Monday, October 12, 2009

Bart's blunder

Recently, I listened to a debate between Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Bart Ehrman. The debate took place a few years ago and revolved around the question, "Did Jesus rise from the dead?" Craig took the affirmative position while Ehrman the negative position. Ehrman's big hang up with the resurrection dealt with the fact that miracles are out of the question. He pointed out that any natural explanation should be considered over the supernatural explanation, because the supernatural explanation is always the least probable. Ehrman seemed to reject the possibility of miracles a priori.

Ehrman's rejection of miracles is somewhat like David Hume's argument, in that, miracles should never be believed unless 100% certainty could be given. For the record, 100% certainty is rarely needed in today's culture. Craig, on the other hand, was interested in what best explained the evidence of the empty tomb.

The debate was spirited, but I did notice one thing about Ehrman's presentation during the debate. Ehrman never explained what we are to do with the empty tomb until his closing comment, and he only did this for a minute. Most of Ehrman's effort was to question the biblical documents, without addressing the best explanation for the empty tomb. When Ehrman did finally put forth a theory for the missing body of Jesus, it was a view that has been repudiated already. Ehrman put forth the story that the body of Jesus was put in a common burial site and decayed rapidly. This would explain the empty tomb. Some of the followers of Jesus later had hallucinations of seeing Jesus, and presto, you have the beginning of Christianity.

This ludicrous view has been debunked time and time again, but Ehrman's big blunder was that he never presented his view until the very end. Ehrman's main offensive was to attack the documents of the past in order to show that they can't be trusted. His other big offensive was the denial of any supernatural explanation. While Ehrman was very good and passionate in the debate, he did nothing of substance to help his cause. Craig was able to give solid points in order to show that the best explanation for the empty grave and start of Christianity was most likely that Jesus rose supernaturally from the grave.

You can listen to the debate here:

1 comment:

Andy Wrasman said...

I'm in the process of watching this debate now. I'm about 70% through it, and frankly, I've grown tired of Erhman's repetitive arguments. He seems to only repeat again and again that the historian is not allowed to use supernatural explanations (where does he get this rule?) and that miracles by definition are so improbable that they cannot be the most probable answer.