Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS - THE DESPERATE ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THAT HALLUCINATIONS PLAYED NO ROLE IN STARTING OF THE RISEN JESUS MYTH

Jesus died by crucifixion according to the New Testament.  Women saw him at the tomb a few days later alive.  Then he appeared to the apostles and some close friends.  Then he went back to Heaven.  Nobody saw the body coming to life.  Nobody really knows what happened to it.  Without hard evidence, an illusion or hallucination or personality disorder may have had a lot to do with the visions.

The Handbook of Christian Apologetics argues against the hallucination possibility in chapter eight.

The authors make their view of what hallucinations can and cannot do in such a way that they can make it look like hallucinations are not an explanation for the resurrection visions. They use a straw-man approach in relation to answering the suggestion that the appearances were hallucinations.

Not a single quotation from reputable psychiatric experts appears in the text.

They deliberately ignore the fact that many psychiatrists hold that hallucinations that cannot be explained by normal or earthly forces and disorders happen. Psychiatrists only claim to deal with hallucinations identified as such by the laws of this world. If somebody reports alien abduction visions and lying and mental illness and fantasy and abnormality have been excluded the psychiatrist will naturally assume that it is a hallucination but outside the scope of medical science in its current state.

The book claims that mere visions of Jesus would prove nothing. What we need, it continues, is for Jesus to appear to be physically alive after his death. It says that it couldnít have been a hallucination for the body was missing from the tomb Ė see pages 187-188. Page 180 says that resurrection is distinct from a vision for a vision can be caused by your own mind or by some supernatural power such as a demon and it remains ďpurely spiritual and subjective: it is in your psycheĒ. To eliminate the idea that the resurrection was a vision, it says that Jesusí risen body was seen by several people in public at the one time and he was touched and he was able to eat.

A body missing from a tomb is not evidence that visions of the person being alive are true.  The loss of the body could trigger hallucinations in the person's loved ones or could lead to one's imagination going into overdrive.

What the argument amounts to is, the mystery of the empty tomb proves the resurrection and the resurrection proves the empty tomb for visions alone arenít good enough. If visions alone arenít enough how can we depend on visions if they say that say the explanation for the empty tomb is that Jesus was raised?

It says that there were too many witnesses to hallucinate. It says that 500+ saw Jesus and just takes Paulís word for that. It even has the nerve to lie that Paul invited his readers to go and interview these people (page 187). The even more laughable part is that it says the witnesses were reliable though we know next to nothing about them! The gospels even say that the apostles had trouble believing in Jesus though they knew him best meaning that they were not reliable though they do not mean for us to see it like that. But it will be replied that they changed their minds.


Paul said that 500+ saw Jesus in his First Letter to the Corinthians where there was a problem with the Church doubting the resurrection of Jesus and suffering from deluded visionaries of its own.  The gospels though written later never mentioned this event and they were desperate for evidence and didnít mention the best evidence of the lot. Paulís mention of it is too cursory for us to take it seriously. After all it could have been a mistaken identity or something or mass hysteria? Or maybe an early scribe made an alteration and the number was actually smaller. That Paul didnít give the Corinthians a proper defence of the resurrection when they were reporting visions that contradicted his gospel shows he hadnít much choice. The evidence wasnít very good and Paul was insecure about it for he was reduced to arguing, ďIf Jesus didnít rise then the dead are lost and we are still in our sins and we are to be pitied above all peopleĒ. He knew fine well what he was doing.   His testimony undermines the resurrection.

The book then tells the lie that Mary appeared to 70,000 at Fatima knowing full well that she did not for they only saw the miracle of the sun and not all of them did. It says that this matches the vision of the 500 and says that this however was a vision and not a physical resurrection. But the appearances of Jesus were not a resurrection either but only visions of a resurrected man like the three children of Fatima supposedly saw Mary as a resurrected woman. I donít know why I bother attacking this shocking tissue of deviousness. The book says that five hundred separate visions of Elvis may be dismissed. But even the New Testament gives no real indication that all who saw Jesus saw the same thing at exactly the same time.

Then the handbook claims that unlike hallucinations which last for only a brief time Jesus hung around for forty days. But he may have only been seen for a few moments at a time over that period.

Then it is dishonestly argued that there had been a hallucination, the hallucination would not have been believed in if Jesus had been still in the tomb! But what about the early Christian doctrine that the resurrection body is made from the seed of the dead body? The dead body contributes something to the formation of this body Ė that is all. If a body was cremated and a tiny pinch of dust was used to form the resurrection body that would satisfy the situation for it to be a resurrection from the dead.

Even Jesus being in the tomb would not have stopped the apostles believing in the resurrection. Once Jesus "appeared" to them they wanted to believe it and people do believe what they want to believe at the end of the day.
 
We donít know how the witnesses saw their visions. Visions can be spiritual or God can use the imagination to give visions. Maybe nobody saw anything and Satan came along a month after Jesus died to change peopleís memories so that they thought the tomb was empty and that the body of Jesus in it was somebody elseís or that Jesus appeared. We have no evidence that Satan didnít do this so we have no evidence for the resurrection. (We have evidence that Satan did do it for a miracle of changing memories is an easier on than raising a man from the dead. Miracles are so strange that if a simpler miracle can explain something it will suffice and should be believed in, in preference to a more complicated one.) Once you believe in miracles you cannot consistently believe that evidence has any value. Christians lie that they believe in the testimony of the Bible to the resurrection. They do not. What they believe in is the testimony that the witnesses that they MAY have witnessed the appearance of a man who came back from the dead. The testimony that John may be having an affair with Claire is useless and so is this especially when people are called on to stake their salvation on it, the most important thing possible.
 
The Handbook of Christian Apologetics says that the idea that the resurrection visions of Jesus were hallucinations can be refuted by the fact that the witnesses were reliable and qualified and honest.
 
We know nothing about the witnesses. Peter wasnít honest when he unnecessarily exposed himself to questions about Jesus and he replied swearing lies.
 
We have very little information about the witnesses. When Jesus cast out a demon the Jews said that Jesus was using the Devilís power. Jesus said that if Satan was doing that then Satan was breaking up his own kingdom as if Satan who he said was very powerful needed to possess loads of people to run a kingdom. Not only was this a lie for Satan would be happy enough to tempt people to sin but if possession is so necessary then clearly anybody could be possessed. Jesus was asking us to accept people as witnesses when the Devil could be influencing them. We must question the honesty of men who followed a man who defended himself telling lies and by saying silly things.
 
Perhaps hallucinations can be ruled by the fact that nobody expected the resurrection visions.  The New Testament information is basic and lots of stuff is left out.  If you have an illusion then you can trigger others to expect visions too.
 
The Handbook insists that the resurrection visions of Jesus were not hallucinations for,
 
Hallucinations do not eat
 
Hallucinations cannot be touched

Unlike a hallucination, Jesus surprised his followers
 
Reason replies:
 
It could be argued that when Paul wrote to the Corinthians to persuade them that Jesus rose from the dead for they were denying it that Jesusís apparitions were so short that he couldnít even think about verifying them in detail.
 
Psychologists believe in veridical hallucinations which are different from the kind of hallucinations these authors are banging on about. The apostles and disciples could have had veridical hallucinations of Jesus which could explain all the gospel data. 
 
Sane people do have hallucinations especially when they have been bereaved. Sometimes their imagination simply gets so strong they see and touch and speak with the dead person. Mediums have loads of visions and are sane and yet we know from the trickery they use at other times and from what the visions tell them that no psychic force is at work. They touch the visions and see them eating.
 
It is said that you cannot have a conversation with a hallucination.  There was not a lot of conversation with the Jesus apparitions. Now, near Emmaus two disciples walked with a man who they later decided was Jesus.   That proves nothing. The man vanished quickly but we are not told he was seen dissolving into thin air. This may have been an assumption on their part. We do not know if they were witnesses of the best calibre. 
 
And you can have a conversation with an illusion. Mediums do that all the time.

It is claimed that the idea that the resurrection visions of Jesus were hallucinations can be refuted by the fact that the Jews would have produced the body to refute the hallucinations.
 
Christians turn their backs on the rules for a fair investigation when it comes to the resurrection. They know that the apostles and the disciples didnít mention the resurrection to outsiders until beyond the time the body of Jesus would have been identifiable. They do not tell us that Jesus would have been unrecognisable by the third day in the tomb. Decay in that climate set in fast.

The Handbook says that idea that the resurrection visions of Jesus were hallucinations can be refuted by the fact that a hallucination wouldnít explain the empty tomb of Jesus.  A hallucination wouldnít explain the empty tomb of Jesus but are we expected to believe that just because the tomb was empty that it meant that the appearances were not hallucinations?
 
The tomb being empty has nothing to do with the appearances being hallucinations or otherwise.

The Handbook of Christian Apologetics says that idea that the resurrection visions of Jesus were hallucinations can be refuted by the fact that if the empty tomb was a lie, then why did the gospels have women who were not regarded as reliable witnesses finding the tomb empty?
 
The gospels were written by Christians who had no problem with women being witnesses and besides men backed up the women so even if the women were useless witnesses in the eyes of the people the people had to accept them for men supported the veracity of their testimony. The story of the women may have been necessary because the gospellers couldnít say the disciples went to the tomb and found it empty for they were widely suspected of having stolen the body.

Jesus wasnít the rising saviour somebody else could come to save us. He wasnít interested in verifying the resurrection appearances or in saying too much about them out of shame.  The risen Jesus was not asked to approve the New Testament account of the resurrection.  The account is not about faith but ideology.