Richard Carrier on The Case Against the Resurrection:
Carrier claims extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Therefore the claim that Jesus rose from
the dead is an extraordinary claim. So just like a claim to own a starship it requires our extraordinary evidence not
because it’s impossible but because it’s incredible we have no more evidence of miraculous resurrections on our planet
than we have for starships on our planet.
That the probability that any amazing story will be false is higher than the probability it will be true. That doesn’t
mean every amazing story is false, only that this is more likely. Nor does this mean that we can never prove an amazing
story true. It only that we need especially strong evidence to overcome their low probability.
There is insufficient evidence to overcome the low probability that the empty tombs is true. Being an amazing story it is
already likely to be false. To prove it is not, we need some good evidence.
With the Turin Shroud, we have the extraordinary evidence that skeptics keep demanding for.
God who also died and rose from the dead the kind of story was clearly popular at the time. Everyone was making up versions
of it. So I have to ask myself why should I believe that Jesus story is any different from those stories. The
similarities are too suspicious for me.
What is different about the claim of Jesus is we have an artifact evidence to back it up, whereas other claims do not have any artifact evidence to corroborate those claims.
Now there are only two sources of historical evidence for the Jesus story – the Gospels and the epistles.
With the TS, there is now also artifact evidence.
Earliest Christians were hallucinating on a regular basis entering ecstatic trances and prophesying and having
visions and relaying the communications of spirits and speaking in tongues so much in fact that Paul had to set up
rules of order to control the din and he says Outsiders would think they were lunatics if they behaved out of order
that tells me the first Christians were schizotypal which means we should be very suspicious of anything incredible.
Proposing all the Christians were hallucinating is an ad hoc explanation. Sure, it is possible they could all be hallucinating, but there is no evidence to support this.
Now we actually know we actually have established in psychology certain phenomena like this one of which is
called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when you start to have two beliefs that conflict with each other
and this become this actually creates an agitating discomforting state. And you struggle to get out of this state by
reconciling or picking one side of the contradiction or finding a way to harmonize them. If your schizotypal if
you’re prone to hallucinations, as Paul clearly was, he talks about having visions and revelations all the time having conversations with Jesus the way
out, and we know that from scientific studies the way out of that is to hallucinate something, that resolves the contradiction. Because one
thing they’ve studied in schizotypal personalities is that having the hallucinations actually reduces stress in their lives. They actually live better
lives more comforting lives because of it so this is one of the strategies it would be readily apparent to someone
This applies even to Paul. You might think this outsider this persecutor of the church is an
unusual occurrence. Why would he see Jesus? Well but obviously whatever the explanation is it has to be a rare
explanation because there was one. It only happened once. There are hundreds of persecutors of the Christians, millions
of outsiders, and Jesus only appears to one of them. So obviously whatever the cause was it has to be something very
Again Paul is a rare
case. He’s like the only outsider that was actually converted by a direct revelation from Jesus.
Proposing Paul had cognitive dissonance is also an ad hoc explanation. What actual evidence is there to support this claim? And as Carrier admits, it only happened once in history. And using Carrier’s own logic, it is highly improbable this could have happened since nobody else have had this happen to them.
Shortly after the death of Jesus, his disciples prayed
meditated and searched the Scriptures for some meaning to justify the tragedy. In some way, to preserve and promote the
noble program of moral reform Jesus had died for. As a result some had prophetic
dreams or visions in which Jesus appeared to them reassuring them and telling them just what they wanted to
hear. That he had been raised by God so all who attached themselves to him and his moral program would participate in
his resurrection as soon as this good news was preached to all Israel.
This is another ad hoc explanation.
I don’t have to come up with ad hoc hypotheses.
Carrier severely contradicts himself. His proposals of mass hallucination, Paul’s cognitive dissonance, and the disciples fabricating a story are all ad hoc explanations.
The existence of God is not a widely accepted fact nor is the existence of a particular God a widely accepted fact.
Now maybe if you have if you’re convinced God exists and
you’re convinced you know that he would raise Jesus from the dead and perhaps you have a spiritual experience yourself.
You of experiencing Jesus that would be a different scenario but that wouldn’t be a historical argument.
Actually a belief in a god is widely accepted. However, nobody is claiming God exists because it’s a widely accepted fact.
Also, nobody is claiming a spiritual experience is evidence something is true either.
So, these are strawman arguments.
If God Himself were really appearing to people and really was on a compassionate
mission to reform and save the world, he could have visited Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, the masses of Jerusalem, the
Roman legions, even the Emperor and Senate of Rome. He could have flown to America as actually the Mormons believe he did and
even China preaching in all the temples and courts of Asia. In fact being God he could have appeared to everyone on earth.
He could visit me right now or you. He could appear right now and settle this debate. Done. If Jesus was a God and
really wanted to save the world he would have appeared and delivered his gospel personally to the whole world and would
still be doing so. I would do so if I were in his position and God can’t be more compassionate than I am in that
respect. It’s much less probable he’d appear only to one small group of believers and only one lone outsider in
one tiny place just one time 2,000 years ago and then give up.
With the TS, God has revealed the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus for the entire world to see. In Carrier’s words, the debate is now settled. Done.