Friday, January 1, 1999

Price vs. Craig in Columbus, OH

It is striking how much Craig’s modus operandi has gone unchanged for at least a decade or so. In this debate he makes his usual arguments (alleged facts established by scholarly consensus) while Price makes a few unusual ones.  Price mostly goes after Craig’s methodology, pointing out that it is impossible to do anything like objective scholarship if you start with one’s emotional commitment to Jesus as Christ and then work backwards to prove up the death, burial, empty tomb, and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Towards the end, Price has a go at the hypothesis that the Markan narrative is cut from whole cloth, woven together from the threads of Pagan and Hebrew mythology.

Overall, Craig definitely comes off stronger, if only because he puts forth about two or three times as many historically substantive arguments (as opposed to methodological criticism bordering on circumstantial ad hominem). However, Craig also poisons the well a bit against Price, preemptively discrediting him as an unscholarly crank (as Craig also did against Carrier). Against this attack, Price makes a memorable comeback which I’ll not relate here.

I’ve no doubt that Price could have made a much stronger case against the historical reliability of the gospels, but he did not focus on making that case here. Also, he got slammed pretty hard during Q & A and had relatively little time to respond, although “Hey, it’s Jesus, take a whiff!” was memorably zingy. Overall, I found this event mildly disappointing, mostly because I expected Price to make a much stronger affirmative case in favor of historical skepticism.

  • Unbeliever rating: 2.5 stars

  • Believer rating: 3.5 stars

  • Overall rating: 3.0 stars