The next post by Silverswiper (SS) on Ben’s blog are even worse claims of “evidence” than the first two. All of these seem to come from an inability to think like someone who isn’t a Christian. SS also goes right to WLC’s claims despite claiming he is not using them.
The first two claims of evidence are:
1. The empty tomb – aka William Lane Craig’s baseless claim that it is a “fact” that Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and that it a “fact” the tomb was found empty. (WLC misuses the term fact a lot) This could be powerful but we have no tomb at all. We have stories about a messiah and an empty tomb in one source. We have multiple claims of where this tomb is but no way to confirm those claims. To claim that the story of an empty tomb is evidence of the events of the resurrection is analogous to claiming that stories about the golden fleece are evidence that the greek gods exist. These supposed “facts” depend wholly on accepting that there was a magical god/man who existed with nothing to support that belief. There are plenty of tombs and dead people, but nothing to support them ceasing being dead and leaving their graves. The argument is circular, there has to be a magical Jesus because there is an empty tomb because there is a magical Jesus.
2. Eyewitness testimony – aka WLC’s claim that it is a “fact” that people saw Jesus, again with no evidence to support this, only stories. This also could be powerful evidence but we have nothing that indicates that there were any events to be eyewitnesses too, and we have little evidence that the supposed eyewitnesses ever existed. Did people likely follow around the various messiah claimants in 1 CE? Yes, very likely. Does this mean that any of them were following around the “real” messiah and that they and he performed magic? No. We know that, even if there were eyewitnesses, this also does not mean that there is magic involved. And we know that the claims of the various stories do not match up, presenting directly conflicting statements about the events. In a court of law, any defense attorney would look upon that with joy because it establishes doubt about the events. No attorney would use the claim that some Christian use, that the contradictions make the eyewitnesses *more* trustworthy. We have Christians say that the bible is more true since this shows that the eyewitnesses did not confirm each others stories. It could also mean that the folks who put the bible together were not good editors of the stories that they were given.
In what appears to be the last installment of this series, SS again tries to claim that the bible is evidence for, well, the bible. He cites the supposed conversion of James, JC’s purported brother. Well, this is like citing the existence of Horus to be evidence for the existence of Osiris. We have claims that James, brother of Jesus existed, but little evidence. Josephus does mention James, brother of Jesus, called the Christ, but he is relating a story told to him. This does not mean that the story is true. SS also claims that it would be embarrassing to have James not believe in his brother from the outset so that makes the story true. Why? We have the supposed holy book itself have JC say that not everyone would believe in him, that this intentional and that he would tear families apart. Nothing embarrassing here at all and indeed early Christians had no problem with the idea. (As a side note, Josephus also thought that Emperor Vespasian was the messiah that the Jews predicted.)
SS goes on to claim that Paul’s conversion is evidence. He claims that since the people around Paul heard something, it means it’s true. Again, nothing says that the story is anything but a story. We also have Paul tell the story several times but getting the details different. That is apologized for by saying it was “tailored” to an audience, but what about saying someone only heard something and and then saying they saw something too is “tailored” not to use for everyone?
SS also claims that the citing of JC by supposed 500 people is true. Again, no evidence of this at all, just a story like the claims that JC did so many works on earth after his death and resurrection that the “whole world” could not contain them all. Our poster claims that the information about this citing was “probably” well known, but presents no evidence to support this claim. SS claims that Paul is “likely” mentioning this because they already know it. It’s amazing on how much Christians can claim to know about what people 2000+ years ago are thinking when convenient.
And then we go back to the claims that since the bible claims JC existed, then he must have. If people believed in the stories, he must have existed! This is William Lane Craig’s supposed “fact #4” “The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.”
First, you can see WLC’s baseless claim that the apostles would never have expected JC to return. SS states it thus: “When Jesus died his disciples would certainly mourn him. But it is very unlikely that they would seek comfort in a Resurrection within history (before the end of time), an idea that goes against the grain of their religious and cultural influences.”
Really? This man supposedly did miracles in front of them. He *said* he would be killed and rise in three days (Mark 8, Matthew 17, Luke 9, for starters. Then you have all of the parables and analogies which many Christians accept as directly about the resurrection) , and in the bible, all of them, except for maybe Peter with his denial of knowing JC, and Thomas who was made an example, were not claimed to have doubted (if indeed one can believe the bible). And now WLC, and evidently Ben and SS, want us to believe that the apostles were amazingly stupid and did not believe in what this Jesus when it is convenient for WLC, Ben and SS. I’m just waiting for a Christian to pipe up and say “but but Vel, you’re talking about them if they were real people,and you spend so much time on the bible, so that must make them real”. Heh, yeah, sure. 🙂 Oh yes, and the claims that since JC predicted his death, and then supposedly died *just like he said*, that this must show that the resurrection is true too. Again, no, we only have stories, no evidence. We can have stories that predict all sorts of things, Cassandra was right about Troy, and the oracle of Apollo was right about Perseus killing Acrisius. Not hard to make prophecy work when the whole thing is fiction. It’s also rather amusing when SS tries to claim that the people in 1 century CE couldn’t have possibly extrapolated the idea of a one-time resurrection from the common resurrection myths in the area. He also forgets that one time resurrections weren’t that uncommon. Heracles, Osiris, Asclepius (a god of healing), good ol’ Mithras, etc. But ignorance, willful or not, of other religions and myths is common to many Christians.
We get the claim that if he appeared to skeptics, he must have existed, but we don’t know these people were skeptics at all or if they aren’t just characters in a story. Again, we only have stories. We get the claim that since the apostles were extremely devoted to their religion, that means it was true. Well, I’m sure that will make the people at the People’s Temple, the Heaven’s Gate believers, the Cathars, etc very happy since by this argument, all of their beliefs were just as true as Ben and Silverswiper’s beliefs. Sincereity about a belief does not mean that belief is true, only that they person thinks it is.
SS also tries the ol’ claim that the events in the bible have ot be true since the apostles were willing to be martyrs for those beliefs. Again, I’m sure that the folks who died at People’s Temple, Heaven’s Gate, the Cathars, Jews, etc would appreciate that sentiment since that means their beliefs are suddenly as true as our Christians believe theirs are. And that last with the Jews’ beliefs being as true as Christians are, well, that does present a problem with who the messiah actually is. Because they don’t believe that JC was the messiah.
Let’s finish by looking at the belief in a popular supernatural figure.
1. There’s a real place he is said to come from
2. There are sincere believers in him.
3. There are events claimed to happen because of only his action.
4. There could have been or was a regular human who could have been a kernel around which the legends coalesced.