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Chris Hallquist debunks the resurrection - Comments

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 1 by Mitch Kahle

The world (especially the USA) needs more of this critical skepticism.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 00:55:00 UTC | #440727

Village_Idiot's Avatar Comment 2 by Village_Idiot

Debunking the resurrection of Jesus? I find it very sad that in XXI century there is still a need to invest time and money into debunking such an utter nonsense like "resurrection" of a schizophrenic.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 01:15:00 UTC | #440733

keithapm's Avatar Comment 3 by keithapm

Speaking about how a persons life can be conflated to the realms of mythology, I'm currently re-reading Ian Kershaw's brilliant biography of Hitler. Now there's an example of how myths grew up about a man within his own lifetime, even though the actual facts were even more readily accessible at the time than they are now. Another example would be L Ron Hubbard.

Kershaw's book is called "Hitler" and comes in two volumes: 1889-1936 Hubris, and 1936-1945 Nemesis

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 01:18:00 UTC | #440734

j.mills's Avatar Comment 4 by j.mills

There are zillions of reports of UFOs and ghosts. That's not to say that either exists (except in the pedantic sense of UFO), but the witnessing of both is itself a diverse and complex phenomenon, that can only be easily dismissed by someone unfamiliar with the material. There is much to be learned about human psychology, atmospheric phenomena, media behaviour, factionalisation, etc, from these fields.

This being so, I wonder if they are at all appropriate parallels for the resurrection, a unique 'event' for which there is no immediate witness and no evidence. It would have been helpful if Russell had gone into the way Hallquist employs these analogies a little more.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 01:20:00 UTC | #440736

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 5 by Alternative Carpark

What about Lazarus?

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 01:34:00 UTC | #440739

keithapm's Avatar Comment 6 by keithapm

Comment #460434 by j.mills on February 12, 2010 at 1:20 am

Actually history is full of alleged resurrections, even Christian history where many saints are supposed to have done it. Then of course there's the superstitious belief in Zombies, Vampires etc. that still persist in some places today, where people claim to have seen, interacted with or even spoken to their deceased loved ones.

The only thing unique about Jesus' resurrection is that Christians say it's unique even though there is no good reason to keep it separate from other supposed cases of reanimation (except perhaps the claim that Jesus was supposed to be a god, but the there's nothing unique about gods coming back to life either, is there?)

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 01:57:00 UTC | #440741

SamKiddoGordon's Avatar Comment 7 by SamKiddoGordon

I have some video of some UFO's I took in 2000. They were at a quite high altitude, but they looked like something off of stargate (very swept foreward wings). Dont know what they really were, would be interesting to find out, but I have no idea. Thought i could have been a parachute, but too high and wrong shape, not a bird, too big for the altitude. I will have to post it on youtube one day. But its more likely that it was jesus flying a stargate plane, than he actually resurrected.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 02:04:00 UTC | #440742

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 8 by Shuggy

It should hardly be surprising that there are many resurrection stories. There is hardly a more dramatic event than the death of a person (that's why so many dramas have been written about it), and hardly a more-often-wished and more-strongly-wished event than they should come back to life again. (The very fact that "come back to life" fits so comfortably in our lexicon is a sign of that.)

All it takes for large numbers of people to believe that it has actually happened is the special commitment to gullibility that is religion.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 02:08:00 UTC | #440743

keithapm's Avatar Comment 9 by keithapm

Stories of resurrections of people like JC never really surprised me. Imagine what it would have been like to be a follower of him. Everything's going great, he's stickin' it to the man, standin' up for the poor, being all messianic and then suddenly he gets arrested and executed. Bummer. So you and your mates are sitting there, hidden away in a hovel trying to rationalise the events that just happened. You believe, no you know, that Jesus was the messiah... so how could he be dead? He couldn't be. He's not. He rose from the dead! But why die in the first place? Must have had a good reason, right? Then there was all that suffering he went through... Well it must have been for something important so... etc. You see where it's going...

Oh, and if the body was missing from the tomb, that'd an even more obvious conclusion.

It's funny how, when I was a Christian, I was never convinced by the arguments for the occurrence of the resurrection, they seemed terribly pleading, but then like the dutiful Christian I was I just jumped o'er the incongruity and carried on believing.

EDIT: Spelling and afterthoughts...

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 02:15:00 UTC | #440745

jonjermey's Avatar Comment 10 by jonjermey

I've posted the following comment (minor revisions here):

"It's unlikely that the story of Jesus was made up whole - for a start, the very earliest Christian writings (those of St Paul) date from a time still too close to the events.."

Perhaps; but I wonder if you are projecting some of our current experience of a highly literate age in which detailed records are kept back into a culture where (outside a very few religious and government officials) almost nobody could read, write or even count very high, and the idea of keeping written records of events was totally alien to most people.

Put it this way: if Jesus had worked in Ancient Athens there would have been dozens of independent accounts of his story and many would have survived to put him in a historical context. The idea that Socrates, for instance, might be a myth is absurd.

But we have almost no contemporary records from Biblical Palestine, and I don't see that we have any basis for asserting that Jesus was not wholly fictional. Are there not records of other prophets who are claimed to have worked miracles and resurrected? Are these also non-fictional?

My view is that the Jesus story was only one of many; it just happened to appeal to the right people (e.g. Paul, Constantine) at the right time. If Paul, say, had died on the way to Damascus, the story of Jesus -- if it survived at all -- would now be regarded as an obscure folk legend like the story of Gilgamesh.

It seems to me that even non-Christians have trouble avoiding double standards in this area. It's not too surprising -- if there were millions of fervent Arthurians ready to fight for the historical reality of King Arthur, say, then I bet objective researchers would think twice before writing that off as a 'story' too, regardless of the (lack of) evidence.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 03:00:00 UTC | #440749

Dave Porter's Avatar Comment 11 by Dave Porter

A person waking up from a coma would seem like a resurrection to people that didn't understand what was going on. Both stories of Jesus and Lazarus deal with such cases. When Interstate 35 was built by my parents farm they had to move an old cemetery. When the coffins were inspected for re-burial there were 7 that had scratch marks on the inside of the coffin lids. The coffins were from the late 1880's, when a cholera epidemic went through the area. Asian Cholera induces a coma-like state, as does many severe traumas to the body and brain.

Logic can easily debunk all the supposed "miracles" the ficticious "Jesus" performed.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 05:49:00 UTC | #440761

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 12 by Bonzai


Put it this way: if Jesus had worked in Ancient Athens there would have been dozens of independent accounts of his story and many would have survived to put him in a historical context.

Why do you think so? If Russell is right that Jesus existed but he was only a run of the mill Jewish apocalyptic preacher , contemporary historians might very well not know of him or didn't find him important enough to write about.

You would have a point against Christians who claim that Jesus' life was truly extraordinary, but not someone like Russell who said that Jesus might very well exist but was not particularly remarkable.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 06:56:00 UTC | #440769

Logicel's Avatar Comment 13 by Logicel

I now regard Christianity as the "Yeah, that's the ticket" religion (via the comic Jon Lovitz skits at Saturday Night Live done in the eighties).

I can imagine the early fabricators of the Jesus-is-divine myth saying stuff like, "Jesus is so special that he could walk on water" and "Jesus is more than special because he fed a lot of people with a few fishes and loaves" and finally a la the Four Yorkshire Men route, "Jesus makes special seem ordinary because he was able to rise from the dead."

Here's a vid of that Yorkshire Monty Python skit just in case there are some who haven't seen it:

What was done for Jesus is kind of what is done for Chuck Norris today (each made-up, described feat of his becomes more and more impossible), though for Norris it has been done in a deliberately obvious and hilarious way-over-the-top fashion.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 09:09:00 UTC | #440778

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 14 by Follow Peter Egan

Hallquist leaves few stones unmoved or unturned

I'm not sure if that was an intentional pun but it made me chuckle! I've been after a book on this subject (as Christians are always telling me how good the evidence is for the Resurrection) so I'd add it to my reading list.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 10:42:00 UTC | #440796

John Locke's Avatar Comment 15 by John Locke

RE: Logicel

"when jesus touches water - he doesn't get wet, water gets jesus..."

the above is an adapted chuck norris joke, one f my favorites, but actually sounds more sane than the myth of jesus - that the water gets turned into wine.

maybe the chuck norris ones are not so over the top!

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 11:53:00 UTC | #440813

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 16 by Nunbeliever

Old news... Bart D. Ehrmann has already written quite a few superb books on this subject. But on the other hand the more the merrier :-)

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 14:23:00 UTC | #440848

Rikitiki13's Avatar Comment 17 by Rikitiki13

Just from a human-behaviour standpoint, the resurrection story doesn't hold up.

I mean, according to that story, Jesus was enough of a threat that the Jewish authorities of the time a) kept a keen eye on him and his followers, b) paid an informer in Jesus's retinue for information (Judas), c) petitioned the Roman rulers to get Jesus executed.

And then, after eliminating this man they saw as a threat, they don't keep an eye on his group to insure someone else doesn't step into his shoes to proclaim Jesus a martyr and make even more trouble£ Yeah, sure, right.

According to the legend, Jesus after rising wasn't exactly keeping a low profile -- if the Jewish authorities had been keeping even a minimal watch on Jesus's group (normal behaviour to monitor possible trouble groups), somebody would have said, "Hey, that dude is back -- or maybe he had a twin brother -- we better break this up."

Doesn't wash...

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 16:22:00 UTC | #440892

pittige maki's Avatar Comment 18 by pittige maki

James tabor has written a good book about
the life of jezus from the view of an scientist :
"The jezus dynasty", no pretty history for a
believer because jezus is the child of a jewish
girl with a roman soldier (who was jew too) and
this has nothing to do with Christmas.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 17:39:00 UTC | #440913

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 19 by Mark Smith

I haven't read the book, but assuming Russell's summary is accurate (and I have no doubt it is) this is the same explanation I have suggested a number of times on this site to various Christian, so now I've got a book I can point them to. (Better read it first though!)

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 19:21:00 UTC | #440934

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 20 by Mark Smith


I don't see that we have any basis for asserting that Jesus was not wholly fictional.

I disagree.

Those who claim he is wholly fictional seem to do so on the basis that there is no proof that he isn't (as you do here). But the better, more scientific and historical approach is to ask which possibility/hypothesis (wholly fictional versus not-wholly fictional) best explains the data. The data in question is source documents suggesting several distinct and early traditions of belief that a man called Jesus did and said X, Y and Z (varying between the traditions). These traditions and the content within them are less plausibly explained as coming to existence as a result of someone making him up than as a result of Jesus being a historical figure about whom stories were made up (ie a figure very different from how he came to be represented in the traditions).

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 19:41:00 UTC | #440938

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 21 by Follow Peter Egan

For the debate about whether or not Jesus was historically a real figure, I quite like Christopher Hitchens' point on the areas where the gospels contradict themselves which seems to indicate some historical basis.

It would seem that Jesus "of Nazareth" was born in Nazareth, yet the gospel writers are keen for him to be born in Bethlehem in order to fulfil the rantings of Isaiah. One of them has a pregnant Mary and Joseph trotting off to Bethlehem for a Roman census that never happened and that would have made no sense even if it did. Another has them fleeing persecution and arriving in Bethlehem. Hitchens' point is - why go to all that trouble to create an elaborate fiction to explain away an inconvenient fact if the person never existed in the first place? If it was pure fiction they could start in Bethlehem and be done with it.

I'm happy to believe there was a Jewish prophet living in Roman-occupied Judea in the early First Century CE who may have been called Yeshua. After all, verbose religious prophets were ten a penny at the time - Pontius Pilatus would have been tripping over them.

It's the bit about him having created the universe and coming back to forgive human sins that I find difficult to believe.

I'll go along with fiction for that bit.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 20:32:00 UTC | #440954

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 22 by Mr DArcy

IMO the historical evidence for Jesus is very thin and rather unconvincing. Actually about the same as that for Robin Hood! But whatever the veracity, or otherwise, of a historical Jesus, I'd have thought that THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE would have had more of an impact on His contemporaries. The fact that there is any discussion about His supposed existence at all merely shows the insignificance of the man. Why didn't He make Himself known to the Chinese, the Americans, the Australians, the British....? If the Romans didn't know about Him then He's not much of a god.

As to the supposed resurrection; which part of God died? Jesus couldn't have died because He was God, or part thereof! Ah the mystery of the Trinity, three gods for the price of one! Hurry now take up this offer before you lose your soul!

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 20:38:00 UTC | #440957

Sciros's Avatar Comment 23 by Sciros

Follow Peter Egan,

That reasoning is just bad. There's plenty of contradiction to be found elsewhere in the Bible; doesn't mean there's a real god.

Hitchens' point is - why go to all that trouble to create an elaborate fiction to explain away an inconvenient fact if the person never existed in the first place?
A lot of FICTION about Jesus (and other stuff) is regarded as fact, convenient or not. People being confused about where he hailed from or where he was born is just as likely to happen to a made-up person as a real one... more likely, even, since there's no evidence one way or the other.

If it was pure fiction they could start in Bethlehem and be done with it.
Uhhh right... you know if God was pure fiction they could just not bother with the whole damn Bible... oh wait god is pure fiction. Hmmmm...

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 20:47:00 UTC | #440959

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 24 by Lisa Bauer

Alas, these efforts, no matter how well-argued, are wasted on true believers -- or even those who hold the view that "the Bible may not be literally true but the story of Jesusis a powerful story that speaks to me on a deep level." Or how about "You're being too literal and narrow-minded in your reading of the gospels; what matters is the narrative, not historical veracity!"

Incidentally, I tend to wonder about the "Paul was the real inventor of Christianity" tradition -- how could we know this, given that we don't know if an actual historical figure named Paul wrote at least some of the letters attributed to him, and more importantly, how can we know he wasn't just repeating things that "the early Christian community" had come up with?

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 22:14:00 UTC | #440973

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 25 by Follow Peter Egan

Sciros you should have read to the end of my posting. I suspect that the NT is a group of stories spread by word of mouth for generations where the only historically accurate bit may be that there may have been some Jewish prophet called Jesus alive at that time. The rest is obviously fiction. But given that the Jews were itching for a second coming, and religious mania spread as quickly as a bush fire amongst the credulous and illiterate Judeans, there may have been a human responsible for starting it all. Sadly for the rest of us, and the prolonged Dark Age that followed directly.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 23:23:00 UTC | #440983

Sciros's Avatar Comment 26 by Sciros

Follow Peter Egan,

I did read through to the end of your post, but not carefully enough! Anyway I still want to address it because while you may be happy to concede that a guy named Yeshua was walking around claiming to be the son of god, I'm really not. I don't see the Bible as being enough evidence of even that, considering how trivial a detail it really is. To elaborate...

There were a lot of self-styled "prophets" in Judea, and Yeshua was not an uncommon name. So you may well be right in your concession; it'd be like if there were a self-styled prophet named Bob around today, along with a bunch of others. Whether anything at all attributed to Jesus in the NT was also true of a crazy guy who happened to be named Jesus who lived in the early first century CE, is probably attributable to total chance. I don't think "a human" was responsible for starting it all -- there were many who wanted and tried to be responsible, so even the myths that eventually became attributed to Jesus alone were likely initially attributed (not saying they were accurate) to different people, real or imagined.

In other words, to say that there "may have" been a false prophet named Yeshua is fair -- there were enough people to meet either criteria that someone may well have met both. But in my opinion that really isn't good enough, because it doesn't mean at all that the character Jesus in the NT was that Jesus, nor that they had anything in common. It's probably just as likely that Jesus was based on a person named any other given name (appropriate to the region/times of course), and I submit more likely that he was based on an amalgamation of several. The name Yeshua could have been picked out of the blue for all it would have mattered, and considering there are no contemporary accounts the concept of a "historical Jesus" is all but meaningless when all it amounts to is the coincidence of a name.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 23:39:00 UTC | #440986

j.mills's Avatar Comment 27 by j.mills

You guys kill me. Next you'll be telling me that Brian was just some kind of Pythonesque joke. And you'll just ignore all the clear references to a real Brian in The Magic Roundabout. If you're that cynical, how can you ever open yourselves to the ontological mystery?

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:01:00 UTC | #440989

Russell Blackford's Avatar Comment 28 by Russell Blackford

Yeah, Peter, the pun was intentional. In fact, I specifically had in mind the title of a well-known book (when I was young) arguing for the resurrection: Who moved the stone? by Frank Morison.

Someone mentioned Bart Ehrman. Yes, true. But Hallquist's book draws on Ehrman's scholarship (among lots of other stuff), while writing a much more focused polemical, debunking work of anti-apologetics. That's not where Ehrman is coming from, but of course this book is not a substitute for his scholarship.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:18:00 UTC | #440990

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 29 by Crazycharlie

It was my understanding that there was evidence outside of the "New Testament" that Jesus was a real person. The Roman historian Flavius Josephus mentions him for instance. It's always been my, admittedly unlearned opinion, that Jesus was just an eccentric Jewish preacher who started a cult around 2000 years ago. A cult that, because of the many contingencies of history like, Emperor Constantine the 1st converting to Christianity for instance, grew into the absurd religion that we see today.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 01:02:00 UTC | #440994

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 30 by JHJEFFERY

Crazycharlie, et al:

The accuracy of Josephus has often been questioned, and, in the most important subject, proved wrong, as it is now clear that the later Christians retrojected the part about Jesus doing mircles. He may have mentioned Jesus, but the mention comes from over two generations away and just as likely is the same legend from which the gospels were written.

More importantly, Ehrman is good, but John Dominic Crossan is even more insightful. Look for Jesus: a Revolutionary Biography (from memory).

I have always believed that there is an abundance of evidence that the Jesus miracles were retrojected. In the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, the oldest two extant bibles, the resurrection story is missing in Mark, the oldest of the gospels. If you stop to think about that for a second, you wonder: why would the first writer of the story leave out the most important part (and also the virgin birth). If you can think of any other reason than "they hadn't invented it yet, I would love to hear it.

And with regard to the dating, remember that 70 AD was the year that the Jew's rebellion against Rome was brutally crushed and the temple destroyed. They sure needed a hero about that time who couldn't be killed by those nasty Romans. Hmmmmm . . .

BTW, I have no idea, and don't think we will ever establish whether there was a real figure upon who the legend of Jesus was predicated, but Zorro is more likely to be true to life.


Sat, 13 Feb 2010 01:21:00 UTC | #440995