Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Resurrection Debunked in Eight Easy Steps? Part 2

Before we do Part 2 of this evaluation, I will note that a regular reader has offered his own commentary which will allow us to turn this into a hubbed series over the next 2-3 days. For now, here are my comments on points 5-8, continuing from yesterday.

Reports that Jesus’ disciples were martyred prove nothing.

To some extent I have agreed with this – this is an argument in need of more development, which one reason why I put together the Impossible Faith thesis. I never use the martyrdoms of the disciples in my arguments, though I am also hardly discounting them entirely.

Claims that this or that individual couldn’t possibly have hallucinated are nonsense.

Indeed? I have a great deal of material on this subject in Defending the Resurrection, and can tell you that it is nonsense – all the possible suggestions for why and how the disciples would hallucinate fail. The most powerful I offer is that they were not expecting Jesus to be resurrected, but that his body would ascend into heaven – and that if they did see what they thought looked like Jesus again, they would assume it was his guardian angel.

Dr. Jonathan Kendall also provided a detailed look at this subject in DTR.

Even if there were several people in Paul’s day who would have claimed to have all seen the risen Jesus at the same time, their testimony might not have stood up to scrutiny.

“Might not have” isn’t any sort of argument; if it is, it is just as well for us to say, “yes, it would have” and rest our case. If the critic tries to argue by analogy, as here:

There have been cases where a group of children have claimed to see the Virgin Mary, and been taken seriously by adults who should have known better. In many of these cases, the children were questioned individually and their descriptions of what they saw didn’t match, suggesting deception or delusion.

…then all I have to do is provide examples of people who did stand up to scrutiny when testifying – and it does not have to be of a supernatural event, because the issue here is not the nature of the event witnessed, but whether people can stand under scrutiny when testifying. Obviously there are thousands of court cases every week where people succeed, or fail, in standing up under scrutiny. This is a non-argument.

That’s it.

That’s it? No. As promised, we’ll bring Hallquist’s name into the proceedings again. He recommends that people buy his book (a la John Loftus) for more details. I’m sure there are more details, but given Hallquist’s history, the chance of those details offering substance is marginal.

I have found that Hallquist is routinely unable to grasp the fundamentals of arguments presented to him, and is particularly weak when it comes to application. Indeed it is worse than that. To this day, Hallquist still uses the title “The Uncredible Hallq” for his blog. Yet as one reader pointed out:

…the moniker "UncredibleHallq"…actually means not credible (trustworthy). He probably got it confused with uncredulous. Rather ironic, given how he accepts uncredible sources such as Brian Flemming credulously.

Moral of the story: consult a dictionary before choosing a screenname...

On the other hand…perhaps we could say it is the right name?


  1. Isn't the disciples' martyrdoms good evidence that they truly believed what they were preaching? I thought it was some of the best evidence against the deception theory.

  2. It's good, but I think we have better options and that it needs better support. As is frequently pointed out, people can truly believe what they are deceived about.

  3. atheists not realize that when they posit the "hallucination" argument against the resurrection of Jesus, they are actually, inadvertently, conceding that the disciples really saw Jesus rise from the dead, believed it, and are thus credible eyewitnesses...going from there with merely passing it off as "hallucination" with no evidence for the assertion is simply a lost cause. What makes it even worse is that the next argument posited is the claim that the disciples are not credible eyewitnesses for whatever much for consistency.

  4. Yes, I think that happens frequently because they need to rebut both the empty tomb AND the appearances. Sometimes trying to get rid of one ends up making better arguments for the other. But because they just focus on one at a time, they miss the inconsistencies.