At the NW Miracles Conference, I discussed the question “Is it ever reasonable to believe miracle claims?” with Christian thinker Hans Vodder, who has graduate degrees in both philosophy and theology. We were, however, just the warm-up act for the big closing event of the conference: a debate between Michael Shermer and Luuk van de Weghe about the miracles of Jesus.
Luuk used the very old (ancient?) apologetic argument for the resurrection of Jesus: the apostles were neither deceived nor deceivers. Shermer made a number of good skeptical points in the debate, but he never touched on the main objection that I would have raised against Luuk’s argument: the historical assumptions about the twelve disciples/apostles have no solid basis in historical facts. We know very little about the twelve disciples during the ministry of Jesus, and we know almost nothing about them after the crucifixion of Jesus. Luuk’s apologetic argument rests upon very shaky historical claims.So, although I would not argue that we KNOW the twelve disciples of Jesus to be deceivers, I think that Luuk and Christian apologists in general, have no solid grounds for a “refutation” of the Conspiracy Theory. Luuk and other apologists argue that the twelve disciples would not have boldly proclaimed that they had personally witnessed the resurrected Jesus if this were not true, because they suffered martyrdom for preaching this claim.
In order to raise my favored objection against Luuk’s apologetic argument, I plan in future posts to defend the Conspiracy Theory against various objections, namely objections that have been put forward by Peter Kreeft in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics. Kreeft’s objections to the Conspiracy Theory can be found at the Strange Notions website.