Some have said that liars make poor martyrs. The apostles’ willingness to suffer and die for their belief in Jesus’ resurrection shows they were sincere. And unlike jihadi terrorists who die for their beliefs, the disciples died saying they were eyewitnesses to the resurrection. But have Christian apologists overstated their case? Popular atheist YouTuber Paulogia says that they have. Big time. Here I go over the case for the apostles being willing to suffer and die for their claims, and examine Paulogia’s skepticism.
Skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman claim that the gospels aren’t based on eyewitness testimony but are mostly legends that grew with the telling. However, New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham defies that hypothesis. He argues that the presence of particular names is very strange unless they were eyewitnesses behind their stories. Why is that? Aside from the apostles and a few important figures, most people in the gospels are nameless. Using Mark as an example, Jesus heals an unnamed leper, a paralyzed man, a demoniac, the woman with the issue of blood, the Syrophoenician woman, a blind man, and an epileptic boy. There’s also the unnamed rich young ruler, the poor widow, and the woman who … Read more
Many of you are probably familiar with Pascal’s wager. The famous 17th-century mathematician believed that evidence alone doesn’t fully settle the question of God’s existence. So Pascal proposed that you should bet on God because of what’s at stake. We can show his argument with this decision-making matrix. If God exists and we commit to God, we’ll experience an infinite good — heaven. If God exists and we don’t have faith, we might go to hell, and well, that’s no Bueno. Infinite no Bueno. If God doesn’t exist, then whatever we’d gain or lose would only be finite. So, the smart money says bet on God as long as the chances of theism being correct … Read more
Previously I’ve discussed what the early church fathers said about the authorship of the Gospels. We saw that they believed Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote them, and there wasn’t a shred of disagreement over it. This attestation of authorship is early and geographically diverse, and there’s no competing tradition. But there’s even earlier evidence we can look at — the early use of the Gospels. Many early church writers use the Gospels without mentioning or describing their authors. This takes us back even further than the evidence in the earlier video. If you’re quoting something as authoritative to your audience, it means you assume they’ll recognize the quotes and accept them as genuine. That’s … Read more
How can we tell the Gospels are trustworthy? One way is by fact-checking them against details of their contemporary history. If the Gospel writers make incidental references to historical facts we can test, it would show the evangelists knew their setting. And it would also show their truthfulness in reporting matters of detail. A stark example of this is the case of John the Baptist. We get some interesting pieces of corroborating evidence about John from the Jewish historian Josephus.
Before becoming an atheist, Genetically Modified Skeptic believed he had religious experiences. But later, he reasoned that whatever he felt, it was all in his head. According to Drew, arguments from religious experience are about as compelling as the evidence for the healing power of essential oils. Drew provides two main reasons why he rejects the argument from religious experience that I respond to, including the “neurotheology” objection and the conflicting claims objection. I also provide a couple of cases of evidentially compelling religious experiences, including my own testimony.
How did Christians get the doctrine of the virgin birth? Counter-apologist Paulogia says it was a mix of Matthew’s creativity and stupidity. Paul and other critics say that Matthew was too quick to connect Jesus to the Old Testament, even if it caused him to get sloppy and make a fool out of himself. So to bolster Jesus’ Messianic credentials, he invented the virgin birth story. He did this by misreading the Greek version of Isaiah 7:14, which does use the word virgin or parthenos in Greek. But the original Hebrew passage wasn’t referring to a virgin at all, but a young woman. If Isaiah was prophesying a virgin birth, he would have used the … Read more
Christians are often duped by the common mistake called the ‘fallacy of the expert witness.’ While there’s nothing wrong with appealing to expert authorities, fancy credentials can’t cover up weak arguments. Enter Bart Ehrman. Dr. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He’s written several scholarly and popular-level works that cast doubt on the reliability of the New Testament. As an agnostic, one reason Ehrman says we should reject the resurrection of Jesus is that the Gospel narratives are “hopelessly contradictory.” But are they really? What is his case for this?
Carl Sagan popularized the slogan “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Skeptics use this phrase like a cudgel when arguing against historical miracle claims. But is this pithy slogan true? This is an excerpt from a talk by Dr. Tim McGrew of Western Michigan entitled “How to Think About Miracles.” Dr. McGrew shows this famous slogan is too slippery and generally unhelpful. It is not a good argument against miracle claims — like the resurrection of Jesus.
Skeptics love to tell Christians that the Gospel stories developed over time, adding more mythological elements as they went along. Matthew and Luke copied Mark plus added more fables. And then you get John’s Gospel, which is total theological fan-fiction according to the critics. But if that’s true, why do the Gospels have interlocking details that seem to be unlikely if they were just copied from each other or some other common source? The Gospels frequently add passing details that answer a question raised by the other in a way that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Fictions and forgeries don’t work that way. Some scholars call these undesigned coincidences. So what the heck is an undesigned … Read more