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Scaling the Secular City 6: The Resurrection of Jesus


“Had there been no empty tomb, there would have been no belief in a resurrection.” Is this true? Did people really demand that the tomb be empty? Couldn’t stories have emerged, even despite disconfirming evidence, just as it has before? (What examples of this are there? Here we are “William Lane Craig has stated that even if he traveled back in time and saw Jesus tomb was not empty, he would reject this as being a hallucination before abandoning his faith. If Craig, a respected scholar, can turn a blind eye to evidence, why do we expect ancient Jews to have also?”) (166).

Moreland claims that naturalistic reasons for the empty tomb fail. There seems to be an assumption that if the body was stolen, those who stole the body need to be the same who spread a resurrection story. Is this necessary? Couldn’t the body have been stolen by others, after which the apostles took this to mean Jesus was resurrected? We have evidence that the guard at the tomb comes in only later, so there seems to be a perceived need to avoid a thievery conclusion.

Next, there is an assumption that people would have listened to stories to the contrary, challenging the empty tomb. Say someone knew the real story. Why would we expect that this story would spread to the apostles, and what reason do we have to think they would believe it, instead of pulling a Craig and denying it outright.

Moreland also points out that hallucinations need to use what is already in the mind. If this is true, could an explanation be that Jesus’ own cultic teachings were the source of the non-Jewish conclusions? Cults are often highly divergent from the rest of the culture.

Addressing these historical claims is a weak point of mine. I have trouble even summarizing them. I would be destroyed in any debate about them. Does this mean I have insufficient grounds to deny them? How do I know whether it is reasonable to hold off on accepting? Can I say the existence of God is unlikely, therefore the prior plausibility of these claims are unlikely?

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