If the Evidence for The Post-Death Appearances of Jesus Is So Strong, Why Do Even Most Theists Reject It?

Known By Name | The Sophia Center for Spirituality

After an extensive, multi-year process of reading and studying a long list of books by Christian scholars, theologians, apologists, and their skeptics, I have come to the conclusion that the evidence for the alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus in circa 33 CE is poor. Very poor. The best evidence Christians have for this claim is an empty tomb. Yet, only 75% of historians/scholars accept the historicity of this empty tomb. For what other “historical fact” in history do 25% of historians reject its historicity?? And after the empty tomb, the evidence for this claim just gets worse. Much worse.

What about the authorship of the four books which give us detailed information about this alleged event? Were they written by eyewitnesses or at least by persons who had access to eyewitnesses? Who knows! The authorship is disputed! A significant percentage of New Testament scholars, the majority of whom are professing Christians, reject or at least question the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of these books. Even Christians who believe that all four books were written by eyewitnesses or by associates of eyewitnesses can’t agree on the identity of the two alleged eyewitnesses!

But at least scholars believe that the four books are four independent sources, right? Wrong! The overwhelming majority of scholars believes that two and maybe even three of the four authors, plagiarized, sometimes word for word, the stories of the first!

That is very damning!

Christians want us to accept as historical fact claims made in four anonymous ancient texts, written by non-eyewitnesses, two of whom and maybe three, plagiarized word for word the stories of the first! How very irrational!

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If the latter three authors plagiarized the stories of the first, it is entirely possible that the story of an empty rock tomb was the invention of the first author.

And what about the appearance stories? Are the core facts the same in all four books? No. Not at all. Minor differences are to be expected, but not major discrepancies, such as the location of the appearances!

The first author, writing approximately forty years after the alleged event, records zero appearances of a resurrected Jesus. Zero. Detailed appearance stories do not appear until approximately 10-20 years later in the books of author #2 and author #3. The appearance stories of these two authors are dramatically different. In one, the appearances occur in Galilee and in the other, they occur exclusively in Jerusalem. The fourth author, writing a decade or more after authors #2 and #3, appears to have combined the appearance stories of author #2 with the appearance stories of author #3…and then added in a couple of new appearances of his own!

However, my extensive evaluation of the evidence for this claim is immediately dismissed by Christian apologists because…I am an atheist: As an atheist, I am hopelessly biased against the resurrection of Jesus claim because I do not believe in the supernatural.

“If you would only accept the existence of the supernatural, you would see how strong the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus really is!”

Really? But it isn’t just me and other non-supernaturalists who reject the resurrection of Jesus claim due to its poor evidence. The majority of theists on planet earth also reject the historicity of this alleged event. What is their bias?? For the sake of this discussion, let’s accept as fact that non-Christian theists have a bias against Christian supernatural claims. If they would just get rid of their anti-Christian bias, they would see just how good the evidence for the Resurrection really is.

Really? Let’s check that out. Let’s take out the word “resurrection” from our discussion, and simply discuss any sort of sighting of Jesus after his public execution. Guess what? The majority of the world’s theists still reject even this claim! Why? Certainly not because they reject supernatural claims. Certainly not because they deny Jesus’ existence. Most Jews, Muslims, and Hindus accept the historicity of Jesus. So even if these theists have a bias against a “resurrection” because it is a Christian concept, they should have no problem admitting that there is good evidence that Jesus was seen alive again after his public execution…if there is good evidence…right?

Sermon: “Jesus appears to his disciples” John 20 v 19 – end. - St Wilfrid's

But they don’t! The majority of the world’s non-Christian theists find no good evidence that people saw Jesus alive again after his public execution. And this is why not even the claim that Jesus was seen alive again after his public execution is found in any public university history textbook anywhere in the world! The evidence is poor. Very poor!

And that’s a problem for the Christian argument that it is a lack of belief in the supernatural that causes atheists to reject the evidence for the Resurrection!

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End of post.

2 thoughts on “If the Evidence for The Post-Death Appearances of Jesus Is So Strong, Why Do Even Most Theists Reject It?

  1. And what about the events that Paul, the gospel writers and John of Patmos say are the consequences of the resurrection?
    First, the Coming of the Kingdom:
    according to Matthew 25.34; Romans 15.12 & Revelation 20.4-6, the resurrection was a clear sign that Yahweh’s Kingdom was finally arriving on Earth.
    Yet God’s wonderful reign wasn’t established here on Earth back in the first century. All wrongs weren’t righted, the social order wasn’t inverted, and war and suffering weren’t abolished (as Mark 10.31; Matt 5.2-11; Rev 21.4 promise.) New Testament writers believed that the resurrection, would cause all this happen real soon, when in reality none of it did; not then and not since.
    Second, the Resurrection of the Dead:
    did Jesus’ resurrection result in even more people rising from the dead? Paul said it would; he said Jesus was the ‘first fruits’, meaning the first of many, with others following him in being raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.20-21). Has any ordinary person – anybody at all – ever returned from the dead, long after they passed away? Not one; never mind the hundreds or thousands Paul and other early cultists had in mind. No Pope, no shining example of Christian piety, no activist or worker in the Lord’s vineyard has ever been resurrected during Christianity’s entire history. The dead have always remained stubbornly dead.
    So no, this didn’t happen either.
    We can conclude from this alone – that the consequences of the resurrection as promised by the NT did not materialise – that it didn’t happened. As Paul puts it 1 Corinthians 15.17 & 19:
    ‘…If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.’
    So pity those clever theologians who conclude that the resurrection must have happened because Peter had ‘good eye sight’!

    Liked by 3 people

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