I recently received an email from a Christian who is experiencing doubts about his Christian worldview. He asked me to respond to a number of his questions. I will respond to each question in a separate post here on the blog. His identity will remain anonymous unless he chooses to identify himself.
Question: How do you deal with the resurrection? I am at a impasse in my thinking on this one. One thing that makes me question the validity of Christianity is the lack of contemporary writing at the time of Jesus’ life. I do not understand how someone could come on the scene, do the things he did and nobody thought that was something worth writing down. Got it, it was agrarian culture where the spoken word was more important, still, how in the world did those kind of acts not make it to Rome. On the other hand, there are no works refuting it either, so I am not really sure what to think on this matter.
Gary: I have reviewed the evidence for the alleged Resurrection at length on this blog. Do a search to read some of these posts.
I believe that the evidence for this alleged supernatural event is poor. The claim is primarily based on alleged eyewitness testimony. I use the word “alleged” because the majority of modern New Testament scholars do not believe that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses nor even the close associates of eyewitnesses. These books were most probably written by non-eyewitnesses, in far away lands, writing many decades after the alleged event.
I believe that the Resurrection Story developed in the same manner that most other supernatural tales have arisen in history: sincere but very superstitious people misperceive something in their environment (an illusion). The story spreads like wildfire and over time, other very excited, superstitious people add new details to the story. One can see this in the Gospels. With each new Gospel written, starting with Mark and ending with John, the details become more and more elaborate and fantastical.
Christians make all kinds of excuses for why no contemporary of Jesus wrote anything about him. The truth is that if someone was raising people from the dead, walking on water, and turning water into wine claiming to be the Jewish Messiah, plenty of Jews and non-Jews living during Jesus’ lifetime would have written about him, most notably the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria (Philo wrote plenty about Pilate but not a word about Jesus). The evidence strongly indicates that although Jesus probably existed, he was not the big sensation the Gospels make him out to be.
The Resurrection Story and the miracle stories are simply ancient tall tales.