Refutation of Ray Comfort’s “The School of Biblical Evangelism” (Part 2)
Lesson 23: The Reality of Hell
Kirk’s comment: Hell is an unthinkable place for my loved ones — or for anyone else. I can’t make it go away, so I will do everything I can to point sinners to the Savior, who alone can save them from going there.
How can you point us away from a place that does not exist? That is like encouraging people not to go to Mordor, the barren wasteland of fire, ash, and dust. A terrible land populated by savage orcs that will delightfully torture you hourly and feast upon your flesh. A ghastly nightmarish land of vile creatures and sadistic evil spirits that will gravely torment your essence and mind. Mordor does not sound like a pleasant place to go for anyone, rather quite the opposite. People would be avoiding such a place…but why aren’t people worried? Why are they not concerned about this? Why does Morder not bother them?
Because Morder is NOT REAL. The concept of hell only exists in the pages in an old book and the imaginations of the reader, just as the concept of Morder only exists in the pages in another book and in the minds of the reader. Both these places have no evidence for their existence. Neither are self-evident places, neither places have proof of existence. Thus the name of this Lesson, “The reality of hell”, right off the bat is absolute nonsense. It is just as valid as the “reality of Mordor.”
Kirk Cameron does not know that there is a hell, nor does he know there is a god. If he did know there was a god, it would’ve been the first thing he presented to the Rational Response Squad on live TV. He would’ve presented it to the faces of every person he ever encountered on or off camera. He would have paraded that evidence everywhere he went. Instead, his (and Ray Comforts) entire evangelical career is pushing belief in a myth, and the targeted market is the gullible. He, and Ray Comfort, are pushing this image of hell as a very bad and unpleasant place…but it is an empty threat. Even if you entertain the thought and you think about it philosophically, hell (and satan too), are a logical paradox that wouldn’t exist even if god was real because god is not tied to the bible.
Responding to the question “Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and hell?” Ray makes the following statement: The existence of hell and the surety of the judgment are not the claims of fallible man. The Bible is the source of the claim, and it is utterly infallible.
Where does the Bible claim to be infallible? Where? Fundamentalists love to cite 2 Timothy 3:16; however, the “Scriptures” referred to in that verse refer to the Old Testament, and the term “inspiration” does not mean “word of God” either. (i.e. if a tree inspires me to write a poem about it, are they my words or the tree’s words?) In any case, the Bible itself does NOT even claim that all 66 books in it are infallible.
Plus, if Ray is relying on faith in the statements of a book that claim to be infallible that a fiery place exists, then by Ray’s logic the Hell of Islam must be real.
Next, Ray assumes for the sake of argument that everything in Christianity is false, he says, “Here’s the good news, though, if there is no hell: You won’t know a thing after you die. It will be the end. No heaven, no hell. Just nothing. You won’t even realize that it’s good news. Here’s the bad news if the Bible is right and there is eternal justice: You will find yourself standing before the judgment throne of a holy God. Think of it.”
Basically, Ray invokes a fallacy known as Pascal’s Wager, relying on a “what if” scenario, asking the reader to choose wisely. However, choices are best made under the best available data and evidence we have. What does Ray offer to show us that there is an afterlife? None. What has he shown us that there is a Hell? Just a old book.
Okay, is there evidence that life continues on after death? Science has yet to find any evidence of it at all. Life and consciousness ends at death and our metabolic processes are history. Many scientists conclude that souls do not exist, as neuroscientist Dr. David E. Comings, M.D., said in his book Did Man Create God?,
“While the concept of a soul representing the essence of an individual and living on after death is central to many religions its existence is not supported by modern neuroscience which states that consciousness, the spirit and the soul are the product of neuronal activity and die when the person dies. This has major consequences for religion since without a soul there is no cosmic consciousness, no afterlife, no hell, no heaven and thus no reward in heaven for good behavior. In the same sense that some have said “evolution is real, accept it,” we must also say that “the neuronal basis of the soul is real, accept it.”” (Source: Comings, David E. M.D. Did Man Create God? 2008, pg. 295.)
Ray goes on to describe ell in a rather Hell-fire preaching style; stating that people who say they would be happy to go to Hell to meet their friends and famous people are like criminals who laugh at the electric chair and think it is a place to rest their feet and get a message. Ray tells his readers to take the time to talk about Hell and its fury. Ray notes some Christians think that Hell is just “cease conscious existence” as in the state of a person’s being before they were born. Ray does not like this view, because he wants people like Adolf Hitler to be physically punished. So Ray describes a visual of Hell though a few biblical verses;
- “Shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)
- “Everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46)
- “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51)
- “Fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17)
- “Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Romans 2:8,9)
- “Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
- “Eternal fire . . . the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 7,13)
- Revelation 14:10,11 tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner: “He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone . . . the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night.”
By this, Ray states Hell is a real place and it is eternal torment. He states Jesus talked about it more than he did about Heaven, and if there was no Hell, then Jesus’ message seems pointless because why bother warning people in the fist place if thy just cease to exist?
The word Hell appears at least 54 times in the King James Version of the bible, at least 31 times in the Old Testament from the Hebrew Word Sheol or and at least 23 times in the New Testament from the Greek words Hades, Gehenna or as it is in 2nd Peter Chapter 2 verse 4 the word tartaroō (Tartaros/Tartarus). tartaroō appears only once.
In the Hebrew Bible the word Sheol appears at least 67 times. In the Old Testament of The King James Version of the bible when Sheol is not translated as hell it is translated as Grave or Pit and in Isaiah 7:11 Sheol is not translated at all in The King James Version but it is translated in other version of the bible such as The New American Standard Bible and the New Revised Standard Version. In the Septuagint, or The Old Testament in Greek, Sheol is translated as Hades. In The New American Standard Bible and The New Revised Standard Version Sheol is properly translated in The Old Testament as Hades is properly translated in the New Testament but Gehenna and tartaroō are left translated as Hell.
In The Book of Ecclesiastes (9:9,10) and Job every person, righteous and wicked will end up in Sheol and in Numbers (16:30) even the living can be swallowed by the Earth and to and go down live to Sheol but what is Sheol?
In Jewish Mythology Sheol is the land of the dead, apparently under the earth (Isaiah. 7:11, Isaiah 57:9; Ezekiel. 31:14; Psalms 86:13) from which the pillars of the earth extend on which the world is set (1 Samuel Chapter 2) , a place ruled by God himself (Amos 9:2; Hosea 13:14; Deuteronomy 32: 22; I Samuel 2:6, Proverbs.15: 11), an abode of Silence (Psalms 6:5, Psalms 30: 9 Psalms 94:17, Psalms 115:17, Isaiah 38:9, 24) where God is not praised, a place from where you should not expect to return from (II Samuel 12: 23; Job 7:9, 10; Job 10:21, Psalms 6:5). In Sheol though there is apparently a place of comfort commonly referred to as The Bosom of Abraham (Luke 16:22), the place of the righteous, an idea that predates Christianity (4 Maccabees 13:17). The idea of Sheol seems removed from the idea of the separate places of heaven and hell and more closely resembles the early concept of Hades in Greek Mythology which can be confirmed by comparing verses such as Acts 2:27 or Acts 2:31 to Psalm 16:10, but what about tartaroō.
In Greek Mythology the God Cronus and Goddess Rhea had Children and due to Cronus’s fear of one of his Children dethroning him as Cronus did to his father Uranus Cronus ate his children while they were new borns. Rhea angered by this gave Cronus a stone in place of the sixth child. That child was Zeus who would later drug his father. The drug cased Cronus vomit. This released the consumed children Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. Zeus would challenge Cronus and eventually Cronus and the other Titans would be defeated by the Children of Cronus. Some of the Titans were cast into tartaroō, a great pit beneath the underworld, a place of torment and suffering while others were punished such as Atlas who is tasked with holding up the world. A perfect example of the type of torment that would be expected in tartaroō would be that of Tantalus who is chained to a rock. Any time he reaches for grapes or water the grape vine or river recedes. He is left to hunger and thrust forever. The punishment of Tantalus is where the word tantalize comes from. In Roman Mythology tartaroō is surrounded by the river Phlegethon, a river of flame. No one escapes tartaroō with its columns of solid adamantine, a substance as hard as diamond with the gates guarded by the great multi headed Seperent Hydra. This should bring up imagery of the Book of Revelation. Tartaroō though is not Hades, it is lower than Hades. Hades the place is the abode of the dead as well as abode of the God Hades. Just as Shoel is a gloomy place for the dead, so is Hades but how do these Greek ideas such as tartaroō apparently arrive in the bible?
It is widely accepted among biblical Scholars the original texts that lead to the New Testament were likely written in Greek although there are a few who have argued Aramaic for at least some of the text, this can be supported not just from analysis of biblical text but also due to the fact that other religious sources that are Jewish in nature such as the Dead Sea Scrolls are at least in part written in Aramaic but this is beside the point. Judah became part of the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. This brought Greek Culture to the region including Greek Philosophy. In Plato’s Socratic Dialogue called Gorgias Socrates introduces the idea that Cronos judged men just before they died which was later corrected by Zeus to have them judged after they died. The righteous were sent to the Isles of the Blessed. The unjust were sent to tartaroō. After the death of Alexander the Great Judah came under Control of Egypt until Syria took control in 198 BCE. Under Antiochus (anne Tie a Kus) IV Hellenization was forced upon the Jews which ended in the Maccabean Revolt in 166 BCE. This is during this period when apocalyptic writings begin to appear such as the apocalyptic sections of the book of Daniel. The concept of God releasing evil into the world became prevalent at this time, a subject that will be covered in another video. This leaves the final translation for hell, Gehenna.
The Valley of Hinnom is a valley south of Jerusalem. In the Old Testament it is referred to as Ben-Hinnom. Gehenna is the the Valley of Hinnom where the Bible claims Canaanites offered Children as sacrifices to the Flames of the god Moloch. Gehenna would later become a garbage dump and it is claimed to be the place where dead criminals and the carcasses of animals were left. Fires were left to continually burn in Gehenna. Jewish myth has the gates to a molten lake of fire located at Gehenna. In this lake of fire the souls of most mortals would burn for 12 months to either be purified before entering the Hereafter know as Olam Ha-Ba, a spiritual Garden of Eden so to speak or consumed and completely destroyed depending on the crimes of the sinner. Olam Ha-Ba begins to appear in early rabbinic sources. This would make the idea of Olam Ha-Ba exilic or post exilic but the idea of Sheol is pre-exilic as it can be found in the non Deuteronomist sections of Isaiah which dates between 740 and 700 BCE, Yawhist source from Judah. Gehenna is not the same place as Hades as indicated in Revelation 20:11-15. As per these verses those who are not written in the book of life are brought out of Hades and cast into the lake of fire after being judged. Hades is also cast into the lake of fire.
The concept of hell seems to be an evolution of a basic concept of an underworld from early Hebrew and Greek Mythology, later to be influenced by rabbinic sources then finally Greek Philosophy which cumulates in the apocalyptic writings found in the book of Daniel and later in the New Testament writings. Many New Testament writings including but certainly not exclusive to The Book of Revelation contain apocalyptic elements such as the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles. Regardless the concept of hell, Sheol or Hades has been elusive with a flat earth three tier model of an underworld of the dead, the material world we live in and celestial kingdom or a remote Mountain where the House of some God or a pantheon of Gods reside above. This idea of a three tier model was already outdated not long after the concept of Sheol and Hades, outdated by Pythagoras who deduced the earth was a sphere. This is around the time of the Babylonian Exile, later the Earths circumference would be calculated to a high level of precision for the time by Eratosthenes 250 years prior to the first Christians. Eratosthenes used no more than simple math. This there tier concept should not have been able to survive
Lesson 39: The Enemy Part 1
Ray states the first enemy is the world, which Ray means it refers to the ‘sinful, rebellious world system.”
The world loves the darkness and hates the light (John 3:20), and is governed by the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The Bible says the Christian has escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. “Lust” is unlawful desire, and is the life’s blood of the world—whether it be the lust for sexual sin, for power, for money, or for material things. Lust is a monster that will never be gratified, so don’t feed it. It will grow bigger and bigger until it weighs heavy upon your back, and will be the death of you (James 1:15).
There is nothing wrong with sex, power, money, or material things, but when desire for these becomes predominant, it becomes idolatry. We are told, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”; whoever is “a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (1 John 2:15; James 4:4).
So, anyone can hoard money, material things, and have sex all the time, just as long as they put god ahead of their priorities. Sounds like the same thing as a Pope. Shower yourself in expensive cloths and gold. Have millions of people bow to you and try to kiss your feet, have huge political power, make it impossible for millions of sick people from getting a condom (nothing wrong with sex, right?), spread racism and fuel genocide…and yet you are just fine and okay, just as long as you act and think like a holy man of god.
Ray states the second enemy is the devil, who is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
He was your spiritual father before you joined the family of God (John 8:44; Ephesians 2:2). Jesus called the devil a thief who came to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). To overcome him and his demons, make sure you are outfitted with the spiritual armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–20). Become intimately familiar with it. Sleep in it. Never take it off. Bind the sword to your hand so you never lose its grip. The reason for this brings us to the third enemy.
Guard yourself against an imaginary being? Why don’t you put on your “belief armor” against Loki?
Ray states the third enemy what the Bible calls the “flesh.”
This is your sinful nature. The only access the enemy has to cause you to sin is through the flesh. Before your conversion, the appetite of the flesh was fully satisfied with the pleasures of sin. Suddenly it is starved to the point of gnawing at the mind for want of food. It causes what the Scriptures call a “war in your members.” Thoughts that once were acceptable now stir the alarm of conscience. This battle of the mind is fought against the powerful and corrupt Adamic nature.
The fleshly nature continually wants to sin. If you allow it to do so, it will take the “edge” off your prayer life. No longer will you come before the throne of God with confidence. You will be like Adam, who hid from God because of sin. None of us can afford to let that happen, not only for the sake of our own salvation, but for the sake of the world around us.
So basically, you’re bad just by being human.
Lesson 44: The Survival Guide
Ray provides a response to the statement “God couldn’t forgive my sin.” Ray responds with “Those who think they are too sinful for God to accept them don’t understand how merciful God is.”
Merciful???? Are you high?
Does God really forgive ALL sin? Christian apologist Dr. Norman Geisler says in Chapter 4 in Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Faith that God allowed the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites because “the destruction of their nation was necessitated by the gravity of their sin.” Geisler goes on to argue that the Canaanites were simply beyond salvation.
Ray is aware of the atheist group the Rational Response Squad. In a live debate with the Rational Response Squad, atheist Brian Sapient pointed out from the “Blasphemy Challenge” that Scriptures clearly state those who “deny the Holy Spirit” have committed a grave sin that cannot and will not ever be forgiven. Neither Ray or Kirk Cameron had a refutation.
In Matthew 5:19, Jesus says anyone who ignores those old commandments will be called least in Heaven. So you will still go to Heaven, you just have to fly coach. You’re still supposed to follow those old creepy Jewish laws, including the one having to murder anyone who works on weekends and the one that instructs you to sell your daughter to the one who rapes her first. But you will still be forgiven even if you don’t – even if you eat at Red Lobster while wearing nylon-polyester blend. It does not matter how good or bad you are, love your sin all you want. Noah was a naked old drunk, cursing his own children. Lot offered his daughters to a rape mob, before he got drunk and molested them himself – and he even blamed them for seducing him (what a schmuck!). Yet these are the men that God considered to be the best in the whole world. Graded on a curve, wouldn’t you all be better than that? Graded on a curve, how can anyone of you be called least in Heaven? What sin can you commit that would be worthy of damnation? You can break 612 commandments out of the whole list of 613. There is only one sin, that not even God has the power to forgive…which is weird because God wrote the rules – but I guess he made a rule himself so he would not break his own rule. And he lives by those rules, even when the circumstances demand exception, because it is considered virtuous to never admit when you are wrong.
Anyway, one forgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy has been legally determined to mean criminal irreverence of, or disbelief in, someone else’s dogma. And it still carries a death sentence in some countries. Nowhere does the Bible damn believers for their works – belief can always get them out of that. Nor does the Bible allow that good, kind and charitable saintly souls can go to heaven even if they do not believe.
So believers can be as vile as they wish – it doesn’t matter. Atheists can be the most moral people ever – it doesn’t matter. Morality doesn’t matter. Gullibility is the only criteria required for redemption. So if you love sin, and you don’t want to get killed for it, just say that you believe in Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Because the only real way to piss God off is not to believe in him.
Lesson 51: The Resurrection
Ray starts this off with a quote from Josephus: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him.”
The Jewish historian Josephus Flavius was the earliest non-Christian to mention Jesus. Josephus’ birth in 37 CE, well after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus, means he could not have been an eyewitness. Moreover, he wrote ”Antiquities” in 93 CE, even later than the first gospels. Despite Josephus having long been a favorite of apologists, many scholars think that Josephus’ short accounts of Jesus (in Antiquities) came from interpolations perpetrated by a later Church father (most likely, Eusebius of Caesarea).
Antiquities of the Jews begins “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and arduously parallels the Old Testament up to the time when Josephus is able to add equally tedious historical recountings of Jewish life during the early Roman period. In Book 18, Chapter 3, this paragraph is encountered (Whiston’s translation):
Now, 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 him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal man 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 to this day.
This truly appears to give historical confirmation for the existence of Jesus. But is it authentic? Most scholars admit that at least some parts, if not all, of this paragraph cannot be authentic, (Source: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html) even the Catholic Encyclopedia concurring. See Historicity of Jesus; Josephus to further see a closer inspection of this quote that directly points out exactly why it is agreed to be a deliberate forgery.
Kirk’s Comment: If Jesus did not rise physically, then what happened to His body? Did it dissolve? Did it evaporate? Was it moved somewhere? There is no biblical account of what happened to Jesus’ body other than that it was raised from the dead. Therefore, His body was raised from the dead.
Basically, it is so because the Bible says it was so, even without the slightest piece of proof. Kirk and Ray would dismiss a similar argument about Mohammad and the flying horse must be true because there is no other account of this happening except for in the Qur’an. What about the Qur’an saying that Jesus was never put to death in the first place, only an illusion by god was killed by the Romans?
The Bible has many stories within its pages that are evident fictions hat never happened. For instance, there is absolutely no account whatsoever of a mass resurrection of the dead who walked in the streets off Jerusalem for all to see after the death of Jesus. An incident like this has never been mentioned by anyone in 1st century Palestine. No historian, scribe, poet, letter, folklore, anything mentions such a event, and any honest person would admit that seeing a bunch of once dead folk walking down your neighborhood is definitely something people report and talk about it wherever they go.
There was no mass consensus.
There was no global flood, no Tower of Babel, no Garden of Eden, historians are even convinced that Moses was never a real person. The Bible says Moses died, but how can a fictional character die in real life? The Bible says Jesus resurrected, but it does not change reality anymore than the Tower of Babel or the fictional Moses.
Ray confronts the “swoon theory” which argues that Jesus did not die on the Cross, just merely fainted. Ray disagrees, pointing out that Jesus had been whipped and beaten, and was bleeding from his head, back, hands, and feet for at least six hours, and when he was on the Cross a soldier stabbed him in the side with a spear.
Again, the story surrounding Jesus is all based on the presupposition that Jesus of Nazareth was real and the Bible accurately details his tale.
Next is a quote, ““It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening, and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life: an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which he had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.” —Strauss, New Life of Jesus (quoted in Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison)
The Resurrection: Miracle or Myth
This next piece of work was written by Hank Hanegraaff.
Hendrik “Hank” Hanegraaff (born 1950) also known as the Bible Answer Man is an American author, radio talk-show host, advocate of evangelical Christianity, and current president of the Christian Research Institute (CRI), which is an evangelical association that particularly targets “pseudo-Christian groups like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Hangeraaff holds no degree in history or science. He opposes the theory of evolution in favor for creationism, but tries to distance himself from teaching a specific field of creationism.
Hanegraff argues that the Resurrection is central to the Christian faith, and without it, it all crumbles. Hanegraaff claims he can provide evidence for the Resurrection. His proofs are the following;
1) Five hundred individuals witnessed the arisen Jesus at a single time (1 Corinthians 15:6).
2) Christ appeared to numerous other individuals as well, providing “many convincing proofs” of His resurrection (Acts 1:3).
3) Christ in His resurrection body was even touched on two occasions (Matthew 28:9; John 20:17), and He challenged the disciples (Luke 24:39) and Thomas (John 20:27) to feel His wounds.
Going in order,
1)There is no historical evidence of these 500 witnesses. Paul does not name who these 500 nameless people. There is no explanation of who they were, where they came from or where they went, how many of them were adults with sober and clear minds, and there is no explanation why did these 500 or any of the thousands who heard their stories write about it? It seems more likely these “500 witnesses” is nothing more than a number written on paper, making this argument pure fictional.
2)There is no external or empirical proof that any Jesus-figure met anybody.
3) Once again, there is no external or empirical proof for this.
Hanegraaff then points to Dr. Simon Greenleaf, who he claims is “the greatest authority on legal evidences in the 19th century.” Hanegraaff states: It is noteworthy that after examining the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Greenleaf suggested that any cross-examination of the eyewitness testimonies recorded in Scripture would result in “an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.”
One should be highly skeptical of anyone who claims another person is “the greatest authority on legal evidences in the 19th century.” Simon Greenleaf (December 5, 1783 – October 6, 1853) was an American lawyer and jurist.
Hanegraaff then tries to counter the hypothesis that Jesus body was stolen either by the Romans, Jewish leaders, or maybe the disciples. Hanegraaff responds as follows
1) Romans would have no reason to steal Christ’s body. After all, they wanted to keep the peace in Palestine.
2) The Jewish religious leaders would also have no motive in stealing the body since that would only stir up the very movement they had tried to crush. Besides, if the Jewish leaders had stolen the body, they could have later openly displayed the body to prove to the disciples and indeed the world that Jesus had not really risen from the dead.
3) The disciples wouldn’t have stolen the body, for why would they choose to suffer and die for a cause they knew to be a lie? While it is conceivable that someone might choose to die for what they know to be the truth, it is inconceivable that hundreds of Jesus’ followers would be willing to die for what they knew to be a lie.
First of all, this is all supposing that Jesus was buried in a tomb. Historian Richard Carrier demonstrated that if Jesus was indeed crucified according to the Scriptures, Jesus would not have been buried in a tomb nor did he resurrect in three days, due to the fact that in Jewish tradition, the next day starts at night.
Going in order,
1) We may not be able to think of a reason for why the Romans stealing a corpse. Perhaps they moved the corpse to make room for a burial of a more important figure.
2) Demanding the Jewish religious leaders bring forth the dead corpse of Jesus is like asking the English to bring for the dead corpse of King Arthur. You can’t bring forth the body of a fictional character.
3) This is still assuming that the disciples died for lie, but there is no historical proof that the disciples became martyrs. Perhaps one disciple secretly took the body, and then lied to everyone else. If one disciple like Judas can betray Jesus, the Son of God, then it is possible that another disciple could deceive the the world.
Finally, this leaves out the possibility of grave-robbers. History cannot prove a miracle, and any other historical alternative is far better then the resurrection. Take for instance, in regards to the resurrection, jesus had a twin brother. When jesus was crucified and buried, the disciples saw jesus’ twin brother and though he was the arisen messiah. This may sound silly and unlikely, but it is by far less silly or unlikely as the resurrection – which promotes something that is impossible. However, the question is “is this scenario more historically probable and plausible then a resurrection?” The answer is absolutely yes.
Hanegraaff them gives his opinions on the “swoon theory.” He states: this theory is hopelessly flawed. Think about it for a minute. Can you imagine that Jesus endured several trials, a crown of thorns, a Roman scourge, a crucifixion, a spear thrust into His side, the loss of a great deal of blood, going three days without medical attention or food, pushing a two-ton stone away from His tomb’s entrance, and then physically overcoming an armed Roman guard while walking on pierced feet? No! The swoon theory is ridiculous in the extreme. And yet, amazingly, some people continue to hang their hats on it. After carefully examining all the evidence, one can only come to the singular conclusion that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and that He now lives to be our Lord and Savior (Revelation 1:18).
Does Circumstantial Evidence Confirm It?
As Chuck Colson reported in his Break Point commentary (April 19, 2001), philosopher J. P. Moreland was once asked, “Can you give me five pieces of solid circumstantial evidence that convince you Jesus rose from the dead?” (Circumstantial evidence is an accumulation of facts from which one can draw intelligent conclusions.) Certainly, Moreland responded.
Note that J. P. Moreland is a philosopher, not a historian.
1. There’s the evidence of the skeptics. Some of those who were most hostile to Jesus prior to his death became his most ardent supporters afterwards.
This evidence is only provided in Scripture, written by an author who was not there to confirm that there were any skeptics. There is no contemporary proof, it is all based on the same story that does not provide ay support for its claims.
2. The ancient Jews had a number of immensely important religious rituals. These included the offering of animal sacrifices, obeying the Mosaic law, and keeping the Sabbath. But within five weeks of Jesus’ death, more than 10,000 Jews had suddenly altered or abandoned these rituals. Moreland asked: Why would they relinquish rites that had long given them their national identity? The implication is that something enormously significant had occurred.
Bear in mind that there were a wide variety o different sects of Christians in the late 1st and early 2nd century’s. Some of them kept all the Jewish rites, since Jesus was a Jew and therefore it was required to continue obeying the Law.
3. We see the emergence of new rituals: the sacraments of communion and baptism. The early Jews baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, “which,” Moreland said, “meant they had elevated Jesus to the full status of God.”
This baptism is not unique to Jesus. In fact, Jesus was not the first to introduce baptism, even the Scriptures reveal that John the Baptist did. In fact, there is a sect of followers who believe John is the real Messiah.
4. We see the rapid rise of a new church, beginning shortly after the death of Jesus. Within twenty years, this new church—begun by the companions of a dead carpenter—had reached Caesar’s palace in Rome, and eventually spread throughout the Roman Empire.
It has been demonstrated that new faiths can begin with close to noting and grow rapidly, such as cargo cults.
5. There’s the most convincing circumstantial evidence of all: the fact that every one of Jesus’ disciples was willing to suffer and die for his beliefs. These men spent the rest of their lives witnessing about Christ. They frequently went without food; they were mocked, beaten, and thrown into prison. In the end, all but one died a painful martyr’s death. Would they have done this for a lie? Of course not. They did it because they were convinced beyond a doubt that they had seen the risen Christ.
This argument is fallacious and does not address historicity in any way. People throughout history have, in fact, died for beliefs which turned out to be false, deceptive, or poorly understood; such as suicide bombers being rewarded with virgins. Just because these men so firmly believed that their beliefs were true that they were willing to die for them does not give their beliefs any credibility. More refutations to this argument exist.(Source: http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Would_someone_die_for_a_lie%3F)
Another explanation is that some martyrs were not actually sincere, that they professed Christian ideals but were actually engaging in a form of “suicide by cop.” For example, during the Diocletianic Persecution, when possession of the Bible was outlawed, many people boasted that they had copies of it; the Church specifically proscribed such people from being honored as martyrs. (Source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05121a.htm)
But even that is making the generous assumption that the martyrs in question even existed. Some Christian writers are known to have fabricated martyr-stories whole cloth; the hagiography of St. Catherine of Alexandria, for example, is a partial rip-off of the story of Hypatia of Alexandria, the pagan philosopher who was skinned to death with tiles (by Christians!) because people thought she had bewitched the city governor into not attending church.
Feathers and Arrows
A young man once jumped from a plane for his first skydive. When he pulled his main parachute, it failed to open. As he thought on what he was supposed to do regarding the emergency chute, he hit the ground. His friends rushed up to him, thinking he was dead. They instead found that he had miraculously landed on freshly plowed ground and was still alive. As he lay there with fourteen broken bones, and a bone protruding vertically from his leg, he mumbled, “Boy, did I blow it!” He was right; he blew it. He had listened to his instructor. He had believed. However, he hadn’t obeyed. Don’t blow it for eternity. Listen, believe, and obey.
No source provided, although it is obvious this is a fictional story.