The Hallucination Hypothesis of the Resurrection of Christ

In his post WILLIAM LANE CRAIG AND JAMES CROSSLEY DEBATE THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS, (April 24, 2011), Wintery Knight wrote “This is my favorite debate on the resurrection.”  (The debate itself was held March 6, 2007 at Sheffield University in the United Kingdom and titled “Was Jesus Bodily Raised from the Dead?”  The debate was chaired by Hugh Pyper.)  In the post, WK wrote “…Crossley is a solid scholar…”

I also came across another WK post referencing Crossley titled GARY HABERMAS AND JAMES CROSSLEY DISCUSS THE MINIMAL FACTS CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION  (August 13, 2015).  In this post, WK wrote, “James Crossley is my favorite atheist ancient historian, such a straight shooter, ” and “He’s on the skeptical left, but he has a no-baloney way of talking that I really like.”

Therefore, in the comments section of this second post, I asked him, “WK, of all the debates about the resurrection of Jesus that you have watched/heard/read, who, in your opinion, has put forth the best argument against it? (When I reject an argument I want to know that I’m not just rejecting a weak version of it or a weak spokesman for it.)”  You can see my question and his response here.

By the way, here is Gary Habermas writing about the issue at hand in an article titled “Explaining Away Jesus’ Resurrection:The Recent Revival of Hallucination Theories.” (2001).

In one of WK’s responses to me, WK links to a 2007 post on William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith blog titled Dale Allison on the Resurrection of Jesus.  Craig is answering a question about Allison and begins by saying this:

I’ve never seen a better presentation of the case for scepticism about Jesus’ resurrection than in Allison’s Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2005). He’s far more persuasive than Crossan, Lüdemann, Goulder, and the rest who actually deny the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. That Allison should, despite his sceptical arguments, finally affirm the facts of Jesus’ burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection and hold that the resurrection hypothesis is as viable an explanation as any other rival hypothesis, depending upon the worldview one brings to the investigation, is testimony to the strength of the case for Jesus’ historical resurrection.

Thus we have WK saying that the best argument against the resurrection of Christ that he has heard is Michael Goulder’s in Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann, which Craig therein refutes.  And we have Craig himself saying that the best argument against the resurrection he has ever heard (he says specifically that it’s superior to Goulder’s) is Dale Allison in Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters which Craig then goes on to refute in the post itself.

In summary, two of the best known scholarly supporters of the resurrection of Christ (William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas) both see the “hallucination hypothesis” as the best argument skeptics have…but that it’s still decidedly inferior to the resurrection hypothesis as an historical explanation, even when articulated by the most effective spokesmen.

P.S. Since Eric Chabot had also posted on the Craig-Crossley debate (A Look at William Lane Craig and James Crossley Debating the Resurrection of Jesus), I posed to him the same question about “best challenge” to the resurrection of Christ that started the line of thinking that led to this post.  You can see my question and Eric’s response to me at the post.

Shall not the Lamb have the full reward for His suffering?

Shall not the Lamb have the full reward for His suffering?

I first heard this quote from Paul Washer.  He was quoting from a story about Moravian missionaries.  The story goes that two young Moravians sold themselves into slavery in order to preach the gospel in distant lands.  This is the what the two said from the ship to their heartbroken families on the shore as they sailed away.