Atheist activist seeks to disprove resurrection - News

Atheist activist seeks to disprove resurrection

Barker advises to think for oneself

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Related Stories

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 12:16 am | Updated: 7:02 pm, Sun Feb 24, 2013.

With the start of the Lenten season, many Christians are preparing to celebrate what they believe was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. According to former evangelical preacher and current atheist activist Dan Barker, who visited campus Thursday night, Jesus probably never existed and firsthand accounts of his resurrection were most likely hallucinations or exaggerations.

Barker told a group of about 30 at the “Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?” event, hosted by the University’s Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics club Thursday night, that four key lines of criticism should be taken when answering whether Jesus actually rose from the dead. Barker, who became an evangelist at the age of 15 and preached for 19 years, said his switch to atheism was a gradual process that took four or five years and culminated in publicly announcing his lack of faith on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1984.

The first criticism is the philosophical and historical objection, which Barker said does not rule out miracles, but cannot address them.

“The miracle may have happened, but history is the wrong tool for knowing that,” Barker said.

After the historical method, Barker said the next step is to seek out naturalistic explanations for Jesus’ resurrection.

He referenced theories that Jesus never actually died and was just passed out or that those who claimed to witness his resurrection were hallucinating, but he said most naturalistic attempts to explain it give too much credit to the text.

The third critical method Barker mentioned involved internal discrepancies in the story that make it impossible to believe.

Barker said the New Testament’s different accounts of Jesus’ resurrection by his followers don’t add up to the same narrative, noting differences in the descriptions of the time, those who were present and various other elements.

“The internal contradictions don’t disprove the resurrection, they just severely damage the credibility of the documents,” he said.

Barker said the final and “most powerful” tool is to seek out the evidence of legend in the story.

“With Christianity, either a real event or an exaggerated event happened,” Barker said.

Barker is the current co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an organization whose primary goal he said is to ensure the separation of church and state across the country.

According to Barker, about 30 percent of people under the age of 30 are nonreligious, a statistic he called “huge.”

“Do your own thinking,” Barker said. “Don’t let a pope or a preacher or a missionary or a parent or a teacher tell you what you must think.”

Political science and communication studies senior Kyle Aycock said Barker’s written work led to his full conversion from agnosticism to atheism.

Psychology sophomore Athena Lietzau said although she hasn’t read any of Barker’s books, she has seen some of his debates and thinks his arguments are well-thought-out.

Barker said students who are questioning their faith should remember they are not alone, and even though it may be difficult right now, a light is at the end of the tunnel.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • owlafaye posted at 3:35 am on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    owlafaye Posts: 4

    There are no empirical records involving 500 eyewitnesses...just another "fact" from the Christian Press. Christianity cannot survive with out the LIE.

  • owlafaye posted at 12:32 pm on Mon, Mar 4, 2013.

    owlafaye Posts: 4

    "Didn't provide evidence for this bold assertion? You mean this one:

    "and that the 500+ first-hand account witnesses saw Jesus after his resurrection"

    Amazing what c--p you folks will believe without question or critical examination...

  • ed-words posted at 2:42 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    ed-words Posts: 3

    Jesus MAY never have lived.

  • jb posted at 10:04 am on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    jb Posts: 53

    This is implying that, if one were to think critically, they would come to your conclusion. How convenient...

  • Ruth1940 posted at 9:10 pm on Mon, Feb 25, 2013.

    Ruth1940 Posts: 1

    In antiquity, people didn't know such absurd stories couldn't be true. They knew little about the nature of the world, so were gullible. Science with consistent rules is much more wonderful than exceptions would be if they wee true. It is amazing the number of credulous in the 21st century, however!

  • owlafaye posted at 3:25 pm on Sat, Feb 23, 2013.

    owlafaye Posts: 4

    He isn't telling them to think as he thinks but rather holds up the Resurrection as a far fetched fairy tale that illustrates the need for people to think critically when presented with foolishness.

  • historyphdguy posted at 4:31 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    historyphdguy Posts: 1

    As a historian I would like to know what primary source you have discovered that provides any factual evidence of the literal resurrection of one Jesus of Nazareth? If you are using the various accounts of the New Testament you should realize that it is not a historical document but rather a work of religious propaganda. We do not have any extant copies of the original written individual books found in the NT just translations of translations of translations passed via oral myth stories and finally recorded when the Parousia did not occur. Each of the Synoptic Gospels along with John were found in different Jewish-Christian communities 30-70 years after the alleged time that Jesus was alive. The New Testament canon came to us after some of the faithful realized that the promised Second Coming had not occurred and that they needed to form a church. I would suggest two excellent well-researched books on this subject to help enlighten you to the mainstream historical understanding of the New Testament: Harry Y. Gamble's "The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning," and Burton L. Mack's "Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the Christian Myth." There are a plethora of other biblical resources that are available if you wish to know the evidence-based facts of history versus the faith-based worldview that disregards the evidence. This is what Dan Barker was getting at for thinking for yourself. You need to examine the historical record to separate historical facts from historical myths. The life, death and resurrection myth of Jesus of Nazareth has many antecedents in the ancient world. There were many messiahs to be found in Judea in the century before and the century after Jesus because of the belief by many Jews that they had reached the end of days and the Kingdom of God would soon be established. We know this never happened and things ended badly for the Jews when they revolted against the Romans resulting in the Diaspora. Christianity has to be understood in the crucible in which it was born leading to the Council of Nicaea and the official establishment of the religion for the Roman Empire under Constantine. There were many versions of Christianity competing to be the "one true faith" but it took the power of the Emperor to settle the vitriolic and often times violent disputes between the sects resulting in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church. LSU offers some great history classes on ancient religions. I would suggest taking a few before casting aspersions at Dan Barker for being historically accurate in his talk. History must be understood based on what happened versus what you wish based on faith to have happened. Good luck.

  • Jason posted at 1:59 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Jason Posts: 1

    Why do you suppose an atheist activist, like Dan Barker, would spend so much time telling people that Jesus probably didn't exist and that the 500+ first-hand account witnesses saw Jesus after his resurrection were "probably hallucinating" or "exaggerating" without providing any evidence for such a bold assertion? Furthermore, why would Dan Barker THEN conclude by telling the audience "Think for yourself. Don't let a priest, pastor, missionary, parent or teacher tell you what you must think." when he just spent 30 minutes telling us what to think???

  • owlafaye posted at 10:46 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    owlafaye Posts: 4

    Resurrection? Of course. I saw Jesus rise from the dead one Sunday in Tillamook Oregon...He was in a white Cadillace convertible and I know it was him because he was with Elvis and Colonel Saunders. They were driving through a McDonald's (Jesus likes to pizz off Colonel Saunders)

    Foolish story this here Resurrection? Hardly

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard