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A Murder of Atheists, part 1
Question: What do you get when heavy hitting pseudo-skeptics Robert Greg Cavin, Michael Martin, Theodore Drange, Robert Price, Richard Carrier, Peter Kirby, Jeffery Lowder, Evan Fales, Duncan Derrett and Keith Parsons team up to discredit Jesus' resurrection? Answer: A team effort which required one single Christian to refute.
I am employing the term "murder" in relation to the group of atheists who have team up to produce a failure of a book-the term "murder" in this sense is taken from referring to a group of crows a "a murder of crows."
Chapter One: "Is there Sufficient Historical Evidence to Establish the Resurrection of Jesus?" By Robert Greg Cavin
Summary of the Argument:
Cavin argues that even on the assumption of "complete historical reliability," the New Testament does not "provide sufficient information to enable us to establish the historicity of the resurrection" (p. 19; hereafter just the page number) because: (1) Resurrection is not mere revivification but involves an imperishable supernatural body (23-24). (2) And there is no New Testament evidence that Jesus' post-revivified body was imperishable and supernatural. (3) Therefore, even if Jesus was revivified, there is no evidence of His resurrection (in this New Testament sense of the term).
Response to the Argument:
First, even revivification is a miracle that supports Jesus' claim to be God in the flesh (Matt. 12:40; John 2:19-21; 10:18 cf. Mark 2:10). So, the objections really gain nothing by making this distinction. And if He is deity, then He will by nature be able to make his body immortal.
Second, there is evidence in the Gospels that Jesus' post-revivified body was imperishable and that it was supernatural: (a) It was able to supernaturally appear and disappear (Luke 24; John 20). (b) It ascended into heaven (Acts 1:8-11; Luke 24: 50-51). c) It appeared many years after it was in heaven to Paul. Even granting that both Steven's (Acts 7) and John's (Rev. 1) experiences were visions and not physical appearances of Christ, the one to Paul (Acts 9) was not a non-physical appearance because of several reasons: (1) There was physical light and sound that was seen and hear by others with him by their natural senses. (2) Paul said, "Have I not seen our Lord" (1 Cor. 9:1). This is perfect indicative active (heoraka from horao) which entails an active seeing with his own natural eyes. (3) Paul's experience of seeing Christ is listed along with the appearance of Christ to other disciples in 1 Corinthians 15:7-8. (4) The Bible also says Jesus is currently positioned in heaven (Heb. 1:3; Rev. 4) and further verification will come when He returns from heaven (Rev. 1:7) in the same resurrected body (Acts 1:10-11; cf. Zech. 12:10). (5) What is more, the Old Testament predicted and Jesus miraculously fulfilled this prophecy that His body would not corrupt in the grave (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 16:31). Thus, by miraculously fulfilling this prophecy he proved that His resurrection body was incorruptible. So, contrary to Cavin's claim, there is evidence for the resurrection of Christ into an imperishable and supernatural physical body in both the Gospels and epistles.
Third, my colleague Dr. Thomas Howe, has noted that Cavin's "inductive" method is based on an unjustified nominalist epistemology that one cannot know the essence of a matter on the basis of a few instances. This in turn is based on Hume's atomistic epistemology which affirms that "all events are entirely loose and separate." But this is not the case, as our experience reveals, particularly internal experience that one's mind is the cause of his ideas and words.
Fourth, another of Cavin's arguments must be challenged, namely, that it is possible for the Christian God to permit "a major theological deception . . . misleading even the elect" (35). If this is taken to imply that God could permit a revivification of a corpse by "a powerful evil spirit," then it is contrary to reason and to fact. Nowhere in the Bible is such an event noted. The work of the Anti-Christ, the greatest of all early deceivers, is said to be a "false" miracle (2 Thess. 2:9). The Devil is a master magician and a super-scientist, but he cannot perform a truly supernatural act like creating life or resurrecting the dead. When God created life from dust by the hand of Moses, the magicians who had counterfeited Moses' efforts to that point declared: "This is the finger of God!"(Ex. 8:16-19). Only God can create life (Gen. 1:21; John 1:3), and only God can resurrect the dead. And since God is morally perfect, He would not deceive anyone allowing a miracle to occur by an evil spirit that leads people astray from the truth. God cannot lie or deceive (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2). For a miracle is an act of God to accredit a prophet of God who is telling the truth of God (John 3:2; Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3-4). And a morally perfect God cannot accredit falsehood and evil which are by nature contrary to His character.
Finally, Cavin claims that the real problem with those opposed to miracles is not a metaphysical bias against the supernatural, but it is with the logic of the argument for the resurrection. However, this does not seem to be the case for several reasons. First, all the so-called "logical" arguments they pose fail.1 Second, they admit that even if one could prove the revivification of the body of Jesus three days later, they would still not count it as a miracle. Even their skeptical mentor, David Hume, admitted that such an event would be a miracle.2 When considering the incorrigibility of such antisupernaturalism, one is reminded of Jesus' statement that "neither would they believe though one were raised from the dead" (Luke 16:31)!
1. See Norman Geisler, Miracles and the Modern Mind (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992)
2. See David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, book 10, On Miracles, ed. Chas. W. Hendel (New York: Liberal Arts, 1955)
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