Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? Why we Have Reasons to Doubt

Introduction

The resurrection of Jesus is the most fundamental belief to Christianity, as if Jesus never rose from the dead, there is no reason to believe it. Therefore, as the claims of Christianity are so huge, and so meaningful, it’s important to check whether they are correct thoroughly so that you can believe what is most true.

This is something that I had never investigated thoroughly before, but now I wish I always had. Not just because it’s a thoroughly interesting research area, but because when I was a Christian, I thought that the case for Christ was rock solid, but now, I’ve learnt facts that make me think almost the complete opposite.

In this post, I will detail facts about history as well as the gospels that shed new light on the case for Christ. Next, I will look at arguments for the case for Christ and highlight reasons why I don’t accept these arguments. After this, I will provide arguments of my own. This is why I don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

Contents

As I’ve been writing, the areas of research possible to explore have grown and grown. This has happened so much that it felt as if I would never be able to finish, I thought I had finished writing this so many times until one idea poped into my head and I had to explore that thoroughly too. However I simply have to draw the line somewhere, this is where it has been drawn.

I’ve given a table of contents below so that you can choose to read what is the most interesting to you, and so that you can know what will be covered in this post. As well as this, I will use asterisks to highlight (in my opinion) the most important sections if you would like to read a much shorter version of this, but are unsure of where to start.

  • Introduction
  • Contents
  • Part 1 – Facts About the Gospels and History
    1. The Gospels were Written Late*
    2. The Gospels were Written Anonymously*
    3. John was Written too late to be Written by John
    4. The Authors of the Gospels Almost Certainly Weren’t who we say they are*
    5. The Incentive to Create Forgeries
    6. We Don’t Know What the Original Gospels Said
    7. The Gospels aren’t Independent*
    8. The Gospels Don’t Agree
    9. Mark Doesn’t End Where you Think it does*
    10. The Details Between the Gospels Which Make Resurrection Difficult are Inconsistent*
    11. Jesus Doesn’t Stick Around After he Comes Back
    12. Resurrection was common in the gospels
    13. Was there even an empty tomb?*
  • Part 2 – Arguments and Counterarguments
    1. Lack of Sources
    2. Liar, Lunatic, Lord
    3. The Minimal Facts Approach
    4. Jesus’ Prophecies
    5. But they died for what they believed in
    6. But How Could They Make it All Up?
    7. Any Natural Explanation is Better than a Supernatural one*
    8. Rising From the Dead Does not Mean You’re the Son of God*
  • Conclusion*
  • Sources*

Part 1 – Facts About the Gospels

There are numerous facts about the gospels which completely alter their interpretation and reliability.

For these facts, I’ve always left the source of this information from a place which is free to access or a place you can access with a free trial. If I’ve missed something, it’s because of one of the following reasons: It’s common knowledge, it’s in the bible and easily checked, or I’ve just missed it. If in doubt, please just ask.

To steelman the advacates for the case for christ, I’ve included as many Christian sources as possible. This is not because I believe everything the source says, but to make clear that the information doesn’t come from someone with a bias against Christianity, and that you can believe this without becoming an atheist. This often means taking the most generous version of the facts possible as well.

The Gospels were Written Late

The order of the gospels is not chronological. Mark is actually the first, written in 60-70 AD, followed by Matthew in 70-80AD. Luke was written between 80-90AD and John comes much later at between AD90 – AD100 [1]

Jesus died in around 30AD [2] which means that there was a long period of time when nothing at all was writen. This gives a long time for the writers to forget the story and get it wrong, and grow like a legend.

Word of mouth is nothing to be underestimated for it’s unreliability, especially with a huge story like the ones in the gospels. Can you remember any story in precise detail from 30 years ago? Science says you can’t [3] [4] Human memory is very unreliable, and is therefore not regarded highly at court despite witnesses being much closer to the events in time.

You also have to ask why the gospels were written late. Surely they would have wanted to provide as much evidence as possible for future generations that Jesus was real? It’s consensus belief that the early Christians believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes, and bring the kingdom of God with him (Matthew 24:25-34) so it wasn’t necessary. This confusion caused the gospels to be late, and therefore less reliable.

Although I have just given these dates, it’s worth mentioning that the earliest copy of the entire new testament is from the year 400 and that anything before then is just fragments, and the earliest fragments we have are from over 100 years after the event is said to have taken place, so what we have found isn’t necessarily what they wrote down either [5]

The Gospels were Written Anonymously

The titles of the gospels are not in any of the original manuscripts. They were added much, much later by other people, and thus given names assigned by the church. How do we know they gave them the right names? We don’t, and they most likely didn’t. The anonymity means that we don’t know the city, country, name, source, or original copy of any of the Gospels. So we don’t know if they come from a trustworthy source.

Still, let’s look at what it means if they got the names right, as I know people are interested, despite the fact that these names are incorrect.

Mark would refer to John Mark who is mentioned in acts, making him a second hand witness. An actual first person account doesn’t appear until Matthew (assumed to be written by the disciple himself) and Luke is also assumed to be a disciple of Paul, making his account a second hand witness at best as well. John would also be a first hand witness here too, although it’s difficult to think of this source as that useful considering facts I’ll explain later. [6]

Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because their stories are very similar, and events happen in quite similar ways. John is not like this.  His book is mostly metaphorical, and the messages also differ greatly. Why are these 1st person accounts from the two disciples who travelled together so different?

Another question which adds to the absurdity of these names, is why would first hand witnesses copy from a second hand witness? More on that later.

Now let’s talk about the reliability of John.

John was written too late to be written by John

90AD is the earliest John could have been written. To justify the dates people often say John would have been the youngest disciple and a small teenager or around 14 years old when Jesus started his ministry, however John was likely at least in his 20s at the crucifixion due to his extra responsibilities of caring for the mother of Jesus after his crucifixion (John 19:26–27) [7]. But forgetting this, assuming he was 14 when he met Jesus and he had a three year ministry, he would be 17 at his death. Assuming this death was in 30AD that would make him 77 at the writing of John (but he could easily have been 87 as well) and that was extremely rare age to live to at those times.

To put this in perspective, the average global life expectancy in 2021 was 73 [8]. Life expectancies in the times of Jesus were closer to half of this [9]. Although it’s true a very tiny amount of people would live to the age of 77, John would not have lived a rich live, nor a safe one, making his chances of living this long significantly lower than others.

Although it’s a widely considered view that Revelation is written much late than 95 AD, I’ve seen agreement it was written in 95 AD [9] and also certainly by the same person who wrote John. So taking this to be true, this means he would need to be even older (79-89) at the time of writing, making John’s chances even harder.

This same argument can be made with all of the gospels, as Mark wasn’t a disciple he doesn’t have the same requirement to be so young, but if he was 14 when Jesus started his ministry, he would have had to have been at least 47 when he wrote Mark, an age still quite above the life expectancy at the time [10]

This bring us on to why…

The authors of the gospels almost certainly weren’t who we say they are

The gospels were written in Greek, extremely literate and sophisticated Greek. This is a problem when claiming that disciples and second-hand witnesses wrote the gospels because they didn’t speak Greek, they spoke Aramaic [12]. Literacy was extremely poor at this time, and the disciples wouldn’t have been able to read or write in their own language, and never to a very high level in a different one.

With very little money, they would have needed to find a scribe and a translator. All of these point to literate well educated Greek Christians writing the gospels in order to make the world the way they wanted it.

The Incentive to Create Forgeries

Forgeries were very looked down upon in the ancient world, so why was there an incentive to create them? It wasn’t for fame or money, since the gospels never had names attributed to them, but to get your ideas out there. If you want to get your message out to the people, you are much more likely to claim that the document was written by a disciple of Jesus than yourself who had no relation to him in any way at all.

We have lots of forgeries that we know about. According to scholars there is a consensus of 5 epistles that are forgeries written in the name of Paul, and two that are highly debated [11] and many other books not included in the bible for the exact reason that they are suspected forgeries.

With all this information about the gospel according to John, as well as the fact that it is so clearly different to the others, it is completely reasonable to assume it’s a forgery. But not just for the book of John…

We Don’t Know what the Original Gospels Said

We don’t even know if what we’re reading is actually what was written originally. The only way of copying was by physically writing it down. This means mistakes are inevitable and build up over years of writing. Maybe someone tried to fix the copy, but fixed it to something incorrect, maybe someone thought there was a mistake and fixed it when there was no mistake originally. The people copying would have made copies from copiers, creating even more mistakes in addition to the mistakes that were there already every time. [14].

As you trace gospels back in time, the mistakes get more inconsistent instead of less. So the earlier the gospel the more likely it is to be different to the others. Wikipedia has a great resource on the earliest manuscripts that we have if you want to check this [5]. This information can be found in Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, however his lecture [14] is free to watch with the same information.

You can argue that the bible is the best kept book from antiquity, having thousands more copies of it at the time than any other classic work from antiquity. However all of these copies are just one copy one of the many copies that existed many years after the event took place, how do you know that this copy was the correct one?

The answer is that we don’t, and that they probably didn’t get it right. We have massively varying new testament texts, imagine how much more there would have been when they were just starting to copy, there would have been a huge amount that we could never have even find as time would just have destroyed them. The chances are so low.

We have small fragments from 100 years after his death, only get a nearly complete gospel of John from around 200 years after, and a complete version of Mark until around 350 years after [5] so there is a huge margin for error.

“Why should one think that God performed the miracle of inspiring the words of the bible if he didn’t perform the miracle of preserving the words of the bible?” Bart Ehrman

Relationship_between_synoptic_gospels
[13]

The Gospels are Not Independent

In a court case decided by witness testimony alone, it’s most reliable when the sources are independent, all verify the same details of the story, and are reasonably near to the event (not 30 years later). In other words, if four people saw a crime, it would be more compelling if they never talked to each other, didn’t know each other, and didn’t reference each other, everything was written in their own words as near to the time as possible.

So how can we apply this logic to the gospels? Well they all reference each other constantly. The image above shows this, however you can open any study bible and it will show you the equivalent passages in the other gospels on every page. Mark was the first gospel [1], and it’s abundantly clear that Luke and Matthew reference it heavily, and while John isn’t a synoptic gospel, it still references the other three making it not an independent source.

Effectively what you have here, is just one independent source, from a person who is only a second hand witness (at best).

The lack of Independence, reduces the believably of the claims, and the significance of all the gospels other than Mark. There was also no need for first hand witnesses to copy from a second hand witness, but they did.

The gospel’s don’t agree

When you read the gospels for yourselves, this fact is not apparent because you read them vertically one at a time. When you read the resurrection story horizontally (all four at the same time comparing passage by passage -something I myself have done) so many details of the story are completely different.

The events after Jesus is brought back, the day Jesus died, the time he died, the person who carried his cross, the point of time when the curtain ripped in half, the people who found Jesus, the beings (because in some cases an angel is there as well) who were there at the tomb when they found Jesus, and the people who the woman talked to about the resurrection are all different depending on which gospel you read. These key details are important, major. Having these discrepancies really makes them harder to consider reliable. They also weren’t independent and still managed to get all of this information wrong. This shows that there was disagreement of the facts of what really happened.

Mark doesn’t end where you think it does

The problem with Mark being the best independent source for the events of the bible, is what it contained originally.

The ending of Mark completely changes once you realise the implications of that odd section between Mark 16.8 and Mark 16.9 where it says “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.” (the last verse of Mark is verse 20)

What does it mean if all of the first, most early manuscripts don’t contain this passage? It means that this passage is definitely a forgery, and this fact is not contented by scholars. The original writer didn’t write Mark 16:9-20, someone else did. So none of the events after Mark 16:8 took place. So what happened in the real ending of Mark?

3 women go to the tomb, find it empty, run away, and then never tell anyone because they’re scared.

This means, in the best and only independent source Jesus…

  • Does not appear to anyone
  • Is not seen by anyone
  • Is only said to be resurrected by one person
  • Is not in the tomb

This is seriously important to consider.

Seriously?

The Details Between the Gospels Which Make Resurrection Difficult are Inconsistent

The most common argument I’ve heard for Jesus coming back to life is the elimination of other possibilities. However due to the historical unreliability of the gospels, we can’t even be sure that the facts that would have stopped the other alternatives from being true are true.

The case often presented by Christians combines things from many gospels which would make Jesus’ resurrection the most plausible, however, this is an extremely liberal interpretation of what the gospels actually say and what we can actually know historically.

Let’s take Mark, which is argued to be the best source we have. What does it say?

Jesus is not stabbed to make sure he is really dead, in fact this only happens in John. His body is then given to someone described as  “waiting for the kingdom of God” meaning he was likely a supporter of Jesus. The stone in front of the tomb Jesus was burred in was so small, the three woman who were walking there were wondering which one of the three should open it. The tomb has no guard, and somebody else had already broken into the tomb when they arrived.

In Mark’s version of events, it’s very easy to see how there are many other alternative scenarios that could have happened.

What about in Matthew?

Well the same person takes the body, this time he is described as a disciple of Jesus and takes the body himself to his own tomb. He rolls his own rock, meaning that the rock can be moved with the strength of one man. The day after they put Jesus in the tomb, Pilate sends one guard to guard it and makes sure nobody can get in or out. Then Jesus is able to escape without moving the tombstone. Then the angel moves the tombstone showing them that Jesus isn’t there. Matthew then tells us that the guard was paid to say that he had stolen the body of Jesus during the night.

In Matthew the case is a little stronger. But the guards didn’t even arrive until the next day and the disciples were in full control of both the tomb and the body. Jesus is once again not checked to be dead as well. There are also accounts here of first hand witnesses claiming to have stolen the body themselves.

So what about Luke?

Once again a disciple named Joseph buried him, but this time it wasn’t in his own tomb. Then, when the women found the tomb it was left open. Then two men in lightning clothes stopped them and told them that he had raised from the dead. Once again there is no guard, nor did they check if Jesus really died.

What about John?

In John, Jesus really is stabbed to check he is dead. In this book, Joseph of Arimathea is actually a secret disciple, he once again takes his body and with a man named Nicodimus wraps it up. They then lay him in a different tomb. Then Mary Magdaline comes the next day and tells two disciples what happened, afterword they come running to the tomb. Then he only appears to Mary outside of the tomb and not the others. There is no guard for the tomb.

John has the best case for Christ. But John is also the least reliable and the latest, providing a strong case to not take this gospel over the others.

I could give countless natural explanations for these events, but the problem with all of this is that it gives the gospels far too much credit for historical reliability. We don’t really know if any of it panned out this way at all considering everything we know about the gospels already.

The disciples were in fear and lived in states of paranoia and fear of persecution, living like that, combined with hearing rumours of a resurrection is enough to make anyone go crazy. When you live like that, I could easily see it as possible for them to believe he had come back without any activity taking place in the tomb at all. Though since many robbers would have wanted to rob the tomb, and considering the lack of guard and the fact that the three woman thought they could move the tomb, I see no reason why the body could not have been stolen as well.

There is also credit to the idea that they believed Jesus only rose from the dead spiritually. This is from what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 and also from the spiritual nature of the events that happened after they thought Jesus came back. In this way, there would be no elaborate set up necessary. They could just believe he rose from the dead while at the same time his corpse is rotting. This is because there is no way to tell the difference between a spiritual resurrection and a corpse just rotting. Some people say that discovering the body of Jesus would be enough to disprove Christianity, howver I disagree for the reason that to Christians, it would then become clear his resurrection was spiritual.

Jesus Doesn’t Stick Around After he Comes Back

When people talk about Jesus coming back to life, they often make it sound like he was hanging out with them 40 days and everything was back to normal. This is completely mistaken.

Jesus only appears a select few times and in very strange circumstances. Why? If you had 40 days to convince people you had come back to life, you wouldn’t leave any doubt at all. Why would you only appear a select few times, and not just stay there, what was he doing the rest of the time?

When Jesus was killed, the disciples were naturally very scared and very worried, constantly. They were hiding, paranoid, and their complete world view had changed. In this state of mind, it is completely reasonable to think that some of the disciples may have become convinced that he had come back to life due to the stress and pressure of the situation. It’s a well known phenomenon that people have more encounters with the supernatural when they believe in the supernatural and they’re not in a right state of mind e.g. scared and in hiding for 40 days straight. This is more in line with what we would expect to see if Jesus didn’t come back, rather than if he did.

If you wanted to find out if Jesus really did come back at the time, you would want proof that he died, and also proof that he came back. What’s the best way to do that? Show the guy who came back to life!

But that was quite difficult to do when most of the time, according to the gospels, Jesus wasn’t around.

In Mark, due to it’s abrupt ending, Jesus doesn’t appear to anyone at all. In Matthew, he appears to the women in the tomb, and to the disciples once on a mountain. In Luke he appears to someone on the road to Emmaus, and then the next time people see him is when he goes back to heaven. Then in John he appears to Mary Magdalene, and then the disciples twice (one with Thomas there and one without) and then to them when they’re fishing.

It’s not a massive amount of times, and as time progresses, and the records become more unreliable, the number of times they see Jesus increases. It grows just like a legend.

If he was really around he should not have been appearing in odd flashes of time, he should have been there constantly. The fact that in every gospel there is only one or two chapters after the death of Jesus is pretty bad. It makes it look rushed and like there wasn’t much to talk about.

Resurrection was common in the Gospels

People have come back to life without being the son of God according to the bible. It does not follow that if someone dies and comes back to life they are the son of God.

Lazarus comes back to life as well. He’s not the son of God.

According to Matthew 27 verse 52-54 “the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

So I guess a lot of people came back to life, and not just Jesus.

Considering that resurrection is supposed to be a rare event, why is it so common and trivial in the bible? The sheer amount of it’s resurrection claims for other people really hinder the belief in the resurrection claims of the most important person, as it was clearly a frequent cultural discussion at the time.

Was there even an Empty Tomb?

If Jesus never had a tomb, then obviously none of the claims of his resurrection would be valid.

It was a roman practice to not allow crucified prisoners a decent burial. They were left to rot on their cross as a punishment, for days. Romans normally buried criminals themselves, and when they did, they would be in a common grave. It’s hard to see why Jesus would have been treated any differently to this, in fact, in light of the work of Josephus, who portrays Pilate very negatively, it seems even less likely an exception would be made for him [17].

This means that the case for Christ is even weaker, as it’s fairly likely that the huge detail of the empty tomb wasn’t correct. This is extremely significant.

Part 2 – Arguments and Counterarguments

Despite the facts about the gospel, and the unreliability from history, people still make arguments about why the case for Christ is more likely despite this. I would like to use this section to give some arguments of my own and also talk about other arguments that I’ve seen.

Lack of sources

When assessing history to try to establish historical fact I think there’s a tendency to equate good evidence “for the time” with “therefore it means it really happened” – sure the evidence may be better than other things at the time, however is that evidence actually good enough?

As Paul doesn’t really talk about the life of Jesus, and more the aftermath/consequences, these 4 books are the only ones we really have about Jesus’ life that the church actually considers to be true. Only one of them is independent.

Historians value agreeing information from as many sources as possible, there is no good source, and there is no large amount of sources.

The apocryphal books do exist, however they tend to be from 200 years after the event itself, and therefore contribute very little to the historicity of Jesus [15], besides this, there is the gospel of Thomas which is a sayings gospel only, and considered heresy at the time (although it’s commonly thought to be written around the same time as the rest of the gospels), and then there is Q for the commonalities between Matthew and Luke, as well as proposed additional sources for the parables.

Of these, Q is considered the most likely, however respected scohlar Mark Goodacre has a strong case against this, and the following debate convinced me against Q [20]. This topic is huge, so I highy recommend you investigate this independently if your interested, as it would likely require an article of length similar to this to address thoroughly.

Besides that, I must address the other source used to argue for Jesus’s divinity: Josephus.

Josephus was a very famous historian living before the first century, in the time when Jesus would have been around.

He does talk about Jesus in a very small passage of a much larger book called the ‘Testimonium Flavianum’ and it goes like this:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.” [16]

Although it’s talked about commonly, the majority of scholars at least consider it to be a partial forgery. There are many reasons for this, however there is too much to talk about and none of it would be my own work. Instead, if you are interested, I recommend the Wikipedia page about Josephus on Jesus, because it really goes into all the arguments in much more detail that I ever could here.

The essential takeaway that I found was: Josephus was a Jew (undisputed), and this is nothing at all like what any Jew would write.

Liar, Lunatic, Lord

C.S Lewis proposed that if Jesus was a great moral teacher, he couldn’t have been a liar, and if he was a great moral teacher he couldn’t have been a lunatic, therefore he was the messiah.

Obviously it’s more likely for someone to both be a great moral teacher and also a liar than the son of God. Jesus may have pretended to be the mesiah just to get his morals out there, or he may have been mistaken.

But generally in my opinion, Jesus wasn’t as great as people make him out to be for the following reasons:

  1. Turn the other cheek is generally something that will make you painful and miserable and allow people to take advantage of you.
  2. Spare no thought for the morrow is horrible financial advice.
  3. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone would make criminals never go to jail.
  4. The last will be first and the first will be last punishes people who work harder to get ahead in life.
  5. He trashes the temple, and damages possessions that other people own.
  6. He told the rich to throw all of their possessions away, and made it so that being rich will make it practically impossible to get into heaven.
  7. Generally the whole purpose for his existence doomed the majority of humanity. Before Jesus came, when you died nothing would happen. After Jesus came, you must accept him, or you must burn in hell forever. This dooms the majority of humanity to eternal suffering. Thanks Jesus.

So even if he was God, I still think he’s a lunatic.

However there’s something that is often forgotten when three options are presented; the many other options. Due to historical unreliability, there are many factors that could have influenced this story and we can’t really be sure that anything was like this at all.

I would prefer to add an additional L to the liar, lunatic, lord series of options, and that is legend, which is probably the closest to what I believe.

There is another major thing to consider. Did Jesus actually call himself God? Or was this added later? This is a very complex question, as there are very few instances of Jesus claiming to be God in the gospels, almost none until John’s gospel which is written much later, and very few times in the epistles as well, most commonly appearing in those that are known forgeries. You cannot propose this question fairly, when we don’t even know for certain if Jesus claimed to be God.

The Minimal Facts Approach

I’ve heard the argument from the perspective of a minimal facts approach, where facts are presented and Jesus being the son of God is the best explanation for them. Generally it will go something like: The majority of scholars agree on these 4 facts….

  1. Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.
  2. Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of women
  3. On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people believed they experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.
  4. The original disciples suddenly believed that Jesus rose from the dead when they had every predisposition to the contrary.

This method of argument is flawed from the beginning. The best model of the truth is the model that satisfies the most facts, aren’t we forgetting the numerous others that would be completely broken by a model that satisfies just these four?

As well as that, statistics are often misleading. The actual percentage of scholars that believe these facts is roughly 75% (The case for the resurrection of Jesus, Habermas and Licona), and this generally isn’t considered high enough in terms of deciding what is historical, especially in a field so often entered into by those with a bias. The fact that so many scholars disagree with these facts is enough to confidently say that it isn’t a fact at all.

There is a large opportunity for error as well when you talk about what people believed as facts. These books were written late, anonymously, and in very literate Greek (which the disciples would not have been able to have write) so who can be sure what they believed or more importantly why they believed them. The fact that people believed something does not make it true.

Sorry for the small image, but this picture is just too perfect

Jesus’ Prophecies

Some people say that Jesus’ prophecies prove he was the son of God. But I’ve never understood why this argument gets so much credit.

Fulfilling prophecies isn’t really that special when you know what they are and are deliberately go out of your way to fulfil them. There are also a series of prophecies that Jesus certainty does not fulfil.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Well this post wasn’t titled “Why I don’t believe Immanuel rose from the dead” so I guess that never happened. His name is Jesus, not Immanuel. But actually this passage contains a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for young woman, and isn’t in reference to the messiah at all, so there is no possible interpretation that makes this is a valid prophecy for Jesus [19]

That was a quick example but the best example was the certain historic fact that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem. If there was a census there should be a record of it, but there isn’t, and the idea of people needing to return to their hometowns for a census is preposterous.

Jesus came from Nazareth. A huge reason why he isn’t called Jesus of Bethlehem.

I’ve never found a good prophecy, and found many to be incorrect, not prophecies, or just not that impressive, i.e. anyone could have fulfilled them. I’ve not found any that are good. But if you’re reading this and do have a good prophecy, feel free to surprise me!

But They Died for What They Believed In

Many people have died for what they believed and been wrong. People can be mistaken. Let’s not forget that the records of the deaths of these people are in the same unreliable books in which Jesus died, and therefore have a similar reliability.

But How Could They Make it All Up?

If you are sitting here thinking I’m crazy because they had no reason at all to make this up, then I’ve got a question. Do you believe Apollonius of Tyana could do miracles as well? Chances are you’ve never heard of him. He lived in a small part of the roman empire, he was alive at a similar time to Jesus, he performed miracles and he also healed the sick [17] How could they have made up so much information on Apollonius of Tyana?

Much like Jesus, we have documented sources on Apollonius claiming very similar things including The Life of Apollonius of Tuana written by the sophist Philostratus at the request of empress Julia Domna [18]

How is it ok to assume that one was made up while the other wasn’t when we have very similar information on both of these people? It’s clear that at most only one of these two people could have been divine, meaning that for whatever reason, incorrect stories of miracles happened. And if this is the case, we have even more reason to doubt both of them.

The section on “The incentive to create forgeries” also addresses this point.

Any Natural Explanation is Better than a Supernatural one

Have you heard of the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? Although Occam’s razor would have you believe that Jesus Christ rising from the dead is the best explanation, this isn’t really the case as the supernatural has never been proven to be possible, and in every other situation where we’ve found the right answer to a claim, it has always been the natural answer rather than the supernatural one.

Although I don’t believe in the swoon theory, the one that says Jesus didn’t really die when he was crucified, I would believe it over the resurrection. This is because although it is ridiculously implausible, it is still possible within the laws of physics, whereas resurrection after three days is known to be impossible within the laws of physics.

You could argue that due to this, I would accept anything instead of believing that Jesus rose from the dead. This is not the case. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which means, if the correct level of evidence is there, I’d believe it.

Rising From the Dead Does not Mean You’re the Son of God

“As mentioned previously simply rising from the dead does not make you the messiah, it could make you Lazarus, an alien with future technology, a scientist who has surpassed current technology or person with a mutation that made it possible.

This is the kind of thing that we mean when we say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When it comes to the supernatural, we really need such a huge amount as it’s never been observed, or a way of observing the supernatural.

This is also why saying things like “The Romans were very good at Crucifixion” and “The tomb would have been guarded” isn’t really good enough.

All of this may sound narrowminded, but it’s also worth noting that if the son of God really knew everything, they would know what it would take to convince me that he was the son of God. They would be able to design their own test to show this conclusively, and it would probably be something that I couldn’t imagine. I also became an athiest after a life of belief through studying, so I really don’t accept this accusation.

Conclusion

The case for Christ is not as strong as it would first seem. Re-examining commonly used arguments, facts about the gospel, and it’s historicity reveal gaps which make many other explanations more likely. Even if you disagree, I hope you can see that the case against the resurrection of Christ is not necessarily weak.

I don’t want it to end here. If you are interested, I would really like to discuss your thoughts regardless of what you believe. I appreciate that it would be near impossible for anyone to respond to a substantial amount of what I’ve written here because of how long it is, however if there are specific sections you’d like to talk about, I’d be very happy to.

This is a huge post and a lot of research and work over months has gone into it. If you could like, share or comment with your opinion, that would go a long way towards justifying writing things like this in the future. Thank you very much.

Sources

This post wouldn’t have been possible without the help of online sources. Here are the ones I used to write this post. I highly recommend researching this issue for yourself rather than just following what I say, here might be some good places to check.

1 – biblword.net when were the original gospels written?

2 – christianity.com, When did Jesus Die? The year Day & Time

3 – healthline.com, False Memory: What You Need to Know

4 – healthline.com, Your Memory is Unreliable, and Science Could Make it More so

5 – wikipedia.org, Biblical manuscript

6 – thebiblejourney.org, Who wrote the Gospels?

7 – gotquestions.org, How old were Jesus’ disciples

8 – macrotrends.net, World Life Expectancy 1950-2021

9 – Reading the new testament, an introduction, Pheme Perkins

10 – earlychurchhistory.org, Longevity in the ancient world

11 – discoveringancienthistory.wordpress.com, The Pauline Epistles, Known and Suspected Forgeries.

12 – Introducing the New Testament Theology, Archibald Macbride Hunter

13 – thegreatcoursesdaily.com, The Synoptic Gospels, a Historians Perspective

14 – National Cathedral Lecture – Misquoting Jesus, Bart D. Ehrman

15 – The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Craig S

16 – earlychristianwritings.com, Josephus and Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Question

17 – How Jesus Became God, Bart D,.Ehrman

18 – Wikipedia.org, Apollonius of Tyana

19 – The Triumph of Christianity, Bart D.Ehrman

20 – The lost Gospel – Mark Goodacre and Dennis MacDonald debate the existence of a Q Source. MythVision Podcast

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20 thoughts on “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? Why we Have Reasons to Doubt

  1. I came across something that has lingered with me for a few weeks. It was just a statement that we have more evidence of the resurrection of Christ than we have of the existence of Alexander the Great. I’ve been considering that, and, out of sheer curiosity, I wonder what you might think of that assertion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Merlin, I’m really glad you shared this with me! By coincidence I’ve heard something like that recently as well. But to be honest, I really have no idea how good the evidence is for Alexander the Great, so this comparison is not easy for me to comment on, so I can only talk about the evidence which I have seen about Jesus.

      He is certainly the most attested Jew at the time, we know much more about him than say the high priest at the time, who should have been an important figure. But I feel facts like this are obtained from the fact that there are lots and lots of copies of the gospel. It’s true that this is the case, but these copies mostly come from very late (like 700 years) after the event itself.

      These copies are great for trying to find what the original copy probably said, but consider this: an original book with a false fact doesn’t become more reliable the more copies of it are made, it just means we can be more confident of what the original said.

      With this in mind, I don’t really consider these copies to be additional evidence, meaning the evidence I would consider for the resurrection are the 7 authentic letters of Paul, the gospels, and potentially Josephus. I don’t consider gospels like the gospel of Thomas to count for the resurrection as it only talks about the life of Jesus. Documents like Q, L and M are not available to us (and may have never existed), and the apocrypha is written 200 years too late to really say anything extra about Jesus.

      I would consider this evidence pretty amazing for concluding that Jesus did exist, but for the resurrection, not so much. For one these sources talk very little about the resurrection.

      But to me, as the supernatural has never been proven, any poor natural explanation has better explaining power, even something unlikely such as someone stole the body from the tomb, and the disciples found the tomb and thought he came back to life.

      I don’t feel like this is being very unfair, we have many stories of magic and the supernatural across all kinds of cultures and religions, and I treat them all in the same way.

      My last thought is when other pieces of evidence disagree with the gospels. I need to research this area myself but consider that well respected scholars have said that when the romans did crucifixion, they put them in mass graves and left them on the cross for days to rot first, before then burying them. This is massive evidence against the resurrection, which, I really want to investigate for myself.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t deny that there is some evidence for the resurrection. But we really shouldn’t decide fact on whether or not it has more evidence than Alexander the Great. Good evidence for a miracle is extremely different to good evidence for a person existing. The former has never been observed or proven and may be impossible, whereas people exist all the time. You could also get stuck in the weeds of thinking about the probabilities of Jesus being an immortal alien, discovering rare technology never found again, or being put there by a time traveller which all seem to need the same level of evidence as you would need to establish he was the son of God, but I think I’ve already gone on for way too long.

      Sorry for the long response. It can often take a long time to discuss a claim which can be said so quickly and easily. As you know I’m interested in researching this so feel free to point me to the direction where you heard this so I can look at it myself. I’m happy to discuss or research other things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heh, I don’t think they were referring to the number of copies the Bible has. More like, we have records which were written not that long after the fact, and which have remained largely intact and preserved for nearly two thousand years. We have circumstantial evidence as well as a number of witnesses attesting to the resurrection of Christ. And for all that I’ve heard about Alexander the Great all my life, just as I’ve heard about Christ, I don’t know that there are any lingering records of him, or eyewitness accounts of him, or circumstantial evidence of him.

        I believe the point of the comparison was that no one in their right mind is going to question the existence of Alexander the Great, yet how much evidence remains of his existence? Meanwhile, we have evidence of Christ’s resurrection, but even people who grow up learning about it will question it. If we are so set on following physical proof, then how do we acknowledge something for which there seems to be very little evidence, but dismiss something for which there is quite a bit?

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        1. Thanks for the response Merlin, I hoped you’d press me more on this because when you come to have a strong opinion about something, it’s good to challenge it. I’ve gone ahead and written an incredibly long response, so sorry about that, but it is to stress a point which I think is incredibly relevant to your question.

          Yes, 30 years (and even sooner for the letters of Paul) is pretty good. It’s really impossible to know if the gospels have been kept in-tact fully as we don’t have the originals, but we can use our copies to have a good picture of what the original text would have looked like anyway.

          I’m not entirely sure exactly what you mean by circumstantial evidence because it has a really broad definition. Paul mentions the resurrection very briefly I think, and the Gospel of Thomas is just a sayings gospel which means it’s only circumstantial evidence for the life of Jesus rather than the death and resurrection.

          The question of whether the gospels were written by witnesses is an interesting one, of course they were all written anonymously so we have to guess. Taking the church’s guesses gives two first hand witnesses and two second hand witnesses. But I don’t really see any good reason to believe that disciples wrote them. The disciples were not educated, could not read (nevermind write) and spoke Aramaic, which is problematic because the gospels were written in Greek. So I don’t really accept that we have witness accounts for the life of Jesus.

          The reason I’ve always believed Alexander the Great existed is because I trust historians. I think it’s perfectly fine to question his existence and a quick google finds lots of people doing that very thing. Upon a quick inspection of the evidence, there are 5 written accounts from both Roman and Greek historians, as well as lots of archaeological pieces of evidence, even though some sources claim that there is none. So I understand why someone would make a claim like this. Although the amount of evidence for Alexander the Great seems to be greater, the amount of evidence is comparable.

          If the claim was “The evidence for the existence of Jesus is as good as the evidence for Alexander the Great” I could basically agree with it, this might be something I will say to mythicists that don’t believe Jesus ever existed. But that’s not the claim that you’re saying, your claim is that “The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is as good as the evidence for Alexander the Great” which to me just seems mistaken as resurrection is not the same as existence. A much more reasonable way to write the claim is: “The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is as good as the evidence that Alexander the Great was a God”.

          Evidence of people merely existing cannot be conflated to also mean evidence that they were a God. Nobody in the world would claim that Alexander the Great didn’t exist, but nobody would also claim that he was a God either, despite the fact that there is so much evidence claiming that he was. So if the evidence for Jesus being God is the same as Alexander the Great being God, why should we believe that Jesus was ever God? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

          Evidence of miracles is so vastly different to evidence of existence that they cannot be compared fairly in any way at all. Miracles have never been proven, and are probably impossible, while humans existing is an incredibly common event. This means that the amount of evidence needed to prove miracles is far higher than that needed to prove existence.

          I reached the conclusion that both Alexander the Great and Jesus existed based on the evidence. But the evidence is not enough to be convinced that either of them performed miracles or was God. This is the most important thing I want to say, so please let me know if this doesn’t seem to make sense.

          Thanks for your thoughts, it was fun thinking about this, and it’s also cool to research a different historical figure whom you otherwise would not have thought about!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, as far as the gospels being kept perfectly intact, well… as they say in The DaVinci Code, “He who holds the keys to Heaven rules the world.” I believe that there have been deliberate alterations at the hands of power-hungry apostates, in addition to genuine accidents in translation or copying. This is much of why the Bible can be so confusing and, at times, inconsistent. (and thus, in my church’s doctrine, the need for a second witness, the Book of Mormon kept safe out of the hands of wicked men) But even with this sabotage, the heart and purpose of the Bible remains true and essential, to teach us of God and give a record of His dealings with mankind in ancient times.

            One thing which could not be altered, however, was the insistence of Christ’s resurrection. It is a pivotal piece of doctrine, and so those who wanted to corrupt the gospel had to work around it. Sort of like, “Ok, we have to say he was resurrected, but we can still change a few points of doctrine in our favor.”

            But that’s a bit of an aside, I suppose.

            About circumstantial evidence, I mean physical traces which happen to align with accounts of events. A large metal nail, for instance, was driven into the stone which covered the entrance of the tomb, to hold it in place and prevent Jesus’ followers from stealing his body and claiming He had risen. If we now examine the tomb His body was said to have been lain in, we find a bit of metal still inside the stone face of the wall, made of the right materials, dated to the appropriate age, etc. where it could very well be what is left of the nail.

            But, of course, I can already hear you submitting that it could be explained away in some other manner. Yes, that is true. That is the way with “circumstantial” evidence. It is merely one piece of possible proof that happens to line up with the available accounts, or it could somehow be something else. Who knows?

            However, if this were, say, a murder trial, then circumstantial evidence PLUS matching records from various individuals PLUS the recorded testimonies of one or two dozen people… well, that would be a fairly strong case, would it not? Perhaps not an absolute, as the other side would not doubt have ways of disputing everything, but, really, it ought to be enough to make one at least consider, ya know?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hi Merlin, it would probably be unfair of me to reply to this without researching the tomb of Jesus that you mentioned. As far as I’m aware, the knowledge of which tomb was Jesus’ isn’t in mainstream scholarship, even among Christian scholars, so I’m not sure where this claim comes from. Rather than dismiss this evidence for this reason, I’d rather look into it myself, so could you say identifiable information about this tomb so I can research it specifically? Thanks, and I’ll get back to you after I’ve looked into this further.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Things can always be said. Arguments can always be made. Exact meanings can be quibbled over till doomsday. (Example: in the scriptural sense, “resurrection” is not the same thing as simply being raised from the dead)

    I know, for myself, that Christ lives as an immortal, resurrected being. I know He lives and still works for our good. I know that He has spoken to ancient and modern prophets who, if they be true, have testified of Him and of His divine mission. I know these things because they have been made manifest to me after much study and prayer.

    Of course, I know that my simple declaration may not convince anyone. It hardly qualifies as proof for someone else. But there is much evidence, still. For instance, in my religion, we have the Book of Mormon as an additional witness of Christ. The book literally cannot be true without Christ also being precisely the Savior we believe Him to be. Now, there are many things, many details, throughout the book which, when the book was published in 1830, no one, especially not the uneducated farm boy in upstate New York who supposedly wrote it, could have known would have any sort of evidence to support them. And yet, dozens of discoveries in the two centuries since have added more and more empirical weight to the claim of the book’s authenticity.

    Ah, but still, people will believe, or not, almost entirely independent of such proof. Because things can always be said and arguments can always be made. And that’s fine, I say. God will never force the human mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to see you Merlin, hope you’re doing well. Thanks for your thoughts.

      When you say that “Things can be said. Arguments can also be made” I really don’t feel this is what I’ve done. As best I can, I’ve followed the history, and made updates many times precisely because I didn’t feel that other points I’d said had good evidence for them. There are many things that I thought I could say at first, only to find that through research that I couldn’t. So there really are some things you can’t say, I would never want to make anything up.

      To me, a really important focus is which things are correct, and which arguments are better, as that’s how we find truth.

      I really am more interested in how you can claim you know Christ is a resurrected being. We’ve both done prayer and research, finding very different results.

      I don’t remember the specifics, but I have seen that argument for the Book of Mormon, but there were only a couple of examples that were there in its entirety. Have more come to light? I’m also interested to know if you feel historical errors that Joseph Smith couldn’t have known about would detract from the authenticity of the book in the same way that these things would support it? Because the author of the book is an angel, and not a human, would an error in the book be much more significant than in a gospel which was written by a human?

      The main reason the Book of Mormon wasn’t included was that I’m not convinced it was divinely inspired based on the accounts given at the start of the Book of Mormon. However if you could show, or direct me to dozens of examples of things Joseph Smith really couldn’t have known yet got right, that would impress me, and definitely prompt more research.

      At least for me, I really don’t believe that people don’t listen to the evidence. I’ve seen many people change their minds after being presented with good evidence and thinking about it. I really think it’s important to encourage people not to simply follow their biases and think for themselves, doing their research and then forming a conclusion.

      I was really concerned when you said “God will never force a human mind”, as it made me think that your ideas of people ignoring proof mainly come from people researching the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Could it be that people don’t believe it because they’ve seen the evidence and haven’t found it compelling, rather than a direct attempt to ignore it? The former is something that would give me more faith in humanity.

      Thanks for the thoughts. I’d never before considered the Book of Mormon as extra evidence for Jesus, so seeing those dozens of things Joseph Smith couldn’t have known or predicted would be a good place to start for me. If you want to leave a link, please note that it will go into pending automatically, and I’ll just need to approve it. This is to stop my site being spammed with lots of people advertising links to everything. Once again, thanks for your comment, it’s interesting to think about this from a different perspective.

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      1. I know I’ve said this before, but, once again: I very much appreciate how you and I can disagree and remain civil. 🙂

        Perhaps, instead of “things can be said, arguments can be made,” it would have been more clear if I said, “Anything can be disputed. And probably will be.”

        I mean, just take a look at what’s being disputed today: everything surrounding COVID, from the masks to the mandates to the vaccines; whether one is born as a boy or girl or if one can, for whatever reason, say they are actually something other than they were born as, including gender, race, age, or even whether they’re a human or a wolf (I kid you not); whether or not man is influencing the climate; whether the Earth is flat or round… it goes on. A lot. My point is… literally anything can be disputed, evidence or not.

        As a point of clarification about the Book of Mormon’s author, it was not an angel. It is a compiling and abridgment of the works of several ancient prophets in the Americas. It was hidden to keep it safe and then brought forth and translated by the power of God through Joseph Smith Jr. and the angel(s) which guided him. Like the Bible, it was not simply dictated or authored by only one person or entity.

        There are at least several dozen evidences of the Book of Mormon, though I’ll have to find a link at a later time. Ultimately, though, it is not the mind alone which must be convinced. And we do, quite certainly, encourage every single person to think for themselves, to ask questions and honestly seek answers. Each one of us needs to know for ourselves. And we each need to be open to the evidence before us. Without that, we would have nothing.

        It is not enough for either the mind alone or the heart alone to know. They must work together.

        So, when you ask about possible historical errors? Been there, done that. Things which seemed to inaccuracies have proven to be accurate, but not the proof was not immediate. People chose to believe anyway, even if they did not have all the answers. There are other details which are still held up as ways to invalidate the book, but we’ve been through that before. It is our belief that either more evidences will come to light in due time, or there are some nuances in translation. But it is also our experience that no amount of proof will actually convince or truly convert anyone. The same seeds of truth, evidence, and divine manifestations (like seeing angels or Christ himself) can fall onto the minds and hearts of various men, but that is no guarantee. Some will stubbornly not accept it, some will dive in exuberantly only to fall away, some will let the cares of the world choke their reception of it. It happens. I’ve seen it.

        And yes, it is something of a blow to one’s faith in humanity to behold when people simply do not accept it, no matter what proof has been shown to them. But then there are the people who do allow themselves to be shown the proof, and that is quite heartening.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes definitely, civil conversations are also much more productive, and generally a lot nicer.

          I see what you mean with anything can be disputed. It’s obviously most important to look at the strength of the dispute, and I think the disputing is really important, for example many scientific concepts have been disputed and found to be wrong.

          Ah I forgot about that, yes God and angles translated it. So it can be assumed that the translation is correct (although you need to have a good understanding of 17th century English which is something that I don’t have) but the humans who wrote it are prone to error.

          I am quite excited with the idea of there being several dozen proofs, I think in conversation with another member of LDS they seemed to say that there were only a few, but if there’s more that’s great. I look forward to seeing that. Let me know if there are any sources you think I should trust beforehand. I’m hesitant to search as 1. I know that a lot of misinformation may be out there, and you said that new discoveries were quite common meaning it could be outdated fairly quickly 2. If you google “Top 10 reasons why anime sucks” you’ll find my troll sataric article which really gives no information at all, so I feel the same could happen for this, and it’s something I definitely want to get right. 3. I’d just much rather look at something I know you agree with, rather than research something else only to find you disagree with some of it.

          I’m glad to hear you’ve investigated those things. I’ve looked into it a little but not very deeply. Things like mistranslations of Joseph Smith’s King James Bible translation which made it into the Book of Mormon (instead of a more correct translation) are things that I consider quite major, that would need to be explained if I were to believe the book. But we can discuss that more if interested.

          The fact that people are investigating this is great. I may not have told you this, but I didn’t go very far to talk with people who disagreed with me when I was a Christian, all counter-arguments were given to me through the church, so I’m really glad you’re not doing the mistake that I did and are willing to talk about these things. Thanks.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah, right! My apologies for the delay! I had some medical issues that occupied so much of my attention that most everything else simply fell by the wayside. Doing much better now, though, so thank you for the reminder! 🙂

            Don’t know about the Wikipedia article, as I’ve not seen it myself, but I can look into that later.

            I searched for something specific that I recalled. It was a list of things mentioned in the Book of Mormon which, at time of publication, there was no proof of, but which, in the time since, have been either proven or at least seen to be possible, if not proven. When I found said list, however, I confess I was slightly disappointed. Some points were fine, but others seemed a little more flimsy. Doing a bit of research on the history of this list, I found that it was produced by a pair of academics who offered it less as proof and more as an encouragement, I think. Some of the things they mentioned were, at the time, not believed by the general academic consensus (not like the academic community at large has ever proven wrong, of course), so they took a bit of flack for that. They also did not produce specific evidences for this proof, and there could be several explanations for that. Perhaps they were reaching a little further than they ought to have at the time, or perhaps they did not want to inadvertently become a stumbling block if one thing they *might* have cited ever became disregarded at large, or maybe they succumbed to the temptations of sophistry, or maybe that just wasn’t their point as academics instead of scientists, or whatever else.

            Either way, while I am unshaken in my beliefs, and some points do stand, it’s still not something I’d actually want to bring to a discussion that centers on hard, demonstrable facts, ya know?

            For instance: a few points that they cite can be compiled into one statement, that there were, in fact, two ancient civilizations in the Americas, the elder of which was in the northern region and simply disappeared, the younger of which began in the southern region and spread northward into the vacated regions. That statement got divided up into several points, which, had I been the men who produced this list, I would have condensed. And, hang whatever else, I would have at least pointed my audience in a general direction of where they could look things up for themselves.

            For myself, there are a number of things I could point to. Such as the numerous writing styles found within the Book of Mormon, or where one professor challenged his students to create something similar and outlined various criteria (this many chapters about war, this many dealing with history, this many about doctrine, this many about divine manifestations, etc.), or how a choice of phrase – that they “cast up roads,” specifically – reflects how the ancients of South America, having to deal with heavy rains and flooding, elevated their roads above the surrounding landscape, or the intimate knowledge of olive culturing which, farmer or not, Joseph Smith Jr. simply did not possess… and so on and so forth.

            My point is, while I am somewhat disappointed at the performance of the academics whose list I was thinking of, there remain many more points which ought to give pause for consideration before the collective court of humanity. And yet, ultimately, these do not convince people.

            There was a particular scholar from Norway (I think) who undertook an endeavor to sail across the southern Pacific Ocean with five other men. It was quite the adventure, and an achievement which proved, in academic halls, that the ancient peoples of Polynesia and South America could have been intimately connected, for which he became famous for quite some time. But then he revealed that he had been inspired by what was written in the Book of Mormon. In response, his name was scrubbed from the whole of academia, for a time, and publication of his works ceased. His name was Thor Heyerdahl, and though the suppression of his work has eased off a bit in the decades since, he stands as a proof to me that even very learned, scholarly, scientific, rational people… are still just people. They don’t always accept proof.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. If you have medical problems that’s of course more important, I’m suffering from some myself so completely understand, and glad you’re doing better.Thanks for a detailed prompt reply, that’s pretty impressive.

              I get that these predictions aren’t necessarily what your belief is based on, so I appreciate the honesty in not presenting something you don’t take that seriously. I will give my opinions on the things you’ve mentioned however, taking them as if they are the highlights of the article.

              I really don’t know enough information about the two civilizations to comment, I’d like to research that more rather than make assumptions. If you have any useful sources that would be great.

              The different writing styles is an interesting one, and definitely something to take seriously. From my perspective different writing styles is something that I would expect to occur if Joseph Smith had multiple people working with him to translate, which it seems very likely he did, giving the sources for different writing styles.

              From the perspective of someone wanting to make a forgery, writing styles is definitely something that they would be thinking about and researching too. A large portion relates to the way in which people communicate spurious non-content dialogue which writers often do thoughtlessly, implying that a certain possibility exists of a person studying this avoiding pitfalls that other forgers may miss. Writing styles can often be mimicked from others successfully, and you can often read a strong iconic voice from characters in well written works of fiction too.

              Could you explain what happened when the students were tasked by the professor to write something mimicking the book of mormon? I’m not sure what you are trying to say by that.

              “Cast up roads” is quite interesting, do you know if this is mentioned just a handful of times or repeatedly? I am wondering if that’s a coincidence because my first reaction to that sentence was a feeling that it was a correct statement to say, that wouldn’t be frowned upon for its use. Knowledge of how often this appears would be really helpful to know that.

              Once again, from the perspective of someone wanting to create a forgery, is there really no possible way to learn about how to grow olives other than through God? I would have thought if they didn’t know they wouldn’t have included it.

              This story of this person who had their works written in academic papers was the piece of evidence for the book of Mormon that I had heard already and was talking about earlier. From memory, it was a long passed down story from a tribe of people which sounded quite similar to a passage from the book of Mormon.My main complaint was that it was quite vague, and also impossible to verify that what they said was true due to the unreliable spread of word of mouth tales. If I remember right, this was just a small part of a much much bigger paper of stories that weren’t at all like the book of Mormon.

              I think your despair in people refusing to accept the evidence may stem from the following: I wouldn’t deny the evidence, I would accept that there are different writing styles, and that one tale matches that of real life etc, however the key question is why did this happen? To many people a clever forgery has much more explaining power than sent by an angel and translated using a stone in a hat, as we have lots of examples of forgeries happening naturally, yet zero examples or pieces of evidence for the supernatural, meaning for all we know it may be completely impossible. Please don’t lose faith in people, it’s just that the supernatural is a significantly harder cause for people to be convinced of, even when accepting the evidence.

              In the aim of clarity, with the evidence that you’ve presented, it does not necessarily follow that therefore it’s from God. I’ve not examined all of the sources fully, so I’m yet to be in a position to say this completely, but I hope this is something that will give you more faith in those who have seen yet not believed.

              From the outside looking in, my immediate reaction is that it feels like the book of Mormon fired a lot of darts (things unknown that may be proven later) and only hit a small amount of targets, and I believe coincidences are normal. Although some evidence, explored through to the end may be good, (as I hope to learn), I really don’t believe in counting the hits and ignoring the misses as a good way to evaluate a book’s truth claims. So please understand, that showing me the evidence to be really good would lead to more research into the misses before acceptance, as that’s just as important as the hits to me.

              Thanks for the thoughts, it was so nice to hear back from you. I hope that this has given clarity, and that if I’ve completely misremembered that last piece of evidence you’ll let me know. Ross

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              1. Out of everything you’ve said here, the one thing that has struck me most, the one thing I really want to comment on right now, is when you mention my losing faith in people. Because I don’t really see it that way at all. I feel that I have great faith in people, just not in the same aspects of them that you do.

                My faith in people is in how, for all our flaws, we keep trying. It’s in all the acts of kindness, courage, and, yes, faith, as people strive to do what they feel is right. It’s in families that endure and the capacity to forgive grudges. People are not creatures of reason alone, and so those who bravely defy what seems “reasonable” in favor of what is decent and truly sane, well, I find that to be inspiring. Soldiers have sometimes found more honor among their enemies than they did among their own rulers. Even now, in a world full of lies, people can still give their word, and keep it. Countless souls throughout the ages have given of their time, money, labor, and even risked their own lives in order to help those who stood in need. Selfless heroism has often arisen from the most unlikely and unexpected of people. Faithful couples, children who are loved, a man of integrity, everyday heroes who save lives or teach children to read, evil men who reform their ways and do better, mercy which is found in desperate times… these are the things which inspire my faith in people.

                Do we always accept the evidence of truth as it dances naked before our eyes? No, we do not. Can we be exceptionally stupid sometimes? Yes, very much so. But that’s just part of being a flawed human with a limited perspective. We need to be patient with each other.

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                1. Really glad to hear that, I don’t disagree. The evidence seemed to be really strong for you, so I guess I just thought it would be difficult for you to have faith in people who see it too but don’t believe. Perhaps it’s because if I was in your situation, I would probably see myself losing faith in humanity, many people seeing but not accepting the evidence is a really depressing thing to me, such as when medicine that has been proven to work gets dismissed. So I was probably just projecting my thoughts onto you so sorry about that.

                  Those things inspire me too, really glad to read this. It’s nice to be reminded of these great things.

                  Did you feel like my reasons for accepting the evidence, but not necessarily the conclusion make sense? I’m really wanting to know because if I’m wrong, it’s a pretty big thing to be wrong about! I wouldn’t want to base my beliefs on incorrect facts.

                  Thanks for this, your comment certainly inspired me.

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                  1. Eh, I think most things – including but not limited to how we view evidence and conclusions – make sense in the first person. That’s why we need outside perspectives to challenge us. Truth is something that we all work our way towards together. Like how slavery used to simply be a fact of life, but then we started talking about it, and the more we talked about it, the more we collectively moved away from it. That would never have happened if no one had ever said anything about it. Thus, I try to judge arguments instead of people, ya know? 😉

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                    1. Yeah separating the argument from the individual is a good thing to do. I like the working out the truth idea. It’s why I asked you about my ideas of what the evidence meant for the book of Mormon, as I didn’t want to use those arguments if they were bad. I don’t think you want to talk about it though so that’s fine. I sometimes struggle with separating the argument from the person e. g if someone says something that seems ridiculous like God is real because the Earth is flat I struggle to not judge the person who said it. Generally I’ve become better at that, but it’s still not easy. Thanks for the thoughts, and sorry if I’ve failed to separate the person fron the argument when talking to you, I really admire you’re willingness to talk about what you believe.

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