It’s bizarre but I’ve found a lot of really crazy fundamentalist Catholics lately, people who are absolutely convinced that their faith is right and nobody can deny how perfect Catholicism is. That’s the kind of stuff you expect to see from wingnut evangelical crazies, but nope… Catholics. Go figure.
So anyhow, one of them decides he can prove the resurrection by using the “minimal facts approach” that was pioneered by apologist Gary Habermas. He produces five points that he claims are so strongly attested historically that nearly every scholar who studies the subject agrees that they happened. Of course, these points are utterly laughable, to the point that no credible historian is going to agree with them as demonstrable historical events, but hey… he’s got to be right, right? He even claims that he won’t rely on the New Testament as support for any of these “facts”.
So here are his points and my responses to them. It’s sad, trust me.
1. Jesus died by crucifixion
I’m sorry, you can’t even show that Jesus ever existed, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Jesus died by crucifixion. The Romans kept excellent records, yet never recorded the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. He immediately responded with the classical apologetic tropes, Josephus, Tacitus, etc., all of which have been soundly discredited, but that doesn’t stop the religiously deluded.
2. Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them
How does he know this, considering all of the Gospels are anonymous, not written by the people whose names they bear? Of course, he simply refuses to acknowledge that. The Bible is perfect, after all, at least the parts that he feels like thinking are perfect. But he’s not allowed to use the New Testament so that’s right out. All he has left are empty claims that this is what “traditionally” has been thought to be true. Tradition isn’t fact. Another fail.
3. Saul, the persecutor of the Church, was suddenly changed
Again, this is only found in the Bible, which is off-limits so he has to appeal to tradition, a logical fallacy. The only mentions of Paul outside of the Bible come in a letter from Clement of Rome, written around 96CE, far too late to have been an actual eyewitness to Paul’s existence. It also doesn’t corroborate the story listed in the Bible and the story in the Bible reads like a drug trip anyhow. It also doesn’t validate Jesus in any way, shape or form since Jesus was dead by the time this supposed experience took place and Saul didn’t even see Jesus, he simply imagined him. Completely unconvincing.
4. James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed
The only extra-Biblical source of this is a passage in Jewish Antiquities that says James was executed by the Sanhedrin, we have no direct account from James and, at best, anything Josephus may have said, assuming it wasn’t a forgery to begin with, was heresay.
5. Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty
How do they know that it was Jesus’ tomb if nothing is in it? How would you test an empty tomb to find out if it actually belonged to Jesus? Are there artifacts? Where is this data? Of course, there isn’t any, it’s just another appeal to tradition and wishful thinking.
It’s really pathetic how these mega-Catholics and other deluded apologists think they’ve got the smoking gun on their religiosu beliefs, but the second you look at them at all critically, it all falls apart into a smoking heap of rubble. We all know that the ridiculously shaky nature of these religious beliefs won’t stop the blindly faithful from believing but they continue to embarrass themselves by throwing out these ridiculous assertions time and time again. What the hell is wrong with these idiots?