets:
          H1=0.95
          H2=0.000004
          Therefore, H1 gives the best fit to the data; given this, the evidence is that sentence number 5708 was not a random event.

          This result is interesting in that it supports the statement by Jesus Christ:
          Luke 16:31
          Then Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

          Reply
          • bob says:

            I am speechless…I am without speech.
            Is this “apologetic’s”?
            Do I now need college level algebra in order to get into heaven?
            How did I survive 25 years as a Christian and never read anything like this?
            Someone please tell me this is all a joke…please.
            If it’s not a joke, then someone needs to inform Frank Turek that he no longer needs an apologetic’s blog to spread the word, he just needs a calculator.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            So do the overwhelming majority of Bible scholars NOT doubt or reject the idea that eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels, or do they doubt it but are wrong to do so?
            It’s a really simple question – much easier to pick one of the two options than blather on about k-clustering and information content of x.
            .
            As for predictions – you can cherry pick passages written by Nostradamus and say he told the future. And if people are actively trying to make predictions come true then it’s not that impressive when they do.

    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Assumption, assumption, and more assumptions! This is not history. This is catholic tradition, the same kind of catholic tradition that tells us that the body of the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven at her death. Any time a Christian apologist makes this claim, ask him or her to provide the evidence for it. What you will receive, if anything, are stories about the apostles written centuries after the death of Jesus.”
      .
      What I got, on the same thread you wrote that on, was the accusation of being a holocaust denier. Just because I pointed out the same thing you did – that the death of the martyrs is ‘church tradition’, not well attested history. I think most of the Christians genuinely believe they’re quoting history when they talk about the martyrs supposed deaths. They’re unaware how little evidence there is for it.
      .
      Great thread you wrote there, by the way. My point is always that they’re putting a huge amount of trust in the idea that 2,000 years ago a bunch of people about whom we know nothing acted in a completely rational way. In truth, people do stupid, irrational things all the time, often at great personal cost.

      Reply
      • gary says:

        Do the people who write these posts on CrossExamined.org ever respond to comments or do they just throw them up online and ignore the comments?

        Reply
        • bob says:

          Gary, some of the posts are years old and have been re-posted here from other blogs. From my experience here over the past few months, you should not expect any of the original authors of the blog posts to respond. What you should expect are responses from a very few believers who will, in general, post insulting and / or condescending remarks, or in some cases, just copy and paste bible verses, as if that is “evidence” of anything other than what is written in our modern bible.
          .
          In other words, for an apologetics blog, there is zero responses from actual “trained” apologists.

          Reply
          • gary says:

            Interesting, especially since one of the primary purposes of Crossexamined.org is as an outreach to young Christians to prevent them from leaving the Church. Here is a statement from the website:

            “Three out of four Christian teens walk away from the church after they leave home. Frank Turek and the CrossExamined team are committed to reversing this alarming trend. Invite us to your campus and we’ll present a dynamic, interactive seminar that’ll show you why Christianity is true and why it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist. Christian Youth In America Are Leaving the Church.”

            I hope that Christian young people reading this blog will observe that their arguments are based on one very big assumption: That the Gospels are eyewitness accounts. The majority of Bible scholars say this is false. Without eyewitness accounts, the fantastical supernatural tales of Christianity should be taken no more seriously than any other ancient superstition.

            The authors of this blog owe Christian young people an honest defense of their beliefs.

          • toby says:

            Gary, to me it seems that apologists like this are preaching to the choir for the most part. The religion may be slowly dwindling, but there’s still money left in the old timer’s pockets.

          • bob says:

            I have discovered that proponents of modern apologetics have ZERO interest in actively seeking those in need of convincing. People like Frank are interested in “training” apologists. They hold seminars for that purpose, then when the trainee’s have received their certificate, it get’s filed away and their new-found expertise is never put to use.
            .
            A few months ago I had a month long email dialogue with Evan Minton, the author of this blog post, in which I asked him how many strangers did he approach in 2017 – IN PERSON – for the purpose of talking to them about the Lord. The answer – ZERO. He did not care enough to talk to a single stranger about God – for an entire year! My guess – he has never gone up to a stranger to witness to them – but – he can write blog posts about the resurrection…
            .
            r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

          • toby says:

            I’m sure that they rationalize it that they can reach more people online than accosting strangers. That’s hard. Because if anyone ever asks me, “Have you heard the good news?” my response will be “Do you think I’ve lived in a hole in the ground all my life? I’m in America. I can’t turn around without seeing some wingnut bumpersticker about jesus or hearing about it on TV. Pal, you’re spreading old news. Go pray in your closet somewhere and vote for egotistical cheeto-orange idiots.”

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Every now and then Frank will swoop in and say “Gentlemen, why on earth are you talking about Donald Trump?”, even if it was completely on topic to do so. I’m guessing it’s a sore subject, given that Frank called for Obama’s impeachment for overreach of powers but is very silent on Trump making declarations that he can pardon himself for any conceivable crime he may fancy committing.

  2. gary says:

    Let’s summarize:

    –since the Gospels are no longer considered eyewitness accounts, Christians cannot assume that the detailed accounts of people seeing a walking, talking corpse are factual. Therefore the historicity of a never heard of before or since “resurrection” rests on thin ice. And if the Resurrection rests on thin ice, then so does the entire traditional Christian belief system. Just a little bit of evidence and the ice will break…sending the entire belief system straight to the bottom.

    .

    -Christians will usually next point to alleged prophesies in the OT to support the historicity of the Resurrection. But as another commenter has already pointed out, the alleged prophesies in the OT are typically very vague. Take for instance the alleged prophesy mentioned above in Deuteronomy. In the preceding chapter in Deuteronomy, Moses is telling the Israelites that if they disobey the Law, God will destroy their nation and scatter them among the nations. But if they then repent and obey God’s Law, he will gather them again into the land promised to Abraham.

    .

    We first have to ask ourselves when this alleged prophesy was written. The vast majority of Bible scholars no longer believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the OT. So when was it written? During the time of King Josiah? During the period of exile in Babylon? During the post-exilic period when the Jews have returned to the Promised Land? Answer: We don’t know for sure. But if it was written in Babylon or after the return from Babylon, predicting that the Israelites/Jews would be scatttered among the nations was a fake prophecy: the event had already happened. The northern tribes had been taken away by the Assyrians and Judah had been taken away by Babylon.

    .

    But even if this prophecy was written before the Assyrian invasion, this “prophesy”, since it is so vague, could have been “fulfilled” when the Jews returned to the Promised Land after their exile in Babylon!

    .

    That is the problem with biblical prophecy. They are very, very vague or they are clearly a distortion of the original text. Notice that you will not find the following headline in any world history textbook found in public universities: “The Bible has the best prediction rate of any fortune telling entity.” If the Bible’s prophecies are as good as conservative Christians say they are (100% accuracy) , why doesn’t anyone in the academic world make such a statement about their incredible accuracy in a public university textbook???? Answer: Biblical prophecies are so vague that they are not considered real predictions.

    .

    Fortune telling is quackery, whether the fortune teller is a tarot card reader, a medium, or a “prophet”. Modern, educated people should not believe this nonsense.

    Reply
    • Philip Rand says:

      Gary
      .
      So you consider the prediction that the state of Israel will be reconstituted in the year 1948 vague?
      .
      Interesting…
      .
      Your prejudice under-values your reasoning….

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Can you quote me the Bible verse that specifies 1948 as the year modern Israel will be created?
        .
        Feel free to address my other question too – I’ve asked you it several times now.

        Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        By the way, this: “In our case (k1, k2, k3, k4, k5) are the patch labels, datapoint x is sentence number 5708 and m is the conversion rule; Hebrew calendar year, 5708 to modern calendar year, m=1948.”
        …is not a prediction that 1948 is the year the state of Israel is coming back. That’s nonsensical post-hoc justification. To even call it ‘vague’ would be to give it too much credit.

        Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Did Israel become a state in 1948?”
            It became a secular state in 1948. Of course modern Israel did not recapture Jerusalem until 1967.
            .
            I’ll ask again. Can you quote me the Bible verse that specifies 1948 as the year modern Israel will be created? You can ask why a prophet living before Christ would use our calendar system, but you’re claiming this prophecy comes from an all-knowing being, so that shouldn’t be a problem. But even if we ignore that, is there a passage that says Israel will come a set number of years after a BC event?
            .
            “In other words, the information content of x=sentence number and
            y= (k1, k2, k3, k4, k5) +m; y is the information content of x plus the information content of y given x.”
            Leaving aside that that is simple word salad, can you tell me who used the reasoning you’re offering here BEFORE the creation of Israel to claim that the Bible predicted 1948 would be the year? If people only said this AFTER 1948 then it’s not a prophecy at all – anyone can make a prediction after an event. That’s what people do with Nostradamus – they take an event that’s already occurred and reverse engineer a Nostradamus quatrain to argue the seer predicted Hitler or the fall of the Berlin Wall.
            .
            “x=sentence number”
            Where does it say in the Bible that you should count the sentence numbers to make predictions? Why not word numbers or numbers of letters?

          • Philip Rand says:

            Andy
            .
            I have all ready stated and answered your questions (it was my first post).
            .
            I’ll re-post it for you Andy.
            .
            I can discover all these things in the Bible because:
            .
            The text of the Bible satisfies these following artefacts:
            1/ broad information frequency band made of simple underlying elements;
            2/ long complicated sequences that repeat precisely;
            3/ a diversity of kinds of sequences;
            4/ something complicated that satisfies simple constraints.
            .
            Among other things, the Bible satisfies Craig’s Theorem and is thus a formal system.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “I have all ready stated and answered your questions”
            .
            None of that answers my questions. In fact you’ve still yet to answer any of my questions, including the following:
            1) Where is 1948 specified? And I mean SPECIFIED.
            2) Where does it say in the Bible that you should count sentence numbers to make predictions? Give me chapter and verse where that method is laid out as being necessary.
            3) Which part of the following from Gary do you disagree with: “The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars doubt or reject the idea that eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.”
            .
            Ironic that in a blog that claims in its title to address unanswered questions, you are completely unable to address or answer simple questions.

        • Philip Rand says:

          And of course it is a prediction because a virtual plain-text prediction is accounted for in the K-clustering of Deuteronomy 30:3.
          .
          The chain-rule for information content makes the prediction explicit.
          .
          In other words, the information content of x=sentence number and
          y= (k1, k2, k3, k4, k5) +m; y is the information content of x plus the information content of y given x.
          .
          So, the prediction is exact: 1948

          Reply
          • bob says:

            It’s so clear now.
            .
            Perhaps do this same work on a few other biblical prophecies:
            .
            Ezekiel 26:1-21 – Nebuchadnezzar would conquer and completely destroy Tyrus (Tyre) and that Tyre would never be rebuilt.
            .
            Ezekiel 29:1-15 – God states that Egypt will be made into a wasteland.
            .
            Ezekiel 28:24-26 – Predicts that Israel will live in peace with its neighbors.
            .
            Since you have “proven” that Deuteronomy 30:3 was fulfilled in 1948 with the founding of Israel, use the same formula to show when the prophecy in Ez. 28, or any of the above prophecies has been, or will be fulfilled.

          • Philip Rand says:

            Bob
            .
            Pleased that you accept and agree with my analysis concerning Deuteronomy 30:3 that it is not a random occurrence; that the Bible correctly predicted a couple of thousand years before hand of Israel’s state-hood in 1948.
            .
            I shall examine your query.

          • bob says:

            Bob – It’s so clear now.
            Philip – Pleased that you accept and agree with my analysis concerning Deuteronomy 30:3…
            I am sorry Philip – perhaps my sarcasm was not obvious.
            Or perhaps your sarcasm is not obvious…?
            Never the less, I await your examination.

          • bob says:

            PHILIP – I do have your answers Bob. I just wanted to test if you were sincere.
            “Sincere”?
            I sincerely believe the formula you are using is worthless and proves nothing.
            I sincerely would like to see the results of your formula being applied to supposed biblical prophecies that obviously turned out to be false.

          • gary says:

            When I was growing up a fundamentalist Christian, our denomination would make up ad hoc mathematical formulas regarding the number of letters in the pope’s name to prove he was the AntiChrist (666).

            .

            It is silly, ignorant nonsense. Philip Rand has proven nothing other than his desperation to hold onto his superstitions.

          • Philip Rand says:

            So Gary…
            .
            Are you simply saying that the fact that the 5708 sentence of the Bible (starting from the first sentence in Genesis 1;1 and counting) is:
            .
            SENTENCE NUMBER 5708: “And the Lord, thy God, will turn thy captivity and have compassion on upon thee and will return and gather thee from all the peoples whither the Lord, thy God, hath scattered thee.”
            .
            when thought of as the Hebrew calendar year 5708 is the equivalent modern year, 1948…. and this just happens to be the year when Israel became a nation after its captivity in Europe and its diaspora around the total world, i.e. not just the middle east).
            .
            This is just a coincidence that it falls on this sentence?
            .

    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “Fortune telling is quackery, whether the fortune teller is a tarot card reader, a medium, or a “prophet”.”
      .
      1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world.
      .
      Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

      Reply
    • bob says:

      Nope – there may be a forum or two, but I doubt there are any blogs. It has taken me some time, and years of email dialogues / debates with dozens of Christians, and I am coming to the conclusion that there is a very, very small fraction of the Christian population that have any interest in examining what they believe and why, let alone discussing such a topic with someone who believe’s differently than they do. And even those who “think” that they want to discuss such topics, really don’t want to – they just don’t know it.
      .
      Just a week ago I had a poster from this blog send me an email and this is one of the things she said that sent up a flag: “It is not that I only wish to talk to those I know I can persuade, but that I would rather not talk to someone who does not plan on ever being persuaded“.
      Then she said: “I am not willing to abandon my faith, so if that is your goal, you would be wasting your time.
      So, she would dialogue with me ONLY if I was open to persuasion (which I told her I was), yet then she admits that she was not open to persuasion.
      .
      Good luck Gary.
      .
      r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

      Reply
      • gary says:

        This Christian woman’s statements to you points out something very interesting: For many Christians, the security, peace, and comfort they receive from holding onto their supernatural beliefs are far more important than knowing the truth. These Christians are sadly lost causes. No amount of evidence will convince them that their supernatural beliefs are not real.

        .

        It is Christians, in particular, young Christians, who sincerely what to know the truth, no matter what it is, where there is still hope to break through the deception of their supernatural indoctrination. They just need to be presented with the evidence.

        .

        Supernatural beliefs (superstitions) are dangerous and even deadly. Those of us who have escaped the clutches of this ancient superstition must continue to shine the light of reason and science on those still under the spell of its fear-based indoctrination.

        Reply
        • Susan says:

          She may have sensed there is a dangerous insanity element in atheism.

          Jesus is transcendent truth in every generation.

          Science is merely this month’s current flavor of knowledge which is subject to being changed regularly.

          I am expecting epigenetics to overturn evolution when someone interprets it correctly or some other scientific discovery will but maybe not in time to stop a lot of the current social retardation.

          I have been watching atheists for years and there definitely is a crazy strand among them.

          I think evolution keeps them crazier especially the people who make a religion out of it.

          People are like temples and dedicate themselves and put them into practice.

          Christians dedicate themselves to God and put His ideas into practice.

          Atheists sometimes dedicate themselves to science and evolution and that is definitely going to affect what they do or say.

          Why trade a higher God given standard to identify with a lower order of animal.

          Christians are right. People are works in progress and what you set your heart and mind on could give you value you higher or degrade you.

          Self control depends on internal values not sliding rationalizations.

          Sorry, you never bothered to study what God actually says about morality. He uses it to turn out finer people.

          Civilization depends on internal values.

          Right now atheism a la Karl Marx is busy trying to destroy internal values to change civilization but all you produce is de-civilization as your mockery and evil tongues prove.

          So good for that woman.

          She chose to stick with the quantitatively and qualitatively better group.

          Who submits himself to random insanity if he does not have to?

          Reply
          • bob says:

            SUSAN – She may have sensed there is a dangerous insanity element in atheism.
            “…dangerous insanity…” LIAR!
            Your mouth is like an open sepulcher. With each wag of your tongue another falsehood spews forth. Your words are a perfect picture of the growing decay inside your head. You couldn’t reason your way out of a wet paper bag. Your religion is a poison.
            .
            There – how’s that for “dangerous insanity”?

          • Philip Rand says:

            Bob
            .
            I enjoyed this statement of yours: You couldn’t reason your way out of a wet paper bag
            .
            Dangerous, I know… but, I am assuming that you do know how to reason your way out of a wet paper bag.
            .
            Since you do… reason this one: “How long is a piece of string?”
            .
            The answer should be easy for you (it is trivial); a clever nine-year old will answer it in a couple of minutes at the most…
            .
            Can you do it?
            .
            My bet, is that you won’t be able to do it…. even if you attempt to look up the answer on the web….of course you know I am just playing with your mind…cause you won’t be able to answer the question….

          • Philip Rand says:

            Well Gary…. Bob certainly gave his education level away with his statement:
            .
            “You couldn’t reason your way out of a wet paper bag.”
            .
            On account, one “finds” ones way out of a wet paper bag; finding is not epistemological as Bob believes, it is kinaesthetic.

          • bob says:

            Philip – Well Gary…. Bob certainly gave his education level away…
            Just to clear up any confusion – I barely graduated high school way back in the mid 1970’s and never went on to higher edumacation.
            .
            How long is a piece of string?
            What is a “piece” of string? Isn’t it just a “string”? Shouldn’t we just ask “How long is a string”? Give me a string and I’ll measure it for you with one of my measuring thingy’s (god this is exhausting).

          • toby says:

            Gary, I think he’s looking for

            string^x,
            180degrees^y,
            end 1^a,
            end 2^z,
            If{x&y a+z;
            no operation};

  3. Susan says:

    Richard Dawkins started all this with his cheap mind virus talk but God says Dawkins is the one who is in the dark.

    Read Romans 1.

    Families and societies operate best based on morality. We only have to make contracts as morality erodes.

    There are still a few societies around like the Jewish Antwerp diamond dealers who operate based on their good names and a handshake.

    If you can’t keep your word or have a bad name in that business then they refuse to do business with you.

    Moral relativism is sliding scale morality and no one has to keep his word but just do as they see fit. If the going gets tough they can bail on you.
    That’s why we need contracts because people lie and refuse to perform their side of things as they agreed to do so you have to sue them in court with a paper to make them do what they promised to do.

    Reply
  4. Susan says:

    My level of education is important?

    How about my mind Gary? Maybe it is just not deliberately junked up with a bunch of false ideas to socially deprogram me.

    I know the Christian route is to show much love to unbelievers that transference occurs but sometimes it doesn’t.

    You have just dedicated yourselves to so much junk thinking that you can’t even take a hint from God after a while.

    I know evolution is an explanation. I am sure the explanation is changing over time, too.

    So you have bonded yourselves to an explanation not a demonstrable fact.

    If an event occurs I can come up with multiple explanations that all sound plausible but which is the truth.

    You can waste a lot of time on the wrong explanations.

    I believe God’s explanation because God is exactly right on people’s evil heart motives.

    I can play intellectual games with you all day and in the end all it reveals to me is that you are dedicated to something other than a holy God because all people have the capacity to dedicate themselves and that dedication will involve heart motives.

    If you won’t seek to be enlightened God’s way then you will stay in the dark.

    And we have seen what horses of angry in the dark atheists do in this world. They have plenty of crimes.

    Google and read what The Militant Society of the Godless did in the USSR. Read about how Mao starved 40 to 60 million in the Cultural Revolution.

    This is not merely a science vs. religion battle. This is a battle for the control of society and keep it civilized and on course progressively.

    You cannot just go out and demolish the best morality and think the world will not suffer consequences for it.

    Reply
    • gary says:

      Your unwillingness to discuss your education level answers my question.

      If you are going to be against a particular belief system it is always a good idea to have read something from that belief system. Have you ever read a book about evolution? I would suggest biologist Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”. It is a relatively thin book, easily readable for non-scientists, and very interesting.

      Someone can have a “smart” brain but if they have not put in the time and effort to educate themselves, they can still be terribly ignorant.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Reading a book on evolution is immaterial.

        I don’t read physical explanations to get metaphysical answers.

        Those are different realms entirely.

        You can settle for the manmade explantations if you like.

        But I could always discern qualitative differences among people unless they were putting on a really good act and true disciples of Jesus are the best people like the Love A Child missionaries down in Haiti. The Burnetts. You should visit their site for their testimony.

        Reply
        • bob says:

          Susan – You can settle for the manmade explantations if you like.
          Newsflash – you have already settled for a man-made explanation…it’s called the “Holy Bible”.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            2 Tim. 3:16

            “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

            In 2 Peter 1:21 we are told that “prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

            Bye!

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “Wait – I was responding to Susan’s lie, not Mark’s…”
            .
            Reprobate mind.
            .
            Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

          • TGM says:

            @Bob I think we’re all having a bad dream. Somewhere between pseudo statistics and bible verses, there is safe harbor. Remember… any port in a storm.

        • gary says:

          So you have set yourself up as the ultimate “decider” of truth? Imagine if everyone did that? Imagine if everyone ignored the experts and decided all truth claims themselves. What chaos!

          .

          Modern, educated people trust expert opinion.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I am partially responsible for my own life sharing the responsibility with God so, of course, my own God given mind is good enough.

            If it wasn’t why would God base faith on hearing?

            Faith is shama in Hebrew and means hearing and obeying.

            Really I am going to delegate responsibility to myself on life and death decisions to people who’s characters I cannot ascertain?

            My own mind is good enough unless I let someone else rig the scales of it.

            I am one of the biggest expert consulted in the world. I even try to vet my experts.

            But the biggest expert in this world is God bar none.

            God is the expert on human nature.

            He and I are both skeptical on human nature but He can actually do something about it.

            I have seen a few people He has changed.

            Have a blessed day!

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “Modern, educated people trust expert opinion.”
            .
            Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

  5. gary says:

    Susan: There is nothing in science that rejects the possible existence of a Creator. But if there is a Creator, the evidence indicates that he (she/they/it): 1) is indifferent to massive human and animal suffering 2) has no interest in clearly revealing his identity to us. 3) has ordained that although the supernatural may have been used to create our universe the supernatural will not operate *within* our universe.

    The evidence for the existence of your god, Yahweh, is very, very poor.

    .

    If you are going to worship the Creator, at least acknowledge that he could not possibly be the deities of ancient scientifically-ignorant peoples, such as Yahweh, Allah, Lord Krishna, or Lord Jesus.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “1) is indifferent to massive human and animal suffering”
      .
      John 3:16-18 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
      .
      .
      “2) has no interest in clearly revealing his identity to us.”
      .
      The Way, the Truth, and the Life
      .
      John 14:5-11 5 “Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus replied, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe on account of the works themselves.
      .
      .
      “3) has ordained that although the supernatural may have been used to create our universe the supernatural will not operate *within* our universe.”
      .
      At a minimum logically what you have stated is self defeating. The universe was created supernaturally but supernatural will NOT operate within the universe. To quote your good evidence denying friend Andy Ryan : “Risible”.
      .
      At the maximum you are now denying every miracle that is written in THE HOLY BIBLE. Including the greatest miracle of all – THE CREATION ITSELF.
      .
      .
      “The evidence for the existence of your god, Yahweh, is very, very poor.”
      .
      Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.
      .
      .
      “YAHWEH”
      .
      Exodus 3:13-14 13 Then Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ What should I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
      .
      “Lord Jesus”
      .
      John 8:57-59 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?” 58 “Truly, truly, I tell you, Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple area.
      .
      As to the middle two I do not know them so define them as you like. The FIRST and the LAST are clearly Biblical.

      Reply
      • gary says:

        Once again: Anyone who argues that a book is inerrant because that book says it is inerrant is a fool. I do not debate fools. If you are interested in a rational discussion of the evidence regarding the claims of the Bible I will be happy to engage. If you continue with your childish circular arguments, I will not waste my time.

        .

        Dear young Christian readers this blog: If Christianity is true then its claims should be supported by good evidence. An historical claim that is true does not need circular arguments nor complicated philosophical and mathematical formulas. I encourage young Christians to examine the evidence yourself. Read the works of good Christian apologists and scholars (I would suggest Michael Licona and Raymond Brown) and then read the works of non-Christians regarding the claims of Christianity such as books by Richard Dawkins or secular websites such as “Secular Outpost”. Don’t let anyone tell you what to believe. Investigate. Study. Do research. The *truth* is worth it!

        Reply
        • bob says:

          Gary:
          If you are interested…
          He is not.
          …in a rational discussion…
          He is incapable.
          …of the evidence…
          He does not care.
          …regarding the claims of the Bible…
          In his mind, they are not claims…they are “truths”.
          …I will be happy to engage.
          You’ll be sorry you tried.

          Reply
        • Susan says:

          You just made the classic mistake of dismissing God and assuming reasoning from the scriptures is circular.

          Revelation is not circular.

          It is given from God to the believer breaking the circle.

          It is not circular to use Matthew to prove Genesis (Matthew 19:3–6, cf. Genesis 1:27, 2:24), Paul to prove Luke (1 Timothy 5:18, cf. Luke 10:7) or Peter to prove Paul (2 Peter 3:15–16).

          It will be fine with me not to debate you.

          You did not really come to debate anyway. You came to meddle and persuade people away from God by making them distrust their own God given minds and substituting the false substitutions that you accept and that is manipulative.

          You really aren’t about free thinking at all.

          Funny how people assume the atheists are
          free thinkers when they
          submit their minds like an in to a yoke to a man made method called the scientific method while God makes a case in the scriptures and lets people hear Him out freely.

          You must have your own secret reasons for doing that so examine why that is.

          If you let people get away with casting additional burdens on you and teach you to doubt your own mind then it makes them bold and they think
          they can get away with things and shortchange you every time.

          Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “Once again: Anyone who argues that a book is inerrant because that book says it is inerrant is a fool.”
          .
          2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
          .
          .
          “I do not debate fools.”
          .
          Yet every debate you are in – you are in. As I have the TRUTH on my side; you have yet again contradicted yourself with your own writing or you should never write another line.
          .
          .
          “If you are interested in a rational discussion of the evidence regarding the claims of the Bible I will be happy to engage.”
          .
          I fail to see how this is actually possible as you have already disregarded evidence because it does NOT support your own opinion. I hear Andy Ryan is starting an “Evidence Deniers Club” perhaps you can give him a run at being the president of it?
          .
          .
          “If you continue with your childish circular arguments, I will not waste my time.”
          .
          John 8:30-36 30 As Jesus spoke these things, many believed in Him. 31 So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
          .
          .
          “Dear young Christian readers this blog: If Christianity is true then its claims should be supported by good evidence.”
          .
          Which it is. Unless of course you choose to ignore it because it does NOT fit your own narrative.
          .
          “An historical claim that is true does not need circular arguments nor complicated philosophical and mathematical formulas.”
          .
          Again, you refute yourself. Please explain and provide the proof of The Theory of Relativity without using any of Einstein’s equations.
          .
          .
          “Richard Dawkins”
          .
          Dude if you are positing him as a source to read you are truly confused.
          .
          .
          “The *truth* is worth it!”
          .
          John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Again, you refute yourself. Please explain and provide the proof of The Theory of Relativity without using any of Einstein’s equations.”
            .
            His theory wasn’t taken seriously until its ideas were practically tested by Arthur Eddington. No-one tried to use the theory to prove the theory.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Gary: “An historical claim that is true does not need circular arguments nor complicated philosophical and mathematical formulas.”
            .
            Mark: “Again, you refute yourself. Please explain and provide the proof of The Theory of Relativity without using any of Einstein’s equations.”
            .
            Andy: “His theory wasn’t taken seriously until its ideas were practically tested by Arthur Eddington. No-one tried to use the theory to prove the theory.”
            .
            Once again you are busted due to that cursed curse of the younger generation called lack of reading comprehension; though I wonder if it might be a British issue. I would be worried if I were you Andy – Gary is making a serious attempt to take your title of Chief of Evidence Denial.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            You didn’t bust anything, just quoted me. And you’ve no idea which generation I come from, not that it’s relevant either way. I guess it’s the type of thing (like my nationality) you have to resort to focusing on after you’ve lost every discussion you’ve involved yourself in with me. Go look up Eddington if you want, a fine British Quaker who did practical experiments to back up Einstein’s ideas, so no-one just had to take them on trust.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “after you’ve lost every discussion you’ve involved yourself in with me.”
            .
            Patently ABSURD and more evidence denying. Oh and lest I forget : RISIBLE.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Patently ABSURD”
            .
            And yet true. Again, you ‘busting’ me was just quoting back what I said. Did you attempt to explain why Arthur Eddington did NOT use practical methods to confirm Einstein’s theory? No, you just quoted me and threw in some ad hominems. Risible indeed.

    • Susan says:

      You need to inspect the miracles Jesus performed where he healed lepers, the blind, the lame, etc.

      God is not indifferent to animal suffering either. The Hebrews tried to practice animal sacrifice as painlessly as possible and even had laws protecting them.

      Ex. 23:5, ESV

      If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

      Reply
      • bob says:

        Susan – You need to inspect the miracles Jesus performed where he healed lepers, the blind, the lame, etc.
        Ok, let’s climb in our time machines and set them to the early 1st century – or maybe there is a setting on the dial that just says “Jesus”, kind of like the “Popcorn” setting on my microwave.
        See yall there.

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “See yall there.”
          .
          Glad to see that you made it to the same spot as me there BOB. Best of luck with the continued evidence denial.
          .
          Mark 2:1-12 1 A few days later, Jesus went back to Capernaum. And when the people heard He was home, 2 they gathered in such large numbers that there was no more room, not even outside the door, as Jesus spoke the word to them. 3 Then a paralytic was brought to Him, carried by four men. 4 Since they were unable to get to Jesus through the crowd, they uncovered the roof above Him, made an opening, and lowered the paralytic on his mat. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and contemplating in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like this? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 At once Jesus knew in His spirit that they were considering this within themselves. “Why do you question these things in your hearts?” He asked. 9 “Which is easier: to say to a paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” 12 And immediately the man got up, picked up his mat, and walked out in front of them all. As a result, everyone was amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
          .
          Mark 3:1-6 1 Once again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man with a withered hand was there. 2 In order to accuse Him, they were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. 3 Then Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stand up among us.” 4 And He asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” But they were silent. 5 Jesus looked around at them with anger and sorrow at their hardness of heart. Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and it was restored. 6 At this, the Pharisees went out and plotted with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

          Reply
  6. bob says:

    Gary, reason will not penetrate.
    Truly, you will be casting your pearls before swine.
    If you stay you will soon be reduced to swapping insults.
    I beg you…save yourself…

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      This is why you need to either stay in the scriptures until enlightenment dawns or just stick to atheist blogs with likeminded people because you really don’t like anybody but atheists as shown by the way you talk to people different from yourself.

      Am I going to give up God’s enlightenment to suit someone else’s preference?

      Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Funny part is that Gary is writing like a “deist”. So one would think that an atheist would be as much against him as against Christianity. But it would appear that they are on the same side in this argument. Guess it gets to the house divided against itself can NOT stand thing though.
      .
      Which brings me to the question to you Susan. Are you still holding to the “universalist” belief that all are saved?

      Reply
          • bob says:

            Redemption? What is this redemption you speak of?
            And personally, I like floundering. It is freeing. I no longer have to pretend that there is such a thing as this redemption. I no longer have to pretend that there is an afterlife.
            Ah, give me the honesty of floundering over the pretense of redemption any day.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            John 3:16-18 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
            .
            Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment,

      • Susan Tan says:

        These people keep appealing to man’s reason, Mark, refusing to acknowledge that faith is the gift of God which makes it qualitatively a different state from one of no -belief. I have been reading atheist posts for years and it only confirms to me that the Bible is right and spiritual darkness is a factor.
        I am now a firm believer in sovereign election and I know God’s sovereign foreknowledge plays a part in His plan and it must play a part in who re receives the gift of faith and who doesn’t. God knows who is capable of receiving and maintaining their faith and can work with those people through trials and tests, etc. Just like He knew who to pass over in the Old Testament and Jesus knew who to pick as his disciples. God didn’t leave very much too “chance” at all. He even sent Jesus to be born in a time when the Edomite the hereditary enemies of Israel had merged with Israel. Herod was an Edomite.
        God is all knowing and He can know hearts and choose where and when to give faith to people in accordance with His divine omniscience and will. Some people are touched and given the gift before they are born like Jeremiah.
        I consider it an awful thing to be spiritually blind and really tried to do everything I could to motivate people out of it but some people are supernatural in their stubbornness to disbelieve and quite a few are judgmental of believers. They talk about tolerance but their mockery is intolerant and their deeds under atheistic communism are undeniable as they are a recent historical fact yet they want Christians to take them seriously after all the socially unacceptable meanness they display.
        So yes God knows people and decides who to give the gift of faith to. Anyone who fell away most likely was a nominal not a true Christian. You can be born into what appears to be a Christian family and identify with your family without really identifying with God, I think.
        Spiritual blindness convinces me God exists in addition to a lot of other things. Unfortunately it is hard to break spiritual blindness when the human being has dedicated himself to something other than God and returning His love. True faith is a supernatural bond based on love. These people refused to acknowledge and love God to retain evil self autonomy. They study the question of evil yet deny sin exists in people. So it could be spiritual blindness controlled by both God and the devil are the result of a self contradiction in some people. They know evil exists but refuse to acknowledge it in themselves and won’t help God to do something about it. God knows who is motivated and who isn’t.
        So yes the Bible says there is a Lake of Fire and they missed out on grace by engaging in deliberate self subterfuge. They want you and I to engage in their own subterfuge by arguing with them but now that I have finally analyzed their deceitful nature I refuse to do that. They have to come to grips with their own evil or it will be known throughout eternity who did and who didn’t.
        God saves each in His own order.
        Some according to grace and some according to judgment.

        People should investigate the scriptures. Hell is not a biblical word or concept but the Lake of Fire and the second death is.

        I am about to leave now that I have delivered the Gospel. I don’t control other people’s response to it but God does. I spent years of my life analyzing these evil people’s actions and words trying to save them like Jesus does sinners but maybe God said no to their conversion because none of them is willing to get his heart right with God.
        They are deceived by their own observations on religion. Sometimes God answers people according to their idols and if He thinks they are too depraved and too far gone and must go into the Lake of Fire for purification later than what can I do more for these evil people? My hands are tied. I don’t control evil people’s heart motives.

        If they had a lick of common sense they would all pray to God for the gift of repentance.

        I am out of here because I refuse to turn a blind eye to any more of their evil and I am not countenancing their evil rebellion by reading their rationalizations any more because clearly they are too morally weak to stand up to the devil in their own thoughtlives and now let every bad apple communicate their corruption to them.

        I am still a universalist but I would rather be struck dead then be caught in their lower order or not make it to the first resurrection.

        Paul could be nothing until God changed him and Paul said he was our pattern.

        Believing is easy even the devils believe.

        But being elected? That is a high honor from God.

        God uses the elect to raise belief in this world.

        But most people don’t know the difference they either don’t spend enough times in the scriptures or are not obedient enough in their actions to experience the reality of it all.

        Evangelizing has always been the high calling of God and you have to be spiritually strong minded to do it.

        So these atheists who are weak spiritually think they can classify Christians as delusional? How can they know? They never even attempted to follow God’s pattern but a lot of Christians do.

        That is what a true disciple is. Someone following Christ’s pattern as conveyed to Paul and the other disciples.

        Self deceptive contradiction in the heart must break the pattern.

        As if a self satisfied human being could be more truthful than a holy god.

        That is absurdity. That is ignorant foolishness.

        Imagine God called you a fool for your disbelief and you didn’t bother to do a thing or rise to His challenge. How could you ever be an overcomer?

        Deceitful Jacob wrestled with God all night for His blessing.

        Some people wrestle. Some people roll over in defeat.

        So I am on to another area of study now. Spiritual blindness is a depressing subject to analyze and I am done with it.

        At some point people have to take responsibility for their own thoughtlives. You can only do so much for an evil sinner living in denial. They are like alcoholics. Some alcoholics will destroy themselves before they deal with their sin.

        Follow the pattern in scripture, Mark and May His Grace Abound To You and Everyone Reading!

        Reply
  7. DagoodS says:

    Okay, this is petty. But kinda funny. I had never heard of the 5708 Prediction. So I did some research. Turns out there is some debate whether the 5708th verse of the Torah is Deut. 30:3 or Deut 30:5. (Either could be smashed into a prophecy regarding the re-establishment of Israel, but 30:5 is better, so most people relying upon the 5708 prophecy use Deut. 30:5)
    .
    In resolving the discrepancy, I did some calculating of my own. According to the Protestant rendering of the Torah, the 5708th verse is actually Deuteronomy 29:28: “In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.” (And for complete disclosure, depending how one counts Numbers 25 /26, it is possible verse 5708 is Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”)
    .
    In short, someone is fudging on the numbers to make this prophecy work.
    .
    And I should note, all of this irrelevant, as there were no numbering of verses in the original, only hard stops. The original is long lost to us, and has modified over time. The manuscripts are debated as to content. And the current numbering of years in the Jewish calendar was not established until the 12th century, if I recall. And even then is wrongly calculated.
    .
    Fun prophecy.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      What, so Philip is talking complete nonsense then? Quelle surprise.
      .
      You get coincidences in big books if you look hard enough for them. The 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is “shake” and the 46th word from the end (omitting the liturgical mark “Selah”) is “spear” (“speare” in the original spelling). Shakespeare was in King James’ service during the preparation of the King James Bible, and was generally considered to be 46 years old in 1611 when the translation was completed. Woo, spooky.

      Reply
  8. gary says:

    Andy: Yep, that’s us.

    .

    I haven’t read that post for several years. I am surprised to read the first comment under the post. The person describes me (when I was still a Christian) exactly how we are describing Susan , Mark, and Phillip today! Wow.

    ;

    “I think it is obvious that Gary has spent the last week or so furiously attempting to shore up his wavering faith. He is prime evidence of the idea that facts which counter a person’s beliefs do not change those beliefs but actually have a backfire effect of strengthening those beliefs.

    http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/20768-new-study-analyzes-why-people-are-resistant-to-correcting-misinformation-offers-solutions?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+umns-releases+(University+of+Michigan+News+Service+-+News+Releases)

    He is not at the place yet where he can objectively look at things and understand what actually qualifies as “evidence”. I don’t say that to be mean. I think anyone who has lost faith has gone through this phase and can remember looking for what seemed to be the “theory of everything” that was going to make some semblance of continuing in the faith achievable.

    Gary keeps writing in comments at his blog that he thinks atheists and former believers are gleefully wanting him to deconvert. He does not understand that our interactions with him are not borne out of a desire to see him lose his faith but occur because we can see through the endless BS apologetic arguments developed to dismiss real problems with scripture, theology, and religion in general.

    .

    It’s hard to even know where to start in a conversation with him because there are too many layers of false assumptions, faulty premises, and simply incorrect facts to sift through.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      That’s funny. A few years back I argued with a poster here called Andrea Theis. She was a very sincere fervent Christian. Then she stopped posting and six months later she contacted me on Facebook to say she was now an atheist. To adapt her posting name slightly, she went from A Theist to ATheist.

      Reply
  9. Susan Tan says:

    ◄ 1 Corinthians 15 ►
    New Living Translation
    The Resurrection of Christ

    1Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters,a of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. 2It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.b

    3I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5He was seen by Peterc and then by the Twelve. 6After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followersd at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. 9For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.

    10But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.

    The Resurrection of the Dead

    12But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
    20But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

    21So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

    24After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 25For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.”e (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) 28Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

    29If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?

    30And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? 31For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. 32And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesusf—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”g 33Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 34Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.

    The Resurrection Body

    35But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
    40There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

    42It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

    45The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.”h But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be likei the heavenly man.

    50What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

    51But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

    54Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,j this Scripture will be fulfilled:

    “Death is swallowed up in victory.k
    55O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?l”
    56For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    58So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

    Footnotes:
    a 15:1 Greek brothers; also in 15:31, 50, 58.
    b 15:2 Or unless you never believed it in the first place.
    c 15:5 Greek Cephas.
    d 15:6 Greek the brothers.
    e 15:27 Ps 8:6.
    f 15:32a Greek fighting wild beasts in Ephesus.
    g 15:32b Isa 22:13.
    h 15:45 Gen 2:7.
    i 15:49 Some manuscripts read let us be like.
    j 15:54a Some manuscripts add and our mortal bodies have been transformed into immortal bodies.
    k 15:54b Isa 25:8.
    l 15:55 Hos 13:14 (Greek version).

    Reply
    • gary says:

      What proof do we have that the resurrected Jesus appeared to Paul? Answer: Paul’s word! That’s it!

      Imagine today if a Jewish rabbi suddenly converted to Christianity, claiming that Jesus had appeared to him on a dark desert highway. What would be our response? Answer: “He’s nuts!!!” So why should we believe Paul? I do not doubt Paul’s sincerity, but many people have been sincerely mistaken when they claimed to have seen a dead person.

      Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        “claimed to have seen a dead person.”
        .
        NOT DEAD – RESURRECTED
        .
        Revelations 1:17-18 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. But He placed His right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, 18 the Living One. I was dead, and behold, now I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of Death and of Hades.

        Reply
        • gary says:

          Thousands of people living today claim to have seen dead people. Christians don’t believe these people, so why should anyone believe similar claims from a handful of first century peasants and one vision-prone Jewish rabbi?

          .

          Seriously, any guy who claims that he might or might not have been teleported to a “third heaven” where he heard secret transmissions that he must keep top secret from everyone is not dealing with a full deck.

          Reply
          • toby says:

            S/Paul wasn’t a rabbi. The most you can get out of the bible was that he was a tentmaker.

  10. gary says:

    Paul claimed to be a pharisee. After the destruction of the Temple, the pharisees began to be referred to as rabbis. We have no confirmation of Paul’s claim to be a pharisee. He could have been making it up, of course.

    .

    If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

    (Phil 3:4–6 ESV; see also Gal 1:14)

    Reply

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