Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cold Case Christianity: gospel contradictions trump eyewitness reporting

This is my reply to a video by Ja. Warner Wallace advertised as

Why Differences Between the Gospels Demonstrate Their Reliability (Video)
Posted: 20 Feb 2018 01:10 AM PST

Fat chance.  In Matthew, Mary doesn't leave the tomb until she is made perfectly well aware of what happened to the body of Jesus:

NAU  Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
 5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
 6 "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
 7 "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."
 8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. (Matt. 28:1-8 NAU)

But in John, Mary is at the tomb, then she runs and complains to Peter and John that she doesn't know what happened to Jesus' body:
NAU  John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.
 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." (Jn. 20:1-2 NAU)
Apologists dismiss this by speculating either a) Mary in Matthew split off from the group of other women before they got to the tomb, wasn't there to recieve the angelic report, and John is talking about Mary after she comes back from the detour having missed the show, or b) Mary was told what happened to Jesus' body along with the other women, but because of what's written in John, apparently the truth just hadn't "hit" her just yet (!?)

Here's how you stomp the guts out of these speculations and force inerrancy to reveal its ugly head:

All patristic sources and most modern Christian scholars agree that John was written later than the other 3 canonical gospels.

If then you read Matthew's account the way it was originally intended (i.e., by itself, without comparing it to other accounts), you discern not the slightest justification for supposing Mary split off from the group of women before they got to the tomb.

Concerning Gleason Archer's "the truth just hadn't hit her just yet" to explain her ignorance in John, again, if you read Matthew 28:7-8 as it was orignally intended to be read (without worrying about comparing it to or reconciling it with some other account), the statement in v. 8 would be taken by you to mean that Mary, after learning what happened to the body, left with the other women and told the men the same thing the angel said.

If you read Matthew objectively as it was originally intended by its author, you get not the slightest justification to think Mary either departed from the group before they hear the angel, nor that she experienced a failure of comprehension between the angelic announcement and her reporting to the other disciples.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Cold Case Christianity: The Biblical Case for Adam and Eve

This is my reply to an article by J. Warner Wallace entitled 

I’ve been investigating murders for over 20 years, and along the way, I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of language selection. Consider the following three statements:
 “The Nuggets killed the Lakers last night. They beat ‘em by 25 points.”
“I love this comic; he always kills me!”
“I deeply regret killing my wife, and I wish I could turn back time.”
 All three declarations acknowledge the proper definition of the word “kill,” yet only one of these statements is likely to be of interest to a jury in a murder trial.
And given that most Christian scholars deny the existence of literal conscious eternal suffering, Christianity could never be as serious as a murder trial.
Every time we assess someone’s use of language, we must first examine the context in which the words were spoken. As a 35-year-old skeptic, reading the Bible thoroughly for the first time, I found myself examining the words of Scripture in an attempt to understand Moses’ meaning related to the first two characters in the Biblical narrative: Adam and Eve. Were they real human beings? Were they allegorical figures described by Moses in an attempt to illustrate the plight of early man? Were they written figuratively to represent all of humankind? I knew from my professional work as a detective that the surest way to understand a statement was simply to examine its context and to compare it to other proclamations made by the suspect.
Trouble is, bible scholars are in wide disagreement about to what extent the alleged writings of Moses reflect his actual words.  You don't have the first clue whether the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis was authored by the same person responsible for the canonnical version of Leviticus.
As a skeptical seeker, I took the same approach with Adam and Eve. After examining every passage of Scripture, I found the following:
 Adam and Eve Were Regarded As Real People
In the earliest accounts of Adam and Eve, Moses described them singularly (in contrast to his plural descriptions of other animal groups). The waters were teeming with swarms of living creatures and the skies were filled with birds (Genesis 1:20); the earth was bringing forth living creatures after their kind (v.24), filling with beasts and cattle. God created with great plurality in every category of creature except humans. Adam and Eve were described as singular individuals. It’s difficult to consider them allegorically or representatively, given that Moses failed to use language that could assist us to do so.
Ok, so Moses was speaking just as plainly here about humanity's first two people as did the Sumerian god Enki.
Adam and Eve Responded As Real People
Moses also described Adam and Eve’s behavior in a manner consistent with the behavior of real people.
Except for Eve's lack of surprise in conversing with a talking snake.  Genesis 3:2

And some would argue that an Adam searching through a zoo of animals to see if any could be his life-partner, is not the typical behavior of real people.  Genesis 2:20...why does the text specify Adam found among the zoo no suitable helper, if he wasn't looking for a suitable helper at the time?
Moses put specific words on their lips as they interacted in the Garden, and like other real people, Adam and Eve responded to one another (and to God).
The same could be said for any number of ancient stories about man's origin.  But since you don't infer their truth from their literal intent, you shouldn't be inferring the truth of the biblical accounts merely because Moses intended them to be taken literally.
Adam and Eve gave birth to specific individuals, and Moses intentionally noted the age of Adam when some of his children were born (Genesis 5:3-4).
Ancient Jews were crazy in love with genealogies.
Adam’s offspring (Cain, Abel, and Seth, for example) were identified by name and had a personal history of their own, just as we would expect if they, too, were real people.
People described in the Epic of Gilgamesh also had their own personalized stories.
Adam and Eve Were Recorded As Real People
Moses placed Adam in genealogies alongside other specific individuals who we acknowledge as real, historic human beings. Moses repeatedly recorded the historic lineage of important people (like Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and Terah) with the expression, “These are the generations of….” Adam was no exception. Moses used this same expression when recording the generations of Adam in Genesis 5:1. Other authors of Scripture repeated this inclusion in the lineage of real humans. Adam appeared in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1, in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:38), and in Jude’s reference to Enoch (Jude 1:14). These genealogies and references recorded the names of specific, real individuals, and Adam was included in their ranks.
Paul took the wives of Abraham as allegory:

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.
 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.
 24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.
 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.   (Gal. 4:22-26 NAU)
Notice, in v. 24, the "this" which he says is "allegorically speaking", is the scriptural statement referenced in the prior verse, which comes on the heels of Paul's specification "it is written" (v. 22), which makes it certain that Paul isn't just applying an allegorical exegeical method to literal people, he is saying allegory is the meaning of the scriptural text, and he could not be clearer than in saying "these two women are two covenants..."
Adam and Eve Were Referenced As Real People
Throughout the Old and New Testament, writers of Scripture referred to Adam as though he was a real person and not an allegory or representative of mankind. Job offered Adam as an example of someone who attempted to hide his sin (Job 31:33). Hosea offered Adam as a specific example of someone who broke his covenant with God (Hosea 6:7). In the New Testament, Paul repeatedly referenced Adam as a real person, calling him the “first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45), and describing both Adam and Eve as specific individuals (1 Timothy 2:13,14).
I don't see the point.  Christians also think Jesus is a real person and currently invisible.  Portraying a person as literal apparently doesn't have much of a restraining effect on absurd embellishment.  Consider St. Nicholas.
Adam and Eve Were Held Responsible As Real People
The historic Christian doctrines of sin and salvation hinge on the real existence of Adam as an individual human being, responsible for the introduction of sin into the world.
Despite the fact that Judaism, Church of Christ and other Christian groups deny original sin despite their agreement with you that Adam was a literal person.
In Romans 5, Paul wrote that sin entered the world “through the one man (Adam)” (verse 12) and that life was (and is) given “through the one man, Jesus Christ” (verse 17). Jesus, as a real man, serves as the remedy for sin; the responsibility for this sin was another real man, Adam. In the context of Paul’s divinely inspired teaching, Adam was every bit as real as Jesus.
I should have guessed:  you are not writing to convince skeptics, but only to help those who already believe, feel better about it.  The easier of the two jobs.  I get it.
Recent genetic research is challenging the notion that all humanity emerged from a single pair of humans, and some Christians are starting to rethink their interpretation of Adam and Eve in response to this challenge. The number of unanswered questions continues to grow. How reliable are the scientific conclusions? How can Adam and Eve be the source of all humanity if genetic research seems to indicate a much larger original group? Is there an interpretation of Scripture that can reconcile this apparent contradiction?
Other questions might be "Is Christianity's in-house debate on the historicity of Adam one of those "word-wrangling" discussions that Paul prohibited J. Warner Wallace from being part of in 2nd Timothy 2:14?"
I’ve learned an important truth over the years as a detective: Every case has unanswered questions, and we successfully prosecute suspects in spite of this reality.
The justice system also produces a fair number of false convictions, indicating that unanswered questions can be serious problems inhibiting the quest for truth.  Sometimes its wrong to press forward.
We first acknowledge what is evidentially clear, and then search for reasonable explanations in the areas that are less certain.
With the caveat that in your criminal investigations, if you seriously set forth some supernatural explanation for a suspect's guilt, you lose your job.  Another reason why your "cold-case Christianity" is nothing but a marketing gimmick.
As Christians work to reconcile the nature of scientific evidence with the claims of the Bible,
...despite the fact that bible inerrancy is hotly contested by most Christian scholars, suggesting one is wrong to even be motivated to reconcile the bible with science...
one thing is evidentially clear: The writers of Scripture describe Adam and Eve as real, historic individuals. We must begin here and then search for reasonable explanations in the areas that are less certain.
For example, the Talmud reference that says before Eve was created, Adam had sex with the animals, when in fact Jewish abhorrence of bestiality would cause us to expect the ancient Jews would never interpret Genesis 2:20 that way, therefore, they are likely interpreting it that way by feeling constrained by the evidence, not because they are trying to be funny or stupid:
Talmud - Mas. Yevamoth 63a
R. Eleazar further stated: What is the meaning of the Scriptural text, I will make him a help meet
for him? If he was worthy she is a help to him; if he was not worthy she is against him. Others
say: R. Eleazar pointed out a contradiction: It is written kenegedo but we read kenegedo! — If he was worthy she is meet for him; if he was not worthy she chastises him. 
R. Jose met Elijah and asked him: It is written, I will make him a help;11 how does a woman help a man? The other replied: If a man brings wheat, does he chew the wheat? If flax, does he put on the flax?12 Does she not, then, bring light to his eyes and put him on his feet! 
R. Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, This is now bone of my bones, andflesh of my flesh?13 This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

my reply to the Habermas/Flew debate

I've replied to the YouTube video of the resurrection debate between Habermas and Flew.

In case my comments get deleted, here they are:

Sorry, but as an atheist myself, I do not think Flew does very well in public debates, despite how much he is lauded by other atheists as a smart guy. Habermas does most of the talking, Ankerberg usually ends a segment after Habermas has had his last say, and the Christians in the audience were no doubt wrongly thinking that because Flew is a smart guy, his performance here shows them how weak the non-believer responses are. I would have argued that under Christian scholar consensus that Mark is the earliest gospel and ended at 16:8, it is reasonable (at least for the unbeliever who has a life and cannot just google Christian scholarship minority positions 18 hours a day) to believe that the earliest form of the gospel did not say a resurrected Jesus appeared to anybody, thus further implying, if patristic testimony can be trusted, that Peter also didn't tell the Roman unbelievers that Jesus made any resurrection appearances, thus further implying that fictional embellishment is the likely reason the later 3 gospels have resurrection appearance narratives, ultimately ridding Christian apologists of the very eyewitness evidence they admit is so crucial to their case. I would also have argued that scholars can neither identify the gospel authors nor establish their credibility or lack thereof, with any degree of reasonable certainty, and unbelievers are rationally warranted to turn away from Christianity's in-house debates on such matters, and to thus regard the critical issue of gospel authorship unresolvable. I would also have argued that, generously assuming the almost certainly false position of apostolic authorship of the gospels, the only resurrection testimony that comes down to us today in first-hand form are Matthew, John and Paul. One could argue that 3 eyewitness testimonies from 2,000 years ago is hardly sufficient to justify changing one's life and worldview. I would also have analogized witness Paul on the road to Damascus, to the witness against you in a murder trial. If that witness said he saw you pull the trigger, and your attorney gets him to admit that the other men standing there with him could hear you, but could not "see" you, despite the fact that it occurred on an open road where you couldn't be hiding behind anything, would you ask for the case to be dismissed because the witness is clearly delusional? Or would you ask the Court to give a legal instruction to the jury that they are allowed to infer a supernatural cause to explain your murdering somebody? Suppose the witness, like Paul, specifies that that he couldn't really say whether he was in his body or out of it at the time he saw you pull the trigger? Do you move for dismissal, or move for a jury instruction telling the jury about how fallacious it is to automatically dismiss miracle-claims? Sure is funny that when you aren't defending biblical bullshit, you "know" that miracles don't happen. If junior comes home from school with a million dollars in his backpack, you don't think the devil put it there. If a stranger on the bus tells you he can levitate by the power of Jesus when nobody is looking, you are no less suspicious of his honesty than an atheist would be. I would also have argued that because the liberals make a powerful case that eternal conscious suffering wasn't what Jesus intended with his teachings about hell, the truth about Jesus' resurrection hardly matters, it isn't like sinners are in as much trouble with god as today's fundamentalists insist. Unbelievers being wrong to reject the gospel is about as dangerous as our being wrong to reject string-theory. There's not enough danger in being wrong to intellectually or morally compel the unbeliever to get involved in the ceaseless bickering of bible scholarship and apologetics. I also would have told Ankerberg that these issues are very complex and that he could do more justice to them if he allowed full episodes limited to just one narrow topic, such as whether it can be reasonable to deny apostolic authorship of the gospels. Flew's performance here was contemptible to say the least. And Ankerberg's choice to cover so many issues, when he knows any one single issue in this debate could fill a book, means Ankerberg thinks quantity is more important than quality. A book-length defense of Mark as earliest gospel, and that he ended at 16:8, and replying to Wright and others who defend the long ending of Mark, would kick Christianity's teeth out of the back its fairy tale skull. THE ORIGINAL FORM OF THE GOSPEL DIDN'T HAVE ANYBODY ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY SEEING THE RESURRECTED JESUS, AND THAT INCLUDES PAUL'S EXPERIENCE ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS, THEREFORE, CHRISTIANITY DID NOT ORIGINALLY CLAIM ANY RESURRECTION "EYEWITNESSES" IN THE FIRST PLACE. FUCK YOU. http://turchisrong.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Demolishing Triablogue: Why the resurrection case cannot be made

This is my reply to an article by Steve Hays entitled

Over the years I've read a number of prominent Christian apologists make their case for the Resurrection. Notable examples include John Warwick Montgomery, C.E.B. Cranfield, William Lane Craig, Timothy and Lydia McGrew, Richard Swinburne, Gary Habermas, N. T. Wright, and Mike Licona. Craig in particular has been influential in making a stereotypical case for the Resurrection, based on his minimal facts strategy, that's widely copied.
 So I was thinking recently about how I'd make a case for the Resurrection if I was asked to give a presentation at church or college.
  I. Prima facie historical evidence
 1. One thing that's often lost sight of in debates over the Bible is that testimony is prima facie evidential in its own right unless we have reason to doubt it. You don't need corroborative evidence before testimony can have evidential value.
You aren't making any sense.  You are a 5-Point Calvinist, and consistently you hold that God has infallibly predestined all acts and thoughts and choices of people for all time.  If God has predestined somebody at the church or college to find your argument unconvincing, no amount of apologetics will overturn that.  If God has predestined a person to be saved, keeping them away from apologetics arguments their whole life will not prevent their salvation.

Lack of corroboration for testimony often leads to false convictions, and testimony that lacks corroboration is more likely to be false than corroborated testimony.  For these reasons, the technical fact that uncorroborated testimony still operates as "evidence", accomplishes nothing beneficial to apologetics.  Worse, in the case of ancient historical evidence, uncorroborated testimony is even less reliable since, at least in the case of NT authors, there isn't enough reliable information on who they were or what they were like to rationally warrant drawing conclusions about their general credibility or lack thereof.  No fool bets his life that Tacitus' uncorroborated word is true, and nobody should (and even most apologists probably wouldn't) bet their life that uncorroborated testimony in the bible is true.
For instance, my grandmother used to tell me stories about her life. That's my primary source of information about her before I was born. I have no reason to think she was lying or misremembering basic facts about her life.
That's hardly an argument.  Plenty of grandmothers and grandfathers embellish what really happened so as to make stories of their younger years more dramatic to the kids.
Most of what I know about my parents before I was born comes from what they told me about their life.
And since parents never lie to their kids, its obvious that people who toss the gospels in the garbage are irrational.
In some instances I might be able to corroborate their testimony, but that's hardly necessary for their testimony to be trustworthy.
But you cannot make a determination about the level of trustworthiness of their testimony, unless you have facts about their general character at your disposal.  Unfortunately, nearly everything the bible and the early patristic sources say about NT authors is the subject of scholarly dispute.  It is not irrational for the unbeliever to cast resurrection arguments aside until facts corroborating the alleged's witnesses' identities and general credibility are confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt.  You can hardly use evidence that fails to rise to that level of certain and then pretend unbelievers who reject that stuff are being "unreasonable", unless you think there is something inherently wrong with requiring evidence to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Unless we have evidence that the witness is a chronic liar, or unless we have evidence that the witness was motivated to lie in this particular case, it's irrational to discount testimonial evidence.
So what is your advice to the jury who hears a woman testify that the defendant raped her...and there is no evidence that she is a chronic liar, no evidence she was motivated to lie and there is no corroboration of her testimony?

Would you tell the jury that she is obviously telling the truth?

2. The Gospels
 The NT consists of 27 1C documents about a 1C historical figure.
Paul is infamous for his screaming silence toward the teaching Jesus gave during his earthly ministry, making Paul a heretic since according to the resurrected Jesus himself, the teachings he gave before he died on the cross were to be that gospel that was to go to the Gentiles, Matthew 28:20.  Matthew himself obviously didn't think "justification by faith" had jack shit to do with the gospel.

The Epistle of James says nothing about Jesus except that he is Lord (1:1, 2:1).

Jude mentions Jesus and Christ several times, but not with reference to facts about his earthly ministry.

Revelation hardly counts since it constitutes a vision, and you get in serious trouble if you insist that 2,000 year old vision-based commentary needs to given a fair hearing.
i) In the case of the Gospels, there's the antiquity if not the originality of the titles. The uniformity of the titles in the textual tradition is hard to account for unless they are either original or extremely primitive editorial ascriptions. And as soon as more than one Gospel was in circulation, it would be necessary for each Gospel to be entitled, to distinguish it from another or others. Cf. Martin Hengel, The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ (Trinity Press International, 2000), chap. 3, §3.
But even conservative scholars refuse to wax confident about this. Guthrie cautions:
The earliest description of this gospel of which we have any evidence attributes it to Matthew (ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ). This is testified by strong tradition. It was indisputably acknowledged before the close of the second century and there is no positive evidence that the book ever circulated without this title. Indeed it may reasonably be claimed that the title was affixed at least as early as a.d. 125.5 It is, moreover, a fair inference that the form of the title would have been understood as implying authorship. Nevertheless, the title cannot without hesitation be regarded as a part of the original text. Indeed it is generally assumed that no importance can be attached to it, since it was probably acquired in the course of the early history of the document. There are no means of reaching certainty about this. Some facts, however, are clear. The author’s name does not occur in the body of the text and this might suggest that the original copy was anonymous. On the other hand the absence of any parallel forms to our gospels makes it difficult to be certain whether this literary form lent itself to the personal identification of the author. Even Luke’s preface, which uses the first person singular, contains no hint of who is the writer.
Guthrie, D. (1996, c1990). New Testament introduction. Series taken from jacket. (4th rev. ed.). [The master reference collection]. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press.  
Hays continues:
ii) According to Acts 12:12, Mark's hometown was Jerusalem. So his home was the site of an original house-church in Jerusalem.
Maybe so.
Given the time and place, he was likely an eyewitness to some of Christ's public ministry, and he had access to the disciples for further information.
Now you are disagreeing with Papias who said Mark neither heard the Lord nor followed him, Eusebius, H.E. 3:39.  If you think Papias was wrong, you have to say Papias got wrong something that any idiot could have gotten right by simply reading Acts, thus impeaching Papias' general credibility.  Get rid of Papias and you get rid of the earliest evidence we have for Mark's and Matthew's authorship.  And if as most scholars claim, the later church fathers were only echoing Papias on Matthew's authorship, getting rid of Papias on Matthew also means getting rid of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Augustine and Jerome on the authorship of Matthew.
This is an incidental detail in Luke's narrative, so it can't be chalked up to a forger who's trying to give Mark's Gospel an illustrious pedigree.
Agreed.  Luke's admission that Paul and Barnabas disagreed sharply on whether Mark was sufficiently credible/reliable to remain in ministry, Acts 15:37-39, passes standard tests of historiography and is likely true.
iii) Matthew has a preoccupation with Judaism that would be moot after the fall of Jerusalem and dissolution of the Jewish establishment.
And a forger would know that having "Matthew" obsess on issues the forger knew didn't exist in Matthew's day, would be a dead giveaway.  No fool would author a book in which President Carter vowed while in office to hunt down and kill those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
And assuming the apostolic authorship of Matthew, which is defensible, he was an eyewitness to much of what he records.
A theory being "defensible" doesn't do the job you cocky apologists wish it did, i.e., render the doubter unreasonable.  That Bigfoot is a genuine cryptid is "defensible" but hardly compels those outside the group to either believe it or be unreasonable.

Yes, there is plenty of evidence that Matthew authored something.  Exactly what its nature and scope was, however, are sufficiently disputable as to rationally justify those who agree with the majority scholarly view that the evidence is too confused to get any reasonably confident conclusions from.
iv) Luke and Acts share the same author. Because Acts intersects with more Roman history than Luke, there's more corroborative evidence.
I don't see the point; most of the Christian theology and history mentioned in Acts is not corroborated, and the Christian scholarly dispute on how and whether Acts' Paul can be reconciled with the Paul of the epistles, rages on and on.  Whether Paul's visit to Jerusalem recounted in Galatians 2 is the same as the visit that involved the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, appears to be unresolvable, no doubt because the Calvinist god is still stuck in the first century and thinks ambiguous ways of talking separate the elect from the reprobate.
Given that Luke is demonstrably accurate in Acts,
No, he has non-existent interest in telling the reader how the Judaizers argued their views, but he certain loads up the reader with what the apostles had to say in reply, Acts 15.  Luke was aware of what all modern marketing companies and media agencies know; you can create a faulty impression by leaving things out, you don't have to "lie".
we'd expect him to be accurate in his Gospel.
So under your logic, if the suspect agrees to and corroborates many facts alleged by the prosecution, then he is also being truthful when denying guilt.
Evidence for the historical accuracy of Acts includes: Colin Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (Eisenbrauns, 1990); Craig Keener, Acts: A Exegetical Commentary, 4 vols. (Baker Academic, 2012-2015). 
Evidence against the accuracy of Acts includes “Acts and Christian Beginnings:  The Acts Seminar Report”, Dennis Smith, Joseph B. Tyson, editors.  Polebridge Press, 2013. Contributors: Ruben Dupertuis, Perry V. Kea, Nina E. Livesey, Dennis R. MacDonald, Shelly Matthews, Milton Moreland, Richard I. Pervo,  Thomas E. Philips, Christine R. Shea, Dennis E. Smith, Joseph B. Tyson, William O. Walker, Jr.

See also E. Haenchen, "The Acts of the Apostles, a Commentary", Trans. B. Noble, G. Shinn, H. Anderson, R.M. Wilson (Philidelphia; Westminster, 1971), p. 14-50.
v) On a conventional solution to the Synoptic Problem, Matthew and Luke use Mark as a source. That gives us an opportunity to double check on how they handle sources. We can compare Matthew to Mark and Luke to Mark. Both of them are extremely conservative in their use of Mark. That gives us reason to believe they are equally faithful in how they appropriate or edit their other sources.
Except those places where inerrantist scholars say Matthew and or Luke omitted something Mark said because they thought it theologically or historically problematic, or otherwise "toned down" Mark's language:

6:5 This statement about Jesus’ inability to do something is one of the most striking instances of Mark’s boldness and candor. It is omitted by Luke 4:16–30 and toned down by Matt 13:58. 

Brooks, J. A. (2001, c1991). Vol. 23: Mark (electronic e.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 100). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Mark 8:25 This is the only example in the Gospels of a healing in two stages. An incomplete cure and a two-stage healing may have been thought by some to be discrediting to Jesus. This consideration may be why Matthew and Luke omitted the story.

Brooks, J. A. (2001, c1991). Vol. 23: Mark (electronic e.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 133). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Mark 4:38 ...The disciples’ question strongly rebukes Jesus and is another example of Mark’s candor, which Matt 8:25 and Luke 8:24 tone down.

Brooks, J. A. (2001, c1991). Vol. 23: Mark (electronic e.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 87). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

5:31 The disciples’ sarcastic reply is an example of Markan candor that is omitted by Matthew (cf. 9:20–22) and toned down in Luke (8:45).

Brooks, J. A. (2001, c1991). Vol. 23: Mark (electronic e.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 96). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Hays continues:
vi) John's Gospel contains many extraneous details that are consistent with a firsthand observer who's remembering the past–indeed, seeing the past in his recollection, viz. the time of day ("about the tenth hour" [1:39]; "about the sixth hour" [4:6]; "six stone water pots, each holding twenty or thirty gallons" [2:6]). For further details, cf. J. B. Lightfoot, "Internal evidence for the authenticity and genuineness of St. John's Gospel," Biblical Essays (Baker, 1979), chap. 3.
But the Muratorian Fragment presents John as thinking visions after a period of starvation are the best way to come up with gospel material.  And resurrection scholar and inerrantist Protestant Mike Licona says John is not telling the historical truth but only giving "artistry" when giving the time of day something happened.

Apparently, attacking the historicity of John's gospel does not necessarily arise from demonic possession or stupidity.  But Licona isn't a Calvinist and you are, so I can't really say how you'd characterize conservative Christian apologists who don't find your arguments persuasive.  But seeing a demon around every corner makes the job a lot easier, I'm told.
Archeology has confirmed the accuracy of John's detailed description in 5:2. Cf. Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel (IVP, 2001), 109; Craig Keener, The Gospel of John (Hendrickson, 2003), 1:636-38. That's impressive considering the fact that the Romans razed Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Irrelevant, especially in light of the fact that forgers and liars have known for thousands of years that packing the lie with as much truth as possible will tend to motivate others to believe it to be truth.  Under your logic, if the prosecution can confirm many of the factual details in the testimony of the gang-member on trial for murder, then obviously, he is also being truthful when declaring his innocence.
Some critics attempt to minimize archeological confirmation of the NT by saying authors of historical fiction deliberately sprinkle their stories with factual tidbits to give them an air of verisimilitude. Yet critics also Acts and the Gospels were written by authors far removed in time and place from the events they purport to record.
But not far enough removed that they couldn't pepper the text with historically accurate info.
But in that case they wouldn't have access to the necessary background information.
No, see above.  I don't know any scholars taht date Acts so late that the forger was living too late to be able to know the historical details present therein.
Or if they did, that's a reason to think they're accounts are generally accurate, since they are based on access to firsthand information. The critics can't have it both ways.
Gosh, Steve, for all your scholarly acumen, you sure do have a rather naive idea that 'first-hand' means "generally accurate".  Can't say about you, but on planet earth, eyewitnesses lie and are mistaken rather routinely.
vii) An interesting feature of John's Gospel is the number of editorial asides. Cf. Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John (Baker Academic; 2nd ed, 2013), Excursus 3. John will quote a statement by Jesus or narrate an event in the life of Christ, then add an explanatory comment to forestall the reader's misunderstanding.
Which thus probably wasn't inspired by God, since the intended effect was lost on many Christians throughout history.  Everything from eternal security to Jesus' nature.
That, however, is a very clumsy device is his Gospel is pious fiction. In that event, why first make a confusing statement that you must then clarify?
Perhaps you should ask a novelist that question, they seem to find much good in having story characters misunderstand what's going on, only to discover the truth with a clarifying comment.
If you're making stuff up whole cloth, why not build your interpretation directly into the narration rather than interrupt the story with these distracting interjections?
They aren't distracting to other people, and regardless, you are hitting a straw man, the weighty scholarly objections to John's historicity don't come from the extreme skeptical camp that says John made up everything he had to say wholesale.  And you don't know that the gospel authors didn't build their interpretations directly into the narration, as is implied by the Muratorian Fragment on John's authorship.
By contrast, this is consistent with oral history. With someone who's writing or dictating from memory.
Muratorian Fragment, John wished to create gospel material by relying on starvation-induced visions, not "memory".
He recounts what someone said. He recounts what he saw. Then he add his own parenthetical comment to clarify the scene for the benefit of a listener who wasn't there. To provide necessary context.
Or to spin what Jesus said to make sure the alternative interpretation is the one that is adopted.
Anyone who spends much time listening to the elderly talk about their lives is familiar with this practice. Indeed, it can be a big maddening. We want them to cut to the chase.
It's nice to know you don't see any reason to think your elderly relatives never stretched the truth or embellished their own history for your entertainment.  You do indeed strike me as rather gullible, with your clear preference for quantity over quality.
viii) The Gospels are strikingly reserved in their accounts of the Resurrection.
And criminals are routinely advised by attorneys to be strikingly reserved in their answers to the prosecutor's cross-examination.  So reservation and brevity are consistent with dishonesty, and therefore, you need to do something more than cry "short!" to get reliability out of reserved statements.
None of them directly describes the Resurrection itself. None of them depicts Jesus returning to life in the tomb and exiting the tomb. Rather, all of them narrate the aftermath of the Resurrection. People discovering the empty tomb and Jesus reappearing to people.
Only if you think the long ending of Mark 16 is canonnical, when in the opinion of most Christian scholars, it isn't, in which case Mark doesn't give the world any testimony about a resurrected Jesus appearing to disciples.  And if the Christian scholarly consensus is correct in asserting that Mark is the earliest of the gospels, then the earliest of the gospels happens to be the one lacking resurrection appearances, which is perfectly consistent with the theory that says those appearances only show up in the later 3 gospels by reason of fictional embellishment.
And that's consistent with eyewitness reportage, since there were no eyewitnesses to the Resurrection itself.
The “miracle of the sun” in Fatima were reported by thousands of eyewitnesses, see Meet The Witnesses Of The Miracle Of The Sun, John M. Haffert, © 1961, Cover illustration: Picture of the crowd at the Cova da Iria during the Miracle of the Sun, October 13, 1917.  And yet you think all of them are lying or deluded, so apparently you don't believe that when we arrive at "eyewitness", the quest for truth has ended.
No one besides Jesus was in the tomb.
You don't know whether the alleged man/angel the women met went into the tomb or not.
If, however, the Gospels are pious fiction, we'd expect them to describe this central event in spectacular detail.
Given that Mark is the earliest of the gospels and gives us no resurrection appearance narrative, the extra facts supplied in the later 3 gospels constitute "spectacular detail" by comparison.
 Their restraint is an indication of historicity.
The guilty gang-member gave very short descriptions in his eyewitness account, before declaring his innocence.
They only report what they know.
You don't know that the gospel authors restricted their statements to what they themselves knew.  Papias says Mark neither heard the Lord nor followed him, which, if true, means what he gives you in his gospel, he's merely conveying what Peter said, he cannot vouch for the Jesus-stuff personally.
They don't embroider their accounts with sensational details.
Neither does the guilty gang-member who declares his innocence on the witness stand while describing what he saw in reserved fashion.  But again, the resurrection narratives in Matthew, Luke and John can be reasonably construed as sensational details if Mark is earliest and said nothing about resurrection appearances.  It isn't like there's some natural law that says "sensational" can only mean absurdly wild fancy.
 Admittedly, some critics think any supernatural incidents are a telltale sign of legendary embellishment, but that's a reflection of the critic's secular prejudice.
A prejudice that is well-founded in critical reasoning.  You are also suspicious of falsity when you hear miraculous details in the stories of strangers wherein the miracles were only witnessed by the cult members, nobody outside the group.  Again, fuck you and your double standard.
 3. James and Jude
 According to the Gospels, the public ministry of Jesus left him estranged from his family. That's not surprising.
Jesus' family watching him perform genuinely supernatural miracles and still refusing to believe his claims, isn't surprising?
He became a controversial figure.  An embarrassment to his family. Jesus alienated the Jewish establishment. Followers were expelled from synagogues (Jn 9:22). Christian leaders were arrested (Acts).
You don't know that the embarrassment was sourced in Jesus being controversial.  It is equally possible that the reason he was an embarrassment to his family was because they knew his miracle claims were bullshit, sort of like Benny Hinn's nephew knows Hinn's miracle healings are bullshit.  The gospels do not present following Jesus as a some disastrous dangerous affair.  Jesus ran around for three years with his disciples, talking crap to the Jewish religious elite.  Your attempt to find root in Christianity-friendly reasons the objections of Jesus' own family toward him, is abortive.  Common sense says if his miracles were genuinely supernatural, his family members would know this far more than non-family members in that collectivist society.
 Moreover, that doesn't depend on prior belief in the historicity of the Gospels and Acts. For that's a predictable reaction by the religious establishment. This is how people in power typically respond to dissidents, rivals, revolutionaries, "schismatics," and "heretics". That can be documented throughout religious and political historian. It's not confined to any particular religion.
 Eventually, he was convicted of blasphemy by the high court of Israel and executed as an enemy of the state. His stepbrothers would be strongly motivated to disown him for their own protection.
Sure, that's one theory.  Another theory is that they disowned him because they were forced to confront absolute proof that his claims were total bullshit.  Your God doesn't think the disciples had good excuse to abandon him after his arrest, so why do you?
Excommunication would invite an economic boycott of the dominical family. They'd have a lot to lose by guilty association with Jesus.
If you believe that Jesus was anything bigger of a deal to the Jews than a common criminal, then yes.  Was Jesus as big of a deal to the Jews as the gospels say?
 It took a personal encounter with the Risen Lord for his disaffected brothers (James, Jude) to be reconciled with Jesus.
You don't have the first fucking clue about the manner in which James and Jude came into the fold after Jesus died.  James and Jude don't even make the list of possible replacements for Judas in Acts 1, which takes place after Jesus allegedly rose from the dead, indeed, the apostle-selection in Acts 1 takes place after about a 40 day period of Jesus appearing to the disciples.  What is there in the bible or the early church Fathers that tells you the manner in which James the Lord's brother ascended to his leadership position?  It is only in 4th century Eusebius, who says James was voted into office:
Church History, book 2, chapter 1,
The Course pursued by the Apostles after the Ascension of Christ
First, then, in the place of Judas, the betrayer, Matthias, who, as has been shown was also one of the Seventy, was chosen to the apostolate. And there were appointed to the diaconate, for the service of the congregation, by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the apostles, approved men, seven in number, of whom Stephen was one. He first, after the Lord, was stoned to death at the time of his ordination by the slayers of the Lord, as if he had been promoted for this very purpose. And thus he was the first to receive the crown, corresponding to his name, which belongs to the martyrs of Christ, who are worthy of the meed of victory. Then James, whom the ancients surnamed the Just on account of the excellence of his virtue, is recorded to have been the first to be made bishop of the church of Jerusalem. This James was called the brother of the Lord because he was known as a son of Joseph, and Joseph was supposed to be the father of Christ, because the Virgin, being betrothed to him, "was found with child by the Holy Ghost before they came together," as the account of the holy Gospels shows.
But Clement in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes writes thus: "For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem."
If Eusebius can be trusted, the history gives us the reasons James the brother of the Lord became a member of the Jesus cult after Jesus died, and none of those reasons involve allegations that he had seen the risen Christ.  And since Matthew 10:2-3 tells us two Jameses were already named among the 12 apostles, the scholarly consensus that the James to whom Jesus allegedly appeared (1st Cor. 15:7) was the brother of Jesus who didn't believe the messianic claims before Jesus died,  is too ambiguous to allow reasonable certainty, and therefore, you cannot cite that Jesus appearing to "James" to argue that specific James who was brother of Jesus, saw the risen Jesus.  The possibility that you wish to get rid of, i.e., that James the brother of Jesus never saw the risen Jesus, remains on the table.
 James and Jude don't ride on the coattails of their stepbrother. They mention the family connection in passing, but they don't exploit that connection for personal gain. They don't use it as leverage to advance controversial claims. So there's no reason to think there letters are pseudonymous.
That's one interpretation.  Another interpretation says they don't make much of their connection to Jesus because they didn't have much of a connection to Jesus to consider worth mentioning.  They were caught up in leadership needs and like most pastors, would have felt keeping the flock in good health was far more important than their own personal views about Jesus.  People often go to church routinely even when they have serious doubts about the faith.
And no reason to think Luke lies about the position of James in the early church.
 4. According to the Gospels, the disciples were demoralized by his humiliating death.
Which is not consistent with their having watched him perform allegedly genuine supernatural miracles up close and personal for three years.  Turning the disciples into demoralized pupils at the death of their leader is a literary device intended to make their later transformation into resurrection preacher all the more stark.  It really isn't that different from the Exodus Jews who, after seeing the Red Sea parted, complain and wish to go back to Egypt.  Their constant failure to get the point affords ample opportunity for the story teller to entertain the reader with dramatic accounts of God's impatience and fearful wrath on doubters.
That doesn't depend on prior belief in the historicity of the Gospels. Rather, that reaction just stands to reason, given mundane human psychology.
That Jesus stayed dead after crucifixion just stands to reason to, given mundane human experience that those who remain dead for at least two day, stay dead forever afterward.   Don't cite Keener's references to resurreciton miracles, you were requested before, for reasons of efficiency, to take the one modern-day resurrection claim you think is the most plausible, and submit it to refute the skeptical charge that our experience against the resurrection possibility is uniform, and instead of doing what needs doing, you ran scared, recognizing perfectly well the beating you'd take once you were nailed down and told to put up or shut up.  We are still waiting for you to sign your own death warrant by committing yourself to defending whatever specific modern day resurrection claim you think is the most reliable.  There is no sense in atheists checking out hundreds of Keener's and others' claims, if you believe one of them stands out reasonably resistant to falsification.
 Yet according to Acts, as well as 1-2 Peter, Peter and John become outspoken representatives of the new faith.
With Peter needing to learn by divine vision, apparently for the first time, that God has granted to Gentiles the repentance that leads to life" (Acts 11:18), a conclusion that his audience of converts give, as if this was some shocking unexpected theological development they'd never have guessed without Peter's recent divine revelation.  Sorry, but Acts is whitewashing quite a few things.
If they thought Jesus died in ignominy, if they thought association with Jesus, as a reputed "blasphemer," "sorcerer," and enemy of the state, tainted them, wouldn't they do whatever they could to distance themselves from Jesus? His departure from the scene left them very vulnerable.
Maybe they were like so many smart Mormon women, who recognize the religion to be bullshit, but continue playing the game nonetheless for their own personal reasons, or because they believe this false religion has something more to offer than the other false religions.  Yet you talk as if there's no denying the reliable truthfulness of the NT authors.
 Even if you think the case for the traditional authorship of 2 Peter is weak, a solid case can be made for the traditional authorship of 1 Peter. I think both are defensible. Cf. Karen Jobes, 1 Peter (Baker, 2005); E. E. Ellis, The Making of the New Testament Documents (Brill, 1999), 120-33. 
The historical grounds for his authorship are sufficiently ambiguous as to rationally justify those unbelievers who refuse to get embroiled in all the dogshit details.
 5. Paul
 I agree with scholars like Paul Barnett and Stanley Porter that Paul probably had some firsthand knowledge of Jesus before the Resurrection. Cf. Stanley Porter, When Paul Met Jesus: How an Idea Got Lost in History (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
 Some critics think Paul only had a subjective vision of Jesus. But "visions" can be objective.
You do not meet your obligation when attacking skepticism, by simply pointing out that visions "can" be objective.  Nobody wins a history debate by reminding us that what they believe is still possible (unless the skeptic has said your position is impossible, and I don't do that).  The winner is the person who demonstrates that their possible theory is more likely to be true than the theory they disagree with.
The fact, moreover, that it was luminous doesn't make it subjective. Jesus was luminous at the Transfiguration.
The Transfiguration is bullshit too.  So is any "vision" where some heavenly figure is luminous.
 If Paul saw and heard Jesus during his visits to Jerusalem, that would explain why Paul was such an early opponent of Christianity, headquartered in Jerusalem.
But only 'IF' he saw and heard Jesus.  Did he?
 Paul was a rising star in Judaism. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose by changing teams.
You don't have the first fucking clue what exact relationship Paul had with his Jewish contemporaries, outside of self-serving statements and statements by his friends.  We don't have to prove Paul a liar.  We only have to show that the evidence on Paul is so old and controversial that those not already committed to his defense cannot reach reasonable certainty about his credibility, to justify tossing his bullshit out the window.
 1 Cor 15:3-8. The obvious source of Paul's tradition is his first visit to leaders of the Jerusalem church (Gal 1:18-19).
No, Paul specifies he didn't get his gospel from men, Gal. 1:1-2.  IF we keep that particular presupposition in mind, then because 1st Cor. 15:3-8 doesn't actually specify he got his tradition from the prior apostles, it would seem that an assumption of Paul's consistency demands that the "received" in 1st Cor. 15:3 is a revelatory reception straight from God.

Worse, the gospel Paul "received" as described in 15:4 is not the true gospel.  Jesus not only didn't single out his death or resurrection as having more significance than his other acts/teachings, he allegedly specified that the gospel to the Gentiles was the requirement that they obey ALL of his earthly teachings (Matthew 28:20), which Matthew's author certainly understood to involve far more than mere death, burial and resurrection.  So a) if Paul 'received' the 15:3 gospel from the apostles, then they are all guilty of misrepresenting the gospel to be something less than it was, and b) if Paul 'received' the 15:3 gospel via telepathy from god, then Jesus must have changed his mind since the time he spoke what's in Matthew 28:20.
Paul has no motivation to fabricate this tradition.
Sure he does, since according to Galatians 1 and 2, he desires to maintain his separate divine ordination from the original apostles despite the fact that it would have been perfectly Christian and biblical for him to have admitted relying on their authority.  Paul is an attention-whore, and he can't maximize his desires if he claims to merely do what the apostles tell him to do.  Claiming he got the gospel by divine telepathy is far more likely to fulfill his desire to draw attention to himself.
To the contrary, given how he jealously defends the independence of his divine commission and revelation, he had a disincentive to appeal to this tradition.
No, a) you haven't established that the 1 Cor. 15:3 tradition was a reference to something he got from the other apostles, it could still just as easily be a thing he "received" in the Galatians 1:1, 11 fashion, and b) even inerrantist scholars admit Paul found himself in a bind concerning his claims of independent authority and the clear authority of the original disciples.  Lightfoot is supposed to be 19th century conservative Christianity's savior, yet he even admitted Paul created a "shipwreck of grammar" here because he wanted to maintain his independence while not entirely discounting the need to include the 12 original apostles:

St Paul is here distracted between the fear of saying too much and the fear of saying too little. He must maintain his own independence, and yet he must not compromise the position of the Twelve. How can he justify himself without seeming to condemn them? There is need of plain speaking and there is need of reserve. In this conflict of opposing aims and feelings the sense of the passage is well-nigh lost. The meaning of individual expressions is obscure. The thread of the sentence is broken, picked up, and again broken. From this shipwreck of grammar it is even difficult to extricate the main incident, on which the whole controversy hinges. Was Titus circumcised or was he not?
23. J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (10th ed.; London: Macmillan, 1898) 104.

Trinity Journal. 1998 (electronic edition.). Deerfield, IL: Trinity Seminary.

Hays continues:
So he reports it despite his proprietary  inclinations to the contrary.
Yeah, got forbid we should ever think that a person makes grandiose religious claims for dishonest reasons.
 6. Hebrews
 The author of Hebrews incidentally identifies himself as a member of the Pauline circle (Heb 13:23), who is, moreover, in contact with eyewitnesses (Heb 2:3). Why would he lie about that?
Is it ever difficult for juries to tell whether the person on the witness stand is lying?  How much more so whether a person lied 2000 years ago?
If he's a charlatan, why not claim to be an apostle or eyewitness in his own right?
If Benny Hinn is a charlatan, why not claim to be Jesus himself reincarnated?
 7. Women at the tomb
 In that misogynistic culture, women were regarded as second-rate eyewitnesses.
That's probably why Paul doesn't mention them in 1st Cor. 15 despite his mentioning of other alleged eyewitnesses.  Having Paul think consistent with the culture he lived in, is perfectly reasonable.
If the Gospels are pious fiction, why would the narrators invent inferior witnesses rather than more culturally credible witnesses?
Maybe for the same reason those religious people believe God's strength is made perfect in weakness, and other inversions of common sense?
 Ironically, some critics object to the NT because it fails to say that Jesus appeared to more impressive witnesses like Pilate, Caiphas, Annas, or Caesar. But if the Gospels are pious fiction, why don't they say that?
Maybe because when forgers lie, they are aware that lying a bit too much might betray their hand?

That's too speculative.  We are talking about 2,000 year old documents here, why they "didn't" say something is an absurd exercise in futility, especially given the 2,000 years of intense conflict in the church these gospels have produced since their origin.
If the Gospels are pious fiction, they weren't not constrained by the facts.
 They don't say that because they report what they actually know. Because they report what actually happened.
So in the case of Mark, what actually happened stops at 16:8, since of course if he felt Jesus made resurrection appearances to the disciples, it isn't likely Mark would intentionally exclude material that so strongly supports his main point that Jesus is the Son of God.
 II. Miracles
 1. In response to (I), an unbeliever will say that even if testimony is prima facie evidence in ordinary cases, when the account includes reported miracles, that, in itself, makes it factually dubious.
That's what American courts require today, since otherwise, if you get a bunch of fundies on the jury and they are allowed to possibly find as fact that the devil really did make Johnny drive drunk...
Miracles only happen in the Bible, not in real life. Or more generally, miracles only happen in mythology and pious fiction, but not in the world you and I experience.
Given that for all your talk to the contrary, you'd rather die than produce the one modern-day miracle claim you think is the most reliable, we are justified to conclude from such apologetic fear that even Christians fear that miracles never occur in the real world.
 But a basic problem with that denial is monumental evidence for extrabiblical miracles.
And a basic problem with your problem is your failure to commit to the premise that ANY of these are reliable enough to survive the rigors of scrutiny.  I am well aware of the fact that the reason you take the absurd position that surely some miracle claims are true solely from the sheer numbers of such reports, is because you know perfectly well that if you ever do get down to business and specify one such miracle, you will get your ass handed to you in a debate by a skeptic.  So like the trifling pussy you are, you stay on the sidelines.  Even YOU are afraid that the crap you put forth as miracle-evidence, might end up being bullshit.
And not just miracles in general, but Christian miracles in particular.
 I'd add that while Christian miracles aren't direct evidence for the Resurrection, they are direct evidence for Christianity, which in turn makes them indirect evidence for the Resurrection inasmuch as the truth of Christianity entails the truth of the Resurrection. Useful collections of case-studies include Rex Gardner, Healing Miracles: A Doctor Investigates (DLT, 1987); Craig Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, 2 vols. (Baker, 2011); Robert Larmer, The Legitimacy of Miracle (Lexington Books, 2013); Robert Larmer, Dialogues on Miracle (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Larmer's books are primarily a philosophical defense of miracles, but his appendices include firsthand accounts of some miracles.
 In addition, there are some online resources, viz.,
Wow, that sure is a lot of evidence.  Can you pick one such claim among them which you feel is most impervious to falsification?  Or did God suddenly reveal to you how it is only the devil who requests specific evidence to support specific claims?
 On a related note is answered Christian prayer. This sometimes overlaps with Christian miracles. I'm referring to prayers addressed to Jesus or prayers in Jesus' name or prayers addressed to the Father of Jesus. In case of answered Christian prayers, that would not be direct evidence for the Resurrection. It would, however, be direct evidence for Christianity, which in turn furnishes indirect evidence for the Resurrection–inasmuch as the truth of Christianity implicates the Resurrection.
Again, you don't cite any prayer-answer you believe most impervious to falsification.  We're waiting.
 2. Unbelievers dismiss reported miracles on the grounds that this in itself makes the witness suspect. Moreover, they say miracles are at odds with what we know about the operation of the world
 Yet that's circular.
Yeah, it's also circular when you are automatically suspicious of a stranger's claim that he saw a  real winged elephant flying around.  Apparently under the logic you use to clobber skeptics, just because your experience of the world tells you there's no such thing as flying elephants, and just because the existence of such monsters flies in the face of all reason, doesn't necessarily limit what God is capable of doing.  So in your disturbed world, rational mature adults first weigh all the evidence for flying elephants, before deciding whether such accounts are reliable. And since anything is possible with God, rational mature adults would never dare assert that flying elephants don't exist, since they cannot possibly know what lives on the dark side of Jupiter.
How do you know what the world is like? You weren't born knowing what's possible. You discover that through your own observation and the observation of others. And that includes reported miracles. If, no matter how often a particular kind of event is reported, you discount the reports, regardless of who reported it, then your worldview isn't based on evidence.
Everybody moves away from strict evidence when they draw general conclusions.  So what?

But it is not irrational to draw conclusions after a period of examination.  It doesn't matter if God can make people levitate, the longer you notice that claims of levitation always go unsupported, the more likely it is that levitation is false.

The alternative is to be forever investigating the miraculous since there's no end of miracle claims.  Thanks, but I've got bills to pay, and this is the part where you say my risk of eternal damnation is so huge that it justifies me to give up my job and income and just sit somewhere investigating miracle claims all day every day, I wouldn't wanna be wrong and end up in hell, would I?

But your own refusal to put your money where your mouth is, is justifiably interpreted by us as indicating that you, the miracle apologist, don't find the modern-day miracle claims too persuasive.  You cannot expect atheists to give a fuck more about the subject than you do.

We've been hammering apologists for years with the offer to examine whatever modern-day miracle claim they think is the most impervious to falsification.  So far zip.  It's a pretty good argument that if Christians won't even put their money where their miracle-mouth is, then not even they have confidence that the miracle-reports are really as reliable as they shout.
 3. Dreams and visions of Jesus
 There are well-documented cases of Jesus appearing to people throughout the course of church history. Cf. P. Wiebe, Visions of Jesus: Direct Encounters from the New Testament to Today (Oxford 1997).
There are also "well documented" cases of Bigfoot appearing to people in the last 60 years.  Do you give a fuck?  No.
 i) Some Christian apologists may view this as a threat to the case for the Resurrection, if we consider it to be an alternative explanation for the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ in the NT, but I think that's a category mistake.

Only beause you refuse to allow all that is implied by the greek word optasia being used in Acts 26:19 to describe Paul's experience of the risen Christ.  Check out optasia in 2nd Corinthians 12:1-4, then come back and tell me that it is a category mistake to identify appearances of the risen Jesus as hallucinations.
 To begin with, "vision" is ambiguous. A "vision" isn't necessarily a psychological event. In principle, it can be an objective, physical appearance of the risen Lord. I'm not saying that's how all reported appearances should be classified. But it's a false dichotomy to define a vision in contrast to a physical appearance.
That technicality doesn't help you in light of the fact that the optasia word used in Acts 26:19 to describe Paul's experiencing the resurrected Jesus, is also used in 2nd Cor. 12:1 to describe Paul's infamously delusional drug-induced confusion whereby even 14 years after the fact, he cannot tell whether he went up to heaven in his body or out of his body.  If Luke in Acts 26:19 is reporting the words Paul actually spoke, then optasia for Paul can indeed refer to absurdly irrational esoteric experiences, so Paul's choice to use such a word and pretend it referred to an experience that other people could partially notice, is pure delusion.
 In addition, both can be true at different times. For instance, the fact that Jesus could appear to someone in a veridical dream doesn't preclude his Resurrection. It's just a different mode of communication. There's more than one way a person can encounter Jesus.
Sure is funny that if Jesus wanted to appear to Paul and commission him for service, Jesus didn't allow himself to be seen by Paul's traveling companions, who could only have spread the good news further or otherwise helped bolster Paul's story.  Sorry, but I've got bills to pay, I don't have the time to research studies in cases where somebody's delusion is partially experieced by outsiders.
There's no antecedent reason that visions of Jesus can't be caused by the risen Jesus.
There is if the whole concept of god and resurrection constitute incoherent terms.  They do.
They see, hear, and feel him via ordinary sensory perception.
I'm an atheist, I don't believe everything in the bible, and I'm still waiting for you to offer the one modern-day miracle claim you deem the most impervious to falsification.
An external stimulus producing the experience.
 Dreams are psychological, but by the same token, people won't confuse dreams with physical encounters.
Then perhaps the author of 2nd Cor. 12:1-4, who 14 years after the fact still couldn't tell whether his absurdly esoteric trip to heaven was an out of body experience or not, wasn't a person.
 ii) If some descriptions of appearances of Jesus are tangible, then that favors a corporeal appearance in those cases.
 iii) I'm not citing the phenomenon as direct evidence for the Resurrection, but evidence for the fact that Jesus didn't pass into oblivion when he died.
Yes he did.  The dreamers are just dreaming.  Dreams don't count.
It's a necessary, if insufficient, condition of the Resurrection, that Jesus still exist. Indeed, that he continues to appear to some people in time of need.
 iv) The reports might be dismissed on the grounds that some visions can be the product of pious expectations. Devout hallucinations. And I'm sure some reported apparitions are hallucinatory.
 However, even in the case of pious expectation, that's an inadequate reason to automatically discount the reality of the report. To take a comparison, Christians pray with the expectation that God sometimes answers prayer. But their expectation doesn't produce answered prayer, and their expectation can't be used to dismiss evidence for answered prayer.
But Christians have a funny way of looking for God's fortune-cookie answer to their prayer in subsequent events.  If they get in a car wreck, then maybe god didn't want them to meet that friend at the coffee shop that day.  Nothing could be more typical of Christianity than the Christian's desire to extract from life's situations God's answer to their prayer.  If they hear nothing, that doesn't count as nothing, it just means God is saying "not right now".

Indeed, if God exists, the expectation is well-founded.
But god in the religious sense of the term, constitutes an incoherent concept, so your attempt to help God keep unbelievers without excuse, fails.
Experience confirms that expectation.
 Moreover, the hallucinatory explanation fails in the case of veridical dreams and vision.
 v) In addition, not all dreams and visions are expected.
Indeed, most abusers of hallucinogens didn't expect to see the little fairies running through the walls.
There are reported visions of Jesus appearing to people who didn't expect it.
Or maybe the storyteller is lying and they did expect it, but the storyteller knows it makes for better drama to assert that Jesus appeared to them when they weren't expecting it:
Indeed, to hostile individuals who are naturally predisposed to reject Christianity, viz. Hugh Montefiore, The Paranormal: A Bishop Investigates (Upfront Publishing, 2002), 234-35; Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Zondervan, 2016); Tom Doyle, Dreams and Visions. Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World (Thomas Nelson 2012); David Garrison, A Wind in the House of Islam (WIGTake Resources, 2014).
Please cite the one case you feel is the most impervious to falsification, and let's get started.  Unlike you, I don't have all day to just endlessly google whatever crap you point to.
 My post isn't meant to be exhaustive. I'm just highlighting what I consider to be the best lines of evidence. There are other works that fill in many of the details. I don't agree with everything they say, but they often supplement what I say.
 4. Messianic prophecy
 The OT has little explicit to say about the resurrection of the messiah.
a major reason to suspect that the Christian claim is nothing but an evolution of Judaism away from its former self to new things.  What else is new.
The best bet is Ps 16:10. And I think that interpretation is defensible. Indeed, I've defended it.
The reticence with which Christian scholars of the OT apply this to Jesus rationally warrants the atheists who just laugh at your attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Even inerrantist Christian scholar Polhill cannot avoid admitting that Peter's attempt to apply Psalm 16:9-10 appears strained:
Peter’s application of the original Davidic psalm to Christ may seem somewhat strained but was very much in line with Hebrew thought, which saw a close link between individuals and their descendants.
Polhill, J. B. (2001, c1992). Vol. 26: Acts (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 114). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Walter Kaiser admitted most commentators do not agree with Peters’ applying Psalm 16 to the resurrection of Jesus, see Three Views on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, Kaiser, Bock and Enns, contributors, Gundry, Berding, Lunde, ed., 2007, Berding and Lunde., p. 75.

Bock responded at p. 95 that Psalm 16's association with Jesus' resurrection is best understood typologically, but of course, while that makes sense, "typology" is mere "analogy", it doesn't take the texts to be predicting the future literally, but only saying things that can be used in new and improved ways by others encountering a similar situation.

 What's more interesting is the conjunction of two other OT themes. On the one hand, you have three prophetic texts about the messiah's violent death (Ps 22; Isa 52-53; Zech 12:10).
Sorry, those aren't about Jesus. Psalm 22:1 was a sinner's sincerely held belief that God had abandoned him, only a fool would say this was a prediction of a godman's theologically confused worry that his other self was abandoning him.  The suffering servant in Isaiah is spoken of in past tense terms which is a rather confused way of predicting the future. 53:7 says the servant didn't open his mouth while his executors were slaughtering him, but Jesus obviously does plenty of talking during his execution, John 19:11, Luke 23:28.  Also the Hebrew word for death in 53:9 is a plural, so in your quest to show this stuff literally applies to Jesus, be sure you cite the evidence showing that he died several times.
On the other hand, you have multiple texts about the Davidic messiah's triumphant, everlasting reign. But in terms of relative chronology, the messiah can't reign forever before he reigns ends in death.
An unfortunate complication that is not the skeptic's problem to smooth out.
That would be contradictory. So that implies a messianic resurrection.
 To be sure, an apologist would have to defend the messianic interpretation of Ps 22, Isa 52-53, and Zech 12:10.
 For further reading:
 Paul Barnett, Finding the Historical Christ (Eerdmans, 2009)
 Richard Bauckham, Jesus: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011), 104-09.
 C. E. B. Cranfield, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ," On Romans and Other New Testament Essays (T&T Clark, 1998), chap. 11.
 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Crossway, 3rd ed., 2008), chap. 8.
 Gary Habermas & Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004).
 Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Eerdmans, 2009), chap. 22.
 Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (IVP, 2010).
 Lydia & Timothy McGrew, "The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth"
 John Warwick Montgomery, "A New Approach to the Apologetic for Christ's Resurrection 13 by Way of Wigmore 's Juridician Analysis of Evidence" Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, 3/1 (2010):
 Richard Swinburne, The Resurrection of God Incarnate (Clarendon Press, 2003)
 N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress, 2003).
Posted by steve at 10:07 AM   
No thanks, I've already decided for much more solid reasons that God doesn't exist, so I only trifle about the details when and if I decide to do so.

Cold Case Christianity: gospel contradictions trump eyewitness reporting

This is my reply to a video by Ja. Warner Wallace advertised as Why Differences Between the Gospels Demonstrate Their Reliability (Vide...