Atheist’s Accusation of “Contradictory Gospels” Just Doesn’t Make Sense
by Ross Hickling
There are skeptical voices today that claim the Gospel narratives contradict each other. One of these voices belongs to Dr. Richard Carrier, an atheist, who specifically targets the resurrection accounts in the different Gospels as being contradictory. In regards to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he observes contradictions in the number of angels, the lists of witnesses to the resurrection, the details of the burial of Jesus, the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, etc. Does Dr. Carrier’s claim have any merit?
In my police career, when arriving at the scene of a crime, it was important for me to interview all of the witnesses of the crime. Oftentimes, these witnesses had different accounts of what happened. The witnesses would provide me with what they observed from their unique perspective. As an investigator, it was up to me to figure out what really happened from the evidence that I collected to include the testimony of the different witnesses. Later in my career as a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive investigator, I would often interview a number of informants/witnesses, on a case, who would give me differing pieces of information about the fugitive and his whereabouts. One person might tell me that they saw the fugitive last night with his girlfriend in Kernersville at a particular address whereas another witness may tell me that he heard that the fugitive was going in and out of Kernersville every couple of days in a blue Chevy truck.
These statements about the whereabouts of the fugitive are reconcilable even though they come from different perspectives and vary in small details. They both tell me that my fugitive is frequenting Kernersville even though one has more specific information than the other. In both instances (the crime scene and the fugitive investigation), it was up to me to determine the truth from the testimony of the different witnesses. One thing that I realized from my investigative career is that witnesses in the same case rarely gave identical testimony even though they had many points of similarity. If the testimony of two or more witnesses is identical in every respect, then this can lead one to believe that the testimony is rehearsed.
Does Dr. Carrier make valid points? Are the Gospels contradictory? In answering these questions, I think that the definition for the word “contradiction” would be a good place to start an analysis…
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