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:
- According to Jewish belief no one was to be raised alone; everybody was to be raised together.
- The resurrection was to be at the end of the world only.
- 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.