bookmark_borderThe Case for the Death of Jesus

I have written several posts about William Craig’s “case” for the death of Jesus in his book The Son Rises. In those posts I showed that Craig made about 81 historical claims, but failed to provide any historical evidence for 85% of those claims, and provided only weak and dubious historical evidence for the other 15% of claims. In short, Craig provided solid historical evidence for ZERO of the 81 historical claims he makes in his “case” for the death of Jesus. He completely failed to show that Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday, and thus his case for the resurrection is also a complete failure.
However, I can imagine a response to my objection to Craig’s case for the resurrection of Jesus:
You are right. William Craig has generally ignored the issue of whether Jesus died on the cross, and his case for the death of Jesus in The Son Rises is pathetic. But the problem here is that Craig does not take this issue seriously, and so he does not make a serious effort to prove that Jesus died on the cross. In his view, the question of whether Jesus actually died on the cross was settled long ago, and there is no need to re-hash the issue.
However, other Christian apologists take this question more seriously, and they make a more serious effort to build an historical case for the death of Jesus on the cross. So, defeating Craig’s half-hearted effort in The Son Rises is something bordering on a Straw Man fallacy. You need to consider the cases made by other apologists. There are other Christian apologists who do a better job on this issue, such as Norman Geisler, Michael Licona, and Gary Habermas. Until you consider the cases made by these apologists, you have only refuted one of the weakest cases available.
I think this is a reasonable response to my objection to Craig’s case for the resurrection. So, I plan to move on to examine cases for the death of Jesus by Geisler, Licona, and Habermas. I believe they in fact do a better job building a case for the death of Jesus than Craig has, so their cases deserve serious examination and consideration.

bookmark_borderWorst Atheist Debate Performances (revised 22-May-15)

In the past, I posted a list of the “Worst Atheist Debaters.” I now think that title was a mistake, since it’s possible that a single debate performance may not be representative of a person’s overall skill in debate. So I am republishing that list now as a list of the “Worst Atheist Debate Performances.”
Like my list of “Best Atheist Debaters,” I don’t know of any way to be fully objective about this sort of thing. Also, like the other list, I fully recognize that others may disagree. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, here is my list of worst atheist debate performances, organized by topic.

Topic: God’s Existence

Topic: Morality Without God
  • Craig-Kurtz Debate (for an example, see here)
  • Craig-Taylor Debate

Topic: Resurrection of Jesus

  • Habermas-Flew Debate
  • Wood-Loftus Debate (2015)
Note: as with the other list, nothing should be read into the fact that someone’s name does not appear on this list. I haven’t listened to all atheist debate performances; additionally, I am undecided about some of the ones I have listened to.

bookmark_borderMUST READ: Greg Cavin’s Case Against the Resurrection of Jesus

Greg Cavin has graciously allowed me to publish a PDF version of his slides from his debate with Michael Licona on the resurrection of Jesus. For anyone interested in arguments for or against the resurrection of Jesus, these slides are an absolute must read. In my opinion, they constitute a major contribution to the ongoing debate about the Resurrection and are the best case against the Resurrection yet presented. Cavin decisively refutes arguments for the resurrection made by all of its prominent defenders, such as the McGrews, Swinburne, Craig, Davis, Habermas, Licona, Geisler, McDowell, and Strobel.

In his slides, Cavin defends three main contentions.
1. The prior probability of a specifically supernatural Resurrection of Jesus by God is so astronomically low that the Resurrection Theory has virtually zero (0) plausibility.
2. The Resurrection Theory is a dismal failure as an explanation of the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus—being ad hoc and almost completely devoid of explanatory power and scope.
3. There is an alternative theory to the Resurrection that is a far superior explanation.
In defense of these three contentions, Cavin identifies and refutes sixteen (16) myths perpetuated by Christians who defend the Resurrection. (The numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers in the PDF file.) Cavin’s refutation of these objections constitutes a tour-de-force against Resurrection apologetics.

  1. The Burden’s on the Skeptic Objection: The skeptic is required to explain the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus. (37-45)
  2. The Skeptic Assumes Atheism Objection: The skeptic falsely assumes that God does not exist, so his skepticism about the Resurrection is unjustified. (46-49)
  3. The Natural–Not-Supernatural–Resurrection-is-Impossible Objection: Resurrection cannot be caused by purely natural means. (50-56)
  4. The Divine Interference Objection: The skeptic wrongly ignores God’s supernatural intervention saying that the Resurrection has a low prior probability. (45-117)
  5. The Best Explanation Objection: The Resurrection theory is the best explanation of the Empty Tomb and Postmortem Appearances of Jesus. (118-226)
  6. The Frequencies Objection: It is a fallacy to appeal to frequencies as evidence for the low prior probability of the Resurrection since this ignores the action of external agents. (227-277)
  7. The Science Objection: Science cannot prove that the Resurrection is improbable. (278-324)
  8. The Total Evidence Objection: The prior probability of the Resurrection is inscrutable because the total relevant evidence isn’t available. (325-335)
  9. The Religio-Historical Context Objection: The skeptic ignores the religio-historical context of the Resurrection. (336-351)
  10. The Reference Class Objection: It is impossible to determine the correct reference class for the Resurrection. (352-354)
  11. The Naturalism Objection: The anti-resurrectionist assumes the truth of naturalism. (355-367)
  12. The Criteria of Adequacy Objection: The Resurrection Theory alone satisfies all the Criteria of Adequacy. (368-373)
  13. The Mathematics Objection: Mathematical probability cannot be applied to the Resurrection. (374-380)
  14. The Plausibility-Prior Probability Objection: Plausibility must be used as a criterion in place of prior probability. (381-387)
  15. The Anti-Bayes’ Theorem Objection: Bayes’ Theorem cannot be applied to the Resurrection. (388-425)
  16. The There-Are-No–Contradictions-in-the-Easter-Narratives Objection: The skeptic falsely holds that there are no contradictions in the Easter narratives. (426-430)