Did Jesus Return from the Dead?

The Philosophy Department, CSUS, presents a series of debates between Professors Matt McCormick and Russell DiSilvestro about the resurrection of Jesus.   Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 20-22, Hinde Auditorium, Student Union, CSUS. 

Professor McCormick will present a several arguments for the conclusion that believing in the resurrection on the basis of the historical and psychological evidence available to us is not reasonable.

Professor DiSilvestro will rebut those and argue that we have sufficient evidence to conclude that Jesus did return from the dead. 

Moderator:  Professor Thomas Pyne, chair, Philosophy Department

Debate 1:  The Resurrection:  Jesus and the Salem Witch Trials

Monday, Sept. 20, Hinde Auditorium, Student Union, 3:00-4:15:

McCormick:  The resurrection has frequently been supported by appeals to the quantity and quality of historical evidence that we have, primarily from the Bible.  But by a parallel argument, we should believe that there were really witches with magical powers at Salem, Mass. where we have  evidence of greater quantity and quality.  Therefore, by the standards we already employ, we should reject the resurrection. 

DiSilvestro: Salem and Jerusalem are disanalogous in ways that make the latter stronger than the former. But in any event, the evidential case for a real resurrection at Jerusalem is strong enough to conclude that it happened.  If this implies that the evidential case for real witches at Salem is strong enough to conclude that there were some, so be it.  The obstacles to believing in real witches are not as impregnable as they seem. 

 Debate 2:  Miracles and Probability from Lourdes to Lazarus

Tuesday, Sept. 21, Hinde Auditorium, Student Union, 3:00-4:15

McCormick:  Large numbers of alleged miraces at Lourdes, France and elsewhere that have turned out to be mistaken have shown us that miracle testimony is very unreliable.  These cases and other considerations reduce our confidence in testimony about the resurrection to the point that we must reject it. 

DiSilvestro:  Some of the differences between the miracle reports from Lourdes and the resurrection reports make the latter stronger than the former.  But in any event, the resurrection reports have features that should lead us to accept them.  Even if miracle reports are in general very unreliable, this should not lead us to doubting all miracle reports, and it should not lead us to doubting the resurrection reports in particular. 

Debate 3:   Does God Want Us to Believe in Miracles? 

Wednesday, Sept. 22, Hinde Auditorium, Student Union, 3:00-4:15

 McCormick:  The evidence we have for the resurrection and other miracles is sketchy at best.  It would be well within God’s power to produce compelling miracles.  Since he has not done so, it must not be God’s intention for us to accept them. 

DiSilvestro: There are several good reasons that God might have for allowing the available evidence for the resurrection to be just about what it is already, rather than more or less.  When these reasons are carefully considered, it should lead us be very skeptical about—indeed, it should lead us to to reject--the claim that God does not intend for us to believe in the resurrection.