I debated one of Finland's popular (liberal) biblical scholars on the reasonableness of the resurrection, and I was interested to see how he tackled the subject.
Faith is never adopted because of intellectual certainty but because it means something personal to the one who embraces it...Certainty calls for evidence, and a non-believer who focuses on evidence alone is not likely to become a believer. Such a person often becomes a believer without any evidence at all...faith is not about evidence, because it is a matter of meaning and significance.
This scholar argued that the reasonableness of the resurrection is not important to unbelievers, since faith is never adopted because of intellectual certainty. Faith is only embraced when it answers the "so what?" question: what does it mean to me? This kind of approach to religious faith is very common, so we need to be prepared to offer a more balanced and biblical response.
First, we can agree that faith is never adopted because of intellectual certainty, but we need to push this further. No belief is adopted because of intellectual certainty because we cannot be certain about anything - not if certainty means there is no possibility we could be mistaken. In the 18th Century, David Hume reminded us of the reality of our own fallibility: a little doubt squirts into everything.
However, this doesn't send us on a downward spiral into skepticism. You can be sure without being certain, and we demonstrate this kind of faith every time we get out of bed in the morning (will the floor hold me?), eat our breakfast (is Kelloggs trying to poison me?), or use public transportation (where is the driver taking me?) In a Christian context, the Bible reminds us too that you don't need to know everything to know the truth, and just enough faith to believe (in Jesus) is just enough (Mark 9:24).
Second, we can agree that a non-believer who focuses on evidence alone is not likely to become a believer; however, this does not mean evidence has failed or fallen short. Evidence is only designed to get someone's attention and steer them in the right direction (e.g., evidence for God's existence in the natural world, Rom 1:20). If someone chooses to trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ it is the result of a supernatural conviction that goes much deeper.
Third, it is difficult to imagine how "a person often becomes a believer without any evidence at all" because faith cannot exist in a vacuum. Faith needs an object, and an empty faith is like an open mouth - it wants to bite down on something solid.
Fourth, those who claim "faith is not about evidence because it is a matter of meaning and significance" assume there are two non-overlapping realms: what's out there (in the world) and what's in here (my experience). In the debate, I explained how these realms constantly collide. There is always a reasonable component to faith, just as there is always a faith-based component to reason. John Polkinghorne, a Cambridge physicist who became a priest, said “the scientist and the theologian both work by faith, a realist trust in the rational reliability of our understanding of experience.”
Finally, when someone tells you that faith is only "what's meaningful to you," you can share how much Christianity means to you. However, you also need to point out the critical question is not "does it work?" but "is it true?" Os Guinness said "Christianity is not true because it works, it works because it's true!" And in 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul said the truth of the resurrection is pivotal to Christianity. If it is not true (regardless of how meaningful it is) there is no hope for us, we are deluded, and we are deluding others.
So is it reasonable to believe in the resurrection? Well, the historical facts (accepted by most New Testament scholars, Christian and non-Christian) are that Jesus was buried, the tomb was empty, people later saw him alive, and the disciples believed he was resurrected. Whether or not you choose to accept these reasons, there is no doubt the resurrection if reasonable. If you reject these reasons you have a responsibility to come up with an alternative explanation that is equally plausible....
CFD Moule was a NT scholar at Cambridge, and he said "if the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole the size and shape of the Resurrection, what does the secular historian purpose to stop it up with?...the birth and rapid rise of the Christian church...remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself."
Author and speaker.