Sherlock Takes on the Resurrection (Again)

In the last blog, I invited you to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and view the resurrection story as a case to solve.

First, we have established that by all historical accounts the tomb was empty: (

Secondly, we looked at a few of the explanations given for the empty tomb:(

Now we will look at some of the other explanations on offer. Namely, the Hallucination hypothesis.

The Hallucination Hypothesis

What if all the people who claimed to see Jesus post-resurrection really did see him? That would at least explain why the his followers were willing to die for these claims.

But what if the reason they saw Jesus was due to some sort of hallucination?

This idea was initially proposed by a man named David Strauss in 1835. Enlightenment/Post-enlightenment thinkers like Strauss tend to rule out anything miraculous from the start and rely on things that can be explained by reason alone.

That seems fair enough. If we can find a reasonable explanation for something, it at least makes it believable.

But is this explanation reasonable? Let’s put on our best Sherlock impression and test this theory.

The first problem with this theory is that it ignores the empty tomb altogether. The empty tomb if you recall, is something with which we have good historical evidence to believe.

To ignore evidence that is commonly taken into account by both believing and non-believing scholars of the resurrection is problematic at the very least.

Skeptics may pause and wonder, “What if these close friends of Jesus made up the account due to some guilt that they were unable to die with their leader? Didn’t Peter deny him? Maybe they were under so much psychological distress they had visions of Jesus but never actually saw him."

This was an idea put forth by skeptical scholar Gerd Ludemann.

But the problem is there were more than just close friends of Jesus claiming to see him in the flesh. Paul for example, was a persecutor of Christians. Yet, it’s Paul who writes that Jesus appeared to over 500 witnesses (1 Corinth. 15:6).

(Side note: Notice we use scripture for historical references, If you don't trust the Biblical account of these events we will give you good reasons to do so shortly. Stay tuned to the blog!)

For skeptics so cautious of miracles, the idea that over 500 people would hallucinate in different locations around the same time seems highly improbable. That would be a miracle on par with the resurrection!

The hallucination hypothesis relies heavily on presuppositions. In other words, for it to be true we have to make a large amount of unfounded assumptions. This approach is not very “enlightened” if I may say so myself.

To postulate that Jesus rose again from the dead fits in with the entire historical scope and it operates on one presupposition alone: Miracles are possible.

But we aren’t there quite yet! Let’s explore some of the other explanations on hand which deny the resurrection account.

Stay tuned this month as we explore the best explanation for the empty tomb!

For more on miracles check out our latest podcast with Daniel Ray - The Story of the Cosmos:

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