The resurrection of Jesus is a fundamental belief to Christians. But nonbelievers have to reconcile the fact that any resurrection occurrence would break the laws of biology with the fact that very early Christians had unshakeable beliefs that Jesus had risen from the dead. Two possibilities exist for those with a naturalistic worldview. Was the Resurrection a hoax to which they all subscribed, or did they genuinely believe in its reality? In this essay, Robert Shaw addresses this question with his characteristic sagacity.
"Occasionally apologists will ask me what I would consider to be sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead. Fair enough. Seeing as I deny that there is sufficient evidence to reasonably believe in the resurrection, what amount or type of evidence would I consider adequate to meet the onus probandi for establishing such an extraordinary claim? The best approach that I have found to answering this question is by an equally extraordinary analogy."
What sense does it make that the resurrection of Jesus, the momentous event of the Christian faith, should take place without any witnesses? Why was the risen Jesus not seen by anyone other than his own followers? Why did the apostles "doubt" in the presence of the risen Jesus or go so far as not recognizing him? Since it is the most important event of the Christian faith, how can we explain the remarkable differences that exist among the various evangelists regarding what transpired on the resurrection day? How can we understand that certain passages should present the risen Jesus as a spiritual being who would go through walls, appear and disappear at will and who had the appearance of "a spirit," etc., whereas others state that he was flesh and blood?
When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, there is intense interest in the historicity of Jesus' discovered empty tomb and his postmortem appearances to his followers. The historian, or the interested lay person, can ask, did these two key events reported in the gospels really happen, or are they legendary embellishments on a resurrection belief that was arrived at by other means?
Komarnitsky critiques the efforts of Christian apologists such as Dr. N. T. Wright, J. P. Holding, and Lee Strobel, to support the historicity of Jesus' alleged resurrection, and then offers his own explanation for the empty tomb and post-Resurrection appearances traditions.
Did some of the early Christians at Corinth doubt the reality of Jesus' resurrection? Was Paul trying to defend the reality of Jesus' resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthians? Komarnitsky says "yes" on both counts; JP Holding says "no." Those who think the only way to interpret the evidence is that Jesus resurrected from the dead might want to take a closer look at each point of evidence.
"The only way that Craig can criticize the account I have given is by arguing that his theory, that Jesus was raised from the dead, is to be preferred because it is simpler than proposing a theory to account for the empty tomb and proposing an independent theory to account for the post-mortem appearances of Jesus. The 'simplicity' of Craig's theory is only skin deep. My account of Craig's 'four facts' involves well-known and well-documented cultural phenomena, whereas his account proposes a God which intervenes in human affairs, for which I have yet to see any convincing evidence."
Hemant Mehta, known as the "Friendly Atheist" and the man who "sold his soul on e-Bay," is a well-known defender of the atheist stance who has written at least one best-selling book. Mehta recently persuaded Christian apologist Lee Strobel to answer some questions posed by his atheist friends. Strobel, in turn, asked his Christian theist friends to submit questions for atheists to answer. Seven of Strobel's friends complied. Whittenberger offers his answers to the questions posed by Strobel's Christian theist friends.
Think you know the details regarding the New Testament Empty Tomb and Resurrection stories? Check your knowledge with this short, twenty-two question quiz. The answers may surprise you! You will likely find that the details are so inconsistent from one biblical source to the next that the picture that we are typically given of the events surrounding the alleged Resurrection is necessarily a composite of carefully selected verses which exclude other verses where the details differ.