Review of “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Habermas and Licona, Chapter 8, Part A: Science Proves that People Do Not Come Back From the Dead

“A resurrection requires dead cells to come back to life.  Hasn’t science determined that such a state of affairs is clearly impossible?”  —Habermas and Licona, p. 135

Gary:  Yes!

“First, what science has shown is that a person is not going to rise from the dead by NATURAL causes.”  —Habermas and Licona, p. 135

Gary:  What science has shown is that dead people never “rise” from the dead, in the sense that Christians use that word.  Never.  People can be resuscitated if their heart stops.  But people cannot be truly dead (brain dead) and brought back to life.  But Christians aren’t claiming that Jesus was resuscitated.  Christians aren’t even claiming that Jesus was raised from a brain dead state back to a normal human existence.  Christians are claiming much more than that.  Christians are claiming that Jesus was brain dead; all the cells of his body were in a state of decomposition; and then this decomposition was not only reversed, but his entire body was transformed into a new, supernatural body with supernatural powersJesus’s body became a superhero body!  Science can definitely state that no human body has ever been scientifically observed to undergo such a transformation.  And even Christians admit that such an event had never happened before and has not happened since, therefore if such an event is possible, it is a very, very, very rare event.  It is therefore, statistically, a very improbable explanation for an empty tomb or for people claiming to have seen a dead person alive again.

I assert that the evidence for a very improbable explanation must be very good to believe.  The Christian evidence for this claimed historical event does not meet that standard.  If it did, this event would be listed in every public university history text book, at a minimum, as a “probable historical event”.  But it isn’t.  Is it, Christians?

“Second, the Resurrection was not an isolated event; it occurred in an interconnected religio-historical context that helps to provide meaning.”  —Habermas and Licona, p. 136

Gary:  So did the alleged appearances of the angel Moroni to the first Mormons.  But the “religio-historical context” of these claims (a period of religious hysteria following the Second Great Religious Awakening in the United States in the early nineteenth century) does not help prove that these appearances really occurred.  The disciples of Jesus lived in a similar environment in which Jesus had them worked into a religious frenzy that the Kingdom of God was imminent; the overthrow of the hated Roman Empire was imminent; and that they would soon rule on thrones with him over this new kingdom.

I assert that the early Christian resurrection belief can be explained in two words:  religious hysteria.


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