Matthew Solomon vs. Raphael Lataster - Was Jesus Resurrected? (2014)

An embarrassingly easy victory for the sceptical side (16th September 2014), despite Priest Matthew Solomon’steaching/debating experience at Oxford and Cambridge, and his legal background. He certainly would have preferred to debate comedian Chris Wainhouse, who had to pull out, rather than a scholar that specialises in this topic…

*mp3 sadly unavailable. Embarrassment?*

What Lataster did: In my 5 minutes (!) I explained how the sources are poor, and how there are more probabilistic hypotheses that explain the evidence. I also noted that the best arguments for Jesus’ resurrection appeal to God, which is the approach taken by the likes of William Lane Craig and Richard Swinburne, and showed why that is an illegitimate approach and still doesn’t make the resurrection the most probable theory.

What Solomon did: Very little. Completely steering clear of ‘silly’ concepts like evidence and comparative analyses, he essentially only argued that the resurrection happened because Christianity still exists (despite Christians). This was surprising not only because of his educated background, but also because of an earlier discussion we had on the Catholic positions on evidentialism (yay) and fideism (nay).

Rebuttals: I found Solomon to be quite a nasty debater. He claimed that I had not dealt with his central argument. I agreed, saying that I was only supposed to do that in my rebuttal time, not in my opening statement time. I then proceeded to show why his argument is completely rubbish. Has he heard of Muslims? He also accused me of being confused regarding the sources (bringing up the sources again and again with no actual argument as to why we should trust them so much), on account of my rejecting them as very unreliable, but being happy to concede that they are generally fine to focus on the bigger issue of which historical explanation best explains their existence. He completely overlooked the fact that ‘EVEN IF’ is my favourite game to play. I happily and temporarily concede one point after the other to show just how full of holes such arguments are. I even was happy to (temporarily) concede God’s existence to show that the resurrection still is a poor historical hypothesis.

Audience: The overwhelmingly Catholic audience appreciated my open-mindedness (I am a fan of religious tolerance), praised me for my logical approach, and also agreed that God’s existence is pretty much a requirement for a successful resurrection argument - and that God’s existence certainly was not proven today. Even Solomon’s supporters didn’t seem impressed by his ‘case’.

Future: It was great that the audience could get something out of it. Immersing myself in the best arguments for theism/Christianity on a daily basis, however, I was intellectually unstimulated. Bring on more formidable debate opponents like John Dickson and William Lane Craig.

Raphael Lataster 2021