Six facts that must be explained
Several recent atheist commenters have said that they don’t believe that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened. Now it’s fine to say this, but the key question is: does this claim best explain the data?
One of the key reasons I am not an atheist is because of the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I can see no naturalistic explanation for this event. I believe that theism (notably Christian theism) best accounts for all the data. When making a judgement on this particular topic there are (at least) six historical ‘facts’ or occurrences which must be explained. I have outlined them here in this short video of a presentation I did earlier this year:
The six facts are:
- Jesus’ tomb was found empty by women.
- Multiple people on multiple occasions were convinced they’d seen Jesus alive.
- The early church suddenly believed in a resurrection contrary to prevailing expectations.
- Sunday become the day of worship contrary to Jewish custom.
- The lives of the first disciples were changed in a manner consistent with such a dramatic event.
- Paul, the great opponent of the Christian faith, was converted.
To reject this data and suggest that miracles are impossible, therefore it didn’t happen isn’t an explanation that is particularly satisfying because it fails to actually deal with the data as presented above – it begs the question against the evidence. This position is an a priori position and not one reached on the basis of evidence based reasoning.
I’m not saying that a resurrection is likely, in fact I’d say that it is inherently unlikely (hence the need to have god intervene and raise Jesus). Yet I do think it best explains these six key facts. Any alternative explanation must explain these facts better than the case that a god raised Jesus from the dead. I’m keen to hear other explanations.