Would someone die for what they knew was a lie?

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Arguments For the Existence of God
Anthropic Arguments:
Arguments For Belief:
Christological Arguments:
Cosmological Arguments:
Majority Arguments:
Moral Arguments:
Ontological Arguments:
Reformed Epistemology:
Teleological Arguments:
Testimonial Arguments:
Transcendental arguments:

A often used modern argument for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus is that of Martyrdom, the claim is that all of the apostles would have had first hand knowledge as to whether or not Jesus actually returned from the dead and confirmed that he was the Son of God. As they died rather than admit the account was false, this suggests that rather than just believe that it was true like other martyrs in other faiths, they knew it was true for a fact.

Counter Apologetics

The premise that people would never "die for a lie" is demonstrably false. People actually do die for beliefs which are mutually exclusive to each other.

The conclusion drawn (that the miracles of Jesus actually happened) is not supported by the premise (that his apostles would not have died for a lie). That conclusion ignores several other possibilities:

  • The apostles strongly believed the stories to be true, but were mistaken:
  • The ones who were killed never actually witnessed the events take place themselves, but were told by other apostles, whom they trusted implicitly.
  • They convinced themselves the stories were true, to the point of actually believing they were, even though what they witnessed directly contradicted them.
  • They remembered the details of the events differently than they witnessed them, because the false details were constantly reinforced by everyone they kept company with.
  • The apostles did not believe all of the stories, but died for another reason:
  • They believed the literal truth of John 3:16 Bible-icon.png, and thought they would not die.
  • They considered the cause to be just, even though they knew some of the stories were embellished or exaggerated.
  • They were protecting the lives of other people.
  • They were killed because they were public figureheads for the cause, not due to the specific stories they maintained or denied.
  • They were killed without being given opportunity to retract their stories.
  • They stuck to their story to maintain some dignity in their death, as they were going to be killed either way.
  • They intended to become martyrs.
  • The apostles admitted the stories were not true, but the admission was never made public.
  • The apostles believed the stories as they were written at the time, but those stories were later embellished.
  • The stories of the apostles' deaths were themselves later embellished to present them as martyrs.
  • The apostles were never killed.
  • The existence of the apostles was also an invention.
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