Is there good evidence for group appearances of risen Jesus?
- Dr Loke’s Opening Statement
- Paulogia’s Opening Statement (quoted below in orange)
- Dr Loke’s First Rebuttal
- Paulogia’s First Rebuttal (quoted below in green)
- Dr Loke’s Second Rebuttal
- Paulogia’s Second Rebuttal (quoted below in blue)
In my closing statement1, I shall consider
(1) what reasons have Paulogia offered for thinking that there is no good evidence for ‘group appearances’ (defined in my Opening Statement as ‘groups of people claimed to have seen the risen Jesus’—Paulogia did not challenge my definition throughout the debate, even after I highlighted this point in my First Rebuttal) (Section 2), and
(2) what reasons are there for thinking that there are good evidences for ‘group appearances’ (Section 3), as indeed the majority of scholars agree.
Throughout the entire debate, Paulogia has attempted to rebut the arguments for this scholarly consensus, and his failure to do so is demonstrated by the errors he has committed (previously numbered at 43, I shall continue the numbering from 44 onwards). To help the reader follow the dialectic, I shall re-organize the material thematically, summarizing the most important points first, rather than following Paulogia’s ordering of the material. I shall discuss what Paulogia calls ‘distracting issues’ at the end (Section 4).
II. What reasons have Paulogia offered for thinking that there is no good evidence for group appearances
2.1. Is the 1 Corinthians 15 Creed hearsay?
Paulogia claims that ‘For the learned professor’s three entries thus far, we have watched as Dr Loke has valiantly attempted the unenviable task of trying to transform a few hearsay accounts into good evidence with nothing more than wishful conjecture misapplied.’
This claim is a misrepresentation [Error 44]. I have argued that Paul passed on a well-formulated and authoritative summary of the resurrection appearances including group appearances and that he also personally knew members of the group claimed that they saw the risen Jesus; thus it was not hearsay. Rather, he was a firsthand witness of those members who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus, and what he passed on was what he knew as a firsthand witness.
Paulogia dismissed my argument by saying, ‘This might be relevant if we had evidence that any of the alleged group-appearance members said anything to Paul about it. We do not. We have Dr Loke’s speculation about what may or may not have gone on.’
In response, Paulogia once again fails to note the textual evidence i.e. the context of 1 Cor. 15 in which Paul said ’Whether then it was I or they, so we preach’ (1 Cor. 15:11). In other words, Paul is testifying that other apostles, including members of the group appearances, were claiming that they had seen the risen Jesus, and that this statement came from someone (Paul) who knew members of the group (e.g. Peter and other apostles), who had personally met them and talked to them (see Gal. 1–2), and who knew that the Corinthians knew him and them too (1 Cor. 1:12, 9:1–5).
Paulogia seems to be demanding an explicit statement ‘Paul heard members of the Twelve saying they saw the risen Jesus,’ but this is a ridiculous demand which ignores the context of conversation in which explicit statements are often unnecessary but are implied. To illustrate: if you know of a couple of friends (Mary and Peter) who are married and you received an email from one of them (Mary) saying ‘we both said our marriage vows.’ It would be silly to dismiss it by saying ‘but we do not have evidence that Peter said anything to Mary about it.’ An explicit statement stating that ‘Peter said his marriage vow to Mary’ wouldn’t have been necessary, since this is implied given the context that (1) you know both of them (2) you know that they are married (3) you know that it is a normal procedure to say marriage vows to each other.
Likewise (1) the early Christians knew Paul and members of the Twelve (2) they knew that Paul and the Twelve were apostles of Christ i.e. in the same team proclaiming the same Gospel (1 Cor 15:1-11; Gal 2:2-7) (3) they knew that a defining characteristic and central message of an apostle is to testify that he had seen the risen Lord (1 Cor 9:1). (4) Paul had met members of the Twelve previously (Galatians 1–2), what did Paulogia suppose they talked about? The weather? The Gospel, of course! This was what Paul explicitly stated in Galatians 2:2: ‘Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the Gospel’ which, as Paul explains in 1 Cor 15:1-11 (‘the Gospel…of first importance’ verses 1-3) affirms Christ’s death and resurrection evidenced by the eyewitnesses (including three ‘group appearances’) which all the apostles were preaching (verse 11). Given this, an explicit statement ‘Paul heard members of the Twelve saying they saw the risen Jesus’ wouldn’t have been necessary since this is implied.
To reject my conclusion, Paulogia would need to suppose that Paul had met with Peter and other apostles, knew them for many years, and be a fellow apostle without ever hearing them claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus. This supposition is frankly absurd (to put it mildly). It is like supposing that Lionel Messi has known the players at Barcelona for many years and was in their team without ever hearing them talk about football. Yet this is the kind of supposition that is required by Paulogia in order to avoid the conclusion of my argument. By failing to consider this point, Paulogia is doing bad history, refusing to put himself in the real world of first century Christians but choosing to live in his cartoon world of wishful thinking and Humpty Dumpty.
Additionally, Paulogia’s objection reveals his misunderstanding concerning speculation and the relationship between evidence and inference [Error 45]. Consider the claim (elaborated in my Opening Statement) that some people must have seen my great grandfather before. Now no documents exist telling us that this is the case. Does it mean that it is therefore unevidenced? Speculation? No. Paulogia himself accepts the claim. We do not need documents documenting the claim, for this is not the only form of good evidence. Rather, we can have other forms of good evidence, such as evidence for the premises from which the conclusion can be inferred:
- There is good evidence that I am a human being and that I descended from my great grandfather, who was a human being.
- There is good evidence that human beings are visible and lived among people who would have seen them.
- Therefore, there is good evidence that some people must have seen my great grandfather before.
This is not a speculation; rather it is evidenced-based inference because the premises (1 and 2) are based on evidence.
- There is good evidence that the apostles wouldn’t be silent about claiming to have seen the resurrected Jesus (since this was the defining characteristic and central message of an apostle, as Paul recognized when he stated ‘Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?’ 1 Cor. 9:1).
- There is good evidence that Paul had known and heard the other apostles before writing 1 Corinthians (Gal. 2:2; see further, Opening Statement, Section V).
- Therefore, there is good evidence that Paul would have heard the other apostles claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus.
This is not a speculation, rather it is evidenced-based inference because the premises (1 and 2) are based on evidence (presented in my previous entries). This is an inference from clear data which leads to only one conclusion: Paul personally knew the ‘eyewitnesses’ and what they were preaching, thus Paul was providing a firsthand eyewitness report (rather than hearsay) that there were groups of people who claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus.
2.2. Do the Gospel Appearance Reports corroborate?
Concerning the harmonization I defended in Chapter 2 of my book, I am glad to hear that Paulogia regards it as ‘an entirely plausible scenario for how the details of the various gospel empty tomb narratives and appearances can be made to fit despite some seemingly contradictory claims…I generally agree with him on this.’
However, Paulogia claims that ‘the group appearance pericopes fail to corroborate because the accounts don’t describe the same events. Dr Loke’s book’s harmonization seems to agree with this conclusion by arranging each in a particular non-overlapping sequence.’
This claim is a misrepresentation [Error 46]. Where group appearances are concerned, my harmonization affirms an overlap of John 20:19–24 and Luke 24:33-43 (see Loke 2020, p. 64n.18)—these accounts are describing the same event which happened on the first day of the week when the tomb was discovered empty and during which Jesus showed members of the Twelve parts of his body (his hands, his feet, and his side). Paulogia again fails to note ‘these divergent traditions overlap significantly and hence independently corroborate the basic outlines of the story’ (Keener 2003, p. 1168) —i.e. the outline in 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 which affirms that Jesus appeared to members of the Twelve.
Paulogia retorts that ‘the example of alien abduction testimonies which feature significant motif overlap, but those tropes fail to create corroboration between a New Hampshire couple’s 1961 ordeal and that of a Mississippi fisherman ten years later.’
In reply, contrary to Paulogia’s misrepresentation [Error 47], I am well-aware that the alien abduction stories are first-hand accounts of real people. My point was that the accounts from (say) New Hampshire and Mississippi do not refer to experiences of the same people; rather it was Betty and Barney Hill at New Hampshire, and Calvin Parker at Mississippi. These are totally different people involved in different events, that is why they do not corroborate. Whereas John 20:19–24, Luke 24:33–43 and 1 Cor 15:5 refer to the group experience of the same people i.e. members of the Twelve, and corroborate that event.
And even if Matthew 28:16-20 was not referring to the same occasion as Luke 24:33-43-John 20:19-24, he was still referring to the same people i.e. members of the Twelve and not totally different people, and corroborating the summary statement in 1 Cor 15:5 which says that members of the Twelve saw Jesus. Matthew 28, John 20-21, Luke-Acts 1:3 (over 40 days) and 1 Cor. 15:5-7 corroborate the point that members of this group saw Jesus on multiple occasions.
Thus, Paulogia’s analogy is false because the ‘motif overlap’ in the alien abduction testimonies do not refer to the experience of the same people, rather the ‘overlap’ refer to the [imaginary] environment, appearance, and behavior of aliens, which might be explained by social phenomenon of common imaginations concerning aliens.
Paulogia claims that ‘social phenomenon and common imagination fully accounts for resurrection appearance tales.’ This claim is false because the experiences of the Twelve are not imaginary but are corroborated independently, and I have already ruled out other alternatives (e.g. hallucination, misidentification) in my book (Loke 2020).
Paulogia objects by citing Allison’s newest book on the resurrection: “Because those narratives have influenced the stories of Jesus’ appearances, one could maintain that the motifs referred to were secondary additions.” 2
Unsurprisingly, Paulogia has misrepresented Allison again [Error 48]. The preceding sentence of Allison’s quote reads, ‘It is, then, reasonable to infer, and I am inclined to believe, that these three motifs—doubt, consolation, mission—derive from the original experience. Yet one must acknowledge that mission, consolation, and doubt are standard fare in Hebrew Bible call narratives, and because those narratives…’ Allison was referring to the motifs of doubt, consolation, and mission which are found in the Old Testament. He was not referring to the motif of group resurrection appearance which is not found in the Old Testament, but which is independently corroborated concerning the appearance to the Twelve.
Paulogia suggest that ‘the historical data is more consistent with a family of competing (or complimenting) group appearance legends that arose to flesh out the 1 Corinthians creed.’
In reply, first, Paulogia has failed to prove that they are ‘legends.’ Second, his claim about ‘fleshing out’ is contradicted by ‘seemingly contradictory claims’ between the Gospel narratives and 1 Corinthians creed: ‘its distance from the canonical accounts is often emphasized — there are no women in Paul’s account, for example, and the Gospels intimate nothing of an appearance to James’ (Allison 2005, p. 239). The ‘distance’ implies that the Gospel narrative accounts were not attempts to flesh out 1 Cor. 15 but originated independently. As Keener (2003, 1168) observes ‘the differences in accounts demonstrate that the Gospel writers were aware of a variety of independent traditions.
Paulogia concludes ‘the group appearances in the gospels are independent, and thereby non-corroborative.’ This is a false inference (Error 49). As explained above, they are independent AND corroborative, i.e. despite originating independently, the different sources agree that there are group appearances of the risen Jesus. Which means we do have multiple independent corroborations i.e. good evidence for group appearances of the risen Jesus.
2.3 Authorship of the Gospels
Paulogia cites Bauckham to substantiate Paulogia’s claim that ‘significant numbers of expert’ ‘affirms that we do not know who wrote the gospels,’ without citing any survey to substantiate this point despite the fact that (unlike Paulogia’s fringe theory) one can easily name living scholars who hold the contrary view. Paulogia objects Nor does Loke point to a survey. Why should I, since it is Paulogia who is making the claim concerning ‘significant numbers of expert’? Paulogia’s objection commits the error concerning the burden of proof [Error 50].
Paulogia objects that, on the other hand, ‘Loke wants you to take Bauckham at his word on affirming traditional gospel authorship.’ This is a misrepresentation [Error 51]. ‘At his word’ implies‘accept what someone says based on trust’,whereas I argue for traditional gospel authorship based on the reasons and evidences presented by Bauckham, Hengel et al.
Paulogia claims that my argument (citing Hengel) is based on ‘Speculation about title pages, arguments from silence, authorship consensus on unrelated works, and sheer credulity about affirming religious epistemology, without actually replying to Hengel’s argument concerning how improbable it is that a late conjectural attribution could have produced such unanimity of traditional authorship labels (‘according to Matthew’, ‘according to Mark’ etc.) and left no trace of alternative attributions. Paulogia claims that the bare fact is that extant author labels begin in the late second century, without substantiating this claim and without showing how this claim rules out the earlier labelling as supported by the reasons and evidences presented by Hengel and Bauckham and quoted at length in my Second Rebuttal.
Paulogia states ‘Loke speculates that early Christians “would have known who the authors were (even if we don’t)”…Speculation is literally when you posit unevidenced details… No documents exist telling us that the identities of the gospel authors were widely known.‘
Paulogia’s statement again reveals his misunderstanding concerning the relationship between evidence and inference [Error 52]. Consider my explanation in Section 2.1 that
there is good evidence that some people must have seen my great grandfather before. This is not a speculation; rather it is evidenced-based inference because the premises (1 and 2) are based on evidence.
- There is good evidence that, if the author of a New Testament writing were unknown to any early Christian community, the early Christians would have disputed the authorship.
- There is good evidence that the early Christians did not dispute the authorship of the Four Gospels. (As Hengel observes, there is unanimity of traditional authorship labels (‘according to Matthew’, ‘according to Mark’ etc.) with no trace of alternative attributions).
- Therefore, there is good evidence that the authors of the Four Gospels were known by the early Christian communities.
Again, this is not a speculation, rather it is evidenced-based inference because the premises (1 and 2) are based on evidence (presented in my Second Rebuttal).
Paulogia claims that there are counter-examples. He admits that ‘An early church-attending individual wrote the canonical book of Hebrews,’ but objects that ‘even in the earliest church writings there is much debate about who wrote it.’
The problem with Paulogia’s objection is that, while premise 1 is true, the converse of premise 1 is not true: it is not true that, if the author of a New Testament writing was known to an early Christian community, the early Christians would not have disputed the authorship. One reason is because there were various Christian communities, and in certain cases some communities might have reasons to be cautious about who the other communities claim to be the author. The Eastern church agreed that Paul was the author of Hebrews, but admitted that there were reasons to be cautious because the Greek is more polished than other letters of Paul (thus Origen suggests that a disciple took notes of what Paul said and wrote the material up for him (Origen, H.E. 6.14.13), in this case, Paul was still the author in the sense that he was the source of the notes). The Western Church, however, took the reasons to be cautious in another direction, with Tertullian (On Modesty 20) suggesting Barnabas as the author. The fact that there is evidence that the early Christians debated about who wrote Hebrews, even though ‘an early church-attending individual wrote the canonical book of Hebrews’ (Paulogia), indicates that the early Christians were cautious. It is therefore even more probable that they would have debated about the authorship of the Gospels if they were not written by individuals known to the churches. Thus Paulogia’s citation of Hebrews fails to be a counter-example [Error 53]; on the contrary, it provides further evidence for premise 1 of my argument (Thanks, Paulogia!).
Paulogia also claims ‘There were pseudepigraphal (forged) gospels, acts and letters of Peter, Nicodemus, James, Thomas, Pilate, Philip, Andrew and so many more that were readily accepted by the early church despite the true (false) authors being among them.’
However, Paulogia fails to note that
(1) the documents he cited were written not in the first century but in the second century, by which time Peter, Nicodemus would have already died rather than ‘being among them’. Whereas the New Testament documents were written in the first century A.D, during a period where the apostles and their co-workers or those people who knew them were still around and could be verified. Thus Paulogia’s citation is a false analogy [Error 54]
(2) Contrary to Paulogia’s claim that the forged writings “were readily accepted by the early church” [Error 55], ’those who engaged in this activity in the ancient world were roundly condemned for lying and trying to deceive their readers’ (Ehrman 2011, p. 25). There were early Christians such as Bishop Serapion who rejected forged writings and banned them from being read in church (Eusebius vi.12.2). This is good evidence that these Christians were concerned about truth and protecting others from being misled, that was why they disputed the authorship of these forged Gospels. However, there was no dispute concerning the traditional authorship of the Four Gospels (Premise 2). Thus, there is good evidence that the traditional authorship is not forged but authentic.
Paulogia states that “2 Thessalonians 2:2 warns the church “not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us.” Either there were convincing forgeries being circulated, or 2 Thessalonians itself was a forgery… or both.”
In reply, no one is doubting that there were forgeries being circulated, rather the issue (raised earlier by Paulogia) is whether the Four Gospels were forgeries. I have offered the arguments (see above and my Second Rebuttal) to show that they were not, but Paulogia has failed to rebut my argument (For responses to Ehrman’s claim that 2 Thessalonians and some other NT documents were forged, see this series by Ben Witherington III, starting from here). Instead, Paulogia’s citation of the passage from 2 Thessalonians indicate that the early Christians were concerned with refuting forgeries, which further strengthened premise 1 of my argument.
Thus, instead of showing that “these communities would have known who the authors were” is untenable [Error 56], Paulogia’s argument has in fact strengthened my argument (Thanks again, Paulogia!).
Paulogia ends by mentioning ‘the first-century contempt for Papias, how Papias’ descriptions don’t match the books we have, the second-century non-attribution of gospel quotes, disconnects with historical Luke and many other topics demonstrating the late and inaccurate author attribution.’
However, these arguments against traditional authorship have already been refuted by NT scholars such as Bauckham, Keener, and fail to rebut the argument for traditional authorship which I offered above.
Paulogia claims that my defence of traditional authorship of the Gospels is ‘last-minute’. This is a misrepresentation [Error 57]. I offered the defence (citing Hengel) in my First Rebuttal, but Paulogia missed it in his First Rebuttal. Instead he replied to Hengel’s argument only in his Second Rebuttal by raising a series of issues which I can only respond to in my Closing Statement, without any opportunity to respond further within this debate should he reply further in his Closing Statement. One wonders whether it is Paulogia who is guilty of missing the argument in my First Rebuttal and raising issues ‘last-minute’?
In any case, it should be noted that my case for this debate does not depend on demonstrating the traditional authorship for the Gospels, since (1) this issue only concerns one (Argument 4) of the five arguments I offered, and even if Argument 4 fails any one of the other arguments would be sufficient to clinch this debate. (II) Even Argument 4 itself is not dependent on traditional authorship, for even if traditional authorship is false, the Gospels can still be regarded as multiple secondary sources which taken together provide good evidence in the form of independent attestation for group appearances (see Sections 2.2 and 3.2). The fact that secondary sources can provide good independent attestation is illustrated by Ehrman who does not accept the traditional authorship but notes the historical value of these sources with regards to the issue of independent corroboration. This point has already been explained in my First Rebuttal (see under Error 6) and has not been refuted by Paulogia.
Thus, defending the traditional authorship of the Four Gospels is not necessary for my arguments in this debate. So why do I defend it? Because I am concerned about truth, which Paulogia has repeatedly distorted by claiming that ‘all the documentary evidence Dr Loke puts forth is clearly and undeniably “hearsay”. I have shown that Paulogia has failed to prove his claim; instead, there is good evidence to show that they contain primary sources, which strengthens my case even further.
2.4. 1 Clement and Ignatius
I shall be brief about 1 Clement and Ignatius since my case in this debate does not depend on them.
Concerning 1 Clement, Paulogia once again repeats his claim that “this is hearsay”, while failing to respond to my point that in historical evaluation secondary sources are admitted as evidence which can add up to constitute good evidence via cumulative case arguments. Paulogia then takes my statements out of the context of his objections which I was responding to. Since 1 Clement (and Ignatius) are the least important bits of evidence I cited, I shall not waste the word-count explaining this point but urge the reader to read our previous entries again.
Concerning Ignatius, Paulogia’s latest objection ignores Ehrman’s reasoning that Ignatius does not mention the names of Matthew and Luke, which goes against Paulogia’s earlier claim that Ignatius is merely quoting the Gospels,
III. Reasons for thinking that there are good evidences for group appearances of risen Jesus
3.1. Summary of my arguments
We have seen in Section 2 that Paulogia’s claim that we only have hearsay without corroboration is false. On the contrary, we do have primary sources AND multiple independent corroboration for group appearance of the risen Jesus. This implies that there are good evidences for group appearances of risen Jesus.
In addition, throughout the debate I have defended the following five arguments which show that there are good evidences for group appearances of risen Jesus.
- Psychological studies have indicated that it is probable that people are careful to form conclusions when 1.1. there is presence of scepticism, 1.2 the topic is important, 1.3. the costs of false confirmation are high, and 1.4. when people are held personally responsible for what they say and care about their reputation among sustained relationships with known audiences.
- Concerning consideration 1.1, many ancient people including some Corinthian Christians (1 Cor 15:12-13) were highly skeptical of bodily resurrection in general.
- Concerning 1.2, the resurrection of Jesus was of foundational importance to the Christian faith (1 Cor 15:17), and the claims of the ‘eyewitnesses’ of resurrection appearances were foundational to their belief that Jesus’ resurrected (1 Cor 15:6).
- Concerning 1.2 and 1.3, the early Christians were willing to die for it and there was context of persecution for following a persecuted (crucified) leader (1 Cor 15:30-33): these considerations further indicate the importance of the issue and that the cost of false confirmation would be high for the Corinthian Christians.
- Concerning 1.3, people could check out and confirm if there were indeed ‘groups of eyewitnesses.’
- Concerning 1.4, Paul assumed responsibility for the tradition he passed on and cared about his reputation as an apostle with his known audiences in Corinth.
- Concerning 1.3, the costs of false confirmation would have been high for Paul’s reputation if he made a mistake concerning the ‘eyewitnesses’ of resurrection appearances (including the group appearances) which he cites, given the foundational nature of the latter.
- Therefore, it is probable that Paul was careful in stating the group appearances in 1 Cor 15:3-11. (From 1-7).
- It is improbable that Paul was careful in stating the group appearances in 1 Cor 15:3-11 and yet made a mistake on this issue.
- Therefore, it is probable (i.e. there is good evidence) that Paul’s statement was correct i.e. there were group appearances of the risen Jesus.
- Given premise 6 of Argument 1, if Paul knew persons X and he knew that the Corinthians also knew X, it is improbable that Paul would have told them that X claimed to have seen the risen Jesus if this was not the case.
- The letters of Paul indicate that Paul knew others (e.g. James, Peter and other apostles; see Gal. 1–2) whom he listed as ‘eyewitnesses’ (including those of group appearances) of Jesus’ resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, and he knew that the Corinthians knew at least some of them (1 Cor. 1:12, 9:1–5; Paul was appealing to public knowledge in 1 Cor 15:6).
- Therefore, it is probable (i.e. there is good evidence) that it is the case that there were group appearances of the risen Jesus.
- If Paul’s claims concerning the eyewitnesses were not true, given the presence of scepticism, the importance of the topic, the high costs of false confirmation, and that the early Christians could check out, it is probable that the early Christians would have checked out and falsified Paul’s claim.
- If the early Christians falsified Paul’s claim, it is improbable that 1 Corinthians would have been widely and persistently regarded as divinely authoritative apostolic letter by the early Christians given the opposition to Paul inside and outside and church and the fundamental importance of the claims of eyewitnesses.
- 1 Corinthians was widely and persistently regarded as divinely authoritative apostolic letter by the early Christians.
- Therefore, it is probable that Paul’s claims concerning the eyewitnesses (including group appearances) is true.
- If there is independent corroboration of the motif of ‘group appearance’, there is good evidence for ‘group appearance’.
- There is independent corroboration of the motif of ‘group appearance.’
- Therefore, there is good evidence for ‘group appearance’.
- In order to generate widespread and persistent belief in BODILY resurrection among Jesus’ followers in the context of persecution, it is probable that ‘“solid” evidence involving group(s) of people would have been required.
- There was widespread and persistent belief in BODILY resurrection among Jesus’ followers in the context of persecution.
- Therefore, it is probable that there was ‘“solid” evidence involving group(s), i.e. there is good evidence for ‘group appearance’.
The steps of the above five arguments have already been elaborated in my Opening Statement (and Loke 2020), thus I shall not repeat them. In what follows, I shall evaluate Paulogia’s objections to these arguments.
3.2. On epistemological principles
Throughout the debate, Paulogia has attempted to rebut my arguments by raising objections concerning epistemological standards. Paulogia claims that legal epistemological principles and best-practices apply to historical evaluation. However, his statement that legal practice regards hearsay as inadmissible but historians regards them as admissible (even if less valuable) actually contradicts his claim.
Paulogia replies “Because the principle of primary-is-better applies equally in both situations, I am making no contradiction.”
Now, in my second rebuttal I had noted that ‘Paulogia is not merely claiming that certain types of evidence are generally considered better than others. Rather, he has also been repeatedly using phrases such as ‘inadmissible hearsay’ and ‘inadmissible character evidence.’ His term ‘inadmissible’ comes from his (unwarranted) usage of legal standards, and I am pointing out that historians don’t use that to render hearsay/character evidence inadmissible. On the contrary, secondary sources are admitted by historians as evidence which can add up to constitute good evidence via cumulative case arguments.’ Paulogia’s reply commits the error of missing the point [Error 58] of my argument which does not concern his point about the principle of primary-is-better applies equally in both situations. Rather, it concerns the admissibility of secondary sources in historical evaluation but not in legal practice, which contradicts his claim that legal practices apply to historical evaluation.
Paulogia argues that ‘the procedures barring hearsay are in place precisely because of the poor quality of that category of argumentation, and their propensity to lead to wrong conclusions and inability to withstand scrutiny.’ However, Paulogia misses the point [Error 61] made in my previous entries that the problems he mentioned can be offset by the fact that secondary sources can add up to constitute good evidence via cumulative case arguments. In any case, I have shown in Section 2 that there are Primary Sources for my arguments.
Paulogia then goes on to miss the point [Error 59] made in my Second Rebuttal that the ‘same processes’ mentioned by Martin does not contradict my point that the different societal roles of judges and historians (the former ‘has to solve urgent issues’ thus ‘judges only consider a small amount of “facts” in their convictions so that the trial can be continued’) does affect what evidence they consider admissible.
Paulogia does note my citation of E. P. Sanders “‘I do not regard deliberate fraud as a worthwhile explanation’ of Easter faith, for some of those in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 and the canonical resurrection narratives ‘were to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming that they had seen the risen Lord, and several of them would die for their cause.” He replies by noting his disagreement with myself and other scholars concerning Sander’s observation (see chapter 3 of Loke 2020 for my arguments which refutes the view held by Paulogia), and concludes ‘If this “luxury of hindsight” is a legitimate advantage of the historian, it is not one that comes into play for this debate.’
Paulogia’s conclusion, however, is a non-sequitur [Error 60], for it fails to consider the fact that the members of the group appearances (the Twelve, the other apostles) belonged to Christian communities and were known to these communities from which the sources originate. The historian has the luxury of hindsight of looking back at sources produced by communities who knew the members over a period of time.
The relevance of hindsight is further illustrated by the Statements in Ancient Documents exception to the hearsay rule within the legal context.Paulogia replies ‘Dr Loke has to…conclusively establish the authenticity the New Testament documents he puts forth. (See “Authorship of the Gospels” below.) However, Paulogia misses the point [Error 62] made in my Second Rebuttal concerning the rationale for the “ancient documents” exception, which is not so much about ‘who is the author’ but ‘older documents are presumably more reliable because they are less likely to have been doctored up to win a lawsuit.’3 Paulogia also missed my point that the exceptions to hearsay are justified on the basis of various inferences.
Concerning collusion, Paulogia says he is using the word without implyingintentionality, but concedes my point that“In any case, the accusation of collusion doesn’t apply to the group appearances, therefore Paulogia’s assertion is irrelevant for this debate,” stating ‘On this we can agree’ [and thus conceding to Errors 5, 6, 37, 38]. The reason is because there is in fact no dependence i.e. no use of Mark by the other Gospel writers concerning the group appearances, and therefore no collusion.
Concerning Cumulative Case, I have demonstrated in my First Rebuttal Paulogia’s “failure to fully grasp the nature of cumulative case arguments” and “how Paulogia misrepresented my argument by taking the reasons apart instead of considering them together.” Paulogia replies ‘Perhaps Dr Loke fails to grasp that each piece needs to be evaluated on its own to determine its weight in accumulation.’ This reply shows that Paulogia still does not understand the nature of a cumulative case [Error 63]. To illustrate: is coughing by itself good evidence for pneumonia? No, because coughing can also be caused by asthma, URTI, etc. However, if the patient has coughing PLUS fever PLUS crackles on auscultation, this would be good evidence that the patient has pneumonia; the doctor would be considered negligent if he/she does not makes this clinical diagnosis. Likewise, one secondary source by itself is not good evidence for group appearances, but secondary sources PLUS other considerations can add up via cumulative case arguments to constitutegood evidence for group appearances.
Paulogia also demonstrates his ignorance of philosophy of science when he writes ‘science isn’t graded on “best inference”.[Error 64] On the contrary, the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy notes that ‘abduction (in the sense of Inference to the Best Explanation) is a type of inference that is frequently employed, in some form or other, both in everyday and in scientific reasoning.’ 4
Paulogia also writes ‘We don’t send humans to space on probabilities…scientific claims must necessarily be falsifiable. If falsification criteria are met, the hypothesis is abandoned. This has nothing to do with probabilistic argumentation.’ [Error 65]. On the contrary, the Stanford Encyclopedia notes that ‘Popper used the idea of falsification to draw a line instead between pseudo and proper science. Science was science because its method involved subjecting theories to rigorous tests which offered a high probability of failing and thus refuting the theory’ 5–note the word ‘probability’ and its relation to falsification.
Paulogia also states ‘Newton’s law of universal gravitation…There is nothing probabilistic about it.’
Again, Paulogia’s claim is false [Error 66], because there is always a non-zero probability (no matter how small the probability is) of error of observation, error of measurement, error of recording, incompleteness of data, failure to rule out other causes, etc. As scientist Donald Prothero observes, the empirical world is too complex and messy to allow “absolute proof,’ and thus ‘Nothing in science is ‘100 %’ proven. Science is always about tentative hypotheses that are tested and retested. Only after a considerable number of studies are conducted and a large majority of scientists agree to a common conclusion do scientists regard something as very likely, or very well established.’ 6 Note the word ‘likely’, which implies a probabilistic conclusion. Paulogia himself notes ‘It is true that science does not operate on the level of “proofs” or “certainty”, and is always provisional’, but fails to realize that this implies a probabilistic conclusion. By contrast, scientists and philosophers have long realized that there isn’t 100 % epistemic certainty for most things in life. For example, there isn’t 100 % epistemic certainty that what you are reading now is authored by a human being rather than a randomly typing monkey. The latter hypothesis is logically possible, yet improbable. The probable answer ought to be accepted as the true answer, i.e. the contents of this page ought to be regarded as good evidence of an intelligent human author.
Finally, contrary to Paulogia’s false claim that The notion that groups saw risen Jesus has no falsifiability criteria [Error 67], IF (for example) the earliest Christian sources state that Jesus did not resurrect and appear to groups of people, this would falsify the notion, but the opposite is the case (Analogy: historians know that the historical Gautama did not claim to be divine because this was denied in the early Buddhist sources and only affirmed in some later (Mahayana) Buddhist writings).
Paulogia also writes ‘In my opening, I noted that truth and justification are separate concepts. For some reason, Dr Loke took this to mean that it is acceptable to knowingly make fallacious leaps.’ This is a misrepresentation [Error 68], rather the point concerning Jennifer Lawrence is that there can be justification without truth (which Paulogia himself agrees!), and he has failed to rebut my point that my arguments rest on better evidence and inference than the ambiguous inference in Jennifer’s case.
3.3. Concerning Character evidence
Paulogia admits No one is saying that character or honor isn’t important in how one lives one’s life or interacts in society, or a debate.’ He replies ‘However, it would be obviously fallacious to say that “because Paulogia can be shown to be honorable in general, Paulogia must have acted honorably last Tuesday.” However, that wasn’t the form of my argument (see below); Paulogia’s reply misrepresents my argument and also misses the point [Error 69] made in my Second Rebuttal concerning the demonstration of Paulogia’s misapplication of the label Genetic Fallacy.
Concerning my five arguments, Paulogia claims that ‘four of the five are constructed from subjective, ambiguous inference.’ How so? He writes
“First argument (skeptical people are careful about important, costly, reputation-affecting topics)”
Compare Paulogia’s sloppy paraphrasing of my argument with what I actually stated:
1.Psychological studies have indicated that it is probable that people are careful to form conclusions when 1.1. there is presence of scepticism, 1.2 the topic is important, 1.3. the costs of false confirmation are high, and 1.4. when people are held personally responsible for what they say and care about their reputation among sustained relationships with known audiences (DiFonzo and Bordia 2007, pp. 166, 173–174).
Contrary to Paulogia’s misrepresentation [Error 70], the argument is not based on ‘subjective, ambiguous inference’ but based on the objective and clear data of well-established psychological studies (DiFonzo and Bordia 2007).
Against my argument, Paulogia cites his observation about ‘humanity’s trend toward failure to research, lack of reasoning skill, laziness in opinion making, acceptance of authority, falling prey to confirmation bias and bowing to pressures of social compliance.’ Of course, humans are fallible in the sense Paulogia observes. However, this does not imply that they are likely to be careless under all circumstances, indeed the psychological studies I cited indicate otherwise, and I have argued in Opening Statement Section V that it is unlikely that Paul was careful yet got it wrong concerning the existence of group eyewitnesses, since this issue is something that Paul would have known easily and naturally. (Just like Messi would have known whether his teammates at Barcelona talked to him about soccer).
Paulogia complains that the argument uses inadmissible character evidence.
I had previously corrected Paulogia by explaining that ‘my argument is not saying Paul had an honest character therefore he acted in conformity with his honest character in this incident. Rather, my argument is based on the circumstances surrounding this incident:presence of scepticism, the importance of the topic, the costs of false confirmation are high, and Paul was held personally responsible for what he said and cared about his reputation, all of which (taken together) impliesit is probable that Paul was careful in stating the group appearances in 1 Cor 15:3-11. (From premises 1-7 of Argument 1).’
Paulogia objects: But “circumstantially careful” is a character trait. Dr Loke is arguing that Paul acted in conformity with that character trait.
In response, Paulogia confounds ‘character trait’ with ‘psychological laws’ [Error 71] The two are different and needs to be distinguished. To give an example of psychological law: ‘If someone suddenly steps on your toe really hard, it is probable that you will shout OUCH!’ It would be foolish to object that shouting OUCH under that circumstance ‘is a character trait. Dr Loke is arguing that you will act in conformity with that character trait…this is inadmissible character evidence.’ No. This is a scientific law, which is admissible evidence. Psychological laws are laws of thought and behaviour which can be discovered by scientific studies7, such as the psychological studies I cited above. My argument utilizes psychological laws as stated in premise 1, not the inadmissible character evidence claimed by Paulogia.
In response to my other arguments, Paulogia claims that ‘I’ve hashed out the gaping holes and counter-examples to these already, so return to my opening and first rebuttal if you’d like a refresher on the details.’
Well, I’ve shown that Paulogia’s alleged gaping holes and counter-examples are nothing of that sort, but are based on Paulogia’s numerous erroneous reasonings, so return of my Opening Statement (in particular Section V) and my first and second rebuttals if you’d like a refresher of how Paulogia’s objections have been refuted.
Paulogia claims ‘I took the same psychology book Dr Loke relies upon… Dr Loke missed the broader point and instead spent paragraphs attempting to quibble with the nuances of argumentation that I already put forth as not sound. I mean, it’s parallel argumentation.’
Nope. It is not parallel argumentation, because Paulogia misrepresents the psychology book (see for example his Error 40 documented in my Second Rebuttal), whereas I did not. Paulogia’s assertion of ‘Loke’s flawed epistemology’ is mere assertion without basis, and he has failed to show that my argumentation is unsound. On the other hand, I have demonstrated that Paulogia’s argumentation is unsound because ‘In each case he either misrepresented the authors, misrepresented the historical evidence, or made unsubstantiated claims.’
Paulogia retorts ‘in each case where Dr Loke cites an example of me allegedly misrepresenting the authors, he’s actually just objecting to my interpretation of the Bible and questioning whether there is a parallel to the research.’
Is this an intellectually honest answer? Take a look at [Error 42] for example:
Paulogia: “Less stringent norm development is enhanced in close groups rather than in situations that promote communication. Dr Loke himself argues that “the early Christian movement was a network of close communication”.
Paulogia misrepresents DiFonzo and Bordia 2007, who wrote ‘In critical situations when formal lines of communication are closed, informal networks that are temporary and unstable form. New norms for evaluating information and deciding behavior may emerge: “This is what everybody is saying!” (R. H. Turner & Killian, 1972, p. 32). Less stringent norm development is enhanced in close groups rather than in situations that promote communication.’
In other words, DiFonzo and Bordia were referring to situations when formal lines of communication are closed, whereas Hurtado (whom I cited) was referring to close communication i.e. people contacting one another often, rather than closed lines of communication.
Contrary to Paulogia’s misrepresentation [Error 72], the above example has nothing to do with ‘objecting to [Paulogia’s] interpretation of the Bible.’ Rather it has to do with Paulogia making the silly mistake of confusing two different meanings of the word ‘close’ in DiFonzo-Bordia and Hurtado. Why not admit the mistake instead of making an excuse via misrepresentation?
Looking at Paulogia’s other errors, it is evident that he does commit errors in interpreting the Bible. Paulogia replies ‘While I stand by the soundness of my scriptural application, I won’t be counter-quibbling here.’ How convenient. What excuse does Paulogia have? He writes ‘It’s generally my policy, as a non-believer, to stay out of scripture interpretation debates. Two-thousand years of denominational splits tells me that agreement is unlikely.’ But this is a non-sequitur [Error 73]: from the fact of disagreement, it does not follow that any interpretation is as good as another; for example, those interpretations which ignore the context (such as Paulogia’s) are objectively not good.
Don’t be fooled by Paulogia’s excuses about ‘scripture interpretations’ and ‘psychoanalysis’. Look at the details of Errors 40-43 documented in my Second Rebuttal, and you will see the kind of mistakes which Paulogia doesn’t want you to know about, which render his objections invalid.
Paulogia then took words out of context by stating:
“I don’t have time to enumerate the unsubstantiated claims of Dr Loke. But here’s a big one, “if there were no group appearances, there would not have been widespread and persistent agreement (i.e. consensus) among the earliest Christians that Jesus resurrected.” Loke has categorically declared Christianity immune from error.”
Now my original sentence reads:
‘As shown by my 5 arguments (see Section 1), if there were no group appearances, there would not have been widespread and persistent agreement (i.e. consensus) among the earliest Christians that Jesus resurrected.’
Paulogia has cut away the underlined words and claim that I am making “unsubstantiated claims.” On the contrary, my original sentence states that the claim is substantiated by my 5 arguments. Isn’t it devious of Paulogia to cut away the underline words and claim that I am making unsubstantiated claims and misrepresent me [Error 74] as saying ‘Loke has categorically declared Christianity immune from error’?
3.3. Concerning Argument 5 and the Holy Spirit
Argument 5 premise 1 states that “in order to generate widespread and persistent belief in BODILY resurrection among Jesus’ followers in the context of persecution, it is probable that “solid” evidence involving group(s) of people would have been required” (given that bodily resurrection is not something easy for people to believe).
Paulogia replies with the quote from Marxsen: “anyone who maintains that Jesus had to appear to the other disciples before they were able to believe must be consistent. He must then be prepared to agree that nobody can find faith, even at the present day, unless he has experienced an appearance of Jesus.’
Paulogia’s quotation shows that he has failed to read my argument carefully. My premise is NOT nobody can find faith (of course, there might be a few who would still choose to believe), rather it is that there would be no widespread AND persistent belief in BODILY resurrection among Jesus’ followers in the context of persecution in the first century (not “at the present day”) without ‘solid’ evidence. I have previously explained that “the difference is that the first generation of Corinthians were in a position to verify with the eyewitnesses and it would be a reasonable expectation to do this, indeed they were invited to check out the eyewitnesses,” and that is unlikely that their initial belief would have persisted without these eyewitnesses.
Paulogia objects ‘Being in a position to check somehow makes what’s convincing for 99.9999% of Christians somehow not be compelling enough? The Holy Spirit isn’t strong enough to overcome opportunity?’
Since Paulogia’s objection is a theological objection concerning the Holy Spirit, I shall answer it theologically: according to the Scripture, the Holy- Spirit-inspired-Biblical-authors care about apologetics (reasoned defence, 1 Peter 3:15). Thus, the Holy Spirit often chooses to use reason and evidence—that is why these are implied in various Scriptural passages (e.g. 1 Cor 15:6, Luke 1:3, Acts 1:3). For those in the first century who were in a position to check out, the use of reason and evidence would involve checking out the claim of ‘group appearances’.
Saying that the Holy Spirit often chooses to use reason and evidence does NOT mean that there can be no exceptions of individuals coming to faith without checking out—indeed, I have already stated above that my premise is NOT nobody can find faith. Rather my argument concerns widespread AND persistent belief. Thus, Paulogia’s conclusion regarding the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 ‘By Dr Loke’s logic, no such converts were possible in that time and place’ is based on misrepresentation of my argument [Error 75]
Moreover, the Ethiopian Eunuch was said to have come to Jerusalem to worship (v. 27) before meeting Philip on the way back. For Paulogia’s purported ‘counter-example’ to work, Paulogia would need to exclude the possibility that the Eunuch had heard the witnesses who were proclaiming Jesus resurrected in Jerusalem. However, Paulogia has failed to exclude this possibility. Thus Paulogia’s purported counterexample fails in any case. Paulogia might ask, if the Eunuch had heard the witnesses, why didn’t he get baptized before meeting Philip. The answer is simple: While believing Jesus resurrected was a necessary condition for becoming a Christian, it wasn’t a sufficient condition for many YHWH worshippers whose main obstacle was how a crucified Messiah could fit with the Old Testament. This obstacle was cleared when Philip explained Isaiah 53 to him.
4. Miscellaneous issues
4.1. Paulogia’s request for a NON-Christian scholar who affirms good evidence for group appearances
Paulogia complains that my citation of James Crossley quoted from ‘Gary Habermas’ summary of his interpretation of Crossley.’ Paulogia then states that ‘Naturally, being a source methodology guy, I went to read the actual original article by Crossley,’ and he argues that my citation of Crossley is false.
Now, if there’s one thing this debate has taught us, it is our source methodology guy cannot be trusted with how he reads the sources and how he criticize my views.
First, Paulogia claims that Habermas’ footnote (uncritically copy-and-pasted by Dr Loke) is “9. Crossley, ‘Against the Historical Plausibility,’ 171, 174, 176, 178, 186.’ This is a misrepresentation [Error 76]. In addition to that source, both myself (footnote 9 of Second Rebuttal) and Habermas (footnote 10) also cited Crossley’s The Date of Mark’s Gospel (T&T Clark, 2004), 140, which Paulogia missed. There Crossley writes ‘Fortunately, there are reliable reports of visionary experiences in Paul’s letters (e.g. 1 Cor 15:3-11, Gal. 2.2).’
Now 1 Cor 15:3-11 contains claims of ‘group appearances’ (defined in this debate as ‘groups of people claimed to have seen the risen Jesus’), and Crossley calls 1 Cor 15:3-11 reliable. This implies that there is good evidence for group appearances.
Of course, as a non-Christian, Crossley does not believe that Jesus truly resurrected, that is why he labelled the experience ‘visionary’ and tried to argue (as Paulogia noted) that “The list of eyewitnesses in 1 Cor. 15.5-8 gives no evidence pointing in the direction of the bodily resurrection as an historical event, except in the sense of a visionary experience.”(Crossley thinks that ‘visionary’ experience could be hallucinations; I replied to this hypothesis in Chapters 4 and 7 of Loke 2020).
However, ‘The list of eyewitnesses in 1 Cor. 15.5-8 gives no evidence…except in the sense of a visionary experience’ DOES imply that there IS evidence for group eyewitnesses (mentioned in 1 Cor 15) claiming to have the experience of seeing the risen Jesus, which implies evidence for ‘group appearance’! And Crossley said elsewhere that the reports are reliable, which means that the evidence is good.
Thus, the answer to Paulogia’s question ‘does this sound like the work of a secular scholar who specifically affirms good evidence for group appearances of the risen Jesus?’ is Yes!
Paulogia then complains Habermas cherry-picked the phrase “must be taken very seriously” from Crossley’s paragraph critiquing someone else’s work, not putting forth his own values.
Read Crossley’s quotation again: “Wright again makes some important points. The appearances recorded in 1 Cor. 15.5-8 must be taken very seriously. Wright may well be correct in arguing that the appearances were thought to be of the bodily transformed Christ. This may indeed be the way Paul understood his vision and the other experiences. But does it actually correspond to the acceptability of the bodily resurrection in the sense of something more than a ‘hallucination’?”
Crossley is giving his evaluation of Wright and commenting that Wright ‘makes some important points.’ This indicates that Crossley’s phrase ‘The appearances recorded in 1 Cor. 15.5-8 must be taken very seriously’ IS Crossley’s own values, contrary to Paulogia. The critique that Crossley offers is not that there is good evidence that there were groups of people who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus (‘Group Appearance’)—both Crossley and Wright are agreed on this. Rather, Crossley’s critique is whether this actually correspond to the acceptability of something more than a ‘hallucination’ (I argued ‘Yes’ in Chapters 4 and 7 of Loke 2020). But that is not the main point of contention between Paulogia and myself in this debate, which concerns whether there is good evidence for ‘Group Appearance’.
Thus Paulogia’s conclusion ‘This is particularly damning methodology for a Ph.D.-holding interlocutor’ is once again a misrepresentation [Error 77]. Rather he has further confirmed the truth of my previous observation that “Paulogia has repeatedly misrepresented my defence and replied to them with erroneous reasonings.”’ In this case he not only ‘misrepresented Christian experts,’ but has misrepresented non-Christian expert (Crossley) as well.
4.2. Concerning Paulogia’s own hypothesis
Paulogia claims that ‘Throughout this debate, Dr Loke has avoided his task of making the positive case for the quality of the evidence of group appearances.’ This is a misrepresentation [Error 78]. Right from my Opening Statement, I have offered a positive case which is summarized as the five arguments defended above.
Concerning Paulogia’s own hypothesis, Paulogia claims ‘Successfully defeating this alternative appearance interpretation would do nothing to support the affirmative position in this debate.’ In answer to my reply, “‘Which conclusion is more reasonable?’ can be one of the considerations for answering the question ‘Is the proposed conclusion justified,’” Paulogia retorts ‘We are not here to discuss if “group appearances of resurrected Jesus” is more reasonable than “Paulogia’s appearance hypothesis”. We’re here to discuss if “group appearances of resurrected Jesus” is more reasonable than “no group appearances of resurrected Jesus”. That’s the dichotomy.’
In reply, I have already refuted “no group appearances of resurrected Jesus” in this debate (and also in Chapter 2 of my book) as I presented the positive evidence for group appearance. The fact that Paulogia’s specific hypothesis is a fringe theory, which has also been refuted along the way, is further confirmation of the strength of the case I am defending against him in this debate.
Paulogia says ‘At least a dozen times in this debate, he has merely labelled my observation “fringe”’. The word ‘merely’ is a misrepresentation [Error 79], for I did not merely label but have also explained the reasons why his theory ought to be rejected in view of the numerous errors which I have documented (e.g. in Appendix II of my First Rebuttal).
Concerning the video Paulogia cited in his First Rebuttal, Paulogia excused himself from its poor quality by stating ‘Dr Loke proceeded to complain about the editing of a video I did not make and had nothing to do with,’ without acknowledging that he bears responsibility for citing it. The video gives a misleading impression by omitting the affirmation of the fringe status of Paulogia’s theory by Habermas whose presentation style Paulogia prefers.
Paulogia then goes on cites Bart Ehrman’s attitude that ‘literally any naturalistic explanation will do…it’s more likely than the idea that God raised Jesus from the dead because it doesn’t appeal to the supernatural, which historians have no access to.’
However, Paulogia fails to realize that Ehrman’s reasoning has long been shown to be flawed by other scholars, for Ehrman fails to ‘distinguish between the probability of a miracle claim considered apart from the evidence and the probability of the claim given that evidence’ (McGrew 2013; see Chapter 8 of my book for details).
Paulogia then asks ‘Why don’t modern-day scholarly critics of the resurrection endorse my hypothesis? Because of specific holes or deficiency? No. Because they consider it to be a waste of time to invest in or endorse any particular hypothesis at all – mine or any other.’
This is a misrepresentation of the critics [Error 80], for it ignores the fact that other critics (e.g. Crossley!) have defended (for example) the hallucination theory (see chapter 4 of my book for a response to these critics). But hardly any scholar nowadays would defend Paulogia’s theory, because its deficiencies are worse than the hallucination theory (as shown in Section 2.1, Paulogia’s theory would require the critic to live in a cartoon world).
We have come towards the end of our written debate. One of my motivations for debating Paulogia was his claim about his perfectionist tendencies and his earlier video (42:20) expressing his passion to debunk bad arguments. I share the same passion, thus throughout this debate I have taken the effort to document 80 errors in Paulogia’s arguments, while he has failed to demonstrate any error in my arguments but has repeatedly strawmanned them and misled his readers.
Paulogia’s huge number of errors (1) explain why this debate has taken so long and required so many words on my part (to correct the errors) (2) confirm that my decision to engage in written (rather than oral) debate is correct, for it would have been practically impossible to correct 80 errors in a two-hours oral debate (3) demonstrate that Paulogia’s conclusions are based on ignoranceof history, science, hermeneutics, cumulative case reasoning, epistemological standards, the fallacy with Ehrman’s reasoning concerning probability of miracles, and inferential reasoning.
While Paulogia has acknowledged a number of errors (e.g. Errors 5, 6, 37, 38, 26, 27, 30), he has replied to others with multiple misrepresentations and the like, which cast doubt on his claim that ‘I have a personal commitment to integrity and intellectual honesty.’ I would not be surprised if his Closing Statement contains even more misrepresentations.
Meanwhile, Paulogia ended his Second Rebuttal with misrepresentation such as this one:
‘Dr Loke…retreats to pleading to you — the reader — to accept undeniably inferior types of evidence as if they were good.’
On the contrary, I have argued that there are Primary Sources AND multiple independent corroboration for ‘group appearance’, which implies that there are undeniably good evidences for the ‘group appearance’. As Theissen and Merz (1998, p. 490) observe concerning the post-mortem appearances listed in 1 Corinthians 15:3–11,
‘The credibility of this tradition is enhanced, because it is in part confirmed by the narrative tradition, which is independent, and because in the case of Paul we have the personal testimony of an eyewitness who knew many of the other witnesses…There is no doubt . . . they come from people who attest an overwhelming experience.’
Unsurprisingly, Paulogia has failed to refute this scholarly consensus.
I have also offered five arguments each of which is sufficient to show that there are good evidences for the group appearances, and Paulogia has failed to rebut even one. In particular, he fails to realize that each of my arguments infer from clear data which leads to only one conclusion, and that my argument uses psychological laws rather than inadmissible character evidence.
Therefore, it can be concluded that there are good evidences for ‘group appearances,’ and I have explained in my book that one can argue from this conclusion to the conclusion that Jesus resurrected.
I would like to end with the words of professor Paul Williams, an eminent Buddhist scholar who converted to Christianity after examining the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection with intellectual honesty.
‘The evidence for resurrection being the most likely explanation of what happened at the first Easter is very strong. Most people do not realize quite how extraordinarily strong the evidence is’ (Williams 2002, p. 20).
‘It does not seem to me that any other religion or spiritual teaching has anything so dramatic or convincing as the resurrection from the dead—a resurrection that still seems plausible two thousand years later—to support its claims. . . Such a plausible case of resurrection from the dead by a great spiritual teacher—the only such case—when combined with the historical survival of Christianity and the palpable goodness and wisdom of many Christians, is enough for me at least to take the leap and accept Christianity’ (ibid, pp. 134–135).
1 The bibliographic details of the sources cited in this document can be found in the Bibliography of my book Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Routledge, 2020; henceforth Loke 2020), which is available for download here.
2 Dale Allison, The Resurrection of Jesus (Bloomsbury, 2021), 62).
6 Donald Prothero, ‘The Holocaust Denier’s Playbook and the Tobacco Smokescreen,’ in Philosophy of Pseudoscience ed. Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry (University of Chicago Press, 2013), 347.