This is good stuff.
I think to some degree, non-believers just follow the evidence and don't care where it leads, though, the idea that any guy could perform miracles and raise the dead should be met with extreme doubt.
Obviously Christians know that helping other people to "stay strong in the faith" or "come to the faith" is a calling of their faith, so, lying about it or twisting the truth might still be considered for the greater good. After all, they KNOW in their heart that Jesus is their savior so there must be good reasons why all the evidence is poor.
I'm just trying to better understand these things because Christian's toss them out there and expect nobody to know any more about it...
"There's so much historical proof for Jesus"
"The Bible is the most historically proved book, like, EVER man!"
The apologist research site that Skeptic points out is clinging to things like:
Dating the gospels is very important. If it can be established that the gospels were written early, say before the year A.D. 70, then we would have good reason for believing that they were written by the disciples of Jesus himself. If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy are better substantiated. Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for myth to creep into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses to Christ's life that wrote them. Furthermore, those who were alive at the time of the events could have countered the gospel accounts; and since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical.
This tells us that, as much as they want to establish that the gospels were written early, they can't quite do it as fact... then they add the portion that 30 years in ancient times isn't enough time for myth? Really? And that nobody wrote contradictory writings about a secret account that was written down and hidden and didn't become popular until years later? Nobody cared about early christians... it was just a cult.
A - We're talking at least 30 years... in those days, most people didn't live another 30 years past becoming an adult, and oral traditions can blow up into legend in the span of just a few years when you're telling them to new people who can't fact check you.
B - The basis for trying to date Mark so early is a scrap of parchment with one legible word on it. Even if it was the same writer, it could have been something written years before.
Because Christians start all their research at the top down... assuming god is real, and that if there's a god it must be the god of the Bible, then they work towards proving that conclusion and justifying anything they come up against.
Even with this backward, non scientific method, there's still scant evidence for the Bible being the word of god.
In debates, the theist side will claim that there is MUCH EVIDENCE and then never name that evidence, and this is why, but I'm trying to better understand it myself.