Amazingly, people put faith in their own ideas and demonstrate their ignorance when they criticize people who use reason to work out whether or not the Gospel accounts of the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ are admissible in a court of law.
Atheist detective convinced by evidence for the veracity of the Gospels:
1. Make sure the witnesses were present in the first place
Jim says that there are times in cold case investigations when a witness comes forward years after the event, and the detective has to ascertain if the person is a credible witness, that they were present at the events they report.
It is uncertain whether the gospel writers were eyewitnesses, but Jim points out they are the earliest accounts we have, early enough that they could have been written by eyewitnesses, and their claims could be fact-checked by others.
2. Try to find some corroboration for the claims of the witnesses
In criminal court cases, Jim says “jurors are encouraged to evaluate witnesses in a trial on the basis of any evidence offered to verify or corroborate their testimony.”
When examining the New Testament he found “‘external’ corroboration of archaeology and ancient non-Christian sources, and the ‘internal’ corroboration between Gospel accounts (what I call, “unintentional eyewitness support”), the accurate referencing of regional 1st Century proper names, the correct description of governmental structure, the familiar description of geography and location, and the reasonable use of language.”
3. Examine the consistency and accuracy of the witnesses
In criminal investigations, a witness changing their story over time may indicate an intention to deceive. Similarly with an ancient document – does its transmission indicate change over time?
The New Testament, Jim judged, was well attested – we have very old copies and early references in external sources, much more than for most ancient documents on which we base much of our understanding of history.
If there are several witnesses, a detective building a case will look out for possible collusion or one witness copying another rather than giving independent and verifying testimony. Jim would expect reliable witnesses to agree on the major details, although sometimes having a different emphasis or perspective, but complete agreement even on minor aspects can indicate collusion.
The gospels pass this test very well – they agree about the important facts of Jesus’ life, but they have different perspectives and differ about some of the minor details.
4. Examine the presence of bias on the part of the witnesses
Obviously witnesses who are biased are less useful in obtaining objective facts. Jim observes:“Bias comes down to motive, and motive always comes down to three driving desires: financial greed, sexual/relational lust, and the pursuit of power.”
There is, he says, a “difference between bias prior to an experience and conviction following an experience”, and argues that the Gospel authors cannot be said to have bias before the event. But their conviction afterwards is quite understandable if the events they record are true.
The verdictA Cold-Case Approach Allows Us to Distinguish Between Claims
The evidence he examined in this way gave him confidence that the Gospels were substantially truthful records of events. At the same time, it made it impossible for him to have confidence in the Book of Mormon. “I became a Christian at the same time I became a Not-Mormon” he says.
Jim Wallace, cold case detective:
My cold-case investigations have involved events in the distant past (murders) for which we no living eyewitnesses nor good forensic evidence. We solve cases such as these by assembling cumulative, circumstantial evidences. The claims of Christianity involve events in the distant past (surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) for which we no living eyewitnesses nor good forensic evidence. We can determine the truth of the Christian claims by assembling cumulative, circumstantial evidences. The skill set possessed by cold-case detectives is valuable and transferable.Regardless of what people may say, if they truly want to demonstrate whether Jesus of Nazareth is not the Son of God who rose from the dead after having paid the price for their sins, they can do what I did. This is because I did what every person is capable of doing. I sought God to reveal Jesus to me, presenting my case:
The principles of investigation I described in Cold-Case Christianity have helped me distinguish between suspects and competing explanations of criminal events. In a similar way, my investigative approach to the New Testament Gospels helped me to determine which version of Jesus (and which competing claim about history) was true. —Is the Cold-Case Christianity Approach a Gimmick Or A Valuable Filter?
- There is no purpose for being born into this world if we are born only die—for this is futility.
- There is no justice in this world if people are born into futility only to suffer, when they did not ask to be born.
- There is no love in this world if all people do is call other people names, promote evil and harm one another, even once.
- You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39–40)
However, if you are not a genuine person (someone who thinks that you know how to overcome death on your own), good luck. For the Bible also says that after death comes judgment for what we have done on Earth, and we will have to give an account of every word that we have uttered. (Matthew 12:36)
Wise People Test Everything Until They Have Exhausted All Claims, Others Do Not