Video: Did the Feeding of the 5000 Really Happen?

According to the Gospels, Jesus fed the 5000 with fives loaves, and two fish. But is this a legend, or a historically reliable account? I believe it is historical, largely due to the evidence of undesigned coincidences. Philosopher Lydia McGrew defines undesigned coincidences as “a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned by the person or people giving the accounts. Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a puzzle.” These are hard to fake and even more unlikely to come about by pure chance in fictional or manipulated stories. Fictions and forgeries don’t normally converge. Or when they do, it’s in an … Read more

Playlist: How Christianity (Probably DIdn’t) Begin | Response to Paulogia

Paulogia is an absolute machine when it comes to responding to arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Many have asked me to respond to his arguments. In a short video, Paulogia explains how Christianity began without the resurrection, so I figured that was a good starting point. I realize that he has a whole lot more to say on this topic, but I think this is a pretty good summary of his hypothesis. In this three-part series, I examine Paul’s epistemology regarding miracles, as well as his psycho-historical speculations of the apostles. Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner … Read more

Video: A Religiously Neutral Method for Judging Miracles

Miracles seem to be a special pleading problem for Christians. The Bible claims many miracles that we often take for granted. But we turn into Richard Dawkins when other religions claim miracles. David Hume made the same complaint in his “Of Miracles” essay. What if I said Christians can meet this challenge? Enter John Douglas. Douglas was an Anglican bishop who responded to Hume’s essay. In response, Douglas offered religiously neutral criteria to filter out unverifiable miracle claims. So what were the criteria? Douglas said we can rationally doubt a miracle when… It is first reported long after the alleged miracle occurred. It is first reported far away from where the alleged miracle happened. If … Read more

The Gospels Are Embarrassing for the Apostles

If you want people to trust their leaders, you usually would try to paint them in the best light possible. You don’t go out of your way to undermine their authority. But that isn’t what we see at all in the Gospels. Those who would eventually lead the church often look impulsive, incompetent, boastful, and stupid. If the Gospels are supposed to be PR for the apostles, their propaganda team was a dismal failure.  This kind of information is what NT scholars call the criteria of embarrassment. In his book, Marginal Jew, Meier writes: The point of the criterion is that the early church would hardly have gone out of its way to create material … Read more

Did the Disciples Die as Martyrs? | Paulogia Response

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. Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and handmade decor business with his wife, … Read more

Video: The Early Use of the Gospels: Evidence for Traditional Authorship

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

We Know About John the Baptist From Outside the Bible (and How it Confirms the Gospels)

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. Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and handmade decor business with his wife, Dawn. He is … Read more

GM Skeptic is Wrong About Religious Experience

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. Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and … Read more

Video: The Virgin Birth Isn’t Based on a Misunderstanding (Response to Paulogia)

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

Video: No, the Resurrection Narratives Are Not Hopelessly Contradictory

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? Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?