Resurrection Challenge Winners

Congratulations to ReligionFreeDeist and evangelical1 for winning the Resurrection challenge.

Why are naturalistic explanations preferred?

(hover the mouse pointer over the scripture references)

What happens if you do acknowledge the evidence for the resurrection?

Then you have to take Jesus seriously… (Jn. 18:37)

Jesus taught that man is hopelessly sinful and lost. This is an inconvenient truth, also it’s not a likely human invention. (Jn. 8:34)

It’s also extremely distasteful if you believe you are a ‘good’ person.  (Mrk. 10:18)

He taught that the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in a place called hell. This is radically different from Judaism it was Jesus’ new teaching — another inconvenient and very unattractive idea from a humanist perspective — why would human beings make this up? (Matt. 10:28)

Jesus dies for our sins, and this seems weird to us, even unjust. Yet it has coherence with the Torah’s sacrificial system and especially with the account of  Abraham taking Isaac up on the mountain.  The concluding message was that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. (Gen. 22: 8, 22:14)

Then John the Baptist comes along and declares Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29)

Jesus teaches that this is not something you can earn with your good behavior, but salvation is a free gift from God (Jn. 15:16). This is an idea that appears in no other world religion, unmerited grace.  We like to take pride in our accomplishments. This is just not something men would come up with. (Eph. 2:8)

To receive this free gift of salvation,  it is a requirement to acknowledge the resurrection.(Rom 10:9)

If the message of Jesus has opened you to the need for forgiveness and to the reality of God… then perhaps the anti-supernatural dogma might lose its power over your mind. The evidence is there and it is compelling.

After all… who are you? what are you?  your mind, your consciousness, your sense of self is an immaterial reality that transcends naturalistic explanation. So why the insistence on only naturalistic explanations? (1 Cor 2:14)

Could it be that openness to a supernatural explanation is not prejudice to believe in the resurrection, but freedom from prejudice against it?

Skeptics and the Genetic Fallacy

In this case, the skeptic never deals with the evidence at all, he simply avoids it.  Some skeptics just will not accept anything at all that comes from the bible. If the bible claimed that circles were round, I believe this guy actually might not accept it. Seriously, it is a common yet fallacious way to argue. Unfortunately, it is so common that it has a name,  this avoidance tactic is known as the genetic fallacy.

Genetic Fallacy: This is a special type of reductive fallacy in which the single issue focused on is the source or origin of an idea. The argument demands, “Something (or someone) should be rejected because it (or he) comes from a bad source.”[i]

In my original argument I said that it is not necessary to believe biblical inerrancy to accept the minimal facts argument.  I certainly affirm inerrancy and believe the bible is the inspired word of God. Borrowing from John Piper, I understand that inerrancy means fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.[ii] The bible is “without error” in the sense that all that the biblical authors intended to teach is true and does not conflict with reality or with the will of God. Yet to grasp the weight of resurrection evidence all that is needed is to accept the New Testament in the same way as any other piece of ancient literature. Historians routinely pour over ancient documents and extract what they consider “historical”, the minimal facts argument for Jesus resurrection employs just that sort of data.  It is not valid for the critic to dismiss the data because it comes from a source he personally dislikes.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

(1 Co 1:18)

[i] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason : An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1990), 107.

[ii]John Piper, Why We Believe the Bible (accessed 10/01/2010)

Video I referenced by John Ankerberg

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!

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.

That Amazing Creed in 1 Corinthians 15

I will allow the video to speak for itself. This project represents quite a bit of research into textual critical theories and I hope I made it understandable to a lay person. We really do have eye witness testimony to the risen Jesus!