Some non-believers do believe Christ rose from the dead. The historical evidence is great. We mark our calendars by the event. Sadly even liberal Christians buy the baseless fairy tale that the writings of Josephus were "revised" or the book of Luke was "planted" in the Roman libraries despite not a shred of evidence to support the myth. Have you any evidence? If you do please share it . As far as your claim that the evidence supports the theory of common ancestry, that is an example of a total lack of understanding. Evidence does not speak for itself. The fact you choose to dismiss the designer interpretation for purely religious reasons does not change the fact it is a much better interpretation. We can look at things people and even animals like bird’s build and see what cannot be denied is common design. Common ancestry is a myth. No one has ever seen a bacteria become a non-bacteria of a dog a non-dog. The wheel nuts on a Chevy will fit on a Pontiac but they are not evolving into 747’s. We all have the same evidence. It is our axioms that vary.
I certainly agree with you that the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is very strong. However, I have not yet met a non-believer who believed that Jesus rose from the dead. Generally, people who accept the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead become believers!
About the claim that Josephus was revised and Luke was planted, I agree with you that Luke is an accurate picture of the real events in the life of Jesus and that it is inspired by God. However, I have to disagree with you on Josephus. There is good evidence that a Christian editor did in fact add an interpolation to the original of Josephus. An Arabic manuscript which is probably closer to the original of Josephus has been discovered. The evidence is strong that Josephus did in fact mention Jesus, but the evidence also points to the conclusion that the oldest manuscript of Josephus actually WAS revised by a believer. The details about Josephus are below:
Flavius Josephus (AD 38-100) Writing about AD 94 under Domitian. Concerning events he had indirect knowledge of. Josephus was a Pharisee. He was a Jewish historian who was a turncoat, switching from the Jewish rebel side to Rome to serve under Nero and Vespasian. Josephus is a relatively reliable historian.
The “Testimonium Flavium” (Antiquities 18:3.3):
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man[, if indeed one ought to call him a man]. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. [He was the Messiah.] When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. [On the third day he appeared to them restored to life,] for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
Agapius, an Arab Christian in 9th century quotes what is probably the original, leaving out the parts in parenthesis. Note the passage reads grammatically well without the parts in parenthesis. It is very likely that the quote above, without the material in brackets, is the original of Josephus. We cannot absolutely prove that the original was in fact edited, but the evidence leans rather strongly in this direction.
Note: Josephus also reports the martyrdom of “James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ” (Antiquities 20:20)
About the evidence for common ancestry, I guess we may have to disagree. I wonder if you have carefully studied the evidence for common descent. Have you take an course in evolution? You might want to actually look at the information before you reject it. I suggest you consider reading a book by Dr. Francis Collins. He is a devout believer and is also the head of the NIH. His book is "The Language of God." It is my belief that God created life and that he directed the changes which have happened since life was created. Ultimately, God did in fact create every single form of life which now lives or ever has lived. However, to say that there is no evidence for common descent is to ignore the information available to anyone who will look into it. Your analogy of the nuts on a Chevy fitting a Pontiac but not a 747 is not relevant to the question. Obviously, no one has seen a bacteria evolve into a non-bacteria in a few years. What does this have to do with the question of common descent over many millions of years? It is not relevant. What is relevant is the evidence. I suggest you at least be open minded enough to actually look at the evidence–both biblical and empirical. If your belief is correct, then it will hold up to a good hard look at the evidence. Your belief in God, in the reliability of the Bible, in the creation of life by God and in the creation of Adam and Eve are not at stake here. I believe in all these things as well. Just a thought.
By the way, I definitely do not reject the designer theory. I have lectured on my belief that the universe is designed by God all over the world. There is no doubt in my mind that God designed the universe, that God designed life, and that God designed us. I am not sure why you believe I reject the idea of design, as I definitely do not. The question is not whether there was design, but how the designer chose to work. The evidence is that God–the designer–chose to use evolution as part of his process for creating life.
John Oakes, PhD