Atheists are warning that Christianity may be necessary for the survival of Western civilization

By Jonathon Van Maren

Historian Tom Holland is known primarily as a storyteller of the ancient world. Thus, his new book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, came as something of a surprise for several reasons. First, Tom Holland is not a Christian. Second, Holland’s book is one of the most ambitious historical defenses of Christianity in a very long time.

While studying the ancient world, Holland writes, he realized something. Simply, the ancients were cruel, and their values utterly foreign to him. The Spartans routinely murdered “imperfect” children. The bodies of slaves were treated like outlets for the physical pleasure of those with power. Infanticide was common. The poor and the weak had no rights.

How did we get from there to here? It was Christianity, Holland writes. Christianity revolutionized sex and marriage, demanding that men control themselves and prohibiting all forms of rape. Christianity confined sexuality within monogamy. (It is ironic, Holland notes, that these are now the very standards for which Christianity is derided.) Christianity elevated women. In short, Christianity utterly transformed the world.

In fact, Holland points out that without Christianity, the Western world would not exist. Even the claims of the social justice warriors who despise the faith of their ancestors rest on a foundation of Judeo-Christian values. Those who make arguments based on love, tolerance, and compassion are borrowing fundamentally Christian arguments. If the West had not become Christian, Holland writes, “no one would have gotten woke.”

Holland’s book-length defense of the belief system the elites love to despise has unsurprisingly attracted some criticism. He faced off with militant atheist and prominent philosopher A.C. Grayling on the question “Did Christianity give us our human values?” Grayling struggled to rebut Holland, sounding more petty than philosophical. Holland, on the other hand, became positively passionate in his defense of Christianity. If Western civilization is the fishbowl, he stated, then the water is Christianity.

In fact, the very critiques of those who condemn Christianity for various perceived injustices are rooted in Christian precepts.


38 thoughts on “Atheists are warning that Christianity may be necessary for the survival of Western civilization

  1. Cheryl Miller says:

    Well this is an interesting turn-around! Good for this atheist for valuing ‘where the evidence leads’ in his search for Truth. Christianity has known this for years, but it’s beyond GOOD that an atheist is having to deal with the reality of ‘the goodness’ of Christianity’s outgrowth upon the World around it. There is a Reason that many Christians through the Ages have been martyred for their Faith – simply because it ‘changes people’ and there are forces in the World that don’t WANT those changes to take place because it will erode their Power and Position, Fame or Fortune. Christianity is a ‘threat’ to all the things this author described are in the World when Christianity isn’t there. But what this author has remarkably deduced about History, is the very thing that Christians have voiced for 2 millennia, that Christianity is actually GOOD for cultures, as Rome finally admitted, NOT bad for them. But today, we find a LOT of forces who work AGAINST Christianity, trying to assert that Christianity is NOT ‘moral’, or does NOT measure up to their own ‘values’ or ‘standards’, without any regard at all for the Reality that UNTIL Christianity spread across the Western continent and New World, there WAS NO understanding or consideration of ‘values’ or ‘standards’, and that the only reason we KNOW ANYTHING about those things is that Christianity is based upon the ‘values’ and ‘standards’ given in the Ten Commandments by God to Man when God delivered an entire People (He had formerly claimed for His own) out of the bonds of Slavery in Egypt – where they had been enslaved for decades after a favorite son of Abraham had received a Plan from God to ‘save’ Egypt from an upcoming Famine, that then enabled Egypt to become richer by being able to provide ‘the then-world’ with enough grain to ‘get through the Famine’ – which otherwise would have probably killed everyone in that entire Middle Eastern area! The then-Pharaoh lauded Joseph, the youngest son of Abraham, and made him the pontiff of Egypt just under himself. But when the Pharaoh died, and then Joseph died, the then-Pharoah (who hadn’t known Joseph or the prior Pharoah) saw all Joseph’s ancestral heritage and saw their huge number as a ‘threat’ to his Kingdom, and saw them as a ‘huge army of people’ that he could merely ‘enslave’ to work for free to build his dream empire! so he did. And there they remained until God said, ‘Enough!’ and delivered them from their Slavery and led them back to their ancestral homeland they had temporarily left in search of food to survive. And on the way back home, God gave them His Ten Commandments, along with a lot of other cultural ‘laws’ for their preservation from disease and mutational flaws commonly found in other populations and cultures. Of course we know this People as Hebrews, or Jews, out of which Christianity came since our founder, Jesus, was a good Jew who followed Jewish Law and kept Jewish Feasts and traditions, and who relished the Books of Moses and the Prophets, as Christians do today. Just as pagan Egypt reneged on their promises to Joseph’s People to let them stay in the land and prosper there (because of how Joseph had saved Egypt from starving, and they loved him…), so it is today that there are still people cultures who reject God and God’s Word, and God’s principles and moral standards, or have never been exposed to them, and thus they are still embroiled in the same ‘ancient amorality’ as such ancients as Egypt, Babylonia (Iraq) and Persia (Iran) were. The reason for this is that without ‘Enlightenment’ from GOD, man is left on his own in his ‘fallen’ state, passed down from Adam since the Beginning of the World! None of this was adequately understood until God sent Jesus to the World, to become ‘the Savior of the World’ (to those who will receive Him) to Redeem the World from all their Sin by dying for them as the Perfect Sacrifice, for which the Jewish Atonement was a mere substitute for the Perfect, which God was preparing His People to receive. This was the Plan of God for the World to Redeem them BACK to Himself, out of their Sin and Death, enabling ‘whosoever will receive Him’, to be able to live with God Forever in His heavenly Kingdom if they so choose and desire with their whole heart. Now you don’t have to believe all of that to be able to ‘live under Christianity’s influence’ where ‘things are much better than they are where Christianity is NOT present or allowed’, but it’s good to know that it’s now been proved to be ‘possible’ for even an atheist to realize the fundamental ‘goodness’ of Christianity’s presence in any culture that ‘allows’ Christianity to thrive. Down through the centuries ‘Christianity’ has historically done some terrible things that even God doesn’t claim as having anything to do with real Christianity, as even ‘Christianity’ has proven it can go astray when individuals misuse their authority or power to return to their basest nature to sin (Spanish Inquisition, King Ferdi and Queen Isabella, France, Great Britain, Vatican occult activities…), quite apart from anything Christianity teaches or advocates, and actually quite opposite of Christian doctrines and Scripture. Man is imperfect, but God is not. God has a Plan, but he allows Man to ‘choose’ and ‘make his own decisions’ – and Man often chooses ‘unwisely’. But History is ‘winding down’ on God’s timetable (prophesied by God in His Scriptures) and there is coming a ‘day of Accountability’ for Man, and for what He has done with what God has given him, when everyone will give an account to God for his deeds. But of all things, God is only interested in one thing – ‘what did you do with Jesus, my Son?’ And only on that one question will every man be judged, whether or not you believed and received His Gospel for yourself, or whether you didn’t. And it’s up to every single man to choose and make a response. God has provided the Lamb as He promised (according to Abraham in Genesis 22) He would. And He did. The rest is up to us what we do with what God has provided. But even if you don’t believe any of the above, even if you don’t accept that God is God or that God is True, if you’re lucky enough to live in the Western Hemisphere where Christianity spread 1500 yrs ago, and reigned supremely until the Moors and Turks from Asia started trampling everywhere, exterminating populations they encountered across the globe, you can still live securely and in peace for the most part with no fear from Christians, but only from people who either don’t believe in the God of the Bible, or who don’t have any desire to obey Him or His Laws, living among Christians and Jews around the world. That is not to say that there aren’t people who claim to be Christian or Jewish who are depraved or lack moral values. The sheer ‘influence’ of Christianity upon the Govt. of ‘free peoples’ everywhere is always a good thing. But we should also realize that not all ‘Christianity’ today is ‘Christian’, but is sometimes ‘pagan’, ‘occultic’, ‘perverse’ and maybe ‘corrupt’, or ‘deceitful’ or ‘wrong’, and everyone should always ‘test’ everything by the Word of God, and beware of deceivers impersonating real Christians. They were present in the first Early Churches, and they are still present today, and it will probably get worse as this Age comes to its end. So one should not put their Faith in any man or church or group, but only in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God (not even as ‘interpreted’ by someone else FOR you) but as YOU read it for yourself. That is not saying you should ONLY read The Word with your own self-serving ‘interpretation’, but that you should be reading it so that when someone else says something ‘different’ than you read it, you can be aware, and you can make your own decisions about whether you think that person is interpreting/reading it properly, or if you want to stop trusting that person for your personal instruction and edification. God allows people to make their own decisions because that’s how He created you. And God seldom interferes in those decisions unless ‘invited’, or when ‘that is enough!’ and too many innocents are being hurt or threatened, as in WWII and other times. We can’t put ‘limits’ on what God should/shouldn’t do, but He often limits Himself in our affairs. He answers Prayer that comes up to His ears, and he provides Miracles to us that have no explanation other than ‘God answers Prayer’. You don’t have to believe any of that to receive from God’s Hand when you meet with trouble and you reach out to God to help you. He is there, ready and willing to help you know that He is Real, so that you can be one of those ‘whosoever will’ that He longs to Save Eternally to live with Him Forever in Glory.

      • Colin says:

        In the bible it is continually ascribed that anyone in the genealogical line of another is deemed a “son of” that person. That is what this person means. Even Jesus Christ is called the “son of David”. The lists of such verses are endless. Even under the new covenant any believer who has no genealogical link to Abraham whatsoever is deemed to be called “a child” of Abraham – (spiritually of course) because they exhibit this same faith as he did.

      • Cheech JLS says:

        Absolutely brilliant and true! Yes, Joseph was a “son” of Abraham. He was a “ grandson, but Jeff, if your grandfather called you son, would you argue and disagree with him? If you are from the lineage of someone, you are essentially their son or daughter, especially in the times of old/Bible.

        • Wanda says:

          This was such an insightful and impactful awakening read thank you for sharing. I have had more peace through this season as l allow God to lead and trust in him

    • Paul says:

      Oh my, Cheryl. So much logically fallacious reasoning here.
      “There is a Reason that many Christians through the Ages have been martyred for their Faith…” Do you attribute that same Reason to all the Muslims through the Ages who have been martyred for their Faith?
      “God and God’s Word, and God’s principles and moral standards” you say. So when God condoned slavery, as he clearly did in Exodus 21, was that an example of God’s principles and moral standards? Do you believe it is morally permissible to own another human being as property?
      “But we should also realize that not all ‘Christianity’ today is ‘Christian’, but is sometimes ‘pagan’, ‘occultic’, ‘perverse’ and maybe ‘corrupt’, or ‘deceitful’ or ‘wrong’…” – so what you’re saying here is that no ‘true’ Scotsman (err… Christian) would hold to any interpretation other than the one you have decided is correct. You go on to suggest testing these so-called Christians against the text, but… really? We can easily see that there are literally thousands of Christian denominations with conflicting interpretations of “God’s principles and moral standards,” can’t we?
      “He provides Miracles to us that have no explanation other than ‘God answers Prayer’.” Really? NO other explanation? How did you conclude that? Your personal incredulity about other explanations is in no way actual evidence that such explanations do not or can not exist.

      • Paul says:

        Paul, God did not condone slavery. The word “Slavery” is used in modern English translations. Slavery in Biblical times was closer to what we call “working.” This is well understood and supported by recent Archeological findings. The work was not as liesurely as our is today, in some countires, but less strenuous than some modern work environments. There are detailed accountings in the archeologice record. So, your reasoning is fairly fallacious.

      • Reuven says:

        If you know Gods’ character then you know that He is Love. He taught His people to love their servants and treat them with respect.

    • Alec Epting says:

      Good post but one clarification. Christianity is based on the Sermon on the Mount, not the Ten Commandments, though it uses the Ten Commandments as a means to drill deeper into the very motives of the heart. You see, to counter Satan’s minions (demons) who became gods to the nations that were formed after God disrupted the evil conspiracy at Babel, God desired to form a nation for Himself to preserve the sense of righteousness (His character) that would soon be lost to perversion in these demonic cultures. That’s when He called Abram and eventually entrusted that moral code to Moses when Israel was on their way to the land that would form God’s nation. The intent was to deal with one of the enemies of our soul — the world — whose philosophies set themselves up against God, oppressing, persecuting, and dominating the righteous.

      But the law was limited in what it could do. It certainly had a way through punishment to keep evil in check and maintain a cohesive society but it could only regulate outward behavior not inner motivation. That’s where Christianity comes in. God cannot dwell in unrighteousness. It’s a contradiction to His nature. When Christ came He was (and is) both fully God and fully Man. As Man (like Adam) He could be tempted and by rejecting it so demonstrate through His life faithfulness to His Father’s will — that’s what happened in the Temptation in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane. As God, He could forgive the sins of another, and sins between each of us. So combined, He makes the perfect sacrifice for our sins — both the Just and the Justifier. In this way, Christianity deals with another enemy of our soul — the flesh. Instead of building a nation from the top down with laws that regulate every minute aspect of our lives, it deals with the inner motivations that expresses itself in outward behavior, and it does so through the transformation of the heart via justification wrought by Christ on the cross, and having been justified (made righteous) in our spirit, the Holy Spirit coming to dwell within our spirit with the objective to sanctify the remaining dimensions of our being — our souls (intellect, will, and emotion) and our flesh (sensual appetites). Then as this individual transformation becomes predominant in the culture, the need for regulation for every little deed diminishes, because there is a commonly-held consensus on what is right and wrong. That’s what makes a democracy possible at all, and that’s why Jefferson, though not a Christian, welcomed Christianity into the new Republic he had in mind.

      So Christianity had a kind of subversive way of upending entire cultures unlike say Judaism, in that it deals with transformation of the individual, working from the inside out, and from the bottom to the top echelons of society. It also has within it, unlike Judaism, the idea of evangelism as central to its mission. After all the last thing Christ commanded was to go unto all the world to preach the Gospel. So it spread far wider than Judaism, because Judaism has no emphasis on spreading the message. The thinking of Judaism is that “we are God’s chosen people, and that’s the end of it”. That’s not to deny the outsized influence of Jewish thinks on cultures around the world — they hold more than 20% of the Nobel prizes while being only 0.2% of the world’s population. Just that there’s no mandate to spread the message.

      Constantine saw how pervasive Christianity had become — it had even reached his own mother — and realized that, by adopting it, it was a cheap way to keep his far-flung empire together, without having to raise taxes to pay for more battalions he’d have to dispatch to every neighborhood. More recently, Gorbachev saw the same thing and open the door to the teaching Christian ethnics in the schools of the former Soviet Union.

      • Bill Raap says:

        Indeed we are to compare our lives to the law of God. The 10 commandments.

        We were created perfect able to keep the commaments. Then Adam and Eve sinned and because of their ain we can not keep any of God’s commands. But throught Christ’s death we are justified before God’s throne. And through His resurrection, His chosen people will to be resurrected when Christ returns. We look forward to this day!! Then those who obeyed His commands through Christ will live with Him forever in heaven

    • Nicholas Lukach says:

      Good to see rumours of Christianity’s good influence as well as Cheryl Miller’s exposé for our times.

  2. Richard Cook says:

    You cannot have what he wants. Just enough Christianity to keep the civilization going. I am a practicing Eastern Orthodox Christian. The culture abhors the faith. But Christ always uses that to grow the Church. We will be here. Civilization or no Civilization.

    • George L Humphries says:

      I am not E.O. but “western” forms of Christianity have been gutted. I am hoping that E.O. Christianity can lead a return to ancient and original precepts and practices. The decay and decline of “western” Christianity is leading the decay and decline of “western” civilization.

  3. Juergen Eisenberg says:

    I lived 27 years in India and I was stunned to see so many evil practices that are mentioned in the Bible, e.g. temple prostituition (Devadasis), widow burning (Sati), child sacrifices, boys dedicated to an idol are castrated and have to live secluded and rejected by society (Hijras/Eunuchs), the caste system which is a very strict form of apartheid (racial discimination). The fact that the first two became forbidden by law was because two missionaries (William Carey and Amy Carmichael) were fighting for many years to abolish these practices. I can highly recommend book Vishal Mangalwadi’s book: “The Book that made your World” as study of the above topic!

    • Colin says:

      Hi Juergen, Just because things are ‘mentioned’ in the bible doesn’t mean they were ‘condoned’ at all – in fact temple prostitution & child sacrifices were shunned as an abomination throughout the whole bible and even judged by God! So I find your stance rather ironic. Certain evil kings allowed these pagan practices into Israel and were judged by God accordingly in usually in their lifetimes or the next, and the prophets condemned these practices and gave words from God to validate and back up the commandments which already condemned such practices. I take it you have read the bible…? Keeping a race pure by encouraging separation is practised by many nations throughout history, and even is still now – yet nobody condemns them. I agree that the Jews did separate themselves from gentiles to the point of absurdity by the time of Christ, but that was more their own laws of the Talmud, not the bible. Jesus tore all that racism down with the woman at the well, and treated woman better than anyone before him for that matter. The bible allowed aliens and even had tithing laws etc to provide for poor, aliens, widows, and gleaning from harvests. Aliens were expected to accept Yahweh as their God in that process like in the book of Ruth and as converts were accepted as Israelites with provisions of course depending on circumstances. A few nations were forbidden to marry into Israel such as Moabite males and and any perpetrator was not deemed a Jew anymore until after a set number of generations had passed, because of previous things these named nations had committed against Israel in their history. There was intermarriage even in the kingly lines of David etc as countries did to keep peace covenants even though it was not encouraged because of idolatry temptation. Eunuchs were common in many nation’s courts but there are no laws that I know of in the bible that commanded this practice? It was what seemed to happen to Daniel when he was taken into captivity to Babylon’s royal court, but at the hands of the Babylonians, not Jews who never did that to him in their royal court. There is an Ethiopian eunuch in the New testament who was a high court official of Candace, the queen of Ethiopia who was on the way back home to Ethiopia and was probably a Jewish proselyte (convert) , so again a mention of eunuch – but not done by Jewish hands? Jesus spoke about marriage and celebacy for the kingdom of God but he was speaking metaphorically as he did many times such as in Matthew 19:11–12. While I believe some people in the early Church took Jesus’ saying literally, we should understand it as a case of deliberate hyperbole, such as is found in many of his other injunctions ( for example, Matthew 5:27–30 on adultery: “… If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”). It wasn’t to be taken literally – it is to make the point clear that is all. The point Jesus is making about the eunuch is that it is possible for a man to live on earth as he would in God’s kingdom, where there is neither marriage nor procreation. Jesus is challenging people who are “able to receive it” to live a life of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom, and to live now as though the future kingdom had already come. it was about spiritual priority. I hope this clarifies a few tings?

  4. Geoff Dodd says:

    I really think that the words of Christ are very profound and of great guidance; however, they need to be taught in a calm, balanced manner with equilibrium. What you can observe today is that people express Christianity in extremely emotional ways. This can attract obsession and fanaticism. If you do possess the real oil, it will become self-evident, and doesn’t need to be shouted out, impressing sensitive brains, through a microphone and a public address system. People are not dummies. They possess conscious awareness. G.

  5. Shirley says:

    Absolutely amazing post. Proves to me that God is moving in our world today no matter what anyone else thinks!!

  6. Sandra Scott says:

    Recognizing the fact that Jesus message of generosity, integrity and forgiveness can form the basis of an excellent moral system is not the same as obsessing about whether one has believed or done whatever it is that guarantees admittance into Heaven.

  7. Russell Alward says:

    This all because of Jesus Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith. With out Him in our lives we are dead but he brings life to our souls and our bodies. He the alpha and omega.

  8. Alec Epting says:

    To quote Churchill, who never saw himself as a Christian, but one who would seek to buttress it from the outside:

    “The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

    But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

  9. Michael says:

    “Christianity revolutionized sex and marriage, demanding that men control themselves and prohibiting all forms of rape.”

    Deuteronomy 22: 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[c] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    Yep…they certainly did!

  10. Sandra Bingley says:

    Thank you for this article. Our western civilization is rapidly draining the water from our own fishbowl of privilege, prosperity and freedom. Case in point is the healthcare advances and availability to us in modern times. Organized care of the sick, dying and helpless began with the early Christians of the Roman Empire during multiple plagues that ravaged the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. Black plague and Ebola type pandemics plunged the empire into chaos in Constantinople, Rome and other cities. Christians were blamed for fires, plagues and anything else the hatred of the emperor caused them to pay for with their lives in violent, unspeakable cruelty. How did they respond? They delegated the work of gathering the plague ridden suffering (which were left to die on pagan temple steps, streets and trash heaps) into men who picked up the suffering, others gave water and food, provided safety from the elements and wild dogs and gave compassion and care to strangers. There were many of the Christians who also died. Before the plagues, when Rome was at its zenith, people noticed the same group went to the city trash heaps and picked up infants still alive but unwanted and left to die from exposure or packs of predators searching for food. The children were placed in homes and raised in the faith of their rescuers. The early Christians changed world history by risking their lives during the plagues that brought a pagan, powerful empire to its knees. Orderly care of the sick and dying population did not exist in ancient culture and it began with and continued to improve because of the values they revered based in the Judeo-Christian foundation. I am not here to debate the inequalities of healthcare, pro-life vs. pro-choice, religion or any other inflammatory subject. This is a caution not to further pollute the water in our fishbowl that is vital to life as we know and enjoy today. Instead, to learn from history that the incredible rights and privileges we enjoy more than any people in any time of history, came from God as a Bill of Human Rights, the Ten Commandments to Moses over 3,400 years ago to His people, the Jews, to change mankind. The words of Jesus demands a call to action, instructing us to love others and even your enemies! It is difficult to do and the Roman Empire Christians
    did it. We are all benefactors of the ripple effect no matter your personal beliefs, just respect the history and the body of evidence. We cannot afford to pollute and drain our fishbowl and survive.

  11. Tim Davis says:

    The thing is, Christianity isn’t about “saving the Western World”. Christianity is about believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, offering salvation to those who believe.

    Christianity isn’t about saving the planet or making it a more wonderful place. In fact, Christianity is about being prepared for the return of Christ, the eventual destruction of this world and the re-established Kingdom of God.

    It has nothing to do with ruling the “Western World” with “Christian Principles”.

    I would urge you to read your Bibles as they are written in hopes that some might understand.

    Enjoy your day.

  12. Lewis Swink says:

    The Resurrection may be the second greatest miracle that ever occurred, the first being the creation account. We must always be prepared to give the hope that lies ahead for us, but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”(1st Peter 3:15-16) Christians live according to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so we must always have proof, to give a reason for this event in our history. The best way to give proof for this event, is to put this event on trial. We do know that the four Gospels address the resurrection account of Jesus Christ, that being Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. In Mathew 28, He is Risen, Mathew who is writing to the Jewish people, most conservatives date his writing around A.D. 70 while others believe it could be between A.D. 50 and 60. There are two women shown here first at the tomb, with a great Earthquake, and an Angel rolled back the stone and sat on top of the stone. The guards who had been stationed there shook and became like dead men. The Angel tells the two women Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified, he is risen. Come look see where He laid. Go tell the other disciples, and as they were on their way they met Jesus. They fell at as feet to hold him. He said go tell my brethren to go to Galilee and I will meet them there and they too can also see. (Mathew 25:5-7).
    Mark who received his information from Peter, his writing is suggested to have been written between A.D. 50 and 60 Mark’s gospel mentions Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome going to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus after His burial. They ask one another, who will roll the stone away for us, as they entered the tomb they saw that the stone had been rolled away. They entered the tomb and on the right side sat a young man in a white rob. They were alarmed, but he said do not be alarmed you seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen for go tell the disciple that He goes before you and will meet you in Galilee. The women left trembling from the tomb and told no one, what they had saw. The next day Jesus meets up with Mary Magdalene, she leaves and goes to tell the others that she had been with Jesus, they mourned and wept. When they had heard that He was alive and had been with Mary, they did not believe, or do we know what they believed at this time?
    Luke is the third gospel writer, who gets most of his information from Paul. Luke is also writing to the gentile audience, likely written around A.D. 63 or 64. Now, at what point did Luke conceive of writing an account of the life of Jesus? Unfortunately, we do not know. We only know he was spurred on by the example of many others (Luke 1:1) who were doing the same thing around that time. As we see in Luke 24, Luke writes that they and certain other women enter the tomb, and the stone is rolled away. They walk into the tomb and the body of Jesus is gone, but there are two men standing there in shiny garments. Luke writes that they were afraid and bowed their heads toward the earth. The men in the shiny garments said why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here, He has risen, remember how he spoke to you in Galilee, the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and risen on the third day (Luke 24:6). So, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others left and told the eleven what they had seen. The disciples did not believe their words, so Peter jumps up and runs to the tomb. He looks inside only to see the linen clothes lying by themselves where Jesus had laid. Peter leaves the tomb in amazement of what he had witnessed.
    John the beloved disciple is believed to have been written between A.D. 80 and 100 I personally believe it was written prior to A.D.70 because there is no mention of the destruction of the Temple by John. If we read John 20, now Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark on the next day. She saw that the stone had been rolled away so she ran back and saw Simon Peter and the other disciples and told them that they had taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb, the other disciple outran Peter and investigated the opening of the tomb and saw that the linen was just lying there, but Peter went into the tomb. Peter after going into tomb, also saw the linen lying there, but the handkerchief that was covering Jesus’s face had been folded up, lying separate from the linen. The other disciple went in also and saw what Peter had seen but they did not understand the scripture. Mary Magdalene was standing outside the tomb weeping, she stooped down to look into the tomb and saw two Angels. One sitting at the head of where Jesus was lying and the other sitting at the feet where Jesus had been laid. The Angels said to her “Woman why are you weeping”, she said to them because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they laid Him. She turned around, and Jesus said, Woman why are you weeping? Mary did not recognize Him, she thought He was the gardener. She said, if you moved His body please tell me and I will take Him away. Jesus said, Mary, then she recognized His voice. He said do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father my God (John 20:17). Go tell my brethren that I am ascending to My Father, your Father, My God, and your God. So, Mary ran quickly and told the disciples that she had seen Jesus, and Jesus had told her these things.
    We have four gospels yet four different the same event. How could this happen, especially when two of the authors were Jesus’s disciples, Mathew and John. All four gospel writers wrote their gospel account at different times and at different places in their lives. John was at the cross and saw the death of Jesus and he and Jesus’s mother Mary and Mary Magdalene saw the tomb that they laid Him. We can ask four different people that saw what happened on 911, all four would have different opinions on what happened. That was just seventeen years ago. All four will say that they saw two jets fly into the world trade centers. The times may be different, who flew the jets into the building and why did they do what they did may even be different. But, they remember 911 and the two jets flying into the world trade center. They may even remember the jet that flew into the pentagon, and the jet that went down in a field in Pennsylvania. All four have the main essential idea of what happened, but after that they may differ in opinions on why, who, how many people died, and the time of day it occurred. This gives us an idea of what the four gospel writers were looking at when this event took place. We must remember that the gospel writers were, eye witness or reported what one eye witnesses had seen. They saw an event that devastated their lives. All four writers agreed that Jesus had died was buried and was resurrected. They may have disagreed on which women and how many went to the tomb that next morning, the number of Angels the women had seen and where they saw them, either inside the tomb or outside the tomb. They all agreed that women went to the tomb, and Jesus was resurrected. Why would the gospel writers use women as the first to reach the tomb? If you wanted to make up a story, why wouldn’t you have used men as being the first ones to the tomb. Women had no credibility for evidence during this time. One person that I would like to bring forward as proof of the risen Christ is Saul. Saul sees the risen Lord and Jesus asks him Saul why are you persecuting my brethren? Saul was going around persecuting all the Christians. He was blinded after seeing the risen Lord, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do. (Now the men who were traveling with him stood there speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.) So, Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open he could see nothing. Leading him by the hand, his companions brought him into Damascus. For three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything. Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias,” and he replied, “Here I am, Lord.” Then the Lord told him, “Get up and go to the street called ‘Straight,’ and at Judas’ house look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. For he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he may see again.” Saul now called Paul, was baptized by Ananias and left and went to Arabia, where he learned directly from God. Paul stayed in Arabia for several months praying and learning the gospel given to him directly from God. Paul returns to Jerusalem to Peter, James and John to preach the gospel to them. Yes, even though they were eyewitnesses to Jesus, he preaches the gospel to them, to make sure they were on the page, the Bible states five little words to his preaching to them, “they added nothing to me.” (Galatians 2:1-6) Paul is believed to have written earlier letters to the Galatians which would have been only eight years after the resurrection. Only eight years, yes after the event, even though Paul was not an eye witness, he learned the gospel directly from Christ. Why is this so important? As Gary Habermas points out he must have received this from Peter and James when he visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion. (Galatians 1:18) This is important because scholars even liberals believe that Paul’s creed dates within eighteen months to eight years of the resurrection, (1st Corinthians 15:1-4) which he had passed on to the early Churches that he had started.
    I want to list some of the theory’s that most critics use when denouncing the resurrection,
    people just do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Number one: people feel that the disciples only thought they saw Jesus, this is known as the hallucination theory. Number two: others say it was only a myth a made-up story by the disciples. Number three: many say it was a conspiracy, that the disciples got together and traded the story of the resurrection. Number four: This is the swoon theory that Jesus was unconscious for a period of time, then came to after He was in the tomb. Number five: The Christian theory, that Jesus resurrected from the dead. All of these five reasons are logical and reasonable possibility’s so let us investigate each one of these reasons including number five, Christianity. Let’s start with the swoon theory, in the dictionary it means a total or partial loss of consciousness. By using this theory people explain that Jesus must have passed out from the pain from the crucifixion, possibly even loosing vital signs. Three days later He regain His consciousness and came out of the tomb. There are some reasons the swoon theory cannot be true, reason number one, Jesus could not have survived the crucifixion, Romans had perfected the art of the crucifixion. We must remember they also flogged Jesus, so He lost a lot of blood. No one that was ever crucified by the Romans ever lived, if they had of lived the soldiers would have been in trouble, possibly serving a death penalty, so we can forget the possibility that Jesus live through the crucifixion. Reason number two, why didn’t the Romans soldiers break Jesus’s legs as they did the other two that was crucified. This simply means that the soldier knew that Jesus was already dead. Instead one of the Roman soldiers placed his spear through the right-hand side of Jesus, out came water and blood. Reason number three, John an eye witness stated that he saw the blood and water coming out of Jesus after the soldier stabbed him with the spear. Reason number four, His disciples were willing to die for the event that took place, they were all tortured for what they believed, if it had of been false, they could have lived normal lives. They knew what they had saw the risen Christ, and they new what they had to look forward to as their reward in Heaven. Reason number five, how could a wounded Jesus have of moved a large stone from the inside of the tomb with soldiers on watch on the outside.
    Conspiracy theory. Is it possible the disciples made up the complete resurrection story, let me give you some reasons why this theory cannot be true. Reason number one, Pascal states: that every one of these disciples carries out his story to the end of his death. Only one could have said the resurrection of Jesus was a false claim, this would have given us evidence that they were not telling the truth. Reason number two, these men were highly moral outstanding men that followed Jesus of Nazareth. They could perform miracles and preached the Good News. Yet, they became martyrs for the cause. Every, last one of them died brutal deaths because of what they believed. Imagine twelve ordinary men, fisherman, tax collector, picking a lie that would turn the Roman society upside down, I just do not see this happening. Reason number three, what could have been their motive could it have been for an advantage in society, I don’t think so, they were hated, imprisoned, tortured, persecuted and even lost their lives. Reason number four, if the resurrection was a conspiracy the religious leaders as well as the Roman leaders would have produced a body to put a stop to all the so call trouble the Christians were stirring up in the nations. There was no body to get, that is why the religious leaders and Roman leaders could not produce Jesus’s body. This theory also does not have any merit, it cannot be possible.
    Hallucination theory, if you were walking down town and thought you saw John Wayne, yet we know that John Wayne died many years ago, but you know it was Mr. Wayne. Someone would have to convince you that you did not see John Wayne, which makes since, but this in fact would be a hallucination, and for most people they would accept that hypothesis. Now let me give you several reasons that the hallucination theory would not work with the resurrection of Jesus. Number one, the number of people that saw our Lord, number two, the number of times our Lord was seen, number three, the interaction with the people and the Lord and last the empty tomb. Here we see that it is impossible for 12 to 500 men and women to have hallucinated at the same time, in every event that was associated with Jesus at multiple times. The hallucination theory therefore puts forth two theory’s, one; an empty tomb, two; a tomb that still had Jesus’s body inside. Yet, there again we are left with an empty tomb, this theory has no merit, it just could not have happened, or if Jesus’s body was still inside, why didn’t the Romans provide a body to stop the spread of Christianity.
    The Myth theory is it possible the disciples all good men made this story up to turn the world upside down. There was no internet, cell phones, or even land line phones, but this story spread like a wildfire. I will offer you several reasons that the myth theory just could not have occurred. Reason number one, what did these men have to gain in spreading a story that was so outrageous? Reason number two, they all were persecuted, were tortured, some beheaded, crucified upside, some stoned and beaten, and sawed in half for what they believed. They all went to their graves knowing the truth, if it were false only one disciple would have had to step forward and say, this is a made-up story, it never happened. But they had seen the risen Christ, and they knew the hope that was ahead for them in our Lord Jesus Christ. Reason number three, the empty tomb, what happened to Jesus’s body? If the Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb like they were supposed to, why didn’t they just produce the body of Jesus. This theory could not of have occurred, there is to many holes in the evidence.
    Last, we have the Christian theory, is it possible that our Lord Jesus Christ who said He was God, rose from the dead, conquered death just like the Old Testament Prophecies writings? Here are some reasons for the evidence that Jesus was resurrected form the dead. Reason number one, He rose from the dead and was seen by all His disciples, and by over five hundred others. Reason number two, Jesus ate and talked to all His disciples and over five hundred others. Reason numbers three, Jesus taught His disciples about future events. Reason number four, the tomb was empty, and the Romans could not provide a body. Reason number five, all the disciples were tortured and died except for John, he was placed in a prison on a deserted Island at Patmos, why would you die for something that you had nothing to gain. Reason number six, the writers did not create the resurrection account, the resurrection created the New Testament writers. Reason number seven, the resurrection was fulfilled by prophecy scripture written hundreds of years prior to the resurrection event. If we read Isaiah 53 which was written hundreds of years before crucifixion even started, this chapter speaks of the Messiah and His life, His crucifixion, His death burial and resurrection. The dead sea scrolls just happened to have Isaiah 53, which shut the door on many critics who said, you Christians wrote that in the Bible. Is it possible that this could have been a supernatural account, if you believe in God’s creation story, why would it be so hard to believe in the Jesus’s resurrection?
    We have non-Biblical stories of Jesus and his crucifixion, one; Josephus wrote in A.D.94 that there was a wise-man named Jesus, and Pilate condemned him to be crucified and died. Those that had been His disciples did not abandon His discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after His crucifixion and they stated that He was alive. There were several other nonbiblical writers Tactus, the Roman historian, Pliny the Younger, a Roman politician, Thallus a first century historian, Seutonius a Roman historian, Lucian a Greek satirist, Celsus a Roman philosopher these are just a few of the non-Biblical writers that wrote about Jesus the person and what He did, and what happened to Him, and how his disciple’s saw Him after His death. Isaiah 46: states that “I am God, I know the beginning till the end.” There are no other religions that attempt to make prophecies except for the Book of Mormon’s and the Qur’an. The Qur’an makes a general prediction about the end time, but if they wait until the end of time, it will be to late. The Book of Mormon’s have made several prophecies and not a one has come true. Christianity is the only religion that has made multiple prophecies, and everyone has either happened or will occur. So, we can rely on the Bible as being the inspired word of God. We can believe that the resurrection did take place.
    In conclusion Jesus was alive at point A, He was dead at point B, and then alive at point C. The first four feasts were fulfilled in the book of Leviticus by Jesus. He rose from the grave on the day of first fruits. He was crucified exactly on Passover. They put Him in the tomb at the time of Feast of unleavened bead. Unleavened is getting rid of our sins out of our life. Last He fulfilled the Feasts of the Lord which we know as Pentecost. Jesus fulfilled these Feasts to the date, it is very hard to debate against Christianity, unless you want to be your own God. Then its not a problem with your mind (knowledge), there is a problem with the heart. Remember, I said we were going to put this event on trial, you are the part of the jury. It is now up to you to decide on the verdict, this is either a false claim or a true claim, remember all the evidence given for all claims, remember all the evidence given for all claims for the resurrection. Remember the claims against the resurrection. Your verdict will determine the fate of Christian authority. This is the Gospel the Good News in a short form. For we are not baptized in water we are baptized in Jesus Christ. We are neither Jew nor Greek but a new Creation after after we are baptized in Christ.

  13. roland says:

    Well we are here, including our culture and so of course we owe that to Christianity given that it played such a large role in the history of the West. Hence, in a way, Holland’s argument is a no brainer. Our culture, for all it’s good points and bad points owes a lot to what came before. Christianity itself owes a huge dept to the Jews, the Greeks and the Romans.

    On the other hand I think it a great point to make, and one we atheists need to ask ourselves – can we ever do without religion? I don’t think so. In all cultures and across history, religion has played and continues to play a huge role in the lives of many if not most people. And various studies show that it can play positive role in people’s well being.

    To my mind, the thing is to encourage the good in religion and discourage the bad. Currently, in the West, Christianity has too much of the bad with it’s association with extreme right wing politics.

    • Richard Hudson says:

      Hi Roland
      You say that Christianity is linked closely to extreme right wing politics. I’m sure you have examples, in fact when I look across the pond to the USA I can think of a few myself. But can I offer you some counter-examples? Try reading almost anything by Philip Yancey, who was brought up in the Deep South in a church which was not only segregated but racist. He was still in his teens when he saw how wrong all this was. He has been a highly positive voice for decades. His book Soul Survivor would address some of your questions about the failings of Western Christianity. You could also look at what Bishop Marian Budd did and said after President Trump commandeered her church for a photo-shoot.
      Back here in the UK, you will note that food banks are mainly run by the Trussel Trust, founded by Christians and basing their work on a bible verse: Matthew 25:35-36. Look at almost anything said by almost any prominent present day British Christian leader on subjects like poverty, justice, and you’ll find we don’t tend to be right-wing. On racial equality we have been slow to realise how much work there still is to do to get to proper justice, but we’re pulling in the right direction.
      You do sometimes see ultra-right groups like English Defence League and Britain First trying to co-opt Christianity, but their ideology and methods are rejected by all churches I’ve ever come across.
      Recommended reading from East of the Atlantic: Red Moon Rising or Dirty Glory, both by Pete Greig.
      Happy hunting!

      • Sam says:

        Interesting … you missed Roland’s point entirely with your defensiveness.

        Roland, a self professed atheist, supported the overall tone that Christianity should be encouraged towards the good and lamented the fact American Christianity is associated with extreme right wing politics.

        Your response that Christianity is also associated with good work in no way diminishes the fact that Christianity is also associated with extreme right wing politics.

        Perhaps your efforts are better expended reforming Christianity then defending it from the truth?

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