REPLY #1 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
Note: The reply presented below was originally sent to me as a part of a larger reply concerning my "Evolution vs. Creationism" essay. I have moved it here since the content more appropriately applies to the topic of religion.
(R) Regarding your belief in the "conspiracy" (my characterization) theory of the resurrection, I regard this as a very weak explanation for the following reasons.
(MB) I was merely putting forth an alternative (and equally unverifiable) explanation in response to a question. But, for the sake of good debate, let's look at your reasons.
(R) 1) Based on what records we have (the New Testament) the disciples didn't comprehend when Christ told them that He would rise from the dead. Given that they didn't understand this, why would they have wanted His body?
(MB) How could they not have comprehended what he meant? There are stories in the Gospels of Jesus raising people from the dead, so resurrection itself was certainly not incomprehensible.
(R) 2) How could a group of Jewish fisherman unskilled in warfare (Peter cut off a servant's ear when probably aiming to cut off a head) overpower a Roman guard?
(MB) It's not too hard to fathom how a number of motivated individuals could overpower a single guard -- especially in the wee hours of the morning when he's not likely to be at his best.
(R) 3) John's gospel tells us that the disciples were cowering in fear after the resurrection. This is inconsistent with the idea of their plotting a great deception.
(MB) Why? What "great deception" was involved here? Steal the body and claim "he is arisen". I don't think that requires a monumental organizational effort. Once you've got the body, they'd have more time to be able to figure out what else to do.
(R) 4) They preached (and almost all of them died because of it) that Christ rose from the dead. Christianity sprung up because Christ rose from the dead: it was the central part of their message. If they really just stole His body, then they were lying and they knew they were lying. Many in history have died for a lie, but very few have died for a lie when they knew it was a lie.
(MB) Such is the history of religious zealots, however. Besides, the early Christians had another motivating factor -- the Roman occupation. Any story or belief that would help unify the people to resist or overthrow the Romans would have been something worth lying or even dying for.
(R) 5) If they really did steal the body, lie to thousands about it, confidently went to their death knowing they were dying for a lie while leading thousands of others to a similar fate than they were an amoral group of either scoundrels or lunatics. Yet it was these men who gave us the greatest moral and ethical teaching ever known to man.
(MB) Adherents of the various Eastern philosophies might well dispute that last statement, but that's beside the point. Remember the historical context of those times. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Ideology tends to transcend the methods used to advance it.
(R) The Bible came from somewhere, and it is very unlikely it came from liars and lunatics.
(MB) In large part, I'd agree.
(R) You said the Jews believe that the disciples stole the body.
(MB) No, I said that the Jews were witness to the whole thing and remain unconvinced that Jesus was the Messiah. They are still waiting for the real Messiah to arrive. If they didn't believe it then -- and they were the "chosen people" -- why should we believe it now?
(R) The New Testament says that those who saw to His murder started that story, and paid the Roman guards to say that is what happened. The disciples, the people who say that He rose from the dead were Jews, as were the first Christians.
(MB) Remember the point I made about history being written from the point of view of the historian? To use what the Bible says as proof of its own validity is circular reasoning. Obviously, there were no "Christians" until after Jesus' death. However, if his existence as the Messiah is so clear and indisputable, there would today be no Jews - just Christians. Needless to say, there wouldn't be any other religions either.