Is there good evidence for group appearances of risen Jesus?
- Dr Loke’s Opening Statement
- Paulogia’s Opening Statement (quoted below in yellow)
- Dr Loke’s First Rebuttal
- Paulogia’s First Rebuttal (quoted below in green)
1 Paulogia started his First Rebuttal by citing a video which contains extracts from Gary Habermas and others. Paulogia wrote ‘if you watched the video embedded above, you heard world-renowned resurrection scholar (and one of Dr Loke’s sources) Dr Gary Habermas asked what he thinks about Paulogia’s theory. He replied, “That’s not new. That view has been held by Don Cupitt, the early Skillebekk Danish philosophers, it’s held by Billy Markson the Bultmann-ian New Testament scholar, that’s held by John Shelby Spong’.
The problem with the video is that, if you compare with Habermas’ original video, Habermas goes on to say at 1:17:15:
“of the four guys I listed, ONLY ONE is still alive, the theory is not popular anymore, it has been blown out of the water by critics.“
Hmm…how come I didn’t hear this statement in the video Paulogia embedded?
This statement is consistent with my statement quoted near the beginning of that embedded video (at 1:25): ‘I may have missed out one or two scholars… but hardly any scholar hold to this view.’ Like Habermas, in my original video I go on to explain the reasons why it has been rejected by critics. Which is why it has hardly any living defenders, as Habermas observed.
(Analogy: If I say, “there are hardly any defenders of geocentricism,” that is consistent with there being scholars in the past who defended it, even though the theory has almost disappeared among scholars due to the evidence against geocentricism.)
Now, I need to emphasize that I have never said that the majority of scholars must be correct. On the contrary, I have said before that what is more important is the evidence and argument. Nevertheless, when there is good evidence/argument there is usually at least a significant minority of scholars defending the view, not merely one or two. More important, I have presented the evidence and arguments against Paulogia’s view, and not merely pointed out that it is fringe.
Paulogia replies with a typical snide attack at my character, claiming that I ‘hurl shallow, childish insults’ for pointing out that his theory is a fringe theory when he himself has mentioned scholarly consensus against other theories.
Perhaps it would be good for this childish scholar to sit at the adult table with Paulogia and the 3 other dead scholars who held his view. But if the cost of being an adult is to believe dead theories and hold double-standards, then I’d rather sit with other children.
Paulogia then tries to make me look bad by comparing and preferring Habermas to myself, claiming that Habermas presented a more attractive approach which ‘affirms the scholarly history’ of his theory. However, the irony is that Habermas was actually making a stronger argument against Paulogia’s theory than I do. For while I pointed out that it is fringe, Habermas pointed out that Paulogia’s theory is fringe not because it is some novel theory which scholars have hitherto failed to consider, but because it has already been considered and demolished (‘blown out of the water’= to destroy or defeat something or someone completely). In other words, Habermas “affirms” the “scholarly history” of Paulogia’s theory to demonstrate that it has been killed. Compare Paulogia’s theory with Young Earth Creationism which, while no longer popular among scholars, is not a new theory either. However, it still has more than merely one living defender, so it is not as dead as Paulogia’s theory.
In summary, the video Paulogia embedded is of very poor quality. Like the videos Paulogia himself produced (see Appendix II of my First Rebuttal for illustrations), this present video is guilty of misleading cutting and pasting of scholar. Yet when one follows the trail and check out the original source, one finds the scholar giving stronger arguments against Paulogia’s theory.
Paulogia’s preference for Habermas turns out to be a Fatal Attraction.
Paulogia then claims that his theory ‘is not the topic of this debate. We are not arguing the relative merits of two competing ideas. We’re debating if there’s sufficient justification for the positive claim of group appearances of resurrected Jesus.’
However, Paulogia fails to reply to my argument (see my Opening Statement, Section 2 ) which shows that ‘which conclusion is more reasonable?’ can be one of the considerations for answering the question ‘is the proposed conclusion justified’.
Paulogia went on to complain about the format of written debate and personal issues. In order not to let these issues distract from the substantive issues concerning Jesus’ resurrection, I shall respond to these complaints and his misrepresentations in the Appendix below, and go straight into assessing Paulogia’s responses to my 5 arguments for Group Appearances and the 33 errors which I have identified in his arguments and listed in my First Rebuttal. It will be shown that Paulogia fails to rebut any of my arguments and committed additional errors (I shall continue the numbering from 34 onwards).
My 5 arguments are as follows:
- 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; cited on p.47 of my book).
- Concerning consideration 1.1, many ancient people including some Corinthian Christians (1 Cor 15:12-13) were highly skeptical of bodily resurrection in general. (For an accessible explanation, see this animated video.)
- 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. (See here.)
- Concerning 1.3, people could check out and confirm if there were indeed ‘groups of eyewitnesses’ (see my Opening Statement, Section V point 4; and here).
- 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 (see 2).
- 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 (see my Opening Statement, Section V).
- 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, 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; see my Opening statement, Section V).
- Therefore, it is probable (i.e. there is good evidence) that it is the case that there were group appearances of the risen Jesus. (From 1 and 2).
- 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. (From 1 to 3).
- 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’ (see my opening statement, Section V, point 7; and the discussion under Paulogia’s Errors 3 to 7 above).
- 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. (See my Opening Statement, Section V point 8).
- 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’.
Paulogia attempts to rebut my 5 arguments by (1) raising some general objections concerning epistemological standards, the historical sources, and inferences, and (2) raising some specific objections to Argument 1 and Argument 5. I shall respond to (1) in Sections II-IV, and (2) in Sections V and VI, and explain the errors in Paulogia’s reasoning which render his rebuttals invalid.
II. Legal vs Historical evaluation
Paulogia’s most serious errors are (1) he falsely labelled Paul and the Gospels as hearsay [Errors 3 to 8] and (2) dismissed hearsay using legal standards. I shall address (1) in Section III and start with (2) first:
Paulogia claims that legal epistemological principles and best-practices apply to historical evaluation, but his statement that legal practice regards hearsay as inadmissible but historians regards them as admissible (even if less valuable) actually contradicts his claim (Fallacy of self-contradiction).
It should be 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’, ‘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 replies by claiming ‘criminal justice IS LITERALLY HISTORICAL EVALUATION. Just over a shorter term.’
While both concern events in the past, Paulogia fails to note that the qualification ‘just over a shorter term’ makes the difference here. In my First Rebuttal I cited the following observation concerning the important differences between legal practices and historical evaluation. ‘In terms of social timeliness, there is no time limit for historical study, but the administration of justice has to solve urgent issues. Historians are surprised to find that judges only consider a small amount of “facts” in their convictions so that the trial can be continued. Lagarde believed that judicial evidence is formed in the procedure provided by law and leads to irrevocable conclusions. These are two reasons why they are different from historical evidence (Martin 1998).’ 2
Paulogia objects by claiming Martin’s opinions regarding the qualification of the historian, the continuation and revisability of history, and “Historical truth stems from the same processes as legal truth, with the same weaknesses but also the same strengths, especially if we are willing to abandon recourse to a cosmic vision of history to make it a science of the social, strong in its research and transmission techniques, effective in understanding the configurations that have shaped us and that we must control.”
In reply, citing Martin’s observation concerning the differences between legal practices and historical evaluation in terms of social timeliness does not entail my agreement with other opinions Martin expressed, which in any case does not contradict the 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.
Neither Martin nor Paulogia refuted my argument concerning long-time consideration available to a historian as a “luxury of hindsight.” This was illustrated by Allison’s observation that the fraud theory has rightly been discarded by historians in the case of Jesus’ resurrection, citing 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.’ 3 The judge who is required by the law to make a final irrevocable decision within a limited timeframe cannot afford to wait and see how the eyewitnesses spend the rest of their lives.
Paulogia objects that ‘the fact that ancient historians will sometimes lend modest consideration to a secondary source…while the legal profession generally considers them so poor as to be inadmissible does nothing to change the complete agreement that there is a spectrum of evidential quality and that secondary sources (hearsay) are of lower quality.’
In reply to my demonstration that “Paulogia is—once again—guilty of falsely insisting on a particular epistemological standard as the only acceptable standard,” Paulogia asks ‘I would be curious as to where I insisted any such thing, rather than merely point out the uncontroversial measures about what kind of evidence is best.’
In response, first, Paulogia’s point that ‘the legal profession generally considers [secondary source] so poor as to be inadmissible’ is misleading, because Paulogia fails to note my explanation in my First Rebuttal that the reason for inadmissibility might not necessarily be due to ‘poor’ quality of evidence but due to procedural reasons. To repeat my explanation: Without the luxury of the hindsight of observation over an indefinitely extended timeframe and the consideration of facts which may take some time to emerge, the judge has to make a decision based on examination of evidence brought before the court within a limited timeframe, such as cross-examination of the eyewitness before the court within that time frame. Now, according to legal definition, ‘“hearsay” refers to a statement that the declarant makes outside of court. Thus it is not surprising that hearsay is in general considered inadmissible in the legal context.
Second, Paulogia fails to note that in legal practice inadmissible means that secondary sources are not admitted to have evidential force which can add up to constitute good evidence. Whereas the opposite is the case for historical practice. Ancient historians do admit and consider secondary source as evidence. Even though historians and lawyers agree ‘that there is a spectrum of evidential quality and that secondary sources (hearsay) are of lower quality’ (Paulogia), this does not change the fact that, unlike legal practice (generally) but in historical evaluation, secondary sources are admitted as evidence which can add up to constitute good evidence via cumulative case arguments.
This observation contradicts Paulogia’s point that legal standards provide us with the ‘best-practices that are advisable to follow in our evaluation of group appearances.’ Hence, Paulogia’s “fallacy of self-contradiction” (error #1) remains established.
Moreover, Paulogia fails to reply to my arguments that legal ‘best practice’ is not applicable in many other contexts as well. No detective would ignore second-hand testimony by saying that it is inadmissible. A policeman or a lawyer engaged in preparing a case would be negligent if he were to shut his ears to hearsay. 4
Concerning my next point: ‘Rational people absolutely take character into consideration; didn’t Paulogia himself recognize this when he emphasized his intellectual honesty in response to accusation of dishonesty?’
Paulogia did not answer my question which shows how he uses a double-standard.
Instead he cites the Genetic Fallacy which he describes as ‘judging something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it came.’
In response, Paulogia misapplied the label Genetic Fallacy [Error 34] which is only applicable to situations in which ‘where it comes from’ has no relevance to assessing the evidence for the ‘something’ in question. In the case of testimonial evidence, the state of the person from whom the testimony comes does have relevance in assessing the quality of the evidence. E.g. if he is colorblind, then his testimony about seeing something red is doubtful. Likewise, if he intentionally misleads, then his testimony about recounting what he saw is doubtful. Which is why, even in legal practice, ‘a witness’s credibility may be attacked or supported by testimony about the witness’s reputation for having a character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or by testimony in the form of an opinion about that character’, and that evidence of truthful character is admissible if the witness’s character for truthfulness has been attacked. 5
The conclusion stands: Paulogia’s epistemological criteria is absurd and nobody on planet Earth lives by it—not even Paulogia himself.
Paulogia fails to note that—even within a legal context—there are various exceptions to the ‘best-practices’ which he stated. For example, there are numerous exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay which Paulogia fails to consider.
Paulogia replies that ‘In my opening, I correctly identified that hearsay is “generally not admissible” in court…Of course, the word “generally” implies exceptions.’
In response, ‘implying exceptions’ is different from ‘considering exceptions’. Paulogia claims that he did consider these exceptions of admissible evidence by researching ‘these handful of legal exceptions prior to my opening, found none of them to be relevant to Dr Loke’s case, and so didn’t waste the reader’s time on a non-sequitur.’
Well, consider Exception 16:
(16) Statements in Ancient Documents. A statement in a document that was prepared before January 1, 1998, and whose authenticity is established. 6
‘Under the “ancient documents” exception, hearsay statements from documents older than 20 years may be offered as truthful evidence if the document is proved to be authentic. The rationale is that older documents are presumably more reliable because they are less likely to have been doctored up to win a lawsuit. See, e.g. Kraft, Inc. v. United States, 30 Fed. Cl. 739 (1994)(“Courts have traditionally relied on ancient documents because they antedate the present controversy and there is little that can be done to suggest that they were tailored to prove a point in the present controversy.”’ 7
The above rationale illustrates my point that ‘These exceptions are justified on the basis of various inferences,’ and the rationale’s concerns regarding authenticity and ‘less likely to have been doctored’ is precisely what I have been arguing for concerning what the New Testament says regarding ‘group appearances of the risen Jesus’. Therefore, it is the validity of inference that we need to consider, rather than Paulogia’s erroneous epistemological standards.
III. The historical data
It has been shown in Section II that Paulogia’s historical methodology is flawed. In this section, I shall show that, contrary to Paulogia, the strongest evidences for group appearance (Paul and the Gospels) are NOT hearsay but rather firsthand evidence with multiple independent corroboration.
Paulogia claims that ‘While church tradition upholds Matthew, Luke and John as the writers, this is would represent a minority view among modern New Testament scholars’ based on a comment by Bauckham, but Bauckham does not cite any survey to substantiate his point; more importantly, the arguments of Hengel et al have not been refuted. In short, Paulogia’s error here is that he makes claims which are not adequately substantiated and fails to refute the argument for traditional authorship.
What is Paulogia’s response? He merely asserts ‘It is no secret that critical scholarship affirms that we do not know who wrote the gospels,’ claiming ‘massive swaths of people’, ‘significant numbers of expert’ without citing any survey to substantiate his point despite the fact that (unlike Paulogia’s fringe theory) one can easily name numerous living scholars who hold the contrary view. In any case, what is more important is the evidence and argument, and here Paulogia once again commits the Error of Misrepresentation [Error 35] by stating ‘Did Dr Loke choose to defend the case for traditional authorship with any evidence? No.’ On the contrary, I did defend the case in my First Rebuttal by citing evidence and argument:
“Hengel is particularly scornful of the repeated assertion that the gospels are ‘anonymous’ documents, to which the names of authors were conjecturally attached sometime in the second century. his study on the titles of the Gospels argues that as soon as more than one written version of the ευαγγελιον was in circulation some label would be necessary in order to distinguish them, and the only such labels we know are the traditional terms κατα Μαθθαιον, κατα Μαρκον, etc. which are found with remarkable unanimity from as early as we can trace the titles of the books. Hengel points out how improbable it is that a late conjectural attribution could have produced such unanimity and left no trace of alternative attributions. He also quotes Tertullian, Adv. Marcion 4.2.3, as typical of the view that a ‘gospel’ not bearing the name of its author could not be accepted as authoritative. It is thus altogether improbable that gospel books could have circulated in the latter part of the first century without titles, and those titles took the form of a statement of authorship.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark, pages 39-40, noting in footnote # 80 that “. . . most modern books (including this commentary) are also ‘anonymous’; it is only on the title page and cover that the author is named. And ancient manuscripts regularly carried titles or colophons which might be expected to identify the word contained in them; it was in such titles rather than in the text itself that the author’s name would be found.”)
Paulogia used a False Analogy: the person with a bag over his head is unknown to the jury. Whereas the authors of the Gospels (regardless of who they were) were Christians living in first century Christian communities founded by the apostles and their coworkers. These communities would have known who the authors were (even if we don’t).
Paulogia asks ‘What evidence do we have for this beyond wishful speculation? As far as I know… none at all.’
In reply, first, Paulogia once again fails to distinguish between speculation and inference [Error 36]. He forgets the illustration in my Opening Statement that we can rightly infer and know that some people must have seen my great grandfather before, even though there isn’t any surviving first-hand account from any of them (Paulogia may regard this as ‘no evidence’, but this does not deny the soundness of the inference). It is unlikely that my grandfather would have moved around with a bag over his head throughout his life! Likewise, we can rightly infer that the Gospels were written by Christians who attended churches and were therefore known by Christian communities in the churches—it is unlikely that they would have moved around in these communities with a bag over their heads!
Second, the argument by Hengel (see under Error 3) also implies that the Gospel authors were known.
Third, Bauckham (2006, 300-301, 303) observes that ‘Many ancient works were anonymous in the same formal sense, and the name may not even appear in the surviving title of the work. For example, this is true of Lucian’s Life of Demonax (Demonactos bios), which as a bios (ancient biography) is generically comparable with the Gospels… Such works would often have been circulated in the first instance among friends or acquaintances of the author who would know who the author was from the oral context in which the work was first read.
Fourth, additional evidence is present in the case of Luke and John. The former ‘because of the dedication of the work to Theophilus (1:3), probably a patron. It is inconceivable that a work with a named dedicatee should have been anonymous. The author’s name may have featured in an original title, but in any case would have been known to the dedicatee and other first readers because the author would have presented the book to the dedicatee…In the case of John’s Gospel, 21:23 is important in showing that the Beloved Disciple — ostensibly, at least, the author (21:24) — was an identifiable figure, someone about whom a rumor could circulate, at least in some circles. Although he remains anonymous within the Gospel, its first readers must have known his name’ (ibid).
Paulogia himself noted that ‘The author of Mark records no post-resurrection appearance stories at all,’ so how could the POST-resurrection group appearances in Matthew, Luke-Acts and John possibly be dependent on Mark as Paulogia claimed?
Paulogia replies ‘I said no such thing.’ However, if Paulogia did not intend to convey that the POST-resurrection group appearances in Matthew, Luke-Acts and John were dependent on Mark, then why did he claim in his Opening Statement that ‘the problems with the group appearance reports in Matthew, Luke and John…all three of these documents use the book of Mark as a primary source….This is evidential collusion’? In any case, there is in fact no dependence i.e. no use of Mark by the other Gospel writers concerning the group appearances, as Paulogia now admits, and therefore no collusion concerning the group appearances, which contradicts what Paulogia previously claimed. In either case, Paulogia’s Fallacy of Self-contradiction stands.
Paulogia’s point about these documents using Mark as a primary source only applies to the PRE-resurrection ministry of Jesus, but even there, there are evidences of independence rather than collusion (how much more so for the post-resurrection appearances! See point 5 above).
Paulogia replies by asserting ‘I correctly identified that the gospels contain obvious collusion. Dr Loke doesn’t attempt to deny the collusion, but instead points out that some parts MIGHT NOT be collusion.’
There are a few errors with Paulogia’s reply.
First, ‘collusion’ is a loaded word. It implies ‘secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.’ However, the fact that other Gospel writers used parts of Mark as a historical source does not imply that they were conspiring to deceive others. In fact, historians and biographers do normally use other materials as sources. It is better to use the word ‘collaboration’ (as Ehrman did) rather than collusion.
Second, Paulogia misrepresents me [Error 37]: I cited Ehrman to show that there are evidences that some parts ARE IN FACT independent (not merely ‘might not’ be collusion).
Third, in any case, the accusation of collusion doesn’t apply to the group appearances (see Error 5 above), therefore Paulogia’s assertion is irrelevant for this debate [Error 38].
Paulogia assertion that ‘the eight group-appearance pericopes in the gospels still somehow completely fail to corroborate each other in any way’ is false; he fails to consider and reply to the harmonization I defended in Chapter 2 of my book. Variations that fit together actually improve the evidential weight of the testimony. In any case, as argued in my opening statement (Section V, point 7) there IS corroboration that there were groups of people who saw Jesus.
Paulogia replies by claiming that ‘None of the group resurrection appearance stories found in the gospels attempt to describe the same event.’ Paulogia fails to note ‘these divergent traditions overlap significantly and hence independently corroborate the basic outlines of the story’ (Keener 2003, 1168).
Paulogia objects that ‘the converging similarities are better explained by social phenomenon than actual events,’ ‘just like the alien abduction stories’ ‘there are similar details… a light pulling, a bright room, grey creatures with big black eyes, and indelicate probing.’
In response, Paulogia’s use of the alien abduction stories is yet another False Analogy [Error 39]: the similar details concerns the [imaginary] environment, appearance, and behavior of aliens, which might be explained by social phenomenon of common imaginations of aliens. Whereas the similarities in the Gospels and Paul’s account concern (1) specific group of real people (i.e. the Twelve) who were well-known to the earliest Christian communities (rather than imaginary figures), and there are similarities concerning these real individuals being involved in a sequence of actual (rather than imaginary) events: viz. the death of Jesus, burial, appearance to Peter, before stating ‘to the Twelve.’
Concerning Licona’s observation that “appearance to the Twelve in 1 Corinthians 15:5 is clearly narrated by Luke and John,” Paulogia replies by claiming that the gospels were ‘merely attempting to put narrative-flesh on decades-old creedal-bones in a manner that cannot be harmonized into one event.’ Paulogia fails to note Allison’s observation (quoted in my Opening Statement) that the evidences indicate that the Gospels are using sources that are independent of the creedal bone in 1 Cor 15:3-11: ‘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).
Keener (2003, 1168) explains that ‘the differences in accounts demonstrate that the Gospel writers were aware of a variety of independent traditions. The likely diversity and number of such traditions precisely here (more so than at many other points in extant gospel tradition) suggest a variety of initial reports, not merely later divergences in an originally single tradition.’ Paulogia cites Dr Allison saying, “I don’t know what to do with what you call multiple attestation of a motif here. I do work with that method sometimes, but in the present case I am no longer sure that John hasn’t heard the gospel of Luke.’ In response, Allison’s ‘I don’t know what to do’ and ‘I am no longer sure’ does not deny the evidence and arguments I mentioned above, which indicates that there is multiple independent corroboration of ‘group appearance.’
Concerning 1 Clement, 1 Clement 42:3 (‘Therefore, having received their orders, and being fully assured because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Anointed-One, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Spirit, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand’) indicates that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the basis of the full assurance of the apostles (this is mentioned prior to the mentioning of the Word of God and Holy Spirit); how could this be unless the apostles who (whether anonymous or not) were by definition the first generation Christians had seen the resurrected Jesus?
Paulogia replies ‘They were mistaken,’ but failed to reply to my arguments against them being mistaken (see my reply to Paulogia’s citation of Loftus in my Opening Statement, Section V; see also chapters 3 to 7 of my book).
Paulogia labels Clement as hearsay, but as argued above in historical evaluation it is more appropriate to call this secondary source which has some value.
Paulogia replies by claiming that “secondary source” is merely the euphemism that historians give to “hearsay”. Don’t let Dr Loke fool you… they mean exactly the same thing.’
Don’t let Paulogia fool you: as explained above, unlike general legal practice concerning hearsay, in historical evaluation secondary sources are admitted as evidence which can add up to constitute good evidence via cumulative case arguments.
In addition, Paulogia also fails to reply to my argument concerning Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrneans 3, which constitutes yet another secondary source which can add up to constitute good evidence via cumulative case arguments.
Paulogia either committed a non-Sequitur or misunderstood the argument concerning the 1 Corinthians 15 Creed; in either case he falsely labelled it as hearsay, for even though Paul was not a member of ‘group appearance’, nevertheless, he was a firsthand eyewitness that this group of people claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus.
Paulogia replies by claiming ‘the fact that this section is known as a creed should be sufficient to affirm that the author, Paul, is merely repeating the claims of others. He lays it out plainly, “What I received I passed along to you as of first importance.” Paul received this information from other people. He’s telling us what other people told him. That’s literally and unequivocally hearsay.’
In response, the fact that Paul “received and passed” the creedal summary in 1 Cor 15 and telling us what other people told him is consistent with Paul telling us what the groups told him, which means that’s not hearsay but a first-hand witness of what they claimed.
Paulogia replies ‘Theoretically, maybe. If Paul was claiming to have personally heard the claims. But he’s not.’
In response, Paulogia once again fails to note the context 1 Cor. 15:11: ’Whether then it was I or they, so we preach.’ This indicates that Paul was not merely passing along the claims of others, but he knew that the ‘group eyewitnesses’ were claiming the same since he knew these ‘eyewitnesses’ (e.g. Peter and other apostles) and that he had personally met them and talked to them (see Gal. 1–2), and that he knew that the Corinthians knew them too (1 Cor. 1:12, 9:1–5).
Paulogia replies ‘That makes no difference at all. If I tell you that Sally told me that my mother said that she saw a leopard… does that somehow stop becoming hearsay just because I know my mother? No. No it does not.’
Well, if Sally gave you a summary of what your mother said which you passed to others because you thought it was a well-formulated, convenient and authoritative summary, and you had also personally heard your mother claimed that she saw a leopard, then it is no longer hearsay; you are firsthand witness that your mother claimed to have seen the leopard, and what you passed on is what you know as a firsthand witness.
Now, just as it is ridiculous to think that someone could have met with Billy Graham, known him for many years and be a fellow preacher in his team without personally hearing Billy speak about Jesus, it is likewise ridiculous to think that Paul had met with Peter and other apostles, knew them for many years, and be a fellow apostle without personally hearing they claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus. Your mother might be silent about seeing a leopard, but the apostles certainly won’t be silent about claiming to have seen the resurrected Jesus, since that 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). Indeed, it would have been natural for Paul to have personally heard what these ‘eyewitnesses’ claimed, given Hurtado’s observation that Paul’s acquaintance with Christian circles was both wide and extremely early (Hurtado 2003, pp. 85–86) and that Paul had been in these circles for many years already before writing 1 Corinthians, and therefore had plenty of opportunities to have met and heard them. Which is why Paul can confidently affirm: ’Whether then it was I or they, so we preach’ (1 Cor. 15:11). And Paul was telling this to the Corinthians who knew the other apostles (1 Cor. 1:12, 9:1–5) and knew that the other apostles claimed this too (such that Paul would appeal to the same in 1 Cor. 9:1). In short, Paul personally knew the ‘eyewitnesses’ and what they were preaching and so did his audience, 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.
Paulogia’s analogy of his recitation of Humpty Dumpty is a False Analogy, for there is no indication that he knew the king’s horses nor any indication that those listening to his recitation knew them too. Moreover, there is no context of persecution in this analogy.
Paulogia did not rebut this point.
It has been shown in Section III that, contrary to Paulogia, there is firsthand evidence with multiple independent corroboration which constitutes good evidence for group appearances of the risen Jesus. In this section, I shall show that Paulogia’s reasonings concerning ‘good evidence’ and inferences are flawed.
Since Paulogia is looking for justification which as he noted in Section II of his Opening Statement can be present even if the conclusion is false, why is he now complaining in Section IV about the use of argument (concerning Jennifer Lawrence) with true premises that can produce false conclusion?’
Paulogia did not answer my question.
Paulogia fails to consider those arguments which (even if not deductively valid) are still inductively strong.
Paulogia replies by complaining ‘He [Loke]’s satisfied with lines of thinking that are “probably correct (even if it is possibly wrong)”.
However, didn’t Paulogia himself affirm the same when he wrote in Section II of his opening statement ‘At its core, this is an epistemological debate about justification…Justification for a claim is also separate from the truth of a claim. I could be fully justified in believing that my car is still where I parked it, even if it has in fact been stolen without my knowledge’? In other words, fully justified (meeting the conditions of this debate) yet possibly wrong?
Paulogia calls probabilistic reasoning “the weakest evidential standards”. Paulogia fails to note that even the strongest scientific evidential standards are also based on probabilistic argument, and possibly wrong. As Prothero observes,
‘Nothing in science is ‘100 %’ proven…Nevertheless, if something has a 99% probability of being true, such a level of confidence is so overwhelming that it would be foolish to ignore it. We can tell a person about to jump off a building that the odds are 99% that he will be seriously injured or killed, and this should be sufficient level of confidence for a nonsuicidal person to avoid jumping.’ 8
As Bishop Butler observed long ago—and almost all contemporary scientists, historians, philosophers, and lawyers agree—probability is the very guide of life. To ignore it is foolishness.
Paulogia claims that ‘Dr Loke’s notions do not lead to a singular conclusion.’ This is misleading. As shown in Section I above, all of my 5 arguments lead to a singular conclusion: it is probable (i.e. there is good evidence) that there were group appearances of the risen Jesus.
Paulogia fails to note the important disanalogies between my argument and the argument concerning Jennifer Lawrence having a Twitter account.
Paulogia did not reply to the disanalogies I highlighted which shows that my argument are stronger, but instead misrepresented my argument as ‘probabilistic speculation’. The use of the word speculation is based on his failure to understand basic principles of probabilistic argument (see Error 11 above).
Paulogia misrepresented my argument claiming ‘Dr. Loke puts forth that these eight inferences raise the hearsay of the ancient documents.’
Paulogia did not rebut this point.
Paulogia states ‘Dr. Loke’s first four alleged inferences are to work together in concert to create a cumulative case for group appearances.’ This is a misrepresentation.
Paulogia replies ‘but for full transparency I literally color-coded which parts were yours and which parts were my own insertions.’
In response, Paulogia missed the point of misrepresentation, which is not about which parts were his/mine but about his statement which is false because it neglected other considerations as shown by the formulation of Argument 1 (see Section 1).
Failure to understand what is special pleading and the nature of cumulative case argument: Special pleading is an informal fallacy wherein one cites something as an exception without justifying the special exception. I justified my position by giving various reasons which form a cumulative case argument.
Paulogia replies: ‘various reasons” isn’t enough… one needs adequate reasons.’
In response, what I meant by various reasons are reasons which form a cumulative case argument justifying my position, i.e. adequate reasons. One reason why Paulogia thinks it is inadequate is because he failed to understand my reasons correctly. As shown by his multiple misrepresentations of my argument and his failure to fully grasp the nature of cumulative case arguments, which I demonstrated in my First Rebuttal by showing how Paulogia misrepresented my argument by taking the reasons apart instead of considering them together.
V. Paulogia’s specific objections to my Argument 1
Now premise 1 of Argument 1 states that ‘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; cited on p.47 of my book).’
Paulogia replies ‘By now, you should recognize this as an attempt by Dr Loke to push inconclusive, ineffective and inadmissible character evidence.’
In response, character evidence is inadmissible when it is used in court to argue that a person acted in conformity with their character. But that is not my argument here. 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 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) imply it 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 replies ‘Note that this is a desire by the information-spreader to be accurate, not a predictor that the information is actually accurate.’
In response, Paulogia fails to note that I argue for Paul being actually accurate in this incident using OTHER additional considerations. See my Opening Statement, Section V; where I argued for this point and used the analogy that it would have been natural for me to know who the pastor of a church was after attending the church for some time; alternatively, if the church had no pastor I would have known it too.
Paulogia has not rebutted the above argument.
Instead, he cites DiFonzo and Bordia 2007 and claimed that ‘the authors point out numerous scenarios where information accuracy will be hindered.
However, in each case he either misrepresented the authors, misrepresented the historical evidence, or made unsubstantiated claims, as shown by my replies * below:
Paulogia: Building and maintaining relationships “fosters inaccurate content by promoting the survival of only socially acceptable rumors that enhance relationships with one’s ingroup.” Paul reenforces the in-group / out-group dynamic. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Cor 1:18
* [Error 40]
Paulogia misrepresented DiFonzo and Bordia 2007, who wrote ‘Selective transmission of rumors in this fashion fosters inaccurate content by promoting the survival of only socially acceptable rumors that enhance relationships with one’s ingroup.’ In other words, it is not building and maintaining relationships per se but (specifically) the ‘selective transmission of rumors.’ 1 Cor 1:18 (cited by Paulogia) does not provide evidence for this.
Paulogia: “Despite implicit communication rules to transmit accurate and truthful messages, accurate transmissions may conflict with the goal of sharing a coherent message, that is, one that is understandable, plausible, and acceptable to the hearer. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be effective in message communication. (1 Cor 1:18, 1 Cor 2:4-6, 2 Cor 5:19)”
* ‘May conflict’ does not imply ‘must conflict’. A message can be both effective and truthful, as I have argued using the 5 arguments in Section I. Moreover, 1 Cor 1:18 (cited by Paulogia) says that ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,’ which implies that acceptability to the hearer was not Paul’s ultimate goal. I have argued elsewhere that Paul provided the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 as evidence for the resurrection, but in that case presenting the evidence-based truth (and not merely acceptability to the hearer) is the goal. In other words, Paul did not twist the message to make it sounds more acceptable to people (otherwise he would have twisted the message of the cross which is foolishness), rather Paul was concerned about evidence first and foremost and he wanted sceptics to be convinced because of the evidence.
Paulogia: “Rumor content may change to advance the process of rationalizing and justifying existing beliefs. 1 Corinthians was written to an existing church of believers.”
* Writing to an existing church of believers does not entail that what was written was rumor. Paulogia is begging the question by assuming it was rumor in the first place.
Paulogia: “Situations in which many or all individuals in a situation are anxious—may intensify such effects by increasing suggestibility (distortion of perception) and diminishing critical ability.”  This sounds anxious… “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Cor 4:8-9
* [Error 41]
Paulogia misrepresents DiFonzo and Bordia 2007, who wrote ‘Collective excitement—situations in which many or all individuals in a situation are anxious—may intensify such effects by increasing suggestibility (distortion of perception) and diminishing critical ability. Crowd milling, for example.’ 2 Cor 4:8-9 speaks of suffering persecution, not collective excitement such as crowd milling.
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”.
* [Error 42]
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.
Paulogia: “False eyewitness perceptions that are unduly trusted” is a situation where veracity checking “may be greatly encumbered.”  This creed was obviously well-trusted (perhaps even unduly trusted) by the community.”
* I have argued in my Opening Statement and in my two Rebuttals that this creed is supported by good evidence, which explains why it was well-trusted (there is no evidence that it was ‘unduly’ as Paulogia claims).
Paulogia: “Once consensus is formed, conformity is demanded… To the extent that such formulations are incorrect, inaccuracy is perpetuated.”  In order for the 1 Corinthians creed to have been formalized into a creed, consensus would have been formed, and creeds are recited to enforce conformity through repetition. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Cor 1:10″
* We need to ask what led to the consensus in the first place. 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. The fact that such a consensus exist is therefore good evidence for concluding that the formulation which indicates that there were group appearances is correct, and not an inaccuracy that was perpetuated.
Paulogia imagines someone asking “But Paul, you can’t just take some Bible verses describing an ancient group and link that to psychological factors that increase inaccuracy and have that be good evidence that the Corinthians were inaccurate.” And he replies ‘you would be right’ without explaining why.
On the other hand, I’ve already explained in my Opening Statement that various sources (e.g. citations of 1 Corinthians by early church fathers) indicate that 1 Corinthians were widely regarded by early Christians to be a very important document which revealed a lot about what they believed, and showed how these can be linked to ‘elementary psychological considerations’ (Gerhardsson 2003, p. 89) and psychological factors that increase accuracy and have that be good evidence.
Paulogia replies that ‘If you accept [Loke’s argument], you should accept mine. We’re using the same psychology book and the same ancient letters… yet coming to opposite conclusions.’
This is a fallacious inference which focuses on the evidence but neglects the quality of reasoning [Error 43]. For even though ‘we’re using the same psychology book and the same ancient letters’ (Paulogia) i.e. the same evidence, Paulogia’s argumentation is based on multiple misrepresentations of the same psychology book and the same ancient letters, as I have demonstrated above. No wonder we come to opposite conclusions.
VI. Paulogia’s specific objections to my Argument 5
Paulogia cited Dr. William Lane Craig “I think that the fundamental way in which we know that Christianity is true is through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit’ and misrepresented me by claiming that ‘Dr. Loke has yet to demonstrate how this would have been different for early Christians.’ Paulogia ignored my opening statement where I argued ‘What was foundational to their faith was not ‘spiritual experiences’, rather the belief that Jesus’ resurrected was foundational (1 Cor 15:17), and the claims of the ‘eyewitnesses’ were foundational to their belief that Jesus’ resurrected (1 Cor 15:6).’
I have also previously argued that “some ‘solid’ evidence such as the disciples eating and drinking with Jesus together as a group would likely have been necessary to start the widespread agreement among them that a resurrected corpse was what they witnessed.’ ‘While ‘sensing the presence of a dead person’ is common e.g. in bereavement experience, (which Paulogia often refers to), this does not usually result in the belief that the corpse has exited the tomb.’
Paulogia asked for ‘evidence for what happened in the first century’ and ‘How individual resurrection appearances are insufficient to explain the widespread belief in bodily resurrection. How convincing legends about resurrection appearances are insufficient. How being merely mistaken about resurrection appearances is insufficient.’
In reply, despite the fact that individuals having bereavement experience/legends/being mistaken etc. have been common throughout history, in not one single case concerning the other Jewish messianic movements around the first century do we hear ‘the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. Resurrection was not a private event. Jewish revolutionaries whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest themselves, had two options: give up the revolution, or find another leader. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option. Unless, of course, he was.’ (Wright 1993, p. 63; for other arguments against bereavement experience/legends/being mistaken hypotheses, see Arguments 1 to 4 in Section I above, and Chapters 2 to 7 of my book).
Paulogia asks ‘How spiritual experiences are good enough to convince every other generation of humanity of resurrected Jesus (per Dr William Lane Craig), but were somehow insufficient to convince that first generation of Corinthians.’
In reply, 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 (1 Cor 15:6).
To illustrate, if someone tells me that my father resurrected and appeared to my daughters, it would be a reasonable expectation to check with my daughters before believing (since they are available for checking). However, if someone tells me that one of my ancestor resurrected 2000 years ago and appeared to his relatives, it would be an unreasonable expectation to check with those relatives before believing (since they have long died). In that case, I may have to consider other kinds of evidences, such as historical evidences and/or spiritual experiences (Craig considers both in his other writings, and also discusses additional criteria for evaluating spiritual experiences).
Finally, Paulogia claims ‘I have looked for non-Christian historians who specifically affirm good evidence for group appearances of the risen Jesus. But I have not been able to find any.’
E.g. agnostic historical-critical scholar James Crossley of the University of Sheffield. As Habermas notes, Crossley ‘argues that ‘the early tradition in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7 is crucial since it is actually a report of the “eyewitnesses” who thought they saw appearances of the risen Jesus, and thus “must be taken very seriously.” These are “reliable reports” and comprise “good evidence that the first Christians did not invent the resurrection from scratch.” 9
VII. Other errors in Paulogia’s arguments
I have previously identified 17 other errors in Paulogia’s videos which are relevant to the topic of this debate. Paulogia replies by claiming that ‘Under false pretenses, Dr Loke would like to lure me into dozens of side debates on topics that are not in question here and have been addressed already in a series of YouTube videos from each party.’
I would like to ask what evidence is there of ‘false pretenses’? And aren’t those errors also related to Paulogia’s arguments against group appearance?
Paulogia also claims that ‘Dr Loke’s appendix presents no new information, just renewed already-addressed objections. See my videos for my responses to these petulant complaints.’
Paulogia fails to note that Appendix II in my First Rebuttal presents arguments which show that his responses in his videos fail to rebut my earlier arguments. In other words, it is his videos which contain already-addressed objections. He now labels them as petulant without justification and without responding to my arguments.
He then states ‘Once again, I observe that none of these grievances would be relevant if Dr Loke could simply, adequately defend the proposition at hand.’
Well, I have already adequately defended the proposition at hand, but Paulogia has repeatedly misrepresented my defence and replied to them with erroneous reasonings. Which is why these grievances are relevant because they demonstrate Paulogia’s repeated misrepresentations and erroneous reasonings.
Moreover, those who don’t admit their errors are likely to commit similar errors again. Which is what Paulogia did by embedding a video about Habermas with misleading cut-and-paste similar to his own (see Section 1).
As things stand, the 17 errors remain unrefuted, and the list of these errors in Appendix II in my First Rebuttal would serve as a reference for future viewers of his videos.
In summary, I have presented 5 arguments for ‘group appearances.’ Any one of my five arguments is sufficient to establish the conclusion that ‘there is good evidence for group appearance(s) of the risen Jesus.’ Paulogia has tried but failed to rebut even one of these arguments. Thus all the five arguments stand. Moreover, Paulogia has tried but failed to rebut even one of the previous allegations of 33 errors. Instead, he has added to the tally of errors he has committed, now numbered at 43. Paulogia’s 43 errors include:
- Misrepresenting the evidence as ‘hearsay documents’ and ‘second-third-fourth-fifth-hand information,’ when in fact we do have firsthand evidence [see Paulogia’s Error 8] and multiple independent corroborations for Group Appearances [Error 7].
- Misrepresenting the evidence as ‘speculative character traits’ when there is sound psychological and historical basis for my arguments [Error 15]
- Misrepresenting the evidence as collusion [Error 5, 6]
- Failing to understand that probabilistic arguments are used by all courts, scientists and historians concerning good evidence [Error 11].
- Citing poor quality source (e.g. the video he embedded).
- False analogies.
- Repeated failure to understand the nature of a cumulative case argument.
- Falsely insisting on a particular epistemological standard as the only acceptable standard.
- Making silly mistake e.g. confusing two different meanings of the word ‘close’ (Error 42).
- Multiple misrepresentations of various scholars including Licona, McDowell, Allison and myself in his previous videos (see Appendix II in my First Rebuttal), and Habermas, DiFonzo and Bordia, and myself in his First Rebuttal.
I would like to highlight for the reader’s attention that Paulogia often quoted parts of my arguments and responding to them while neglecting other parts of my arguments which refuted his responses. Those who only read what he wrote would therefore form the (false) impression that Paulogia has rebutted my argument, without realizing that his rebuttals fail because of other parts of my arguments which Paulogia ignored.
Paulogia’s Error no. 43 (see Section V above) illustrates the point which I have repeatedly emphasized but which Paulogia has repeatedly failed to grasp: namely that a person’s reasoning affects his/her perception of the evidence. Even though we have access to the same evidence, nevertheless we infer different conclusions concerning the quality of the evidence, because Paulogia’s reasonings are fallacious as shown by the 43 errors he committed.
I have told him previously that he should acknowledge and correct his errors, otherwise they would mislead people into eternal perdition. Yet he has ignored a number of his errors, given convenient excuses for some others, and replied to the rest with more errors and further misrepresentations. Is this how an intellectually honest former Christian takes a look at the claims of Christians?
Paulogia complained about having a written debate rather than a one-time live discussion. Perhaps the reader would like to ask him why he raised these complaints after he has already agreed to participate, which seems unprofessional.
Paulogia also complained that I did not give him permission to share a screenshot of my email to him. The reason why I initially refused was because (as I told him) it is liable to misrepresentations and it is best to focus on the debate topic at hand. Since Paulogia has ignored my advice by continuing his complains and misrepresentations, and since he wanted public transparency of my emails rather than discussing this in private which I originally suggested (see email dated May 14 below), I shall now post the screenshot in question and my subsequent emails to him which respond to his complaints and correct his misrepresentations (I leave it up to him whether he would like to post screenshots of his emails to me).
The Screenshot Paulogia wanted me to share (email dated February 28):
The screenshots of my subsequent emails to him (dated May 14 and May 16):
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 Zhang B., Ma G. (2021) A Comparison of Fact-Finding Methodology in Evidence Law and History. In: Zhang B., Man T.Y., Lin J. (eds) A Dialogue Between Law and History. Springer, Singapore, p. 17.
3 Allison, The resurrection of Jesus, 310.
8 Donald Prothero, ‘The Holocaust Denier’s Playbook and the Tobacco Smokescreen,’ in Philosophy of Pseudoscience ed. Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 347.
9 See Crossley’s “Against the Historical Plausibility of the Empty Tomb Story and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus: A Response to N. T. Wright,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 3 (2005): 171 , 173, 174 , 176 , 178 , 186 ; Crossley, The Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (London: T&T Clark, 2004), 140. Crossley goes on to claim that these could be explained by hallucinations; I replied to this hypothesis in Chapters 4 and 7 of my book.
Lmao, Paulogia got destroyed
All this to try to convince us that god exists,
(this person said this, another person claimed that)
which a god could have done a LOT more convincingly ,what would we do without bible scholars?
I mean Paulogia and other former believers (and atheists in general)
don’t set out to disprove bible claims but find the evidence
for such incredible tales ,(and not only from the bible) esp given human fallibilty,
It appears that you do not understand the topic of this written debate. The topic isn’t God’s existence but whether there is good evidence for claims of group appearances.
‘Crossley argues the report of eyewitnesess (not part of his group)
who ‘thought’ they saw Jesus must be taken
On the road to Emmaus 2 followers of Jesus
could not recognise him and saw him as a stranger,
which seemed to happen a lot with people who
actually had KNOWN him
Ok what does the road to Emmaus have to do with the topic of the debate that Loke and Paulogia are in?
Think it’s pretty clear,(what it has to do with the debate)
to people,in groups or otherwise, who wanted this stranger to be ‘the risen Jesus’ he was,
and it obviously it still applies to people today, even believing unamed people who ‘thought’ they had spotted Jesus;
still,if you ‘really want’ to believe these incredible
ancient stories, OK.
Yea it actually isn’t clear since I don’t think Loke nor Paulogia makes reference to the road to Emmaus story. Second people wanting something to be true has nothing to do with whether something actually is true or false. For example me saying something someone said is false just because they want it to be true isn’t an argument. It’s fallacious.
Sorely lacking from this post?
Any evidence for group appearances.
Loke makes various arguments for the probability of that group claimed to have seen the risen Jesus. You actually have to engage with his arguments. Simply ignoring them isn’t saying or doing much in regards to this debate.
“Courts have traditionally relied on ancient documents because they antedate the present controversy and there is little that can be done to suggest that they were tailored to prove a point in the present controversy.” So… the relevant factor being was the intention of the ancient documents tailored to try and prove a point in the controversy under consideration? “I have argued elsewhere that Paul provided the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 as evidence for the resurrection, but in that case presenting the evidence-based truth (and not merely acceptability to the hearer) is the goal” And it seems Loke agrees… Read more »
Mr. Loke you can’t claim anyone really saw the Risen Jesus because the only firsthand source by anyone who claimed to see him had a visionary experience, not a physical encounter with a formerly dead corpse that had been revived. He places this experience in parallel with the other “appearances” (1 Cor 15:5-8) and makes no distinction with regards to their nature and so you have no evidence based reason, given the early creed, to assume they were different. Claims of visionary experiences are not convincing. Simple as that. It’s game over.
Some scholars think the earliest view was that they believed Jesus went straight to heaven either simultaneous with or immediately after the resurrection. In the earliest Christian preaching there is no distinction between resurrection and exaltation. If this was the case then the gospel resurrection narratives where Jesus appears physically on the earth before the Ascension would all be legendary embellishments. All the appearances in 1 Cor 15 would have been understood as being of the Exalted Christ in heaven through visions or revelations (the exact terminology Paul uses when he talks about experiencing Jesus). In fact, even the earliest… Read more »
Let’s be real here. The appearance to the 500 is based on a single claim from 1 Cor 15. There is no firsthand source from any of the 500 who supposedly witnessed it. There is no mention of it in the gospels and Acts. The first Church father to even mention it was Origen (3rd century!) The first Church father to describe the incident was John Chrystotom in the 4th century and he said that some believed it was an appearance from above in heaven. Also, keep in mind we do not have any manuscript fragments of 1 Cor 15… Read more »
Of course, that piece of data taken in isolation is not going to convince anyone. But given the 100 or so other pieces of data and arguments for the resurrection, and the other miracles of Jesus and the existence of God, it’s not that hard to believe that this happened, even on such ‘thin’ evidence as provided here.
Multiplying uncertainties does not increase the probability of something, in fact it reduces it.
[…] Dr Loke’s Second Rebuttal (quoted below in purple) […]
To quote Dr Loke, “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. The fact that such a consensus exist is therefore good evidence for concluding that the formulation which indicates that there were group appearances is correct, and not an inaccuracy that was perpetuated. ”
I take it the good Dr has heard of QAnon and the 40% of Americans who still think the Presidential election was “stolen”?
Dr Loke has already answered this objection concerning the American Election in his Opening Statement
I believe Dr Like was responding to an entirely different point about the US elections, namely the difficulty of establishing the truth given currently available technology and that election fraud is not central to support for Trump. I am taking issue with Dr Loke’s assertion that if there were no group appearances then there would be no “consensus” amongst early Christians that Jesus resurrected. The evidence of QAnon and the claims of fraud in the Presidential election demonstrate that there does not have to be anything factual for a consensus amongst ‘believers’ to emerge. An entirely different point that I… Read more »
I get the feeling this is more of a debate about “Paulogia fails to ______” than the topic at hand. [Error #2,532]
I’m trying to be charitable when reading this knowing Loke’s first language is not English (I think). Nevertheless, I keep waiting to read a point FOR the argument and it’s just one after another of “Paulogia fails to address blah, blah, blah.” Is Loke writing for the Ph.D. folks or for us poor slobs that watch either InspiritingPhilosophy or Paulogia?
None of this is convincing me, sadly.
Well, this is after all the Rebuttal, isn’t it? The points FOR Loke’s affirmative case have already been stated in Dr Loke’s Opening Statement, and summarized near the beginning of this Second Rebuttal in the form of five arguments. The errors of Paulogia listed by Loke demonstrate how Paulogia has failed to rebut Loke’s affirmative arguments.
That’s your opinion. I disagree. Nevertheless, its hard to follow along. Either its a language issue (which I doubt, he seems to have a great command of English) or a Ph.D. level speak that I’m not getting. Even the response videos that led up to this were tedious. I wholeheartedly accept it may be me. This is all my point of view, of course. But if Loke is seriously trying to counter Paulogia’s beliefs because he might “mislead people into eternal perdition”, in my view he’s only convincing himself. His videos with Cameron and written debates here have the appearance… Read more »
Maybe this series of animated videos based on Dr Loke’s arguments will help you follow. I have seen some of them myself and found them helpful:
Hearsay is not good evidence.
It’s really… “impressive” what religious indoctrination can do to the most basic common sense.
[…] Dr Loke’s Second Rebuttal (quoted below in purple) […]