Refutation of the Hallucination Theory: Seven Arguments to consider .
If you thought you saw a dead man walking and talking, wouldn’t you think it more likely that you were hallucinating than that you were seeing correctly? Why then not think the same thing about Christ’s resurrection? 1. There were too many witnesses. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples minus Thomas, to the disciples including Thomas, to the disciples at Emmaus, to the fishermen on the shore, to James (his “brother” or cousin), and even to five hundred people at once (1 Cor. 15:3-8). Even three different witnesses are enough for a kind of psychological trigonometry; over five hundred is about as public as you can wish. And Paul says in this passage (v. 6) that most of the five hundred are still alive, inviting any reader to check the truth of the story by questioning the eyewitnesses – he could never have done this and gotten away with it, given the power, resources and numbers of his enemies, if it were not true. 2. The witnesses were qualified. They were simple, honest, moral people who had firsthand knowledge of the facts. 3. The five hundred saw Christ together, at the same time and place. This is even more remarkable than five hundred private “hallucinations” at different times and places of the same Jesus. 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 only dead person we know of who is reported to have appeared to hundreds of qualified and skeptical eyewitnesses at once is Mary the mother of Jesus [Fatima, to 70,000]. And that was not a claim of physical resurrection but a vision.) 4. Hallucinations usually last a few seconds or minutes; rarely hours. This one hung around for forty days (Acts 1:3). 5. Hallucinations usually happen only once, except to the insane. This one returned many times, to ordinary people (Jn. 20:19 – 21:14: Acts 1:3). 6. Hallucinations come from within, from what we already know, at least unconsciously. This one said and did surprising and unexpected things (Acts 1:4,9) – like a real person and unlike a dream. 7. Not only did the disciples not expect this, they didn’t even believe it at first – neither Peter, nor the women, nor Thomas, nor the eleven. They thought he was a ghost; he had to eat something to prove he was not (Lk 24:36-43).
Refutation of the Myth Theory:
The style of the Gospel is radically and clearly different from the style of all the myths. Any literary scholar who knows and appreciates myths can verify this. There are no overblown, spectacular, childishly exaggerated events, nothing is arbitrary. Everything fits in. everything is meaningful. The hand of a master is at work here. Psychological depth is at a maximum. In myth it is at a minimum. In myth such spectacular external events happen that it would be distracting to add much internal depth of character. That is why it is ordinary people like Alice who are protagonists of extraordinary adventures like Wonderland. The character depth and development of everyone in the Gospels – especially, of course, Jesus himself – is remarkable. It is also done with an incredible economy of works. Myths are verbose; the Gospels are laconic. There are also tell tale marks of eyewitness description, like the little detail of Jesus writing in the sand when asked whether to stone the adulteress or not (Jn 8:6). No one knows why this is put in: nothing comes of it. The only explanation is that the writer saw it. If this detail and others like it throughout all four Gospels were invented, then a first-century tax collector (Matthew), a “young man” (Mark), a doctor (Luke), and a fisherman (John) all independently invented the new genre of realistic fantasy nineteen centuries before it was reinvented in the twentieth. A second problem is that there was not enough time for myth to develop. The original demythologizers pinned their case onto a late second-century date for the writing of the Gospels; several generations have to pass before the added mythological elements can be mistakenly believed to be facts. Eyewitnesses would be around before that to discredit the new, mythic versions. We know of other cases where myths and legends of miracles developed around a religious founder – for example, Buddha, Lao-tzu and Muhammad. In each case, many generations passed before the myth surfaced.
A little detail, seldom noticed, is significant in distinguishing the Gospels from myth: the first witness of the resurrection were women. In first-century Judaism, women had low social status and no legal right to serve as witnesses. If the empty tomb were an invented legend, its inventors surely would not have had it discovered by women, whose testimony was considered worthless. If, on the other hand, the writers were simply reporting what they saw, they would have to tell the truth, however socially and legally inconvenient. With the elimination of swoon, conspiracy , myth, hallucination, we are left with only one standing.Christianity. The choice of Christianity is only safe and is ever open to logical analysis.