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4 weeks ago
who would win
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I can also point you to staunch athiests who researched to disprove these things and ended up becoming believers, such as Lee Strobel and William Lane Craig. The evidence is there, but I can tell you from personal experience that it will only ever get you most of the way there. In the end, you must decide to believe what you read, hear, or see.
Lee Strobel was already a Christian when he researched and wrote The Case For Christ. He had been a Christian for at least a decade.
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... but I can show you evidence. Like the writings of historical witnesses such as Josephus; Tacitus; Pliny the Younger; Luke, the Jewish Physician who included many details in his writings that have been confirmed by archaeology and other historians; or Saul, the brilliant student of Rabban Gamaliel, who suddenly turned from Christian persecutor to follower.
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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The resurrection of Jesus is an extraordinary claim. The evidence provided falls far, far short of extraordinary. I'll go through yours.
Josephus: not a contemporary of Jesus (having been born in 37CE), so not an eyewitness to anything he did. Also, the passage in his writings which mentions the resurrection (known as the Testimonium Flavianum) is a known forgery, likely added a couple centuries later by a Christian, possible Eusebius. Even Christian apologists will admit it's a forgery.
Tacitus: not a contemporary of Jesus, so not an eyewitness to anything he did
Pliny the Younger: not a contemporary of Jesus, so not an eyewitness to anything he did
Luke: doesn't claim to have been an eyewitness to anything Jesus did
Saul converted to Christianity, but that proves nothing. People convert from one religion to another all the time.
Lee Strobel was already a Christian when he wrote The Case For Christ. That was written in 1998. He has been a Christian since the 80s, so he wasn't an atheist when he did his research for the book. This is evident from the horribly softball questions he asks his interviewees, and his astounding credulity regarding their answers.
I don't know if William Lane Craig was ever an atheist or not.
What it comes down to is this: it is claimed that Jesus rose from the dead three days after he died. What is our evidence? Four gospels, written anonymously, decades after the supposed event. This is supposed to be the single most important event in human history, and we have no reliable evidence for it whatsoever. No writings mention it until 30-40 years later (and those writings don't even agree with each other on the details, such as was the stone already rolled away when the women got there, or not?). No eyewitness testimony from the time it happened. We don't even know for certain where he was buried, if he was buried at all. Even if we knew where he was buried, an empty tomb proves nothing except that it is empty. If an empty tomb proves that he rose from the dead, then my empty wallet proves I am a millionaire, and just spent all my money.
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To start with Josephus, the Testimonium Flavianum is not a "known forgery", though it is *generally* thought that Eusebius added language that most (myself included) think doesn't sound like Josephus.
"Not a contemporary" of Jesus does not render these historians as worthless witnesses. They were not so far removed from Jesus' time that they could not easily find eye witnesses. I am not a contemporary of JFK, but I could find plenty of people who are, and write about what he did. And the fact that he died a few decades ago does not mean I can't write an accurate account. In fact, Luke states that he researched what happened so there could be a record for the followers.
Yes, people convert between religions all the time, but why? Usually because they weren't really convinced of what they said/thought they believed. Saul was a zealot, extremely knowledgeable and sold out for Judaism. Yet he suddenly converted to Christianity. Why? What causes a person to do a 180 like that? Likewise, most of the other apostles suffered horrible deaths rather than recant their claim that Jesus *did* die and rise from the grave. Why? I can understand if some follower hundreds of years down the line becomes convinced enough of what they are *told* that they die for it, but these men knew what was true, and they died for it.
J. Warner Wallace, a cold-case homicide detective, says that the differing details between the four gospels does not mean that they were made up, but quite the opposite: that they were accounts of different witnesses. If a lawyer questions four witnesses of a murder and they all tell exactly the same story, he knows that they colluded, and their story is highly suspect. On the other hand, if the overall story matches but details differ (were there two angels, or one? Was Peter alone or did John accompany him to the tomb?) the lawyer knows each person is telling his own account, as he/she remembers it. The lawyer can then piece together a cohesive account from their stories.
Christianity is an historical religion, and Jesus' historicity is its foundation. If that crumbles, the whole edifice falls with it. However, it has held for a long time against attack.
The Testimonium is so strongly concluded to be a forgery that even Christian apologists concede this. If Eusebius did in fact add to the writings of Josephus, that makes what he added a forgery, by definition.
Not being a contemporary of Jesus doesn't mean they couldn't have talked to eyewitnesses, that's true. But it still makes anything they write hearsay. Also, just because they could have hypothetically talked to eyewitnesses doesn't mean they actually did.
At least with JFK, we have things he himself wrote, as well as photographic and video footage of him.
What made Saul radically convert? I don't know and I can't ask him. But the fact that people do it all the time doesn't prove anything. Matt Dillahunty was a Southern Baptist for 25 years and even planned to become a pastor. Now he's an outspoken atheist.
Being willing to die for a belief doesn't prove that belief is true. Not in the slightest. You can't say they "knew what was true", because you aren't them, so you don't know what they knew.
J. Warner Wallace's arguments are very lousy. I've heard them. One of his common tactics is to accuse skeptics of having "an anti-supernatural bias". I'm sorry, but until the supernatural has been proven to exist, I have no reason to consider it as a possible explanation for or cause of anything at all. When he was investigating cold case homicides, did he rule out the possibility of interdimensional homicidal magic pixies? If so, why? That clearly shows an anti-magic-pixie bias. If not, then he shouldn't be investigating homicides.
Some of the discrepancies in the gospels are large enough for me to conclude that they are not reliable.
"Christianity is an historical religion, and Jesus' historicity is its foundation. If that crumbles, the whole edifice falls with it. However, it has held for a long time against attack."
So has Buddhism. So has Islam. So has Hinduism (which predates Christianity). And so do Mormonism, Sikhism, etc.
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I believed, and now I can see proof in my own life. Love, joy, and the peace that comes from having all my burdens lifted off my shoulder
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Love, joy and peace are feelings. Feelings are not proof that Christianity is true.
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