The Demise of Western Civilization?

Today there was another violent attack against students at an American high school. Twenty-one kids were randomly stabbed with kitchen knives that a troubled boy brought to school. It’s usually guns. Despite the weapons used, too many of these horrific events have occurred in the past decade. As a parent of a high school teen, I wonder when will it come to our town? Everyone should be asking. “why is this happening?” The answer is not simple, but may I suggest to you it has a lot to do with our history.

md98JMQfbFHB20JMPleRZfQHistory teaches us so much about who we are today, and after reading a history book on Western Civilization’s culture during the past 500 years, it’s evident that our society is on its way out. Let’s see how we’ve gotten to this point of decadence — an excessive indulgence and moral decay.

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses challenged the authority of the Catholic Church in the 1500s. This led to throwing off old church rules that oppressed, in favor of more power in the hands of the people. The printing press helped get these new thoughts on religion into the hands of the people, which spread the information much faster than Luther could have imagined. This led to many different sects of religious thought, splintering the once universal Church.

Now instead of a church-led society, the monarch took more authority and nationalism spread. Eventually, common man saw the monarchy as being too much like the Church in its overarching control. Kings didn’t have much of a desire to relate to their constituents, and lived luxurious lives while the regular folk were often impoverished. After some time, this contributed to the formation of democracies.

Establishing democracies in Western Civilization gave people a chance to pursue what they believed to be right, largely led by Puritans. The preference of the individual became highly valued. Some prized themselves over community. Instead of finding honor in contributing to the world around them, many sought after individual gain, not always considering the effect their actions may have on those around them. This played out in many ways.

In the mid 1600s, a shift was occurring from religion as the establisher of truth to science in the modern era. Critical of the church, rational thinkers used reasoning over the soul (heart).

These natural philosophers were beginning to discover that nature was regular or uniform, something testable and observable. They made great advances in mathematics and physics. They focused on the immediate, and tended to disregard the eternal. Scientism, or the belief that science would ultimately answer all questions, became a type of “new religion.”

This reduced life to parts, calculations, methods, criticisms, and experimentation. This is a form of abstraction, which in due course, pointed to lawlessness and meaninglessness. Truth was no longer static. There was no apparent eternal laws. If there is no meaning in life, and no apparent lawgiver, then to whom are we ultimately accountable?

When Darwin published his Origin of Species expanding the idea of Evolution there is no way he could have foreseen how this theory would be applied by some in “Social Darwinism.”

After World War I, a sense of lawlessness ensued and violence erupted in communities more frequently. Modernity, with all its promises to solve the world’s problems, failed. Science didn’t stop the senseless loss of life. Then World War II began. Atrocities never before committed to the extent Hitler did horrified people. Had the world gone mad?

Many began to accept the absurd. It was expressed in artwork in the 1900s through abstraction, and a loss of excellence. Andy Warhol said, “Art is what you can get away with.” People began to celebrate the ordinary, mediocre and average.

Today there is a deep desire to abandon rules in personal lifestyles, as well. People want to be free to “love who they wish,” pleasure seeking is loudly applauded, and is profitable, for example, for companies producing pornography, as it is a multibillion dollar industry. The sex-slave trade is probably the worst example of a society gone decadent to the point of dehumanizing people as “objects.” There is a rise in violence, as prisons are at capacity. We’re spending ourselves silly as indebtedness (personal and governmental) is at an all-time high. We also have really bad examples of art. The latest being Lady Gaga’s recent concert where she had a someone vomit on her as an expression of so-called “art.” People seem bored with “life as usual,” and that’s why news and entertainment is often based on extremes: Extreme Home Makeover, Survivor, The Avengers (superheroes), Biggest Loser, etc.

It doesn’t take much insight to see that in Western Civilization, we’re headed in a very disturbing direction. There is an absence of hope, the proliferation of violence and perversion, unsustainable practices affecting limited resources, and no moral objectivity. How can we survive this demise? We need to maintain a Biblical worldview despite the pressures around us, and offer hope through Jesus Christ to those who seek truth.

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The Thoughtlessness of Relativism

Eletronic Truth Meter

Eletronic Truth Meter

It’s mainstream in our culture to hear people say things like “you have your truth, and I have mine,” or “there is no one right way, there are many.” This is relativism. On the surface, it sounds kind and tolerant, but if you dig deeper, you’ll discover that although this idea is broadly accepted, it’s almost completely unexamined. The idea that there is no moral objective truth is just plain foolish. Let’s examine relativism closer, and see where the truth ultimately lies.

Moral relativism is a point of view that teaches, when it comes to right or wrong, people do their own thing—there is no absolute or objective moral truth. This viewpoint is strongly held today, as it’s practically considered a moral imperative in its own right. If it’s a moral judgement that we should all respect another’s point of view, then it’s assumed any other point of view is immoral, or un-American.

This statement is self-refuting because saying there is no absolute truth is, in fact, making an absolute statement about truth. “The only place of true neutrality is silence. Speak up, give your opinion, state your view, and you forfeit your claim to neutrality,” states Gregory Koukl, founder and president of Stand to Reason.

At the heart of relativism is a desire to be more understanding in the hopes that we’ll all get along and be at peace, as long as you’re of that opinion. Relativists are intolerant of those who don’t agree with them.  “People who hold that their religion is absolutely true are often strenuously opposed by the relativist. Only those adherents of various religions or philosophies who share the relativist’s perspective on reality that their religion or philosophy is no better than anyone else’s are truly welcome,” said Dr. Clay Jones, associate professor at Biola University. So relativists are actually hypocritical because relativists really only tolerate other relativists.

If you define morals based on what one individual perceives as good or bad, then if I come to visit and decide to take your iPad because that’s what is good for me, you can’t object. I need that tablet, and it’s my belief that I should take what I need. That doesn’t sound so good, does it? As you can see, relativism breaks down under scrutiny.

Philosopher Mortimer Adler adds “that reducing moral judgement to mere opinion, having no hold on any truth about what is right and wrong, we would be left exposed to the harsh doctrine that might makes right.”

This is why there are laws governing certain, commonly held objective morals: don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie in court, etc.  Where does the relativist stand on these issues? Would he say that it depends on if the person who harmed another saw it as his right? That is what the Al Qaeda terrorists believed when they flew planes into the Twin Towers. The world stood up and cried out for the injustices of that act because deep within, most people knew taking those innocent lives was wrong. It’s stamped into any normal, healthy conscience. Anyone who believes otherwise has lost their moral compass.

This shows there are objective morals, despite what the relativist may decry. Where did those truths come from? Jeremiah 31:33 says “…I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.” In the Bible, God states that He is the law giver, and what some term your “conscience” would be that innate sense of right and wrong. Pushed into an emergency, that conscience is acted upon, like when someone is drowning and you cast them a life preserver.

Deep down, we all have a sense of what is right and wrong, but the community in which you surround yourself can influence those feelings. For example, in 1963, prayer was no longer allowed in public schools because it was considered a violation of Article 1 of the Constitution, which prevents religious teaching at tax payers’ expense. Secularism was then adopted into our public education system, which was supposed to remain religiously neutral. (As stated earlier, there really is no “neutrality” because when you state your view, you forfeit neutrality.) Steadily over the years, a philosophy of Naturalism replaced a Christian worldview. This position believes everything comes from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or rejected. From this viewpoint, the idea of personal autonomy and one’s personal subjective preference has become the deciding factor of what is the correct course of action, rather than some objective moral standard.

As our culture embraced this worldview, women became adamant that they should have personal autonomy over their own bodies, and thus in 1973, abortion became legal. Slightly over two decades later, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, infamously known as “Dr. Death”, argued for physician-assisted suicide based on the abortion decision. He brought the issue to the forefront, and eventually, his views won over some of the populace. Since women have the right to terminate their pregnancies, why shouldn’t people who are suffering have the right to die?

Today, physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in now legal in four states. This demonstrates how the views of the culture can influence peoples’ thinking to change from what was once considered a moral imperative to value human life at any stage, to a value of doing what is right in one’s own eyes.

Morality based on the “flavor of the day” is subject to change as quickly as the popularity of an idea takes root. For example, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enacted in 1996 to allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage, and defined “spouse” as a heterosexual couple, which the majority of Americans supported. However, in the past five years, support for DOMA has waned. Perhaps due to the influence of the media depicting fun gay couples in TV shows and movies, those in favor of same-sex marriage grew. In the summer of 2013, the US Supreme Court decided DOMA was unconstitutional, and as of November 20, 2013, same sex marriage is now legal in sixteen US states, and that is expected to increase.

From these examples, you can see where relativism can lead. In the future, who is to say that if a bi-sexual male wants to marry his female and male partner, since he loves them both, he can’t do that? What about someone wanting to marry a sibling—who are you to say that is wrong? If we continue to go down the path of relativism, lines of right and wrong will blur. We will stumble, trying to redefine those lines by adopting new laws to fit society’s status quo. Ultimately, someone defines those standards. Who might that be? We need to ask ourselves what truth is and who determines it.

Jesus Christ said that he is the truth. His resurrection gives good reason to believe in Christianity, which teaches people to live with clearly defined moral objectives that help humanity remain civilized, treating each other with respect from a core belief that all people are sacred beings, created in the image of God.

When you thoroughly look at relativism, it’s clear that everyone believes in something, and to say all truth is relative is simply not true—it lacks good judgment. Therefore, if relativism is false, moral objectives must be true. There is no middle ground.

 Bibliography

Beckwith, Francis J. and Gregory Koukl. Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998.

Jones, Clay. Prepared Defense: Fast Answers to Tough Questions, CD-ROM, v. 2.0. Austin, TX: Wordsearch, 2011, s.v. “Relativism’s Folly.”

Greve, Joan E. “Illinois Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Legal Battles Loom in 10 More States,” ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/11/illinois-legalizes-same-sex-

marriage-legal-battles-loom-in-10-more-states/, (accessed November 24, 2013).

Tagged in: apologeticsCritical Thinking SkillsculturefaithRelativismright thinkingscience & christianitythoughtlifewestern civilizationyouth Read more...

Miracles Do Happen

Po_vodamThe most common objection to the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that miracles are impossible. A miracle is a supernatural event that can’t be explained by natural laws (science) because it transcends those laws. Since the resurrection was a miracle, trying to explain it scientifically won’t work. There are good reasons to believe this pivotal event in history really happened because of eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. There were plenty of people who claim they saw the risen Christ, and their testimonies conclude that Jesus miraculously rose from the dead.

Not only did the disciples see the risen Christ, but hundreds of witnesses say they saw him at various times and places. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples minus Thomas, to the disciples including Thomas, to the two disciples at Emmaus, to the fishermen on the shore, to James, and even to five hundred people at once, as Paul wrote, “most of whom are still alive.”

Paul wanted the Corinthians, who doubted bodily resurrection, to check out his claim—meaning, he wanted them to verify his account with some of those hundreds who saw Jesus alive—stressing the trustworthiness of the appearance. The witnesses were available for cross-examination by those who wanted to stop this new religious movement in its tracks.

Well known speaker and author Josh McDowell asserts that there were plenty of “New Testament accounts of the resurrection being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.”

Skeptics argue that no amount of personal testimony is sufficient to establish a violation of natural law. Physicists don’t believe the facts of physics because of personal testimony from other physicists; rather, they believe because they can do the experiment for themselves.

This rationale works well for natural sciences, but not well in history, for historians still judge events by the reliability of witnesses.

The witnesses of the resurrection are reliable for several reasons. One is that this event completely transformed their lives. For example, the furthest thing from Paul’s mind was that he’d see the resurrected Christ. Before his conversion, Paul, then known as Saul the Pharisee who participated in the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58), hated Christians, thought they were heretics, and was bent on destroying them. Jesus would have been the last person Paul would have wanted to see. A transformation also occurred in James, the brother of Jesus, who previously thought Jesus was simply confused about being the Messiah. Furthermore, both of these men were radically converted into believers upon seeing Jesus resurrected to the point they were both martyred for their belief. Historians wrote that eventually ten apostles were killed for preaching the risen Christ.

Lastly, if these people lied about the physical resurrection of Jesus’ body, faced with death, wouldn’t they have recanted to save their own lives? Author Paul Little wrote, “Men will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.”

There is also the fact that Jesus’ tomb was found empty. If the enemies of Christ wanted to prove his resurrection didn’t happen, all they had to do was to get his body and show it to the authorities, but no body was ever discovered. Legal scholar John Warwick Montgomery asserts: “It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.”

When these points are discussed, skeptics will attack the credibility of the Bible itself, determined to dismiss the miraculous event of the resurrection. However, regarding the accuracy of the gospels, the New Testament documents are the best attested documents of ancient history,as there are historical methods for assessing the reliability of classical texts by which the Bible has been reviewed.

English skeptic David Hume adds up the evidence against the miracle of the resurrection by stating that since death happens to almost everyone, as there are only a few stories of resurrections, these accounts must be false in comparison to the billions of deaths in history. This equates evidence with probability and implies you should never believe that long shots win. If this is true, even naturalists, who only believe in the material world and reject anything spiritual or supernatural, shouldn’t trust the Big Bang Theory since it supposedly only happened once.

Finally, stating that miracles are impossible may be an indirect way of saying there is no God. (Justifying the existence of God is a point that can be made in another paper.) If you recognize there is a God, then He could most certainly work outside of the laws of nature and raise Jesus from the dead. After careful examination of the New Testament testimonies, and being honest about whether you have an anti-supernatural bias, there is only one reasonable conclusion: a miracle happened over two thousand years ago when God raised Jesus from the dead.

Bibliography

Come Reason Ministries. “Are Miracles Logically Impossible?” http://www.comereason.org/phil_qstn/phi060.asp#ixzz2kddnZD59, (accessed November 17, 2013).

Geisler, Norman and Ronald Brooks. When Skeptics Ask: a Handbook on Christian Evidences, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013.

Gertz, Steven. “How do we know 10 of the disciples were martyred?” Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/sep23.html (accessed September 30, 2013).

Hazen, Craig. 2001. Evidence for the Resurrection. Lecture, Biola University, La Mirada, CA. June 7.

Little, Paul. Know Why You Believe, Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1967.

McDowell, Josh. “Evidence for the Resurrection.” Leadership U, Leaderu.com. http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html (accessed October 1, 2013).

Montgomery, John W. History and Christianity, Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press, 1971. As quoted in Clay Jones, Prepared Defense: Fast Answers to Tough Questions, v. 2.0, (Austin, TX: Wordsearch, 2011), s.v. “Hallucination Theory.”

Russell, Jeffrey Betrand. Miracles are Impossible, Part 1, BioLogos Foundation,
http://biologos.org/blog/miracles-are-impossible-part-1, (accessed November 23, 2013).

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Jesus' Resurrection was NOT a Mass Hallucination

We’ve cross-423157_1280all heard of hallucinations; maybe even experienced one ourselves. We wake from a bad dream, and for an instant a shadowy figure seems to be in our room. Maybe a chronic migraine caused you to see intense colors or hear strange noises. Perhaps in your deep despair over the sudden loss of a loved one, for a moment, you think you see him sitting in his favorite easy chair. Generally, these hallucinations eventually fade away, and life resumes. This kind of illusion, however, was not the case for a group of people who saw something that not only changed their lives, but also changed the world.

The Christian faith depends on the testimony of the disciples who say they saw Jesus alive after being crucified. To explain these testimonies, some skeptics often try to justify the resurrection in naturalistic terms, calling it a mere hallucination. In this paper, I will show that the Hallucination Theory fails to account for relevant facts, and that the best explanation for Jesus’ resurrection is that his physical body was actually raised from the dead.

What exactly is a hallucination?

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states hallucinations involve sensing things while awake that appear to be real, but instead have been created by the mind. According to the National Institute of Health, common causes of these experiences vary from being drunk or high on drugs, delirium or dementia, epilepsy, having a high fever, or some other psychiatric disorder.

Perhaps the disciples, along with hundreds of other witnesses recorded in the New Testament, were simply hallucinating the appearances of the risen Christ. This Hallucination Theory at least recognizes that people did see an appearance of some type. Instead of flat-out denying these accounts, skeptics like Dr. Richard Carrier, will grant that yes, these witnesses conceivably “saw” something. “I believe the best explanation, consistent with both scientific findings and the surviving evidence (particular to Christianity and the general cultural milieu in which it rose), is that the first Christians experienced hallucinations of the risen Christ, of one form or another.”

Deeply troubled and very depressed that the one they believed was going to save them died, maybe the followers of Christ got drunk, as nonbelievers have suggested, and hallucinated the resurrection. Except there’s a hitch to this theory: this isn’t an isolated hallucination. Not only did the eleven disciples see Jesus on at least one occasion, but hundreds of witnesses say they saw him (I Cor. 15:5) at various times and places. People don’t usually hallucinate the same thing. Clinical Psychologist Gary Collins says it’s generally very personal:

By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly are not something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is it possible that one person could somehow induce a hallucination in somebody else. Since a hallucination exists only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it.

The New Testament documents say that plenty of others claimed to see Jesus alive in separate events. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples minus Thomas, to the disciples including Thomas, to the two disciples at Emmaus, to the fishermen on the shore, to James, and even to five hundred people at once, as Paul wrote, “most of whom are still alive.”

Paul wanted the Corinthians, who doubted bodily resurrection, to check out his claim—meaning, he wanted them to verify his account with some of those hundreds who saw Jesus alive—stressing the trustworthiness of the appearance. The witnesses were available for cross-examination by those who wanted to stop this new movement in its tracks. To try and find another event like this in history, where there are groups of people seeing the same thing, there are just no credible examples. Five hundred separate “Elvis sightings may be dismissed, but if five hundred simple fishermen in Maine saw, touched and talked with him at once, in the same town, that would be a different matter,” the Handbook of Christian Apologetics mentions.

Arguing against these points, skeptic Chris Hallquist of Patheos.com, claims that there are examples of mass hallucinations that could account for the appearances of Christ:

First of all, we know that hallucinations, false memories, and so on seem to be an important source of religious and paranormal beliefs. This is something I pointed out in my first book, focusing on the example of ‘alien abductees.’ The short of it is that there are many people in the US today who, as far as anyone can tell, sincerely believe they have been abducted by space aliens. They aren’t all lone psychiatric patients; there are organizations for these people.

Those who claim to have been abducted by aliens experienced unique, personal events specific to the individual. This doesn’t rival the appearance of Christ to several hundred people over a period of forty days. As far as we know, there is no bona fide record of five hundred people being abducted by aliens all at once. Also, it seems that alien abduction records would be similar from person to person due to the expectations of aliens our culture has, but this can’t compare to the disciples who had no expectation of Jesus’ physical, bodily resurrection—this was out of their paradigm.

Still, German New Testament Scholar, Gerd Ludemann, justifies his belief in the Hallucination Theory by using Carl Jung’s collective unconscious hypothesis, an analytical-psychological term which is based on Jung’s experiences with schizophrenic persons while working at a psychiatric hospital. It’s what you might call a contagious vision, a theory that claims part of the unconscious mind is shared by a people, a product of ancestral experience, and contains ideas in science, religion, and morality.

“Surely a historical study of the resurrection of Jesus or the belief of individual Christians that they ‘saw’ Jesus after his death has to be supplemented by the enhanced understanding of the human mind and personality that modern psychology has afforded us,” Ludemann said. “This is nothing but an application of new knowledge.”

This “new knowledge” would have us believe that these particular Jews experienced a hallucination so powerful that they rejected their ancient belief system, something this collective unconscious experience is supposed to strengthen. Even if you thought all the disciples suffered from some mental illness that caused them to see the exact same thing, there is insufficient data to psychoanalyze key witnesses to these events. That is why this kind of psycho-biography is rejected by historians.

Other skeptics continue to insist the resurrection was a mass hallucination by using examples like the Salem Witch Trials, where more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft by paranoid citizens, or the audience’s reaction to the 1938 War of the Worlds radio show.

This broadcast was a hoax, but not everyone heard the introduction to the radio show explaining this fact. Tuning in later, some believed the story was true, and a few started hallucinating sounds or objects in the sky. However, historians claim that newspaper accounts over the following week greatly exaggerated the hysteria.

So, unlike the War of the Worlds incident or the Salem Witch Trials, the resurrection sightings were not due to mass hysteria-caused hallucinations. Most medical professionals note that when there is a perceived public safety threat, panic can break out and an episode of psychogenic illness can affect people where they see strange things.

Mass hysteria is primarily fear-based, but seeing the resurrected Jesus wasn’t. If anything, it was more doubt-based.Hallucinations often occur out of a deep desire of the bereaved to see someone again, but this was not the case for the disciples. The disciples certainly didn’t think a bodily resurrection was possible. They didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to tell them about his death and resurrection. “The last thing they imagined was that this Kingdom bringer, this Jesus they were coming to believe might be God’s Messiah, would actually die at the hands of the pagan occupying forces,” states Anglican bishop and a leading New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright.

Wright explains that the Jewish belief system did not account for a bodily resurrection of anyone before the end of the age (or the world). Jesus’ death dashed all the disciple’ hopes, and they were feeling lucky to have escaped with their lives. The furthest thing from their minds was that they’d see Jesus alive again, and actually sit down and eat with him.

Transformed Lives

As mentioned above, the furthest thing from Paul’s mind was that he’d see the resurrected Christ. Before his conversion, Paul, then known as Saul the Pharisee who participated in the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58), hated Christians, thought they were heretics, and was bent on destroying them. Jesus would have been the last person Paul would have wanted to see. (Hallucinations typically are produced from a yearning to see someone again.

A transformation also occurred in James, the brother of Jesus, who previously thought Jesus was simply confused about being the Messiah. Yet both of these men were radically converted into believers upon seeing Jesus resurrected to the point they were both martyred for their belief. In fact, historians wrote that eventually ten apostles were killed for preaching the risen Christ. If these men had hallucinated the physical resurrection of Jesus’ body, knowing the difference between a vision and a real person, and faced with death, wouldn’t they have recanted to save their own lives?

Skeptics say Osama Bin Laden trained terrorists to die on 9/11 for a cause they believed in, so perhaps the disciples were of the same mindset. However, these extremists were trained from childhood in a culture that promoted such sacrifice. The disciples were converted to Christianity as adults, and they weren’t indoctrinated to be martyrs for Jesus. As Paul Little wrote, “Men will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.”

Jesus’ disciples witnessed the resurrection events directly and genuinely believed that their leader was alive. Bin Laden’s terrorists rode on faith alone, not knowing if what they believed was true or not. The apostles had their beliefs in faith and by experience—they witnessed it, and knew it was not a lie.

When these evidences are established, skeptics resort to denying the credibility of the biblical texts themselves. Because of perceived inconsistencies in the gospel accounts, they aren’t convinced that every appearance of Jesus took place. “It is perfectly reasonable for skeptics to regard all the appearance stories as legendary accretions, but if we do concede that some of the disciples experienced an ‘appearance,’ there is no reason they could not have been hallucinations or visions,” states skeptic Keith M. Parsons.

However, there were plenty of people then who would have tried to refute these appearance claims. “The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection,” Josh McDowell asserts. “Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.”

Regarding the accuracy of the gospels, the New Testament documents are the best attested documents of ancient history, as there are historical methods for assessing the reliability of classical texts by which the Bible has been reviewed.

The Empty Tomb and Missing Corpse

Lastly, there is the empty tomb and missing corpse that the Hallucination Theory can’t adequately explain. Jesus had plenty of enemies with huge incentives who would have loved nothing better than to have produced his corpse, stopping all claims of his resurrection. But the tomb was discovered empty, and there is no record of his corpse ever being found.

The fact that history remains silent on this speaks volumes. It’s assumed if such a find did happen, there certainly would have been records of it. Having Jesus’ bones would have been customary in ancient Israel, as explained in the burial practices of a particular Jewish tradition:

First, you carefully wrapped up the body with spices and linen and placed it on a shelf in a cave. Then, when the flesh had decomposed–hence the spices because of the smell, since the cave would be used for more than one corpse–you would collect the bones, fold them up reverently, and store them in a bone box (an ossuary). If Jesus had not been raised, then sooner or later someone would have had to go and collect his bones, fold them up, and store them. If anyone suggested that he had been raised from the dead, the bones in the tomb would be enough to disprove the suggestion.

Wright explained that the disciples knew the difference between seeing a ghost (a hallucination) and a real body, and without an empty tomb, they would have used different language; they would not have used the term “resurrected” in their testimonies.

Legal scholar John Warwick Montgomery asserts: “It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.”

From this small band of fishermen, Pharisees and women, came the start of the Christian Church which today has more followers than any religion on the planet, and continues to grow. Considering the facts, it’s unconvincing to think the resurrection, the event foundational to this thriving religion, is based on a figment of the imagination. A hallucination simply does not give an adequate explanation for how so many people saw Jesus alive after his death on the cross, how the appearances lasted forty days and then suddenly stopped, the empty tomb and missing corpse, how this event transformed the apostles’ lives to the point of martyrdom, and lastly, how a church movement started that changed the world. Even Jesus himself said in Luke 24:39, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

If you dismiss the assumption that miracles don’t happen, after careful examination of the facts, you’re left with only one reasonable conclusion: a supernatural event occurred over two thousand years ago when God raised Jesus from the dead—a phenomenon that radically transformed what we know about life and death.

Bibliography

American Family Physician. “What is Mass Psychogenic Illness?” American Academy of Family Physicians. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/1215/p2655.html (accessed September 21, 2013).

Carrier, Richard C. “The Spiritual Body of Christ” in Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2005), as quoted in Clay Jones, Prepared Defense: Fast Answers to Tough Questions, v. 2.0, (Austin, TX: Wordsearch, 2011), s.v. “Hallucination Theory.”

Carl-Jung.net. “Concept of Collective Unconscious.” Carl Jung Resources.

http:/www.carl-jung.net/collective_unconscious.html (accessed September 21, 2013).

Craig, William Lane. A debate entitled “Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?” with Gerd Ludemann, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9XOe4RxWPo  (accessed October 5, 2013).

Gertz, Steven. “How do we know 10 of the disciples were martyred?” Christianity Today.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/sep23.html (accessed September 30, 2013).

Habermas, Gary. Did Jesus Rise from the dead? (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987). As quoted in Clay Jones, Prepared Defense: Fast Answers to Tough Questions, v. 2.0, (Austin, TX: Wordsearch, 2011), s.v. “Hallucination Theory.”

Hallquist, Chris. “Jesus’ resurrection: was Paul hallucinating?” Patheos.com.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2012/07/jesus-resurrectionwas-paul-hallucinating/ (accessed September 21, 2013).

Hazen, Craig. 2001. Evidence for the Resurrection. Lecture, Biola University, La Mirada, CA. June 7.

Kreeft, Peter and Tacelli, Ronald K. Handbook of Christian Apologetics, IVP Academic (May 22, 2003).As quoted in Clay Jones, Prepared Defense: Fast Answers to Tough Questions, v. 2.0, (Austin, TX: Wordsearch, 2011), s.v. “Hallucination Theory.”

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Little, Paul. Know Why You Believe (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1967).

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