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thbt: the biblical ressurection of jesus was likely mythical


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Pro:The resurrection was mythical

Con: The resurrection was not mythical

Round 1
Due to the nature of this debate, the burden of proof is on me to prove the resurrection happened, but 1st id like to thank Sum1hugme for this debate.

The method
So to describe the method we will be using to prove the resurrection or not we will be looking at several different theories, and see how well they explain what happened following the alleged resurrection. For example lets say we established an empty tomb is historical, we could then discredit hallucination theory (a theory that said people hallucinated the resurrection) because it cant account for that. Now of course I wont be assuming the bible is true unless I have reason to, so now lets look at the theories we will be looking at.

The theories
We'll look at the 3 most popular theories, although my opponent (if he wishes) may add a theory he thinks can explain what happened.

Mythic theory - All the events and miracle claims of Jesus were made up at a later time and were not made up by early eyewitnesses

Conspiracy theory - The disciples made up the story of jesus rising from the dead

Hallucination Theory - The disciples had hallucinations that Jesus had risen and that propelled them to think he was alive again

And lastly we'll compare it to the theory I think best explains the evidence:

Resurrection theory - Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his followers

The claims that were made

So the 1st factor we'll look at which is almost unanimous in agreement among scholars is that after Jesus's death his disciples said he appeared to them alive.

Bart Ehrman said:
"I don't doubt at all that some disciples claimed this... Paul, writing about twenty-five years later, indicates that this is what they claimed, and I dont think he is making it up." [1]
E.P Sanders said:
"It is an 'equally secure fact' that Jesus' disciples 'saw him' (in what sense is not certain) after his death....Thereafter his followers saw him." [2]
The reason for this is because it has multiple attestation: (do note im not assuming the bible is true since this is just showing they claimed it
Paul's Epistles
Luke and Acts

And most notably Josephus (a Jewish priest, so not biased) wrote about his followers claiming this in Antiquities 18:3:3 [3]
"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 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 at this day" [3]
Another reason this is commonly believed is because there is no way to explain the rise of Christianity if they didn't claim Jesus was resurrected, so this is a widely affirmed fact & is evident

Lets see how the theories fare with this factor

Mythic theory - This would most certainly disprove the mythic theory given that  1 Corinthians 15:3-7 appears to be an early creed, and most scholars agree it goes back to within 3 years of Pentecost, the reasons for this are overwhelming.

-Mnemonic structure with parallelism
-Less than 50 words
These 2 reasons point towards it being an early creed for catechizing new Christians (easy to learn and memorize)

-Paul also says at the start that he delivered to you (the Corinthians) what he received, meaning it likely came from the disciples themselves.
-The creed also uses the name Cephas, for peter which was an early name for peter, only later on was he called peter
-It also has an independent tradition that is not from the gospels, which is appearing to peter & James (peter likely added his name after learning it)

There is not a single scholar to my knowledge that dates this after the mid 40's, so we can reasonably rule out the mythic theory

-Paul also says at the start that he delivered to you (the Corinthians) what he received, meaning it likely came from the disciples themselves.
-The creed also uses the name Cephas, for peter which was an early name for peter, only later on was he called peter
-It also has an independent tradition that is not from the gospels, which is appearing to peter & James (peter likely added his name after learning it)

Hallucinations theory - the main issue is that many people claimed it happened, and group hallucinations are extremely rate, so rare in fact that there is very little scientific literature on them,
Dr. Gary Sibcy  said:
I have surveyed the professional literature (peer reviewed journal articles and books) written by psychologists, psychiatrists and other relevant healthcare professionals during the past two decades and have yet to find a single documented case of a group hallucination, an event for which more than one person purportedly shared in a visual or other sensory perception where there was clearly no referent." [4]
There is no scientific evidence that group hallucinations can even happen
Its also important to note that hallucinations most often manifest in one sensory mode, and multimode hallucinations are exceptionally rare. [5] yet most claims of the resurrection claim multiple senses were used, making the hallucination theory highly, highly improbable, so we can cross of hallucination theory

Conspiracy theory - Ignoring how unlikely it would be to hold together a conspiracy this large, the conspiracy theory can explain why people claimed to see the resurrection, so we'll say this can check this box, despite it being a stretch.

Resurrection theory - The resurrection theory of course can explain why people claimed to see Jesus alive.

onto our next factor:

Enemies of Christ being converted
Next we'll look at 2 people specifically Paul & James. 

James was not a follower of Christ before his crucifixion, some examples of scholars who accept this: [6] Betz, Conzelmann, Craig, Derret, Ehrman, Funk, Hoover, Kee, Koester, Ladd, Lorenzen, Ludemann, Meier, Oden, Osborne, Pannenberg, Sanders, Spong, Struhlmacher, Wedderburn

Its also accepted by all [7] scholars that Paul was an enemy of the church originally and later converted, the reason for this is Paul admits it himself, and meets the criteria of embarrassment which is why we should believe it.

Lets see how the theories compare to this

The mythic theory - The mythic theory would have a hard time explaining this, since early Christians wouldn't disrespect early church leaders like paul & james by making this up, and plus its paul himself that admits he was an enemy

Conspiracy theory - The conspiracy theory couldnt account for this either, the only way it could attempt to justify it is to say paul & james lied, but the issue with this is that neither of them (especially Paul since he saw Christians prosecuted) had no reason to lie, infact they had reasons to not lie, Tacitus wrote regarding the prosecution of Christians: [8]
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.
Why would you lie if you got prosecuted like that for it? Its safe to conclude the conspiracy theory cant answer this.

Hallucination Theory - This would be adding more hallucinations you'd have to explain, so we can deny it for the same reason we did in the previous factor.

Resurrection Theory - The resurrection theory can once again account for this.

I merely pointed out 2 factors to discredit the 3 major theories, out of the 4 we looked at the resurrection is the most reasonable, my opponent must give a theory that would hear to these 2 factors (and possibly more if I add another to discredit his theory), at the moment the resurrection is most reasonable.


[1] - The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the early Christian Writings page 301
[2] - The Historical Figure Of Jesus page 13
[3] - The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus. (n.d.).
[4] - The Resurrection of Jesus page 484
[5] - Hallucinations The Science of Idiosyncratic Perception by Andre Aleman & Frank Laroi page 25-46
[6] - The Risen Jesus and the Future Hope, Page 22, 44
[7] - The Case for the Resurrection Of Jesus, page 75
[8] - Wikipedia contributors. (2023, October 4). Tacitus on Jesus. Wikipedia.

Round 2
  Thank you for this debate challenge. The resurrection of Jesus, as described in the Bible, was likely mythical. 

Mythical - existing only in stories (1)

  My goal in this debate is to make the case that it is reasonable to believe that the biblical resurrection of Jesus occurred only in the biblical stories.

  The first contention worth noting is that there are no reliable extra-biblical accounts for the resurrection of Jesus. I would like to simplify the definition of the "Myth Theory" as: "the view that the person known as Jesus of Nazareth had no historical existence."(2) It is a theory that is specific to the historicity of Jesus, and applies indirectly to the resurrection. One could accept the existence of a historical Jesus and reject the miracles ascribed to him, and that would not fall under the "Myth Theory"

  All accounts for the resurrection of Jesus are in the gospels, or accounts written many years after the fact, by Tacitus and Josephus. The Gospels are unreliable accounts, as they give contradictory accounts of the details of the resurrection:

1. In Luke 24:4, there are two angels waiting for the women at the tomb, but in Matthew and Mark, there is only one.
2. In Luke, 24:13-17, Jesus appears first to two people, one of whom was named Cleopas, then appears to others but in Mark 16, Jesus appears to Mary Magdelene first, and then to two disciples. 
3. In Acts 1, Jesus ascends to Heaven after forty days, but in Luke 24, Jesus ascends into Heaven on the same day as the resurrection.

  Tacitus and Josephus are unreliable accounts for the historicity of Jesus, as their accounts of the events were written many years after the alleged event. Josephus wrote The Antiquities of the Jews in 93 AD (3), and Tacitus wrote in 68 AD (4). The legitimacy of the very out of place passage in the Antiquities about Jesus is a matter of debate. Some scholars have suggested that it is a forgery, "There is, then, reason to suspect that the Jesus episode is a later insertion, dating from more than two hundred years after Josephus' death..."(5) The Tacitus passage makes no mention of the resurrection, only of the existence of a Jesus figure, whom the Christians followed.

  The concept of a dying and rising god, as well as the follower cults, is not an uncommon occurrence. Osiris was a dying and rising god. "Plutarch writes that “Osiris came to Horus from the other world and exercised and trained him for the battle,” and taught him lessons, and then “Osiris consorted with Isis after his death and she became the mother of Harpocrates.” It’s hard to get more explicit than that. Contrary to Ehrman, there is no mention of Osiris not being in his resurrected body at that point. To the contrary, every version of his myth has him revive only after Isis reassembles and reanimates his corpse. As Plutarch says, “the soul of Osiris is everlasting and imperishable, but his body Typhon oftentimes dismembers and causes to disappear, and that Isis wanders hither and yon in her search for it, and fits it together again” (On Isis and Osiris 54)." (6) 

  Dionysus is another example of a dying and rising god, with a strong cult following during his time. "In Thebes Dionysus was opposed by Pentheus, his cousin, who was torn to pieces by the bacchantes when he attempted to spy on their activities... At the direction of Hera, the infant Zagreus/Dionysus was torn to pieces, cooked, and eaten by the evil Titans. But his heart was saved by Athena, and he (now Dionysus) was resurrected by Zeus through Semele." (7)

  It is commonly accepted that these dying and rising god myths are just that: myths. The myth of the resurrection of Jesus has no leg up on any other of the multitude of dying and rising god myths throughout the history of religion.

  Finally, to believe the resurrection was a true event, one must fundamentally accept the idea that men can rise from the dead. My opponent must demonstrate this to be possible in order to even lay the groundwork for his overarching claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

  In conclusion, the biblical resurrection account is internally contradictory, all extra biblical accounts of the resurrection are questionable at best, the resurrection account in the bible has parallels in similar mythos, rendering the concept less reasonable from a historical standpoint, and my opponent's whole case rests on the impossible task of demonstrating that resurrection is even possible. 

Round 3
Round 4
I concede, I just kinda lost interest in debating in general.
My opponent has graciously conceded the debate. Thank you for the discussion Sethbrown.
Round 5