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Railroading the Resurrection: Why Am I Persuaded… but Not My Uncle?
by Michael Svigel
I believe in the miraculous bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth about thirty-six hours after he genuinely died on a Roman cross. My uncle? Not so much. But why not? Why do I see the constellation of evidences pointing to the resurrection, but he sees just a bunch of random points of flickering lights?
Here’s the problem. Some read the Gospel accounts in the New Testament and see them as facets of a unified whole; others read the same documents and see mutually exclusive accounts that contradict each other. Some think through the various historical arguments for the resurrection and find themselves persuaded that the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth best explains all of the evidence; others hear the same arguments and conclude that they are simply under-determinative given the high burden of proof. So, what’s the problem? Why is there such an impasse when it comes to the evaluation of the exact same evidence? Why do I approach the evidence and arguments with the eyes of belief, while others approach the same evidence and arguments with the eyes of disbelief?
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Well, let me tell you what is not the reason. It’s not that one scholar has more facts than the other. We’re all dealing with the same pieces of information. Nor is it simply that one scholar is smarter than the other. Nor is it that one scholar went to a better school than the other. Or is of a more noble character than the other. Some of these things may very well be true, but they are merely red herrings when it comes to discovering the root cause of why one person concludes that Jesus Christ rose from the dead while another concludes the exact opposite.
So, if it isn’t a simple matter of quantity of facts or quality of thinkers, what is it?
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