I have been reading the book, The Resurrection of Jesus, edited by Robert Stewart, which contains the dialogue between N. T. Wright and Dominic Crossan on the resurrection. The book also contains a number of responses from other scholars. One of these scholars is Alan Segal, Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at Columbia University in New York. I only recently became aware of Segal. His book, Life after death: a history of the afterlife in the religions of the West , published in 2004, is a treasure-trove (880 pages) of information about how the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the First Temple Jews, the Greeks, the Persians, the Second Temple Jews, the Christians, and finally the Muslims understood life after death. I have learned a great deal from the book, so I was delighted when I saw he was one of the respondents to the Wright-Crossan dialogue.
In his response, he writes: The resurrection is neither probable nor improbable; it is impossible to confirm historically. This is particularly important theoretically: a problem is neither improbable nor probable if it is neither confirmable nor disconfirmable. . . (The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 135).
He goes on to argue that those Christians who insist that the resurrection can be shown to be a historical fact are misguided. He says: It is one thing to conclude that the early Christians took it as fact; it is another thing to propound that it can be demonstrated historically. Such an endeavor is always bound to fail (p. 137).
He maintains that apologists, presumably such as N. T. Wright (and others), who think they can demonstrate the historicity of the resurrection fail to recognize that they are restricted in their interpretation of the evidence by their prior faith commitment. He says: To be part of a rational and historical community of historians, one has to be willing to admit to disconfirmation as well as confirmation.. . . How could they admit to disconfirmation without disconfirming their faith? This suggests to me that there is a actually a small group of scholars made up entirely of the faithful trying to impose their faith in the form of an academic argument on the general academic community. (p. 136).
I think he is spot-on. People such as N. T. Wright, William Craig, and others have a vested interest in interpeting the evidence to agree with their belief in a literal resurrection. After all, their livelihoods, their reputations, etc. are at stake. I am not saying these men are intentionally dishonest. I am saying that because of their prior faith commitment and because of their careers being tied to their stand on a literal resurrection, they cannot interpret the evidence in a way that would disconfirm their faith.
On the other hand, I think that I can approach the evidence in a more neutral way. I am not pretending that I am objective and unbiased. I don't believe anyone truly is. We all interpret evidence in light of our worldview and presuppositions. However, I do not have a vested interest in deciding one way or the other on the resurrection. I am not employed by a Christian or a secularist organization. I am not bound to any group or association. I have the freedom to do as Socrates is reported to have done: follow the evidence wherever it leads.
At this point in my intellectual journey, I just simply don't see sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead and,therefore, I don't believe that evangelical Christianity is true.