What is the best explanation of the facts?
Overall the 5 facts give us an historical framework for testing explanations. The best explanation is the one that can account for all 5 accepted historical facts. Remember the 5 facts are:
- Fact #1: Jesus was killed by crucifixion
- Fact #2: Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them
- Fact #3: The conversion of the church persecutor Paul
- Fact #4: The conversion of the skeptic James, Jesus’ half-brother
- Fact # 5: Jesus’ tomb was empty
Since the time of the resurrection, skeptics have tried to explain the facts of the event without concluding Jesus rose from the dead. I will start with one tactic some atheists use to discredit any and all explanations.
Any explanation is better than Jesus rising from the dead
This was an approach an atheist friend of mine. Since he didn’t believe in God no matter what evidence or proof I provided or how ridiculous his explanations were, he told me, “Any explanation was more acceptable than a dead man rising from the dead.” His basic stance was it is impossible for a dead man to rise from the dead. The truth is, from a purely naturalistic perspective he is right. If God doesn’t exist and if miracles are not possible, then dead men cannot rise from the dead.
If this is your view then you are wasting your time reading my series. Your mind is made up so why look at any contrary evidence. This is the mindset behind many of the “so-called scholars” that appear regularly on the Discovery Channel or CNN specials on the resurrection of Jesus. They believe, even before examining the evidence, the resurrection is impossible. For them evidence for the resurrection is not important; a prior commitment to an anti-supernaturalism eliminates all positive proof for the resurrection. Therefore, they accept any plausible naturalistic explanation because miracles are impossible and dead men cannot rise from the dead.
Hopefully, if you are reading this blog, you are more open minded and willing to look at the evidence. I will present some of the most popular explanations people have proposed to explain away the resurrection and then finish with what I would consider to be the best explanation of the facts. I will test these explanations and see how well they explain the 5 facts most scholars accept as accurate.