Sunday, January 04, 2009

Upcoming Debates Regarding God's Existence

Just wanted to inform you of a few noteworthy debates that are forthcoming...

1) Dr. William Lane Craig will debate atheist Christopher Hitchens on the topic of Does God Exist? on April 4, 2009.

For more details, see here.

2) Dr. William Lane Craig will debate historian Richard Carrier on the topic of Are Moral Facts Evidence of God? March 18, 2009.

3) Dr. William Lane Craig will debate philosopher Quentin Smith on the topic of Does God Exist? on January 28, 2009.

4) Mike Licona will debate Bart Ehrman once more on the topic of the resurrection of Christ on April 2, 2009.

For more details, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross


Chad said...

Hey O.C.!

Hope you had a great Easter getaway. I listened to the first debate between Ehrman and Licona from Feb. 2008. I was wondering what your thoughts were on the outcome of this debate. I find Ehrman to be more of a formidable opponent than someone like Hitchens because of his background and studying under Bruce Metzger. During this debate he stated that two of Licona's arguments for historical evidence of the resurrection have to be dismissed( Jesus' crucifixion and Paul's Transformation) because 1)Thousands were crucified during this time, it was the norm. 2)Paul's account was not historical, he merely saw an apirition. Many people throughout history have had these. What are your thoughts on this?

Chad said...

Hey Chad,

Hope you had a wonderful Resurrection Day.

First off, I would suggest Lee Strobel's newest book, "The Case for the Real Jesus." The chapters that he interviews Licona about the 5 minimal facts really answer Ehrman's points, if memory serves me correctly.

I struggle with Ehrman for a few reasons:

1. He presents supposed "bible difficulties" in his publications as if they are new, insurmountable problems for the Bible believer, when in reality, theologians and apologists have known about the supposed "problems" for years and offered sound answers.

2. He repeatedly mentions all the "differences in the manuscripts," however, fails to mention that these differences are largely spelling, grammar, and punctuation differences that do NOTHING to alter any significant doctrine that the Bible teaches.

In regard to Ehrman's assertions, it's important to remember a few things:

a. The minimal facts used by Habermas and Licona are accepted by the majority of NT scholars-critical and non-critical-so Ehrman must give very good reasons for his rejection of any of the 5. To my knowledge, Ehrman doesn't object to the five because of the lack of evidence, but because of his naturalistic presuppositions. Meaning, miracles don't happen.

b. Jesus died by crucifixion

Ehrman is correct when he asserts that the crucifixion was a common form of execution. My question is, so what? The point of this fact is that without a crucifixion that led to death, you can't have a resurrection. Even highly critical scholar, John Dominic Crossan writes, "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be." Ehrman's point here is, well, pointless!

c. "Paul's account was not historical, he merely saw an apirition."

I think this objection speaks to the quality of the evidence we have regarding Paul's encounter with Christ. Notice, Ehrman doesn't try to say it didn't happen, but only questions the type of encounter. This is significant.

It's important to remember that Paul was an enemy of the church. He was an enemy of the Christian faith. Paul's belief that he had encountered the risen Christ was so sure that he was willing to suffer, ultimately, to the point of martyrdom. This is well documented by Paul himself, Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth, and Origen.

The idea that Paul simply encountered an apparition goes against what we know about these types of experiences.

Even if one did want to entertain the senseless notion that the disciples experienced “hallucinations” (I'm assuming this is where Ehrman was going with Licona) due to grief(that's largely the reason people experience such hallucinations), that still would not explain the transformation of the Apostle Paul.

Dr. Gary Habermas explains:

“He (Paul) did not appear to have been in the frame of mind to experience a hallucination, since it seems he hated both Jesus and his followers and believed it was God’s will to stop them. He was far from grieving over Jesus’ death.”

Finally, Ehrman fails to explain fact number 2,4,5- 2. The disciples belief that they encountered the risen Christ on more than one occasion and the transformation of the their lives 4. The transformation of James, Jesus' brother, a skeptic 5. The empty tomb.

Hope this helps and if not, I suggest you check out the chapters I mentioned above.

Further, check out this debate between Ehrman and William Lane Craig:

Godspeed and remember, an assertion is not an argument.

Chad V. said...


Thanks for the time you put into your response. I am in agreement with the points you have made. I finished the chapter today on Licona's 5 points in The Case for the Real Jesus. I apologize for having your book so long, my goal finish reading it this week.

Thank you for showing the link for the Ehrman-Craig debate. That was my next objective. I'm very interested to see how Ehrman handles Craig's arguments.

I just listened to the panel discussion with William Lane Craig, Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Wilson, Lee Strobel, Jim Dennison. Got to give Hitchens props for showing up at a Christian Book Expo and going up against 3 apologists (including the moderator). But once again no real arguments just the complaining/disliking comments in a way that only he can do it. I thought it was great how Craig told him he needed to come more prepared with better arguments for their April debate.

Thanks again, it's a privilege for me to be apart of the team.

God Bless,

Chad said...

Chad V.

Hey brother! You keep the book as long as you need it! I only brought it up because I felt it addressed the points you asked about.

I also think Hitchens deserves credit for showing up for the table talk discussion. As I have mentioned before, the "Hitch" will debate all comers. Richard Dawkins? Well, not so much!

Craig was funny when he encouraged Hitchens to "study!" Ha! After listening to the debate last week, I'm quite sure Hitchens didn't listen.

I think you will enjoy the Ehrman-Craig debate. Ehrman really tries to get Craig off topic with regard to the inerrancy of the Bible, but Craig doesn't bite and does a great job. The topic of inerrancy could not be covered in a debate format effectively and Craig is smart enough to know that. If you are interested, I can offer a link regarding inerrancy that I believe would prove helpful.

Keep reading dude and it's a privilege to HAVE YOU on this team!