I’ve Moved!

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Hello everyone. As you can see, I haven’t posted here in a while. There’s a simple reason for that: I’ve moved! I’ve opened up the scope of my blog a bit and have started hosting it on my professional website AndrewCrigler.com. Please come check it out and join the discussion there as we learn to Question Culture together. After all, we must see the big picture before we can become a part of it.

Andrew Crigler

equos ad aquam ducere

REVIEW: God’s Crime Scene. Because, Seriously, How Do We Know that God Even Exists?

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GUYS. I just got to read an early copy of God’s Crime Scene (by J. Warner Wallace at/of Cold Case Christianity). It’s AMAZING.

People always ask, “how come there’s no physical evidence for God?,” “If God’s so real then why doesn’t He science?”, and “WHERE’S MY OTHER SOCK?”

Well God’s Crime Scene rocks both socks and can help you find the missing ones.

It’s a BRILLIANT and ENGAGING case-making book attuned to the modern attention (WHY IS IT ALWAYS THE LEFT ONE?!) span. Seriously. The chapters cover everything briefly, but then refer you to OVER 100 PAGES of other resources, deeper reading, and annotations.

“But what do the chapter cover?”

Thanks, Vanna! Great question!

The question the book seeks to answer is simple: Is there good reason to believe that God exists?

Here’s a play by play of the chapter topics:

  1. How did the Universe come about (for those who like tidy, little questions)
  2. Who’s responsible for the everything (Physics, Nature, God, Cat Videos?)
  3. How did anything become alive in the first place? (sorry, People-with-Pet-Rocks, but they are dead. So very dead)
  4. But how specific does everything have to be for stuff to be alive anyway? (Fine Tuning vs. Chaos cage match)
  5. Brain Theory (Is my Mind a Brain or is my Brian a Mind or are they weird cousins? [how do we account for consciousness?])
  6. Do we have free will or are we ROBOTS?
  7. Morals: what are they good for? (By Edwin Starr [and how do we decide what’s good and bad? Do we decide at all?])
  8. How could there be God AND Evil? (again, for those who like light, simple reading).

“Oh, but he’s just gonna use the Bible and say, “Have faith.”

Oh yeah?

WELL HE DOESN’T EVEN USE THE BIBLE.

Most people are all like, “Well you can’t use the Bible to prove that God exists ’cause it assumes that God exists.” And they are right. And J. Warner doesn’t. You wanna know what he DOES use?

  • Science (SO MUCH OF IT)
  • Abductive reasoning
  • Cumulative evidence
  • Expert witnesses on BOTH SIDES
  • Logic
  • Philosophy
  • AWESOME DETECTIVE STORIES.

Because you know what, in God’s Crime Scene EVERY CHAPTER is bookended with awesome cop stories to use as analogies. And you know what else? They work BRILLIANTLY. This is easily one of the most user friendly science/philosophy books EVER. He uses real words and not crazy stuff we always have to look up like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

J. Warner tosses us into the jury box once again (the first time was in Cold Case Christianity [which is also AMAZING]), so that we can see if ALL of the evidence lines up one way or another. Seriously. He quotes everyone from Dawkins to Lewis, Harris to Craig, McDonalds to Burger King!

And like I said earlier, he quotes other smart people’s works, writes extras for deeper reading, and provides BOTH SIDES resource’s to boot!

GUYS. Seriously. If you are at all curious to know if God exists or why it makes REASONABLE, LOGICAL, and SCIENTIFIC SENSE THAT HE DOES, check out this book. I’m literally buying extra copies to lend out (which means give away. Who every returns a book?)

It’s simple, clear, robust, engaging, short, and of the utmost importance. You’re excuses are gone. Get your brain in gear and get reading God’s Crime Scene.

3 Reasons Why “Spiritual But Not Religious” Can’t Hold Water Unless it Does

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What up, Shutter Bugs! Ever hear someone say that they are Spiritual but not religious? It’s sort of the craze for those who don’t like organized religion but don’t think Atheism makes enough sense. After all, isn’t religious doctrine really the problem with the world?

Time for a MIGHTY MORPHIN’ METAPHOR.

Ever try to hold water with your bare hands? It’s pretty slippery. We need small things like buckets, or large things like swimming pools, or enormous things like gravity and altitude to hold big bodies of water in place. There has to be something that can hold the water or it goes just anywhere: it disperses and evaporates before it can be useful.

Same idea stands in logic, spirituality, and the metaphysical. It must have some sort of guidelines or everything just becomes Calvin-ball. Take a look at this quote and then we’ll hit reason number 1.

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1. Spirituality is no better than religion.

The negative ideas about religion here are actually fit all people. Quick! Name anything wide-spread and organized that doesn’t suffer from corruption, politics, divisiveness, or becoming a tool for a power struggle!

Whales. They are big, widespread, and unified in eating plankton and krill. Now whales holds water! (or is the water holding THEM?!)

Perhaps, then, it’s a people problem and not a religion problem (see my article What If the World Was Religionless for more). The only reason we don’t see widespread corruption etc. in the Spiritual But Not Religious person is because they haven’t organized. It’s individual enough to be hard to critic, but that also means that it isn’t solidly reasonable either. Being Spiritual doesn’t make us better people. We all still suffer from the same malady; being human.

2. Spirituality is Ideological.

“Spirituality is not an ideology or theology” is an idealogical statement. It’s an ideological statement that rejects ideological and theological statements. See the problem? Here’s the dictionary definitions of Ideology:

“The body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class.”

Now you might be thinking, “There is no DOCTRINE for spirituality!”

Yes there is. He says it next.

“It is a simple way of life, pure, and original. . .” Therefore if the idea isn’t simple, pure, and original, then it’s not Spirituality. That’s limiting, isn’t it? It’s certainly ideological.

For instance, if it’s original, does that mean that it’s original to each person or that the original revelation from the Most High is what Spiritualists must adhere to? The answer to that question comes with the next point.

3. Spirituality is Theological.

“. . . as given by the Most High.” So Spirituality has been given by the Most High. Well who is this Most High giver? How do we know about Him/Her and what is He/She like? We must know more about Him/Her in order to understand what it is that He/She has revealed. If He/She did reveal it, how do we know what “it” is? And if your “it” is contrary to my “it,” how do we know who is right? Spirituality leaves this open for questioning, but divorces religion for actually having an answer. That’s the theology of Spiritual But Not Religious.

Epilogue!

He finishes the quote off with an ideological, theological statement; “Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe, and each other.”

If something violates that statement, then it goes against the doctrine of Spirituality. It’s that simple. If I say that Spirituality doesn’t connect me to Whales, then I’m violating the doctrine of Spirituality. Then I’d be telling a non-Spiritual non-fish story.

Spirituality isn’t as flexible as it wants to be. It cannot be all inclusive and refuse to includes the exclusive world-views (like organized religions).

Even vague, individualized spirituality MUST have limitations. Every world-view must take into account that people are the way were are and explain why, must be ideological, and must be theological (or a-theological [which wouldn’t be a thing without Theology]). There must be parameters. There must be ways to distinguish one world-view from another. There must be walls in the spiritual pool. Otherwise, it sinks.

Did Christians Make Up Sin So They Could Sell Salvation?

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Hello, Hopeful Hamsters!

Today we’re going to talk about this quote!

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As always, we’ll start by answering the question, “Is it true?”

Let’s look at the premiss. “The very concept of sin comes from the Bible.”

Does it?

So if the Bible didn’t say that sin existed, then is there no evil in the world? Everything is as it should be? Humans aren’t guilty of anything? Humans aren’t the most destructive, harmful, and willingly malignant creatures ever? Sounds a lot like what the Bible would call sin, and everyone would call evil anyway. The word “sin” certainly comes from the Bible, but the concept of evil is inescapably extra-Biblical. Basically, the Bible calls the world like it is. Thus the premiss bombs.

QUIZ TIME.

Which logical fallacy is this?!!!

POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC (literally “after this, therefore because of this”).

Basically it means that just because Christians talk about sin and salvation does NOT mean that we made up sin. This quote assumes that Christians made it up. It’s like if I went and threw a bucket of water into the ocean every day and told you, “That’s why the ocean stays full!” In reality, the ocean’s fullness has nothing to do with me. In the opposite way, Christians calling something sin did not invent sin. It just called it what it is. The quote has it backwards.

But what’s the difference between “sin” and “evil”?

Simply, God is how we know what is evil and what is good. Christianity claims the there is evil BECAUSE we do things against the nature of God. That is the essence of evil (though it is not the effects, which is what we most often call evil. Evil must come from somewhere. The Bible has an explanation. What’s yours?) Being anti-God is how evil exists to start, and it’s how we know what is evil to finish. From a purely naturalistic worldview, there is no good or evil ultimately. I’ve talked about this a ton before, so click my Evil tab so see all of my articles on this.

So sin/evil exists. . . What do we do about it?

This is where Christianity steps in and offers an answer to a problem that is readily apparent in our world. However, it’s far more and far better than a bandaid. It’s having aa zombie having a cut and being turned into an angel. God offers us far more than help. He wants us to have complete newness through Jesus. God defeated evil as Jesus on the cross (what our evil deserves) and raised Him to life again (what He offers us if we want Him). Christianity has an answer. Unfortunately, Naturalism does not.

Therefore, would you be thankful to a person who sees that you are cut and offers you new body and soul?

Comment below, follow the blog with the fancy button, email the me at Andrew@EntertainingChristianity.com, and stalk me personally at @AndrewCrigler on Twitter and Instagram.

The Explicit Bedtime Bible Storybook and Why the Bible Isn’t an Immoral Children’s Book

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Hello, my Pandas of Discernment!

Go ahead on put on you’re intrigued glances and top hats! Today we’ll be talking about some crazy, religious propaganda that’s going around. That’s right, it’s time to talk about the Explicit Bedtime Bible Stories book.

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Really? There’s 3 things’ I’d like to say about the philosophy that one must assume for this to be relevant, and then one wrap-up about the irony of this book’s creation.

LET’S PHILOSOPHIZE. So what’s this book assuming?

1. It assumes that being inappropriate for children means that it is not true.

Seriously. How does this discredit the Bible at all and/or to anyone? The realities of birth, from sex to womb-exiting, is probably too much for children of a young age WHO RECENTLY EXPERIENCED IT. And so is murder and starvation, so is rape and genocide. Do these things happen every day? Yes. Should we tell our three year olds about it? Of course not! They can’t understand it yet. Though, when they are old enough, we need to tell them the truth about our world. Which feeds nicely into my next point.

2. It assumes that EVERYTHING in the Bible is for children.

The Bible never said that the Bible is a storybook for children, neither has anyone who’s ever read the whole thing. The Bible contains poetry, history, sayings, and other types of literature. What it never claims to be is a children’s book. To say it’s just a book of stories (much less children’s stories) is to be ignorant of it and it’s huge span of literary types. The irony here that that the authors/illustrators are trying to spread awareness of the Bible while being knowingly ignorant about the Bible (I think they were intelligent enough to notice other kinds of literature while researching their book).

Sure, some Bible stories are appropriate at a young age, but certainly not all. Children’s Bibles are not complete Bibles for the same reason we don’t let a 5 year old see a rated R movie, but when that same child is 20 no one bats an eye as their ticket stub is torn. A 5 year old just isn’t ready for it.

No one is hiding what’s in the Bible. The whole Bible is available online in hundreds of translations. These stories aren’t some dirty secret and this book isn’t a shocking expose.

3. It tries to show that the Bible is immoral.

This is really the point that the authors of this book are trying to drive home. They want to cherrypick these horrible stories (many of which God also considers horrible) to show that the Bible is an immoral book. But here’s the thing; containing immoral things is not condoning immoral things. Just like I don’t say that the news station supports rape because it reports rape, the Bible doesn’t support immoral actions because it talks about them. Yes, the Bible contains awful horrible things, but so does life. The Bible actually discusses the hard things in life more than any other religious text. It can because it’s not for children, it’s history, and it’s honest. Not one author of the Bible comes out sparkly clean (though other religious books author’s seem to). The Bible’s not trying to put its best face forward. It’s talking about life, the universe, and everything as it really is.

More so, how would one know that the Bible is immoral WITHOUT THE BIBLE? We know some of the things in the Bible are bad BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO. We can appeal to our own conscious as well, you know, LIKE THE BIBLE SAYS WE CAN, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness. . .” (Romans 2:15). AKA, the Bible knows that we all have an innate sense of justice (when we or others violate it) and it says that God made us that way. What’s the non-Biblical reason that the Bible is immoral? Somebody’s opinion?

I have one final question for you. . .

Isn’t this a vigorously religious way of hating religion?

Can you taste the little-copper-penny irony here? This is ignorant, mean, and religionist. How is forgoing religion going to help if we do that EXACT SAME THINGS that we hate religious people for doing?

Comment below, follow the blog with the fancy button, email the me at Andrew@EntertainingChristianity.com, and stalk me personally at @AndrewCrigler on Twitter and Instagram.

Is Faith Trust? Why Evolution Takes Faith Too

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An illuminated connection network forming a crucifix. --- Image by © Mr. Murdoch/Corbis

Hello, Mighty Ducks!

Today we’re talking about the word “faith.” I’ve noticed a rather odd thing as of late; Atheists really hate the word faith. I’ve seen passionate speeches against the word and how stupid it is. Of course, I’ve written about how silly blind faith is, but Biblical faith actually means trust.

Jonny Brotherton at Atheist Analysis has a well made and poignant video against faith and differentiated it from trust. Here’s a link to it on Facebook!

Now what’s the problem here? First, is it clear what he means by the difference of faith and trust? I don’t see it (aside from the different conjugations which are claimed to not make sense. . . due to grammar?). I would definitely say that faith is trust. If you can find a single Bible verse where faith ISN’T trust, comment below and we’ll talk about it (and perhaps I’ll do another post on it).

But here’s the thing: Naturalistic Rationalists (a name that works much better than the simple declaration of unbelief of pure atheism) also have faith.

Wait WHAT?

In the video above Jonny talks about how he knows the bridge will hold him, and for good reason! He then lists the evidence for why he can have faith in it. . . I mean trust it, not to fall. This can be a confusing example because the bridge is a fully physical and current event. Can we have that same kind of trust in events we haven’t witnessed? Naturalistic Rationalists certainly do (and so do Christians).

EXAMPLE TIME.

No one has ever witnessed evolution occur. Ever. Not anywhere in recorded history. So why do people believe it? Simple; because they believe they have enough evidence for it. Do they have complete evidence? Are there no gaps or holes in evolution? DO we have every single piece of evidence we could possibly hope for the Bible? Of course not. If we did, then no one would do anymore research into evolution or the Bible. But every evolutionary scientist must take evolution itself on faith in something they have not seen BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE. Thus they trust (as Christians do) in the evidence for what they believe.

Why then is it so irrational for Christian to do the same thing BASED ON THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE? We’re both talking about events in the past that have no living eyewitnesses. We can only go from the data we have. Christians have the most criticized and examined historical texts in the world, naturalistic rationalists have inferences from evidence in labs and nature. Neither has complete evidence. Everyone must make inferences based on less than perfect information. Everyone must trust something. Everyone must have faith in something. Is either the belief of the Naturalistic Rationalist or the Christian less valid by it requiring faith? Not in the least. I’d knock this one down to semantics.

So, Naturalistic Atheists, what’s the hang up on this one word?

Comment below, follow the blog with the fancy button, email the me at Andrew@EntertainingChristianity.com, and stalk me personally at @AndrewCrigler on Twitter and Instagram.

Guest Blog! Jonathan Mann Presents the Minimal Facts for Jesus’ Resurrection

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The Stone Rolling Away From The Tomb

Hello, Readerlings! Today is a special day for us. We have a Guest Writer! His name is Jonathan Mann and he was interviewed about the resurrection of Jesus (here’s a super brief article I did about why the evidence should be enough) on Atheist Analysis (he puts the link below). I have been on the internet channel a couple of times before and in this article Mann restates his case in ways he was prevented from doing so on the show (alas religionism). Let see what happens when we get the full scope.

Here’s Jonny!

Review of Atheist Analysis: S04 E32 Conversations With Christians The Resurrection of Christ?

Recently, I was on the show Atheists Analysis: Conversations with. You can watch the show at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muTOjrP7KkM

I was invited on this show to discuss the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. However, from an early point on after giving evidence for the fact of Jesus’ death by crucifixion, they refused to allow me to present arguments or evidence for the topic at hand – the resurrection of Jesus. In this article I will spell out my criticism of the hosts’ intellectually dishonest and blatant refusal to allow me to present arguments or respond to their arguments, while also responding to the objections that they raised which they prevented me from answering.

Before going into these points I want to say up front that I did not accurately portray the quotes I used from New Testament historian Dr. Craig Keener and emeritus professor of ancient history Dr. Edwin Yamauchi.

Dr. Edwin Yamauchi: “We have no other founder of major world religion who has miracles reported of him within a generation.”

Dr. Craig Keener: “Almost every miracle report in the ancient world, virtually none of t hem are less than a century after the fact and usually far more.”

As for Dr. Yamauchi, he probably doesn’t consider Mormonism a major world religion considering it is a cult of Christianity and as for Dr. Keener’s quote, Mormonism would not fall under the category of a “miracle report in the ancient world.” In the show I said “we have no other miracle reports in any other religion within 100 years.” I take responsibility that I was wrong on this matter.

This show was a clear example of people who are not willing to look at the evidence, intellectual dishonesty, double standards, logical fallacies and name-calling. This was very unprofessional. For those who are actually interested in the evidence I provide links at the end of this review.

To illustrate how both Mr. Brotherton and Mr. Tanner wouldn’t allow me to give evidence, I would use an example towards the end when they tried to deface my arguing by stating my methodology would prove the validity of Joseph Smith.

Mr. Tanner began by saying:

“I do think that there was an individual named Paul, but again Paul doesn’t say how he knows these things. He just says he knows them, and so again we are appealing to the fact that because Paul says he knows these things that they must be true. But we also know Joseph Smith and other people like you said earlier Jon. All these other miracles that happened in Mormonism, but again three of us are sitting here and sure as hell don’t believe any miracles happened in Mormonism.”

I then said, “Let me go over why Joseph Smith is not even a close comparison.”

Mr. Tanner: “No”

This is just one example of many where Mr. Brotherton and Mr. Tanner wouldn’t allow me to prevent evidence.

As a result, I have gone through and simply written out the answers they would not let me say in the show. Including the answer to their Joseph Smith objection, which can be read towards the end of my review.
To begin, let me briefly explain the argument I am using. The argument I use does not appeal to the general reliability or inspiration of the Bible to prove the resurrection. Rather, I use the minimal facts argument established by Dr. Gary Habermas.

Essentially, I use 4 established facts of history. Virtually all scholars on the subject, including the skeptical ones (including atheists, agnostics, Jewish, etc.), accept the first three facts. The fourth fact is accepted by 75% of scholars on the subject, including skeptical ones. Using these established facts, I wanted to have the opportunity to explain why the Resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation of these facts.

These facts include:

  1. Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
  2. The disciples of Jesus truly believed that He had risen from the dead and appeared to them.
  3. Enemies and skeptics of Jesus truly believed that He had risen from the dead and appeared to them.
  4. Jesus’ tomb was empty.

Naturally, many mythicists, those that believe Jesus is a mythical character, not a historical character, dispute and argue against these established scholarly facts. However, I was and am prepared to defend each fact.

In order to evaluate historical explanations of the facts as being credible, I suggested the 4 following criteria:

  1. Explanatory Scope: account for all facts
  2. Explanatory Power: account for all facts without forcing or ambiguity
  3. Less ad hoc: least amount of non-evidenced assumptions
  4. Plausibility: compatible with our background knowledge

Both Mr. Tanner and Mr. Brotherton objected to this method of history and claimed that it was used to determine the truth of other religions and it produces contradictory results. They suggested that Bayes Theorem is the best method of history and should be employed rather than what I was providing.

First of all the argument to the best explanation is employed as a reliable method of doing history by historians today (Dr. C. Behan McCullagh: The Logic of History).

By claiming that this was just a religious thing made up by apologists of different religions is just false.

When Mr. Tanner brought up Richard Carrier and I responded by saying that “Richard Carrier goes against what Bart Ehrman does, but he’s on his own in history. No one uses his method of history.”

Mr. Tanner responded by saying: “I disagree with you whether there is people who use his method of history specifically, there’s other people who do do it. David Fitzgerald does it. You know we’ve had Raphael Lataster on as well. He does the same thing. You know there is other people that do do this. You know it’s not a majority or a 100% absolute majority who believe in this. Mythicism isn’t that fringe of a belief. But it’s based on a different method and let’s examine why Bayes Theorem may be a more genuine advocated way to look at things then the way historians are currently looking at things.”

Professor Emeritus of Statistics, London School of Economics and Political Science:

David Bartholomew

“The important thing to remember about Bayes theorem is that it is about how prior beliefs are changed by evidence. Your final probability depends on your prior probability. If your prior is zero no amount of evidence can move you from that position. Equally, you can always choose your prior so small that all the available evidence will not outweigh it. The use of Bayes’ theorem is therefore essentially subjective.”

Dr. C. Behan McCullagh: “Virtually no historian has used it even if any wished to do so, he would probably find it difficult as it requires information which is often hard to obtain.”

When looking at history there is a good reason why historians do not use Bayes Theorem and to say that people like Raphael Lataster and David Fitzgerald use it doesn’t mean anything. Mr. Fitzgerald is clearly not a historian. On the Facebook page for his self-published book arguing that Jesus did not exist it says that he has “a degree in history.” As far as Mr. Lataster, he is not a historian either and his arguments that I have heard from listening to him on Atheist Analysis and reading some of his writings, I have seen how that he has terrible arguments and his use of Bayes theorem doesn’t give it any credibility. He is not a historian. He is not a scholar.

Also to speak on what Mr. Tanner pointed out, “Mythicism isn’t that fringe of a belief.” – As the New Testament scholar Dr. Robert E. Van Voorst writes “The theory of Jesus’ nonexistence is now effectively dead as a scholarly question.”

Dr. Mark Allan Powell, a professor of NT and chairman for Historical Jesus at the Society of Biblical Literature puts rather harshly and bluntly when he states:

“Anyone who says that today [i.e. that Jesus didn’t exist]–in the academic world at least–gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat.”

This idea although popular in the atheist community is not held today in scholarship. Even Dr. Bart Ehrman writes:

“Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who (allegedly) lived in first-century Palestine. There are a couple of exceptions: of the hundreds — thousands? — of mythicists, two (to my knowledge) actually have Ph.D. credentials in relevant fields of study. But even taking these into account, there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.”

I would have gone over this but before I could, Mr. Brotherton went on talking for a long time about how other religions use history to prove their religion is true etc. – this to somehow show what I am using is not credible.

Now what I want to do is ask a number of questions pertaining to the debate on the show and answer these questions.

How did my opponents respond to the historical evidence for the crucifixion?

After I gave examples of the 11 independent historical sources for Jesus’ crucifixion within 100 years of his death (one being the Jewish historian Josephus), Mr. Tanner responded by trying to say that the Testimonium Flavianum is completely fabricated and it does not appear in Josephus’s writings until the fourth century AD. This is completely false as the earliest mention of this passage is in the fourth century. Here is a response I gave over Facebook when Mr. Tanner he continued to make this false statement:

It is not true that Josephus didn’t mention Jesus until the third or fourth century. Again, every Latin and Greek manuscript that we have of Josephus mentions Antiquities 18:63-64 (this particular passage about Jesus). Josephus most definitely referred to Jesus as evidenced by every single manuscript that we have. The earliest Greek manuscript that we have of Josephus dates to the 11th century and Eusebius of Caesarea quotes the passage in the 4th century.

To say that the 4th century is too late or even the 11th century is just not understanding ancient history. The average time gap for a work in antiquity is about 1000 years between the originals and the first copies.

For example: the historian Herodotus who wrote between 480-425 BC, the earliest copies are dated in 900 AD which is +1350 years.

Thucydides: +1300 years

Caesar: +1000 years

Tacitus: +1000 years

the list goes on

The evidence that it has been edited by Christian interpolators does not count against the credibility that Josephus did refer to Jesus and gave some information about him.

In fact what scholars have been able to reconstruct of what Josephus originally wrote in this passage has been confirmed by an Arabic manuscript and in 1972 Professor Schlomo Pines of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem translated the passage:

At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day” (Antiquities 18:63-64, Arabic version)

Josephus also mentions Jesus as being the brother of James in Antiquities 2:200. This passage appears in every Greek manuscript and as Dr. John Meier puts it: “without any notable variation.”

Josephus did in fact refer to Jesus.

The point here is that when I gave the evidence for the crucifixion he responded by saying that Josephus did not refer to Jesus in this passage of the Testimonium Flavianum. Even if that were true that does nothing but take away one source of the 11 sources that mention the crucifixion of Jesus. Saying that “I disagree” is not an argument it is just your belief about the subject being debated.

When I brought up how the medical evidence from the study done in the March 21, 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association  to support the historical fact that Jesus died on the cross, Mr. Brotherton rudely, immaturely, and mockingly laughed at me on set. I found this so ridiculous and unprofessional. These types of responses that instead of addressing the evidence it is meant to diverge the conversation and make what I am presenting look foolish. This tactic is pitiful.

When I was attempting to address the evidence for the other facts such as

  1. The disciples of Jesus truly believed that He had risen from the dead and appeared to them.
  2. Enemies and skeptics of Jesus truly believed that He had risen from the dead and appeared to them.

Mr. Tanner called them “worthless facts” and when I explained why their testimony is valuable and why these are valuable facts. He said “I disagree with you, I still think it’s worthless because that would have to say that they were factual, physical and we have factual physical records that they were there, which we don’t have that.”

Again saying I disagree is not an argument. But worse is giving false information and not allowing me to respond as Mr. Tanner did in this case. When I was going to go into the evidence, he stopped me (again avoiding going into the evidence) and said that I am going back on what I originally said concerning the Minimal Facts argument. I responded by explaining how I did not say that I am going to throw out everything in the Bible. Or say that the Bible is true so therefore Jesus rose from the dead. I went over how I am going to approach this from a historical standpoint. I am approaching the documents found in the cover of “the New Testament” as Dr. Habermas’s committee told him when he was writing his PhD dissertation in 1976: “specifically that he could not use the New Testament as evidence, unless the individual passages could be affirmed by ordinary critical standards, apart from faith.” I was using three established facts of history that virtually every single scholar accepts (as documented in Dr. Habermas’s bibliography from 1975-present 3500+ sources).

Instead of allowing me to go into the evidence after I explained my position he started attacking the Gospels saying that they contain differences. Again these are examples of red-herrings meant to keep me from going into the evidence. And again differences or even contradictions in the Gospels at most calls into question Biblical inerrancy – not the resurrection or the facts of history that I listed.

After this Mr. Brotherton was giving so many ridiculous statements such as the Gospels are Mythology (when the Gospels are in fact Greco-Roman Biographies which is an historical literary genre). When I discussed how New Testament historians look at extra-biblical sources as well, Mr. Brotherton literally said this:

“I am going to tell you Jonathan, I get so tired of people talking about extra biblical sources because of how much after the fact that hey are that it’s so unbelievably clear to me how easy it would be to be just a simple reference to prior available literature. It’s so embarrassing when otherwise intelligent people keep saying that all this extra biblical historical sources are referencing and detailing this account. It’s dishonest. It’s disingenuous and it’s just absolutely absurd. I mean think of all the available Harry Potter resources. That doesn’t make it any other true. And it’s after the fact. Come on, you have to be able to see that.”

This is mindboggling to me. Comparing the historical Jesus to Harry Potter is just ridiculous and is a clear example of a reductio ad absurdum. Mr. Brotherton was so rude, belligerent and was giving a clear ad hominem logical fallacy. Harry Potter is not a historical genre it is fiction totally irrelevant. It’s unbelievable why he would say this. And by saying that the extra biblical sources are too late is just to be ignorant of ancient history.

I asked them if we have good sources for Alexander the Great (to give an example of what kind of sources we have in ancient history), and Mr. Brotherton responded by saying that “Jesus is a fictional character, Alexander is a non-fictional character.”

That is blatant none-sense and the literary genre of the text for both Alexander the Great and Jesus is Greco-Roman Biographies (historical genre).

As soon as I said that the earliest sources we have for Alexander are 300 years after he died, Mr. Tanner said “no” (when earlier in the show he said that he has done zero research on this person). Mr. Tanner then to further his point cited Arrian and said (2nd century ACE). Mr. Tanner then said he died in 323 BC (correctly). It is simply doing the math, which would date Arrian to 425 years after Alexander’s death.

After this, Mr. Brotherton did not respond to me. Then Mr. Tanner went on how Josephus did not refer to Jesus as he said that part mentioning Jesus was added on later. He thought that we have original sources of Josephus and other writers. This is not true we have copies in ancient history not originals and the copies usually come 1000 years after the originals or say autographs. This is again meant to keep me from giving the actual evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

I literally was not able to go into the evidence for the other facts (only give about a 4 minute skim of a outline of the arguments).

Here is where I will explain the Mormonism objection I stated at the beginning. So you don’t have to scroll back up to read, I’ve copied the objection here.

As the show was winding down, Mr. Tanner said this:

“I do think that there was an individual named Paul, but again Paul doesn’t say how he knows these things. He just says he knows them, and so again we are appealing to the fact that because Paul says he knows these things that they must be true. But we also know Joseph Smith and other people like you said earlier Jon. All these other miracles that happened in Mormonism, but again three of us are sitting here and sure as hell don’t believe any miracles happened in Mormonism.”

I then said, “Let me go over why Joseph Smith is not even a close comparison.”

Mr. Tanner: “No”

Mr. Brotherton: “It just doesn’t make sense, because we can take your word for it or we can take a Mormon scholarship which I think based on your logic would just be better to go with the Mormon scholarship.”

Again, a clear example of where they silenced me from providing evidence. This is pathetic. So we should take their word for what they say? Why should they even say anything about Mormonism if they are lay people? So many double standards and insults from Mr. Tanner and Mr. Brotherton.

Mr. Tanner ended the show by saying:

“I do have something that I would read, the whole problems with the resurrection and all these different things. You know when we look at Jesus’ resurrection, our earliest written accounts of the resurrection were written by Christian evangelists. They were compiled 20-70 years after the events. Some of them are so old that they can’t be confirmed by any physical evidence, and we come form a superstitious time and period when a lot of mysterious cults happened. They’re very internally contradictory and the contradictions are between several of the different sources. You know we just mentioned Joseph Smith. There’s lots of different visitations that happened, um you can pick, I don’t know any of the alien occurring and all that phenomena. But that what I would say the same thing about we have inside of the resurrection for Christ.”

Both what Mr. Tanner and Mr. Brotherton said were absolutely terrible arguments and they both silenced me from responding. To me it is evident that they are ones who disregard truth and evidence in order to justify their own beliefs that are ridiculous and false.

Here is what I would have said if they had allowed me to respond:

Joseph Smith is not even a remotely close comparison. While all the apostles were willing to suffer and die for their beliefs that they were eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus, six of the eleven supposed eyewitnesses of the Golden Plates left the Mormon Church!

We have Paul quoting the early creed that dates to within months after the event as the prominent New Testament historian Dr. James D.G Dunn dates it along other scholars who date it to the early 30s AD. This creed which lists the eyewitnesses of three individuals: Peter, James the brother of Jesus and Paul’s testimony that he adds later, and the three groups: the twelve, the 500, and all the apostles. Paul who most probably received this creed from Peter and James in Jerusalem the time and location he interviewed them. This is the consensus New Testament position amongst scholarship as Dr. Richard Bauckham, New Testament historian from Cambridge University. Later Paul interviewed John, Peter, and James 18 years after that in Jerusalem and they all agreed on the resurrection. We have corroborating evidence from the students of Peter and John who were Clement of Rome and Polycarp who both of whom confirmed Paul’s teachings as was consistent with their mentors Peter and John.

In total we have the following sources that attest to the disciples, Paul (an enemy of the early believers who imprisoned, tortured, and murdered them) and James (who thought Jesus was deranged, he was a skeptic) were claiming that they were eyewitnesses to the resurrection and were proclaiming it. These include Paul; the oral tradition such as the early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7(8) and sermon summaries that most probably date 20 years after Jesus death: Acts 1-5, 10, 13, 17. The written tradition including the four canonical Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; finally the Apostolic Fathers including Clement of Rome and Polycarp.

As far as the sources for their willingness to suffer and die for these beliefs we have the following sources: Paul, Luke, Acts, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Dionysius of Corinth (quoted in Eusebius), Tertullian, Origen.

The evidence of those eyewitnesses who did die include first century sources for the martyrdom of Peter, James, and Paul, and a second century source for the martyrdom of John.

For Mr. Tanner to say the same evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is on par with Joseph Smith has already shown to be false but he then goes as far as to say the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus is on par with evidence for Aliens

This is what Dr. Licona and Dr. Habermas bullet point about this idea:

“Many of the alien testimonies are questionable and there are many plausible opposing theories that exist (for example: weather balloons, military aircraft, hallucinations, poor reporting techniques, etc. Strong data from science renders the chances of life elsewhere in the universe as extremely unlikely. UFO testimonies frequently attest that these phenomena regularly break the laws of nature, requiring a rejection of material entities. So we must consider a spiritual reality as a possible cause. In other words, certain UFO reports may actually be true, and don’t have to be explained away.”

This show was a clear example of people who are not willing to look at the evidence, intellectual dishonesty, double standards, logical fallacies and name calling. This was very unprofessional. Here are some resources for those who are actually interested in the evidence.

http://www.garyhabermas.com

http://www.risenjesus.com

http://www.4truth.net

http://www.amazon.com/Historical-Jesus-Ancient-Evidence-Christ/dp/0899007325/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429897544&sr=8-2&keywords=gary+habermas

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Resurrection-Jesus-Gary-Habermas/dp/0825427886/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429897544&sr=8-1&keywords=gary+habermas

http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Jesus-New-Historiographical-Approach/dp/0830827196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429897565&sr=8-1&keywords=mike+licona

http://www.reasonablefaith.org

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znVUFHqO4Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F73thNjlXI

Also my talk that I gave at Kennesaw State University on the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaUaVEdmVkc