Number of Americans who believe in God is at its lowest since at least 1944

I think you are mistaken here. You are right to say that most mainstream historians would prima facie refuse to consider miraculous events as something that could ever be taken seriously as historically verifiable events.† But plenty of serious, non-Christian historians have thought it worth investigating the resurrection accounts in order to provide alternative explanations.
Which takes us back to Veronica’s point. The reason why we are talking about the resurrection is because she said religion never makes claims about actual phenomena but only deals with opinions, feelings and morality (my parsing of her case). Yet, in contrast, the New Testament writers thought the Resurrection was a historical event on which Christianity stood or fell. They believed they had good evidence and witnesses. In many cases died for that conviction.
So whether they were right or wrong, whether modern historians think they can provide better explanations or not, the point stands: not all religious claims are confined to “opinions, feelings and morality.”

† A presupposition that has more to do with intellectual fashion and post-Humean philosophy than it does with the investigation of actual events.

First, is “broads” something we are okay with here at boingboing? I am surprised.
Second the fact that the first witnesses were “just a bunch of” women is actually supporting evidence. If you were concocting a resurrection account in a patriarchal (and sometimes misogynist) culture that saw women as unequal and ineligible as witnesses† (a bit like you, ClutchLinkey, it would seem), why would you make them so prominent?

Testimony in Jewish law - Wikipedia

I know I’m right, cause I’m a historian…

And unless you got some citations of non-Christians taking biblical claims seriously, in a scholarly manner, then I don’t think that’s the case.

Immune to sarcasm, are we?

Except these were only claims made in a particular context, via a second hand account that does not claim to be objective history, but an argument for a particular faith. On it’s own, it’s not evidence of the resurrection. It’s evidence of a theological argument being made by the authors of the various gospels. They stand on different standards of evidence than a modern historian would.


Mindysan is talking about “historical claims” in the sense “Modern historians claim that …”

And she is right: Was there a Roman occupation of Israel around the time of Christ? Yes. This is a historical statement, backed up by lots of archeology. Was there a wave of messianism and religious fervour in the Jewish community at the time? Yes. This is a historical statement. Were there people not long after who came to the Romans’ attention as followers of “Christ”? Yes. This is a historical statement. Was there a man named Jeheshua ben Joseph? (Historical statement: it’s plausible) Was he caught up in the Messianism? (Historical statement: It’s plausible) Did he make claims about his Davidic ancestry and the fulfilment of prophecies? (Historical statement: It’s plausible) Was he the Son of God who rose from the dead to save mankind? This is not a historical statement, it’s literally an article of faith. Historians place this question outside of historicity, not least because it’s not provable. All conceivable evidence for the proposition is explainable by entirely mundane things. If you don’t believe it, there is no evidence to prove it. If you believe that it’s true, then you believe it anyway. That’s what faith means.

That people believed that it was a historical fact, is a historical fact, which is another way of reading the term “historical claim”. What people used to believe is of historical interest of itself, but says nothing to the veracity of the claim. People used to believe in the four humours and Prester John’s Kingdom and Atlantis. That doesn’t mean those things existed in the way people thought they did.

You’re playing semantic games, and I don’t think you even realise you are.


Exactly, which is the why we are talking about this. Whether it is a justified belief is secondary to this discussion.

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Only you are talking about this. The rest of us are wondering why you insist on talking about this.

Mainly because it’s not an interesting question.

  1. Did Christians exist in history? Yes. Lots of them. Nobody disputes that.
  2. What did they believe? Well, actually they believed all sorts of things, and occasionally went to war with each other over these differences.
  3. Was what they believed true? Was what which Christians believed true? Whatever aspect you’re talking about, there was a historical group of people who considered themselves Christian who believed something else, up to and including the divinity of Christ and his resurrection. Aspects of the story are undeniably true. Aspects of the story are plausible in context. Aspects of the story are based on known unreliable narratives. And aspects of the story are literally miracles and are perforce articles of faith.

That people believed it was a historical fact is a trivial and boring statement. Whether the belief is justified is the basis of two thousand years of theology and warfare. It’s also not going to be decided here.


I hope you are clear about it now – though I thought I was pretty clear in my previous posts.

Okay, but I raised the topic to make a point in conversation with Veronica, not to provide general entertainment.

That, I think, is something we can agree on.

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