This is my ninth debate. No, this is my tenth debate. And I have seen a first. Did you notice that Dr. Geisler read a manuscript for his first speech? That’s okay, because he won a toss and he was the first speaker. So if we wanted to read a manuscript that he had written, that’s okay, but I made a rebuttal speech, and I didn’t follow a manuscript. How in the world did could he write a speech to rebut my speech before he even knew what I was going to say? [Geisler remarked, "I read your books."] He ignored the major points that I made. [pausing] I’d like to know what the book is, since I’ve not written a book on the resurrection.
Anyway, let me try to reply to the points that he made. The New Testament documents are reliable, he told us again. Well, I don’t know exactly what he means by reliable. If he means that they were copied in a reliable way, that is open for debate. I have a reference Bible on my desk; I’d like for you to come up and look at it and notice how many footnotes there are in it that tell us that some authorities say this, some ancient manuscripts say this, others say this. The thing is riddled with footnotes. Does he call that accuracy? But let’s just assume that the book is a hundred percent accurate. As I said, that would prove only that is a hundred percent accurate in what it says, but it would not prove that what it says, but it would not prove that what it says necessarily happened. And that’s the problem that he’s going to have to confront, and he didn’t confront it.
If we were just going to argue about whether the New Testament said that Jesus was crucified, whether the New Testament said that certain women went to the tomb and found it empty, whether the Apostle Paul said that Jesus appeared to 500 brethren at one time, whether the New Testament said that Thomas said that unless he saw him and touched the body and examined the wounds, that he would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, then there would be no need for us to come here and have the debate, because, Dr. Geisler, I readily admit that the New Testament says all of those things, but this book [tossing the Book of Mormon onto Geisler’s table] also says a lot of things, and you don’t believe it, and you know that you don’t believe it, and yet the evidence for that is closer to us, and it would be a lot easier for you to examine the integrity of the witnesses for that book than it would be for you to examine the integrity of the witnesses for that book [gesturing at a Bible on his table]. Now that’s something that you have got to contend with. You’ve got to give us a reasonable answer to such as that, and you cannot do it.
He said that he gave nine arguments to support the fact that Jesus really did die and rise from the dead, and he said that I didn’t say anything about that. I made three major counter arguments that I believe effectively answered everything that he said. But did you notice that one of his arguments for the fact that Jesus had really died was this article that was published a few years ago by supposed medical authorities who said that they had determined from the New Testament accounts that Jesus really did die and that the manner of death had happened in a certain way. Dr. Geisler, how can anyone determine the cause of death 2,000 years after somebody died without having the body to examine through autopsy? That’s the type of evidence that you’re going to give us?
And did you hear him say I presented no evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead. He who asserts must prove. That is an axiom of logic that surely you recognize. If I were the one who had come here tonight and… or, I’ll apply my example to me… If I should have come here tonight and claimed that I was abducted aboard a flying saucer a few days ago… Dr. Geisler, let me see you prove that that did not happen. You wouldn’t bother to do it. You wouldn’t bother for one moment to do it. You’d say, "Till, you’re the one who said that it happened. The burden of proving it rests on you." Now this man says that a man by the name of Jesus of Nazareth was stone-cold dead in his grave for one entire day and parts of two other days and that his body was revivified and literally restored to life. That is an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence. He not only does not have extraordinary evidence, but the evidence that he has is extraordinarily unextraordinary! Because it’s nothing but hearsay, and he knows it. And he would be laughed out of court if he would try to go into a courtroom and say, "Well, someone said that someone said that they saw this man rise from the dead." That type of evidence simply is not admissible. If I say that I believe in elves, it’s my duty, it’s my responsibility to prove that elves exist. He does not prove that the elves do not exist.
He said that the New Testament does affirm that Jesus did rise from the dead. Yes, yes, yes. Do you want me to write it in boxcar letters on the side of this auditorium. I’ll do that if they won’t get me for vandalism. Yes, the New Testament does affirm that Jesus rose from the dead. That’s not the issue. The issue is, is this true simply because a book that was written 2,000 years ago says that it happened. All right, how likely is it that this happened?
Let’s take his apostle Thomas as an example. He referred to him; he would be a good one to use as an example. You are familiar with the story. Jesus appeared to the apostles on the night of his resurrection according to the 20th chapter of John. Thomas wasn’t there, although [turning to look at Geisler] in Luke’s account of that same appearance Dr. Geisler, he said, Luke said that Jesus appeared to the eleven. So I think you have a little contradiction here. But, anyway, according to John, Thomas wasn’t there, and Thomas said, "Unless I can see him myself, unless I can touch the wounds with my own hands, I will not believe." Now I want you to think about that very seriously for just a moment. Please try to remember this. Thomas knew the apostles personally, and yet he would not believe this extraordinary claim that they were making — that this man who had died had literally risen from the dead. Thomas said, "I’m not going to believe it until I can examine the evidence with my own hands," and he knew the apostles personally. Yet Dr. Geisler expects us to believe the word of those same apostles, which we have only through hearsay testimony, by the way, even though we don’t know the apostles personally, and I submit to you that if Thomas knew them personally and did not consider that satisfactory evidence (their mere words satisfactory evidence) even though he did know them, that we’re justified to reject their evidence because we don’t even know the character of the people who made this claim. You talked about the improbability of winning the lottery. That doesn’t mean that people don’t win the lottery simply because it’s impossible. Yes, Dr. Geisler, I live in a state that has a lottery, and nearly every week someone wins two or three or five or ten million. It happens all the time. Show me people rising from the dead all of the time, and I’ll say that you have a point. [applause]