Over the years, when preaching on the resurrection, I have often quoted Lord Darling, a former Lord Chief Justice of England, who declared:
“We, as Christians, are asked to take a very great deal on trust: the teachings, for example, and the miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be skeptical. The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was or was not what he proclaimed himself to be, must surely depend on the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favour as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in the verdict that the resurrection story is true”.
Recently I went onto the internet to check the print source of the quotation and discovered to my surprise that the so-called ‘new atheist’s are claiming that there was never such a Lord Chief Justice, and that the quote is sheer fabrication.
For instance (and this is just one atheist amongst others), Peter Mayhew on Richard Dawkin’s web-site writes:
“The quote is used in hundreds of websites and books as evidence for the truth of the resurrection. I was curious to track down the senior judge who was so convinced by contradictory hearsay from the iron age. On Wikipedia there is a list of all the Lord Chief Justices of England. Not one of them had the name Darling. Apparently such a person never existed… ”.
Not trusting Richard Dawkins and his cronies, I decided to write to a High Court Judge friend of mine, His Honour David Turner, to see what he had to say. He replied:
“I have often used the quotation myself. Charles John (Lord) Darling certainly existed! Born 6-12-1849; MP for Deptford 1888-97; Queen’s Bench judge 1897 – 1923. Knight 1897; Baron 1924. He deputised for the Lord Chief Justice 1914 -18 and became a Privy Councillor in 1917. That’s where the Lord Chief Justice theme will have arisen! Died May 1936. Biographies about him by Evelyn Graham (!929), Dudley Barker (1936) and Derek Walker Smith (1938)… My information is from the Dictionary of Legal Biography 1845 – 1945 by Schofield (Barry Rose) (1998)”.
He promised when he had a free moment to track down the quotation itself.
In the meantime let me add a further quotation for which I can guarantee the source. Pinchas Lapide, a German Jewish Rabbi, also examined the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. On page 131 of his book The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (SPCK, London 1984) he concluded:
“I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event”. Toward the end of his book he writes: “I cannot rid myself of the impression that some modern Christian theologians are ashamed of the material facticity of the resurrections…. For all these Christian who believe in the incarnation (something which I am unable to do) but have difficulty with the historically understood resurrection of Jesus, the word of Jesus of the ‘blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel’ (Matt 23.24) probably applies”.
The fact is that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is overwhelming!
Peter Mayhew must be either blind or incredibly deceitful because there is a good reference to John Charles Darling on Wikipedia:
Yes, he did exist, but I’ve yet to find where Lord Darling said this famous quote. I’d love to get the reference – does anyone have it?
Did His Honour David Turner ever track down the occasion of Lord Darling’s quotation?
According to this pdf – http://citybibleforum.org/sites/default/files/downloads/sydney/2011-06-16–neil-foster–evidence-for-resurrection.pdf the quote comes from:
Miller v Minister of Pensions  2 All ER 372
Although I have not been able to find a full transcript online.
Lord Denning not Lord Darling:
one of the best discussions of it I have seen, to which I regularly refer my students, is that of the famous Lord Denning when he was a mere trial judge in 1947. In Miller v Minister of Pensions  2 All ER 372 he said:
Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond the shadow of a doubt. The law would fail to protect the community if it admitted fanciful possibilities to deflect the course of justice. If the evidence is so strong against a man as to leave only a remote possibility in his favour which can be dismissed with the sentence “of course, it is possible, but not in the least probable”, the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt, but nothing short of that will suffice.