This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.

Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.

This is what it looks like:

A few months ago, I was emceeing an apologetics event in Dallas hosted by the Christian Renaissance Apologia Conference. The scholars present were Dan Wallace, Darrel Bock, Gary Habermas, and Craig Evans. Each of these are men that I admire and trust, as I believe they are seeking truth and not a confirmation of their prejudice. I asked them during the conference if there are any other religions or worldviews that they knew of that had apologetics conferences the way Christianity does. In other words, can other religions pull together enough objective intellectual backing to form a solid defense for their faith? Each of them responded with the same: no. They went on to express the same sentiments of my present argument. “Even atheists,” Habermas said, “have nothing but ‘negative apologetics’.” In other words, Christianity has a significant amount of historically verifiable data which forms the bedrock of the faith. This is “positive apologetics.” An atheist conference, for example, does nothing but belittle the claims of other religions (primarily Christianity). “There is no positive defense that one can give for naturalism,” Habermas concluded. Therefore, the only thing available to the atheist is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Christianity has.

This makes a lot of sense. If I decided to start a religion, deceptively or not, I would not make false claims to recent historic events that did not happen. Why? Because I know those claims could be tested. Also, I would not give details about the time, place, and people involved. More than that, I would not invite contemporaries to investigate these claims. For example, if I were to say today that in 1965 there was a man named Titus who was born in Guthrie, OK and traveled about Oklahoma City doing many miracles and gaining a significant following, this could easily be falsified. I would not say that Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, along with Tom Coburn, US Senator from Oklahoma, had Titus electrocuted. I would not detail that the electrocution was in Bricktown on January 13, 1968 at 9am. I wouldn’t claim that Titus rose from the dead and gained a significant following throughout Oklahoma City which has spread across America. Why wouldn’t I make these claims as the foundation of my new religion? Because they can be easily tested and falsified. This religion could not possibly get off the ground. If I were to make up a religion, all the events which support the religion (if any) would be private and beyond testing.

This is why you don’t have religions based on historic events. They are all, with the exception of Christianity, based on private encounters which cannot be falsified or subjective ideas which are beyond inquiry. The amazing thing about Christianity is that there is so much historic data to be tested. Christianity is, by far, the most falsifiable worldview there is. Yet, despite this, Christianity flourished in the first century among the very people who could test its claims. And even today, it calls on us to “come and see” if the claims are true.

The only reason why I can say Christianity survived in the midst of such historic volatility is because it is true. And this is exactly what I would expect if there were an all-powerful God who created and loves this world. When he intervenes, he makes a significant enough footprint that historic inquiry is demanded. Think about that next time you are critiquing the Christian faith. The only reason you can is because it is the only religion that has opened itself up to such critique.  Simply put, Christianity is the most falsifiable religion there is and yet it has survived. Why?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    151 replies to "Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion"

    • Myself, I see Judeo-Christianity as the only historical and thus justifiable religion! But of course the historical here, is part of the biblical salvation-history itself, the Salvation-History of God! “Elohim”.. It indicates His relation to mankind as His “creatures” (2 Chron. 18: 31), where it stands in contrast with Jehovah as indicating (“covenant relationship”). “helped him”: i.e. Jehoshaphat, for Jehovah was his Covenant God. “God moved them.” Heb. Elohim. He stood, to the Syrians, only in the relation of the Creator to His creatures.

    • Carrie J

      I believe there is only one other faith besides Mainstream Christianity that makes a good case for their faith. Judaism makes a very good argument. In many ways a much better argument.

    • I would hope that proper Judeo-Christianity is inclusive of that, i.e. Judaism! (Note John 4: 22)

      • Phil

        If that is your argument, then this same article could have been written about Mormonism. And someone would have responded, “I would hope that proper Mormonism is inclusive of that, i.e. Christianity.”

        • Den

          Mormonism started from a private encounter.. The encounter cannot be verified!

        • Zossima

          Phil, Mormonism ultimately suffers from the same fatal flaw as all others: you have to place complete trust in one person’s private experience: Joseph Smith. He is the only one who translated to golden tablets. It matters not how many people may have seen the golden tablets; Joseph Smith is the only witness to the contents of the golden tablets.

    • aeg

      Having decided that Jesus dying on the cross and then rising is falsifiable, wouldn’t the next step be to attempt to falsify it?

      The fact that this one event is to some degree falsifiable doesn’t mean it is any more likely to be true. One has to actually attempt to falsify it. Look for inconsistencies in the accounts, proof those people existed, didn’t have a vested interest in the events, were in that region etc.

      Otherwise all you’re pointing out is that the people who made up the Christ story came up with a much better way to sell their story then the people who made up the stories in these other faiths. When people hear a good story, they love to tell it as if it happened to them. While this results in more “witnesses”, their accounts would probably vary. Like in any urban legend.

      • Michael

        People have set out to falsify Christianity for centuries – even the Bible records Jewish leaders trying to threaten and kill the apostles who were claiming to have seen Jesus alive (and no one dies for something they know is false). If you want to read a detailed account from a modern journalist who set out to disprove (falsify) Christianity, I recommend Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”.

      • Matthew

        If the disciples of Jesus (the people who ‘made up’ the religion) had just found a better way to falsify their religion, why would all of them be killed in protecting a false religion? You would think that someone would say, “wait! don’t kill me, I just made up the story! I don’t actually believe it to be true!” But no one did, they all were martyred proclaiming its truth.

    • C Michael Patton

      Jidaism’s primary claim historically has always been the Exodus. God called on his people continually to look at this footprint. However, as justifiable as it was back then, it is hard to substantiate today to the degree of the resurrection.

    • C Michael Patton

      Aeg,yes we should attempt to fakery it. This called critical studies

      Falsefyibility does not meant that the subject at hand lives or does by its falsej

    • C Michael Patton

      It simply means rhsvhguy. (Edit. I have no idea what I meant to say here!)

    • Matthew Westerholm

      “When people hear a good story, they love to tell it as if it happened to them.”

      A truism, AEG, but an “urban legend” theory is insufficient to explain the amount of persecution the first Christians faced and the martyrdom that their leaders experienced. For thousands of profoundly monotheistic Jewish people to begin, overnight, to worship a human being . . . it gives one pause.

    • The weight of historical evidence to support the claims and life event of Jesus Christ is overwhelming. Look at sources outside the Canon of Scripture. The writings of Josephus, the Quoran, and the many references to the existence of Jesus. The weight of the evidence is there for one to test the claims of Scripture.

      How do you deal with a risen Savior?

      All other religions have either a philosophy or leaders in the grave. Dead like those who came before us. In Christianity there is verifiable historical evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and over five hundred watched Him ascend into the clouds. What is curious is that these accounts are found both in Scripture, and popular literature.

      It’s not rocket science folks. Test it out for yourselves.

    • Anthony

      Christianity is not a Religion, its a way of life. Jesus never came to make a new Religion,but came to show us the way of life, a life of Love.

      • Herman Munster

        Religion is mans attempt to reconcile himself to God. Christianity, on the other hand, is God reconciling man to Him. Big difference.

        • Howard Pepper

          “Herman”, You know, I used to hold to this catchy little concept myself. It summarizes well the idea of the uniqueness of Christianity. Trouble is, when one actually studies religions comparatively, steps back and takes as objective as possible look at Christianity, its earliest literature (the NT) and origins (mostly via the NT, but with some related sources), this neat little idea completely breaks down. Still, Christianity has much of great value, I say as now a progressive Christian who no longer can affirm “Christianity is the only way to access God (or be ‘saved’)”.

    • […] COMMENTARY: Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion (Credo House) […]

    • theoldadam

      He came to save us.

    • Amen there TOA! Our spiritual and finally physical Exodus!

    • Clint Roberts

      Ironically (and sadly), people do not take the time to recognize this, and as a result end up foolishly seeing falsifiability as a weakness. Muslims & Mormons take comfort (an intellectually cowardly comfort, we might say) in the non-falsifiability of their Scriptures as they see it. They like everything to rest on the testimony of one man.

      And they quite stupidly promote misleading popular ‘Ehrmanic’ charges against the Bible for having so many differences(variants) in manuscripts. But as every esteemed scholar at your aforementioned conference would so easily explain, the manuscript differences actually testify to the unbelievable number of manuscripts in the first place. This ‘weakness’ turns out to be a profound strength, and this ‘problem’ one that they could only dream of having, as it is a problem that only a historically credible religion is capable of having.

    • Personally, I think it is a poor choice of words, i.e. “falsifiability”, for Christianity as Historical! Again the “Incarnational” needs to be central, and always the major focus! The Church of Christ is still: “the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3: 15) And not ideas and teachings of “evidentialism”, by themselves or alone! WE must seek to BE this Church Catholic & Reformed, as again Christ is both the Logos & the Rhema! Of course I am a classic Anglican, and somewhat EO friendly. Indeed we need the whole Church Historical!

      The doctrine of the “Church” has gotten lost today, especially with many so-called Evangelicals! And we cannot really preach and teach Christ without it!

    • Btw, just a friendly and historical note, but as our EO friends teach: Christianity can really only be expressed by dogmatic theology! And here really is the greatest evidence itself, with the Mystical Body of Christ!

    • C Michael Patton

      “And here really is the greatest evidence itself, with the Mystical Body of Christ!”

      This is far too esoteric for me. As well, it does little, for me, in setting Christianity apart from the claims of any other religious body. The incarnation demands historic inquiry. It is only because of the incarnation that a post such as this can be written.

    • Indeed the Reformers were “Churchmen” and not really anything else, even their so-called “humanism” was subject here, for here they were subservient to the great Revelation and Holy Scripture of God! The modern so-called Protestant and certainly evangelical churches have quite lost that today. And the true “Mystical Body of Christ” was never “esoteric” for the top-tier Reformers!

      Btw, seeking to work-thru Barth again, shows indeed he was closer to this “Mystical Body”, as were many of his friends, Georges Florovsky, the great Russian EO, as too Von Balthasar, the large-minded Roman Catholic. And as too the great little man (large in Christian thought), C.H. Dodd! Indeed WE have truncated ourselves today, with the basic loss of the great Mystical Body of Christ! But thankfully the Church’s great history is still here!

    • Ray Mack

      Good information here. This is the type of information that many need to read. I suggest posting some of this information on YouTube where the athiests and Bible haters place comments. I do this quite often myself.

    • […] Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion | Parchment and Pen. […]

    • James-the-lesser

      The old metaphysics let to a chasm between logical regression to the mystical transcendence of The Supreme Being; idealism could never get the Divine mystery down from His lofty throne to examine Him either epistemologically or logically; the Incarnation did both; thus the existential fusion of the transcendent Spirit with humanity in and through Christ, the Son, bridged the gap to maintain a dynamic cognitive tension between the Other (God, as the given) and the familiar (man, as the recipient). Thus, the perfect analogy through which we best filter our theological process is through Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our only Savior. All else is at best just suggestive.

    • Glenn Shrom

      Clint Robert, Do the Mormons bring charges against the Bible for so many variants? The Muslims, yes, but I thought the Mormons gave strong support to the KJV the way we have it today. I could be wrong.

    • Amen there James-the-lesser! Sounds nicely Barthian to me! 😉 And btw, Barth surely tends to fill the gap towards the visible & historical church! A Church both visible and invisible, the latter where “Christ Jesus” sits above, on the Throne of God In Glory! (Heb. 9: 24)

    • Myself, I can see but one apologetic for both believers and non-believers, and that is always “Christ” Himself, and His historic Church!

    • Gregory S. Gill

      The bible is not falsifiable, you either believe it or you don’t. The bible is the axiom or postulate of Christianity and axioms or postulates are not falsifiable you either believe or disbelieve them. History can’t be properly used to judge the bible or that would make history to be the standard over the bible, instead its the bible that judges history. Its actually the bible that falsify everything else.

      The bible is of ultimate reality, how then can ultimate reality be falsify? What can be used to falsify ultimate reality? Nothing.

      Either The Holy Spirit cause one to believe or disbelieve the bible. I think Vincent Cheung, Gordon H. Clarke, John William Robbins, and Thomas W. Juodaitis got this point right.

    • Steve Skeete

      The greatest evidence that Christianity is true would be for believers in Christ to actually live out his teachings in their daily lives.

      Can you imagine what would happen if those who love him ‘kept his commandments?’

      The argument could go something like this: there was a historical Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God, and that by obeying his teachings our personal lives would be transformed.

      The proof: take any group of Christians anywhere and compare them to any group of non-Christians of any faith or non-faith, in their treatment of family, neighbours, friends or strangers and note the difference.

      I know, I need to develop the theory some more. Suffice it to say though that several interested observers, have noted the difference between Jesus and his modern day followers. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi is supposed to have said words to the effect that if he could ‘find a group of persons who lived like Jesus he would join them’.

      The most effective way to ‘give away’ the Christian faith is to “keep it’.

    • Rose

      Hi Glenn

      Yes, the Mormons, in their thirteen Articles of Faith, say they trust the Bible ‘insofar as it has been correctly translated.’ They only use the KJV and if it contradicts the (later written) Book of Mormon, Pearly of Great Price or Doctrine and Covenants – or any of the statements made by the Prophets (leaders) throughout the Mormon history – then the Bible is said to be mis-translated.

    • Luke

      “This is why you don’t have religions based on historic events. They are all, with the exception of Christianity, based on private encounters which cannot be falsified or subjective ideas which are beyond inquiry.”

      ACTUALLY, the believer in the Christian faith has to trust in a private encounter Mary & the disciples had with Jesus’s magic floating corpse, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically.

      So, much like how you reject Mormonism and Islam by the token that they are not historically testable, Christianity itself can be rejected by that very same token.

      There is no more proof that Jesus Christ rose from the dead than there is of a giant teapot orbiting Venus at such an angle that we will never see it.

      • Dalton

        You do know over 500 people signed a creed that they saw Jesus.

    • Judith Warren-Brown

      Luke said that the Christian faith has to trust in a private encounter Mary and the disciples had with Jesus after his resurrection. The disciples told of their experiences and in the end were martyred. Why would they go to their death if they did not have these experiences?

      • C Michael Patton

        And if we were only talking about one private encounter that would be a valid point. But Christ ministry, death, resurrection, and assension were said to be attested by hundreds. On cant just make that up and expect it to fly. The very fact that such a ridiculous and bizarre story not only survived but flourished is significant evidence that the story must be true.

        Any parallel asserted fails in a major criteria. Either it did not survive, there was no worldview changing significance (e.g. ceasar claimed to be god), or it is beyond falsifiability (which would be the reason for the failure).

    • Luke

      Because good liars tend to see their lies out to the end

    • Matthew, the non-Apostle

      Luke, the claim is that Jesus was seen of many people, and specifically more than 40 at one time.

    • Luke

      Key word being “SAID to have been witnessed by hundreds.”

      That does NOT mean that the events were actually witnessed by hundred of people.

      Hundreds of people have claimed to have seen aliens and UFOs. Does that PROVE beyond a reasonable doubt that aliens exist?

      It hardly does.

    • GoldCityDance

      I am a former Buddhist (Mahayana sect), now saved by God’s grace. I think the core of Buddhism actually has historical claims which can be tested. Several historical questions that Buddhists need to address:

      1. Was Siddhartha a real, historical person?

      2. The central claim of Buddhism is that Buddha said he has achieved enlightenment and therefore, we are to follow his path. What historical evidence are there for Buddha’s claim to enlightenment? What historical evidence are there that enlightenment is the true path?

      3. How historically reliable are the claims of miracles surrounding Siddhartha? (e.g. birth of a talking, walking baby)

      4. How historically reliable are the Buddhist scriptures that record Buddha’s enlightenment and his teachings? (e.g. number of extant manuscripts, how long after Buddha did the disciples start recording, internal and external consistencies, etc)

      Try looking up answers for the above and compare them with the answers provided by Christianity. Buddhism may perhaps be as falsifiable as a Christianity, but it definitely will not survive any such tests!

    • keith miller

      I am a minister of the Gospel, I don’t totally agree that Christianity is the only defensible religion in comparison to others. Quite the opposite, we base all our “facts” on what was written by men who walked with Jesus and allow our “faith” to be the ingredient that gives their accounts meaning and validity. All religions are grounded on the “faith” factor, if we Christians relied on what we can prove, then we would only be able to tell people what we know in our hearts to be true and not be able to provide empirical data to validate our beliefs. That’s why the Bible contends that without “faith” it is impossible to please ( or even believe in) God. Spiritual guidance from the Holy Spirit is what keeps me grounded and secure in my beliefs, not so called “facts”, for we walk by faith and not by sight.

    • john bo

      The problem is…

      There is no contemporary writing of Christ (non biblical authors that wrote of him within a century of his life). And since the bible was managed by a group of followers who were on a mission (the great commission) to spread the word, it must be considered to be biased.

      No physical evidence means it cannot be scientifically proven.
      No eye witness accounts (according to modern legal standards) means it cannot be claimed to be true based on testimony.
      No contemporary accounts means it cannot be historically argued.

      Seems to be that at thing only needs to be falsified once it has some reasonable claim of validity.

    • C Michael Patton

      The key issues when historicity is claimed are 1) does the claimed event, if true, demand one believe in a transcendent cause, 2) does the event has witnesses/contemporaries that record the event as factual (this is why NT textual criticism is so important), and 3) is there historical impact (e.g. life change, converts, hostility, etc.) fitting for the event.

      I don’t find any other religion, ancient or modern, to come close to meeting this criteria. Again, the explanation is simple as monumental claims are easily falsified ivy contemporaries.

      Christianity is unique here. Of course, this does not make it true. One has to put the central claims of Christianity to these tests.

      1) The central claim of Christ’s resurrection points to the authenticity of his teaching which are not simply philosophical, but ontological. “Who do you say that he is?” becomes the key question. And he taught that he was God.
      2) The record of these events date back to within a decade of the historic claims which makes them authentic in their claims and admissible as historic theories.
      3) The impact and rise of Christianity fits the bill. Christianity sees these claims as central and necessary to commit to. If these claims were true you would expect significan conversions and passion for the spread of the message. This exactly we see and it is hard (if not impossible) to give viable alternatives to the resurrection.

    • C Michael Patton

      I often tell people if they want to grow their faith significantly, just study all the alternative theories to the resurrection of Jesus. The sheer number of them is amazing. Nothing ever sticks as, from an intellectual point of view, it would take more blind faith to not believe than it does to believe. And remember, the presence of other possibilities does not equate to the presence of other probabilities.

    • C Michael Patton

      John, just about everyone, believer and non-believer, agree that the central message of the Christian faith (the death, burial, and resurrection) date back to within a decade of the event itself. First Cor 15 is normally the most substantial creed that most agree upon.

      And I do believe that these were eye witnesses, but even if I granted that they were not, we still have the same problem that such a story would not flourish due to its falsifiability.

      And concerning the need for more contemporary sources (and ones who did not have an agenda, this fails to acknowledge the sources we do have (which are many) and assumes that there could be an unbiased history concerning such a monumental event with monumental demands. It is evident that there were many who did not believe in the Christ story and came up with alternatives. I seriously doubt we could expect a source which believes the claims yet is not a biased follower.

      But, again, it is the sheer number of those who did convert to such a culturally bizarre tale as it would go against the grain of both Jewish culture and Greek. A dying God who hung on a tree is the last thing that would appeal to a Jew. And the Greeks hated the body and would have been repulsed by its resurrection. So from a marketing standpoint all of these guys stood behind the worst and must in attractive lie they could have made up. This, ironically, is a serious mark of historicity.

      Finally, the very fact that the Gospels are unnamed is also a mark of historicity. I write about this here.

    • […] Christianity is the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion: […]

    • Felix

      Please check out the video from Steven Hawking as he tries to answer about the existence of God in a very subtle way

    • fwduck

      hahahaha you forget to mention the real religions of old pagan Europe. You also forgot a major part of the creation of the christian religion, modern Christianity is based of the bible and the bible wasnt created until 336 AD in Rome< During the rule of the famous pagan lord Constantine. Its truer that the bible was created based on the accounts of the apostles, but the accounts were selected in a meeting of a council (presided over by many pagan lords and a few of the christian minority[please note that these Christians where supposedly the people that fallowed the 12 disciples teachings]) the original idea of making Christianity the main religion of the collapsing Roman Empire was to stabilize the civil dis arrest of the Roman people due to the surge in the previously mentioned type of Christians. In order to make this new religion more acceptable to the pagans that didn't support the ways to the Christians the previously stated council warped the Jewish basis of the original Christianity to be more similar to that of the pagan religions that already existed within the Roman Empire (the Sabbath being on Sunday instead of Saturday, the divinity of Jesus and his relations with Mary Magdalene, etc…).

      • C Michael Patton


        Who did you get this information from. Is is terribly wrong. Most of what you said would be rejected by both believing and unbelieving scholars. It sounds like your source is Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code?

        • C Michael Patton

          And remember, Brown’s book is a fiction. Even Bart Erhman has repudiated many of you assumptions.

          And please inform me of a Roman parallel that claimed historic worldview alerting events and survived/survives.

    • Noelle Campbell

      You are wrong that Joseph Smith had no witnesses to angelic revelation. Oliver Cowdry witnessed Peter James and John, and John the Baptist. He fell away from the church but never denied seeing it. The Book of Mormon actually starts with Three Witnesses and then Nine witnesses. But it’s great that someone who says you can do historical research on Christianity to validate or falsify it, would do the exact opposite thing on MOrmonism. Congratulations, you’re a hypocrite.

    • Noelle Campbell

      You have a blind spot, btw. You forget that the story of Christianity began with a PRIVATE VISIT FROM A MESSENGER OF GOD. There was only one witness. Everyone had to take her (Mary’s) word for it. So your premise is already blown. Even Mary’s fiance didn’t believe it at first. If he didn’t, and had to take the rest on faith and ANOTHER PRIVATE VISIT FROM A MESSENGER OF GOD IN A DREAM (like “other” religions), then Christianity really isn’t that different from “other” religions. BTW, you should read some more CS Lewis, he would never make so obviously faulty a case on Christianity’s validity.

    • Rhetoric

      A) This is not well researched. The writer hasn’t done a lick of real research, instead trusting the words of people who have a vested interest in Christianity being right.

      Also, the defense the writer did offer was a negative apologetics about other religions’ negative apologetics.

      for instance:

      “An atheist conference, for example, does nothing but belittle the claims of other religions (primarily Christianity). ‘There is no positive defense that one can give for naturalism,’ Habermas concluded. Therefore, the only thing available to the atheist is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Christianity has.”

      But if you switch the words Atheist and Christianity around, so that it reads “the only thing available to the christians is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Atheism has,” then the writer just described his own blog post’s logic–which is, by his own definition, a weak argument for a religion.

      B) Every prophet figure in every religion conducts his actions in public at some point. They have to to win the masses over somehow. The Quran’s narrative structure is a series of accounts by people who interacted with the Prophet. Buddha roamed the lands to show people the eightfold path.

      And as for prophets finding their information while isolated: Was anyone with Moses when he talked to a burning bush and found the 10 commandments?
      C) Many of the “older” religions have historical documentation. In fact, some of those religions simply don’t make sense without the historical context. See also: Hamurrabi Stele

      D) It’s fine to want to defend your faith. But this is a biased source. The writer has something to lose if he’s wrong. So do the biblical scholars. If you want good blogs about faith-reaffirmation, there are better ones out there that don’t rely on poorly composed logical fallacies.

      • C Michael Patton


        You make an assertion that is quite imbalanced concerning a “lick of research.” It evidences that you maybe the one who has more of an emotional investment in this. We need to try to stay balanced, watching the overstatement if this is going to be productive.

        A. There is nothing wrong with negative apologetics. The problem with a worldview is when that is all they have. If you were just to click on the apologetics category on this blog you will find that it is probably ninety percent positive apologetics. There is an incredible amount of evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the text of the NT, the resurrection of Christ, and the nature of Christ (once the first three are established.

        B. of couse there is. But that was not my point. The falsifiability does not come with issues that have no worldview-changing significance. The central event of Christianity is the death burial and resurrection of Christ. If that did not happen, then no other historical accounts matter, no matter how detailed. The central event of Islam are Muhammed’s encounters with angels which are private and beyond falsifiability.

        C. The same is true with all other central claims of other religions that have worldview-changing significance.

        D. Of course this is a biased post. I cannot step out of myself and put on a white coat and be completely objective. Neither can you as is evident from the tone of your rhetoric. But what we can do is do our best to understand and respond with as much balance as possible.

        The problem you seem to have with this post is that you, I assume, did not read it carefully enough as I was pretty clear that these events about which I speak must be central to the faith and have world-view changing significance.

        Could you at least admit that Christianity, as opposed to other religions, has worldview-changing claims embedded in significant historic details and that it is, at least, somewhat curious that such claims could be sustained when so bizzaire and falsifiable?

        If not, please give an example that truly parallels Christianity in terms of viability according to the criteria of this post.

    • C Michael Patton


      This is about the central events being public. Of course there are hundreds of events in the Bible that are, by themselves, not falsifiable. For example, I would never claim that Balaam’s donkey talking is historically defensible, nor would I claim that Elisha’s ax head floating is as well. These are events that are believed only because much larger event justifies a belief in the others.

      The life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the most central event that Christians look toward. It was public. It was not the testimony of one man, or three men (whose testimony is inaccessible due to its singular source). We have claims that include times, dates, rulers, factions, and detailed places written within a generation of the events themselves and call on people to check out there veracity. This is much different than the central claims of Mormons which are beyond such testing due to their historically esoteric nature.

      Hope that makes sense and removes the charge of hupocricy. 🙂

    • Hindu

      Even If we believe each word in article above is correct there is one clause that raises question – Jesus himself said I am son of God however he never claims I am God. Who actually is God is still a mystery, No historical evidence on that.

    • Indeed the more we press into the fields of the mere evidential, the more WE simply must be pushed along by the only historic reality we have, with too the Holy Scripture, and that is the Historic and Apostolic Church, (1 Tim. 3: 15-16 / Acts 2: 42 / Acts 15, etc.). This is, with Scripture, the only ground of the Reformers and the Reformation!

      Btw, this is where the Church has lost “ground”, and why many Christians are turning back to the High Church structure… Authority! Indeed, just where is it?

    • Howard Pepper

      Michael, it’s quite apparent that this kind of “historical, evidence-based” apologetics is satisfying for some people. But it has a number of serious flaws, of which I think part of you is aware. A much more logically and historically coherent approach does not deny the numerous problems in the NT texts re. “falsifiability” around the resurrection, nor the difficulties of verifying what may be historical in the OT.

      Many dedicated and studious believers follow the approaches I’m referring to, basically within “historical critical” method, them being more sophisticated than earlier “history of salvation” thinking, more spiritual than pure “historical Jesus” quests, in their earlier forms. (Schweitzer, 1967 – written 1951 – “… Primitive Christianity” is quite good, and many more recent works.) A bit more specifically, what I find important is to NOT superimpose our current concepts of falsifiability back onto ancient texts… tough for particularly lay people to grasp ancient literary genres, purposes, literacy issues, availability of texts, etc., etc. Historians and literary critics are important to look to (discerningly) here, and I find most biblical scholars not only weak in these areas but slow to look to the work of relevant
      scholarship not in their exact specialization. This HAS to be an interdisciplinary effort and seldom (though changing some lately) do Evangelical scholars take this approach.

      Process theology does, and while it seems complex for many folks, it (or something akin) actually manages to honor many of the factors you bring out, but without the distortions of forcing assumptions back onto the texts, as most “evidence-based/historical” apologetics does. It also accounts for much more of the diverse “data” or “voices” and theologies found in the Bible… much better than does traditional orthodoxy, in my heavily-studied opinion.

    • Indeed once WE as the Church, and the People of God, loose the ground of traditional orthodoxy, and this is NOT “Fundamentalism”, but the historical Church, both visible and invisible, and the essence of the Ecumenical Councils and creeds (with the Word of God), we are on our way to certain apostasy and at least heterodoxy! One only has to look at what the so-called “emergent’s” have done to much of so-called evangelicalism!

    • Margaret

      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. He would not appear only to one small group of believers and one lone outsider, in one tiny place, just one time, two thousand years ago, and then give up. But if Christianity originated as a natural movement inspired by ordinary hallucinations (real or pretended), then we would expect it to arise in only one small group, in one small place and time, and especially where, as in antiquity, regular hallucinators were often respected as holy and their hallucinations believed to be divine communications. And that’s exactly when and where it began. The ordinary explanation thus predicts all we see, whereas the extraordinary explanation predicts things we don’t see at all

    • Howard Pepper


      You’re on a valid, important “track” here; I agree in part. I’d encourage you to keep digging, if these issues intrigue you or you seek to influence traditional Christians. The “hallucination” claim will be impressive to few (or even remotely considered). For one, hallucination is not an appropriate term for what I think you are getting at… we don’t really have one, at least in English… some use “apparition” or “vision” as these avoid the more individual and pathological implication of “hallucination.” These terms are imprecise, too… I don’t think anyone knows the real nature of early disciples’ experiences of the “risen” Jesus. I see no real evidence to take it as encountering his special “quasi-physical” resurrected body. BUT, they seem, indeed, to have had profound experiences… Paul gives the only personal accounting, well later than the supposed Apostles’ (orig. 12) “visions.” Much of Christian theology has been built on his claimed “revelations” from Jesus, and he makes no claim of encountering Jesus physically re-embodied.

      If people are still following this thread, I’d imagine someone is composing a response to your “hallucination” claim, and may post it before mine appears. What I see as the root issue in your comment is that you follow a fully “naturalistic” paradigm. Traditional believers follow a “supernaturalist” one, and “never the twain shall meet.”

      As generally conceived, they ARE mutually exclusive. I’ve invested most of a lifetime learning/studying from both these paradigms and their “data points” (most heavily, Bible, psychology and theology, with other hard science and social science). Fortunately, there IS a “golden mean” alternative which honors data coming from one paradigm or the other, relatively equally: Process theology. You can start with the good Wikipedia summary and follow some of its many references to get a good intro. One of my fav’s is 114 pp: “Two Great Truths” by Griffin.

    • This blog deletes and deletes, I have to get up and down as I write, as I am in the hospital (I’m a chaplain). When I come back now, twice the whole thing is gone! Amazing this so-called techno stuff! I can quite remember the good old snail mail days myself! I even remember writing “free” in the corner, no stamps needed in the Nam!

      Btw, the Body of the Risen Christ was no mere old body resuscitated, but a new body Resurrected! Both physical & spiritual! As Paul said! (1 Cor. 15: 42-44, etc.)

    • teleologist

      I think it is a poor choice of words, i.e. “falsifiability”, for Christianity as Historical! Again the “Incarnational” needs to be central, and always the major focus! The Church of Christ is still: “the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3: 15) And not ideas and teachings of “evidentialism”, by themselves or alone!

      My dear brother Robert, is this your presuppositional side creeping out? 😀 What Michael has posted is excellent and I think there is room for a synthesis of presuppositional-evidential faith.

    • C Michael Patton


      I don’t have any problems with the historicity of the Gospel narrative . . . at least none that would take away from either their verifiability nor the stability of the central claims. Process theology would only be necessary, I suppose, if one were approaching this with too modernistic of a mindset. I am pretty far distant from the demands of modernism, even if I follow the same basic approach.


      To claim that the NT record and all that surrounds it can be explained by mass hallucination is more faith than I have. As far as I can tell hallucinations are subjective. It would indeed be an incredible miracle for your theory to be true. In fact, worldview altering. But, there is simply no reason, scientific, psychological, biblical, historical, or religious, to believe such a theory. Can you give any examples where mass hallucinations have occurred with this many people, about something they are familiar with, over a long period of time (say, ten years—to be generous)? (And aliens or UFO’s won’t do as the type of hallucination does not parallel—i.e. there is no established base to evaluate a UFO but there was to establish the resurrection of a person these people knew, and when seen in mass, they are simply classified as an unknown object or event.)

      On top of that, you really have to downgrade the intelligence of the original framers of this story to feel that every one of them could be self-decieved.

    • C Michael Patton

      And, back to the original post… I don’t think anyone has demonstrated that any other religion has positive based apologetics for the central events of their religion. This was the only humble contention of this post. I have written on the historicity of the resurrection elsewhere.

    • Margaret

      In comment 53 you mentioned the resurrection.
      A Common Hallucination
      Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. One study, by the researcher Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg, found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved’s passing. As a marker of how vivid such visions can seem, almost a third of the people reported that they spoke in response to their experiences. In other words, these weren’t just peripheral illusions: they could evoke the very essence of the deceased.

      • C Michael Patton

        Margaret, it would be agreed that people experience such in a subjective way each having their own stories. But we are not talking about subjective experiences where each person has their own story about a different loved on, we are talking about all these people seeing the same person doing the same thing (appearing in the upper room, appearing at the sea, appearing and as sending into heaven, etc). This is in addition to the individual appearances. And these guys are not unintelligent hopefuls. Your parallel does not come close to explaining what we are talking about with Christ.

        And I don’t think you really want to argue for a shared hallucination where the events, times, places, and people parallel. As I said, this would be almost as miraculous as the resurrection of Christ and demand a transcendent intervention as an explanation.

    • @tel, Yes, this is always my “presupposition”, the Authority of God’s Word, I don’t follow Van Til’s full apologetic, but I do follow this reality of the Reformed Divinity!

      Note, the poor folk here that don’t have a clue to GOD’s most Sovereign Person, and thus surely can’t see the Word of God, Itself! Note, Christ is both the “Logos” & the “Rhema”! But this is ONLY seen “in spirit and truth”.

    • JT

      What? Mormonism was professed, in a court of law no less, that everything that Joseph Smith said was true. How is that not historically falsifiable?

      • C Michael Patton

        Concerning Mormonism, I think you are understanding falsifiability differently than this post intends. The point is that the central events that form the foundation of Mormonism were not public, attested by the public, and flourishing amidst such falsifiable historic contention. One can testify in court about anything, but that does not mean their testimony should be believed. Esoteric times, dates, people, and places do not qualify for the type of falsifiability I am speaking of. I could very well attempt to make the same ripe of claims Joseph Smith made and expect it to gain some traction. But I could not do the same if I was following the model of the Christ story.

    • Chad Dougless


      I hate to point out the obvious, but you just cited a study where the key is that elderly people have this issue. Keep in mind that the witnesses, or at least the apostles, were not elderly and had not been with Jesus for the amount of time that you would be suggesting with the use of this study. You then move to a “almost a third” and want to statistically move this third to be all of the apostles, Paul’s experience, the other witnesses, Mary, etc. Stretches it a bit, wouldn’t you say?

    • Howard Pepper


      Thanks for the response and your #62 re. the “only… contention.” Not sure anyone can demonstrate it. But as you said yourself, even if Christianity is unique in this regard, that does not make it “true” or valid (I forget your exact words). I’m not being merely “postmodern” when I say that the truth of Christianity, to me, lies elsewhere than in whether we can historically verify that a supernatural resurrection happened to Jesus. (Again, Process is my main model/guide… something more serious about the range of spiritual experiences in the Bible than is classical “liberalism.”)

      I’m no longer convinced (tho I used to hold your position) that encountering Jesus up close, touching him, seeing him eat and such was the kind of experience that enabled the transformation of dejected, defeated disciples. I’m as certain as I allow for anything that Paul, for example, was transformed by a visionary and revelatory set of experiences, and subsequently laid out much of the theology Christians hold to today. Neither he nor Luke (in Acts) claims he encountered anything other than what could be called the spirit of Jesus. (Not making too much of this alone, but in Rom., if I recall rightly – maybe Cor., he says Christ IS the Spirit.)

      Now, going just briefly further, Paul’s “gospel” (“my gospel”) differs, at LEAST in emphasis (I’d say in content as well, pretty clearly) from that of those who not only learned under the earthly Jesus, but supposedly were taught further by him for 40 days after the resurrection. In other words, even WITH resurrection appearances taken as real, basically valid (though seriously confused in differing accounts), they significantly do not demonstrate that the BELIEFS of the earliest Christians all came either directly from Jesus or from the Holy Spirit in the “Apostolic age.” On this key point it certainly appears that Christianity, though a wonderful breakthrough, developed in basically the same way…

      • C Michael Patton


        The reasoning, as you know, for all of us is varied and multifaceted and, justifiably, dynamic. I sat under Dan Wallace all week for a course on textual criticism. This continues to add significantly to my belief that the Gospels are early in dependent testimonies of this same basic story. I don’t see any reasons to believe the early church had a different understanding of history much less concern for its centrality. And that is my contention. I am as postmodern as one can be and remain evangelical. Yet my skepticism does have to cede then the evidence points in a definitive direction. When I look at the manuscripts of the first few centuries I find every reason to believe not only that these stories have an origin of such an early date that it would take greater faith to believe that they are embellishments (in any significant sense) but that the Gospel was and has always been (within the canon varitas) stable.

        Again, this does not make it true, but it makes other possibilities more far fetched and faith-filled than believing its historically true.

        But this post is really an attempt to help people to see the significance of trying to embellish the bog ideas of Christianity with so many historic details. It simply does not make sense if, at least, the framers believed these events to be historical.

    • Matthew John Hayden

      Just out of curiosity, why is nobody talking about comparisons of living standards and information technologies between the death of Julius Caesar and 2013?

      Nobody among the general populace had even the beginnings of the mental discipline you all have, mainly because their diets were so poor and they received no formal schooling (tales from Ma about Samson… Lot’s wife… etc… don’t count).

      Thus anyone who could pen quill to parchment, or had attended a Greek sophistry school, could quite easily make anybody believe anything.

      Desperation was life… you all forget that at your peril. Ancient chroniclers, writing about the battles of Alexander the Great, ascribed his victories to the favour of Zeus… and since someone had to cut open live animals and divine the likely outcome before anyone would commit to combat, people simply declared that divine providence was with them (or against them, in cases beyond that of one over-arching figure like Alexander).

      I admire and respect religion, but trying to use scholarly writings to support a metaphysical belief is attempting to fill a cup which has no bottom.

      And since you’re right, that makes me wrong. Which means what? If you had uncontested political authority, what would that mean? I think I know.

    • William Tarbush

      Concerning LDS Christianity, are the dreams had, encounters had, or ideas had the central plot of that faith? Paul certainly had a private encounter, as did Joseph Smith, Jr., yet any Latter-day Saint will tell you, the central facet of LDS religion is the atonement of Christ. There are other prophets of Christian and LDS-Christian faith(s) that include private interaction with God. If the resurrection of Christ was public and well attested to, we can easier disprove Islam than LDS or Christianity. Unfortunately, I remember Josephus being used by Christian apologists to attest to Christ, yet my Christian professor proved (as best as a scholar can prove) that Josephus’ bit about Christ was a later insertion.

      • C Michael Patton

        William, about LDS, are you saying that Joseph Smith’s revelations are not central to the Mormon faith?

    • Clark Coleman

      Mr. Hayden: If it was so easy to start a new religion among those first century rubes, why did none of the others who claimed to be the Messiah succeed? Why did this one group of Galileans succeed in starting a religion that has a billion adherents today? People back then would believe anything, so why did they not believe something besides Christianity? Where are the followers of Zeus today?

    • Brian Casey

      As far as shared hallucination goes, let’s assume this theory is correct, and Mary, the eleven disciples, and the many witnesses (Incidentally, there aren’t many “elderly” recorded in this bunch), all hallucinated an appearance of Jesus out of grief and longing. That would mean, then, that the BODY was still in the tomb.

      As these deluded disciples began telling their story of “seeing” Jesus alive, all the Pharisees would have needed to do was roll away the stone from the tomb (remember, He never resurrected, so He’s still in there), throw Jesus’ body on a cart and parade it through Jerusalem crying, “Behold your ‘Savior’!” That would’ve instantly stopped this ridiculous sect from spreading.

      They didn’t though. Why?? BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T. The body was gone! He had risen just as He said He would. And should your argument be that the disciples “obviously” stole the body away (which doesn’t explain how they overpowered the elite Roman troops guarding it), how could they “imagine” seeing him, KNOWING His rotting corpse was hidden in the basement? And then eagerly march back into town to proclaim His name under the imminent threat of death, knowing He was a fraud. I’m sorry, but “shared hallucination” requires more faith than I have.

      Thank God for a risen, living Savior!

      • C Michael Patton

        The hallucination theory is so in-creadible that it is hard to believe that it could even be suggested. Could you imagine something like this being used by a defense attorney? Yes, there were many eye witnesses to the crime, but we are going to suggest, without any evidence, that everyone hallucinated seeing my client commit the crime.

        Yet, again, the in-creadibility of the alternatives shows how historically verifiable the resurrection of Christ truly is.

    • Jennifer

      Christianity being open to critique does not make it true. You criticize that Mohammad having a private encounter is not testable, but Jesus being the son of God is? Jesus rising from the dead is? You immediately lost me on your argument when you said this. Jesus was not declared divine until nearly 400 years after he lived (historically testable, as you state), yet it is accepted fact by Christians now. Why the 400 year lag? There’s a lot of speculation, historically, about the use of changing the Bible to assess control on a population. But Christians don’t seem to care about this. Why, because they want it to be true, fact doesn’t matter. This post seems to be forcing a square peg into a round hole; there are so many holes in your argument it’s not even worth dissecting because you’re preaching to the choir, not presenting a true argument. Bottom line, Christianity, like any religion, exists because people want it to exist, not because of fact. If Christians want to continue to argue that it’s ‘fact’, you’ll always lose preaching outside the choir. To an outsider, God, Allah, Zeus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are all the same, a part of mythology.

    • Jennifer

      I ask again how Mohammad’s private encounter is any different than Jesus being the son of God? Because it’s documented that Jesus said he was? That’s only proof he said it, not that it’s proof he was. There is NO proof of God, only faith. The authors own arguments would support this because there is no documented evidence of God, only of Jesus. Resurrection? How does a resurrection answer very specific details about who God is, including the eternal reward or punishment of heaven and hell? It’s a ridiculous conclusion. Just because someone was wowed by a magician doesn’t mean it was real magic. All Christian arguments end in faith, not fact. I would challenge you to find a factual argument of the existence of God, not Jesus. Without it proof of this (based on the author’s own rules of concluding from written fact), Jesus was just another man.

    • C Michael Patton

      Mere word and proclaimations are undemanding alone. The difference is that Jesus accompanied his teaching by raising from the dead. Again, the the cartoons above and it should be clear.

    • Colleen Tinker

      Jennifer, written “proof” of the existence of God:

      Genesis 1:14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…'”

      Ps. 19:1-2: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.”

      Romans 1:18-20: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

      Nature itself is created to reveal the existence, the divine nature, and the eternal power of God. Nature depends upon patterns and systems that reveal design and the presence of information. Information cannot be random but requires intelligence. Nature reveals God’s existence and eternal power.

      Day unto day pours forth speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.

    • Margaret

      Thank you Michael for responding so kindly. No arrogance just thoughtful comments.

    • Michael T

      @ Jennifer

      1. “I ask again how Mohammad’s private encounter is any different than Jesus being the son of God? Because it’s documented that Jesus said he was? That’s only proof he said it, not that it’s proof he was.”

      Hmm miraculous signs and wonders displayed for all to see vs. private encounter in a cave. I fail to see the similarity.

      2. “he authors own arguments would support this because there is no documented evidence of God, only of Jesus. Resurrection? How does a resurrection answer very specific details about who God is, including the eternal reward or punishment of heaven and hell? It’s a ridiculous conclusion.”

      Let’s see 1) Man claims to be God 2) Man performs public signs and wonders to authenticate his claims culminating in his rising from the dead 3) man tells us what God is like and the nature of eternal destiny. Seems to me that this would, hypothetically speaking at least, tell us quite a bit about God and heaven and hell.

      3. “Just because someone was wowed by a magician doesn’t mean it was real magic.”

      So what is your claim here? Jesus faked his own crucifixion and somehow got the Jewish AND Roman leaders to go along with it?? How and to what end?? This is perhaps the most fantastical explanation I have ever heard. Can you name a single person with a doctorate in a relevant field, who is published in peer review journals, and holds a professorship at a accredited school who will support this position (there are thousands who meet these criteria, the majority of whom are Atheists by the way)?

    • Michael T

      4. “I would challenge you to find a factual argument of the existence of God”

      A) I would challenge you to make a factual argument for the reliability of science in determining truth without using circular reasoning.


      1) Everything which begins to exist has a cause

      Fact: Things don’t just pop into being, uncaused, out of nothing. You do not worry when you go to work that a elephant is magically going to appear in your living room and destroy your house. To deny this is to appeal to something worse than magic. At least with magic you have a hat and the magician that “cause” the rabbit to appear.

      2) The universe began to exist

      Fact: The universe began around 14 Billion Years ago at the Big Bang.

      Fact: An actual infinite of past moments is a logical absurdity

      Fact: As Peter Vilenkin put it at Stephen Hawkings 70th Birthday Party “All the evidence we have says the universe had a beginning” after showing that every proposed theory requires an absolute beginning to the universe, or even if the universe is part of a larger multiverse, that must have a absolute beginning as well

      3) Therefore the universe has a cause

      Fact: This follows inescapably from Premises 1 and 2

      Fact: There are three types of explanations; Logico-mathematical, Scientific, and that of a Personal Agent.

      Fact: Logico-mathmatical explanations are by definition abstract and therefore cannot have any causal relationship to anything.

      Fact: Scientific explanations are great within the universe, but cannot be used to explain the universe coming into being out of nothing. When there is nothing there is no matter, no energy, and no physical laws for science to work with. Not even a vacuum of empty space, just nothing.

      Fact: This only leaves a personal agent as a explanation for the beginning of the universe (further analysis shows that this agent must be timeless, immensely powerful, and immaterial, that is God for all practical…

    • fwduck

      i didnt base any of what i said of of any of Dan Browns Novels but it is true that he used actual facts in the cheating of his books

    • fwduck

      one of my many sources is

    • fwduck

      to answer you bible thumping biases about the creation of the universe in fact there was mater that existed before the “creating of the universe” but the matter was compressed into one singularity with incomprehensible mass in and intensely small area, and at extreme heats and anyone that has passed 8th grade science can tell you that heated atoms accelerate and when 2 or more atoms collide at high speeds under high heat it creates a little thing everyone knows as nuclear fusion, which as i byproduct of this fusion releases large amounts of energy usually in a radiation form.

    • fwduck

      i am not denying the existence of god(s) im am simply stating the Christianity that you people choose to fallow is a 1700 yr old political scam in an attempt to stabilize the collapsing roman empire, and there sadly is no way to know the REEL parts of modern Christianity from the actual Christianity started by the dispels

    • Howard Pepper


      It just hit me I don’t know one important thing about what your exposure is to what I’ve been “plugging” here and you have responded about, namely a “process” view of understanding God, revelation, etc. You seem familiar with it… what have you read of direct Process authors (I’ve not read a wide variety myself, but some Cobb, Griffin, Williams, M.E. Moore… mostly the Claremont folks)? I realize it’s a real leap from “orthodoxy” but certainly not like the one to naturalism, atheism or even agnosticism (like, say Ehrman). Also what about Mack, Maccoby, Carmichael, L. M. White, Fredericksen, Horsley, Crossan, Borg, etc., etc.? (Some being worshipful, dedicated Christians or Jews and terrific scholars.)

    • fwduck

      Joseph Smith had no proof of anything to begin a religion upon he was nothing but a man with a weird imagination and attention issues.

    • fwduck

      Jews and Muslims have a better shot of getting in to “heaven” than Christians.

    • Howard Pepper


      I understand and don’t have any problem with the nature of your objections and concerns. They are not too far from historical validity, but just far enough that I think I can do you a favor with a bit of advice. Now, I disagree with the main point of this thread and much of the blog’s aplogetics and specific theology, as do you, but I have tons of study of both the bible and the subjects Michael raises… so for what it’s worth: take some time (will be many, many hours) to read widely in some related areas, such as theology, NT studies, Christian origins, textual criticism and transmission, canonization, historical criticism, etc. THEN compose your critiques and questions and you will be more credible. Referencing a few websites and/or popular writers won’t do it. Not critical for your well being, but if you do want to interact meaningfully and in an informed way, it will take some serious reading over a period of time.

    • William Tarbush

      Mr. Patton #77: The restoration is certainly central, yet the restoration is second fiddle to the atonement. As a young man, I attended the LDS Church, and we always spent more time on Jesus than on Joseph Smith.

    • Cynthia

      For the atheist or non-religious person, one has to, at the very least, recognize that the “story” of Christianity is unique among other religions as is suggested by this post. Interestingly, I am reading white fang and have come to a place where London is describing the reverence wolves have for humans: “Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and the over guessed, vapors and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of desired goodness and power, intangible outcroppings of self into the realm of spirit- unlike man, the wolf and wild dog that have come in to the fire find their gods in the living flesh, solid to the touch, occupying earth-space and requiring time for the accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to believe in such a god; no effort of will can possibly induce disbelief in such a god” (beginning of chapter 10).

      The fact is that there is evidence that this person Jesus existed. There is evidence that He claimed to be God-not just that he had ideas about god or had been told by a messenger about god. There is evidence that the reverence and awe His presence inspired by people around Him was similar to that of the wolf to man in London’s story. Jesus is a unique. What conclusions we come to about that, in the end, is our choice. However, the facts still remain.

    • […] “Christianity, The World’s Most Falsifiable Religion,” Parchment and Pen […]

    • Black540Msport

      I’m having a little trouble understanding how the author claims Christianity to be a falsifiable? Definition: “1. Capable of being falsified, counterfeited, or corrupted.
      2. able to be proven false, and therefore testable; as, most religious beliefs are not falsifiable, and are therefor outside the scope of experimental science.”

      The claims in christianity have 0 independent references from other writers of the day. So, how can the claims be tested? (they cant). Proven? (again, can’t). And therefore Falsifiable? (it’s not.)

      • C Michael Patton

        Black, you are acting as if the documents Christians call the NT are one. They are not. And from the historian’s perspective they all must be taken independently. So we have all of these first century documents. How many more do you need? Would 28 do? 29?

        Think of this compared to all of the other documents of antiquity for the lives of great men and you will see that the claims of Christianity has more documentation than any other ancient event.

        THEN add to that Josephus, the early church father, and some references with general support from some roman historians and we have more. Then extend our time period into the second century and dozens more emerge.

        There is more than enough.

    • Michael T


      It sounds like you are describing the so called “Emergent Universe” theory in which there was a eternally existing cosmic egg of sorts which then at a point began to expand. Now I honestly am not qualified (I’m a lawyer) to discuss this, however Alexander Vilenkin is and he does starting at minute 16 of this talk at Cambridge. His conclusion is that it is impossible because of quantum instability.

    • Austin

      RE: William #93,

      “As a young man, I attended the LDS Church, and we always spent more time on Jesus than on Joseph Smith.”

      The Jesus of Mormonism is VERY different than the Jesus of Christianity. The Jesus of Mormonism is nothing more than who Joseph Smith said he was. So even if you spend time on “Jesus” in LDS, it’s still nothing more than another manifestation of Joseph Smith. Very far removed indeed from the true, historical Biblical Jesus Christ.

    • […] The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith. – Parchment & Pen Blog […]

    • […] C. Michael Patton: […]

    • geneww1938

      I struggle after a ‘Reverend’ taught a “Religion and Philosophy” course where he convinced me the Bible was man written with errors. I then mocked the Bible from 1957 to 1977 until Dr. Morris III presented the “Authenticity of Scripture”. After 9/11/01 I struggle to tell others about the evil of the Koran and concluded that after we know the absolute truth, the errors will expose themselves.
      I then worked for several years as a retired consultant, scientist, engineer, and Biblicist to provide this one (1) page absolute proof that God authored the Bible. Please visit

    • Strider

      People, if you think Christianity, the only ONE religion, is falsifiable but haven’t been disproven, I challenged you to read an atheist book. Richard Dawkin’s “The God delusion” is one of them. They talk about the evidence and reasons why the bible is untrue.

      And on what grounds can you say all religions in the world are based on non-historical context? And ASSUMING that your context is indeed true, you cannot say that the people who see Christ were truthful without a hidden agenda. Just take a look at how politics work and you know that we cannot trust a group of people with vested interest.

      So this god just decided to show up to a group of Jews to prove himself and decided not to do that thousands of years later. Really?

      • C Michael Patton


        A lot of interesting statements there. In stead of asking what you sounds so persuasive in Dawkins book or asking what agenda you suppose the apostles had, let me try to stay focused on the subject of this post (as it was not meant to either prove or give evidence for the actual resurrection).

        What other religions have their central founding truths based on testable (public, times, dates, multiple witnesses, etc.) history AND it survived in such an environment?

        • C Michael Patton

          Oh yes, also, this/these events must be significant enough to affect one’s worldview. In other words, winning a battle or seeing an angel does not necessarily communicate anything.

    • David

      There is a white elephant in the room. It’s name, judaism.
      The jews have been persecuted more than any other people, yet still remain. Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled now for the jews. The jews have been re-gathered to their land, Israel was a desert, it now blooms. There language was extinct, it now lives. The evidence is happening now in israel that testifies to the truth of judaism.
      Zechariah 8:23 says :In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you’.

      The jews have more nobel peace prize winners per capita than any other group. You will find jews disproportionately represented as doctors fighting disease, lawyers fighting for justice and economists fighting poverty.

    • Cynthia

      No doubt dawkins is an extremely intelligent scientist who has come to a conclusion about the world in which we live and has a vested interest in promoting it. I have not read his book but am familiar with his conclusions. I am, though, an avid reader of science literature. As i learn, it is easy for me to see how people who devote their whole lives to certain branches science, particularly quantum and atstro physics and cellular/molecular biology, would either be of the type that naturally does not “feel” the presence of God or how the nature of their studies can preclude the idea of God. But science and religion agree on the fact that life, particularly human life, is the highest form of existence. We are not merely a combination of elements. There is something more to us- our experience tells us this.
      And evidence shows that humans have always had a concept of god. National geographic had an article a couple of years ago about finding a temple in Turkey. This site of worship predates the age of agriculture and has challenged the notion that humans devolved a “need” for religion after we began to localize for farming purposes. The finding suggest that humans began congregate for purposed of worship and then started farming. This should make one question the notion that religion was formed as a political strategy to control people.

    • Michael T.

      Dawkins “The God Delusion” is one of the more laughable books when it comes to these matters that there is. There is no doubt that Dawkins is a capable scientist, but when he starts to foray into philosophy he is quite the fish out of water. He is simply speaking on matters that are outside of his field, much like having a doctor give you legal advice. The God Delusion isn’t a one time thing either. For instance Dawkins once make a objection to a group of philosophers concerning the Ontological Argument and then complained that they “resorted to modal logic” to disprove his objection, not realizing the entire time that the Ontological Argument itself is an exercise in Modal Logic (and that Modal Logic is a highly established field in the philosophical arena). To quote Alvin Plantinga on the matter.

      “Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he’s a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of [Dawkins’] forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. ”

      Long story short I don’t believe that there are any great arguments against Theism or for Atheism, however there are certainly much better argument then those purveyed by Dawkins in the God Delusion.

    • Bob

      This is so funny …

      My fictitious God is better that your fictitious God!!!

      Wake up to yourselves people.

      It’s 2013.

      There is no Easter Bunny and NO GOD!

      There are merely wealthy religious organizations who extract money from naive people such as you who are seeking a higher power to solve their problems for them.

      Ask yourself … Why do I believe in God … if you answer truthfully its because you are too afraid not to!

      Wise up and take control of your own destiny while you still have a life left to enjoy.

      Don’t throw money into a collection plate … get of your butt and help another human being!

      Religious people make me laugh.

      • C Michael Patton

        Bob, you know that the “There is no Easter Bunny and NO GOD” is both a non seq and a guilt by association. Piling up the argumentative fallacies may make good sound bites but terrible logic.

    • […] You can read Michael Patton’s post here: […]

    • Eldric Liew

      @C Michael Patton. fwduck is referring to the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD). He wrote like an asshole, but is actually (somewhat) right.

      Early Christians were banned from Rome simply because they refused to fight in any war. You can the Christianity and violence page in wikipedia. Lots of nasty rumors were spread about them to ostracize them from society: they ate children (they took in the homeless. Leaving newborn babies on the streets was the established form of abortion then), practiced incest (called each other brother and sister), etc.

      Suddenly, Christianity became the roman state religion. And soon Christians were fighting in wars everywhere (Constantine’s army adopted the Christian cross before the council). “In 336, prince Narseh invaded Armenia (a Christian kingdom since 301) and installed a Persian client on the throne. Constantine then resolved to campaign against Persia himself. He treated the war as a Christian crusade, calling for bishops to accompany the army and commissioning a tent in the shape of a church to follow him everywhere.” -Quoted off wikipedia.

      Anyway i want to bring up something. Whether Jesus was historically resurrected or not (he existed, see below) he is still a great man whom one should respect for his universal teachings. Those who truly follow him are ALL saints.

      He definitely existed, it is known that the Romans gave his execution order – the Jews recorded it in Sanhedrin 43a:
      On the eve of Passover Yeshu was hanged. … , a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy ….” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! – … With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government for royalty. Our Rabbis taught: Yeshu had five disciples, Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni, and Todah.

      note: Yeshu is still the name the Chinese Christians use to refer to Jesus

    • […] Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion by C. Michael Patton […]

    • JISHAR

      Dear Michael,

      Myself Jishar from a small room,

      Do u really think other religion originated from some one dreaming about God? This is a false concept.
      So u believe Jesus without any message from God he created Christianity. Again u are wrong .Jesus was a messenger of God? Did in any place in Bible he telling that that he is God and pray for only Jesus? Like other messengers of God he also get the message from God and he tried to spread the message of God In this world. But he was not completely success in spreading the message so God sent again messengers to the Earth .The process continued and The last Messenger was Muhammad (sawa) for Muslims. Anyway Bible was rewritten by many peoples but Book of Islam -Quran Remained the same . The RED and BLACK letters of Bible means the changes made in it ,who given them the authority to make changes in Book of God ? In the Bible it was clearly mentioned in more than 3 places regarding not to drink ALCOHOL and not to eat pig/Pork meat. But Christians in the world fail to follow this words of God written in Bible. Because they are misleaded by some private ideas . Private peoples rewritten Bible according to their wishes , for example they want to drink ALCOHOL and eat PORK . So they made changes in bible favoring their ideas. so my dear friend you are following a religion of private ideas because GODS book Bible was rewritten by private peoples( GOD given any authority to rewritten the book ? NO). So you are believing in private ideas and following it. (ALCOHOL AND PORK IS JUST AN EXAMPLE). A real christian has to follow the words of God and Jesus not the ideas of private peoples. Dear friend do you know which religion is following the real ideas of Jesus – Its ISLAM! Are you SHOCKED ? You ask Muslim that – do u believe in Jesus and his virgin birth? Muslims will say ‘YES’ because for them he is their messenger and he is not dead, he is raised to heaven by God & will return to kill ANTICHRIST an rule the world.

    • […] on your point about falsifiability, I thought you might find this article of interest: I disagree with it’s authors in that I do see some atheists trying to make a case for naturalism, […]

    • […] Michael Patton points out that there is a huge difference between the evidence for Christianity and the evidence for other world […]

    • Him

      I think you can EASILY applying the criticism of David Hume to this, and come up with any kind of excuse.

      For example, Maybe they were convinced by an apocalyptic prophet that he would be coming back soon, so they made up more and more crazy stories fulfilling ‘prophecy’ to convert people as quickly as possible, including a ‘resurrection’ that paralleled the beliefs of the pharisees in a resurrection of the dead at final judgement.

      Skeptics are empiricists, so they’d require Jesus to come in modern times, be interviewed before and after crucifixion on camera, run medical tests by medical doctors, put him under surveillance, test the water into wine miracles blah blah.

      I think Christianity is the most likely religion, but it still comes down to faith at some point.

    • […] “Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion” by C. Michael Patton: “Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.” […]

    • […] CHRISTIANITY — ROOTED IN REAL HISTORY — C. Michael Patton writes about how Christianity is based on events that happened in history in a way that other religions, such as Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even atheism, are not. Read about it on Parchment & Pen Blog: Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion. […]

    • […] by C Michael Patton July 8th, 2013 119 Comments […]

    • […] Speaking of other faiths, did you know that Christianity is the ONLY one based on true historical events? Don’t misunderstand, there are historical figures who are part of the other faith’s found (such as Mohammed) but everything the faith teaches is based on an INDIVIDUAL REVELATION to that person, not historical facts. Read the difference here. […]

    • […] The point that Jesus is announcing something that has happened should not be missed. Christianity is a worldview based on events that occurred in history. The claims it makes can and should be examined. That is why Wright encourages Christians (and others) to dig into the historical Jesus and examine the evidence. C. Michael Patton at Reclaiming the Mind Ministries writes: […]

    • Thomas the Doubter

      Something that I have found curious for some time now is the fact that Christian apologists and evangelists constantly appeal to things like Big Bang (or kalam) cosmology, history from 2000 years ago, and tenuous chains of reasoning about what “must” be true. None of this is _empirically_ verifiable in the here-and-now, certainly not by me.

      But wait! We can find examples of scientific reasoning in the Bible. There is Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6:36-40) and Elijah v. the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:18-40). Good, falsifiable scientific experiments. They may be questionable in terms of Deut 6:16, but that issue is not raised in the text. God delivers.

      More to the point, we have the promise of John 14:12-14, that believers will do the works that Jesus did, and greater besides. For what works is Jesus known? Healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, raising from the dead. There’s falsifiability for you.

      Claims of such miracles abound, of course, but I’m not aware of any that have been verified to any scientific standard. Why is that?

      Tell you what. I have a relative who will die unpleasantly in the next few years of a condition they did _not_ bring upon themselves. Heal them. I will even take their condition on myself and die in their place if that makes it easier. Do that and I will believe anything else you say and do whatever you ask.

      I am sure that one or more theologians have good explanations for why the plain words of your scriptures don’t really mean what they say but are still completely true. Whatever. Just quit throwing words around as though they demonstrate something. Talk is cheap. (1 Cor 4:20)

    • SS

      No one saw Jesus rise from the tomb. Christianity is nothing but a faith just like the rest of the religions, that’s not necessarily a bad thing but you can’t apply fact to it.

    • Anthony

      ? What do you mean no one saw him? After he conquered death he even proved himself to be alive to a number of people before he went to heaven. So please you saying no one saw him? So dont say no one saw him when it clearly states in the bible that he did show witness to a number people after. And you can try to fault the bible but you wont be able to because its all truth and you live your life however u want and dis regard this message but
      seriously if your saying when you die on earth thats it?

      So if babies that die from miscarriages its pretty much over? There is a heaven and the lord jesus christ loves you so much he died for u so please go and ask questions on how to be saved. So you know you wont spend eternity with the devil in torment and in hell.

    • Ben

      Watch the first 1/3 of the zeitgeist movie silly sun worshipers. Humanity… Jeez. End religion. End the weak excuses for the world problems.

    • Dan Mayfield

      Why do people like Anthony above say that Jesus didn’t come to start a religion? Have they not read James 1, the last few verses! Good grief. Let’s not throw out the religion of Jesus Christ with the bath water. It’s like people aren’t reading the Bible.

      Oh, by the way, great article here! Thank you.

    • minimus

      “Tell you what. I have a relative who will die unpleasantly in the next few years of a condition they did _not_ bring upon themselves. Heal them. I will even take their condition on myself and die in their place if that makes it easier. Do that and I will believe anything else you say and do whatever you ask.”

      Where do you live?
      I’m up for the challenge, if you are near where I live or travel (I can’t be irresponsible with my money or my family in chasing an online offer). Or if your travels will bring you and your relative my way.

      HERE is the deal though: LOADS of people SAY they will believe (“seeing is believing”) and still walk away with their selfishness and doubt intact. But I’ll uphold my part of the deal….within reason.


    • minimus

      “Tell you what. I have a relative who will die unpleasantly in the next few years of a condition they did _not_ bring upon themselves. Heal them. I will even take their condition on myself and die in their place if that makes it easier. Do that and I will believe anything else you say and do whatever you ask.”

      Where do you live?
      I’m up for the challenge, if you are near where I live or travel (I can’t be irresponsible with my money or my family in chasing an online offer). Or if your travels will bring you and your relative my way.

      HERE is the deal though: LOADS of people SAY they will believe (“seeing is believing”) and still walk away with their selfishness and doubt intact. But I’ll uphold my part of the deal….within (geographical) reason.


    • Max McLean

      Just saw this post. Magnificent! Thank you!

    • David

      I’m baffled by the entire premise of this article. Let’s focus just on the New testament:
      The biblical accounts of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus not only are falsifiable, they falsify one another again and again.
      According to one of the 3 accounts of the birth of Jesus, one mentions that Herod murdered ALL the males in the region under 2. Show one extra-biblical account of that. (We of course know that Herod and Quirinius did not live and rule anywhere near the same time.) One account says the family went to Egypt directly after his birth, another says they went to Nazareth, another hints they stayed in Bethlehem.
      Many of the “Public” miracles of Jesus would have had at least some passing mention Somewhere. None do. You don’t raise the dead child of a centurion and it not get noticed.
      None of the gospels support one another on most of the miracles; different numbers of possessed or blind men, or pigs, for example.
      The accounts of his resurrection contradict one another on many counts. Again, if the sky turned black, the ground shook, the veil rent in twain, AND Many DEAD rose from the graves and went arount talking about Jesus, SOMEONE would have made a note of it. (This is problem all the way through the bible, not just NT.)
      We are talking about a book, which is filled with things that, at the time could not be known, but now ARE known, to be just flat wrong. The “heavens” is not a solid dome. It does not hold back the ‘waters above’. Stars cannot smash down into places on the earth because they are STARS. Bats are not Birds. Rabbits do not chew the cud. The Earth is not flat, does not have ‘corners’. These were not metaphors. The Earth MOVES. The Sun does not rise, nor set, nor go round the earth, could not have stood still or gone backwards. There was no global flood. There was no multi-century slavery in Egypt, nor any exodus as told in the bible.

    • David

      cont: In contrast, there IS some substantial backup for their captivity in Mesopotamia, etc.. Moses did not write about his own death and burial. The Universe is not 6000-1000 years old. Human’s evolved over time, like all life; so there could be no actual Adam or Eve.

      The O.T. claims “God will protect you, no harm can come to you… etc. Let’s look at that:

      Psalms: 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 37:28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off; 41:1-3 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed
      Is 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
      2 Thes3:2-4 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men,

      The point is, in Many places the bible explicitly promises to protect us… This is verifiably false.

      My Favorite, saved for last: Mk 16: 17-18: these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 They will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” This entire passage gets proven wrong daily.

      This particular one regularly gets disproven in the south by preachers and members who get bit, loose limbs, and die from snake bites. Oddly, I never hear of them downing a bottle of bleach to try THAT theory.

      TBC: One short one left. 🙂

    • David

      Cont. Last part:
      Many try to weasel out of this by saying it is just about spiritual protection and not physical. Well, the Israelites didn’t apply it that way when they went into battle based on it. Paul got bit by a snake (according to legend) and did not die. Some Could be taken either way, and some specifically mention spiritual protection and some specifically mention physical protection. I maintain, that given the high rates of immorality, and abuse in the church (it SHOULD be lower than the unchurched but it is not), and the fact that all churches have lightning rods and insurance, and the sickness/death rates in disasters and epidemics is the same for the religious as the non-religious, or other religions, God Does NOT protect us from anything.
      I think the focus should be, rather, Here is this claim; or set of claims; concerning a jew, who may have lived about 2000 years ago. Let’s go see if we can find evidence to back this story up! Rather than, “Let’s believe it and let others disprove it.”.
      (Note: there is only a ‘like’ button, no dislike.)

    • UCohen

      I can say the same about Loch Ness Monsters and mermaids…

    • Howard

      C Michael Patton, you state that Christianity must be the truth because multiple people claimed to see Jesus come back to life, and other religions are pure fiction because only one person saw a divine event occur. Look, it might sound reasonable, at first, but that makes no sense. What if one person said a group of people saw it? You weren’t there. You don’t know that that’s not the case. Besides, a multiple people can agree to spread rumors and lies. A group of liars is no more trustworthy than one.

    • stephen

      You might as well read the bible again and please read it more carefully this time. If you have ever read the chapters of Mark, Luke, John and Matthew, which I assume you haven’t (based on what you have written), you will find that many times they will present different or contradicting facts. I truly hope that you are not one of the people with ‘blind faiths’ that you yourself condemned.

    • Jeff Varga

      Articulated brilliantly. For those in this thread arguing Judaism is more logical, you haven’t been taught that Jeshua fulfilled the signs foretold by the prophets. He was crucified because he responded to the Jews as I AM.

    • gary

      I thought it would be interesting to look at the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus from the orthodox/conservative/evangelical Christian stand point, excluding, however, baseless assumptions. I am excluding fundamentalists in this discussion because fundamentalist Christian views are so extreme that it would be hopeless to try and reconcile them with the actual evidence. Some fundamentalists would probably believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John sat down and wrote their gospels within ten minutes of the Ascension.

      A. The Gospel of Mark

      So, let’s start with the first gospel written, as almost all scholars agree: the gospel of Mark. Most scholars believe that it was written sometime between 65-75 AD. So let’s accept an earlier date for the writing of this gospel: mid 60’s, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.

      1. Who wrote Mark: the gospel itself does not tell us. No clear assignment of authorship is given until Irenaeus in the late second century. Yes, Papias in the early second century mentions that someone told him that John Mark had written a gospel, but Papias does not identify the gospel.

      2. Where was Mark written? We don’t know. Most scholars do not believe that Mark was written in Palestine, but let’s just say that it was. So the gospel is written 30-35 years after Jesus’ death in 30-33 AD. Historians tell us that the average life span of people in the first century was age 45. How many people would still be alive in 65 AD who had been old enough to witness the crucifixion of Jesus? If you were fifteen in the year 30 AD, you would now be fifty in 65 AD, above the average first century life span. And I would bet that even most fundamentalist Christians would believe that the disciples were older than fifteen at the time of the crucifixion. So let’s say that the disciples of Jesus were between twenty and thirty years old in 30 AD. That would make them fifty-five to sixty-five years old in 65 AD, if they were still alive! We have no proof that any of the disciples were still alive in 65 AD.

      3. Even if Mark were written in Palestine, 30 years after the death of Jesus, and there were still people alive who witnessed the resurrection, how soon was the gospel put into public circulation? Maybe the author wrote it for just one wealthy benefactor. Maybe he wrote it just for his small group of Christians, none of whom were old enough to remember the crucifixion. Maybe the gospel was not put into public circulation until after 70 AD. If true, the entire city of Jerusalem has been destroyed, most of its inhabitants are dead or carried off. If there had been a tomb of Jesus, who would now be alive to point out where it was. Remember, all this is assuming that the gospel was written in Palestine or at least circulated in Palestine in the 60’s or 70’s. For all we know, the gospel of Mark was written in Rome and copies of it did not arrive in Palestine until after 100 AD or later! Who would still be alive to say, “Hey, that’s not what happened!”?

      4. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple.

      Even if Jesus did prophesy/predict the destruction of the Temple, is this proof that he is God? If someone living in Europe in the mid 1930’s had predicted that Europe would be devastated by a second world war, that Germany would lose, and that Germany would be partitioned as punishment for starting the war, would we believe that this person was God? Just because someone predicts something that comes true is not proof that they are divine.

      5. Was the author of Mark an eyewitness to the Resurrection?

      The author of Mark never claims to be an eyewitness. He even writes in the third person. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the author was not an eyewitness but to say he was is simply a guess.

      B. The Gospel of Matthew

      1. Who wrote Matthew? The author does not tell us. The assignment of the apostle Matthew as author of this gospel is not mentioned until the late second century by Irenaeus.

      2. Most scholars believe that Matthew was written after Mark and that one can find 70% of the content of Mark within Matthew, often word for word.

      3. Where was Matthew written? We have no idea. Again, for all we know, it could have been written in a foreign country, far away from any eyewitnesses to the crucifixion. We have no idea when it was first circulated in Palestine for any elderly eyewitness to say, “Hey. That isn’t what happened!”

      4. Was Matthew an eyewitness to the Resurrection?

      The author of Matthew never claims to be an eyewitness. He writes in the third person. Again, not proof that he was not an eyewitness but to say he was is no better than a guess. The author of Matthew could simply have been writing a story he had heard third, fourth, or twentieth hand.

      C. The Gospel of Luke

      1. Who wrote Luke? The author of Luke does not say. No clear assignment of authorship of this gospel is given until the late second century by Ireneaus.

      2. Where was Luke written? We have no idea.

      3. The author of the Gospel of Luke also borrows heavily from the Gospel of Mark. Approximately 50-55% of the content of Mark can be found in Luke, frequently, word of word.

      4. Was the author of Luke an eyewitness?

      Luke very clearly states in the first few verses of chapter one that he is not an eyewitness. He states that he carefully investigated the writings of others (Mark and “Q”?) which he didn’t seem to find satisfactory, and that his sources had given him eyewitnesses testimony. However, he does not identify his sources. Were his sources eyewitnesses themselves or were his sources associates of eyewitnesses giving him “eyewitness” testimony from their source or sources, which would make Luke’s information, at best, second hand information.

      D. The Gospel of John

      Many conservative Christians believe that the author of John infers that he is John, the son of Zebedee, by using the term “the beloved disciple”. I personally (and many scholars) do not think that the author of John is referring to himself as the beloved disciple but is claiming to be recounting the story of the beloved disciple. But let’s assume that the author of the Gospel of John does claim to be John, the beloved disciple. What evidence do we have to determine if his claim is true? Do we have any contemporary Christian or non-Christian testimony that states that John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel of John? No. We do not. The assignment of authorship of this gospel is not made until the end of the second century, again, by Ireneaus. Papias makes no mention of this gospel.

      So just because someone claimed to be John, the beloved disciple, recounting an eyewitness account of the life, death, and supernatural resurrection of Jesus, should we take him at his word?? Many, many “gospels” were floating around the Mediterranean world in the late first and second centuries. The non-canonical Gospel of Peter may have been written even earlier than Mark! Yet, no one, including fundamentalists, believes that the apostle Peter wrote the Gospel of Peter. So, how do we know that the author of the Gospel of John, if he really was claiming to be John, was really John, the beloved disciple, son of Zebedee?? The fact is, that we have no more evidence that John wrote the Gospel of John than we do that Peter wrote the Gospel of Peter, other than Irenaeus’ declaration in 180 AD, in France, one hundred and fifty years after the crucifixion, that the four gospels we have today were written by the persons that he asserts, based upon evidence, that he never gives!

      E. What Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus do we have so far?

      We have four first century books describing the alleged facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but only one, (maybe), claims to be an eyewitness testimony.

      Dozens of Romans senators claimed that the first Roman king, Romulus, was snatched up into heaven right in front of their eyes…but no Christian believes this eyewitness testimony.

      Thirteen men living in the early nineteenth century signed legal affidavits, swearing under oath, that they personally had seen the Golden Tablets delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni with their own two eyes, and three of these men signed affidavits that they had seen the angel Moroni himself with their own two eyes…but yet no Christian believes this eyewitness testimony.

      Thousands upon thousands of devout, pious Roman Catholics have claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, alive, often many hundreds or even thousands together in the same location, at the same time…but no Protestant or evangelical Christian denomination believes this eyewitness testimony to be true.

      Yet, Protestant/evangelical Christians will believe as absolute fact, that a first century dead man walked out of his tomb after three days of decomposing, ate a broiled fish lunch with his friends, and then levitated into outer space based on the testimony of…one…,possible, eyewitness’ testimony!

      F. But what about the Apostle Paul?

      The testimony of Saul/Paul of Tarsus is used by Christians as secondary proof of the Resurrection of Jesus. Christians do not allege that Paul saw a resurrected Jesus prior to his Ascension into Heaven. In I Corinthians Paul makes this statement, “Have I not seen the Christ?”

      But when Paul says he has “seen” the Christ, what did he see actually? Well, Acts chapter 26 tells us exactly what Paul saw, in his own words: Paul saw a talking, bright light that told him that it (the talking, bright light) was Jesus. And, Paul very specifically states, that he saw this talking, bright light…”in a heavenly vision”.

      Talking bright lights are not resurrected bodies and visions are not reality.

      Yes, Paul came to believe that Jesus had been bodily resurrected, but there is no evidence that Paul believed this due to seeing a resurrected body. Paul was a Pharisee, and Pharisees believed in a bodily resurrection, so if Paul believed that the talking, bright light speaking to him on the Damascus Road was the executed Jesus, then he would of course believe that he had seen the (bodily) resurrected Jesus, even if he had actually not seen a body, but only a bright light!


      The belief that a first century dead man, named Jesus, walked out of his tomb with a new, superman-like body that could teleport between cities (Emmaus and Jerusalem), could walk through locked doors (the Upper Room), and could teleport into outer space (the Ascension) is based on one alleged eyewitness who wrote a book 40-60 years after the alleged event, whose authorship was not mentioned by any Christian or non-Christian until 150 years later, at the end of the second century, when it was finally called the Gospel of John…and…on the “heavenly vision” of a vision prone Jewish rabbi, Saul/Paul of Tarsus (who also said that he was teleported to the “third heaven”. What other writer of the Bible refers to the concept of multiple heavens?)

      And we are asked to believe that based on this “evidence”, Jesus of Nazareth now sits on a throne in the far reaches of outer space, ruling as our Almighty Lord and King of the Universe??

      The Romans and Mormons have better evidence for their supernatural tall tales than this tale! It is an ancient legend, folks. A fantastic, supernatural superstition. The chances that it is true are infintisimal.

    • AN

      There’s a lot of talk about evidence, but what exactly is it you think it proves?

    • followerofMessiah

      I find it interesting that biasing Truth within the realm of publicly acclaimed roots of Faith are results found here by what “man” says and claims. Facts are facts, yes, but you cannot encounter Truth without something relational. Yahweh created men and women for “Relationship” and for His purposes. Argue all day long…….try and substantiate facts and claims about other gods but the Truth is and was and will always be HIM! You can’t know this until you call upon Him and ask for relationship with Him through Truth which is His Son, Yeshua, who died, spilt His blood, defeated satan and all his dominion (hell) and rose to the Throne room to be with Whom all have been looking for THE WHOLE TIME. Yahweh is His name and HE loves you………just ask Him and for Him to reveal Himself and His Truth 🙂

    • Jaime

      Your argument has one huge hole in it. Christianity springs directly from Judaism. Without Judaism, there is no Christianity. Judaism started off like every other religion you mentioned. One persons private encounter with a so called god. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses… all of them are completely unable to be substantiated. And so it takes blind faith to believe it. Consequently making blind faith the core tenet of Christianity. To dismiss Judaism is to dismiss anything that remotely validates Jesus as a Messiah.

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