• Josh Vasquez
    6
    There are historical documents from Christians and non-Christians backing up the claim that Jesus Christ lived and died on this earth 2000 years ago. But what about the resurrection? No one can deny that the apostles believed Jesus resurrected, but that begs the question on what basis do they have this belief? It is either the case that Jesus physically resurrected or that an alternative explanation must be true. In this post I will argue for the physical resurrection as the most rational explanation for the intensity of the apostles’ belief. My argument:

    1. If the apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ, then they must have had intense belief.
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.
    3. The apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ.
    4. Therefore, the apostles must have had sufficient evidence for their intense belief. (MP 1,3)

    I am first going to analyze popular alternative explanations for the apostle's belief in the resurrection of Christ. They are as follows:
    (a) The unconsciousness hypothesis
    (b) The stolen body hypothesis
    (c) The twin brother hypothesis
    (d) The hallucination hypothesis

    Hypothesis (a) claims that Jesus did not actually die, but rather lost consciousness on the cross giving off the appearance as though he was dead. Therefore, since he wasn’t actually dead he was able to wake up and “resurrect”. This hypothesis is irrational because it trivializes the flogging and crucifixion process. There is no way Jesus could have survived this. Hypothesis (b) claims that Jesus’ body was stolen from the tomb. This is highly improbable because it assumes that all guards at Jesus’ tomb simultaneously fell asleep, leaving the tomb unguarded. Additionally, this doesn’t explain how Jesus appeared to the apostles post-crucifixion. Hypothesis (c) states that Jesus had a twin brother who died in his place. There is no evidence for the existence of someone who looked like Jesus during his time thus making it highly unlikely. Not once is a “Jesus twin” mentioned in the gospels - which are reliable historical accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry - or anywhere else. Finally, hypothesis (d) claims that the apostles and the two women who saw Christ after his death were actually experiencing a hallucination. This hypothesis can be refuted by a historical account that tells us there were five hundred people who witnessed the risen Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:6 Paul asserts that the risen Christ appeared to five hundred other people, which would mean that this needed to have been one massive hallucination. The likeness of a large-scale hallucination occurring is very low. I would assume Paul mentions this in the letter to the church of Corinth because he’s letting them know there is sufficient evidence for their claim to have seen a risen Christ. Thus, the most reasonable explanation must be that Christ physically rose from the dead and appeared to the apostles.

    One may be inclined to ask about the reliability of the apostles. Are we sure the apostles were mentally stable or that they weren’t lying about having seen the risen Christ? If either of these were the case I suppose there would have been some historical documentation of it. Either from a Christian historian like Luke (who wrote one of the gospels and the book of Acts) or a non-Christian historian like Josephus. Additionally, as we saw earlier, there were five hundred people who claimed to have seen the risen Christ. It’s likely the reason Paul referred to those five hundred people who witnessed the risen Christ is so that people who were skeptical could go to them as further evidence.
  • Outlander
    635
    There is no evidence for the existence of someone who looked like Jesus during his time thus making it highly unlikely.Josh Vasquez

    What? :sweat:

    Before folks start to jump on you I'll just politely say, please include links for the historical accounts of which you mentioned. Thanks.

    Basically, between you and me. These Christian-specific arguments are really only religion-general arguments. Example, if what you say is true, why couldn't some other account in some other religion be true, etc. It's a rabbit hole you're trying to go down, OP. I'd think a moment before continuing.
  • Nils Loc
    760
    Don't discount the mythical (and or ritualistic) component of the story of a dying and resurrecting god. The gospels are stories and not primary sources. I wouldn't literalize the resurrection. It is a metaphor of transition, like the turning of one thing to another by a ritual mechanism (a sacrifice/martyrdom).

    What if Jesus had not been martyred?
  • Gus Lamarch
    490
    But what about the resurrection?Josh Vasquez

    Apostle Paul was very direct with his use of "sōma pneumatikos", spiritual body of Christ in the resurrection:

    Corinthians 15:42-44 "So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body."

    It was a spirit body brought to "life" by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, God the Son was dead, and to reach hypostasis with God the Father, God the Holy Spirit had to "resurrect" him in a spirit form - if we are taking the theology as reality -.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    1. If the apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ, then they must have had intense belief.
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.
    3. The apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ.
    4. Therefore, the apostles must have had sufficient evidence for their intense belief. (MP 1,3)
    Josh Vasquez

    Absolutely superb! An authentic breath of fresh air. :up:

    It turns the tables on the likes of Hume, Hitchens, and Sagan who, in this setting, appear to be put in the unenviable positon of having to deal with being hoisted by their own petards.

    No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish — Hume

    What is more likely, that the laws of nature has been suspended in your favor, or that you've made a mistake — Hitchens

    Extraordinary proof requires extraordinary evidence — Sagan

    Surely, the apostles would've given the concerns voiced by the gentlemen whom I've quoted above due consideration, right? Resurrection, even in this day and age; would qualify as a bona fide miracle and send scientists scurrying back to the drawing board. Surely then, 2 millenia ago, a time when medicine was in its infancy, rising from the dead would have been taken very seriously indeed, investigated thoroughly, and only then certified as genuine.


    However, to be fair to naysayers, the gullibility index was much; much higher than it is now. Even now, the golden age of skepticism spearheaded by influential scholars, the gullibility index is still not negligible enough to prevent scams/cons/frauds that sometimes occur on a scale so massive that it makes us wonder whether P. T. Barnum was right when he uttered his famous words, "there's a sucker born every minute." You can imagine how bad/good the situation was two thousand years ago depending on whether you were scammed or you were a scammer.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.Josh Vasquez

    False. And trivial to demonstrate. There are many religions, and all can't be true. All have had intense believers and martyrs and they can't all have equally sufficient evidence.

    But also just logically this is a weak play. All it says is that you will not admit any cause of intense belief in the object of *your* belief that does not affirm that belief. It's just more Christian faith, it's not a proof.
  • Josh Vasquez
    6
    Hi Gus,

    I would agree with you, Paul was very intentional and direct when he uses the words “Sōma pneumatikos” in 1 Corinthians 15:44, but It is essential for Christianity to not only believe in the spiritual resurrection of Christ, but the physical resurrection is definitely just as important, if not more. I also believe Paul to have been intentional when he uses the word “anastasis” in his letters when referring to Christ’s resurrection. This is first seen in Romans 1:3-4 (NRSV) – “3regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word “anastasis” refers to a physical “standing up” and this is one of many scriptures where Paul refers to Christ physically resurrecting, not only spiritually resurrecting. Like Paul said: “If Christ has not been raised… we [Christians] are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:18-19). The Christian faith is based on the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was because of this that the apostles had the courage to spread the gospel and ultimately suffer martyrdom for the sake of Christ. As I said in my argument above, it must be the case that the apostles believed in the physical resurrection of Christ because otherwise their belief and actions were irrational. However, it is entirely possible that the apostles were irrational and had intense belief without sufficient evidence, but my difficulty with this is that they all had a willingness to suffer for their faith. In addition to there being five martyrs that we know of, none of the apostles recanted their faith. Their intense faith points only to the physical resurrection of Christ, and if predicted his resurrection and rose from the dead then Christ was far more than a “good moral teacher”.
  • SophistiCat
    1.4k
    1. If the apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ, then they must have had intense belief.
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.
    Josh Vasquez

    Not this old chestnut again :roll: Why anyone would say something so obviously untrue is puzzling, but how this inanity gets to be repeated over and over again is beyond me.
  • 3017amen
    2.6k
    1. If the apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ, then they must have had intense belief.Josh Vasquez

    It was probably some sort of love that they experienced. You know that, walk in front of a train kind of love, you have for your family!

    Is that illogical, I wonder... (?).
  • tim wood
    5.5k
    No one can deny that the apostles believed Jesus resurrected, but that begs the question on what basis do they have this belief?Josh Vasquez
    Whether they did or not, other people certainly do. But of what value is belief as constitutive of knowledge of a fact? Answer: none, zero, and less than zero.

    And further, the gospels - the whole bible - is an edited reader. To many people a book of worth and value, But not a recounting of fact. Most reasonable people accept the proposition that Jesus was - corresponds to - a real person, but there is zero evidence of any resurrection.

    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.Josh Vasquez
    Really? Certainly that can happen. But the right proposition is that some intense belief may be....

    Something like resurrection - actually everything else too - is a matter of fact. Argument does not create fact. You can argue for what you like, but it doesn't make it so. And an obvious reason. The purported fact is necessarily antecedent to the argument. Yours, then, homilies to the choir.
  • Coben
    1.6k
    1. If the apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ, then they must have had intense belief.
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.
    3. The apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ.
    4. Therefore, the apostles must have had sufficient evidence for their intense belief. (MP 1,3)
    Josh Vasquez
    1) If the Muslim terrorist (or any terrorist) is willing to be martyred for the sake of Allah/Islam, then they must have intense belief.
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence (this is the most problematic of your assumptions)
    3. The terrorists have been willing to be martyred for the sake of Allah/Islam.
    4. Therefore they had sufficient evidence not only for their intense belief in Allah/Islam but also in the righteousness of their acts.

    Pick an act where children were killed.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.3k
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.Josh Vasquez

    I intensely believe you're wrong. Therefore, there must be equally sufficient evidence that you are wrong. Q.E.D.
  • Philosophim
    348


    Thank you for a nicely written post! First, let me say that while I will critique the argument, please understand this is not out of malice, an agenda, or with the feeling that you are "stupid, foolish", or what have you. It takes intelligence and a curious mind to think on such arguments. I would also invite that if this argument is shown to have flaws, this does not discount your belief in Christ. So with that in mind, lets see if there are holes in this argument.

    1. There is an implicit assumption that we all believe the bible to be a true and accurate statement to reality

    Now if you believe that the bible is inerrant and accurate evidence, then this is not a problem. But it is a very important key in the argument you present. For example, many people consider the Koran, the holy book of Islam, to be an accurate testament to the history and events of the time. It has prophecy that has been claimed to have been fulfilled, and even predicted scientific theories like evolution before they were made. https://rationalreligion.co.uk/9-scientific-miracles-of-the-quran (for citation).

    Now I'm not saying this because I want you to believe the Koran. I'm using this because I know you don't believe the Koran. So if I told you that there were followers of Muhammad who believed in his words so much that they willingly fought and died for him, does that mean their belief in the Koran indicates that it is actually true?

    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.Josh Vasquez

    Unfortunately, this example proves that this statement is not true. There are people who have incredibly intense belief in the Koran. To the point where they have died for it. But we both do not believe that the Koran is accurate correct? We can conclude then that the intensity of belief does not have anything to do with the accuracy of the belief.

    Taking this idea outside of religion, we can see this remains true as well. I can look up at the sky and see that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. It is incontrovertible. From this observation, the only logical conclusion (if I know nothing of space) is that the Sun revolves around the Earth. To believe otherwise, would be foolish no? But because we do know about space, we realize my belief is wrong.

    So lets start with that for now. Do the points make sense? Do you believe I've made an error? Again, I welcome the discussion with all respect given.
  • Gus Lamarch
    490
    “Sōma pneumatikos” in 1 Corinthians 15:44Josh Vasquez

    If this is right

    1:3-4Josh Vasquez

    and this is right too, something is wrong about their faith.

    Quoting Craig L. Blomberg on his 1987 book The Historical Reliability of the Gospels:

    "For the Christian tradition, the bodily resurrection was the restoration to life of a transformed body powered by spirit, as described by Paul and the Gospels."

    The "transformed body" - sōma pneumatikos - is the spirit of Jesus being brought to heaven through hypostasis with God the Holy Spirit. If Paul aimed to speak of a physical resurrection, he could have very well used the term "psychikos", but he instead preferred the term "pneumatikos" because he was explicity talking about the spirit of Christ.

    Christian teaching traditionally interprets Paul as comparing the resurrection body with the mortal body, saying that it will be a different kind of body; a "spiritual body", meaning an immortal body, or incorruptible body. But that is open to interpretation, as everything in the Bible is.

    However, it is entirely possible that the apostles were irrational and had intense belief without sufficient evidenceJosh Vasquez

    For me - and a lot of people -, this is the canonical thing that happened. The resurrection was not an objective historical fact, but a subjective "recollection" of Jesus, transfiguring the dead Jesus into an imaginary, or "mythical", risen Christ. The appearance, or Christophany, of Jesus to Paul and others, was "internal and subjective". Reflection on the Messianic hope, and Psalms 16:10, led to an exaltated state of mind, in which "the risen Christ" was present "in a visionary manner", concluding that Jesus must have escaped the bondage of death.

    Psalms 16:10:
    "For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit."
  • god must be atheist
    2.2k
    1. If the apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ, then they must have had intense belief.
    2. Intense belief must be backed by equally sufficient evidence.
    3. The apostles were willing to be martyred for the sake of Christ.
    4. Therefore, the apostles must have had sufficient evidence for their intense belief. (MP 1,3
    Josh Vasquez

    Faith does not need evidence. That's why faith is a belief.

    If you have sufficient evidence then you are a scientist, and you don't need faith.

    But because the Apostles had faith, obviously they lacked sufficient evidence.
  • Josh Vasquez
    6


    I appreciate the kind and respectful words you prefaced your argument with. Forgive me for taking a long time to respond, but I hope we can continue to have this civil discourse :)

    I clearly understand the points you make and I would agree. My argument implies many things. For instance, absolute truth. It's simply a fact that Christianity is an exclusive religion by nature because there are many things that Jesus says that exclude every other religion as being the truth / answer. Thus, in my argument I'm assuming that IF it is the case that the apostles believed in the physical resurrection of Christ, then it must be that Christ actually rose from the dead or he didn't and there's some alternative explanation for their (intense) belief. In the case that Christ did NOT rise from the dead and the apostles experienced a hallucination, lied, or what have you, then it is possible that one (or many) religion(s) are true. However, in the case that Christ did physically resurrect, Christianity is the only religion that can be true. The reason I say this is because of the claims Christ made before his crucifixion that predicted his resurrection, which is a completely preposterous thing for someone to claim. I will revise my argument to be more specific to the case of the apostles:

    Argument for the Apostles belief as rational:
    1. The apostles of Jesus Christ believed that Jesus Christ physically resurrected from the dead.
    2. If the Apostles had no evidence to base their belief off of, then their belief is irrational.
    3. There is evidence on which the Apostles based their belief.
    4. Therefore, the Apostles’ belief is rational.

    The next logical question is to ask about the sufficiency of the evidence. Simply because the Apostles had evidence backing up their belief, doesn’t constitute the evidence as sufficient and therefore doesn’t advance the reasoning for their belief. This is where we can analyze the rest of the hypothesis or theories for why the Apostles believed Jesus Christ to have resurrected form the dead.

    Argument for the physical resurrection as the most rational explanation for the Apostle’s belief:
    1. Jesus Christ either physically resurrected from the dead or he did not.
    2. If Jesus Christ didn’t physically resurrect, then there must be alternate hypotheses / theories that
    explain the Apostles belief
    3. All other alternate hypotheses / theories fail in comparison to the physical resurrection hypothesis
    4. Therefore, the explanation for the Apostle’s rational belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that
    Jesus Christ physically resurrected

    The reason this excludes ALL other religions, such as Islam, are completely due to the claims that Jesus made in the gospels. In John 14:6, Christ never said “I am a way, a truth, and a life” he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. A Christian author, Randy Alcorn, put’s it very well in his article Christ’s Exclusive Truth-Claims Make Believing “All Religions Are Basically the Same” Impossible:

    “Christianity rises or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If this event is historically true, it makes all other religions false, because Jesus Christ claimed to be the one and only way to God the Father. To prove this, He predicted He would come out of the grave alive three days after He was executed. And He did.”

    This is the reason for which I am trying to make my argument. If Jesus Christ did not resurrect from the dead, then “[Christians] are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).

    Looking forward to your response!
  • Josh Vasquez
    6

    Hey Gus,

    My apologies for the very delayed response, but I would love to continue our discussion if you
    choose to do so as well!

    If this is right... and this is right too, something is wrong about their faith.Gus Lamarch

    I’m not quite sure how you could make that claim when they were the ones who propagated and kept the faith alive and well through the church. Didn’t the apostle Paul write his letters? Were the gospel writers not more closely associated to Jesus and his disciples than us? If it’s evident in the scriptures that this is what Paul and other apostles believed, doesn’t that mean something is wrong with the faith of one who disagrees with them?

    But that is open to interpretation, as everything in the Bible is.Gus Lamarch

    I disagree. How is everything in the Bible up to interpretation? Did you not us a quote from a book titled The Historical Reliability of the Gospels? I will concede that to claim that the Bible is the word of God or that it harnesses the power to change someone’s life is up for discussion. However, what is not up for discussion is the interpretation of the whole Bible. As it is written in that book title, there are many parts of the Bible that are written as historical documentation of events. History is a matter of fact and facts are not up for interpretation because that would go against the very nature of them being facts. Now there are certain books that I do believe could be up for interpretation such as the Psalms, Proverbs, Songs of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes but that is because these books were written as wisdom literature or poetry. The gospels of Jesus Christ and the letters in the New Testament are not genres that can be interpreted as one pleases.

    Throughout the New Testament time after time we see claims of Jesus’ bodily (physical) resurrection. From the empty tombs found by Mary, Martha, and the apostles to Peter proclaiming “the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay” (Acts 2:31). Paul also said that “when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation… he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one who God raised from the dead did not see decay” (Acts 13:36-37).

    From Gary R. Habermas’ and Michael R. Licona’s The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus:

    “In [1 Corinthians] 2:14-15… Paul contrasts the natural and spiritual man, i.e., the unsaved man who is lead by his soulish or fleshly nature and the Christian who is led by the Holy Spirit. Now these are the same two words Paul employs in [1 Corinthians] 15:44 when, using the seed analogy, he contrasts the natural (psychikos) and spiritual (pneumatikos) body.”

    Thus, when Paul speaks of the spiritual body, he is speaking of someone who’s spirit is being led by the Holy Spirit as opposed to its own selfish desire. According to scripture it seems as if when someone resurrects it is both a spiritual and physical resurrection.
  • KerimF
    99


    To me in the least, the resurrection of Jesus' body is not as miraculous as the resurrection of Jesus message that contradicts the human instincts of survival, hence the man-made law of any ruling system around the world.

    Please note that any reader here, deist or atheist, is not familiar with what I will say.

    The day Jesus was condemned to death there was not even ONE person in the world who dared saying he believes him or in him. In fact, Jesus knew how to let even Peter "his Rock" deny him 'three' times on that day (it wasn't a mere coincidence that Peter only used his sword, soon after Judas kissed Jesus). And, by Peter clear reaction (3 times, not just once or twice), Jesus made very clear that, on that day, both his body and teachings (message) died on the cross (not his body only).

    But this wasn't enough.

    Jesus also let his apostles isolate themselves (hide) for 40 days. This is the period of time in which a widow has to be isolated in order to be certain that she has no life in her, from her dead husband (in case he was an important one).

    Then, even after 2000 years (thru too many generations), I hear Jesus saying:

    Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

    Isn't it a miracle? But, perhaps it is not, and someone here knows one ruling system in the least (in the past or now) that asks its subjects to love their enemies and not applying its justice on the evil and on the unjust.

    Yes, while all formal systems (religious or political) around the world don't allow preaching OPENLY (via satellites for example) many Jesus teachings 'as clear as he did', no one of them dares considering the printing of the Gospel (as hard copies or eBooks) as a crime that deserves punishment.
    Yes, this is a 'fact' that the world lives while it is beyond human logic... In other words, it is a living miracle that no one, even atheists, can deny :)
  • Echarmion
    1.5k
    Isn't it a miracle? But, perhaps it is not, and someone here knows one ruling system in the least (in the past or now) that asks its subjects to love their enemies and not applying its justice on the evil and on the unjust.KerimF

    It's very odd to me to characterise Jesus' teachings as a ruling system. But is your argument that teaching harmony and kindness was not only unprecedented at the beginning of the common era, but also not repeated? While Jesus' commitment to unconditional love might have been revolutionary, there were certainly thinkers before and after him that were similarly interested in peaceful coexistence.
  • KerimF
    99
    It's very odd to me to characterise Jesus' teachings as a ruling system.Echarmion

    Sorry for not being clearer. I wasn't comparing Jesus teachings to any ruling system. I just liked to point out that the ruling systems, throughout history, couldn't stop spreading ideas/truths that clearly contradict what their powerless subjects (The People) are supposed to do, believe and/or hear.

    But is your argument that teaching harmony and kindness was not only unprecedented at the beginning of the common era, but also not repeated? While Jesus' commitment to unconditional love might have been revolutionary, there were certainly thinkers before and after him that were similarly interested in peaceful coexistence.Echarmion

    Sorry, Jesus, on the today's Gospel, doesn't teach harmony and kindness but reality. For example, a powerful rich man 'cannot', as the world is designed/created, be free to be honest and sincere while he addresses openly the multitudes. So I have no reason to be against any rich man/woman or any of his/her followers. Jesus just reminds me how he/she should be (by design), so that I won't be surprised about anything he/she may say or do (for being expected already).

    I hope you are right that "there were certainly thinkers" who revealed natural truths as Jesus did. I couldn't hear of any of them yet :(
    Back to Jesus, world peace, as another example, is not supposed to happen anytime on earth. He proved this natural fact by reminding us that even the members of one family cannot live in real permanent peace together even if they live in the same environment and share the same language and culture (one may imagine what could be the case outside the family :) ). This hint from Jesus lets me be aware that those who insist on talking about world peace are just deceivers or, at best, ignorant of reality.

    But I have to add now a crucial note about Jesus teachings.
    Although they are addressed to all humans, a few humans only see in them as real useful ideas in their own life. But I am afraid, it is not easy to explain this directly. So I will try to do it by the following analogy:

    Does a born blind be interested in the science of optics or acoustics?
    Does a born deaf be interested in the science of optics or acoustics?

    When the born blind is interested in acoustics and not in optics, it has nothing to do with intelligence.
    The same applies on what the born deaf chooses.
    And being blind and deaf doesn't prevent a person to do things that are much more useful than what many people who have good eyes and ears may do.

    I hope this analogy shows, to some extent, that being interested or not in Jesus teachings has nothing to do with one's intelligence. Actually, it has to do with the 'nature' of which one is made/created.
    The great good news is that, in general, every human on earth feels fine and satisfied as he/she is... despite the various differences among humans.
  • Hippyhead
    474


    Hear my applause for a thoughtful well constructed argument. Here are a few thoughts which your post inspired.

    =========

    1) According to the Gospels, on the cross Jesus is reported to have said, "God, why have you forsaken me?"

    If Jesus did say this, his statement suggests Jesus didn't know that he was going to be resurrected, if that did in fact happen. It also suggests that Jesus, whether human or in human form, could be in error like all other humans. Or, it could be that Jesus wasn't wrong in saying this, but was experiencing a kind of death bed conversion which is very inconvenient for Christian ideology. If we are going to sweep this statement of Jesus off the table, then all other statements of Jesus can also be brought in to question.

    =========

    2) A key challenge I see with all Bible interpretation is that we are hearing messages from a very different time and place culturally, and translation in to our own modern culture can be exceedingly difficult. The people of that time didn't live in the age of science like we do where literal facts are considered paramount. Much of the Bible seems to be written in a kind of parable fable art form.

    As example, the Adam and Eve story tells deep truths about the human condition that are remarkably relevant to our own times. But I don't believe there really was a guy, a gal, and a talking snake. So, as I see it, that story requires a translation from the parable fable form to more literal language for it to be credible to we moderns.

    The point here is that a key statement by Jesus seems to be his advice to "Die and be reborn" which I see as extremely wise psychological/spiritual advice, but perhaps not a literal description of his own physical fate, ie. resurrection.

    This can continue to be debated for centuries of course. I'm just suggesting that by focusing on literal interpretations of the Bible we may be missing gems hiding in the parable art form presentation.

    Finally, in defense of the parable fable form of writing, we might note that the Bible is the best selling book of all time and has succeeded in sharing it's message across many centuries. While personally my ability is limited to logical rhetorical arguments, as I've gotten older I've come to see that art is a more powerful medium than literal logical statements.
  • Philosophim
    348


    Hello again Josh, no worry on the timeframe, we all have lives here!

    First, I want to agree with you that Christianity is an exclusive religion. That being said, let me examine your argument for the apostle's beliefs to see if we can conclude they must have been correct.

    1. The apostles of Jesus Christ believed that Jesus Christ physically resurrected from the dead.
    2. If the Apostles had no evidence to base their belief off of, then their belief is irrational.
    3. There is evidence on which the Apostles based their belief.
    4. Therefore, the Apostles’ belief is rational.
    Josh Vasquez

    Since we're doing philosophy, lets adjust the above to be clearer.
    1. Assume the apostles of Jesus Christ believed that Jesus Christ physically resurrected from the dead.
    2. If the Apostles had no evidence to base their belief off of, then their belief is irrational.
    3. If There is sufficient and reasonablee evidence on which the Apostles based their belief, the Apostles’ belief is rational.

    Just some nitpicks above, and I think we're good to continue.

    1. Jesus Christ either physically resurrected from the dead or he did not.
    2. If Jesus Christ didn’t physically resurrect, then there must be alternate hypotheses / theories that
    explain the Apostles belief
    3. All other alternate hypotheses / theories fail in comparison to the physical resurrection hypothesis
    4. Therefore, the explanation for the Apostle’s rational belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that
    Jesus Christ physically resurrected
    Josh Vasquez

    1 is sound.
    2 is sound.
    3 and 4 need an adjustment.

    3. Assume all other alternate hypotheses / theories to Jesus' resurrection the apostles could think of were explored by the apostles and failed.
    4. Therefore, the apostles rationally believed that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.

    As you see, the changes I made clarified a few implicit assumptions. They also take the view point of the apostles, and not ourselves. After all, we can come up with crazy theories I'm sure the apostles never thought of.

    This leaves us with a problem however, Just because the apostles were being rational with what they knew, it does not mean they understood the truth. Back again to the idea that the sun revolves around the Earth. Prior to an understanding of space, this was perfectly rational. Yet, its not the truth.

    We also have no evidence that the apostles were very rational people. They could have been, but they could also as easily not have been. There is a lot of assuming going on here either way.

    So I think a rational conclusion we can make from this, is we cannot conclude the disciples rationally believed in Jesus resurrection, but even if we did, it would not conclude that what they rationally believed was true. I will note however, this is just from this evidence alone. Perhaps there is more out there. But within the confines of what we are proposing, I can see no other conclusion.
  • Jack Cummins
    198
    I
    I think my own fear really falls into the scope of the psychology of religion than theology. The only theology I have read was about the problem of evil which I read when looking at Jung's Answer to Job.

    I think all these areas on the edge of philosophy are very interesting. I also have a strong interest in religious psychosis. Apart from having worked in mental health care, I have friends who experienced florid psychosis, with religious content, such as belief in being a fallen angel.

    When approaching issues of religion I think it is important to approach the matter from many angles rather than just theology because that starts from the standpoint of religious beliefs. I think that we can create a philosophy of religion through encompassing multidisciplinary perspectives, including sociology and anthropology.

    You say that you have been through theological hell. I am interested in your experience and perhaps it is worth standing back from it as a philosopher. I don't know how much we should share on this site. In some ways it is worthwhile but once personal experiences are shared we may feel vulnerable and exposed.

    But, my general remark is that I don't think the theologians should claim monopoly upon the philosophical issues arising within religious belief, even those arising within Christianity.
  • Jack Cummins
    198
    I meant to send this response to the thread I started on the unpardonable sin and I accidentally sent it to this one instead.

    That was after I decided this morning that I would not make a comment to this discussion as I would not be confident enough to engage in such a sensitive discussion on a post being read by others. Perhaps my error is my subconscious telling me that I should have be taking part in this debate but I will leave it for now as I am too tired.
  • Olivier5
    729
    We also have no evidence that the apostles were very rational people.Philosophim

    Jesus himself calls them dunces more than once in the gospels. But then, he selected his apostoles pretty much at random, so what did he expect?
  • KerimF
    99
    Jesus message (on the today's Gospel) is living till our days while it contradicts all man-made laws, religious and civil (including the laws of all formal Christian Churches/Denominations)... period.
  • Gus Lamarch
    490
    I’m not quite sure how you could make that claim when they were the ones who propagated and kept the faith alive and well through the church.Josh Vasquez

    First things first, during the "Apostolic Age" - from 33 AD - the supposed date of the death of Jesus of Nazareth - until about 100 AD - with the death of the last of Jesus' twelve Apostles, John the Evangelist - the "Church" as the organized institution based on a codified and canonized scripture did not exist. What existed were small groups - or as the Romans called their cult: superstitio - superstition - - that were completely descentralized in custom and methods of worship. Quoting Pliny the Younger about how the Romans viewed the young Christian church:

    "Roman investigations into early Christianity found it an irreligious, novel, disobedient, even atheistic sub-sect of Judaism: it appeared to deny all forms of religion and was therefore superstitio."

    Therefore, Christian belief was still the subject of fervent debate by all those who called themselves "Christians". The concept of "sōma pneumatikos" did not even exist, since there was no structured thinking about who he was, or better saying, who Is Jesus of Nazareth - during the period -. These thoughts only came to be structured with the conversion of Paul of Tarsus to Christianity, and his view that the Christian faith would only grow in the popular setting of Roman religions, if it were completely structured - therefore, different from all other religions, which until then, were not architected and absolute -.

    With that in mind, I affirm that Paul's canonized claim in the Bible is wrong because it was a construction for the purpose of converting the masses - sōma pneumatikos or psychikos, it didn't matter to Paul as long as it made Christianity more attractive to the greek gentiles -, not to mention that when the first Bible was finalized - in 144 AD by Marcion of Sinope - Paul had died more than 80 years earlier.

    Didn’t the apostle Paul write his letters?Josh Vasquez

    Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. Seven of the Pauline epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. Recalling that, the only contact Paul had with Jesus Christ - if accepted as real - was during his conversion to Christianity, where he was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "arrest them - the christians - and bring them back to Jerusalem " when the ascended Jesus "appeared" to him in a great bright light. He was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored. Paul undoubtedly did not have the same attachment to the Christian message as the twelve apostles, as he did not know the figure of Jesus in person, however without him, Christianity would not have flourished as it flourished, as he practically wrote half of the current canonical Bible - and for the ancients, the whole bible -.

    Were the gospel writers not more closely associated to Jesus and his disciples than us?Josh Vasquez

    This was and remains one of the great problems of Christianity. Jesus left nothing written, so what we have is the individual interpretation of the apostles. It is no coincidence that a mere 10 years after Jesus' alleged death, Saint Thomas created the basis of Nestorian Christian belief. After they split up to spread the Gospels, each had their own experiences, feelings and "revelations", and it is no accident that no one was able to make sense of Christianity during its first 3 centuries of existence. It was Paul and his so-called "canonical" writings in Greece, Thomas and his revelations in the Levant, John and his messages in Britain, etc ... The truth is that nobody understood and still does not understand Jesus, because his message was left open.

    It is no accident that eventually, after the death of the apostles, other people would argue to that they had had their own revelations of God as the apostles, and with that Gnosticism - gnōstikós - having knowledge - - would eventually be born and transform Christianity to a certain extent to a form reminiscent of current Christianity - every individual and its own interpretations are canonical -.

    doesn’t that mean something is wrong with the faith of one who disagrees with them?Josh Vasquez

    Here you argue using the premise that the Bible contains true facts. If that is how you argue, there is no discussion, because then I would be completely wrong, for against dogma there is no argument.

    History is a matter of fact and facts are not up for interpretation because that would go against the very nature of them being facts. Now there are certain books that I do believe could be up for interpretation such as the Psalms, Proverbs, Songs of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes but that is because these books were written as wisdom literature or poetry. The gospels of Jesus Christ and the letters in the New Testament are not genres that can be interpreted as one pleases.Josh Vasquez

    My position is that there are events, and subjects cited in the Bible, that there are no records - so far - anywhere else. There is no way to have a greay legitimacy on any subject, if there is only one source, because in all cases, the sources are biased towards those who wrote them.

    From Gary R. Habermas’ and Michael R. Licona’s The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus:

    “In [1 Corinthians] 2:14-15… Paul contrasts the natural and spiritual man, i.e., the unsaved man who is lead by his soulish or fleshly nature and the Christian who is led by the Holy Spirit. Now these are the same two words Paul employs in [1 Corinthians] 15:44 when, using the seed analogy, he contrasts the natural (psychikos) and spiritual (pneumatikos) body.”

    Thus, when Paul speaks of the spiritual body, he is speaking of someone who’s spirit is being led by the Holy Spirit as opposed to its own selfish desire. According to scripture it seems as if when someone resurrects it is both a spiritual and physical resurrection.
    Josh Vasquez

    One of the letters sent by Paul to one of the early Greek churches, the First Epistle to the Corinthians, contains one of the earliest Christian creeds referring to post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and expressing the belief that he was raised from the dead, namely 1 Corinthians 15:3–8

    "[3] For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, [4] and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."

    In the Jerusalem "ekklēsia" - Church -, from which Paul received this creed, the phrase "died for our sins" probably was an apologetic rationale for the death of Jesus as being part of God's plan and purpose, as evidenced in the scriptures. For Paul, it gained a deeper significance, providing "a basis for the salvation of sinful Gentiles apart from the Torah".

    As Wedderburn, A.J.M. in his 1999 book Beyond Resurrection said:

    "As Paul repeatedly insisted that the future resurrection would only include a spiritual or pneumatic body, denying any future for the flesh, it seems likely that this was also how he understood the resurrection body of Jesus."
  • KerimF
    99
    Quoting Pliny the Younger about how the Romans viewed the young Christian church:

    "Roman investigations into early Christianity found it an irreligious, novel, disobedient, even atheistic sub-sect of Judaism: it appeared to deny all forms of religion and was therefore superstitio."
    Gus Lamarch

    Thank you... I didn't imagine that such description of Christianity could be said in the far past. It reflects how I personally live Christianity with one exception.
    .
    {1} I am 'irreligious'. I don’t follow (belonging to) any formal religion (religious system).

    {2} I am 'novel', if not weird, to most people in the world. I don't have to follow my instincts of survival in my reactions.

    {3} I am 'disobedient' anytime a rule contradicts my unconditional love towards all others.

    The exception is that Judaism, to me in the least, is a thing of the past.
    It was just addressed to certain humans when humans were rather primitive (kids of humanity). Therefore, there was a need to guide them by certain rules (known as God's Law), as good parents guide their little kids to let them be healthy and safe till they become free adults.
  • Hippyhead
    474
    This was and remains one of the great problems of Christianity. Jesus left nothing written, so what we have is the individual interpretation of the apostles.Gus Lamarch

    From another perspective, this problem goes away. Like this...

    Each person can examine Christian suggestions for themselves, try out those suggestions which engage them, and then come to their own conclusions regarding the value of those suggestions. It doesn't really matter who wrote the suggestion, or when they wrote it, or if they actually wrote it, or whether the suggestion is a misinterpretation of someone else's ideas, or any of that. If one can set aside authority worship and do one's own homework, then every person one meets can be one's teacher.

    It doesn't really matter if some advice is a specifically Christian suggestion, as there is considerable overlap between the major religions. Christianity says love your neighbor as yourself, while the Buddhists advise compassion. Christianity says die to be reborn, while Hindus have spent centuries exploring the psychological death of meditation. Different cultures, different speakers, different histories etc, but very similar messages.

    Does the whole subject of religion make you wanna puke? Ok, no problem, as atheists can explore the same territory using their own methodologies. Observation of reality is a powerful path to walk, especially if one is actually observing reality, and not just one's thoughts about reality, which is something else altogether. If one sets aside the thoughts and observes reality directly, one is dying to the symbolic, and being reborn in to the real. Don't want to call that God? Then don't, call it something else. End of problem.

    Who cares what Paul said? Paul is dead, and nobody will ever know for sure what he said or what he meant. He may not have been clear about what he meant himself, who knows?

    There are some words by somebody on some page. If we can use them, then use them.
  • KerimF
    99
    Each person can examine Christian suggestions for themselves, try out those suggestions which engage them, and then come to their own conclusions regarding the value of those suggestions. It doesn't really matter who wrote the suggestion, or when they wrote it, or if they actually wrote it, or whether the suggestion is a misinterpretation of someone else's ideas, or any of that. If one can set aside authority worship and do one's own homework, then every person one meets can be one's teacher.Hippyhead

    :up:

    Me as an example, if I followed blindly the teachings of any Christian Church or Denomination in the world, I wouldn't discover that Jesus (directly from the Gospel, I have on my hands) brought me the knowledge, Science of Life Reality, I was looking for and not another magic based on faith.
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