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Church Launches CSI Jerusalem

We’ve already seen lawyers attempt to make a case for the resurrection of Christ, now a New Jersey church is hiring a cold case investigator to do what I’m sure will be a totally objective examination of the “evidence” to determine whether the gospel accounts are trustworthy.

How can we know the Bible is telling the truth? Would the evidence regarding Jesus’ death stand up to today’s standards for reliable eyewitness testimony? Liquid Church, a non-denominational Christian church in New Jersey is hosting a special investigative series called, Cold Case Christianity. The message series will feature homicide detective J. Warner Wallace as he applies his cold case investigation skills to the Bible. The public is invited to attend the cross examination sessions during March and April.

Wallace will define core principles of modern day cold case investigations and utilize these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts from the Bible. His murder detective and professional investigative work has received national recognition; his cases have been featured on NBC Dateline, and he’s been awarded the Police and Fire Medal of Valor “Sustained Superiority” Award.

Tim Lucas, Lead Pastor of Liquid Church said, “We know people’s faith rests on understanding if the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was real or not. What better way than to bring in a CSI detective and have him examine the Biblical evidence available for a homicide investigation?”

Allow me to point a few minor little differences. You don’t have any physical evidence to examine. You have no reports from medical examiners or detectives who worked on the case after it happened. You don’t have any eyewitness accounts to examine (no serious biblical scholar thinks the gospels were actually written by the men they are attributed to). Which means you have none of the kinds of evidence that a CSI detective could possibly examine to reach a conclusion. Can you say stupid publicity stunt?

Comments

  1. colnago80 says

    In addition, there is no evidence that the supposedly empty tomb was examined for another location of ingress/egress.

  2. says

    You could always take the preferred approach of using simple freshman statistics (Bayes’s Theorem, it sounds so mathy!) to prove (both have been done, multiple times) that either Jesus/God existed or that he didn’t. (With a little effort you probably could use it to prove both, or neither.) The same methods (with the same results) should adapt easily to any deity.

  3. colnago80 says

    Re Heddle @ #2

    To my knowledge, inferences from Bayes’s analysis is not acceptable as evidence in US courts. Don’t know about courts in Israel.

  4. raven says

    This is boring.

    I’d rather see if this investigator can prove that Frodo still lives or if King Arthur is really going to come back some day.

  5. raven says

    Would the evidence regarding Jesus’ death stand up to today’s standards for reliable eyewitness testimony?

    Not only is this boring, it is also silly.

    Jesus isn’t dead!!! This is a central claim of xianity. Jesus isn’t dead, he is god, the all powerful creator and ruler of the universe.

    They could just ask jesus to send an email, phone in, or even show up for an interview. You know, things that any functional adult can easily do.

  6. Artor says

    I hope, for the sake of Detective Wallace’s career, that he is a competent & honest investigator. It would be a shame for him to squander his reputation on these idiots. But it would be awfully ironic if he were to hold his investigation, and actually use his cold-case skills, declaring in no uncertain terms, “There is no case here! I can find zero credible evidence that the victim even existed, let alone that any such crucifixion happened.”

  7. dingojack says

    Or where Circe’s Island is…*
    Dingo
    ——–
    * and whether she and Telemachus still are in residence.

  8. gshelley says

    Hmm, none of the witness statement are signed or dated, and we don’t know who took them or where.

    J Warner Wallace (an atheist for 35 years till he examined the evidence using his police dectiveing skills) has a book “Cold Case Christianity”, so we already know his conclusion. If there was any doubt

  9. matty1 says

    I was trying to find some kind of statement as to what these core principles of investigation are and turned up this. Which isn’t what I’m looking for but is a bit relevant to the post and even more so to some of Ed’s other writing on the problems with prosecutors and crime labs.

    For those who don’t click links that is a series of articles on the Nature website discussing the lack of good evidence behind many ‘scientific’ techniques used to bring evidence to court.

  10. raven says

    Or where Circe’s Island is…*
    Dingo
    ——–
    * and whether she and Telemachus still are in residence.

    Or the Ark of the Covenant.

    We know about where it is and even have a videotape of that. It’s in a US controlled warehouse somewhere.

  11. John Pieret says

    no serious biblical scholar thinks the gospels were actually written by the men they are attributed to

    Even if they were written by the men they are attributed to, it would still be hearsay and inadmissible in court. But you know this isn’t an exercise to really “examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts,” it is simply an exercise to reassure the faithful that they don’t need any evidence.

  12. matty1 says

    From the wikipedia article Cold case

    “A case is considered unsolved until a suspect has been identified, charged, and tried for the crime.”

    So who is the suspect and what exactly are the charges?

    “Centurion Longinus is hereby charged with murder”
    “But you just spent an hour telling us the alleged victim was seen alive and well three days later”

  13. colnago80 says

    Re Reven @ #10

    Gee, I didn’t realize that Raiders of the Lost Ark was a documentary.

  14. dhall says

    And hey, it’s not like the scene of the “crime” hasn’t been contaminated by who knows how many millions of people during the last 2000 years.

  15. Michael Heath says

    I stopped reading scholarly work about the historicity of Jesus years ago. However, Richard Carrier recently recommended Kris Komarnitsky’s Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box?. The Kindle version was free the weekend I downloaded the book (which I read on my laptop and smartphone).

    Kris Komarnitsky is a layman and not a scholar, so I relied on Carrier’s promotion since I rarely care what non-professionals that aren’t considered credible think. I like this book for the same reason Carrier did; Mr. Komarnitsky makes a well-crafted argument. He also does a fine job presenting various arguments about the resurrection.

    However and as Ed noted, Komarnitsky’s only resources are assertions, so reason is the only tool one has available to assess the cogency of any proposed historical narrative. Science’s recent progress in understanding the psychology of those prone to believing in the supernatural and having authoritarian tendencies provides a new perspective not present in the books I read two and three decades ago. Before I make too firm a conclusions on these sections would be nice to see some validation by scientists that Komarnitsky gets it right. In this area he focused mostly on how the religious are very prone to bad thinking in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. A threat that would be present regardless of whether Jesus rose from the dead since his disciples didn’t expect a crucifixion and resurrection. (This of course presumes Jesus is real, had the disciples noted in the NT, and was crucified; all assertions that lack evidence.)

    When I was previously immersed in this topic I concluded that Jesus was probably an actual person rather than a mythical figure. That was partly due to the bias of those that argued for a myth, coupled to some biblical passages that sounded authentic rather than contrived and weren’t asserted in other stories that predate the NT (which IIRC is described as the criterion of dissimilarity). Komarnitsky repeatedly cites William Craig, who’d I only previously encountered in verbal debates. He’s just as idiotic in his written arguments as he is as a debater.

    A local evangelical church pays for a 2 min. infomercial on the local radio station. The preacher was recently promoting doing a special seminar about the evidence that Jesus was resurrected. He kept stating that word, evidence. I don’t think he knows what that means, and he certainly will be relying on his audiences to suffer from that same affliction.

  16. matty1 says

    A local evangelical church pays for a 2 min. infomercial on the local radio station.

    That sounds like a great argument for changing the station you listen to.

  17. colnago80 says

    As I have mentioned before on Brayton’s previous Scienceblogs blog, the Islamic position is that Yeshua was not the man who was executed on Calvary but instead it was Judas Iscariot.

  18. matty1 says

    @20 You know I’ve always wanted to use that with an apologist. “What would you say if I gave you evidence from a religious source against the crucifixion?” then quote Surat An-Nisa.

  19. matty1 says

    Top line from that Sura “They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption”

    Guys when the fucking Quran is clearer than you about this it is really not a good idea to start talking as if you can prove your case to a legal standard.

  20. rabbitscribe says

    These people kill me. This goofy “Would the evidence stand up in a court of law? We believe it would!” argument has been around since the 19th century. I once took it at face value myself, and I’ve worked in the legal profession. Yeah, a court would accept the claim of a bodily resurrection, as long as the evidence was solid…

    Judge: “You are charged with murder in the first degree. How do you plead?”

    Defendant: “Guilty, your honor.”

    Victim (from the gallery): “Throw the book at him!”

    Defendant: “I was having a bad day!”

    Judge: “Order! Bailiffs, escort that man from the courtroom!”

    Prosecutor: “Your honor, while the outburst is inappropriate, bear in mind that he is, after all, a murder victim. If he agrees to restrain himself, would you reconsider? We believe it will be therapeutic and bring a sense of closure…”

    Judge: “Sense of WHAT? What’s the meaning of this folderol?”

    Prosecutor: “The defendant brutally dismembered the victim in the presence of ten United States Senators…”

    Victim: “And it weren’t particularly pleasant!”

    Defendant: “I already said I was sorry! What more do you people want?”

    Prosecutor: “… and if the defendant’s guilty plea is not accepted, the State is prepared to call those Senators to the stand and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed murder in the first degree.”

    Judge: “Counselor, do you have a history of psychiatric medication, and are you prepared to take a drug test at this time?”

    Prosecutor: “No and yes. To be sure, a divine being later raised the victim from the dead, healed him, and sent him away with a lovely parting gift. But that has no bearing on the matter: we are prepared to prove all the elements…”

    Judge: “This is manifestly absurd! I don’t care who thinks they saw what! CASE DISMISSED!”

    Prosecutor: “Objection! You’ve been to Mass every day for fifty years! Don’t you believe in the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?”

    Judge: “Of course I do! But this is… REALITY-reality! ADJOURNED!”

  21. says

    As gshelley mentioned, Wallace has written a book called Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. I’ve got an electronic copy of it, but haven’t read it yet. Here’s a blurb from Rick Warren about it:

    “My friend Jim Wallace was an angry atheist for 35 years until he walked through the doors of Saddleback Church. There his life was radically changed by Jesus. Today, Jim is one of the most thoughtful and winsome apologists for the Gospel I know. Cold Case Christianity is literally packed with insights to share with the skeptics in your life and this book will give you the confidence to share it!”
    —Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church

  22. abear says

    heddle wrote:

    You could always take the preferred approach of using simple freshman statistics (Bayes’s Theorem, it sounds so mathy!) to prove (both have been done, multiple times) that either Jesus/God existed or that he didn’t. (With a little effort you probably could use it to prove both, or neither.) The same methods (with the same results) should adapt easily to any deity.

    Or better still, silence your common sense, ignore the lack of evidence and how silly the evidence for God is and decide to believe so you can go to church picnics and mingle with hot Christian chicks.

  23. billgascoyne says

    “We know people’s faith rests on understanding if the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was real or not.”

    OK, explain to me again why they call it “faith.” Seriously, you need evidence to support your faith? Isn’t that what’s known as an “oxymoron?”

  24. Crudely Wrott says

    Let me guess: the clever and successful investigator J. Warner Wallace is a dedicated Xtian.

    If so, science, crime scene or otherwise, just went whooosh out the window.

    *picks up remote, changes channel*

  25. says

    Wiat until they find out that the marks on the bones of the MILLIONS of Christians condemned to die in Roman arenas* were not from lions, tigers, wolves and the like–not even saber tooth cats. Nope, can you keep a secret? Sure you can; T FUCKING Rex!

    Modusoperadi must be sleeping in this morning.

    “There was no corpus Christi delecti”

    But there are numerous delis in Corpus Christie
    http://www.yellowpages.com/corpus-christi-tx/deli-restaurants

    * Both the MDLL (Major Domus League Lusum) arenas like Rome (and these others: http://www.touropia.com/roman-amphitheaters/) and AAA and lower venues. I saw Spartacus–at least he SAID he was Spartacus–While he was playing, “Winter Slaughtering” in Spain. He played for the “Carteian Crushers (&Piercers&Hackers&Burners&Boilers&Rapers&Looters). He was nursing a pretty nasty sword cut to his hacking arm and he had to have “Spiculus Surgery”, using a cadaver’s tendon–and a VERY fresh tendon it was–but he still had respectable numbers that year, however, they were nothing like they were in the “Magnus Ostendo”.

  26. dingojack says

    Even Modus doesn’t log on at 9AM on a Sunday morning. It’s his day rest (or as he’d put it ‘a sleep-in).
    :) Dingo

  27. Stacy says

    Would the evidence regarding Jesus’ death stand up to today’s standards for reliable eyewitness testimony?

    Oh for the–C’mon, Liquid Church. The gospels contradict each other in dozens if not hundreds of places. They disagree about the circumstances of their main character’s birth (Matthew, Luke–they can’t both be right–or neither?) his teachings, and his death (was he crucified on Passover or the day before? What were his last words?) They make easily falsifiable claims. Two of the “witnesses” have obviously based their testimony on that of another (and they each changed the story in ways that patently served propaganda purposes.)

    Get real.

  28. says

    democommie “Modusoperadi must be sleeping in this morning.” & dingojack “Even Modus doesn’t log on at 9AM on a Sunday morning. It’s his day rest (or as he’d put it ‘a sleep-in).”
    Actually, I was up at 5:30 this morning. Those chickens aren’t going to milk themselves.

  29. rikitiki says

    The things to me with the Easter story that make it unbelievable are simple even without
    the “resurrection”. It doesn’t make sense on a HUMAN level:

    1) A group of powerful individuals are SO bent with the leader (Jesus) of a sect that they
    coerce the rulers (Romans) to bump him off.
    2) He gets bumped off (and supposedly comes back to life 3 days later)
    3) ANY group that was THAT concerned about Jesus & sect to do this would naturally
    continue to spy on them after killing Jesus — history has numerous accounts of even
    more powerful leaders stepping up to the plate after the first leader gets martyred.
    The Pharisees would know this and wouldn’t take the chance of that happening.
    4) IF Jesus came back, they would’ve bumped him off again as soon as their spy told
    them he was back!
    5) If somebody killed the group’s leader and he came back from the dead, the ENTIRE
    group would advertise that, rub the Pharisee’s noses in it and parade the live Jesus
    as proof of his divinity! After all, that supposedly was the charge that killed him.
    This is NOWHERE in the Easter Story.

    See? It absolutely fails on just the human-nature level.

  30. Nihilismus says

    @34 rikitiki

    IF Jesus came back, they would’ve bumped him off again as soon as their spy told
    them he was back!

    That would make for an interesting conspiracy theory. That is, Jesus has been repeatedly reborn over the last 2000 years, only to be discovered by a secret society and killed before he can accomplish anything. All those “failed” prophesies of his return over the last two millennia — they were actually true. He returned each time, but was killed. I guess it would be easier for the society to wait until it looks like an older Jesus is about to start preaching before they kill him off, rather than to kill him repeatedly as a baby, since it would give them a break from constantly searching the globe ever few years.

  31. marcus says

    Iain Pears did that in “An Instance of the Fingerpost”. The ‘fingerpost” (or guide) is born again and again in different forms (in this case an innocent and compassionate young woman) to try to raise the consciousness of humanity, only to be done in again and again by, not a conspiracy, but pure human intolerance and cussedness.
    Actually a great read.

  32. says

    @36:

    Haven’t read “The Fingerpost”. I did read, “The Portrait” and found it difficult to do so; not because of the writing but just the story as it unfolded being depressing.

  33. dingojack says

    Modusoperandi (#33) – be careful when it comes to getting eggs from the cows. You might end up with nothing more than a warm feeling and a pat on the back.
    :) Dingo

  34. tubi says

    dingojack @38

    …a pat on the back.

    This deserves recognition, assuming it was intentional.

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