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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Last Night's Debate

Here are just some thoughts on the debate with Craig last night....

Craig seemed to me to be nice man. The debate wasn't dirty and there was nothing below the belt. There was the usual rhetoric and criticisms and all that but I don't mind that and I imagine Craig is long used to that side of things. I know some people are reluctant to do such things because they feel they'd lose their temper but I'm not sure if these things ought to be taken wholly seriously: it is the debating style format after all.

As for content, well there were no surpises on both sides assuming you've read stuff by either or us. I went for the argument based on visions interpreted as a bodily raised figure which would require the assumption that Jesus' tomb must have been empty so it is no surprise that stories of an empty tomb emerged. My guess is that the Markan empty tomb story is largely a work of fiction designed to explain why no one knew about the empty tomb. But even if the empty tomb was a historical fact, we do not have to resort to underlying supernatural explanations, because, like any story of the supernatural, there are usually enough alternative explanations. I also repeated my point that Paul has no eyewitness accounts of the empty tomb in contrast to eyewitness accounts of visions and Mark has the women telling no one. In historical terms these two earliest pieces of evidence are not strong pieces of evidence at all. I did add that I had no intention of persuading people that the literal bodily resurrection is false but inn historical terms it cannot really be treated as a serious argument, other than in the sense the earliest Christians believed they had seen a bodily raised Jesus.

Craig used some criticisms previously aimed at my views. He cited Dale Allison's intro in the JSHJ resurrection issue. But what was particularly interesting was that I don't think he cited Wright's criticisms of me in that issue. While Allison's criticisms can (and will) be answered, I think they were measured and non-polemical, and probably the criticisms anyone should have turned to if debating me on the resurrection. But I thought Wright's were very weak and too polemical in the sense they were often lacking substance and misreading what I said. Wright often just ignored key criticisms (the resurrection of the saints really does need to be answered properly by Wright, esp. when compared with Wright's comments on the 'obviously fictitious' in non-Christian traditions). I think is obvious when reading the response in conjuntion with my article but I always wonder if others think the same way. What was interesting in terms of last night's debate was the Craig did go for me on dates and haggadic stories but if I remember rightly he did not mention Wright's criticisms. Wright said that I was using stories that refer to supposed events centuries before (e.g. Exodus) whereas I explicitly mentioned fictitious storytelling much closer to the time of the individual or events in my article. I can't imagine Craig did not notice Wright's argument so I wonder if he noticed this too?

Anyway, there are some thoughts. I enjoyed the evening, others seemed to enjoy it too (well, that's what they told me anyway) and the Sheffield students seemed to be well into it. So that's no bad thing, is it?

UPDATE: Philip Davies has some thoughts on the debate on Jim West's blog.


Anonymous Jim said...

Wish I could have been there.

March 07, 2007

Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Glad it went well today James. In your honor I'm taking the PM off to play with the kids and watch ManU bury Lille; let's hope they don't resurrect, literally or metaphorically or what have you.

PRD said things were polite and all, "although the event was sponsored by the Christian Union" over at Jim West's blog. Is that how he feels about the evangelicals around there? Is there a history to that or something?

March 07, 2007

Blogger James Crossley said...

I don't think Philip was referring to anything that only he in particular feels but how many not in the Christian Union sometimes perceive the group (rightly or wrongly). The history is general: the Christian Union are one of if not the biggest student union group in the UK and so in student land they have some power. Sometimes polemics can fly in these things. But to be honest I think the any problems (and they do happen) tend to be a student level (and often Christian vs Christian). Also, it was clear that some of the audience members not familiar with biblical scholarship were a little rattled when they hear things like 'that never happened' or 'it doesn't mean that' but they still didn't react too strongly. Remember the CU did sponsor the event and they did have someone (me) make some claims that run clean contrary to their core beliefs so a strong reaction might be expected but they were fine.

On the game: not the best for time off but good enough if you are a United fan.

March 08, 2007

Blogger steph said...

It was very good fun but Hugh outdid you both with a very nice tie!

March 08, 2007


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