Matthew L. Hartke is a former Christian who hosts the blog “Resurrection Review,” on which he analyzes and discusses the origins of Christianity. A correspondent recently brought to my attention an article posted on Hartke’s site, provocatively titled “Five Reasons to Doubt the Resurrection” and asked me if I could respond to it.
It is a common misstep made by many atheists to think that if a particular piece of evidence fails to logically entail a conclusion, then that same piece of evidence also fails to support the said conclusion. However, this is poor epistemology. A piece of evidence may be confirmatory of a conclusion without establishing it.
All of the contradictions Ehrman alleges between Acts and Paul’s letters are the result of over-readings, tendentious interpretations, and arguments from silence. The forcefulness that Ehrman ascribes to those, combined with his dismissal of the difficult details Luke gets right concerning geography and other matters as “completely irrelevant” is astounding, and really reveals his unscholarly bias against the New Testament.
Jaros does not seem to appreciate the value of casualness. He fails to understand how an undesigned coincidence can occur in the same document, or how a writer might provide information that unintentionally corroborates (in a manner that can be detected) some fact that the said author is also aware of.
Since it is a fair assumption that Ehrman has chosen his best and, to his mind, most convincing examples of alleged contradictions in the gospels and Acts, the abject failure of Ehrman’s proposed contradictions should give us renewed confidence in the substantial trustworthiness of the Biblical accounts.