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?

 


DO HALLUCINATIONS EXPLAIN THE RISEN JESUS DATA IN SOME SENSE? WHAT HAPPENS IF WE TALK ABOUT THIS INSTEAD OF CLASSICAL HALLUCINATIONS?

The gospels say that a miracle healing man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found wide open with the stone that had been across the entrance moved back and the tomb was mysteriously empty. His body was gone. Certain witnesses claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a resurrected being. Famously Jesus appeared to anti-Christian Paul and turned him into the main apostle!

The resurrection of Jesus is one of Christianity's core doctrines. It is essential. It is at the root of what Christianity is all about.

Christians claim psychiatry shows that the witnesses should not be suspected of suffering hallucinations.

The gospels mention Jesus being seen by groups.

Doctor Gary Collins, a clinical psychologist stated, “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly are not something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is it possible that one person could somehow induce a hallucination in somebody else. Since a hallucination exists only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it.”

Andre Aleman and Frank Leroi say hallucinations most often manifest itself in one sensory mode, such as auditory or visual.

The gospel accounts have Jesus been seen and heard and even touched.

Another clinical psychologist Doctor Gary Sibcy says, “I have surveyed the professional literature (peer-reviewed journal articles and books) written by psychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevant healthcare professionals during the past two decades and have yet to find a single documented case of a group hallucination, an event for which more than one person purportedly shared in a visual or other sensory perception where there was clearly no external referent.”

Many have claimed visions of religious figures through the years such as Jesus and Mary. The test of a hallucination of a person such as Jesus would be the absence of evidence that this is Jesus. Conclusive proof that it is a hallucination is when the figure sounds like somebody other than Jesus. Jesus for example in the visions of Margaret Mary or in Divine Mercy is too out of character for it to be Jesus. If no scientific test shows or shows for sure that a disorder relevant or possibly relevant to hallucination is present then surmise that there is a hallucination and the cause is undetermined.

People who are strange get hallucinations. Perhaps visions is a better word for visions do not necessarily imply the person is faulty in the head but just a bit different. Some people have a very low standard of what counts as a vision too. Many like to convince themselves that something that could be interpreted as a vision actually is. Jesus did pick strange men who left their families and employment to wander about with him to see what he would preach and what demons he would put out. A couple were extremists who would have summoned bolts of lightning from Heaven to kill people. Jesus himself was strange too. Despite the rubbish about how the apostles were normal men afraid of being killed by the enemies of Jesus, the New Testament portrays them as virtual unbelievers who risked their lives and reputation by sleeping rough with Jesus and trailing around the turbulent countryside.

John Drane in Jesus and the Four Gospels, page 78, writes that Paul had a vision of the risen Jesus on the way to Damascus that he said made him equal to the other apostles. Drane says that Paul did not attribute the same importance to his other visions meaning that the Damascus one was the most obviously authentic and decisive. But Paul never said that. He stressed the Damascus vision for it was the first and most important one and not because it was the one he found most convincing. It was his ordination as an apostle so to speak. He only says there is nothing to be gained by boasting about his visions (2 Corinthians 12) and that is to demonstrate humility and to shame the prideful false apostles. He is not saying the visions are unconvincing or insignificant.

Ian Wilson thinks that Jesus might have used hypnosis to make the eleven see him after his death and tells an anecdote to show how convincing and solid a man who is not there but is just a vision brought about by hypnosis can be (page 120, 121, Jesus: The Evidence). Some cults did use hypnosis so Jesus might have used it too. The visions Stephen had and the vision of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 could be descriptions of hypnotic illusions.

The Aquileian Basilica mosaic from before 330 AD shows that the early Christians were collecting hallucinogenic mushrooms and ate snails that had been fed on them so that the drug in the mushrooms would not make them sick so that they could enjoy the holy visions and have few or no side-effects. The mosaic shows the mushrooms in a basket. Irenaeus complained about the Christian Gnostic Churches using hallucinogenic substances. There are early icons with pictures of mushrooms and snails on them indicating that the Christians like Siberian Shamans used these things to have visions and revelations from Heaven. The Church was doing these things at the time of Celsus and Origen too.

Nothing makes the Christians tell more lies and present speculation as evidence than the hallucination hypothesis. The theory is unrefuted therefore it takes priority to the supernatural visions of a truly risen man idea.

The view that God can give genuine revelations through mental illness and mushrooms and hallucinations is correct enough but God cannot give original revelation through these channels. He cannot reveal the resurrection of Jesus to apostles who are mad for then nobody knows if it was real or from Heaven or not. But he can reveal to mad people through their illness that the message he gave to sane people is true. So he can only use them to draw attention to what has already been revealed.

Christians keep saying as if they were there that the visions of Jesus were too real to be hallucinations.  It must be a sin to believe that hallucinations that mimic reality are possible if Christianity is true. It must also be a sin to believe that if a group hallucinates, their hallucination will be so influenced by the stories the others are telling that they remember it all differently from the way it really happened. (People hallucinate in relation to memory all the time – like witnesses seeing the same event and reporting different details.) They will eventually seem to have seen the same thing and heard the same words. It must be a sin for the gospels could be describing this kind of delusion and we are not allowed to think or suspect they are. So much for religion being compatible with science.

It is possible that just like devout Catholics telling you they know by spiritual insight and experience that when they take communion they get the body of Jesus himself that the experience of the apostles was something similar but such an experience can hardly be equated with a hallucination for they just perceive what they condition themselves to perceive. It may be incorrect to stress the hallucination theory of the resurrection appearances too much. Perhaps the resurrection appearances were or involved something similar to what these Catholics report. These Catholics are saying they have experienced Jesus as a risen saviour as much as the apostles would have or might have.

The Christians have a nerve when they say that it is unlikely that the apostles had a delusion, dream or hallucination when they saw Jesus.

First, it is possible that they had a vague hallucination of Jesus appearing to them and promising them perhaps just by implication and by the fact that there were loose ends to be tied up that there would be more revelations which led them to believe that their imagination and perceptions that Jesus was communicating with them comprised these subsequent revelations.

Second, the main witness Peter has some strange visions and could be like the Mormon witness Martin Harris who loses all credibility as a witness to visions when you hear how many bizarre visions he actually had. Peter saw a sheet with different animals on it. Then he learned that certain animals were not unclean but the problem is the gospels say he did not need that vision for Jesus had settled the matter. Having visions without need is a clear sign that something is wrong. Peter is described in Acts 12 as seeing an angel getting him out of jail. King Herod had imprisoned Peter to please the Jews who were delighted with the execution of Jesus' disciple James. The angel, it is related, appears in the cell and fills it with light. The angel taps Peter on the side to waken him up. He makes the chains fall off him. Then he tells him to get his belt and sandals and put them on. Next Peter is told to put his cloak on and cover up well. He then walked all the way out of the jail to safety outside. Acts says that Peter had no idea that this was real for "he thought he was having a vision". They had walked to the end of a street when the angel vanished and it was then we are told that "Peter came to himself and said to himself, "Now I know that this is all true. The Lord really did send his angel to me to save me." So Peter was being totally oblivious to the fact that this was really happening. Peter then did not trust his visions totally. We are talking here about a very coherent vision not like a dream. Dreams are silly. Peter walked a long way with the angel before he believed that the vision was real and Acts tells us that it was then that he came to himself. We are talking about Peter experiencing the angel for what must amount up to a half an hour at least. We are talking about Peter who supposedly had visions of Jesus risen from the dead and many other visions and he acts as if this vision in the prison cell was the first vision he ever got! Maybe he lied about his Jesus visions or the gospels are lying that he had these Jesus visions.

Peter suspected that there was something wrong when he was having his visions. No matter how long and how real they seemed he thought they could be hallucinations. His suspicions were very strong when he was so hard to convince that his visions were real. Peter must have been having visions that he didn't believe in.

He also believed that his seeing and hearing the angel was unreal meaning he did not trust his visions or the messages from Heaven that touched his ears. When the leader of the pack of visionaries felt that way what does that say about them and how he felt about their visions and experiences?

Peter would have noticed things like most of us do, things that we just turn a blind eye to. Say people have free will. If they do they deserve blessings and or punishments. I am about to lose a vast fortune. Some person does something, foil robbers or something, that results in me keeping it. I would have lost all the money without that person. That person is entitled to half the money in justice for that is what he or she deserves. But the Church never supported this view which shows that it invents its love and its justice and twists everything so a religion that opposes love and justice as it must see them is hardly likely to be a channel of real revelations from a good God. As deniers of free will, we don’t accept that half of what is gained must be parted with. It is safe to assume that when people are so hypocritical that they lie about having the power to give beneficial revelations from Heaven.

People who reject the hallucination hypothesis should recognise that experimental research has been done to verify how psycho-social forces can make a group reporting a weird experience conform in all essentials (Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 4, No 3). They fall into illusion because they have deep rooted psychological needs that need these illusions. You can explain people seeing a Jesus who never rose again and who was only in their minds without having them being subject to hallucinations.

WHY DO WE IMPUTE INFALLIBILITY TO THE WITNESS TESTIMONY?

The presumption behind all acceptance of the resurrection witness testimony is that the witnesses were guided by God to be infallible witnesses. So it is really belief in infallibility that is behind it all. Acts 1 implies that as the apostles needed the Holy Spirit to turn them into Jesus witnesses and one of the main functions of the Spirit is to protect from error that the apostles were not guarded against making mistakes about Jesus’ visions and the information Jesus gave. A belief in infallibility is the best religious scam of all for nobody can prove that if you say you were told something untestable by a God that you were not told it. Its the safest lie possible. It is not therefore a noble basis for a doctrine of resurrection that is supposedly about salvation and love.

We need to remember that people having hallucinations is one thing but people thinking they are infallible and then having hallucinations is a different matter. The latter is worse. It is harder to assess on the psychological level and impossible to treat.

The idea that texts are somehow inerrant is a light hallucination or illusion. It is like you see a miracle communication that is not there. A vague hallucination like that shows the power of religion. When readers sense Jesus communicating his risen presence to them why could the original religion mongers of Christianity have not done the same thing?

FINALLY

The main argument against hallucination is that hallucinations do not relay any new or original information. But the New Testament is clear that the gospel is in the Old Testament and Jesus when he rose said nothing he hadn't said before he died.

We know that Christians are able to see a vague shape as an apparition. It has happened all over the world. A poor hallucination could lead to similar illusions. The resurrection appearances could be 1% hallucination and 99% illusion. There is nothing wrong with the idea that Jesus’ appearing after his death was a hallucination by the witnesses. There is also nothing wrong with the notion that faith sometimes is a form of hallucination which may be mild but able to make people "remember" having visions that never happened in reality. Christians use distortion to avoid these conclusions. Their approach is totally anti-science.

A hallucination combined with spirituality is not to be equated with any drunk seeing flashing lights. Its more complicated than any common hallucination.

We must not forget that the circumstances of the Jesus visions were totally unique so the usual data about hallucinations is not going to apply. This case is one of a kind.

FURTHER READING

Christianity for the Tough-Minded, Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
He Walked Among Us, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha, Cumbria, 2000
Jesus: The Evidence, Ian Wilson, Pan, London, 1985
The First Easter, What Really Happened? HJ Richards, Collins/Fount Glasgow, 1980
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1982
The Jesus Event, Martin R Tripole SJ, Alba House, New York, 1980
The Jesus Inquest, Charles Foster, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2006
The Passover Plot, Hugh Schonfield, Element, Dorset, 1996
The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1993
The Resurrection of Jesus, Pinchas Lapide, SPCK, London, 1984
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Second Messiah, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, Arrow, London, 1998
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1973
The Womb and the Tomb, Hugh Montifiore, Fount – HarperCollins, London, 1992
Verdict on the Empty Tomb, Val Grieve Falcon, London, 1976
Who Moved the Stone? Frank Morison, OM Publishing, Cumbria, 1997

THE WWW

Still Standing on Sinking Sand, Farrell Till,
www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1997/1/1sink97.html

Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story by Richard Carrier
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/index.shtml

A Naturalistic Account of the Resurrection, Brian Marston
http://www.phlab.missouri.edu/~c570529/PhilosoStop/resurrection.html
This site argues that somebody unknown stole the body to stop the apostles stealing it or venerating it and lost it and argues that the witnesses of the risen Jesus were lying because no effort was made by them to preserve first hand reports of what was seen and how and when. It argues that since the apostles had followed Jesus at great personal sacrifice and now he was dead they invented the resurrection to save face. Also the inclination of people at the time to believe in dying and rising gods may have overwhelmed them and made them lie to themselves that Jesus had risen. He answers the objection that a lie like that would need a large-scale conspiracy for lots of lies start off with a small group of people and if the lies are attractive other people will believe them. Plus he says that Jesus could have rigged events to make sure he would fulfil Old Testament prophecy so the Christians should not be saying the gospel story is true for it fits old prophecy. I would add that owing to the total absence of evidence that Jesus was nailed to the cross and the fact that the gospels never say any of his friends were close to the cross that Jesus might have been tied to it and the Christians later assumed he was nailed because the psalm seemed to say so.

The Case For Christianity Examined: Truth or Lies?
www.askwhy.co.uk/awstruth/ChristianCase.html

Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story, A Reply to William Lane Craig by Jeffrey Jay Lowder
www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/empty.html

The Resurrection, Steven Carr
www.bowness.demon/co.uk/resr.htm

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker versus Mike Horner
www.ffrf.org/debates/barker_horner.html

Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/indef/4e.html

Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb by Amos Kloner
www.bib-arch.org/barso99/roll1.html