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August 25, 2015


Lazarus was raised from the dead, the deaf, blind, paralytic were healed, water was turned into wine, yet not all in Jesus' audiences believed. They even asked for a sign, and were refused, because their hearts were hard. Their forefathers witnessed miracles in the desert, and didn't believe. Human nature, indeed...

People are much more willing to believe what they WANT to believe, what they thinks benefits them in some significant way, and tend to disbelieve the best of evidence if it tells a story they don't want told. The twisting, alteration and dismissal of evidence is seen every day, and, in the political and social realms, assertions of such are made daily by both sides of every significant argument -- from the building of economic structures and socio-political means to abortion videos and climate change "facts". We tend to most often believe exactly what we want to believe, and nothing more.

“And he (Jesus) said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

Comments above were good answers. Also, I would like to add that Jesus only appeared to a select number of people. This is a case of not reading the narrative. Jesus did not appear to Herod, Pilate, or any Romans. Romans did not believe in resurrection and scoffed at it. It is unlikely they would have believed unless they literally saw Jesus in the flesh. Even then, they may have still hated Jesus.

Thomas heard from the disciples who had seen Jesus personally, and Thomas had even followed Jesus for years. He was still skeptical until he saw Jesus personally. Since people know that the dead don't normally come back, it's not such an easy thing to swallow.

Perfect example of non sequitur thought.

Here's another, following the same lines as the challenge.

FDR proved himself to be the perfect president for his times by his last election opportunity in 1944.

His diligent efforts in bringing the country almost through WWII should have caused all the voters to unanimously elect FDR to his fourth term.

FDR was not unanimously elected in 1944.

Therefore, FDR was never president.

Honestly, all the previous posts have given good examples of those who rejected Jesus in spite of the evidence. The Gospel of Matthew was penned to counter-act the official Sanhedrin line of Jesus' body being snatched from the grave past sleeping Roman guards. Why? Because of the dreaded loss of political clout. Pilate could have believed, but his position in life was due to an imperial system that deified the emperor.

This is made evident in Paul's defense of the faith before Herod Agrippa II in Acts 26. In spite of the clear testimony, Festus thought Paul insane while Agrippa felt Paul's witness was too little to be convincing.

Tacitus' comment of Christianity a that "pernicious superstition" is enlightening. In spite of all that God can do, there is the sad trend to find excuses to avoid it all. This is the breeding ground for all the challenges (463 in this source alone)which only validates Christ's claims about cold receptions (Lk. 14:18).

Human nature is definitely in view here, specifically a nature steeped in legalism and self-righteousness. A few things come to mind. First, the perishing unbeliever counts the word of God as foolish and in fact cannot understand it apart from the Spirit. Second, look at the Luke 20:4 confrontation between Christ and the scribes, chief priests and elders. The question raised is "was John's baptism from Heaven or from men?" Their response of "we do not know" is what lost men do with a hard heart, they invent "new" truth to avoid the obvious. This is no light matter with respect to the depth and despair of a lost person. Jesus could have appeared to many other people but he knew men's hearts, they had seen him authoritatively act in control of nature, of demons, sick people made well and even dead men come to life and understood what his claims of divinity were. There is nothing that ultimately suggests that if they had seen him afterward that they would have acted any different. The bible actually says otherwise.

Let us not forget this telling end of a parable of Jesus concerning Lazarus and the rich man;

But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” But he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead." Luke 16:29-31

Certainly, had Jesus body still been in the grave, that would have been a defeater for Christianity. The corpse would be a hard physical fact proving the falsehood of the belief in the resurrection, regardless of any testimony in favor of the resurrection.

But after the ascension, there was longer any hard physical fact proving the truth of the resurrection. You have to rely on testimony alone at that point.

Testimony is more easily denied than hard physical evidence.

"If Jesus would have risen, then all would surely believe in him.

But not all did believe in him.

Therefore, he did not rise from the dead."

This is simply a non-sequitar.

For instance, reverse the hypothetical syllogism to see the point.

If Jesus did not rise, then no one would believe that He did.

Jesus did not rise.

Therefore, no one would believe that He did.

However, historically speaking, people (millions of them) *do* believe that Jesus rose - but, because of this fact, the atheist is surely not going to concede that Jesus did in fact rise - they may simply believe for some other (unknown) reason.

The form is valid in both instances, but the premises are simply not necessarily true.

Because Jesus is God and His plan is perfect, He chose to appear to those outside of Jerusalem's city gates. Herrod was a drunken fool, and the Jews were jealous of His power.
The Jewish religious leaders knew he had risen...the terrified Roman guards told them as soon as it happened!

The stone was rolled away to show us thick headed humans that His body was gone (the death shroud was left behind). He did that for us too.

He had 12 disciples that walked with Him personally for 3 years and even they struggled with His Sovereignty. Do you think these men you mentioned would have admitted he was the Messiah AFTER they had him killed?? Not on your life. The people--the mobs--would have butchered them!! They made a huge mistake in executing Jesus and they were going to do everything in their power to cover that up.

To this day the story of Jesus' body being stolen from the tomb by the disciples I s being told in the Holy land of the Jewish people, through whom the Messiah came.

Evidence does not always produce belief, and belief does not always produce devotion. For polytheistic people like the Romans, belief in the divinity of Jesus might not have been such a big deal, but they have their own deities; they didn't just worship every god they ever heard of - particularly not their enemies' gods. For many Jews, accepting the evidence would require significant humbling (those who followed the law thinking they were righteous would have to recognize their works counted for nothing), their whole religious system would be turned on its head. Yet many did believe; 3,000 alone from all over the empire believed at Pentecost from the preaching of 11 disciples. That is astounding. We expect to see the evidence have an impact, and who could hope for such a strong impact as what actually happened.

If anyone thinks that's not strong enough to account for the claims, I expect an explanation for why a stronger reaction is necessary.

Argument: If Jesus Had Risen, Everyone Would Have Converted

Unstated assumption: People are objective in their assessment of truth claims, including claims having a moral dimension.

Unless the unstated assumption is shown to be true, the argument doesn't hold.

As someone (CS Lewis?) said, it is very difficult for folks to acknowledge that they believe a lie, especially when believing the lie is foundational to their livelihood.

Not only were there numerous signs, wonders and miracles performed by Christ, including resurrections of others from the dead, which did not convert most, but the ancient Israelites, on their exodus, were led by God directly, with direct signs of His continuous presence. Yet, when Moses attended Mount Sinai, the Israelites proceeded to worship the golden calf. This is recorded in Scripture. There is even a book compiling over 2000 credible miracle claims in the modern world. The evidence surrounding the Resurrection is much better accounted for by the belief in a physical resurrection than by ANY other competing hypothesis. However, the atheist author downplays the role of one's subjective desires play in what one is willing to accept as true. Jesus appeared to many, but not to everyone, and it is easy to deny such an outlandish claim if one has no personal experience of it, especially if one dismisses any possibility, a priori, of the truth of the supernatural or Christianity. Pascal said something along the lines of God leaving enough light for those who wish to see, but enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition. This is yet another case of, rather than a paucity of evidence, there is, concious or unconscious, suppression of it.

I live in small town of a few thousand people. There are thousands of people I have never seen much less met. It's certainly not hard to believe someone could have not been seen by the majority of the population of Jerusalem if he only wanted to be seen by his friends.

I've heard Christopher Hitchens quote David Hume many times regarding miracles. He said (paraphrasing) "which is more likely, that the laws of physics have been suspended, almost always in your favor, or that your senses have somehow been deceived?" CS Lewis said, "what we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience." If materialism doesn't allow for miracles then they must interpret the resurrection accounts as a lie or mass hallucination. To quote Lewis again, (apologies) "what we see and hear depends a good deal on where we are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are." It seems to me that the witnesses are accused here of wanting the resurrection to be true. And so, if that's the case, the Romans and Jews can be accused of not wanting it to be true as well. In any case, how many people believe or don't believe is not a reliable test to a truth claim.

Assuming that all would see Jesus after the resurrection or even that many would see disregards the lack of widespread communication and transportation. This was not 2015. Regardless, as we see even now, people can see a video of an organization like planned parenthood negotiating the sale of human body parts and still decide to argue that the organization isn't doing that. Seeing is not always believing.

It's a non-sequitur to say everyone would have converted if Jesus had risen and since everyone did not convert we can assume Jesus did not rise from the dead. This view incorrectly assumes a miracle always results in a conversion. This view has been incorrectly assumed in scripture and corrected. In response to the rich man's supposition that sending a resurrected Lazarus to his family would result in their conversion he's told "if they didn't listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." How can one be fairly certain a resurrected Christ would have convinced the religious leaders when Christ's disciples were not convinced? When he appeared to the startled and confused disciples he said "why do doubts arise in your minds? Why are you troubled?" If those in Christ's inner circle were given to self-deceit, what of those who were antagonistic to Christ? Thomas said he would not believe unless he saw the nail marks in his hand and could touch his side. What stipulations would Pilate have for belief? What hoops must the risen Christ jump through to pass the validity test of the religious leaders? Christ knew that even after rising from the dead he'd be rejected by the leaders of his day whose hearts were hardened and whose minds were set in their ways. If scripture could not convince them, neither could his risen self.

Furthermore, Christ's own disciples didn't understand the full implications of his resurrection. He had to open their minds so they could understand the Scriptures and its fulfillment. Miracles were ordained on purpose for a specific audience. Christ was resurrected to those who understood the significance and would be instrumental in proclaiming his resurrection and preaching the gospel. As Acts records "he was not seen by all people but by witnesses God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead...he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge." And while Peter was speaking people converted. Would appearing to Herod, Pilate et al produce a similarly fruitful response? Miracles are not ubiquitous with good reason. Jesus passed through certain towns and "did not do miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13:58) because he knew lack of faith blinds people to the truth. Knowing what we know to be true of human nature—because people can be blind to truth—we cannot assume witnessing miracles automatically equates with conversion. Thus, the argument's conclusion cannot logically be reached.

T. Gilson reminds us,

“Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Peter Boghossian have said they would not consider it conclusive evidence for God if the stars all realigned themselves to say in everyone’s own language, “I am God, believe in me.” Boghossian says, “It could be a delusion.” Dawkins and Boghossian have also said the same thing about the return of Christ, if it happened: not enough evidence.”

Dr. Michael Augros notes:

“……But if any of these arguments is truly a proof, then why has none been universally accepted? Why do so many smart people continue to reject them all? Before I answer that question, it is only fair to note that since the time of Aquinas, if not since the time of Aristotle, there has always been a significant number of philosophers in the world who have accepted arguments like those in my book as successful proofs. That is roughly twenty-three centuries of measurable success. Somehow such reasonings persist down through the ages, convincing thousands of great minds in every generation along the way, some of whom were originally atheists. It is simply a matter of fact, in other words, that the arguments do convince many smart people and have done so since they first saw the light of day. That still leaves us with the unconvinced philosophers to account for, of course……”

Dr. Augrous explores a bit of the question Is a Proof Bad If It Fails to Convince Everyone? and also references his book, Who Designed the Designer?: A Rediscovered Path to God's Existence.

Would the person making this argument buy this counter arguement:
Darwin's Origin of Species was read by thousands of people. It was one of the most famous books published in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It became required reading in many schools. Yet even after it's publication not everyone believed Darwin was right. And today, over 150 years later, after follow-up works by hundreds of scientists, documentaries, every article ever published in Nature, etc. still, many people don't believe in Darwinism.

This strongly suggests Darwin was wrong and evolution never happened.

"Because some people don't believe your claim" isn't a real argument against the proposition. Someone always disagrees. There are still some people who believe that Neil Armstrong didn't walk on the moon. Is that a good argument that the moon landing was faked? Or does the fact that so few people believe the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked mean that the moon landing really happened? Using this objector's logic, no one can believe any truth claim whatsoever unless it's adopted unanimously. So instead of looking at whether or not people believe the evidence (especially since "belief" is influenced by so many more factors than just evidence), let's actually look at the evidence and the arguments.

In other words, this objection is a cop-out to allow the objector to dismiss the evidence and logic, instead of refute it.

Robert Bishiop's review of Loxton and Prothero's book titled "Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids", appears in the September/October issue of Books & Culture. In this book the authors examine the factors that may explain why people believe in these kinds of things, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

In his review, Robert contrasts good scientific thinking to that of cryptocoologists who, "largely are unwilling to give up their beliefs no matter what the state of evidence is." And "make a number of unfounded assumptions which they never challenge".

Loxton and Prothero also answer the question, "What kind of people believe in this nonsense?" The answer is "people very much like you and your friends and neighbors. The sheer number of cryptic programs on television channels such as Animal Plant, Discovery, History, and National Geographic suggest that the audience is very mainstream.

My argument would be this: Evidence has, unfortunately, little to do with what beliefs people hold on to, and hold on to tightly.

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