Instigator / Con
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Topic

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

Status
Debating

Waiting for the contender's third argument.

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Publication date
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Category
Religion
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two months
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
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Characters per argument
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Contender / Pro
1411
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INTRO

This debate is on the resurrection of Jesus, the most important doctrine in Christianity.

-- TOPIC --

Resolved: Jesus Christ Rose From The Dead

-- STRUCTURE --

1. Opening
2. Rebuttals
3. Rebuttals
4. Rebuttals/Close

Rules

1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is on Pro; Con's BOP lies in proving Pro wrong. Con may make original arguments if he wants to.
9. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
11. Violation of any of these rules merits a loss.

Round 1
Con
I would like to begin by thanking wylted for accepting this debate. I am looking forward to a fruitful dialogue!
 
I. The historical method
 
The role of the historian is to show what most probably happened in the past. We do this by comparing various sources and weighing the reliability of them. Miracles, by definition, are the least probable occurrence. It is nearly impossible for a historian to prove a miraculous event such as the resurrection and miracles of Jesus. Nobody was at the tomb when Jesus rose from the dead and Jesus only appeared to those who were closest to him. 

Let's compare the resurrection of Jesus to another historical event: The crossing of the rubicon. What historical evidence is there for such an event? Dr. Carrier lists several key lines of evidence [1]: 

  1. Caesar’s own account
  2. Many of Caesar's enemies attesting to the event
  3. Inscriptions and coins commemorating the event
  4. Almost every historian mentions it
  5. Rome's history would be different if Caesar didn't cross the rubicon 
The New Testament highlights several events that happened around the time of Jesus' death and resurrection:

  1. The righteous dead rising again (Matthew 27:52-53) 
  2. Daylight darkness 
  3. The bribe between the guard and priests, with an emphasis that this is a story told to this day (Matthew 28:11-14)
  4. The splitting of the temple veil 
None of these are supported by any external evidence. There is no evidence for any of these events outside the Gospels. 

What's worse is that the bribe between the guards and the priests show that the resurrection never happened. Jim writes the following [2]:

But even if we did not know that, Matthew accidentally reveals to the reader that his story about the Jewish leadership trying to hush up the resurrection is a lie. The bribe itself shows that the story is a fabrication, because the leadership acts on knowledge that they did not and could not have. At Matthew 28:13, the priests and elders wish the guards to say that the disciples came and stole the body. In writing this, Matthew has just shown us that the story is a lie.

The leadership cannot at that point know what is going to happen. For all they know, Jesus is going to begin walking around the streets of Jerusalem healing people, preaching, and attracting an even larger following than before. He could show up at any moment and demand that they acknowledge him as a prophet, now that he has fulfilled his predicted resurrection. So, how is it that they bribed the guards to say that the disciples took the body? No, they did not do such a thing, because they could not know that Jesus would never show himself. This story is an invention.

Moreover, the story shows that Jesus did not show himself publicly. If he had, no such story could have been circulated. The story is built on the premise that Jesus came only to a few here and a few there, privately.

...

But the story was not true. It could not be, because as I pointed out, the Jewish leaders are acting as if they know Jesus will not show himself. Obviously this story was fabricated much later, after Christians started teaching that Jesus came back from the dead. And Matthew did not account for what would have been the Jewish leadership’s perspective and knowledge. That Matthew lied at the end of the book should have surprised nobody who had read the beginning. But the book, given to the Torah-ignorant gentiles was believed by them, and it caused great damage to the Jewish people. Two thousand years of suffering ensued.
II. The Gospels are Poor Quality Evidence 

A. Contradictory Accounts

There are significant contradictions within the resurrection accounts. As historians, we want sources that agree with each other, not sources that are all over the place. Let’s look at some of the most significant contradictions. 
 
A. What time was Jesus crucified?

Mark 15:25 “It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.”

John 19:14 “It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.” 
 
Christian apologists have tried to reconcile this by arguing that Mark is using the Jewish reckoning while John is using the Roman reckoning. This, however, distorts John’s theology. John wants Jesus to be the Passover sacrifice, thus he times Jesus’ death precisely when the Passover lamb was being offered. 
 
B. Had the sun yet risen when the women came to the tomb?
 
Mark 16:2 “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb”

John 20:1 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” 
 
C. Where did the disciples see the risen Jesus? 
 
Matthew 28:6-7 “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
 
Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he [Jesus] was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” 

B. Interpolations

There is no doubt that we have far more fragments of New Testament manuscripts than any other book in the ancient world. That being said, that’s where the good news ends. The NT manuscripts are highly corrupt with scribes significantly altering the text and adding stories to the narrative. One must pause to wonder if the NT is a God-given book, why would scribes deliberately change the text. Here are a few key examples.
 
A. The Adulterous Woman
 
Almost all scholars agree that the adulterous woman did not happen and was a later scribal addition. Christian apologetics site Got Questions argues[3]:
 
“The fact, however, remains that John 7:53—8:11 is not supported by the best manuscript evidence. Thus, there is serious doubt as to whether it should be included in the Bible. Many call for Bible publishers to remove these verses (along with Mark 16:9–20) from the main text and put them in footnotes.”
B. Ending of Mark
 
There are multiple endings to the Gospel of Mark. Most scholars agree that the original ending of Mark 16 ended at v. 8: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
 
If this is how it ended, there is no wonder that scribes purposefully altered the text. Got Questions again notes [4]:
 
“These last verses don’t read like Mark’s. There are eighteen words here that are never used anywhere by Mark, and the structure is very different from the familiar structure of his writing. The title “Lord Jesus,” used in verse 19, is never used anywhere else by Mark. Also, the reference to signs in vv. 17-18 doesn’t appear in any of the four Gospels. In no account, post-resurrection of Jesus, is there any discussion of signs like picking up serpents, speaking with tongues, casting out demons, drinking poison, or laying hands on the sick. So, both internally and externally, this is foreign to Mark… Some, or even one, of the early scribes, however, apparently missed the thematic evidence and felt the need to add a more conventional ending.”
III. Conclusion

The New Testament are the only source we have on the resurrection of Jesus. Many miracles and events that took place that should have been recorded elsewhere, but weren't Where's the external evidence? It doesn't exist because the resurrection never happened. 

Sources
Pro
Forfeited
Round 2
Con
Extend
Pro
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Round 3
Con
Forfeiting earns a merit loss per the rules. I win. 
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