Fundamentalist Theologian, Richard Carrier, Speaks Out About the Resurrection

Hereinafter is a clip from Lee Strobel’s good ol′ show “Faith Under Fire.”
William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier discuss the resurrection of the Messiah Jesus.

Note that Richard Carrier references “alternative explanations of the evidence” and proceeds to ignore William Lane Craig’s five points by turning to speculation and, most importantly, seeking to gain adherence to his very own theology.

Hereinafter is a clip from Lee Strobel’s good ol′ show “Faith Under Fire.”
William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier discuss the resurrection of the Messiah Jesus.

Note that Richard Carrier references “alternative explanations of the evidence” and proceeds to ignore William Lane Craig’s five points by turning to speculation and, most importantly, seeking to gain adherence to his very own theology.
His, “what I think happened” is fascinating as states about the gospel writers that, “we don’t know when they wrote them” but then bases his case on Mark being written first and which later writers misinterpreted. Now, why is it that when it is convenient to his case we know that Mark was written first but when it is not then we do not who wrote what when?

Next he launches into his dogmatheistic theology beginning with “What I don’t find plausible is that a God of the whole universe who wanted to save all of humanity would…” Pause; note that he is posing an argument from personal incredulity as reality is not subservient to that which Richard Carrier finds plausible. The point is that he goes on to disparage the Bible’s account as to how God brought salvation and the gospel message to the world and in its place proposes a superior way in which to do it; his way—the Carrierian Pseudo-Gospel.
In other words, the God in which he does not believe should have done that which He did not do since he does not exist in a manner commensurate with Richard Carrier’s preferences.

Again, his argument is based on theology: he weighs biblical theology, finds it wanting, proposes his own and then demands that the arguments be based on his theology.

Indeed, all atheists are theologians and they are the most rigid, dogmatic and fundamentalist of all theologians. For more on this see: Atheism’s arguments against theism, or Atheism’s “atheology”

For more on the resurrection, see the essays at this link.

Lastly, note that at t=4:19 a question is asked about what would happen to Christianity if it could be verified that the bones of Jesus been discovered. Interestingly, such a claim was made in the propagandacumentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus which was, of course, thoroughly refuted—see this link.

The following quote is from Norman L. Geisler’s article A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave. This is the portion that responds to Richard Carrier; the book being reviewed also contains essays by Robert Greg Cavin, Michael Martin, Theodore Drange, Robert Price, Peter Kirby, Jeffery Lowder, Evan Fales, Duncan Derrett and Keith Parsons:

Chapter 10: “The Burial of Jesus in Light of Jewish Law” by Richard Carrier

Summary of the Argument:

Carrier claims that, “the surviving evidence, legal and historical, suggests the body of Jesus was not formally buried Friday night when it was placed in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea, that instead it had to have been placed Saturday night in a special public graveyard reserved for convicts. On this theory the women who visited the tomb Sunday morning mistook its vacancy. That, in conjunction with other factors (like reinterpretations of scripture and things Jesus said, the dreams and visions of leading disciples, and the desire to seize an opportunity to advance the moral cause of Jesus), led to a belief that Jesus had risen from the grave. . . . And so Christianity began” (369).

Since the evidence is scant, “it is probably impossible to determine which explanation [resurrection or relocation] is correct, since the evidence we would need to decide the matter is gone. But so long as there are plausible natural explanations available, the resurrection story cannot be used as evidence of a supernatural event. For an inference to naturalism remains reasonable . . .” (370).

Carrier believes there are three plausible natural explanations, though he favors the first: First, “. . . the story is an outright legend (though with a genuine ‘spiritual’ core); and second, that the body was stolen, giving rise to belief that Jesus rose from the grave. Here I present a third: that the body of Jesus was legally moved, leading to a mistaken belief in his resurrection” (370 emphasis in original). For this view, Carrier offers the following argument:
“First, Joseph of Arimathea’s action in seeking the body of Christ Friday evening was probably a standard procedure, required by Jewish law.
Second, Joseph’s use of his own or an available tomb to hold Jesus temporarily during the Sabbath was also probably provided for by the law. And third, the law probably required Joseph to bury Jesus Saturday night in a special public graveyard reserved for blasphemers and other criminals of comparable ignominy” (371). The women then went to the vacated tomb and mistakenly assumed Jesus was resurrected, and the rest is history.

Carrier’s argument involves the acceptance of several premises:

1) We know Jewish burial law from the time of Christ (371-72).
2) The Roman’s allowed the Jews to practice their own burial rights (373-74).
3) Accordingly, Jesus had to be buried by sunset (375-79).
4) Jewish law allowed for temporary storage of a criminals dead body in a cool place on the Sabbath until permanent burial could be accomplished (382-85).
5) Jewish law demanded that criminals, such as Jesus was considered to be, be buried dishonorably in special graveyards reserved for this purpose (380-81).
6) Joseph of Arimathea, being a devout Jew, would not have violated this law and, so, he moved Jesus body to this criminal graveyard on Saturday (386).
7) Thus, the women discovered an empty tomb – the wrong one (387).
8) The women mistakenly began the resurrection myth (387).
9) This myth developed into a full blown belief in the resurrection and appearances of Christ and the immediate rapid spread of Christianity, the conversion of Saul, the conversion of James, and the willingness of early Christians to die for their beliefs (387).

Carrier concludes, “We are now left with a plausible natural explanation for reports of an ‘empty tomb,’ which may have sparked the entire Christian faith” (385).

Response to the Argument:

First, we note that even Carrier admits that “it is probably impossible to determine which explanation is correct . . .” (370). So, to claim, as he does, that this is a “plausible” explanation goes beyond the evidence. At best, it is only a logically possible explanation, but in the light of the historical evidence it is highly improbable.

Second, several of his premises are questionable (e.g., 5, 6, and 7). First of all, there were possible exceptions to this law (#5). Further, once permission was granted to Joseph for burial, no law was violated (#6). Finally, once permission was granted, this was the final burial site and a later empty tomb of this guarded grave was sign of a resurrection (#7).

Third, another premise is misconstrued (#4). Just because temporary storage was possible does not mean this was a case of it. The evidence is that it was not, since Jesus was prepared for burial (John 19), and a guard was placed there (Mt. 27:65) indicating that he was to be there for at least three days – the predicted time of His resurrection.

Fourth, even if one granted the first seven premises of Carrier’s argument (which I do not), the conclusions (# 8 and 9) do not follow. For not only did the women see an empty tomb but also saw an angel confirming Christ had risen and then met and handled Jesus themselves (Mt. 28:5, 9). Nor does it account for the fact that Peter and John had the same experience of seeing the empty tomb, as well as the grave clothes and the folded head cloth – things that would not have been left behind in that condition in a transfer to another tomb.

Fifth, even if #8 followed from #1-7 (which it does not), #9 does not follow from the preceding premises since it involves greater leaps in logic to believe that over 500 people on eleven occasions in the next few weeks (who saw his scars, heard him teach, touched his body, and ate with Jesus) were all hallucinating. On top of this, they immediately began to turn the world upside down with their bold and death-defying witness that Christ had risen from the dead. It takes a greater miracle to believe this than it does to believe in the simple, straight-forward account of the resurrection.