And with that ladies and gentlemen I guess our "debate" is concluded
So, now it's an open thread, and the community can comment.
In fairness, the "Five Facts" strategy is William Lane Craig's set piece, although you have adapted it a bit and so arguably have made it your own.
However, you have the same problems that Craig has, and you will notice that for all the YouTube videos of debates where Craig has trotted this thing
out, the question remains open.
That's because there are problems with the strategy. Broadly, these problems fall into three categories:
The five facts themselves are disputable.
There are lively competing theories to explain them even if they are true.
Your choices among criteria by which credibility is assessed are disputable, even within historiograpnic scholarship.
The latter is especially urgent, since your recital of accepted criteria omits a foundational element of modern evidentiary interpretation: whether
the events relied upon in the proposed explanation are credible in themselves. A truly dead man returned to life is not especially credible in
Of the competing theories, the one I think is strongest is the real-life ghost story. We have nearly contemporary Hellenistic stories of ghosts, so
the genre exists at the time in question. As such, the genre can either shape the survivors' interpretation of their grief- and guilt-ridden
experience, or even easier, simply provide an additional tale of Jesus to be appended onto antholoiges of other Jesus stories compiled about two
generations after his death.
And, finally, there are the five kind-of facts.
The crucifixion and burial are widely believed, but even the simplest detail of this specific execution, like what year, is disputed.
There is no contemporary evidence, none, that reports so much as a single person who met Jesus in the flesh being killed after refusing an offer to
recant belief in Jesus' resurrection.
Paul's supposed "conversion" consists of an epiphany that the views of those whom he was persecuting fit perfectly with what Paul, a Pharisee,
already believed about the end of days and a possible role that righteous Gentiles might play in that.
The majority of Christians disbelive that James was Jesus' brother. That aside, one brother taking over a brutally martyred brother's movement is
not evidence that the dead brother is no longer dead.
Finally, the tomb isn't quite empty, is it? There seem to be one or two unidentified men (or angels - but angels don't loom so large in historical
explanations) hanging around in the wee hours of the morning giving helpful advice to whoever might stop by with questions.
So, not to put too fine a point on it, but imagine you go to your best friend's tomb. It is desecrated, but there's a guy there, whom you've never
met before, who tells you not to worry, because your friend decided overnight to get up and leave. And that's good enough for you.
Sure it is.