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Farrell Till Horner Till Horner4

Well, tonight I made two main claims. One, there are good reasons to affirm the resurrection, and two, there are no good reasons to deny the Resurrection. I argued that the tomb was empty, Jesus physically appeared to many witnesses, and that the origin of the Christian religion is inexplicable apart from a real resurrection. Mr. Till’s response was, he did not deal very directly with the specific evidence that I brought up. He just had the overall comment that they’re biased, they’re biased because they’re followers. But you have to unpack that statement. He’s saying they’re biased because they’re followers, and that means that either the accounts are deliberate fabrications or they’re legends. And you have to supply evidence to support those hypotheses, and we didn’t see much evidence to support those hypotheses.

Regarding the spiritual body, when Paul refers to the resurrection body as a spiritual body, he cannot be meaning a body made out of spirit; that’s a contradiction in terms. A spirit is precisely the absence of a body. And the idea of seeing a non-physical body is incoherent because sight apprehends its objects by means of light waves reflected from it and a non-physical body can’t reflect light waves. So Paul’s not talking about the substance the body’s made of, he’s talking about its orientation. When we say, "The Bible’s a spiritual book," or "Betty’s a spiritual person," we’re not talking or implying that they’re made out of spirit, but that they are oriented toward the spiritual. Paul’s argument in 1st Corinthians 15 is that this body was a transformed, changed body that needed to be made imperishable, no longer perishable. And that’s the answer to your comments about the wound. This, the biblical accounts are that this was a transformed body; it was physical, it was continuous with the previous physical body but it was changed and transformed, and it was now a supernatural body and so it’s not going to have the same sort of problems that a regular body would have.

I also argued that there were no good reasons to deny the resurrection, and Mr. Till really has not given us a case, tonight. He’s just argued in a circle; miracles are impossible, therefore the resurrection didn’t happen. And I think I’ve shown that his concept of extraordinary evidence is nonsense. We need good evidence for events of great import. The Resurrection is an event of great import and we need good evidence, and we do have good evidence — not some sort of phantom standard of extraordinary evidence. He’s implied that there’s no corroborating evidence that the darkness happened for the three hours period. Well, there’s no reason that there would have to be other records; I mean, there’s very few records that come from that time period anyway. To imply that it’s necessary there be other records in order to believe this just isn’t rational, it’s an argument from silence which is, of course, very weak. And, in fact, we do have some corroboration of that. Julius Africans, a third century Christian writer, refers to Thallus, who wrote around 52 A.D., as explaining this darkness at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion by an eclipse of the sun. And so it was apparently something that Thallus, in the middle of the first century, knew about.

The resurrection of the saints out of the tomb, it’s, again, you wouldn’t have to expect other corroborating accounts of that. They likely would have appeared only for a short time, and as soon as they also had transformed resurrection bodies like Jesus, which I think would be consistent with the, with the biblical accounts, they probably just appeared to a few people for a short time, and there’s no reason why we should expect corroborating accounts there.

So basically what I think has happened here is I’ve presented a hypothesis and given support to it; Mr. Till has kind of danced around presenting an alternative hypothesis. He’s taken shots at my hypothesis and that’s legitimate, but he needs to provide an alternative hypothesis and evidence for it. And I think he’s failed to do that this evening. And so in the absence of a more plausible, naturalistic explanation that fits the facts, and this cognitive dissonance does not explain the empty tomb, can’t explain bodily appearances of Jesus Christ — in the absence of a hypothesis that can explain that and fits the facts, the Resurrection hypothesis, I think, is the superior hypothesis.