Jesus did not rise from the dead -- My debate opening statement.24th December 2016, 07:27
Doesn't look anyone is going to debate me formally, but since I worked hard on it, I am going to post my debate opener here:
Quote:Let me start-off this debate by saying that I do not believe in alien abductions.
Of course, proponents of ET/UFOs will chide me saying, "Look at the many thousands of testimonials, both individually and collectively, from individuals who have been alien abductees! It is known who these people are, where they live and their contact information. Why not believe their testimonials?" As I describe below, these believers/advocates have quite of bit of diverse documentation to offer in the way of accepting their beliefs.
I have to ask myself how many testimonials would be sufficient to convince me that aliens were, indeed, among us? I have not been abducted, not yet at least, but if I was, would that be enough to convince me? The answer is both obvious and affirmative, but such would take a lot more than some waking dream where I found myself lying in my own bed.
It is no denying that there are at least several thousand individuals are alive right now who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Some, supposedly, have even passed lie detector tests, hypnoses, etc. Little doubt exists as to the sincerity of these individuals and their claims. In addition to their testimonies, other claims about radar targets moving at 90-degree angles faster than Mach 3 and strange physical artifacts in the ground that could only be produced by very high energy sources in obscure areas are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the "evidence" produced by the UFO-ologists. They have photographs, physical objects and live testimonials on tape to buster their claims that humanity is not alone in the Universe; we are being watched and the "watchers" are very close by!
In spite of all of this so-called "evidence," I do not believe that extraterrestrial aliens have visited our World. It is an extraordinary claim, and as we all know, such claims demand "extraordinary evidence". Some (such as William Craig) would deny this all-import heuristic, and instead insist that some claims should simply be accepted on the weight of the evidence alone, whether they are "extraordinary" or otherwise. But if we dispense with the high bar of evidence, the authenticity of UFOs and their extra-worldliness are just one such extraordinary claim that we must be forced to accept; there are, of course, countless others. Without such a high bar of proof, it would mean accepting every claim made by nearly everyone, no matter how ludicrous and absurd. The Buddha, it is believed by some, was not born naturally, but simply walked out of his mother's womb, turning towards her while proclaiming new, religious truths. Do you accept that?
The claim that Jesus died from a Roman execution, that of crucifixion, is nearly universally accepted by modern, secular scholars, especially, Roman classical ones. What happened to Jesus' corpse, and especially, his followers in Jerusalem in the weeks and months after his death, is, however, a matter of great dispute. His crucifixion was a public event, but all of his so-called postmortem appearances were private. In spite of all of these encounters with the "Risen Savior," the tradition that "some doubted" was a firm enough one that the Gospel writers could not have ignored it, kind of like the tradition that Jesus said that he would be returning "within your lifetime" and that the "whole World" would see him. Everyone who knew him knew that he said that, just as everyone knew that some disciples of his had "doubts" about his post-resurrection appearances. It takes little imagination to see how stories arose as to how those "doubting disciples" would come around to believing that Jesus truly rose from the dead.
But, how could one ever doubt in the first place?! If Jesus truly rose from dead, corporeally, then there should have been absolutely NO doubt whatsoever about that fact by anyone who "saw" him! But, if it was one of those "did you see it?" or "so and so said that so and so saw it," then, yes, plenty of doubt should exist, at least in our rationalistic day, to say nothing of the credulous first-century illiterate, unscientific Palestinian! For one of them, especially, a religious follower, to doubt any claim made by their religion is almost "miraculous" in and of itself! And, to be sure, there were many such miraculous claims floating about in 1st-century Palestine; Jesus, after all, was not the only "savior" who was on the scene during that time, nor was he the only miracle-worker.
Much ado has been made over the fact of the so-called "parallels" between the life of Jesus and other figures from his time and before, both real persons and mythical ones, who, supposedly, like Jesus, turned water into wine, cured illnesses and blindness, walked on water, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. To say that these other stories, myths, legends, etc., had an impact on the stories of Jesus is, in my opinion, to miss the point of it all entirely. These other myths, legends, stories, etc., simply speak to the incredible credulity of the day. Most individuals, especially those who were illiterate, believed (unlike the Roman and/or Greek educated) that the Earth was flat, and that the atmosphere above them was full of spirits and demons with the celestial heavens above that, which is where God and the angels were.
But, yet, in spite of that overwhelming credulity of the masses, some doubted! And, while some doubted, the Romans took no notice, none whatsoever!! A couple of passages from Josephus, out of his multi-volume tome, contained so few mentions of Jesus that the early Christian scribes thought it necessary to commit plagiarism, and embellish a line from Josephus, making it say something that it did not say, and in the process, they were caught red-handed! Clearly, they understood the contradiction that faces us now, that the Gospels, in telling the highly detailed story of Jesus, his life, many miracles, execution and Resurrection from the dead, were not a sufficient witness of Jesus! After all, if the events in the Gospels really took place, how could a methodical historian, such as Josephus, not know about them?!!
Tacitus seems not to know, either, although, being an educated member of the Roman aristocracy and a methodical historian, like Josephus, Tacitus had almost certainly heard, if not read, some of the Gospels, and he seems completely unimpressed by them, also. For Tacitus, the Gospels were like the tabloids of our day, "Been there, seen it". Even though he knew about them and their contents, Tacitus wrote the Gospels off; he knew that they were one of a multitude of "urban legends" that were prevalent throughout the Empire of his day, and he, as an historian, was unimpressed with them. He simply noted that Jesus had existed and had been executed by a Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Implicit in his silence, Tacitus knew who Jesus was, a religious loon who had been put to death by the Roman authorities, one of many, in fact.
The tradition that "some doubted" is an inescapable part of first-century Christian history. Unlike the alien abductees of our day, we know so little about the historical Jesus and his followers, even Paul. But in Paul's case, however, we know that he was sick; he said that himself. We also know that he had a very intense experience which bears all of the similarities to a temporal lobe epileptic seizure, and we know from modern psychology and psychiatry that such experiences are often life-changing, and individuals who have such experiences often claim to have seen God and/or to have had encounters with the Divine. Perhaps these were the types of individuals who were attracted to Jesus, the sick, the illiterate and the mentally ill?
But, in spite of all that first-hand testimonial evidence about Jesus' miracles and resurrection from the dead, "some doubted". More importantly, however, some did not doubt, and for them, they knew that Jesus was nothing more than a religious loon, and a criminal, whom the Romans executed by crucifixion.