Part 13 Explanation three: disciples hullucinated

What is the best explanation of the facts?

  • Disciples suffered from hallucinations

Some try to object to the resurrection by stating the disciples had some sort of hallucination when they saw Jesus alive.  A key argument against hallucinations is they cannot be shared.  Even if all the disciples had wished strongly for Jesus to be alive, hallucinations are like dreams; they are private and cannot be shared by others.  In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the Apostle Paul records there were as many as 500 individuals, at different places and times, who saw the resurrected Jesus.  The large number of eyewitnesses would render the hallucination theory impossible.  Plus many of these individuals walked with him, talked with him, ate with him and touched him; hallucinations cannot account for these personal experiences.

If we examine the hallucination theory, utilizing the five tests I provided previously, many problems arise.  The idea of a group of people hallucinating by wishful thinking doesn’t account for the dramatic life changes for Paul and James.  Both were enemies of Christ according to the Biblical accounts.  Neither would have conjured up a hallucination of the risen Jesus based on wishful or hopeful thinking.  Yet they were witnesses of the resurrected Jesus.

In addition the hallucination theory doesn’t account for the empty tomb.  A separate argument has to be added to explain what happened to the body.  The final dagger is hallucinations cannot create new thoughts.  Here are 3 reasons why these were new thoughts:

  1. According to Jewish belief no one was to be raised alone; everybody was to be raised together.
  2. The resurrection was to be at the end of the world only.
  3. The Messiah, according to first-century beliefs was not a suffering servant who died and rose from the dead; he was to be a conquering Messiah.

If the disciples and others had hallucinations they would have based them on prior knowledge and not something completely foreign to them.  Hallucinations don’t create new information.

Based on multiple arguments, I conclude the hallucination theory fails to account for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright September 10, 2010, 10:14 pm

    Again, it is Paul, a disciple, who makes the claim that 500 individuals saw the risen Christ.

  • Steve September 12, 2010, 6:05 pm

    The Apostle Paul was at one time a great enemy of Christianity. In fact as Saul, he went from city to city hunting down Christians so he could put them in prison and have them stoned (Stephen Acts 7). Then he meets the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus and his life was instantly changed. He went from a persecutor to a follower and became one of the most powerful defenders for the Christian faith. You have to explain how an enemy instantly becomes a follower of Jesus Christ.

    When he speaks about the 500 he says many were still living. Anyone who heard these words could have talked to any of the living 500 to verify the resurrection.

    Are you saying Paul was a liar? Are you saying he made this up? The burden of proof is on you to prove Paul was a deceiver. This goes against everything we know about the Apostle Paul. There is not a single shred of evidence to support your theory. Paul believed so strongly in the resurrection he was able to endure torture, stoning, locked up in prison, and eventually had his head cut off. He didn’t die for a lie, he died for the truth. As I said before liars make lousy martyrs.
    What evidence do you have that Paul was a liar? Or do you simply dismiss his writings because they don’t agree with what you believe.

  • Tom Wright October 13, 2010, 9:17 am

    The evidence is that what the 500 heard is hearsay, non-admissable in a court of law. I have no evidence that he was a liar, nor, I think, that he was speaking the truth, notwithstanding the torture, etc.

  • Steve October 14, 2010, 5:39 am

    Paul calls the “500” eyewitnesses of the resurrection. You said they heard about the resurrection and implied they didn’t actually see Jesus alive afterwards. Paul therefore, in your opinion was a liar. What is your evidence the witnesses never saw the resurrected Jesus?

    This letter was written 20-25 years after the resurrection when many of these individuals were still alive. How could a letter like this gain acceptance if Paul was lying? The truthfulness of the account would have been easy to verify. Are you denying this written account on evidence or because you don’t believe resurrections are possible?

  • Tom Wright October 14, 2010, 2:44 pm

    I’m confused. Does the record state that 500 witnessed the event, or that Paul told the 500, making him the sole witness?

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Do Objective Morals Exist?
Answering Tough Questions
Counting the Cost
Is God the Author of the Bible?
God’s Holiness and Love Wins
Ministering to Mormons in Utah
Challenging a Jehovah’s Witness
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Understanding the Christian Worldview
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Sharing with Knowledge & Wisdom
Becoming a Good Ambassador for Christ
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