The Skeptic’s Problem of Coherence

co·her·ence (k-hîrns, -hr-)


1. The quality or state of cohering, especially a logical, orderly, and aesthetically consistent relationship of parts.
2. Physics The property of being coherent, as of waves.

i.e. Consistency and accordance with the facts; antonym: incoherent “a rambling argument that lacked any consistency”

It’s easy for skeptics to offer various explanations for each point of the minimal facts argument for Jesus resurrection. But for their account to be feasible, each answer must be coherent with the others and the totality of the evidence. For instance, crazypills2 wants to offer that Jesus body was stolen as an answer for the empty tomb. Yet the disciples belief in Jesus resurrection was based on appearances not the empty tomb. In fact, Mary Magdalene’s first offering was that, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (Jn. 20:2b)  No one assumed or expected resurrection,  they believed because they saw Jesus. When one looks at the empty tomb in light of the disciples sincere belief that Jesus physically appeared to them, theft of the body is rendered inconsistent. So can hallucinations account for the appearances?

While it is true that distraught individuals may hallucinate, the disciples describe touching Jesus and group hallucinations are not feasible on naturalistic grounds. Offering appearances of the alleged virgin Mary (likely a deception) actually backfires by evidencing the supernatural more than it does hallucination. Either way, his asserting Mairan apparitions to evidence group hallucination is merely an assumption at best. Furthermore, Paul was not psychologically predisposed to see Jesus and neither was James (Mk. 3:21). In fact they were biased in the opposite direction. So expectation bias/bereavement causing hallucination fails to account for the appearances. Additionally, the claim that Paul merely had a vision is not consistent with Paul’s stated beliefs. Paul wrote of a physical material resurrection body and Jesus “in the flesh” in many places (Rom. 1:3, 2 Cor. 5:16, Rom 9:5) and he describes the resurrection body as the lowly earthly body in a transformed state (Phil. 3:21). It is incoherent to claim Paul did not believe in a solid physical resurrected Jesus.

What are the odds that the disciples all shared hallucinations, including multi-sensory experiences of touching, seeing, and hearing combined with the improbability of a skeptic like James and an enemy in Paul having visions of the same Jesus? These “hallucinations” would have to be so convincing as to prompt such a radical shift in world view that Paul and James would give their very lives… now that would take a miracle!

Transhumanist Debate Heats Up!

Transhumanism is an ambitious philosophy that is gaining popularity as people seek to break through the perceived limitations biology places on human development. Of course this is categorically different territory than assisting the handicapped, this is techno-Darwinism if you will. Adherents to this worldview plan to extend lifespans, augment the senses, boost memory capacity, and generally use technology to improve the human condition. Yet this depends on a myriad of variables. Can we account for them all? We could end up with the 6 Million Dollar Man or the Frankenstein monster. And what does it mean to be a post human? What are the spiritual consequences? Of course, only an elite few will be able to afford the enhancements… and where will that leave the rest of us? Atheistic scientists have no qualms about tampering with God’s designs. Perhaps CS Lewis’ Abolition of Man is coming true? The transhumanist agenda is clear:

Christian author, former Pastor and church executive, Thomas Horn, recently issued this:

Time running out to influence debate on transhumanism

Tom’s letter is an excellent summation of the current state of affairs and also serves as a primer for the uninformed. He is certainly sounding an alarm but nothing in his work amounts to a personal attack or attempt to exaggerate. The technologies and programs he lists are a matter of public record. It’s well worth your time to read and ponder. The implications are staggering.

In response, Patrick Lin, an atheist academic type from the National Science Foundation wrote this, On Wrestling with a Pig: Getting Dirty in a Debate, actually having the nerve to call Mr. Horn a pig.

Lin burns straw men, painting Tom as an obscurantist fanatic holding back progress. His condescending tone is only outdone by his penchant for logical fallacy. Red herrings galore and civility is abandoned in favor of name calling. It’s really amazing that this sophomoric level of discourse comes from a someone who is supposed to be an academic and a philosopher. More serious theologians and Christian philosophers need to step up and get involved in the discussion.

A Prophetic Warning From 1961!

Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer was in many ways a prophet. He saw this coming and issued a warning back in 1961! In this video production of How Should We Then Live? he said, “Who will control the controllers? And what will happen now that the line between what man should do and what he can do is obliterated? And if man is only a conditioned machine, what is the value of the continuation of mankind?”

At 6:49 in part 2 Dr. Schaeffer touches on what we today call transhumanism:

His summation gives me chills up my spine. We have arrived!

Indeed, how shall we now live in 2010?

History 101 – Resurrection Challenge

These are just a few principles that historians use to make determinations about sources and testimony. I learned these from Habermas and Licona’s book The Case For the Resurrection of Jesus. Many of the replies I have received on Youtube reveal that skeptics resort to attacking the bible rather than accounting for the historical evidence. When a critic attempts to simply dismiss the bible out of hand, he is committing what is known as the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on its origin. Basically because the bible is a religious book they dismiss it as a historical source. Yet the truth is the New Testament has proven itself reliable over and over again. For instance, skeptics used to claim Pontius Pilate was a fictional character until archeologists uncovered a stone monument bearing his name. There have been many such vindications. A 19th century archeologist,  Sir William Ramsay , set out to expose the book of Acts as a work of fiction but after thorough investigation he ended up being so impressed by Luke’s accuracy that he converted from skeptic to christian believer. He wrote,

    Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense…in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.1

The New Testament is regarded as historically accurate as far as its mundane claims, thus the skeptic cannot simply dismiss its testimony to the miraculous. The evidence is abundant and compelling. How do you account for it?


1 Sir William M. Ramsey, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, Hodder & Stoughton, 1915.

Fact One : Jesus Died by Crucifixion

A few skeptics like ReligionFreeDeist on YT have questioned why Fact 1 is part of the 5 fact argument. They are missing the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions. While not sufficient, Jesus death by crucifixion is a necessary precondition to the resurrection. It is only denied by a few fringe skeptics. This video unpacks the historical data from various sources, assessment by medical professionals and establishes that the most plausible hypothesis is that Jesus did indeed die an excruciating death by crucifixion.

Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case For the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids MI: Kregel Publications, 2004.