I don’t usually get involved in a lot of debates – I realize that is a little odd for someone who is involved with apologetics, but I’m not really much of a debater. Yet, sometimes when I see a debate on a Facebook board, I feel obliged to jump in a little – if for no other reason than to refine my arguments and the presentation of those arguments, and because even armchair apologists like myself require some “street” or “internet cred.” It never hurts to get some ideas for articles, either.
The recent question I noticed was whether Christians would abandon belief in God, if it could be proven that He does not exist. My response was in my usual vein, “Find the body.”
The question for me is not that of proving theism – I’m not merely a generic theist, I’m a Christian, and I try to organize my life around the tenets of my faith. As such, the real question is (or should be), “Would I change my beliefs if someone could disprove Christianity? If so, how could someone disprove Christianity?” The only means to do so is to prove that the Resurrection did not occur, or else to posit something that is more probable, but still adequately explains all of the minimum facts in a reasonable matter.
Here is my organization of the minimum facts that must be disproved. These are ultimately not original with me, but this is the way I organize them:
1 Jesus died when crucified.
2 His followers claimed to have seen Him after His death. These men and women were profoundly changed by what they saw, and most were tortured and killed for their faith; none recanted.
3 Paul and James were skeptics about Jesus who claimed to have seen Jesus after His death. Both became followers after these experiences and both died martyrs’ deaths.
4 The tomb was guarded by soldiers who were answerable to Pilate, yet the tomb was found to be empty.
Any theory about Christian origins must be able to account for all of the above minimum facts. Additionally, to be credible, it must yield to Ockham’s razor, which is not an argument for simplicity – Ockham’s razor is a warning about the multiplication of causes. Specifically, any theory must work from the evidence, not by asserting theories based on inventing evidence without some basis in fact (such as discussion about back doors in the tomb, arguing that everyone somehow forgot which tomb Jesus was actually buried in, etc). Speculation, then, needs to be limited in regards to any such theory.
To date, no explanation other than the Resurrection is successful at dealing with these facts in the manner I’ve noted.
Perhaps someone may come up with an alternate theory that adequately explains the minimal facts in the manner I have described. Similarly, perhaps someone will come up with a way of proving that the moon really is made of green cheese.