"Visions without the empty tomb do not account for a resurrection belief; Tom Wright has hammered this point home repeatedly."
The reason Wright has to keep repeating this is because it is a faulty argument refuted by the reality of believer behavior. Elvis is dead and buried, but fans still see him. Rossen himself acknowledges the way belief denies reality in his remarks on Carrier's piece:
Repetition is one way that bad arguments like Wright's seem acceptable.
Carrier goes on to make interesting analogies to the rumor of theft reported in Mt 28:15, suggesting that Matthew blames the rumor on conspiracy ("the Jews' desire to conceal the truth") in the same way that the Heaven's Gate cult claimed the proof against their imminent spacecraft to be the conspiratal work of an earth traitor. And just as Matthew accuses Jews of paying off guards, the survivors of Jonestown accused the government of fabricating evidence and paying off forensic doctors to fabricate evidence which made them look bad. This is perhaps more plausible than many of the pious would today be comfortable acknowledging.
Meanwhile, inspired by the Empty Tomb, Lee Edgar Tyler writes on Price:
I recently re-read Price's article "
It is, I must say, a pretty sorry excuse for argumentation. And I am predisposed toward his conclusions, at least most of them. When a person purporting to support objective scholarship indulges in such polemics, he does more harm than good to all sides of the debate. I could go on, but I think the essay (which begins with a comparison of the Christ of evangelical Christians to the comic book character Superboy) speaks for itself. Or not.
This is, I must say, a pretty sorry excuse for argumentation. When a person purporting to support objective scholarship indulges in such polemics, he does more harm than good. I think Tyler's rhetorical polemics here speaks for themselves: Price is less interested in the comparison of Superboy to Jesus than in comparing the efforts of Superboy to vindicate his own legend to the efforts of modern apologists to save the Jesus of myth:
In any case, it's a sad rhetorical trick to invite others to agree that someone must be a bad arguer by appealing to their sense of indignation that someone would dare to compare Superboy to their particular Sacred Character from the Past.
I remember a particular Superboy comic book in which the Boy of Steel somehow discovers that in the future, he is thought to be as mythical as Peter Pan and Santa Claus. Indignant at this turn of events, he flies at faster than light speed and enters the future to set the record straight. He does a few super-deeds and vindicates himself, then comes home. So Superboy winds up having the last laugh --or does he?
Of course, it is only fiction! The people in the future were quite right! Superboy is just as mythical as Santa Claus and Peter Pan.
This seems to me a close parallel to the efforts of Christian apologists to vindicate as sober history the story of a supernatural savior who was born of a virgin, healed the sick, raised the dead, changed water into wine, walked on water, rose from the grave and ascended bodily into the sky.I used to think, when I myself was a Christian apologist, a defender of the evangelical faith, that I had done a pretty respectable job of vindicating that story as history. I brought to bear a variety of arguments I now recognize to be fallacious, such as the supposed closeness of the gospels to the events they record, their ostensibly use of eyewitness testimony, etc. Now, in retrospect, I judge that my efforts were about as effective in the end as Superboy's! When all is said and done, he remains a fiction.[emphasis mine]