Saturday, June 05, 2010

Michael Licona vs. Richard Carrier Debate: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? MP3 Audio

On February 11, 2010, Michael Licona and Richard Carrier faced each other in debate for a second time. Topic: Did Jesus rise from the dead? (Their first debate can be found here.) The debate occurred at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas in front of an estimated audience of 750. Video of the debate can be found at here. More Licona resources here.

Debate MP3 Audio here with Q&A here. (2hr 30min)


You might also be interested in Mike Licona's The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus or Richard Carrier's books here.


Ben said...

Awesome. Thanks. Been waiting for this.

Don Mosteller said...

I would respectfully submit that this is a classic example of Proverbs 26:4-5 not being applied, or even considered by Michael Licona.

A presuppositional MacArthur/Bahnsen approach would have clarified that miracles are not natural events open to this type of simplistic methodological analysis. Foolish conclusions by Richard Carrier, regardless of the support of sophistry and specious arguments are still foolish. No amount of support can successfully refute Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit. Yet, I heard no rebuttal.

As for me, this debate was not "an enjoyable experience" as Michael Licona put it in his summation, but rather an embarrassment. Richard Carrier was there representing only himself. Michael Licona was not there representing himself. How gracious we have all become, exceeding even Christ.
Don Mosteller

Anonymous said...

"I would respectfully submit that this is a classic example of Proverbs 26:4-5 not being applied, or even considered by Michael Licona."

I'm not sure what you mean by that. What was Mike suppossed to do exactly given that this was a debate on the resurrection? Just tell Carrier that he is a fool?

"A presuppositional MacArthur/Bahnsen approach would have clarified that miracles are not natural events open to this type of simplistic methodological analysis."

I couldn't disagree more. That Jesus was seen alive after his death by crucifixion can be established to a reasonable degree of certainty. Look at the lengths to which Carrier had to go to deny it. He had to posit numerous group hallucinations (where even one would be so unlikely to be borderline miraculous), a denial of the empty tomb (for which we have good evidence), another halucination by Peter, a spurious psychoanalysis of Paul and most of the disciples (despite the fact the psychohistory is a failed genre and looked down upon by professional historians), another spurious parallel between Jesus and Romulus, an unwarranted skepticism of God's very existence (which is something that he must do in an attempt to decrease the antecedent probability of a miraclous event), and to top it all off, Carrier then claims that he can produce a logical argument to refute the claim that "out of nothing, nothing comes". I agree that such a claim is utter foolishness but, given the format of the debate, I think Mike did well to keep the debate on topic.

Don Mosteller said...

According to scripture Richard Carrier is a fool, and without excuse before God. Why should I hold him in higher regard? And I have no hesitation, what-so-ever, pointing that fact out to him; especially after characterizing the resurrection of Christ before whole world the way he did with his flippant, caviler attitude. I'm sure I don't need to remind you this is spiritual warfare, worldviews in conflict; and that Carrier's eternal soul is in the balance. If you want to pursue this aspect further, I would suggest you consult scripture, not methodology.

I don't read Proverbs 26:4-5 as a suggestion, although, I understand many do. It is an apologetic format. You may disregard it if you choose, Van Til and Bahnsen considered it fundamental.

The objective of the debate, as any debate, is the Glory of God. Will God be glorified in and through the exchange. The topic: Resurrection of Christ. However, to permit a patent denial of God's magnificent creation ex nihilo is not staying on topic in my mind, and I seriously doubt if many would agree with you on this.

My point: Michael Licona was not there representing himself, but Christ, and you, and me, and many others. I know, and am sure, that he is more than capable to give a much better defense for his faith in Christ than he did.

Unknown said...

I just love how a lot of these Reformed types go after not only non-believers, but believers as well! "Sorry Mike you didn't do a good enough job for Jesus because you didn't handle the debate like a Reformed guy would" is essentially what I'm hearing in the above comments. Quit being 5 point jerks. I think Mike did a great job.

pds said...

This is exactly what Francis Schaeffer had to put up with! If you want a methodology, then look in the book of Acts and look at Paul/Peter. If people need reasons, then give them reasons! Paul and Peter talk about "witnesses", we talk about the "Historic witness". Is there a real difference?

Don: You are forming a methodology based on Van Til's method, not the Bible.

Haecceitas said...

I think Licona did better as the debate progressed. I wasn't too impressed with his opening statement (it contained solid stuff but it didn't proceed the best possible way from a strategic point of view). I also think Licona should have done at least something to counter Carrier's "pagan parallels" (mainly Romulus) thesis though in some ways it was not central to the debate since Carrier granted the appearances (while of course disputing the Christian explanation for them). Also, I'm not a big fan of Licona's recent tencency to almost totally drop the empty tomb from his argument (though I think he touched on this issue at some point in the conversation). Since Licona seems to be willing to argue that the early Christian understanding of the resurrection body as physical belonged to the historical bedrock facts, it would be rather easy to make the point that this implies the existence of the empty tomb. The only way I can see out of this would be if there was no known burial location for Jesus' body, but in that case, one wouldn't expect to find a mention of his burial in the extremely early pre-pauline tradition reflected in 1. Corinthians 15.

Carrier was at his weakest when he had to resort to "this is very rare but then again, so is the origin of Christianity as it happened just once" type of reasoning in his alternative explanation of the evidence, as if it's not a problem for his thesis to postulate a conjunction rare events that conveniently happen to occur in just this particular case. He also sneaked (especially in his closing) some of his highly speculative views into statements in such a way that it implied that they were part of the granted background information rather than controversial premises (something like "since there were dying and rising savior figures all over the place..." and "since the early Christian community consisted of hallucinating schitzotypal people...").

Haecceitas said...

Don Mosteller,

Has there ever been a debate on the resurrection of Jesus in which the Christian side argued in a way that you'd endorse (presuppositionally, I'd presume)? Or is it rather that you don't want to see that topic debated at all because the focus should be on more foundational issues of worldviews and presuppositions?

Don Mosteller said...


Having been asked two direct questions, I’ll answer you. Yes, 2006, William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman, Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts. No, I debate most every topic where God can be glorified, and certainly the resurrection of Jesus Christ is foremost in His mind as the premier evidence of His being.

Most of my debates the last several years were creation/evolution or evil/suffering. I would give almost anything I have to debate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the most hostile environment imaginable.

You have a fine mind, a keen, agile intellect, and seem gifted for debate; but your presumption is wrong. I never argue from the presuppositional position alone. If they reject even the notion of God, scripture has little explanatory power. But, I’m not there to just win the debate by shutting the mouths of the obstreperous, but to provide an effective and compelling forum for God to change lives; and He does that almost exclusively through His Holy Word.

Christ used both presuppositional and evidential arguments. God used both answering Job. So, I use both; otherwise there’s no reason for me to even be there. I am always aware (at least I try to be aware) of not darkening God’s counsel (scripture) with empty, carnal reasoning. Proverbs 26:4-5

To my shame, I admit that I always use more physics (mainly classic Newtonian,) biology, anthropology, geology, cosmology, astronomy, logic, philosophy, along with other disciplines than I ever planned to; along with a strong, healthy serving of God’s Word (machaira, relevant to the subject at hand.) Maybe next time I’ll achieve that elusive quality of balance.

Anonymous said...

Licona comes across as a genuine and likeable guy. His honesty in answering Carrier's question about why God chose the Jews was particularly apparent.

But for me this debate didn't do it. It hit a low point when Carrier, back-pedalling after claiming the apriori probability of the universe existing was almost 1, tried to appear like an expert in cosmology, claiming to have read "Physical Letters Review". For me, even in the heat of debate, an 'expert' getting the name of a famous physics journal around the wrong way doesn't inspire confidence.

For me this highlights the necessity to be humble, and if you don't know something, not to pretend you do.

Haecceitas said...

Don Mosteller,

Thanks for the clarifications. I think we are much more on the same page than I first thought. I too see a role for both presuppositional reasoning and evidence.

Haecceitas said...


I e-mailed Carrier and asked about his supposed proof for nothingness almost certainly resulting in a universe. I haven't received any reply yet, but perhaps he will get around to replying sooner or later. My only guess as to what he could be talking about would be the idea that modern physics has supposedly demonstrated that "nothingness is unstable" (which I think is based on a metaphysical confusion).

And yes, Carrier certainly seems to have a pretty high view of his expertise in many areas other than the one(s) he has formally studied.

Unknown said...

So, if Carrier's position is that "nothingness is unstable," like Stenger's, then nothing(ness), in this sense of the word, isn't actually "nothing," it's something. The "vacuum" is something. Nothing is the complete lack of anything whatsoever; no vacuums or fluctuating energy. Craig talks about this is his "On Gaurd" and exposes its deception. Additionally, check out this link here:

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