One of the main areas of confusion regarding the Christian truth claim seems to be an inability to see the difference between an historical truth claim that was verifiable when it was made and one that was never verifiable. For example, Tomer emailed me this question:
You say there are witnesses that lived 2000 years ago. Sorry, not proof enough. You say Jesus predicted things. Sorry, not good enough. What if I told you that a million people you can’t talk to swear that they saw me do the same things Jesus did? What if I told you I predicted that I would die? What if I told you I actually did die and I actually did rise from the dead? What if I can tell you there is even forensic evidence that you can’t reach one way or another? But I can tell you that the evidence proves I’m god. How is it different from what you say?
The difference is that Tomer’s initial claim is unverifiable. He shows up and presents a brand new claim about the universe, namely that he is god, but it is just words, nothing more. He claims to have evidence, but even the first time he makes the claim, this evidence is unverifiable. This type of claim can easily be dismissed.
Now I am the first to point out that many religious figures have presented claims that have been unverifiable from the start, but Jesus was not one of them, and this is one of the things that makes Christianity unique. When Jesus and his followers made the claims, they were verifiable. Unlike Tomer, Jesus didn’t say "My witnesses are unavailable for comment" or "I have invisible, mute witnesses." He said, "Talk to the people who saw me, check my resurrected body to see if I am real, examine the people I have healed."
In my debate with Edwin Kagin of American Atheists, he used this same straw man argument against Christianity when he compared believing the story of Jesus to believing that an invisible unicorn ran around his campground yesterday. This is utterly ridiculous. Is believing "Napolean lost at Waterloo" the same as believing the story about the unicorn? Do we have to take a blind leap of irrational faith? Of course not. It is a historical claim that was verifiable when it occurred and was well attested.
On the other hand, believing that the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith is very similar to believing in an invisible unicorn, because it is a claim that, as far as I understand, was never verifiable, even when the founder of Mormonism presented it.