As I have previously said in my Resurrection series, starting off with looking at the contradictions within the Gospel accounts:
The question then becomes, are these contradictions better explained, and are the claims themselves, better explained by an ultimate truth in them, or by an alternative theory? We know from the nativity accounts that when the claims of the Gospels are verifiable and cross-referencable with external sources, they fail dismally. Therefore, on what basis are further claims (which themselves might be internally inconsistent like the Resurrection claims) believable when one cannot cross-reference them or verify them whatsoever? These are literally incredible claims, so the evidence must be pretty damned good to make them believable. How do we know what was privately being said by Pilate, who recorded all of these speeches on the hoof, who are the sources whom we can check? Why is there not one single external reference or witness to any of Jesus’ amazing miracles?
Sathya Sai Baba in India has far more miracles, attested to with more technology and by a far greater number than Jesus had. He has more followers. And yet Christians do not believe him to be a miracle worker!
No, the evidence is shoddy, utterly filled with unknowns and contradictions and a lack of verifiability.
This idea of the number of witnesses is an important one. No, it’s not an argumentum ad populum, but the more witnesses you have to something, the higher the credibility it surely has, ceteris paribus. That’s not, of course, to say it automatically becomes credible, or something with more witnesses is, therefore, more credible than something with fewer witnesses. Things are always more complicated than that with whole hosts of variables. But, the number of witnesses is an important variable – just think of a court of law and witnesses to a crime.
With the Resurrection of Jesus, we have precious few witnesses, whether we’re talking of immediately afterwards, at the tomb (no one actually witnessed the resurrection as it happened), or of the resurrected Jesus walking about and appearing to random people (or not so random people).
The point is, the number of witnesses and the level of evidence for many other claims – conspiracy claims, dubious miracle claims etc. – are far more numerous and far more superior, and yet Christians will easily dismiss these other such claims whilst holding onto the Resurrection claim with white-knuckled evangelism.
This short comedy video alludes to exactly this problem.
The Christian might argue that the witnesses to Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles and conspiracy theories or whatnot are simply not credible witnesses. But this raises the question over whether ex post facto Christian Messianic cult members who have just found out their Messiah, who was supposed to be the living saviour, has just died, are themselves credible witnesses?
I’ll leave you to answer that question.
- On the Skepticism of the Resurrection
- On the Skepticism of the Resurrection (part 2)
- On the Skepticism of the Resurrection (part 3)
- On the Skepticism of the Resurrection (part 4) – naturalistic explanations
- Jesus: burial practices and crucifixion
- Joseph of Arimathea; a rich prophecy fulfilment
- Joseph of Arimathea – fact or fiction? Er, fiction.
- Why was Jesus’ tomb not venerated?
- Matthew and the guards at the tomb
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