Why Craig’s case for the resurrection is dishonest

This is the other post I wanted to do in response to Jeff Lowder. In the first one, I documented a pattern of William Lane Craig misrepresenting his opponents’ views. Here, I’m going to bring together previous points I’ve made about Craig’s case for the resurrection (here and here, among other places), to make it as clear as possible why Craig’s behavior here is dishonest. Warning: ~2,000 word post!

I’ve written an entire book about supposed historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, but since finishing the book I’ve come to the conclusion that a point-by-point rebuttal of Craig’s arguments in particular misses the point. That’s not what makes Craig rhetorically effective.

Some background: as I’ve said before, many Biblical scholars, including many liberal Christians, do not think the accounts of Jesus’ life are historically reliable. A number of those scholars have  had things to say about the issue of the resurrection specifically, including Bart Ehrman (who I mentioned in my previous post), John Dominic Crossan, Gerd Lüdemann, and Michael Goulder.

The scholars I’ve just mentioned all have broadly similar views of the resurrection. They see little reason to think the gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are very accurate at all. They tend to reject the story of Joseph of Arimathea (supposedly member of a Jewish council) getting Jesus’ body from Pilate and placing it in a tomb, and the story of some women finding the tomb empty the next Saturday. And they see the experiences of Paul and other early Christians who claim to have seen the risen Jesus as hallucinations.

(Or something like hallucinations. Crossan, a liberal Christian, seems to avoid the word.)

I lean towards thinking these scholars are right, though their view hardly the only possibility. Contrary to what apologists like Craig like to pretend, it doesn’t take a miracle to get a corpse out of a cave; Jesus’ body could easily have been removed from the tomb through natural means.

Also, Paul could have simply been lying about the appearances. The standard Christian response here is that the fact Paul and the other apostles were (reportedly) martyred proves they weren’t lying, but this is a bad argument for two reasons. The evidence for their martyrdom is even sketchier than the evidence regarding Jesus’ life, and liars sometimes do end up as martyrs (see Joseph Smith, for example.)

Finally, while there’s much to applaud in modern Biblical scholarship, I think Biblical scholars have been too quick to dismiss the possibility that outright lies played a role in the origins of Christianity. Bart Ehrman does a good job of arguing this with respect to the authorship of the epistles in his recent book Forged. The problem probably exists because while many scholars are heretical by conservative standards, most still identify as Christians and don’t want to say anything too embarrassing about Christianity.

Now here is Craig’s standard argument for the resurrection of Jesus. I’ll quote from his debate with Stephen Law on the existence of God, though Craig has said basically the same thing in debate after debate:

There are actually three facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today which I believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus:

Fact #1: On the Sunday after his crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

Fact #2: On separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death.

And #3: The original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary.

N.T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar concludes, “That is why as a historian I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again leaving an empty tomb behind him.”

Attempts to explain away these three great facts—like “The disciples stole the body” or “Jesus wasn’t really dead”—have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these three facts.

In Craig’s debate with Bart Ehrman, he said all that and more, claiming the “facts” were “relatively uncontroversial” and that it was the explanation of the “facts” that was controversial. Craig also cited Lüdemann to support his claim about the appearances of Jesus, and claimed Ehrman does not “support any of these naturalistic explanations of the facts.”

Now, forget everything I’ve told you about Biblical scholarship. Imagine you’re a devout evangelical hearing these claims, or that you’re listening to one of Craig’s debates at the request of an evangelical friend. You never think to wonder if Craig can be trusted. What will you think?

Well, you’ll probably think that when Craig says “facts,” he means “not merely a matter of opinion,” and that there must therefore be some strong proof that has convinced all but a few Biblical scholars that his “facts” are facts. After all, Craig says the thing that’s controversial is whether “Jesus rose from the dead” is the right explanation for the “facts.”

But Craig also says all other explanations have been “universally rejected by contemporary scholarship.” That suggests that Biblical scholars all either accept the resurrection or else are baffled skeptics, that they can’t explain the evidence but reject the miracle out of philosophical prejudice.

Craig does much to encourage the impression of baffled skeptics. In his debate with Ehrman, for example, he painted Ehrman’s position as based entirely on outdated philosophical arguments. “Scepticism about Jesus’ resurrection,” Craig claims, “rests mainly, not on historical, but on philosophical considerations which fall outside the area of expertise of New Testament scholars.”

The impression Craig gives is a false one. As I pointed out at the beginning of this post, many scholars are skeptical of the resurrection, think the evidence is perfectly explicable without a miracle, and don’t think Craig’s “facts” are facts. Craig rarely acknowledges that many scholars reject his “facts,” even when (as he often does with Lüdemann) he’s quoting them to support his views. In this context, Craig’s misrepresentation of Ehrman’s views is all the more damning.

In fact, I’ve never seen Craig give any evidence for his claim that a majority of scholars think the disciples had “every predisposition” not to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. His claim that a majority of scholars side with him on the empty tomb has also been disputed by some scholars. He has some evidence for that second claim, though: a study by Craig’s fellow apologist Gary Habermas.

Habermas reports that in his survey of the literature, 75% of scholars who write about the empty tomb accept its historicity while 25% reject it. However, there’s a problem with using this to claim that 75% of Biblical scholars accept the empty tomb: if scholars who reject the empty tomb are less inclined to write about it, they’ll be under-counted in a literature review like Habermas’.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that Habermas reported a similar ratio of scholars who accept a literal resurrection to scholars who reject that. This suggests that scholars who are skeptical of the resurrection are mostly like Ehrman and Lüdemann: they don’t think all of Craig’s facts are facts.

To recap: naive audience members, listening to Craig’s arguments, are going to conclude that virtually all Biblical scholars accept Craig’s “facts.” They’ll conclude that most scholars who are skeptical of the resurrection have no other explanation for the evidence. I’m not just speculating about what impressions naive audience members will get from Craig. I’ve met Christians who came away from listening to Craig with exactly the impressions I’ve described.

These impressions are false ones. Now, Craig doesn’t quite say all those things, giving him some room to claim that everything he says is technically true. It’s still highly misleading. And I think that must be deliberate.

Craig clearly knows his Biblical scholarship. Apologists who don’t know their Biblical scholarship go around saying things like, “it’s just obvious the gospels are historically reliable,” which are easily refuted. Craig’s statements, in contrast, are about as misleading as could be without being easily disprovable. That’s unlikely to be an accident.

The gospels’s historical reliability, in fact, is a topic Craig generally avoids. He doesn’t make it part of his main arguments for the resurrection, and has refused to do debates on the issue. His rationale is that it’s actually impossible to debate the general reliablity of the gospels without debating specific issues like the resurrection first, because there’s  no way to “demonstrate a document’s general reliability except by demonstrating its reliability on a good number of specific events.”

This is an absurd argument. Another way to argue for a document’s reliability is to show that the author was in a position to know what he was talking about, was likely honest, and so on. As I’ve said before many Biblical scholars don’t think the gospels pass this test (and I don’t either). Also, if a document has been shown to contain blatant myths (like Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth), that’s reason to be a little more suspicious of other things it says.

Now when historian Richard Carrier brought up the issue of the gospels’ (un)reliability in their debate on the resurrection, Craig said he was “really sorry that [Carrier has] chosen to pursue that tack, despite our agreement that that wouldn’t be our topic tonight,” implying that because Carrier agreed to debate the resurrection, it was inappropriate to bring up the issue of the gospels’ reliability.

This is, again, completely absurd. An agreement to debate topic A is not an agreement not to debate topic B, if topic B is relevant to topic A. And the reliability of the gospels is clearly relevant to the debate about the resurrection. In fact, the problems with the historical reliability of the New Testament make a mockery of the notion that the resurrection can be shown to have happened with historical evidence.

It’s possible that Craig really believes these absurd arguments, but it’s unlikely. Given his many other highly misleading statements about Biblical scholarship, I think the most likely explanation is that these arguments are a tactic to avoid a debate–over the historical reliability of the gospels–which Craig knows he can’t win.

I’ll be frank: Craig’s case for the resurrection isn’t just misleading. It’s based on lies. There’s no way he seriously believes most of his “facts” are facts. Not in the sense his audience will assume he means, the sense of something that is not mere opinion and can be proven. He knows his main source of evidence for the “facts” is the gospels, and he knows he’d lose a debate on their historical reliability. And he also knows many Biblical scholars reject his “facts,” though he won’t tell his audience that if he can avoid it.

Note that even if Habermas were right that 75% of scholars accepted the empty tomb, it would still be wrong to call it a fact. If I found out a full quarter of historians doubted something I had thought was a fact, I’d be surprised and want to know what the controversy was about. After all, 75% is only a couple points higher than the percentage of philosophers who are atheists, but Craig would never let an opponent get away with claiming atheism as a “fact” on that basis.

Craig has other arguments he uses to support his claims about the resurrection, but take away the misleading rhetoric and I don’t think they’re remotely convincing. For example, without the appeal to authority, his arguments for the empty tomb mostly boil down to claiming that if the story were a legend, it would have been told differently. No Christian would take such arguments seriously if presented for another religion’s miracle.

And I don’t think those arguments are what make Craig rhetorically effective. Most of the rhetorical impact of his case for the resurrection comes from misleading his audience about the basics of Biblical scholarship. Given that, I see little reason to say anything more about Craig’s case for the resurrection.

  • Kevin

    One point I find humorous: Craig says that the original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary and then claims that skeptics dismiss the resurrection by holding a contrary philosophical disposition. Contradiction much?

  • eric

    TL:DR version:

    Craig: The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these three facts.

    Hallq: the plausible naturalistic explanation is that the literary source of your facts is not credible.

    • ACN

      *applause*

      Said SO well!

  • jhendrix

    Chris,

    As someone who deconverted, and went through a lot of apologetics on the way out, especially stuff by Craig or influenced by his arguments (Strobel) – I have to agree with you.

    This is very similar to his use of science in reference to the Kalam, it’s extremely slanted use of specific facts that he wants, while ignoring the rest of the theories in question that don’t support the conclusion he wants.

    • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

      Yeah. I’m not sure if WLC has changed his approach (I try to avoid listening to him too much at one time!) but from watching videos of debate he always seemed to imply that cosmologists think that “the big bang” was something coming from nothing, or was specifically the absolute start of the universe. This is not correct – no-one knows what happened at that exact point as the current models break down – which is a very different proposition.

      I’m no philosopher so can’t really comment on the technical issues of his philosophy, but WLC seems to consistently misrepresent issues in cosmology that 30 seconds with Google would clarify. Unfortunately this implies that he is either incompetent, deliberately lying, or doesn’t care what the other arguments imply.

      If you have the time YouTube user TheoreticalBullshit has a good take on WLC’s version of Kalam (and on dealing with WLC in general).

      • Kevin

        Funny you should mention TBS, Craig has also misrepresented his position.

        • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

          Well, yeah, there’s a lot of it around!

  • http://liberalrationalism.blogspot.com Tony Lloyd

    Off-is-WLC-dishonest-topic but there are a couple of things about Paul and the resurrection.

    1. Paul did not see the physical body of Jesus. The ascension was before the Road to Damascus. So Paul’s use of the term “risen” includes “spiritually but not physically risen” and is, thus, no evidence at all for “actually physically risen and we mean it, deffo not ‘figurative’ or ‘spiritual’, no way”.

    2. If we accept the martyrdom and a belief in physical resurrection then the apostles died and believed. That’s a long way from dying for or because of those beliefs. To establish for or because of we need to establish that not only did they believe and die but that if they did not believe they would not have been put to death (they had sandals, they died; did they “die for sandals”?)
    What’s being claimed if it is claimed that they would not have been put to death had they not believed in a physical resurrection? Picture yourself as a Roman magistrate judging some subversive pain-in-the-arse in front of you who’s been causing all sorts of trouble for the Pax Romana.

    Said pain-in-the-arse says “that bit about the resurrection; we didn’t mean it literally

    Are you really going to respond “Oh, that’s ok then. We don’t care about you dissing Roman rule, causing unrest and generally making a nuisance of yourself. What really annoyed us was that your new religion preached a physical rather than spiritual or figurative resurrection?”

  • Laurence

    I have a feeling that Lowder just going to say that Craig is probably self-deceived and that’s a better explanation.

  • mnb0

    You’re still playing the game according to Craig’s rules. I refuse to.

    “outright lies played a role in the origins of Christianity.”
    As any professional historian of Antiquity can tell you authors back then weren’t interested in separating fact and fiction. Back then the word “true” meant something else than nowadays. You can call that superstition if you like, as long as you realize that those legends, lies, made up stories or whatever you call them were written with a meaning.

    http://www.livius.org/ea-eh/edges/edges.html

    The whole idea of the edges of the world wasn’t believed literally, simply because the Romans had reached the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Still they didn’t get rid of it simply because it confirmed their idea of being superior. Saying that they lied simply misses the point they wanted to make.
    Same for the hallucinations of the apostles. Which is exactly the reason why we don’t have to accept them as evidence. For us hallucination were a way to gain knowledge; not for us.

    • mnb0

      Please read: for them hallucinations were …..

  • http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com John D

    I agree with the basic point here, i.e. that the four (or sometimes three) “facts” mentioned by Craig are not really facts at all. Rather, it is the literary description of those four events in the gospels that is an actual fact, their genuine historical occurrence is another matter, one that historians can and do debate.

    It’s been awhile since I read it, and I don’t have my copy to hand at the moment, but as I recall Craig’s discussion of the four facts in Reasonable Faith does acknowledge this point. There, Craig presents the case for the resurrection as a two-stage inference to the best explanation. The first stage argues that the actual historical occurrence of the four “facts” is the best explanation for the (genuine) fact that they are mentioned in the Gospels. The second stage argues that the best explanation for all four “facts” is the resurrection. In his debates, Craig usually only discusses the second stage, relying on the kind of reasoning you discuss in the post to support the factual nature of the four facts.

    You can look at this two ways, I suppose. First, that Craig doesn’t make the mistake you attribute to him, at least when he is being more careful in presenting his case, and so this accusation doesn’t stick. Or you could argue that since Craig does recognise this point when he is being more careful, yet fails to mention it in his debates, he really is being dishonest (assuming he knows most people will interpret the word “fact” in a particular way). I imagine an excuse is possible, e.g. that this neglect is tactical: if his opponent wants to bring it up, Craig will respond to it, but he’s not going to do it unless challenged. This is so as to present the best-sounding case for his position.

    I should say, I don’t really care whether the accusation of dishonesty is correct, but I thought it worth making this observation nevertheless.

    • eric

      The first stage argues that the actual historical occurrence of the four “facts” is the best explanation for the (genuine) fact that they are mentioned in the Gospels.

      I’d be interested in hearing (in brief form) what’s in that first stage. I gather from Chris’ oblique references that WLC argues a fabrication would not be written the way this story was written.* Any other arguments?

      *Though I’m not sure whether WLC claims a fabrication would be more fantastical or less.

      • http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com John D

        It’s pretty elaborate but, since I don’t have the book to hand, I couldn’t summarise it accurately or fairly. Basically, it involves ruling out alternative explanations, some of which might claim the Gospel account is a fabrication, but others of which would claim it is the product of honest mistake, delusion, hallucination, myth-making, legendary development and so forth.

        Lowder’s article on how Craig supports just one of those “facts” (the Empty Tomb) would give you a good idea of how Craig makes his case in the first stage:

        http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/empty.html

        • eric

          Thanks for the link. WLC’s argument seems to be: if you accept the bible as a generally historical account, then I will show how the inconsistencies in the the individual story elements can be resolved well enough to make the narrative hold together.

          I especially liked the bit about how nobody would’ve believed the Christians’ story if the tomb was not empty. They would’ve checked for themselves! Yeah, because nobody ever believes miracles without proof.

  • http://fathergriggs.wordpress.com Lord Griggs[ Ignostic Morgan, Inquiring Lynn, Skeptic Griggsy, Carneades of Ga., Fr.or Rabbi Griggs]

    What rational person would ever accept the unverifiable writings of anonymous men with their silly miracles, contrivances of fulfilling prophecies that pertain to other matters, false history and contradictions with each other?, that we full skeptics have little reason but to accept Yeshua as a fact but with legends built upon him at the most or else for some of us he did not exist. For now, I take him as having existed but as the Gospels describe him, as just another god-am, miracle-monger with a silly and dangerous ethic, a cult leader who demands that his sheep love him more than others, an advocate for logicide-faith, coming to separate families and to bring the sword, not peace! That’s the context for my and Miklos Jako’s’ declaring that to call the fool the great ethicist is the scam of the ages! Col. Ingersoll and Lord Russell agree to that!
    That great skeptic Martin Gardner wasn’t a full skeptic as he was a fideistic deist!
    http://ingersollbradlaugh.wordpress.com

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  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    The old standby of ignoring the whole field of the philosophy of history and acting your methods of determining which sources are reliable are as valid as any other. I don’t think I’ve read an apologist who’s acknowledged the very basic facts of how mainstream history operates. WLC is sort of an exception, but he uses them normal methods in a highly dubious way and begs the question fo why other scholars come to different conclusions than he does using this methodology. To here him talk, you would think the truth of the gospel is obvious and some people just avoid the evidence for political reasons.

  • http://lotsoftinyrobots.blogspot.com Collin

    I agree with pretty much this entire article. As someone who sat through Craig’s entire Defenders class, I can vouch for how consistently Craig makes these misrepresentations in private and in public.

    I even made the exact same point about the Carrier debate on Lowder’s in this comment

    There is one point I’d like to dispute though, and perhaps I’m misreading so Chris please correct me if I’m wrong.

    There’s no way he seriously believes most of his “facts” are facts.

    Since Craig is a biblical inerrantist, I can say with certainty that Craig believes each one of his facts is completely true. I am also sure that he is aware that scholarship doesn’t completely back him up on that, but that has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Craig actually believes them.

    • http://lotsoftinyrobots.blogspot.com Collin

      Also, listen to any of his Reasonable Faith Podcasts where he reviews a debate he just had and watch how blatant the misrepresentations are there. I actually think that is the best example of outright dishonesty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Well yes, he thinks the Bible is inerrant. The point is, though, that there’s no way he seriously believes he has historical proof for all of his “facts.” And that’s the sense of “fact” audience members without prior knowledge of Biblical scholarship are going to take away from his presentations.

  • jamessweet

    (Or something like hallucinations. Crossan, a liberal Christian, seems to avoid the word.)

    I’m as atheist as they come, and I don’t care for the word “hallucinations” here either, because it plays into the false dichotomy (well, trichotomy I guess, if there is such a thing) that the apologists like to establish, that either the apostles were lying, hallucinating, or it really happened. I’d prefer phraseology like “something made the apostles falsely believe”, etc., because there’s so many things besides a straight-up hallucination that could account for that. Maybe they saw somebody who looked like him, and embellished the story later, I dunno… it’s just, when something inexplicable happens, I am loathe to chalk up a specific mundane explanation without a lot of evidence, even if I favor a mundane explanation in general over a fantastic one.

    • Kevin

      Alternate suggestions: rumors, gossip, myth. However, these are more down to Earth than what could have happened. It’s entirely possible that the adherents had a cult-like reaction to the death of their prophet and became more extreme (in their beliefs/ disconnect from reality) as we have observed in other groups. I wouldn’t really know what to call that besides delusional.

      • 1415dr

        Exaclty. Dying for a cause doesn’t make it true. Otherwise jim jones or bin laden would be the messiah.

  • savoy47

    W.L.C. is not debating his opponents. He is speaking to the doubting faithful that live inside the bubble. Those people are predisposed to non-evidentiary thinking and will accept whatever he says. W.L.C. is manufacturing DTF (Duct Tape of Faith) in an effort to seal the ever growing cracks in the bubble.

  • Kevin K

    It’s quite simply a sleight-of-hand trick.

    Craig claims that bible-believing bible historians believe in the bible.

    Duh.

    Now, subject those beliefs to scrutiny…

    It’s not just the historicity of Jesus that’s in question. It’s the historical accuracy of anything in the bible.

    AFAIK, here are the historically confirmed parts of the bible.

    People: Augustus, Quirinius, Pilate, Herod (Antipas and Agrippa), and John the Baptist were real people.
    Places: Jerusalem, Nazareth, Dead Sea, etc. [Although the Sea of Galilee is allegedly this wild storm-tossed ocean-let -- when it's actually a placid, shallow large lake. If Jesus "walked on water", it was more likely wading ashore.]
    Events: Execution of John the Baptist.

    That’s it. Every other “event” with regard to the activities of the half-god named Jesus cannot be confirmed to have happened. No wonder we can’t prove definitely that he existed or not.

    * No census. Most especially not one where people were required to go to a different town from the one they lived in (censuses were about taxable property).
    * No murder of innocents by Herod.
    * No preacher attracting thousands and thousands of adherents.
    * No triumphant entry into Jerusalem (this would have definitely been noticed by the many chroniclers of the time).
    * No turning over the money-changing tables (ditto).
    * No trial.
    * No freeing an insurrectionist named Barabbas.
    * No execution.
    * No tomb, empty or otherwise.

    Leave aside the obviously mythical aspects (miracles). You can’t place a person named “Jesus” at these events because you can’t even show the events themselves happened.

    It’s like trying to find a ghost inside an invisible haunted house located in Cleveland in 1797.

    • http://fathergriggs.wordpress.com Lord Griggs[ Ignostic Morgan, Inquiring Lynn, Skeptic Griggsy, Carneades of Ga., Fr.or Rabbi Griggs]

      Kevin K, of course!
      My query is as there Chrisitans around 33 C.E., wouldn’t some have known him or would a religion without him just have sprung up? Do we have any way of finding out what the earliest Christians thought? That is, do we have any kind of trajectory from them to later ones as to his very existence?
      Anyway, let’s spread the truth about ” him” as described in context! In context, he’s a jerk!

  • 1415dr

    In church our pastor used to scream about how the only proof we need for Christ was the empty tomb, and since he had visited it himself (with our tithe money) he could assure us it was still empty. The people would jump out of their seats and sing and cry like they’d seen a miracle with their own eyes. I always thought it was the most rediculous concept in the whole faith. Just cause a grave is empty it proves someone rose from the dead? Isn’t Thomas paine’s grave empty too? I think back on it now as the willful delusion of people who are tired of thinking for themselves. If the apostles were half as stupid and gullible as the people in my church they definitely couldn’t be considered reliable sane witnesses. If delusion and gullibility are all that’s required for your faith to be true then suicide bombers must be on the right track.

    • eric

      …he could assure us it was still empty.

      If there was a 2,000 year old body in it, THAT would be something to write home about. Outside certain mummification techniques, one would fully expect a regular corpse to be gone by now.

      But I suspect your pastor’s rhetoric is like a lot of political rhetoric – “not intended to be a factual statement.”

      • 1415dr

        Something like that. I think he was just relying on the people in the church to clap at anything he said as long as he said it with gusto. It was all empty words. Like watching Jay Leno when the audience laughs and hoots every time he puts inflection in his voice, not when he says something that’s actually funny. It was surreal, like they had no intelligence at all.

  • cag

    I was involved in an on-line discussion with someone who claimed that because atheist historians discussed the resurrection then it had to be true. My reply was that if atheist historians believed the resurrection to be true, they would get down on their knees and pray for forgiveness, which did not happen. Never heard from him again. Guess he took a wrong turn in the quote mine and is still looking for a way out.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

    Hallquist,

    These impressions are false ones. Now, Craig doesn’t quite say all those things, giving him some room to claim that everything he says is technically true. It’s still highly misleading. And I think that must be deliberate.

    So, it’s just sort of a gut feeling, then? IOW, you really don’t have any conclusive evidence that would sustain your claim that Craig is a “liar?”

    It’s possible that Craig really believes these absurd arguments, but it’s unlikely.

    Why? Because you say so? Again, just a gut feeling. An assertion. Nothing remotely close to conclusive evidence. Am I the only one who thinks you’re being inconsistent here? After all, you demand the highest level of evidence WRT the reliability of the NT, but then, when you want to libel Craig, nothing more than a gut feeling based on “possibility” suffices.

    Lowder tore you to shreds—not with gut feelings and hearsay, but ruthless logic and true critical thinking—and I enjoyed every minute of it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Nope, explained why, but you ignored my explanation.

  • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Chris,

    Contrary to what apologists like Craig like to pretend, it doesn’t take a miracle to get a corpse out of a cave; Jesus’ body could easily have been removed from the tomb through natural means.

    That strikes as a maximally uncharitable interpretation of Craig and other apologists. I have never read a single defender of the resurrection claim that a miracle is required to get a corpse out of the cave. Rather, Craig, Licona, Habermas, and others argue that the resurrection is the best explanation (i.e., most probable explanation) for how the tomb became empty. That’s a big difference.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Well, I’m poking fun at Craig a bit here. I assume he knows that. But then he says things like other explanations for the empty tomb have been “universally rejected by contemporary scholarship” and there is “no plausible natural explanation.” Which implies he thinks this particular corpse could not have gotten out of that particular cave without a miracle. Which is nonsense.

      And I’m not just talking about weak senses of “could.” Pace Craig, there are *obviously* plausible alternatives, especially given that the evidence that the tomb was found empty (or even that there was a tomb) is so weak in the first place.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      It’s worth pointing out what Craig is claiming: he claims that even if the reports of Jesus’ tomb being empty are pure hearsay from not-generally-reliable accounts of Jesus’ life, we can still show that not only was the tomb empty but there are “no plausible natural explanations” for it being empty. That’s literally what he is claiming. I’m sorry, that’s a claim we would have no trouble just laughing at if any other religion were under discussion here.

      The “no plausible natural explanations” claim, by the way, is from Reasonable Faith p. 377.

  • jimfoster

    I debated in high school. Craig debated in high school and/or college. His presentation style comes across as holdover from that training: Look good. Stand tall & straight. Speak clearly, neither too fast nor too slow. Be the incarnation of confidence and scholarly appearance. Be well organized with arguments streamlined in advance. Keep arguments few, simple and crystal clear. Real evidence and real logic are acceptable but you can let them play second fiddle to persuasion. Invoke authority. Use “most experts agree”. Don’t give anything up. Most counter arguments may be ignored. Tell the audience what you are going to tell them; then tell them; then tell them what you told them. The point is to win the debate. If you also happen to be right that’s OK, too. Student debate clubs are not hot beds of critical thinking. Craig curls my toes.

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  • http://skepticiality.wordpress.comhttp://skepticity.blogspot.com SkepticGriggsy-Carneades-IgnosticMorgan

    Craig blindly accepts the words of undocumented authors1 He trusts them because they tell him about Yehua throough the Holy Spirit- his own mental states. So, he is ever arguing in a circle! He’s a silly person.

  • http://skepticiality.wordpress.comhttp://skepticity.blogspot.com SkepticGriggsy-Carneades-IgnosticMorgan

    Craig blindly believes men for whom no one can vouch!

  • http://skepticiality.wordpress.comhttp://skepticity.blogspot.com SkepticGriggsy-Carneades-IgnosticMorgan

    Sorry for the typos.authors!through

  • http://www.facebook.com/alincolnism?ref=ts&fref=ts Johncoroama

    A fine website for you fine skeptics! http://www.facebook.com/alincolnism?ref=ts&fref=ts

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