Author Topic: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".  (Read 1052 times)

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Offline Schizoid

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A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« on: March 29, 2013, 08:39:35 AM »
An Easter Challenge by Dan Barker (http://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/stone.php)
"I HAVE AN EASTER challenge for Christians. My challenge is simply this: tell me what happened on Easter. I am not asking for proof. My straightforward request is merely that Christians tell me exactly what happened on the day that their most important doctrine was born.

Believers should eagerly take up this challenge, since without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. Paul wrote, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not." (I Corinthians 15:14-15)

The conditions of the challenge are simple and reasonable. In each of the four Gospels, begin at Easter morning and read to the end of the book: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also read Acts 1:3-12 and Paul's tiny version of the story in I Corinthians 15:3-8. These 165 verses can be read in a few moments. Then, without omitting a single detail from these separate accounts, write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension: what happened first, second, and so on; who said what, when; and where these things happened."

Here is a site that has an easy to read chart with the questions and verses:  http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-easter-challenge.html

A google search will show lots of Christian responses to an Easter Challenge which completely satisfies them (surprise, surprise), but not atheists, skeptics, or agnostics.  There really is no way to reconcile the differences in how believers and nonbelievers or skeptics view these and other questions regarding Christianity. 

Rather than a simple and straightforward explanation for biblical verses and doctrine Christians who believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of god have painted themselves into a corner where they must resort to elaborate explaining away of verses rather than admit they are wrong because then their religious world begins to crumble (it makes me think of that scene from the Lord of the Rings movie "Return of the King" on the battlefield when the One Ring is destroyed and Sauron's minions drop their weapons and flee).

In the end it almost seems fruitless for those of us who are atheists and do not believe there is a god to bother to confront Christian believers on their own turf of the Bible in order to prove its mistakes and inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and evil toward humankind by a psychopath they worship because they will just explain it all away.  But every once in awhile a light comes on for a questioning believer who had just been forcing themselves to except the faith or someone who preferred the safe waters of claiming to be an agnostic finally admits they are, gasp!!!, an ATHEIST! (which was me).

Offline Tonus

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2013, 08:58:59 AM »
For many of them, the ultimate fallback position is that the discrepancies are unimportant.  Pointing out the discrepancies is 'nitpicking.'  It comes down to just how much reality you can dismiss before the whole mess just falls apart.  Some people are able to erect shields that the U.S.S. Enterprise would envy.

Offline wheels5894

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 11:04:36 AM »
This one seems to think things are sewn up

However, the author seems to fail to notice that the gospel writers copied each other so that, although there seems to be 4 accounts, in reality there are probably only 2 and maybe only 1 but each writer adds his own invented touches to make the story his own. the fact that these 'touches' don't really agree with each other makes the story, for me, less believable.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Quesi

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 11:22:59 AM »
This one seems to think things are sewn up

However, the author seems to fail to notice that the gospel writers copied each other so that, although there seems to be 4 accounts, in reality there are probably only 2 and maybe only 1 but each writer adds his own invented touches to make the story his own. the fact that these 'touches' don't really agree with each other makes the story, for me, less believable.

Part of the problem, the author explains, is that since paper and ink were expensive, the disciples had to be really concise.  That might lead one to wonder why god did not invest a little more in terms of resources to support this low-budget project.  I mean, he got his son to turn water into wine at someone's wedding.  And nobody even remembers whose wedding it was.  Why couldn't He supply adequate ink and paper to make the stories more accurate and convincing?

Offline wheels5894

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 11:43:06 AM »
Yes I read this idea of being concise and it make me wonder. most scholars consider that Mark was one of the sources on the desks of Matthew and Luke. mark is the most concise of the gospels - even down to stopping after the discovery of the empty tomb. Yet Matthew increases the story to nearly double the length but of course, paper was expensive and they had to be concise.

Now when Luke sat down to write he tells us in his introduction that many had already written and account of Jesus (despite the cost of paper) and yet he, with Mark's attempt on his desk and probably Matthew's too, settles down to write yet another of about double the length of Mark.

Sorry, the idea of conciseness due to paper costs doesn't seem to be there at all. Despite that, one can observe some structure to the accounts - John has his set of signs that he weaves through his narratives. suggesting he had really got it worked out already. Luke could be right and have had quite a number of manuscripts on his desktop they could all, after Mark, have had multiple documents to read. Of course some scholars think there are signs of redaction in the text which indicates they were written once and then copied in a newer form maybe several times. No sign of saving on paper then.

Finally, the oldest manuscripts were written not on paper but on papyrus but the guy doesn't seem to knpow about that or about vellum which was also used for this purpose.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Willie

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 03:10:16 PM »
Part of the problem, the author explains, is that since paper and ink were expensive, the disciples had to be really concise.  That might lead one to wonder why god did not invest a little more in terms of resources to support this low-budget project.  I mean, he got his son to turn water into wine at someone's wedding.  And nobody even remembers whose wedding it was.  Why couldn't He supply adequate ink and paper to make the stories more accurate and convincing?

That was a problem for the OT writers as well. Here's how it all started, according to Isaac Asimov: http://sumware.com/creation.html

« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 03:11:55 PM by Willie »

Offline Nick

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 05:35:02 PM »
This one seems to think things are sewn up

However, the author seems to fail to notice that the gospel writers copied each other so that, although there seems to be 4 accounts, in reality there are probably only 2 and maybe only 1 but each writer adds his own invented touches to make the story his own. the fact that these 'touches' don't really agree with each other makes the story, for me, less believable.

Part of the problem, the author explains, is that since paper and ink were expensive, the disciples had to be really concise.  That might lead one to wonder why god did not invest a little more in terms of resources to support this low-budget project.  I mean, he got his son to turn water into wine at someone's wedding.  And nobody even remembers whose wedding it was.  Why couldn't He supply adequate ink and paper to make the stories more accurate and convincing?
Or an Iphone and record it all.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 05:50:21 PM »
We are talking about a perfect god, with the most important project in human history, right? Salvation of everyone. The story should not have any holes! There should not be different versions of the resurrection, the crucifixion or the creation of the earth. If there are, the bible is not from a perfect being.

They don't realize that one loose string pulls the whole thing apart. Just like one rabbit fossil inside a dino fossil would pull apart the theory of evolution.

And the bible is so full of loose strings it looks like a carpet factory.

I remember the argument with the guy who said he would not give up on his religion just because he couldn't explain how the kangaroos got from the ark to Australia.....he didn't want to tug on that because he didn't want to think about what it might be attached to.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Schizoid

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2013, 06:30:51 PM »
From this website, a Christian apologist explaining it all away:  http://www.tektonics.org/qt/rezrvw.html

Check out how he tries to rationalize that mistakes don't really matter:

"A second factor is the one we relate here about precision writing in the ancient East.

Abraham Rihbany in The Syrian Christ [108ff] writes of Easterners who offer what we call "misstatements" which "are more often the result of indifference than the deliberate purpose to deceive. One of his besetting sins is his ma besay-il -- it does not matter. He sees no essential difference between nine o'clock and half after nine, or whether a conversation took place on the housetop or in the house. The main thing is to know the substance of what happened, with as many of the supporting details as can be conveniently remembered."

Or how he tries to equate problems with the Easter story with differences in biographies of Lincoln, like the Easter story should not be more important or held to a higher standard since it relating by biblical authors was inspired by god.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 03:31:16 PM »
That is how theists weasel out of the reality that their sh!t is bogus.

When there are mistakes or contradictions or discrepancies in their sacred text[1]  it's all "well, human beings wrote this stuff down, and people are not perfect"; or, "well, see, we are only puny flawed humans and we can't hope to ever understand the vastnest of the mind of god."

The way some Christians talk, we are so far below god in understanding as to be like ants are to humans. So, if I shout instructions to the ant to get off the sidewalk and go into the grass, whose fault is it if the ant doesn't understand me? Am I justified in stomping on the ant and pouring boiling water down its anthill for not obeying me?

Yet we are also supposed to accept that this is an all-powerful being who really, really wants to communicate this vitally important information to us. Why would this all-powerful being hand over the task of transmitting the important information to flawed humans who have to physically record it by hand from oral stories under less than ideal conditions? Didn't god know that people would change the meaning and make mistakes, or that the information would not be understood properly after being translated so many times?

Instead we get, from each and every ancient religion, the same exact convoluted process: traditional oral stories, hand-copied in bad light in dead languages, by underpaid scribes or monks, working under rulers with their own political and religious agendas.[2]

Then this omniscient being would take a further chance of misunderstanding by having the originals written down in obscure languages that hardly anyone knows, with ambiguous pronouns, no vowels, etc. so the info would have to be re-interpreted and then re-translated many times. Again, by hand, under less than ideal conditions. For a largely illiterate global population.

Who in their right mind would choose this chancy, piecemeal mistake-prone method to transmit any kind of important information? An all-powerful, all-knowing god, all-loving that's who!

It would be like having doctors dictate prescriptions for a new miracle drug guaranteed to cure cancer--but only in Chinese to a group of 7-year-old English-speaking children who write them down phonetically in yellow crayon. In the dark.

And then weeks later, having several different other children who don't read Chinese or English re-copy the prescriptions in green crayon. In a moving car.

And then even later, have other children translating those copies into other languages in red crayon. While watching tv. And then faxing the resulting prescriptions to pharmacists worldwide.

Would it surprise anyone if the pharmacists gave out the wrong medicine and it did not cure cancer? Would it be fair to send the pharmacists to jail for making people sicker or killing them? Would anyone say this was a good method or a smart method to explain how to cure cancer? Would anyone buy the argument that this complicated mess was the best way, or the only way to do it?



 1. Of course, there should never be a sacred written text from a supernatural being in the first place! Couldn't he figure out a better way to tell us what we need to know, like have the info appear to each of us in our heads in our native language, when we reached the age of maturity?
 2. You scribe there, you don't need to include that passage about freeing slaves, and it would be good for your future employment if you put in a part about people obeying their kings without question. Plus, I want every last person in my ethnic group's family line listed. And add detailed instructions on how we priests should do lots of animal sacrifices, 'cause we need the meat.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Backspace

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 07:32:22 PM »
Check out how he tries to rationalize that mistakes don't really matter

He doesn't need to rationalize -- he just bluntly says it:

Quote
So why the differing lists? ... It doesn't matter.

 :-X
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Offline Schizoid

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2013, 07:49:04 PM »
The greater point of an Easter Challenge is that it is representative of how Christian apologists have to explain away things in order to make their theology work at all.  In the end they need to demand faith for it to work and they deny and/or resent any actual proof is needed.  After all, even if the Bible is wrong then god already knew that and is putting the faith of the believer to the test.  How can they argue with an infallible, omnipotent and omnipresent god, the ultimate know-it-all that you can't escape.

So, heads--god wins; tails--god wins.  Such a deal!

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: A good day to examine an "Easter Challenge".
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2013, 11:52:36 PM »
Part of the problem, the author explains, is that since paper and ink were expensive, the disciples had to be really concise.  That might lead one to wonder why god did not invest a little more in terms of resources to support this low-budget project.  I mean, he got his son to turn water into wine at someone's wedding.  And nobody even remembers whose wedding it was.  Why couldn't He supply adequate ink and paper to make the stories more accurate and convincing?

God didn't want it to be convincing. He had a second go, through Paul, to make it look even more dodgy, and then stuck it all on top of the Jewish Bible, which has certain mistakes.

You are supposed to find God, even though he created several major religions, and several variants of each one. Persons are rewarded for finding God, through his misdirection.
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.