"One last point went back and forth all night, and that is whether Jesus would have appeared to everyone around the world if had in fact risen from the dead. Carrier claims that he would have, and since he didn't, that is further evidence that he did not, in fact, rise from the dead. Craig pointed out that the first premise to the argument is a philosophical one, but I don't see the problem with that since so is Craig's presupposition of the existence of God. Craig responded by saying that Jesus did not even rise from the dead to convince people that he was alive, but just to commission people (something I have told him in person I think is false). He also argued based on a Molinist account of divine foreknowledge that God has so ordered the world so that everyone who would accept God based on their willingness to do so will have a sufficient basis, whether that be in evidence or not, to do so."
Below are some of my comments on that subject when it came up in past discussions. The first are from the thread here:
Regarding the questions from Carrier that you've posted, yes, we have addressed those issues or ones closely related to them. There are a lot of relevant posts in the archives. Briefly, I'll make several points in response:
- The resurrection is significant evidence for Christianity, but not the only evidence.
- Some of the evidence for the resurrection, such as the empty tomb and the testimony of eyewitnesses, has been highly public. We don't have to see the risen Jesus ourselves in order to trust others who saw Him, as we trust others who saw His death or other historical events.
- Jesus appeared to hundreds of people, including opponents of Christianity (James, Paul). There may have been other opponents who saw Him as well. The guards at the tomb and Paul's travel companions experienced evidence of the resurrection, even though we don't have any record of their having spoken with the risen Jesus or their having become Christians, for example. They or some of them may have become Christians. We don't know. But we do know that at least some enemies of Christianity saw the risen Jesus and became Christians, and we know that many people in high positions of leadership became Christians after the resurrection (Acts 6:7). We don't know the names of every enemy of Christianity who became a Christian after Jesus' resurrection or the names of every person Jesus appeared to, but we do know that many former enemies became Christians. The objection that Jesus didn't appear to more enemies is questionable, since we don't know who all He appeared to and since a resurrection appearance isn't the only means of leading a person to a reliable conclusion that Jesus rose or that Christianity is true. For example, if the tomb was sealed and guarded as Matthew's gospel describes (http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/guard.html), then the tomb's becoming empty would be significant evidence supporting the resurrection, even without people having seen the risen Jesus themselves.
- Why should we think that critics wouldn't dismiss Jesus' appearances to other enemies of Christianity in the same manner in which they dismiss the appearances to enemies that we know about? If Jesus appeared to Pontius Pilate or performed a miracle of some other type before the emperor, for example, how do we know that critics wouldn't dismiss those reports in much the same way that they dismiss the experiences of James, Paul, and, later on, Constantine?
- When people like Richard Carrier have come up with a sufficient naturalistic explanation of the resurrection evidence we have, then we can be concerned about why there isn't more evidence. But since they haven't even come close to a sufficient explanation of what we do have, then objecting that we don't have more evidence doesn't accomplish much.
And from another thread:
We should keep in mind that the "few" Christ appeared to were at least hundreds of people. For the large majority of them, we don't know whether they were believers prior to the appearances. It seems that James, Paul, and Paul's travel companions, at the least, weren't. And appearances aren't the only evidence for such an event. The testimony of witnesses is evidence for people who weren't witnesses themselves, as is the case in other areas of life. The empty tomb, particularly after a guard had been posted, was evidence. So were the miracles performed by some of the witnesses. Paul's ability to perform miracles after seeing the resurrected Christ would add credibility to his testimony, for example. Why should we limit our evaluation of the evidence people had to the one category of direct sightings of the risen Jesus? That's not the only evidence people had. It's not as if dismissing the testimony of hundreds (or more) of people becomes reasonable just because you weren't one of the witnesses or just because the number of witnesses could have been larger. People had sufficient evidence without Christ's appearing to more people.
When more people did have direct access to an event, as with some of Jesus' pre-resurrection miracles and the darkness at the crucifixion, for example, the early opponents of Christianity tried to dismiss those miracles as works of Satan or, in the case of the darkness, an unusual natural occurrence. We don't have to wonder whether some people would have been willing to dismiss miracles even after having high quality evidence for them. The early enemies of Christianity who dismissed Jesus as a sorcerer or magician, for example, weren't denying that apparent miracles had occurred. Rather, they were looking for a way to dismiss the implications Christians associated with those miracles. Jesus' pre-resurrection miracles, His prophecy fulfillments, the miracles of His apostles, etc. were often of a highly public nature, yet both ancient and modern critics look for ways to dismiss those more public events as well. It's not as though these critics are more receptive of the more public miracles.
When critics can offer an explanation of Christ's appearances to "few" that's comparable to or better than the Christian explanation, then they can demand more evidence. But since they can't offer a comparable or better explanation for the few, but instead offer explanations that are far weaker, why ask for more than a few? In light of the principles Paul lays out in Acts 17:26-27, our focus should be on the evidence we have, not speculations about what might have happened with more evidence. We can speculate that Pontius Pilate would have become a Christian if Jesus had appeared to Him after the resurrection, but we can also speculate that he would have responded along the lines of Mark 3:22.