Saturday, May 21, 2005

Evidence of the Resurrection

Last night I had occassion to watch 20/20's segment on the Resurrection of Christ. It allowed conservative scholars more time than is typical of such programs, and so I was happy to see that, but they allowed liberal scholars to make some truly stupid arguments that went unanswered. The one I was most struck by was some liberals who argued that the origin of the Resurrection faith of the Apostles was simply visions that they had, which they believed to be real. As proof of this, one made the argument that earliest recorded resurrection accounts are found in the epistles of St. Paul, and they speak only of people having such visions.

This is what this scholar was referring to:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas [St. Peter], then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time" (1st Corinthians 15:1-8).

St. Paul was himself a notorious opponent of Christians, who had a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus and went from being the chief foe of Christianity to being its greatest advocate. His encounter was indeed a vision. However, when 500 people see someone at once, that is not a vision... that is a very real encounter with a real, physical person. And St. Paul says that most of those witnesses were still living. Were this not so, it could have easily been disproven by those Jews who rejected Christ, and who actively opposed the work of the Apostles. Furthermore, the Apostles died horrible deaths (with the exception of the Apostle John) rather than renounce their faith. Had their faith been merely based on fond memories of a dead Rabbi, combined with wishful thinking, at least some of them would have cracked... but none did.

The fact that such scholars can make the arguments that they do, when the evidence they point to so clearly does not support their claims is a testimony to the fact that many people simply choose to reject evidence for reasons that have nothing to do with the merits of the evidence, rather than to take the evidence seriously.

As St. John put it:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

See this article that lays out the evidence in favor of the Resurrection of Christ.