Q1. Much of this debate has centered on sociology rather than evidence from both sides (from my side, about the nature of belief, from yours, about the likely behaviour of early Christians and about transfer of religious ideas). I agree with you that we need more history. So, name your single best piece of primary historical evidence for the resurrection. Can you also give a reason why you chose that particular piece of evidence over all others, and why you think it’s the best?
A1. A particularly good piece of evidence for the resurrection can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
I believe Paul wrote all thirteen epistles attributed to him. Most ‘critical’ scholars think he wrote seven: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians and Philemon. These same critical scholars recognize there are primitive creedal statements – such as the aforementioned passage – within these documents (another example is Philippians 2:5-11, read an article on that here). 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 has been almost universally recognized as an early pre-Pauline creedal statement. Here is why this matters: 1 Corinthians is usually dated around 54 AD, which is early, but the creed is even earlier. Here is a likely timeline:
30 AD – Crucifixion
31 AD – The creed is first formed
34 AD – Paul’s conversion
37 AD – Paul confirms creed from Peter, James and John in Jerusalem 
55 AD – 1 Corinthians written
This is using conservative numbers, meaning it could even be earlier. Either way, this puts us right on top of the actual event of the resurrection. The upshot is that the creed originated far too early for legend and myth to have crept in. There are a number of technical details that solidify this creed as early: for example, it uses the Aramaic name for Peter, Cephas, and leaves out the women as witnesses; both of these facts demonstrate its antiquity. Only a person with limited knowledge of current NT scholarship can doubt these facts. The evidence is so compelling that uber-skeptic and NT scholar Robert Price uses an ad hoc argument against it, claiming the creed is a late interpolation, even though there is no literary evidence of this.
Gary Habermas writes the following (source):
Whenever these early sources are also derived from eyewitnesses who actually participated in some of the events, this provides one of the strongest evidences possible. Historian David Hackett Fischer dubs this ‘the rule of immediacy’ and terms it ‘the best relevant evidence’. When scholars have ancient sources that are both very early and based on eyewitness testimony, they have a combination that is very difficult to dismiss….This is even conceded by atheist scholar Michael Martin. 
 The way we know about Paul’s Jerusalem meeting is via Galatians 1:11-24 and Galatians 2:1-10. Galatians is another book even critical scholars recognized as being authentically Pauline.
 Of course, Martin merely believes Paul thought he saw the risen Jesus.