If God Doesn’t Exist, Why Is There So Much Evidence To The Contrary?

According to critics, there is no evidence for the existence of God. Many people read these comments and take the word of those who make these clams. If this in in fact, true, then why do we find such a great body of evidence to the contrary? All one must do is read the words of the New Testament Gospels and we get a very clear picture of the truth.

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.  This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.  We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.  —1 John 1:1-4 (NLT)

Critics further proclaim that the New Testament is not reliable; it has been altered or embellished. They offer no proof for these assertions other than their personal belief that these things cannot be true. The reason: they do not believe that miracles, things contrary to the laws of physics, are possible. In other words, they begin with an assumption that something is not possible and form conclusions based upon their false assumptions.

The facts are, we have greater written testimony about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ than any other person of history.

According to the United States Library of Congress, we have just over 20,000 documents written by Abraham Lincoln, from 1833-1916.[1] The documents that describe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which have survived time and decay, are 24,593. We know more about Jesus of Nazareth and the events surrounding His life than we do the 16th president of the United States of America.

The man, Jesus Christ, is a real person from history—whose life has been recorded for us by honest men who documented the amazing things that He has said and done. There is more historical evidence for the man called “Jesus” than practically any other person in the chronology of the world.[2]

“I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer.” —Dr. Thomas Arnold, Oxford history professor

“The evidence for the resurrection alone is better than for claimed miracles of all other religions. There leaders are buried and still in their graves. Jesus tomb was found empty!” —Anthony Flew, former atheist

People who tell us that Jesus never existed or if He did, the things written about Him are not true, are liars. These persons expect us to believe they have greater knowledge about these events than the men who actually recorded them during the period of history when these events took place.

In recent years, there has been a great attempt to discredit the New Testament narrative of Jesus—altogether. There are claims made that Jesus never existed; that His life, death, and resurrection are fabrications. Assertions are made that there is no other evidence for the existence of Jesus, other than the accounts written in the New Testament Bible.

This premise ignores the vast evidence that exists from the Jewish Talmud and the records of the Roman Senate. The ancient scribes of Israel who chronicled Jesus in their writings, had no interest in preserving any historical information about Him, nor Christianity. The Jews who recorded their commentary about Jesus in the Talmud, regarded Him and His followers as the latest of many cult religions of their day. These leaders of Israel had no desire to document the existence of Jesus, His crucifixion, nor those who followed Him—yet this is precisely what they accomplished by their adversarial comments regarding His arrest and execution. These records were written during the period of history in which Jesus is reported to have been in Israel, as described by the narrative of the New Testament scriptures.[3]

In the ancient records of the Roman Senate, Jesus was known as Chrestus, as described by the writings of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. For more than 30 years, Suetonius had access to the Imperial and Senatorial archives, and many other contemporary memoirs and public documents.[4] According to historical experts of that period, much of the information that is left to us from Suetonius about the Roman Caesars, came from eye-witness accounts. Unlike Tacitus, Suetonius fact checked the material that was contained within the Roman archives for accuracy. According to Suetonius, Jesus was well know to the Roman government. He was known as Chrestus, the one responsible for the disturbances reported by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. In “The Twelve Caesars,” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, he says:

“Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from the City.”[5]

This is a direct corroboration of the text by an impartial, uninterested leader of the Roman government, who received his information from the Roman archives. For in-depth information regarding the historical Jesus and the proof of His existence from antiquity, see the book: “Honest Men,” by Robert Clifton Robinson.

Both the Jews and the Romans would rather that Jesus had not existed, yet they found themselves recording many of the events of His life and death—in their preserved records of history. The evidence that is extant of antiquity, demands that Jesus existed as a real person in Israel, during the period of history in which the New Testament describes Him.

No credible Biblical scholar today believes that Jesus was not a real person of history. The evidence for His existence is so overwhelming, that to deny Jesus lived in Galilee at the time depicted by the New Testament would place any writer in a classification of incompetency.[6]

All opposition to the existence of Jesus has now been refuted; and the fact that He lived and conducted Himself in the events described by the four Gospels of the New Testament, is incontrovertible.

Since we know for certain that the historical record of Jesus is verified by secular, as well as Biblical texts, we must now consider what Jesus stated about Himself. Jesus claimed to be the True and Living God; presented to us in the body of a man. As we examine Jesus claims, we find that there is no mistake, no misunderstanding—what Jesus said; He believed Himself to be God. Then Jesus supported His claim to be God by doing things that only God could do: Heal the sick, make the blind see, cause the disabled to walk, heal the leper, cast out demons, and raise the dead. The people who observed Jesus said that He was without sin and that they believed that He is Jehovah/God, the Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:1, Hebrews 1:1, John 1:1).

Why We Can Trust The New Testament:

Before the canonization of the New Testament, there were some 30 gospels of Jesus Christ that were under careful consideration. All but Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which are a part of our New Testament today, were excluded—after having been examined thoroughly for accuracy and authenticity. Scott Kellum writes:

Their individual status as Scripture is usually not debated. …There are about 30 known Gospels that appeared before the year 600.”[7]

The primary reason that many other alleged gospels of Jesus were not added to the cannon of the New Testament, is due to the diligence of men of the first century, chosen by God, to preserve the accurate text of the New Testament. It was well known prior to the canonization of the New Testament, the particular documents which contained inaccuracies. This is due largely to the knowledge of the true accounts of Jesus life and ministry which were written before 90 A.D, and very likely before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In every case, all conflicting documents which are today put forth as alternatives to the four gospels, were written at a time of great distance from the original four gospels.

All of the Gnostic gospels of Jesus, the most prominent of which—the Gospel of Thomas—was found with many other Gnostic texts, written in the third or fourth century.[8] The body of these texts are described as the “Nag Hammadi,” from the location of their discovery along the west bank of the Nile river, 60 miles north of Luxor.[9] Containing some 49 documents in three papyrus codices, none of the texts from these later writings which describe Jesus’ work and ministry—add to our understanding of the four gospels that were written before the end of the first century. In fact—they are in conflict with the writings of the four gospels which were complete by 90 A.D.[10]

Scholars Kellum, Köstenberger, and Quarles commented on the canonization of the gospels in their treatise, “The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown.”

“It was not too long after Jesus’ earthly ministry that the Synoptic Gospels were written (most likely, all before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70). Originally, the four Gospels disseminated independently of one another.”[11]

All other documents not canonized, which purport to contain information regarding the events of Jesus and His ministry, were proven unreliable and inaccurate by the scholars of the first century. These men had far greater ability to determine the authenticity of the documents which should be included in the New Testament, than any modern scholar today.

The New Testament Was Written Closer To The Time Of The Events Than Any Other Event of History

The evidence that exists to the present day is observed in 24,593 copies of the original letters and communications that these people made in the years that followed Jesus resurrection. There is no other event of ancient history that has the immense volume of written documents, as those of the New Testament. Despite this, critics attack the reliability of these documents and state that these copies can only be dated back to the end of the first century at the earliest. Forgetting that no ancient documents exist today in their original form, secular or religious. Time and decay have eliminated all the original documents from the historical record.

What does remain are copies of these original autographs. The New Testament has a greater number of existing copies that any other secular writing. At 24,593 copies in existence for the New Testament, the secular manuscripts with the greatest number of surviving documents is the Illiad by Homer with just 643.

The New Testament copies that are still in existence can be dated to as early as 60 A.D., just 28 years after Jesus Resurrection. The earliest copies of the Illiad cannot be dated any earlier than 400 years after the original writing.

Despite the earlier dates for the New Testament and the huge volume of surviving copies that we have in our possession today, the Illiad is considered absolutely reliable, the New Testament, unreliable.

In this single illustration you can see the difficulties that we are up against in proving the historical Jesus. The problem is not in proving Jesus from history, but in showing how critics fabricate conclusions based upon unprovable theories.

The facts are, we have greater empirical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ in the historical record than any person of history. Jesus claimed to be God, come to us to prove that He exists. Jesus is either telling the truth or He is a liar. When we examine the words and works of Jesus we see a man that gives us every indication that He is no liar. All the things that Jesus said and did are exemplary for every human being to follow. His manner of speaking and living is perfect in every regard. Based upon the facts of what we see written of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels, we have no reason to logically conclude that God does not exist, because of the evidence left to us by the recorded life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The text from this article came from my book, “Honest Men.”


NOTES:
[1] http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/abraham-lincoln-papers/file.html
[2] 1.Grant, M., Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels New York: Scribner’s, 1977, Page 176
2.Van Daalen, D. H., The Real Resurrection, London: Collins, 1972, Page 41
3.Kremer, Jakob, Die Osterevangelien — Geschichten um Geschichte, Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977, Pages 49-50
[3] The following are specific references to Jesus of Nazareth, as found in the Talmud under passages on execution in Sanhedrin 43 a-b.⁠1
Herzog 1: On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.
Vatican 130: He went and brought up Jesus the Nazarene.
Vatican 140: He went and brought up Jesus.
Munich 95: On the eve of the Passover, they hanged Jesus of Nazareth.
Firenze 11.1.8-9: On the Sabbath eve and the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.
Karisruhe 2: On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.
Barco: On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus of Nazareth.
1 English translations of the Talmud from Peter Schäfer, pp 133–140
[4] Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 30-34). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
[5] Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 3343-3345). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
[6] Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16 states: “biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted”
James D. G. Dunn “Paul’s understanding of the death of Jesus” in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (Dec 3, 2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35-36 states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are “a thoroughly dead thesis”
The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145 states : “Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed”.

[7] Kellum, L. Scott; Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Quarles, Charles L (2009-08-01). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Kindle Locations .739-742 B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
[8] F. F. Bruce. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Kindle Locations 1104-1108). Kindle Edition.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Kellum, L. Scott; Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Quarles, Charles L (2009-08-01). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Kindle Locations .739-742 B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.



Categories: Historical Validity of the New Testament, Literary authenticity of the New Testament, Reliability of the New Testament, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus, The Historical Jesus

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