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Big News: Atheists And Sceptics Get Crucified

Atheists And Sceptics Get Crucified As Christians Celebrate The Resurrection

Big News With Dave Crampton

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is stronger than the evidence that he is dead. Tell that to a sceptic. A sceptic is a person who forms his beliefs in accordance with evidence – as opposed to a cynic who denies the goodness of human motives, and many Christians who blindly believe things because they are written in the Bible. No one can produce the body of Jesus alive or dead, so where’s the evidence either way?

Trouble is, sceptics and atheists believe that Jesus is dead or never existed, and in debates with Christians about whether the resurrection actually happened they are on the back foot because they are attempting to prove a negative. They assert that Jesus isn’t alive and that he never existed. The claim that Jesus is doesn’t exist is unverifiable, by its nature there is no logically sound argument that can be used to support the claim. No evidence can prove that something doesn`t exist, as opposed to it merely being absent.

Being Easter, there have been many resurrection debates lately. The atheists and cynics were out-voted in the States and in Australia. In New Zealand, former radio host and current atheist Brian Edwards debated the resurrection with American theologian and highly respected philosopher William Lane Craig on the ZB network –excluding ZB Wellington. That station continued with their local broadcasts. I live in Wellington, missed it, and am awaiting a copy.

In the US another kiwi, Ray Comfort, debated Ron Barrier, the national spokesperson for American Atheist’s Inc, before 300 fellow atheists at their National Convention on Good Friday. The debate was also broadcast live over their website. Some atheists purchased signed copies of Comforts book, entitled How To Make An Atheist Backslide – with a authorised comment on the front cover from Barrier which read, “That idiot book”.

Obviously Atheists don’t believe in God. It must be hard to provide evidence about a God that did not act in a certain way if you don’t believe in his existence in the first place. However contenders for the resurrection of Jesus say that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – by “absence” here they mean absence from life. They are not entertaining the idea that there is no evidence of Jesus’ absence from the grave. In other words they assert that because, for arguments sake, there might be no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, that does not count as evidence that he didn’t.

Atheists can offer no first-hand evidence for the only logical alternative to the resurrection, namely that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Mind you, it is pretty hard to form an argument about a person you don’t believe existed whilst defending a hypothesis about that person. It’s almost like debating about whether pigs fly – while refusing to believe that that pigs exist.

Atheists can’t give any evidence against the resurrection in any case, so they attempt to refute the claim that Jesus existed at all, and they don’t do it all that well. Giving an argument against an opposing view is not the same as providing a case for one’s own view – so any debate about the resurrection of Jesus must be based on any positive evidence for Jesus rising from the dead. Those against are merely rebutting that evidence with their (less rational) assertions.

A recent British poll noted that only 33 percent of Britain’s believe Jesus rose from the dead – but most of them didn’t go to Church this Easter. Nearly 40 percent of women believe in the resurrection, though. Maybe many of them are Protestants with the full Catholic Easter services attended by non-believers who would like to believe at Easter and Christmas. IN any case 47 percent of the population don’t even know the meaning of Easter. Meanwhile, another poll noted that one in five Church of Scotland ministers - including moderator the Rt Rev Andrew McLellan - do not believe in the Bible’s description of Jesus as the Son of God.

There is actually nothing unusual about the Christian resurrection belief, although sceptics would say Christians believe it to the exclusion of more comprehensive truths about God. Sometimes it is harder to believe than not to – but it becomes easier if you seriously check out the evidence on both sides.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist, in addition to writing for Scoop he is the Australasian correspondent for newsroom-online.com. He can be contacted at davec@globe.net.nz

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