e-mail: j ordantheist
For those just tuning in, here are the earlier links:
Where is the Body? But First:
Before moving on to the next item of my Resurrection-conversion-to-Christ basis, I present the following commentary on Steve’s latest response. I hope it does not look “confrontational.” I am being “frank to avoid giving an unsatisfactory or vague conversation.”
Steve in Review
“I am not entirely happy with
My reply was:
“An example from Steve would be helpful…”
An example was never presented of whatever rule breaking I previously committed. He later presented (in his latest response) his documentary-quoting concern that I address later in this post.
Steve also wrote:
"However if you just wish to lay out the details of what convinced you at the time of your conversion, rather than respond in detail to my essay and resources (which is rather a lot to ask), then that information, rather than what you have subsequently learnt, would be of interest to see the quality of the argument that convinced you at the time you became a Christian. What you have learnt subsequently could always be put up as a rebuttal to me if you wish to do so when you have time."
"Also I really just initially enquired to find out why you converted, not to debate, and as such I will be very interested in learning the details of what convinced you about the resurrection."
"I am not seeking a debate and will not harangue you with arguments (put me in your killfile if I do!), rather I have to ask people on both sides of the question if I am to do honest research."
“I hope it doesn't look confrontational. I try to be frank to avoid giving an unsatisfactory or vague conversation.” (Steve’s correspondence with John Richards)
I allow the reader to analyze Steve’s comments and weigh them against his practice.
What Steve Addressed
A Plea for Civilised Debate, Homophobia, Winners and Losers
Those three sections of ad hominem ad nauseam tactic are addressed as follows (Undoubtedly, I will be charged with sarcasm and nastiness for using such a term as “ad hominem ad nauseam.” Nonetheless, those sections are, indeed, ad hominem and lengthy.):
A Plea for Civilised Debate, Winners and Losers
Steve merely presents to his readers that
What I make no apology for is that Steve simply is not of the caliber of skeptics such as Jeff Lowder, Ed Buckner, Temy Beal and others I have encountered whose works warrant greater respect than Steve’s inasmuch as they tend to not misquote or quote out of context, and tend to be better able to stick with the subject matter at hand. Such practices are difficult to counter without the offender taking offense. I also make no apology for not sharing in Steve’s appreciation, enthusiasm and admiration for his work. I am merely remaining honest while expressing that Steve may have been “singing to the choir” too long to have developed a healthy appreciation for the fact that some people may disagree with logic that he deems conclusive.
Further, in all of my years of atheist-circle mingling, I never heard an atheist express disgruntlement over Madalyn O’Hair’s insults and sarcasm to her opponents. Nor did any AFS member criticize a fellow member’s command to a city official to go F himself. Nor did any AFS member criticize a fellow member who screamed at home-school advocates at the top of his lungs with a beet-red face and veins bulging. In those cases, these atheists were merely “calling it like it is.” I personally witnessed O’Hair needlessly insulting her own members. So, if manner and etiquette are indicative of veracity of an advocate’s cause, both sides have failed miserably. No wonder then, to me, that only a Savior could save us from ourselves.
Steve really needs to drop it and stick with the Resurrection. I have never been homophobic and remain not homophobic. That is a separate (http://www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/docs_files/stone_files/stone.htm) political article at my site. Christians need to get out of the political and private lives of persons outside the Body of Christ, including homosexuals.
I remind readers, once again, that Steve solicited my reasoning as to why I converted to Christianity based on the Resurrection. That is what I have presented and continue to present. Steve is entirely at liberty to discuss whatever he wishes anywhere on his pages. I must ask that he not attempt to devote my pages, however, to his unrelated matter. I met his request by presenting the points that convinced me. He is welcome to refute those but I must insist that he respect the fact that we are dealing with MY conversion. Other issues must simply be argued with other persons. The Resurrection offers us ample material to keep us busy.
The Irony of Invented Jesuses
That section is irrelevant to my Resurrection conversion items. Steve’s interaction with John regarding unrelated Resurrection matters must remain between him and John. The items I defend are, once again: scholarly consensus, Christ’s physical existence and crucifixion, His disappearance, and His followers’ vision(s). Those items, and those items only, remain on the table for these pages. They are all I ever offered. Further, they are exactly what he solicited.
My Authorities and the empty tomb (From: What do Scholars Say?)
Steve, once again, misquoted me. Nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE in my formal debate with Steve did I present that NT scholars concur an empty tomb. I wrote that they agree there is no available body. I previously wrote of my concerns about the empty tomb (in Birth and Death of an Atheist, and an informal e-mail to Steve) but never included it in my responses to Steve; nor did I claim in earlier writings that scholars agree. In my previous response to Steve, I wrote, “An empty tomb is not needed to make the case for Christ (though a case can be made for it). Let us not stray from my points. Does their ‘general agreement’ (and I just reread Geering) imply that Jesus did not exist, face crucifixion, and leave followers seeing something they believed to be a risen Christ?” Steve seems to equate “absent body” with “empty tomb.” An empty tomb is merely a potential argument about the reason for an absent body—no more, no less. The body could be absent in accordance with atheistic apologetics. It could also be absent in accordance with Christian apologetics. The scholars’ agreement is that a body previously existent is no more, not that there was an empty tomb. Steve hit heavily and repeatedly on the empty tomb presenting I claimed veracity of such in this debate.
Asymmetry of conversion continued…, What do scholars say?
Those pages offer no refutation of Steve’s authorities acquiescing to the items I presented repeatedly.
What Steve did not address
Steve presented the following regarding some Christian clergy and academics’ belief regarding a physical resurrection:
“More evidence that current scholarship rarely filters through to the Christian laity is the following from religious tolerence.org. ‘The beliefs of mainline Christian clergy and academics tend to be between those of the liberals and conservatives. A survey of mostly mainline Protestant clergy shows that many doubt Jesus' physical resurrection. Percentage of doubters are:
American Lutherans: 13%
[Reply: Therefore, according to this study, 87% believe otherwise.]
[Reply: Therefore, according to this study, 70% believe otherwise.]
American Baptist: 33%
[Reply: Therefore, according to this study, 67% believe otherwise.]
[Reply: Therefore, according to this study, 65% believe otherwise.]
[Reply: Therefore, according to this study, 49% believe otherwise.]
“Even so, I know of theological colleges where there is a steady stream of people who leave their Christian faith due to their studies.
“Not only have I read about this, and seen such people discussed on TV documentaries, but I have also discussed this with the principal of one of these colleges, and I got to know the vice-principal who left because she came to the conclusion that Christianity was not of God.”
I queried Steve as to whether we were to deduce then that these persons are of the position that Christ never existed, was crucified, His body is absent, and His followers saw something they believed to be Him resurrected. Steve continued on in his response driving home the fact they doubted a physical resurrection, which was NEVER an item of my argument over scholarly consensus. Steve also failed to present how he determined that such a minority status of the belief was somehow indicative of veracity. I asked more than once that Steve present these dissenters’ reasoning rather than blanket statements of rejection. All he really presented is the non-empty-tomb syndrome and the doubting of Christ’s divinity, which I never argued in the case of scholarly consensus.
Steve later expressed disgruntlement claiming I was not honoring my rule of not applying double standards, charging that I criticized his quoting of documentary viewing yet quoted documentaries myself, overlooking that in MY reference I stated the scholar’s NAME and specific ARGUMENT. Specifics of his dissenters’ conversions were and remain my plea. Do they doubt Christ’s historicity or merely His physical resurrection? According to Steve’s “research,” it is Christ’s divinity they doubt, NOT His historicity.
What Steve did not consider
A Plea for Civilised Debate
In this clear ad hominem presentation, Steve conveniently avoids dealing with J.P. Holding’s links by bashing J.P.’s character. No need to look at those links, folks; Holding’s a mean guy. Mean guy or nice guy, the work is accurate or it is not. Speaking of Holding, here are a few Steve-interest related Holding links:
http://www.tektonics.org/tekton_01_01_01.html Shatter Myth
http://www.tektonics.org/tekton_02_03_06.html Paul: Acts vs. Epistles
http://www.tektonics.org/JPH_D09_MMMM.html Making More Myth Madness: Or, Puzzle No More, Dear John!
http://www.tektonics.org/GL.GD_1573926884.html A review of Gerd Ludemann's The Great Deception
http://www.tektonics.org/physrez.html Physical Resurrection
“The Jesus Myth” (G.A. Wells)
Others are formally employed in unrelated subjects,
making historical Jesus research a separate interest as is G.A. Wells,
Professor Emeritus of German at the
Now I quote infidel Jeff Lowder (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html):
There is simply nothing intrinsically improbable about a historical Jesus; the New Testament alone (or at least portions of it) are reliable enough to provide evidence of a historical Jesus. On this point, it is important to note that even G.A. Wells, who until recently was the champion of the Christ-myth hypothesis, now accepts the historicity of Jesus on the basis of 'Q.'  See G.A. Wells, The Jesus Myth (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1999). [Emphasis mine]
Steve merely equated historicity with divinity, and “absent body” with “empty tomb.” I made neither of those claims in my presentation of scholarly agreement. Wells, himself (according to Lowder), agrees with my position that Christ is an actual historical figure.
By the way, after Steve’s confusion over “empty tomb” and “absent body,” I have changed that wording in Birth and Death of an Atheist. Though I did not use an empty-tomb phrase in my debate with Steve, I understand how he could have assumed such from reading Birth and Death of an Atheist. By rewording the article to “absent body” I expect to prevent further confusion by others.
Considering that even Steve (despite his endless list of de-converters’ testimonies attesting that Christian apologetics failed to satisfy them of Christ’s divinity) concludes that historicity of Christ is probable, let us move on to this nasty Christian’s (Jordan) Resurrection details, which remain regardless of my unsavory character.
Steve believes that civilized debate is needed. Here we have our opportunity. Steve can honor his statements (reprinted at the start of this post) enticing this exchange. Steve presented no valid argument against my opening page’s claim that nearly all New Testament scholars agree Christ existed, faced crucifixion, His body is not available to us and His followers saw something they believed to be a risen Him.
Personally, I find it rude, self-centered and egotistical of Steve to force readers of this exchange to read his material that is not regarding this issue.
Now, Where is the Body?
What does Steve Believe?
To quote what Steve believes “…to recap, personally I think that there probably was a historical Jesus although quite different than the various Jesuses of faith, who was probably crucified and then probably thrown in a common grave …”
Two of my links regarding this issue are:
Steve’s links outside of his Site regarding this issue are:
(Which is actually greater support for my position than Steve’s, or, at best, agnosticism of the common-grave hypothesis.)
“As a deterrent to crime the Roman authorities usually left the bodies of
the crucified hanging on the cross until they had decomposed, but in Palestine
this practice was suspended out of respect for a Jewish law that mandated the
burial of a hanged man on the day of his death.
As criminals, the victims of crucifixion were usually buried in a common grave
rather than in individual tombs, and Jesus' corpse may have suffered that fate.
This possibility is increased by the fact that the Jewish law considered hanged
or crucified men to be accursed by God (Deuteronomy ; cf. Galatians ).
In fact, one scripture text indicates that Jesus was buried not by his
disciples but by his enemies, the very ones who had arranged for his death
("those who live in
thus have constituted the final rejection of the prophet by those to whom he had preached.
On the other hand, there may well be historical truth to the gospel stories that before evening fell and the Passover began, Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, removed the body from the cross with Pilate's permission, wrapped it in linen cloths, and sealed it in a tomb hewn out of rock.  (Matthew's story that the high priests set guards the next day at Jesus' tomb is a later legend, as we shall show below.)”
I share Holding’s concern on this one regarding Carrier’s use (by his own admission) of law dated 200 years after the fact.
Steve also values the Jeff Lowder link (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/empty.html) I planned on referencing here. I read Steve’s links and remain in concurrence with Lowder that agnosticism of the empty tomb is the most rational position. Again, empty tomb or no empty tomb, the absent body is the issue.
I included the PBS link (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/crucifixion.html) because it illustrates that commonly understood and asserted Roman no-no practices are not necessarily so.
Steve’s best calculation is that Christ was thrown into a common grave. I agree that the best and safest secular explanation as to where Jesus wound up is a common grave.
Next Step: The Visions
Though I consider that the common-grave hypothesis is the most rational secular explanation, let us not dismiss I am merely agnostic on the empty tomb, not certain either way. As Lowder presented, Craig’s hypothesis’s points could make a case for empty-tomb historicity cumulatively. Lowder considers, however, Craig’s individual points do not make a strong case. I do not fully agree with Lowder but I appreciate his reasoning. Nonetheless, all secular explanations of Christ’s bodily disappearance leave me with a concern I had in my initial reasoning.
A concern I harbored over the common grave hypothesis (as well as other non-resurrection ones) lies in harmonizing it with the disciples’ and Paul’s post-Christ-death-visions and their subsequent behavior. Provability of veracity or falsity of the empty-tomb syndrome negates neither the non-theistic nor theistic position.
I remind readers of my Temy Beal debate regarding visions:
Please demonstrate the veracity of your claim that, "Mass hallucination is a well known and fairly common occurrence." Atheistic Harvard professor Michael Martin ("The Case Against Christianity," 1991, p. 92) wrote:
Is it really true that there is no such thing as mass hallucination? In fact, psychologists have studied a closely related phenomenon known as collective delusion or mass hysteria. In this phenomenon . . ..
Notice he shifts to a "closely related phenomenon [collective delusion]," not the phenomenon at issue [mass hallucination]. Charge me with splitting hairs. However, hallucinations are sensory experiences (e.g., "I see the Abominable Snowman sitting on my sofa drinking coffee, I hear his growl, and I feel his claws ripping my flesh"), whereas delusions are beliefs (e.g., "The Abominable Snowman is out to get me.")
Temy, Martin took a huge
leap to explain sensory phenomena using delusionary
phenomena. You claim, "Mass hallucination is a well known and fairly
common occurrence." First, define "common," then define
"fairly." Mass hallucination is not a common, a fairly common, nor an
established phenomenon. Notice Martin challenged the established scientific
understanding that mass hallucinations are non-existent. Further, your Conyers
scenario [visions of Virgin Mary in
Further, mass optical illusion phenomenon such as the Conyers, Georgia sightings are no indication of veracity of mass hallucinations, for all seers of such had to travel to Conyers to see it, unlike the phenomenon of the disciples. Mass optical illusions I can buy, or, for all we know, Mary was actually there. Personally, I would not know.
In an earlier post, Steve likened the disciples’ visions to those of seers of the late Princess Diana and the late Elvis Presley. Oh, but if only it were so simple as that. More to come. . .
Thus far, Steve has presented no valid case refuting my claims of scholarly consensus regarding Christ’s historicity, death, disappearance and His followers’ later visions.
I yield the floor to Steve, now, for his harmonizing the visions and subsequent behavior of Paul and the disciples with the common-grave hypothesis (a hypothesis that, as presented by my and Steve’s links, should lead to a common-grave agnosticism). I will no longer offer commentaries when Steve drifts elsewhere. He solicited MY conversion details. Here he has them. I insist he address them without straying, for character attacks and subjects other than the visions will be ignored without comment in my next post.
G. Zeineldé Jordan, Se.
---------- Original Message
From: "Steve Locks"
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2003 00:31:12 +0100
I've had a draft reply sitting on my computer for ages, shortly following
your last webpage reply to me
http://www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/debates_files/locks3.htm and before
our emails at
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jreply3/emails2.html. However it is very large and needs organising, turning into readable English and some leads following up. Maybe I'll have to chop it up a bit, but you know what a windbag I am.... Unfortunately in the last couple of years I have had a very busy time with work and an expanding family. There is also a constant stream of other emails asking for my opinions (another 3 today!) and other web projects, debates and interests I'm involved with. So I'm afraid I've let it slip!
There is also another problem which I hope you won't take offence at. Whilst I don't feel too guilty about taking my time (there is after all already much material available in our discussion) I am also a little "demotivated" by some of your responses to myself and others. It is disappointing that responses to your "challenge" have not been met with a more adequate response from yourself in our both our existing work and the discussions youhad with e.g. Ed at
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/babinski-jordan/1.html etc. i.e. To write a long essay then to be met with curt comments such as "Does that mean you don't buy the veracity of the Resurrection?" and "I'm pretty sure I've already answered them" does not inspire to feel that you are taking our comments seriously, whereas I and others have been at pains so far to answer every one of your comments. This is also a comment I have frequently received in feedback on our discussion, so you should be aware that it is not helping your position - at least in the opinion of those who write to me (including comments from Christians).
For instance you have not replied in either of your subsequent webpages to my repeated question (originally from Ed's "Leaving the Fold" book) of how the "500 brethren" vision can be genuine when according to the biblical accounts there were not that many brethren before the ascension. (First aired from me to you at
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jreply1.html#eye). I also still find it very odd that you snipped out the mention from my email of Spong's point that: If the resurrection of Jesus cannot be believed except by assenting to the fantastic descriptions included in the Gospels, then Christianity is doomed. For that view of resurrection is not believable, and if that is all there is, then Christianity, which depends upon the truth and authenticity of Jesus' resurrection, also is not believable. If that were the requirement of
belief as a Christian, then I would sadly leave my house of faith. With mein that exodus from the Christian church, however, would be every ranking New Testament scholar in the world--Catholic and Protestant alike: E. C. Hoskyns, C. H. Dodd, Rudolf Bultmann, Reginald Fuller, Joseph Fitzmyer, W. E. Albright, Raymond Brown, Paul Minear, R. H. Lightfoot, Herman Hendrickx, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, Phyllis Trible, Jane Schaberg, D. H. Nineham, Maurice Goguel, and countless others. This is so central to your repeated unsubstantiated assertion that scholarly consensus is with you that it is most unfortunate that this is precisely the part you refused to copy onto your website when you reported on our emails at http://www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/emailbag_files/holzmail.htm. Is Spong's point
(and other similar ones at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jreply3/emails2.html) something you will reply to if I put it on a formal webpage? I must admit that I have never quite understood why we can't just discuss these issues by email though. (We have tried emails a bit in the past - e.g. your challenges at
If Spong (and others quoted at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jreply3/emails2.html) are right then your
whole thesis is refuted - surely?
So what I really want to know to motivate me into a quicker than otherwise reply is will you reply to all these questions and other unanswered ones ifI pose them in my next set of webpages? Of course, if there is anything of yours that you think I have not addressed (apart from your last webpage of course) then please let me know before my next webpage is up so that I don't miss it again. My intention is to number each individual point next time to see what gets answered in order to tie this discussion down and keep it focused. This is an experiment I have tried successfully in debate before with others which prevented a frustrating time. Unfortunately I already tried this with you at
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jreply3/emails2.html and even though these were replies to your direct email challenges they still went unanswered. Also, the last time I asked if you would answer my requests for clarification on the points I raised in reply to you that too went unanswered (at same URL).
Nevertheless, whatever your response I will have a refresh as to where I was and get something up ASAP, but don't hold your breath! On the other hand please don't think I have forgotten the discussion!
Meanwhile - thanks for giving me a jog!
From: " G. Zeineldé Jordan, Se."
To: "Steve Locks"
Cool! Now, answer the visions, please. Drop the 500 verse if
you must. Then explain the others.
I have always made links available to readers for reviewing Steve’s pages in their entirety. I snip what is not pertaining to MY conversion. Steve’s job is to discredit the points of my conversion, not circumvent them. All of his items have been addressed. His job, should he choose to accept it, is to secularly explain away the visions, a task he has avoided for 18 months. I do not think he “forgot” the discussion. I think he is avoiding it.