Here’s a reply to my extremely mean recent post about atheism’s difficulties making moral behavior rational.
Why is Christian morality correct? Why not Islamic morality?
And I replied like this:
Great question. You can’t settle it by comparing moral specifics. You have to appeal to some sort of testable claim.
For example, you mentioned Islam. Islam thinks that Jesus never actually died on a cross (Surah 4:157). Are the Muslims correct in saying this? It’s a historical claim, so to history we must go.
There is no credentialed historian of any stripe (atheist, agnostic, Jewish, etc.) who doubts the crucifixion. In fact, prominent atheist scholar E. P. Sanders of Duke University puts it on his list of almost indisputable facts about the historical Jesus.
E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985). Sanders lists eight “almost indisputable facts” which he takes as his starting point (p. 11):
1. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
2. Jesus was a Galilean who preached and healed.
3. Jesus called disciples and spoke of there being twelve.
4. Jesus confined his activity to Israel.
5. Jesus engaged in a controversy about the temple.
6. Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem by the Roman authorities.
7. After his death Jesus’ followers continued as an identifiable movement.
8. At least some Jews persecuted at least parts of the new movement . . . .
See now also E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin, 1993).
And prominent Jewish Professor of Religion Paula Fredriksen of Boston University says in this paper that “The single most solid fact we have about Jesus’ life is his death. Jesus was crucified. Thus Paul, the gospels, Josephus, Tacitus: the evidence does not get any better than this.”
Sanders and Fredriksen are probably two of the best scholars on the historical Jesus in the world, and they are NOT Christians – they have no axe to grind. So Islam is false as false can be. The Koran cannot contain any errors – Muslims claim it is inerrant and its moral authority is lost if any error is found. But we’ve found a BIG ONE.
Regarding Christianity, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christian morality should not be taken seriously either. Even Paul says that if the resurrection did not happen then Christianity, and Christian morality, is WORTHLESS. See 1 Corinthians 15:17-19. 1 Corinthians is one of the most early and reliable books in the New Testament. It is authored by Paul in 55 AD – and no scholars denies that. It’s genuine Paul. The creed in 1 Cor 15:3-7 is dated within 1 to 5 years of the Cross. By ATHEIST scholars like James Crossley.
My advice is to watch some DEBATES between Christian and non-Christian scholars on the topic of the resurrection. You’ll find some linked in this post.
Or just look here:
Debates are a fun way to learn
Three debates where you can see this play out:
- Craig Evans and Bart Ehrman
- Mike Licona and Bart Ehrman
- William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman (transcript here)
Or you can listen to my favorite debate on the resurrection.
Not that I don’t think you have to be an inerrantist in order to be a Christian, so long as your claims of error are on solid historical ground. (I am an inerrantist – you don’t have to be to be a Christian – you just have to accept the classical creeds of Christendom)
Hope this helps. Come on – I typed all this in. At least listen to the William Lane Craig versus James Crossley debate. Please?
Every religion makes truth claims about the word, and you can choose a religion by testing those claims. Wouldn’t it be neat if Christians learned to argue for their worldview using facts supplied by non-Christian experts? That’s how I try to argue.