Proving the Existence of God, Part 5

We have now covered the two of the three points—the universe and evolution. Finding that the evidence was not able to falsify the existence of God, we now turn to the third line of falsification—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is currently a subject of debate, and the debate has raged since the occurrence of the event around 2,000 years ago. This is important because of what is at stake. Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh, and therefore, his prediction of his death, burial, and resurrection is necessary to substantiate his claim to Deity.

The first subject of debate about the circumstances of the resurrection is whether or not he actually died on the cross. His death is a necessary prerequisite to the resurrection because if he did not die then he did not come back to life. It is prudent then to discuss the evidence that supports the actuality of Jesus’ death on the cross. Many, especially the Roman soldiers who conducted the crucifixion and were familiar with death, witnessed his death and concluded that he, in fact, died. His side was pierced to ensure that he was dead and Pilate double-checked to make sure he was dead after receiving Joseph’s request. Based upon this it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus in fact died physically and that he did not faint, pass out, or go into a comatose state.

The events after his death also ensure that he was dead. Upon receiving the body, Joseph, with the help of Nicodemus, wrapped it in about one hundred pounds of spices and linen cloth. After they completed this task, the tomb was officially sealed and placed under guard at the request of the Jewish authorities to ensure no one tampered with or stole the body. The stone would have required several men to remove it from the entrance and so rules out the possible accusation that the disciples stole the body because the commotion would have alerted the guards. Furthermore, the inability of the authorities to produce the body, which would have effectively ended the Christian movement, indicates that the tomb truly was empty; no one could dispute that fact.

The credibility of the New Testament documents is also raised as an objection to the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. The accounts of the New Testament documents, however, are substantiated by many extra-biblical sources. These sources include: Polycarp, Ignatius, Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Flavius Josephus, Suetonis, Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger), Tertullian, Thallus (The Samaritan-born Historian), Phlegon (A First Century Historian), Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, Justin Martyr, the Jewish Talmuds, Julius Africanus, Emperor Trajan, Hadrian, and Toledoth Jesu. All of these confirm the biblical account that Jesus lived, was crucified, died, and was buried. Not all confirm that he was raised to life, but all confirm the notion.

Yet this is not enough credible evidence to convince some of the resurrection of Christ. Even the credibility of the extra-biblical sources is called into question. The basis of this questioning is that historians of that time period were not concerned with getting the facts of historical events correct and often times skewed them to support their personal bias. This is not supported by what is known of the ancient historians. They often criticized one another for producing inaccurate accounts or accounts that could not be verified by witness testimony. It can reasonably be assumed that if the New Testament accounts of the events of Christ’s death were inaccurate that they would have incurred such criticism.

If Jesus’ resurrection is not sufficiently confirmed by the empty tomb, his post‑resurrection appearances supply this much-needed confirmation of the reality of his resurrection. There are twelve distinct recorded instances occurring over a forty-day time period in which Jesus collectively appeared to more than 500 people.

This collective evidence still causes problems for some atheists. This is demonstrated by Dawkins when he wrote, “Although Jesus probably existed, reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament (and obviously not the Old Testament) as a reliable record of what actually happened in history, and I shall not consider the Bible further as evidence for any kind of deity.” This is following the absurd assertion that historical evidence is minimal that Jesus claimed any sort of divine status. The problem with the statement that Jesus never claimed to be God is directly opposed by Jesus and by his enemies. Both his enemies and his disciples understood him to be claiming deity. Likewise, no one ever produced Jesus body. Think about that for just a second. Don’t you know that the Jewish authorities would love to have produced Jesus body to prove that he was dead and, therefore, he was not “God” as he had claimed.

The current evidence supports the biblical account that Jesus was resurrected back to life. Jesus’ prediction about his death, burial, and resurrection was proved correct by the evidence. Therefore, this possible point of falsification also fails. In my next post I will summarize the evidence we have discussed and conclude this series.

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