This question comes from a comment thread in a video link I shared and comes from a commenter named “Arkenaten” (Ark). This is the dialogue prompting the question:

Ark: There is no evidence for the resurrection of the character Jesus of Nazareth, only what is written in the Bible.

Me: There are several evidences for the resurrected Jesus. I’d love to discuss them with you, but as a historian of sorts I’m sure you are well aware of them (Bart Ehrman has even substantiated this claim, he just draws a different conclusion of the evidences).

Ark: No, sorry, there is no contemporary evidence for this claim…The only mention of the resurrection of the character, Jesus of Nazareth is what is featured in the gospels, and even then, it does not feature in the oldest extant copies of the gMark…The simple fact is the resurrection s nothing but a faith claim, period and there is nothing to suggest otherwise.


Roger BrowningTo me, the resurrection is one of the easiest pieces of Biblical literature to believe, but it starts with knowing the might and power of God. One only has to read Gen 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth” to understand that God’s power is far greater than life and death. Once you understand that, things like being swallowed by a big fish, fireballs destroying whole cities, and people being resurrected from the dead seem to be small-potatoes. But, I could write my master’s thesis on all the evidence for a magnificent beginning of the universe with natural conclusions about an uncaused cause using quips like, “The big bang needs a big banger” and that would get us no closer to the resurrection. Why? Because people who don’t believe in God will see the beginning of the universe with a different perspective.

And that’s my first point.

  • The Bible is not a 1 sided view

Every piece of information I present in the resurrection account of Jesus has a different perspective. What is more, perspective—unlike truth—can both have a correct view. For example, in terms of angels at the empty tomb, Matthew and Mark record 1, Luke saw 2, and John does not record any. Many skeptics site this as one (of many) reasons to not trust the Bible. But, from a different perspective we can see it as a significant reason to find the Bible more reliable. The reason is because it contains different perspectives. Instead of seeing 1 group of writers collaborating their testimony in one written work, we actually have 4 different versions of the same story.

A great way to think of it is like this. Let’s say you and three friends are watching a football (American) game. The score is tied 21-21 with 1 minute left on the clock. The opposing team has the ball in the red zone and is in scoring position. The ball is snapped, the pass is intercepted and ran back for a touchdown—your team wins! If you were to discuss the final play with your friends, you would all remember the winning team and the interception. However, one of your friends may not be as in to football as you, so he doesn’t know who intercepted the ball. When he talks about it, he never mentions the man’s name. A different friend used to play outside linebacker in high school. He tells the story from the perspective of the guy who rushed the quarterback causing the poor throw. The point is, everyone brings a different perspective and the more perspectives the better the story can be recreated.

To assume the Bible is the only source text for the resurrection is a blatant mischaracterization of the Holy Text. It is not 1 source but 40 sources with 66 references. Not all of them directly discuss the resurrection but A LOT of them do. Further, the ones that don’t, many of those allude to the resurrection. For example, in Job says in 19:25-26, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” (NIV). Other such inferences come from the Psalms. One example is Psalms 88. After many verses discussing death, the Psalmists asks (rhetorically), v10 “Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction?” The implication is clear, praising God is for the living.

Clearer understandings of the resurrection come in prophetic form. Daniel 12:2, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and contempt” and Isaiah 53:10-11, “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin…v11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.”

Then, in the New Testament, the writing becomes clearer and more prominent: Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 & 21, Acts 1-4, 10, 17, 25, Romans 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 14, 1 Corinthians 1, 11, 15, and goes on and on and on and on…

Each written work offers a different perspective and helps us paint a better picture of the resurrection. It is not just one biblical view, but many harmonious accounts compiled in one source. In this way, asking why there are no extra-biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection is a bit like asking, “Why there are no definitions outside the dictionary.” Because definitions go in a dictionary, and resurrection accounts go in the Bible; it’s what it was assembled for.

  • The resurrection is kinda a big deal

Let me ask you something? If you saw the world trade center buildings fall, would you start writing a 36 page synopsis of why the world trade center buildings could not have fallen? NO! That’s ridiculous; you just saw something unprecedented. Maybe you would write about it, but not necessarily. There are not written works from every eye witness that day. Rather, what we have are tributes and collections of writings of those who did write about it. The same is true biblically.

We don’t have many extra biblical references because those who saw…believed! It was miraculous. Life changing. Empowering. In fact, that’s exactly what we would expect to see. Many skeptics argue that conversions are not evidence, but they must be accounted for. Muslims and Mormons did not just poof themselves into existence in some abio-mormon-esis (get it, abiogenesis, haha). No, they trace their roots to a source. For the Muslims it is the testimony of Muhammad. He told some people who told more people and a religion was started. Mormons, same thing, Joseph Smith shared his experience and several believers passed the testimony.

But the resurrection is different. Jesus showed himself to 12 groups at 12 different times of varying sizes of groups. A great summary of appearances can be found here. In this case, there were multiple starting points, multiple places where dozens and dozens of people could have stepped up and said, “No. I was there; that’s now how it happened.” Rather, we see a rapid spread of people who even wrote “I have seen, I have touched, I have witnessed” (1 John 1).

Basically, everyone who saw the resurrection had a fervor about them that was unquenchable. Therefore, the rapid conversion isn’t just a coincidence or common practice; it is exactly what we would expect from an event like the resurrection.

  • There are some extra-biblical records

Rather than explain them all, I’m just going to submit the main two. Most others confirm events and people but not the resurrection. But know this in advance. They’re not well accepted or flawless. Josephus, for example, is full of mythological references and is sometimes used to prove a mythological Jesus. I think the above more than justifies the amount of evidence for the resurrection and more than reasonably explains why none of the below references need to exist. This is only to illustrate that the people not directly involved had quick access to the happenings—which is really significant if you think about it.

  • Joesphus (37 – 100AD) “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus…and those who had become his disciples…reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive”[i]
  • Phlegon (80 – 140AD) “ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events…also testified that the result corresponded to his predictions. So that he also, by these very admissions regarding foreknowledge, as if against his will, expressed his opinion that the doctrines taught by the fathers of our system were no devoid of divine power.” (as recoded by Origen).[ii]

But the best reason we don’t need extra-biblical evidence is:

  • It’s not only about direct evidence

For my final point, I want to share with you a man by the name of Dr. Gary Habermas. Dr. Habermas is considered the leading source for all things surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. In his last book, he cited of 3500 references concerning the resurrection. He has read and includes sources of skeptics, non-believers, atheist, Jews, and Christians. He has compiled an apologetic tool he calls the “Minimal Facts”. Here he lists 6 (or so, he admits to add some depending on who he is addressing and their level of skepticism) historical facts that everyone can be certain of:

  1. Jesus was crucified
  2. His followers had experiences that Jesus had risen from the dead
  3. His followers were transformed and willing to die for the fact that Jesus had risen
  4. There was a skeptic named James, who was the brother of Jesus, who was an unbeliever until he was transformed because he believed Jesus was resurrected
  5. Paul, being actually a Jew, who was an expert in the Old Testament, who was hostile to Christianity was transformed because he believed Jesus had been resurrected
  6. All this occurred very early (Note: Bart Ehrman, a leading skeptic, admits to within 1-2 years of the alleged event).

Any criticism of the Bible must account for all these facts (and many more if you weren’t such a skeptic about it, #JustSayin). Any point of view that takes possibilities for each and offers several circumstantial coincidences is clearly diminishing the conviction of the transformed and the significance therein.

Further, we are trying to see history from a 2000 year old lens. While science and education and intellect have brought us a great ability to evaluate what we have, it by no means ought to replace eye-witness testimony and 1st century research. Luke, for example, wrote, “v1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us…v3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account…v4 so you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1).

With this in mind, we should at least apply the old adage by G. K. Chesterton, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” As it applies here, it is not so much that skeptics don’t have possible (though highly unlikely and even not believable) options (for example, Bart Ehrman once posited that Jesus has a twin brother but later admitted he didn’t even believe that), but they all neglect the “Why” these things exist in the first. So at very least, before we go accepting the negative, perhaps we give credence to the positive.

All things considered, there are considerable reasons to believe the resurrection without extra-biblical references. However, there is only one reason not to: you have a personal objection to the possibility. Which means, quite frankly, anyone willing to argue against the historical reliability is biased. The question then becomes, “What evidence would it take you to believe and why is the above not enough?”

Here are some of my favorite resources for the resurrection of Jesus:

A special thank you goes to J. Warner Wallace, for motivating me to research this topic, and Dr. Gary Habermas, for his seemingly limitless supply of information. Please go check these folks out, and tell them ACL sent you!

[i] Shlomo Pines, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and Its Implications (Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Jerusalem, 1971).

[ii] Origen, “Origen Against Celsus,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, col. 4, Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second (Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1885). www.newadvent.org/fathers/04162.htm

55 COMMENTS

  1. Roger, I am going to let you educate me even further. Name 1 eyewitness who saw Jesus “in the flesh” after the resurrection who wrote about his experience in the Bible? Please provide book, chapter, verse.

    • Hi KC,

      Your request is odd. Where did I lead you to believe that this was going to supply every possible detail? It’s like asking, “Can you show me the signed confession of John Wilkes Booth?” This post put together the pieces we have, including hundreds of witness, with references to touching a physical Jesus. Requiring specific verbiage or authorship would not affect the insurmountable number of details and corroboration to make the case clearer. Would you disagree?

      • I don’t think my request is odd at all. With all these witnesses you eluded to , you would think there would be at the very minimum 1 whose written testimony would have been included in the Bible. Even more, I would think there would have been an entire chapter if not an entire book in the Bible called the Chapter / Book of Witnesses.

        It’s only odd to you because you can’t provide 1. All you have are people telling stories about people who claim to have witnessed this event.

        How about telling me which burial site Jesus was resurrected from ? The Garden Tomb or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Surely you have irrefutable from the Bible to prove this too.

        Here is one Christian Site trying to figure this out. https://carm.org/is-it-possible-to-know-where-christ-was-buried

        • On my 30th birthday, a few (or more) years ago, I got lots of cards. At the time, I thought everyone would be my friend forever, and I’d never have to worry about proving how many cards I got for my birthday. Now, however, there is virtually no evidence that I received even 1 card. You would think there would be at least 1 left, but I’m sorry–my record keeping isn’t always the greatest. We have 23,000 manuscripts of the life, stories, and post-resurrection events, and the skeptic in the room wants more, or wants it compiled differently. The thing is, I like you KC. I mean that in a respectful way. You provide links, stay cordial, and have fair questions. But, at the end of the day, there is substantial information–more than any other ancient figure by A LOT (I mean really a lot). Just because you don’t like how its said or what it says has no bearing on its truth.

          So, it doesn’t matter where he was buried, only that those who lived during that time went there and found it empty. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if they say things like, “I won’t believe Jesus is alive unless I touch his wounds” (John 20:25), when you want them to say “I saw his resurrected flesh”, the implication is there. These are historical findings. We are forced to work with the information at hand. To me, there is more than enough. To scholars like Dr. Habermas (the leading scholar on the resurrection) there is more than enough.
          You are aloud to doubt and even deny, but doing so because it’s not done your way is odd. It reminds me of John Loftus asking for video evidence of 1AD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owURacUBpX0

          • Roger , I like you and respect your opinions too. You see, the difference between you and me is that I was you when I was 30something. I couldn’t fathom at the thought I would ever lose my faith in Jesus Christ. But then in my 50’s, I bought books and did a lot of traveling . Egypt, Greece, Rome to name a few. Once I accepted one piece of evidence which contradicted my faith, the dominoes started to fall.

            Today it is so plain for me to see all religion is man-made . And yet my lifestyle has changed very little. I still seek and help those less fortunate than me. i mentor young people and i visit old people just like I did when I was a Christian.

            Blogging is the only vehicle I use to discuss religion . I rarely discuss my beliefs or opinions unless I am asked, in public. It is not my goal here to try and pop your religious bubble. What is my goal is to get you to think outside your religious box. There will never be peace in the Middle East because 1 group of people claim God god gave them a specific peace of land. The 3 Abrahamic religions will always cause strife on this planet because all 3 insist God gave them the only true word.

            Have you ever read any of the late Geza Vermes’ books ? “Géza Vermes ; 22 June 1924 – 8 May 2013) was a British scholar of Jewish Hungarian origin—one who also served as a Catholic priest in his youth—and writer on religious history, particularly Jewish and Christian. He was a noted authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient works in Aramaic such as the Targums, and on the life and religion of Jesus. He was one of the most important voices in contemporary Jesus research,[1] and he has been described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time.”

            About Jesus Geza wrote, “Vermes described Jesus as a 1st-century Jewish holy man, a commonplace view in academia but novel to the public when Vermes began publishing.[4] Contrary to certain other scholars (such as E. P. Sanders[20]), Vermes concludes that Jesus did not reach out to non-Jews. For example, he attributes positive references to Samaritans in the gospels not to Jesus himself but to early Christian editing. He suggests that, properly understood, the historical Jesus is a figure that Jews should find familiar and attractive.[19] This historical Jesus, however, is so different from the Christ of faith that Christians, says Vermes, may well want to rethink the fundamentals of their faith” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A9za_Vermes

            He convincingly explains why Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah. I doubt that you will ever read any of the works I have mentioned in my comments on this blog. That’s OK. I get it. But some day you might decide to venture out of your comfort zone to see where the truth leads you. Be prepared. The best to you. I don’t see where we need to go further here but I really thank you for taking the time to engage me. Most Christians will not ! They usually blow up and tell me they are finished with my ignorant comments. 🙂

  2. This is utterly ridiculous and as close to being disingenuous as is possible.
    I stated there is no contemporary evidence and you glibly insert the word sources into your piece.

    At one point, I genuinely thought I was dealing with someone who might consider that what he attested to was simply based on a faith claim and nothing else. This I was prepared to accept.

    But this piece is an apologetic diatribe.

    And you have the audacity to quote Josephus?
    You turned your back on offering evidence for Lazarus in the previous thread and now you turn out this?
    Did you feel all warm and fuzzy thinking perhaps this was a slam dunk or that I was going to start, mumbling and backpedaling?

    This is the work of someone who is indoctrinated and has lost the ability to exercise critical thinking. Otherwise you are simply a charlatan.

    What next? Are you going to champion the late Ron Wyatt and write a similar piece on Noah’s Ark?
    Why are whale fossils found on mountains?

    Feeling self-satisfied in any way over this is disgraceful and you should be ashamed.

    • Watch yourself Arkenaten. You’re forceful invective is becoming dangerously indistinguishable from slanderous insult. If you want to engage ideas then have at it. If you want to trade insults then go do it somewhere else. Consider this your one and only warning.

      • I asked for contemporary evidence.

        This is simply apologetics and in my view verges on being disingenuous.

        If you feel I have overstepped the mark then please step in for Roger and offer the contemporary evidence for the resurrection of the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth which he has omitted to provide and I will retract my initial comment and offer a public apology.

        If you are unable to find any contemporary evidence for the resurrection of the character, Jesus of Nazareth, then I am perfectly willing to offer the same apology for contemporary evidence for the resurrection of the character Lazarus, which,as I mentioned to Roger in the previous thread, was claimed to have eye witnesses, friendly and quite likely hostile, for which there must surely be contemporary evidence for such a miraculous event.

        I am sorry if I upset you but I object strongly to such manipulation.

        Thanks

        • We have no problem when you engage ideas. But do not pretend that you’re ignorant of the unnecessary insults that you lob at people who clearly disagree with you. It’s lazy and only serves to feed your anger, not the issue at hand. So you can actually be a stand-up guy (or girl? Who knows since you’re going around with a fake name) and apologize for resorting to unnecessary insults instead of making this about the evidence (which your insults have nothing to do with).

          • My name is accessible and visible on my blog… if you have the inclination to look, that is. I have always blogged under Arkenaten and I rather enjoy.
            the irony.
            Perhaps you should consider your own tone when it comes to insults?
            I consider it insulting when I am treated to rank apologetics as if I was some wet behind the ears newbie who just discovered his mum’s bible and wondered what the hell it was?

            Don’t patronize me and I’ll be as civil as the day is long.
            I hope that is clear enough for you, Nate?

            I never once said I was ignorant or even alluded to such a nonsensical thing. I’ll wager I am reasonably more versed in the bible than the average person and when it comes to the archaeological side a damn sight more informed than you care to be.

            So are you going to ”man-up” as they say and produce any contemporary evidence for the resurrection, for either character, Jesus or Lazarus or are you going to continue with this holier that thou approach?

          • Arkenaten, you don’t seem to be reading me carefully enough. Our concern at this site are unnecessary insults and unproductive comments. Changing the subject about how you feel when we provide our responses to your comments is entirely irrelevant to whether or we not we are engaging your ideas and you are engaging ours. And yes it is ironic, now, that you’re concerned with the tenor of this conversation when you certainly couldn’t care less before I called you out on it. This is the last time I’m going to speak about this. Be cool and you’ll get to comment as much as you want.

    • Contemporary–“belonging to or occurring in the present”. When I “glibly” inserted the word sources, I took what I thought was your intent that the Bible was the only evidence of the resurrection. I suppose I could have taken you verbatim and asked what possibility is there for a current eye witness, living and present, from 2000 years ago, but I tackled the intent. The Bible is a compilation of contemporary (at the time) sources.

      I have offered evidence (which you rejected). I have offered counter-points, examples of context, and offered various perspectives which all have merit and challenge your worldview (which you also rejected). That’s fine, but you have yet to engage the points given and only insist on focusing on the insignificant issues not even addressed here. In essence, I have given you 2000 words substantiating Jesus’ resurrection and you have followed up with a hissy about Lazarus and whale fossils. You’ll forgive me for being slightly disinterest.
      If I can better clarify my position, I’d love to engage. But name calling and scholar bashing I will not take part in.

      Respectfully,

      • No, you have not offered contemporary evidence simply because there are no contemporary accounts of this event and no witnesses.
        Your entire post is apologetic and has no historical value whatsoever other than to quell the tremulous hearts of those believers whose faith may waiver from time to time.
        Roger, you knew exactly what I was asking for and dont pretend otherwise. And this was why I used the word disingenuous.

        Sorry, but if you can name a single secular historian that agrees with your presentation I may reconsider.
        You could also have the guts to address the biblical tale of the Lazarus resurrection if you prefer.
        As for scholar bashing, Craig is a defender of Divine Command Theory. No more need be said concerning this person.

        For the record, if you provide the evidence I have asked for I will publically apologise.
        Until then I stand by my assertion.

          • “Arkenton, there is no other ancient historical figures with manuscript evidence as close”

            I’m not speaking for Ark, but I’m not sure why the number of copies of manuscripts which mention Jesus is so important to you. We have far more evidence of Egyptian Pharaohs than we will ever have for Jesus.

            King Tutankhamun as an example who lived over 1300 years earlier than Jesus. We know for certain where he was buried. We have thousands of personal artifacts he was buried with. Many of the artifacts have stories written about him painted on them. We have his chariot, his throne, his sandals. Through DNA we know who his father and mother are. We also have their bodies along with his.

            We have NONE of this from Jesus. We have stories that were written about him years after his death. That’s it.

            Manuscript evidence hardly equals historical artifacts as evidence .

          • Kc, Tut was forgotten by history till 1920 when his tomb was found. Virtually everything we know about him is from this discovery. This actually proves the point, because we have MORE evidence for a resurrected Jesus than a buried Pharoh.

          • “because we have MORE evidence for a resurrected Jesus than a buried Pharoh.”

            Sorry, your statement is factually incorrect. Archaeology is not on your side.

          • “KC, archeology is a tool for archeologists that interpret archeological discoveries. Archeology does not have “sides”.

            OK Roger, maybe I didn’t word my comment to your satisfaction. I will try again. There is less archaeological evidence for a resurrected Jesus vs archaeological evidence for King Tut. Would you agree with this ?

          • Only if your talking about pots and coins. Of course, I’m not sure why you’d think coins would have Jesus ‘ face, even the bible says the coins Jesus used had ceasars face.

            Let me ask you, which piece of the evidences I provided in the post is the most problematic for you? Can we work through the post and leave the remainder for later?

          • Roger, I will review your evidence again and share my thoughts with you tomorrow. I want to take the time to give your evidence careful thought before I comment. I owe that to you.

  3. Well done Roger, I really enjoyed this post. What you said about Josephus is new to me: “Josephus, for example, is full of mythological references and is sometimes used to prove a mythological Jesus”. Because there are so many areas of apologetics that I am first busy with now, I haven’t read up a lot about the case for the historical Jesus yet although it is one of my main interests in apologetics. But from what I understood, I always thought Josephus was a very good source 🙁 for extra-Biblical proof of the historical Jesus.

    • Thanks! Josephus is worthy of a post of his own, for sure. Here is a quick bit a detail: Josephus was born in 37/38. He wrote a lot of history, to include mythological history. The most concerning aspects to his writings are: there is little reference to him by early church fathers and he spends more energy addressing lesser people than Jesus.
      Is that enough to dismiss Josephus? I don’t thinks so. 1) The reasons I addressed in my post. The Bible essentially gathered all the manuscripts concerning Jesus and compiled them into 1 work–the Bible. If Josephus was a forgery, for example, it would have no bearing on what we know through the Bible. Also, like I said above, Jesus’ resurrection was a big deal. Anyone who didn’t believe it happened certainly wouldn’t write about it happening but they don’t believe.
      2) Concerning the amount Josephus wrote, that is actually expected. Josephus didn’t have the internet. He would have had to compile his work based on the writings available to him. Writing between 60-90AD, most of the NT was just starting to be circulated. There is a hardly any reason to think Josephus would have written anything about Jesus.

      Basically, there are reasons for and against Josephus (much like all of history). Hope that helps, here are a couple links I found helpful:
      https://bible.org/article/josephus%E2%80%99-writings-and-their-relation-new-testament
      http://www.socinian.org/files/Testimonium_Flavianum_FULL_TEXT.pdf
      https://carm.org/regarding-quotes-historian-josephus-about-jesus

  4. Imagine trying to reconstruct the story of Joseph Smith if the only sources you had were the writings of devout Mormons composed several decades after the fact. You would not know anything about unsavory incidents like the bank fraud in Kirtland, Ohio. As the Latter Day Saints did not openly embrace polygamy until after they reached Salt Lake City, you might wind up thinking that Smith was the faithful husband of a single wife. The only reason it is possible for historians to be confident about what actually happened is that we have a wealth of contemporaneous sources from people outside the movement, such as ex-Mormons who left the fold and non-Mormons who dealt with Smith and his followers.

    We have ample reason to be skeptical of fantastic stories written by true believers decades after the fact. For example, we can see that books written by UFO fanatics in the 1980’s give completely unreliable accounts of the events in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Why should we think that ancient, fantastic stories written decades after the fact are any more reliable than those of the 19th and 20th centuries?

    • Hi Vince,
      If it were only written evidence I’d contend your point, but there is significantly more than just Biblical writings. Here is a brief example of the totality of evidence:
      1) why is there something rather than nothing? An origin explanation exists
      2) why are there non-physical things (morality, love, charisma, empathy, etc). We must account for the non – physical
      3) symmetry – the Bible has a great deal of uncontested historical accuracies and symmetry with other cultures. The flood narrative, for example, parallels other cultures early historical understandings like the epic of gilgamesh and stories from Africa and Asia. While there are alternative explanations (Israelites copied ideas, e.g.) it is a point that must be considered (i.e. Where they were, how they got the stories, why they are all assumed flood and 1 saved family).
      4) Jesus’ life — why did so many people feel compelled to write about a poor carpenter’s son (to include his skeptic brother).
      5) consequences — why, after claiming to see Jesus did the disciples have complete transformation in character (dying! Not for what they were told to believe buy what they were convinced they saw)
      6) post resurrection changes. All of Judaism stopped sacrificing animals and there has never been another prophet (which used to occur every 300 years or so). Even if Jews don’t believe in Jesus we must account for the changes.

      Now. Even single point above has secular concepts that may be possible, but no secular alternative even attempts to wrestle with every point; they are all point by point. For example, abiogenesis has been suggested (not even remotely proven but I digress) to allude a possible beginning to life but abiogenesis has zero care or ability to bring about moraliry/love/empathy further down the line. So evolution is offered to justify the the rise of complexity and intelligence but has nothing to say about a poor carpenter’s son. This list goes on and on.

      So, ultimately the one who denies the resurrection is forced to justify tons of extra substantiating details. But, those who affirm the resurrection, who have difficulty with selected pieces, in terms of the totality of evidence are further ahead.

      In short, my post covers a host of reasons to believe the resurrection, but the resurrection itself is evidence to far more than history or science by themselves are capable of answering.

      • I don’t know the answers to your first two points, and that is a large part of the reason that I choose to identify myself as an “agnostic” rather than an “atheist.” At best, however, those two points leave me open to the possibility of some God; they don’t provide evidence that God as conceived by one specific religion performed a specific miracle.

        As to your third point, the Mormon accounts of the origins of the Latter Day Saints also contain much that is geographically and historically accurate, but I don’t see how that would give me any reason to believe in the Golden Plates and the Angel Moroni.

        Regarding your fourth point, people feel compelled to write about all sorts of fantastic things including ghosts and aliens. That doesn’t make the stories true.

        For the reasons I gave in my last comment, I don’t believe that I have reliable sources for the consequences you describe in your fifth point. Knowledge and experience tell me that fantastic stories written decades after the fact by true believers should be taken with a substantial grain of salt.

        As to point six, the Jews stopped sacrificing animals because the Romans destroyed their temple in 70 A.D.

        I am somewhat puzzled by your use of the word “evidence,” but perhaps it would help if I explained how I am using it.

        Evidence is an effect from which a cause may be inferred. If we find a body lying on the floor with a knife sticking out of its back, and there are little swirly patterns on the handle of the knife that match the swirly patterns on a particular person’s fingertips, we have evidence of who did the stabbing. The patterns on the knife handle are the effect of a particular person holding the knife while it entered the victim.

        • To your last point, the ‘evidence’ of the knife is one part, (and you allude to others) which leads to a conclusion…that could still be wrong. For example; a good ‘frame job’ intentionally makes the evidence point to a conclusion that is incorrect.

          Roger’s contention in this article, I believe, is to point to the best explanation of the evidence (and I think he is using it correctly) we have. Many have deduced down the facts for Christ’s resurrection to 4, 6, or any number….these ‘facts’ are generally accepted by historical scholars of any number of religious beliefs.

          You are welcome to conclude what you want (but to be intellectually honest you must admit you could be wrong), but there is evidence, no matter how flimsy some may say it is.

          God Bless

          • If Roger’s contention was merely that there is evidence, I probably would not have commented. However, he claimed that the evidence is such that “anyone willing to argue against the historical reliability is biased.” Furthermore, several things he cited as “evidence” don’t appear to me to fall within any coherent understanding of the concept.

          • Hi Vinny, I replied earlier to your evidence claim, I just wanted to hit the bias point quickly. J Warner Wallace once said (summary), “there are lots of reasons to accept the resurrection of Jesus, but only one reasons not to”. What he meant was, if you are willing to accept supernatural occurrences, Jesus’ resurrection makes the most sense of all the various points (all listed in the original post). However, if you reject supernatural (which is what I meant by bias), then you must reject the resurrection. So my point about bias, the rejection of options to fit a personal worldview.
            Hope that helps clarify.

          • I do not believe in the supernatural, but that is not a presupposition based on my personal worldview; it is a conclusion based on my knowledge and experience. I may be mistaken, but my understanding is not based on bias; it is based on my best attempts to use the brain with which I have been endowed.

            More importantly, even though I do not believe in the supernatural, I do believe in crazy crap that I cannot explain. If I were presented with compelling evidence of events that defy natural explanation, it is unlikely that I would immediately embrace a supernatural explanation because I would suspect that there still is a natural one out there somewhere. Nevertheless, I would have no qualms about acknowledging my inability to explain the evidence. Nothing would prevent me from saying “That sure is some crazy crap. That’s a good one for your side.”

            In the case of the resurrection, I have a collection of largely anonymous ancient stories based on unidentified sources which are removed an unknown number of times from the original storytellers who may or may not have had any personal knowledge of the events in question. Even when I did profess to be a Christian, I believed that the resurrection could only be affirmed as a matter of faith.

          • Ummm. Not trying to be condescending, but you know you contradict your own beliefs in your beliefs, right?
            You say, your understanding is based on your attempts to use your brain…
            Well, if you are attempting to control a physical brain then you are acting on it with an outside force (a mind). These influences are non natural–outside natural–super… natural. I’m not saying that means you must believe in God, but I am saying that materialism (the concept that rejects super natural) is false by your attempts to use reason (which is what the video in the OP is all about. Reasoning falsifies materialism.

          • I’m not trying to be condescending either, but neither am I going to go out of my way to avoid it. You know that your comment is nothing but a collection of unsupported assertions and non-sequiturs, right?

            First you assert that the mind is a force outside the brain as if this were an established fact that no reasonable person can question. You know that it’s not, right? I’m not sure of the precise point where the scientific consensus lies at the moment, but it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the mind is a product of the brain and not an independent entity.

            Even if the mind were outside the brain, it would not follow that the mind is “non-natural.” There are plenty of forces outside the brain that are natural.

            Even it the mind is deemed non-natural or outside of nature, it doesn’t follow that it is supernatural. Mathematics is an abstract concept which might be considered outside of nature, but there is no reason to call it supernatural.

            Even if the mind were deemed in some sense to be supernatural, it is not the same sense in which a man being raised from the dead is supernatural. One may perfectly reasonably believe in the existence of the mind as a force outside the brain without being impressed by the evidence that God set aside natural law two thousand years ago.

            You also assert that “materialism [is] the concept that rejects super natural,” without any explanation whatsoever. I am uncertain what you mean by “materialism,” but I suspect that it bears little relationship to the way I look at things.

            What I find most supercilious is the way that you accuse me of contradicting my own beliefs based on this string of non-sequiturs. I may of course be wrong about my conclusions, but that doesn’t make them contradictions any more than it makes them biased.

            In my experience, when apologists attack the arguments of skeptics as biased or contradictory, it means that they are unable to address the substance of the argument.

          • Hi Vinny,

            I seem to have touched a nerve; I’ll step back. My point was not a non-sequitur as it followed logically. Like this:
            1) If the mind is capable of acting independently of the brain, then the mind and the brain are different
            2) Reasoning is an ability of the mind which acts independently of the brain.
            3) Therefore, the mind and the brain are different.

            So, while I can appreciate neuroscience advances in understanding brain functionality, in no way was what I said off-base.

            Further, if all of science determined the mind and the brain to be the same that would not necessarily make it true. At one point, the whole of science unanimously agreed the world was flat. Truth is not dependent upon consensus.

            Moreover, my point was not: the mind is supernatural therefore Jesus was God. On the contrary, I only hoped to point out that there is more to the world than our own ability to live in it. We are human beings. We think and act by evaluating non-physical things like emotion. We get tingly feelings when something seems odd or off. My remarks were meant to highlight perspectives often taken for granted. That was not to say I thought you did it on purpose or with bias, but to point it out–bring it to the front.

            Hope that clarifies that I was not attacking your character or using any non-sequiturs. I enjoy our dialog and hope you do, too; by thinking through them 😉 (see what I did there *smile*)

          • I am not aware of any instances of a mind engaging in reasoning in the absence of a working brain. I would conclude therefore that the mind and reasoning are dependent upon the brain.

          • Hi Vinny,

            I have a couple thoughts on the matter. First, there are instances that I can imagine depict the mind and brain working independently. One case may be a mind producing dreams while under anesthesia. Admittedly, this may still constitute a “living” brain but it could be argued the brain is not working. On a similar note, and maybe a better case, is a near death experience. In this case, all body function can be reported “dead” but patients have reported things like tunnels, seeing God /angels/departed loved ones and such. Some research claims these are images caused by lack of oxygen but they’re not conclusive and these offer something to consider.

            Something else to consider, though is the relationship between an object and it’s shadow. A shadow is non physical, has no ability to exist without an object but the object has no concern for the shadows existence. Again, this is not a direct analogy but illustrates how two objects can work separately and independently but also harmoniously and in conjuction with each other.

            Another consideration which we really have no way to test (that I know of any way) is the brain dead. There are reports of people who claim their loved one hears them as they speak and hold hands even though the neurologist says it should be impossible. This is a claim to a mind /brain separation. Like I said, not able to test in a science lab,but honestly, science is only concerned with physical things therefore not the mind.

            I say all that with a grain of salt. None are perfect, none are conclusive,but I trust you can at least see the feasibility and possibility of the mind and brain being independent.

            Now, with that said, we have a greater issue at hand. That is the problem of the mind and brain as the same thing. If the mind and the brain are the same, free will is an illusion; your actions are competent determined by the data it receives.

            Allow me to illustrate it this way. Let’s say it’s 72deg F. I have 2 hydrogen particles in my left hand and 1 oxygen particle in my right hand. If I put them together, so you believe I will get anything other than water? What if I gave them the option of being ice, water, or steam? The molecules react to the data and temperature and produce a set result — chemical reactions don’t think. But let’s go 1 step further. Let’s say you shake 1000 chemicals together. Some react and make products other don’t. Each time you shake all ingredients you get a different result. In this scenario, you have a random generation but it’s misleading because the reactions themselves are predicated by which molecules combine when. Given enough precision, the same reactions could be determined. What we see as random is really just an unknown order of predictable chemical reactions. So again, we have no fee will even in this scenario.

            But there are more problems: training. It would be safe to say your brain and my brain are the same material make up. If we applied the same formula we should get the same result. But we don’t. If I asked you 2+2, you and I would say 4. But if we were reached asked, “what is your address?” We would give different answers. This demonstrates training and conditioning which isn’t possible if the brain is only a series of chemical reactions.

            I hope this gives you some food for thought. It’s really a fun mental exercise. If you reason your way to the conclusion the mind and the brain are the same, you must also conclude that you only came to that conclusion because the right data reacted to the right condition to a predetermined conclusion. In this case, you must conclude your ability to reason had nothing to do with the outcome. Cool, huh?

        • Thanks Vince, this helps a lot. First, I appreciate the time you took to go through each point and I especially appreciate your honesty where you had no answer (points 1&2).
          Let me sum up my position by addressing your contention with point 3. You are spot on when you talk about geography with the Mormons. If we were only to base historicity on geography, Momonism must be true. In fact, if we only base truth claims on their ability to be geographically identifiable, then Spider Man must also be true.
          However, what my point was, is we have far more evidence to consider than simply geography. In terms of Mormonism, we have writings to compare; how do they view Jesus? Is it similar or different from other writings about Jesus? What do we do with the differences? This is all part of the totality of evidence. So, if Mormons say Jesus 1 of several (3) gods and the Bible says there is only 1 God then we know that both cannot be true. Note, this doesn’t determine which is true only that both cannot be true. Therefore, we look beyond just geography and look at everything and decide what makes the most sense. I say, 1 or many god or gods make the most sense of points 1 and 2. I say only 1 God makes the most sense of point 3. I say Jesus as God makes the most sense of point 4, 5, and 6. (This is way simplistic, BTW. I take a lot more into account than this).

          We do not simply get to say I don’t know therefore no decision, we must decide based on everything we do know. Imagine a jury that refused to convict a man who: admitted guilt, had a witness, left finger prints, and told people before the crime he was going to do it, because there may be another possible reason we haven’t thought of yet. All those pieces are in the Jesus narrative.

          This is running long for a comment, but let me address my issue with your definition of evidence. Evidence isn’t always physical. Let’s say a body is found with slash marks all over, a bullet hole or two, and some limbs are mangled. You find the body has been through major trauma, but…there is no blood at the site you find the body. In this case, the lack of evidence (blood) leads to the conclusion the body was moved. Not only can you now use non-evidence (lack of blood) but you can also use inferences like whatever or whoever moved the body must be big enough to do so. Let’s say the body was 300 lbs, you can infer more than one person was likely involved.
          Using this picture, you tell me the cause: We have something not nothing, we have morality, we have thousands of manuscripts of a poor carpenters son, we have conversion testimonies, we have rapid responses to the message, we have family members vouching for the testimony, we have embarrassing testimony substantiating the claim. These are not your cause and effect physical evidence with swirly blood stained fingerprints, but they are evidence nonetheless.

          Hope that helps clarify. Are there more questions you have? Did I get something wrong? I appreciate you.

          • “Imagine a jury that refused to convict a man who: admitted guilt, had a witness, left finger prints, and told people before the crime he was going to do it, because there may be another possible reason we haven’t thought of yet. All those pieces are in the Jesus narrative.”

            Roger , you are only right in your last sentence. “All those pieces are in the Jesus narrative.”

            None of the other points in the paragraph above were reported in the Bible by eye witness accounts.

            Even Bishop John Shelby Spong says, “First, while not one word of the New Testament was written without a firm commitment to the reality of the Easter experience, we need to recognize that none of the Bible’s sources represents eye-witness, first generation reporting. Second, there is hardly an Easter detail proclaimed in one part of the New Testament that is not contradicted in another. A quick glance makes this case.”

            If you were born into a Mormon or Muslim family , I am highly confident you would be preaching an entirely different story. This is what you fail to see or want to admit.

            I am going out of town for business today but will be working on my longer response on my blog for publishing later this week.

          • KC,

            You make three points in this reply:
            1) “None of the the other points in the paragraph above were reported in the Bible by eye witness accounts”
            2) “There is hardly an Easter detail proclaimed in one part of the New Testament that is not contradicted in another”
            3) “If you were born into a Mormon or Muslim family, I am highly confident you would be preaching an entirely story”

            1) Given testimony like that of 1 John 1, what makes you believe the points above?
            2) Can you provide contradictions within the Biblical narrative specifically as it realates to the resurrection?
            3) What drew you to this conclusion. Can I ask, what is the family belief you were born into and how does that affect your current beliefs? Is belief a genetic make-up?

            Also, have a great and safe trip. Thanks again for growth in dialog, you are truly appreciated.

          • Hey Roger, I have a brief moment during my business travels and I want to at least address your first question above.

            My first point you are referring to: “1) “None of the the other points in the paragraph above were reported in the Bible by eye witness accounts”

            Your question ,”1) Given testimony like that of 1 John 1, what makes you believe the points above?” And here is 1John 1 you are giving evidence as an eye witness, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

            The Oxford Bible Commentary says, “The “we” who have heard, seen and touched are never further identified, and elsewhere the author writes as an individual. Seeing, hearing and witnessing is the foundation of his argument, but the epistle and the debate about authorship do NOT suggest that he was an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus or even associated with others who were; all believers can make a similar claim and the “we” which here contrasts with “you” , the readers, elsewhere includes them.

            biblegateway.co commentary says about 1 John !, “For these and other reasons scholars suggest that the “Elder” may not have been an eyewitness, but a follower of one who was an eyewitness. But if he is not an eyewitness, then he is closely tied to one who is, and he is zealous for the preservation of that person’s witness. Yet his own testimony is no less important or valid.”

          • Hi KC,
            Thanks for taking time during your trip to interact. I’ll be brief as I think you are looking at 1st CE as though it were 21st CE. What I mean by that is your counter point is a modern understanding of writing.

            The line of questioning is, “Why no eye-witness writings”. I countered with a verse summarized as “we saw, we heard…”. At that you posted here, John was part of a group of witnesses but he wasn’t the actual witness.

            So my question: And?

            The point still remains, eye witnesses were involved. So if John didn’t see it, but his best friend (or trusted companion) did, does that make his words false? Do you need to see everything those you trust tell you? I’m sure you can retort, I’d need to see *that* no matter how much I trust him. But how do you know he didn’t? Even the quote you grabbed from biblegateway includes, “Yet his own testimony is no less important of valid”.

            What I mean to say is, the authorship doesn’t change the truth. I could write a whole post on how hard it was to write anything in those days: the cost, the training, the ability, etc. We can’t hold ancient text to our current standards.

            Hope that clarifies my position.

          • “Hi KC,
            Thanks for taking time during your trip to interact. I’ll be brief as I think you are looking at 1st CE as though it were 21st CE. What I mean by that is your counter point is a modern understanding of writing.”

            I have heard other apologetics use this claim before and I believe you are all on to something here without realizing it. The Bible (NT) is a 1st CE series of writings meant for 1st CE people. Period. Much of the N.T. contains “last day” warnings 17 times the word parousia is used to describe the soon coming of Christ and it didn’t happen. Even C.S. Lewis admits in his book , The World’s Last Night, ” the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else”

            This is why I believe we have much of the civil unrest throughout the world today Roger. We have too many people trying to bring their ancient religions and applying them to a 21st century world.

          • “Even the quote you grabbed from biblegateway includes, “Yet his own testimony is no less important of valid”.

            Yes Roger, I knew this when I pasted it. I don’t only use sources which support my view. We can and are guilty of only using evidence which support our views don’t you agree ? 🙂 Then it becomes a matter of score keeping. If I have more sources for my view then my view must be right. 🙂

          • Roger 2) Can you provide contradictions within the Biblical narrative specifically as it realates to the resurrection?

            kcchief , Everyone knows what they are. You have explained them away (in your opinion elsewhere) , we are at a stalemate there.

            kcchief ” 3) “If you were born into a Mormon or Muslim family, I am highly confident you would be preaching an entirely story”

            Roger says, “3) What drew you to this conclusion. Can I ask, what is the family belief you were born into and how does that affect your current beliefs? Is belief a genetic make-up?”

            I was raised Assembly of God (very fundamental) . I firmly believe I was indoctrinated. It took me 50 years to realize my Christian religion was man made which ultimately led to the conclusion all religion is man made.

            I have never professed to be an Atheist. I used to consider myself a Theist but if I am honest with myself, I am an Agnostic, “I cannot know”.

          • So you understand my point, then? I can appreciate certain aspects of religion that seem to come from parents: training, pleasing, appeasing, and others. I can appreciate not knowing any other way or having a great deal of trust in what your parents say. I can appreciate not wanting to let them down or holding on to uncertainty longer because it’s all you’ve ever known. But that’s not where we are. Christianity is a relationship. I don’t say that with any condescending nature, but in a way to even hightlight your own story: you chose to leave the religion. You have that choice because it’s not indoctrination. It’s not genetic. It’s not forced. Muslims convert to Christianity daily. Native Americans convert daily. Atheist…convert daily. And yes, Christians, leave the faith (even if it takes 50 years).

            Eventually, we all must ask ourselves the hard questions: Where did life come from? Does God exist? If so, which God(s)? These are hard, yes. But also really important because the answers have eternal significance. I don’t write that in terms of guilt or in a modified version of Pascals Wager, I write that in the strict sense, that the question–and subsequent answers–are significant.

            KC, I have no doubt that you have spent years wrestling with these questions. I feel your pain in time you believe you lost from false understandings. My heart breaks for how that transition must have made you feel (at least as you first started wrestling with it). But I don’t think that means you should give up. You say agnostic, you cannot know. But I hope you keep seeking. Not to prove God exists (or doesn’t). But I hope you see there are answers. I hope I can at least provide a new perspective that you can consider. I believe we’ve met for a reason. May I pray for you?

          • Sorry Roger, I missed your reply here. I am still traveling and somehow overlooked this.

            You said, “you chose to leave the religion. You have that choice because it’s not indoctrination.”

            I highly disagree with you here Roger. I was without a doubt indoctrinated. It was using reason that helped me realize I had been indoctrinated. As I have stated before Roger, I have been where you are today. I ignored the counter arguments when I was your age because I was taught to do so. I couldn’t doubt my religious beliefs or the whole house of cards would fall. This is what indoctrination is. “Indoctrination often refers to religious ideas, when you’re talking about a religious environment that doesn’t let you question or criticize those beliefs.” (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/indoctrination)

          • (Curious) Would you say all Christianity rejects objections?
            I guess I’m asking, do you believe the indoctrination you went through is the norm/is the way Christianity is intended/no Christians think critically (like thinking critically necessitates, some how, a rejection of Christianity)?

            Lastly, honest question, you’ve said a couple times you were in my shoes, do you believe I’m not criticizing my beliefs fairly?

            Why did you first question your beliefs?

          • “(Curious) Would you say all Christianity rejects objections?” Of course not.
            “do you believe I’m not criticizing my beliefs fairly?” I’m not sure where I have seen you do this. 🙂 But you may have and I simply didn’t see it.

            “Why did you first question your beliefs?” I watched a TV Program about 12 years ago about the books that didn’t make it into the Bible. This caused me to go to Barns & Noble and buy the Nag Hammadi Library.

            Later, a Bible Study I was hosting of 7 other men from my church was on King David and the sin(s) he committed with Bathsheba . I was troubled when I read that 1.)God took David’s baby son’s life when the law required David to be killed. 2.) That God chose someone to have sex with David’s wives in public as another punishment. I told the other men at the Bible Study, I couldn’t accept this. This was an act of a sadistic God, not the God I served. 2 Sam12:11,12

  5. Roger, I think the extensive similarity of flood stories (from China to the Ameican Indians) & dragon myths (dinosaur anyone?) are two very compelling evidence of common ancestry of mankind, which the Bible contends

  6. Roger , I am working on my respond to your post. I have decided to post it on my blog as it will be long and I don’t want to clutter up things here. I will let you know when it is done. Thanks again for allowing me to comment here.

  7. I’ve been glancing through some of these comments requesting “additional evidence outside of the Scriptures” and just need to chime in real quick with a couple of points.
    1) Just because all of the eyewitness evidence was collected and compiled into a collection does not disqualify the testimony. This logic would cause you to reject court room documents of proceedings and evidence because you couldn’t find anything outside of that collection to substantiate it..
    2) This requirement is not placed on any other archeological finds by which we understand ancient history. We understand many battles and conquests only because we find them documented on a single memorial stone and we publish it as the historical document that it is. The only time there is issue is when two accounts are found and they differ; most often this has to do with “who won the battle” leaving the fact that there was a battle. No one says there was no battle just because the victor is in dispute.
    3) My last point is that of reason… there is no doubt that something very real and very powerful took place that changed the world and changed lives both then and continues to do so now. this event became the pivot point around which we look at history, There had to have been some very very compelling evidence for this event to have changed the course of nations… people testified of it knowing it would cost them their freedom and possibly their lives.
    If I go to a community in the Midwest and see a line of demolished houses and downed trees and power lines through the middle of town I don’t need to speak with an eyewitness to understand that a tornado has gone through that community.
    Compelling evidence does not require a first hand eyewitness account. Our courts (especially today) use (and rely on) forensic evidence and in fact the forensic evidence has often showed the so called eyewitness to be in error (or lying)

    Your brother in Christ,
    Michael

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