Has any skeptic actually investigated the facts in order to disprove the Resurrection?  What happened?

Consider what crime reporter Lee Strobel wrote:

For much of my life I was a skeptic.  In fact, I considered myself an atheist.  To me, there was far too much evidence that God was merely a product of wishful thinking, of ancient mythology, or primitive superstition.  How could there be a loving God if he consigned people to hell just for not believing in him?  How could miracles contravene the basic laws of nature?  Didn’t evolution satisfactorily explain how life originated?  Doesn’t scientific reasoning dispel belief in the supernatural?  . . . [E]ven a cursory examination of the evidence demonstrates convincingly that Jesus had only been a human being just like you and me, although with unusual gifts of kindness and wisdom. . . . But that’s all I had ever really given the evidence:  A cursory look. . . . Setting aside my self-interest and prejudices as best I could, I read books, interviewed experts, asked questions, analyzed history, explored archaeology, studied ancient literature, and for the first time in my life picked apart the Bible verse by verse. [1]

Near the end of his book, he reveals the results of his investigation:

Now consider the case of Jesus.  Historically speaking, the news of his empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts of his post-Resurrection appearances, and the conviction that he was indeed God’s unique Son emerged virtually simultaneously.   . . . in light of the convincing facts I had learned during my investigation, in the face of this overwhelming avalanche of evidence in the case for Christ, the great irony was this:  it would require much more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth![2]

Many other skeptics have reached the same conclusion after seriously studying the evidence concerning the Resurrection.  Here are a few examples given in an essay by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon:[3]

  • In the mid-1800s, a student at Oxford tried to show that Jesus never really rose from the dead.  Instead Gilbert West, Esq. later wrote Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1747).
  • In the 1930s rationalistic English journalist Frank Morison focused on the crucial last phase of Christ’s life to disprove its miraculous elements, and ended up writing , Who Moved the Stone?
  • The Cambridge scholar, former atheist, and renowned Christian apologist C.S. Lewis said the evidence brought him, against his will, to his belief in Jesus Christ.
  • The skeptic pre-law student, Josh McDowell, was convinced of its truthfulness after doing his research and has written numerous books on the subject. 

Unfortunately the evidence fails to convince everyone:

Michael Grant, a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University, and President and Vice Chancellor of the Queens University, Belfast, holds doctorates from Cambridge, Dublin and Belfast and is the author of numerous books, among them The Twelve Caesars, and The Army of the Caesars. In his book Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels, he fully admits, “But if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty.”[4]

Notice that he came to this conclusion despite the evidence, not because of it.  So why even bring up this topic now?  Because if you have never investigated the resurrection before, or thought there was no evidence, or that the story is just a myth, or . . . whatever,  . . . then I urge you to keep an open mind.

 So next, let’s look at what kind of evidence is available and its reliability.

[1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1998), pp. 15-16.

[2] Ibid., pp. 357-8.

[3] Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon, The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Part I— Can It Persuade Skeptics?  http://www.philosophy-religion.org/faith/pdfs/resurrection.pdf

[4] Ibid.

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