Closing statement: fuzzyh
One can question everything and be skeptical of everything. Yet there comes a day in the court of law in which we must deal with the issues ahead of us. We must act upon the evidence that we receive at a given time. We cannot live a reasonable life being skeptical of all things.
It may be stated that the large majority of New Testament Scholars believe that Jesus Christ lived around the 1st century. Most hold that Jesus was some type of charismatic leader. This lead in deed lead to a death upon the cross.
This leads us to what happened after this supposed death. A body would deter many reasonable people from believing in Christian as my opponent concedes. Luke writes, "The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7) Opponents of the faith come to believe that Jesus Christ raised from the dead. These were many of the same people who had him killed. This statement makes it extremely clear that a significant population of Christians were in Jerusalem. I'm certain that there is debate about using Luke, but most New Testament scholars have found Luke to be amazingly accurate in his writings.
So no doubt we must look at the best theory of the evidence. What my opponent continually attempts to prove is that a miracle is not possible, therefore the resurrection is false. He has ruled out that possibility from the very beginning. Claiming that there is not enough evidence for this miracle. That it can be explained by psychological phenomena.
In the process, he has used apparently arbitrarily Luke, in which the only justification of this is that it is an imperfect source. However, the real question regarding that passage is how he determines which part is false and which part is true. Otherwise, he is entirely inconsistent.
The situation concerning The Amityville Horror is a bit different. The same internet and communication networks today allow both legend/myth and truth to be transmitted very fast. However, we must understand that the Resurrection of Christ is not just a movie. This was a major event. We must remember that this death and resurrection took place in the same place. Except the apostles, the priests would have no sway to convert nor would the general public who also wanted Jesus killed. Based upon this culture the myth could not start in this place and would be easy to disprove, unless the myth came from outside of Jerusalem. But that is not what our history says.
Based upon all th evidence, I think that it is most reasonable to believe that Jesus Christ died upon the cross and rose from the dead. Paul explains that this is for the forgiveness of sins and that we can be forgiven of our own sins based upon the death and resurrection.
Closing statement: Hallquist
You've repeatedly failed to deal with my position here. You've talked about a priori exclusion of miracles, "the assumption that miracles don't happen," and my supposed attempt to "prove that a miracle is not possible." What I said in my opening statement, however is that modern information on supernatural claims creates a "strong suspicion" that ancient miracle claims are also false. This is a conclusion based on evidence--a posteriori rather than a priori.
Similarly, you treat my call for skepticism (which was citing a concession that you made) almost as a call for Phyrrhoism, constantly suspending judgement and "being skeptical of all things." What I'm arguing for, though, is for being skeptical of one class of things--miracles--and not being skeptical in the sense of suspending judgement, but demanding solid evidence. You didn't deal with any of my proposals for how to do this, leaving open the question of what exactly you meant when you said, quote, "we should be skeptical about such occurances."
So I think my point stands: we need a lot better evidence for miracle claims than other claims.
I see only two attempts to shore up the evidence for the resurrection: the passing claim that most scholars find Luke reliable, and the discussion of the Amityville Horror.
One the first claim, the problem with appealing to the majority of scholars is that most scholars are Christians of a fairly conventional, if not fundamentalist, variety. One survey of the scholarly literature found that 75% of scholars think that the resurrection occured in an objective sense (1). This makes finding out that a majority of New Testament scholars support the Christian position rather like finding out that a majority of Qur'an scholars believe the Qur'an could not have been written by a human being: it tells you more about the predispositions of the scholars than about the truth of the religion.
I'm gong to try to break down the statements about the Amityville Horror:
- Telecommunication: yes, modern telecommunication helps legends spread, but as I argued in my last statement, lack of it would hurt skeptics more than believers
- The resurrection was a major event: Quick, list the major events from 1910-1920. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that WWI and related events come to mind, but the sun miracle at Fatima (similar to what happened in Georgia, see my opening statement) does not. Yet this involved over a hundred times as many people as were ever claimed as witnesses to the resurrection. The resurrection resembles the supernatural claims in the "true story" of the Amityville in that the number of alleged witnesses, if somewhat larger, was still limitted and not public. The resurrection was not a public occurrence in the manner of the Jewish Revolt c. 70 A.D.
- Myth could not start in Jerusalem: First, I'm not arguing that the story is entirely mythical, just that we have no assurance that it wasn't distorted as it was re-told. There were plenty of other places for embellishments to spring up other than Jerusalem. After all, Christianity had spread to Rome within a few decades of Jesus' death, and Rome is over a thousand miles from Jerusalem. Even Antioch was 300 miles away, more than enough distance to interfere with fact checking. Furthermore, legends can spring up in the locale where they are set. In Lucian's The Passing of Peregrinus, Lucian indulges in some rumor-mongering and has no trouble getting people to believe wild tales about the portents that accompanied Peregrinus' death.
1) Gary Habermas, "Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What Are Critical Scholars Saying?" Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. Vol 3.2 pp.136-140