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WAS THE RESURRECTION A HALLUCINATION?

 
The gospels say that a miracle healing man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found wide open with the stone that had been across the entrance moved back and the tomb was mysteriously empty. His body was gone. Certain witnesses claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a resurrected being.

 

The resurrection of Jesus is one of Christianity's core doctrines.  It is essential.  It is at the root of what Christianity is all about.
  
People who are strange get hallucinations. Perhaps visions is a better word for visions do not necessarily imply the person is faulty in the head but just a bit different. Some people have a very low standard of what counts as a vision too.  Many like to convince themselves that something that could be interpreted as a vision actually is.  Jesus did pick strange men who left their families and employment to wander about with him to see what he would preach and what demons he would put out. A couple were extremists who would have summoned bolts of lightning from Heaven to kill people. Jesus himself was strange too.  Despite the rubbish about how the apostles were normal men afraid of being killed by the enemies of Jesus, the New Testament portrays them as virtual unbelievers who risked their lives and reputation by sleeping rough with Jesus and trailing around the turbulent countryside. 

 

The Church denies that the apostles and the other witnesses hallucinated or imagined the appearances of Jesus Christ following his death that led them to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Yet the same Church recognises that a deep psychological need can cause such visions and claims that the visionaries had a strong need for Jesus to be alive. There is no evidence against the hallucination explanation and it is simpler to accept it than to accept that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
 
Some Christians like to case the joint. They tell us things about certain kinds of hallucination. They just pick out the forms that do not fit the New Testament accounts. That is to give the false impression that all forms of hallucination can be ruled out. They ignore forms such as self-induced hallucination.
 
Christians go through psychiatric manuals and consult "experts" to try and get evidence that the witnesses of the resurrection didn't hallucinate the resurrection appearances. But what if the hallucinations took place under some kind of supernatural or psychic influence? If you accept the supernatural you have to admit that possibility. So in that case the manuals and psychiatrists are no help.
 
SUBJECTIVE HALLUCINATIONS

Did the women and the apostles have visions that originated in their own minds, subjective hallucinations?

 

Matthew says that people rose from the dead at the time Jesus died and after his resurrection they appeared to people. What if one of these entities was mistaken for Jesus? What one pretended to be Jesus? If these entities had been going about, it would be easy for believers to get worked up and think they had a vision of the risen Jesus even if he had not risen at all!

 

Christians who object to the hallucination hypothesis ignore the developments regarding hallucinations these days. It is now known that even bad eyesight can cause hallucinations for it causes the brain to mix up what it sees with what is in the part of the brain that takes care of fantasising. The book on reincarnation Mind out of Time by Ian Wilson shows that the picture of hallucinations that Christians make out is a misinterpretation based on refusal to look into the subject properly. All that matters to them is fooling people.

 

It is now known that the way we in the west are conditioned makes us less likely to have visual hallucinations while these types of hallucination were encouraged in New Testament times (Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus).

 

It is dishonest how the Christians are so keen to eliminate hallucination from the flimsy gospel data about the resurrection while there are scores of more detailed cases in the annals of the Catholic Church in which several people at a time saw the Virgin Mary and got messages from her and were still found to be deluded though they seemed to see the same thing – usually what happened was a leader was shaping the things they thought they could see and hear.

 

Hillyer Straton stated that people who have hallucinations do not become martyrs for them (page 248, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1) and dedicate their lives to preaching them (page 255, ibid).

 

The statement that people do not suffer hallucinations of a mystical nature and then preach them and maybe end up in danger of death for promoting them flies in the face of history.  It is just an outright lie.

 

Straton assumes that the apostles died for their visions and there is no evidence for this. If they died for Christianity that is not the same as dying for visions.  Christianity like all religions is more than just spiritual - it has a social, political, financial and cultural impact.   The resurrection of Jesus may be proclaimed the core teaching but in practice that core is a turkey stuffed with other things that in practice end up being treated as more important.  If an apostle thought that believers in the resurrection seemed to be better at loving others than unbelievers he could think that the resurrection is the core not because it happened but because it does that.

 

Plenty gave their lives for Christianity without having visions or intending to die to verify the apostles’ visions or even thinking of doing so, therefore why should we be surprised if the apostles died for delusional visions?

 

Many ghosts are hallucinations and their witnesses can swear they are real and tell everybody. If they can take them seriously some can take them even more seriously.  The witnesses suffer great ridicule from many for their claims and that has never stopped them.

 

If the visions of the resurrection were wacky the apostles would have been in the right mental state to blame and excitement and confusion for bizarre elements with the result that they would be dismissed as being incapable of refuting the visions.

 

Memories of exciting visions can be unintentionally changed and improved over time so that they can eventually seem more persuasive and real than they actually were. Memories are selective and there is no evidence that the apostles made any effort to ensure theirs would not do this. The apostles might have attributed the wacky bits to the Devil and accepted the better bits as real especially if the tomb was inexplicably found empty. The tomb could have been the reason they founded a faith on their visions for the tomb could have been thought to prove the visions. People suffer for different kinds of hallucinatory experiences such as visions of ghosts and things. Many will call them liars or mad. If people want the hallucination to be real badly enough then they can remember what they want to remember and believe.

 

Only people with great imaginations and who are nervous can hallucinate and it is asserted that the apostles were not like this (page 248). This is an incredible suggestion if the apostles had been having strange religious experiences all along and if Jesus said they were nervous cowards like the gospels report. Also, Jesus told the Jews that the sign of Jonah, his return from death, would be his only sign meaning the rest were not that convincing. We are told they were scared for their lives at the time of the alleged resurrection. And this fear was irrational if they had really been allowed to get away in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

The fact that the Gospels say that the visionaries had different moods, Magdalene was crying, Peter felt guilty and Thomas scoffed the resurrection, is supposed to make a hallucination unlikely (page 249). But they still could have a desperate wish for Jesus to come back which was fuelled to hallucination point when the tomb was found empty. Nobody is saying that they would have had only these moods. We are not told exactly what they felt or thought during their visions. The Christians are only guessing what they felt just when the visions were about to start.  They are lying when they say that the witnesses were not emotionally set up to hallucinate for they do not know. 

 

And suppose Mary was crying when she had her vision.   Also, Magdalene could have cried with guilt and Thomas could have scoffed the resurrection out of guilt so we could have them sharing the same mood as Peter. The Christians are so crafty when they use the argument that they had different moods for the logic is terrible.

 

It is dishonest to use reports that are not interested or capable of capturing the complexities of human psychology in the way the Christians do as evidence against hallucination.  They were not written to counteract the notion of hallucination.  They are not detailed enough.  Only a psychiatrist who spent sufficient time with each witness would have the right to rule out hallucination.

 

One must not forget though that their claim is central to the denial that there were hallucinations.  It is not an argument at all but a pile of speculation.

 

It is hard to believe that lots of people would see the same man.  But it can and does happen.

 

Hallucinations come from the subconscious mind so suggestion might have happened to program the mind to hallucinate the same man. These people had been trained to mediate on Jesus and put him first which conditioned their minds. They all wanted to see the same man.

 

And who says that what they saw was really the same thing?  They might have seen Jesus in different forms and slightly different times. Perhaps Magdalene saw Jesus as a blonde clean-shaven youth and the rest saw him as he looked in life. You never know. The gospels seem to say he could alter his looks.

 

The Womb and the Tomb (page 156) informs us that a group of people can have the same subjective hallucination. One person's vision colours and shapes the ones the others have in such cases. It has been known. Often the memory of the experience is altered when the person hears the leader of the group the one who has the most emotional control and clout describing his version and they think they saw much the same thing. The subconscious mind picks up many things we cease to be aware of and can be lying waiting for a trigger to make you see what somebody else says they see.

 

The disbelief or doubt that accompanied some of the visions suggests that they believed they were seeing things. But be careful, if you think that disbelief blocks the visions. You could have them seeing Jesus then momentarily disbelieving causing him to vanish and him reappearing again with the restoration of their previous mental state. It is never said Jesus was visible when they disbelieved. People do report hallucinations and say that they could not believe what they were seeing.

 

Hallucinations of a deceased are normally triggered by the places and things associated with them when the person really wants to see them (page 252). It is said that this trigger was missing in the women and the apostles’ situation.  There is no evidence that it was or that it wasn’t. But if Jesus was buried in the Garden of Gethsemane and if the apostles were in places they associated with him that would explain a lot. But hearing of the tomb being empty could have stirred up the feelings that are preparatory to a hallucination. It is the feelings that count not the surroundings. Hallucinations can take place without things associated with the deceased through things that remind you of or look like those things.

 

If places and things trigger hallucinations, then surely the people most closely associated with Jesus could be a trigger for them too?  They would be a stronger trigger.

 

Hallucinations can be triggered by time as well. A woman might see her dead husband at 5:30 pm if that was the time he came home from work every day. Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol (page 252) dishonestly tells us that Jesus was seen at different times. But if you read the gospels you will see that Jesus may have appeared only in the mornings to the women and the apostles as well except one time to the apostles that John says was evening. The two men going to Emmaus saw him in the evening but they were not of these two groups and could have tended to see him then. We could have merely two different times which fails to disprove hallucination for a woman can see her dead husband at 5:30 and again in the bathroom at 9 am if he was in the habit of shaving then. Also, two different groups can hallucinate at different times.

 

Most of the Jesus visions could have been over very quickly. Hallucinations tend to be glimpses (page 252, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1). Jesus says a few sentences in some visions and eats fish in Luke. But were the witnesses led to think that he said these things to them spiritually or kind of telepathically after momentarily appearing? Were the sayings merely impressions they got and which they felt inspired to put into words? Many mystics claiming to hear the voice of God claim that it is up to them to put the revelations into words.

 

Hallucinations are contagious so perhaps each person did not see him exactly at the same time. The messages say that Jesus’ death and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament and that he should be preached. But a person who had lost Jesus in death thinking about the meaning of the vision would come to these conclusions and take them as divine inspiration. The apostles could have hallucinated Jesus eating the bit of fish which Luke says they gave him. Giving the fish need not mean it was handed to him. Perhaps, they did not notice that the pieces of fish on the table were not one down after this or thought he miraculously replaced the bit he took. Or perhaps they thought a piece of fish was missing in the excitement and concluded that Jesus took it. It was an emotional and therefore insane time for them.

 

Commentators say Luke says they did not believe what they were seeing for joy. But Luke actually says they did not believe for joy after Jesus showed them his hands and his feet.

 

Evidently, they could believe they saw him but not that he had the wounds. What was so joyful about the wounds was that it made them sure it was Jesus?

 

Christians usually misread it to say that it was Jesus being they couldn’t believe for joy. Did not believe for joy does not imply that despite their joy they couldn’t literally believe. It is just an idiom. It is just like you would tell a person you cannot believe they look so good which does not mean you really believe they look ugly!

 

Jesus led them out to Bethany and went to Heaven from there.  He could have been thought to have led them out to Bethany invisibly and reappeared there. Perhaps only one person saw him there and told the rest what was happening. Notice how Matthew, Mark and John do not say that Jesus was seen going to Heaven. He might have went up in the cloud without being seen. The messages in Acts 1 are not said to have been transmitted by a visible Jesus. It says they were watching as he was lifted up and taken away in a cloud. Perhaps they thought they could make out a man in fog. It is easy to see shapes in fog.  And if they had been convinced by their own or others hallucinations that he was alive they would have thought the man was Jesus especially if they were being manipulated to get the same divine messages in the heart the way charismatics get them.

 

One objection against hallucination is that in the Luke Gospel the men going to Emmaus walked with a man they did not know and who they later realised was Jesus.  In Emmaus, it is not said why the men thought it was Jesus. It could have been one of those silly strange ideas that religious people can get. Perhaps they walked with a preacher man. Perhaps one of them had a hallucination that altered his memory of the event so that he came to believe that the man had been revealed to him as Jesus at the end of their walk and when he broke bread and he convinced the other man. Both men admitted that when they listened to the man their hearts burned with joy inside them which suggests that they were drifting towards the right mentality for a hallucination or persuading themselves that they saw Jesus when they hadn’t. The joy was not natural after what they had been through. It could be that their feelings warped their memories so that they came to believe the man was Jesus when he broke bread. He probably left then because he thought they were mad.

 

The reference in Luke that the eyes of the witnesses of Jesus were restrained from recognising him admits that there were miraculous hallucinations happening. They hallucinated in such a way that they could not see Jesus as Jesus. It was when Jesus broke bread that they recognised him.  That is why you can hold that Jesus did not rise from the dead but that the appearances that he did were still miraculous.  It is not just a theory.

 

Another objection is how Magdalene didn't know Jesus.  Magdalene mistook Jesus for the gardener and also some of the apostles did not know Jesus when they saw him in Galilee. You only hallucinate people you know. John tells us the yarn.  Magdalene could have went to the gardener and wished him to be Jesus so that she had a vision that he was Jesus. There could have been a man in Galilee dressed like Jesus who went away and the next time the apostles looked they saw a hallucination of Jesus dressed the same way and assumed that it was Jesus the whole time. The Gospel does not prove that it was Jesus all along.

 

It is possible that the witnesses hallucinated visions of angels telling them that Jesus rose and they started assuming strangers were Jesus.

 

Val Grieve rejects the hallucination explanation for the appearances of Jesus on the grounds that the witnesses did not expect to see Jesus (page 14, Verdict on the Empty Tomb). The apostles not believing the women that Jesus had appeared does not prove the apostles did not expect to see him or did not expect him to rise. Doubting Thomas might have felt he could see Jesus though his head told him he wouldn’t and the feelings and the need brought about the hallucination. The heart is what causes the head to hallucinate. However, despite Grieve, the gospels do not say that nobody expected to see Jesus.

 

Professor Kevan had a problem with the hallucinations stopping so abruptly and at the same time. This makes him think they were not hallucinations but real (page 255, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1). But the feelings that caused the people to imagine all they saw would have been satiated by the visions causing them to stop eventually. The apostles came to believe that Jesus was with them even if they could not always see him and that satisfied them. Jesus told them he would never leave them meaning spiritually and personally when he left them bodily which could have been physiological trigger that ended the visions. And they went on for forty days which is a long time though that does not mean Jesus appeared often or spent much time with them. They could have gone on after this time. Remember how Paul reportedly had visions much later.

 

Kevan there is no proof that the hallucinations stopped abruptly at the one time. You are lying.

If Jesus appeared a lot then it could be that the gospels selected the most believable visions out of the quagmire of visionary ramblings. If hallucinations happen a lot then chances are that some of them will be credible. There is no evidence against this so the Christians should not be twisting the facts to tell us that the evidence has Jesus having risen from the dead.


Val Grieve states that delusion visions usually get worse over a long period while the apostles’ stopped after forty days (page 14). But maybe these people had been having visions on and off before it came to a head after the supposed resurrection. But did they stop? The New Testament never says that they did though it does perhaps see the ascension as a cut off point for the major revelation. Jesus could go back to Heaven for good meaning that from now on there would be only occasional appearances as in exceptions to the rule.

 

Grieve says usually the hallucinations get worse.  But there was nothing usual about these hallucinations.  Lots of hallucinations differ from what you would expect.

 

Montifiore admits that two of the visions of Jesus could have been subjective visions, meaning the vision to Paul near Damascus and the vision to the 500 plus Paul mentioned (The Womb and the Tomb, page 157). But he says this is not true of the rest for the witnesses were not overstressed or expecting to see Jesus (page 157). And they had to be overstressed and believed they could meet the same fate as Jesus. There is absolutely no proof that nobody expected to see visions.

 

As Paul wrote that 500 + saw Jesus at the one time, this is taken as evidence that they were not hallucinating. If people delude themselves that a vision is happened they do not all see it at once. One sees it and then another says he sees it and the others come along and see nothing but convince themselves they are seeing something. But Paul only meant that they were all together when they saw Jesus. If you say John and Bert died at the same time years ago you mean they died perhaps in the same week not that they died at 13 hours 11 minutes and 3 seconds on a specific date. Paul would not have meant to have been taken so literally.

 

Christians contradict themselves all the time and their dishonesty shines clearly from the fact that they claim that angels were reported at the tomb. If the women did think they seen angels that would have made them expect to see Jesus and fulfil the expectation necessary for causing a hallucination. The Matthew gospel has the women being told Jesus was alive by an allegedly angelic third party and they rush away and run into Jesus - they were predisposed to see him which could have caused them to have the kind of hallucination they had.  

 

The Christian arguments against the women hallucinating are interesting and if they work for the visions of the angels they do not work for the visions of Jesus simply because if you have visions of angels then the possibility of hallucinating something after that is very real.  The angel visions undermine the Jesus vision.  What if the Jesus vision was just another angel vision and they decided afterwards it was Jesus?  That gives you no reason to think it was Jesus!

 

The women took their story to the apostles who thought it was insane.  The apostles might have disbelieved the women at the start but then they could have developed the hope and expectation necessary to make them hallucinate as well. Studies have shown that up to 14% of people who have no mental illness have had hallucinations with some involving more than one of the senses and some having a chat with the hallucination. The figure has to be higher for there has to be people who have hallucinations and never noticed that they hallucinated and many people on a lifeboat at sea have been seen to have a hallucination of a ship coming to save them that is so similar to what the rest see for they want to believe what they see is real and so the delusion fits what most of them describe to fulfil that need once they start talking about what they see so they seem to be having the same hallucination (Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus).

 

Stress could have triggered the visions and could have altered their memories so much that they came to believe that they had seen Jesus though they had not. The Resurrection Factor would reject this for the visions brought joy and comfort (page 43). But how long did this joy last – two seconds? The gospels do not tell us.  It is doubtful it brought them any more joy than the average Christian gets.

 

John Drane in Jesus and the Four Gospels, page 78, writes that Paul had a vision on the way to Damascus that he said made him equal to the other apostles. Drane says that Paul did not attribute the same importance to his other visions meaning that the Damascus one was the most obviously authentic and decisive. But Paul never said that. He stressed the Damascus vision for it was the first and most important one and not because it was the one he found most convincing. It was his ordination as an apostle so to speak. He only says there is nothing to be gained by boasting about his visions (2 Corinthians 12) and that is to demonstrate humility and to shame the prideful false apostles. He is not saying the visions are unconvincing or insignificant.
  

Ian Wilson thinks that Jesus might have used hypnosis to make the eleven see him after his death and tells an anecdote to show how convincing and solid a man who is not there but is just a vision brought about by hypnosis can be (page 120, 121, Jesus: The Evidence). Some cults did use hypnosis so Jesus might have used it too. The visions Stephen had and the vision of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 could be descriptions of hypnotic illusions.

 

The Aquileian Basilica mosaic from before 330 AD shows that the early Christians did collect hallucinogenic mushrooms and ate snails that had been fed on them so that the drug in the mushrooms would not make them sick so that they could enjoy the holy visions and have few or no side-effects. The mosaic shows the mushrooms in a basket. Irenaeus complained about the Christian Gnostic Churches using hallucinogenic substances. There are early icons with pictures of mushrooms and snails on them indicating that the Christians like Siberian Shamans used these things to have visions and revelations from Heaven. The Church was doing these things at the time of Celsus and Origen too.

 

Nothing makes the Christians tell more lies and present speculation as evidence than the hallucination hypothesis. The theory is unrefuted therefore it takes priority to the supernatural visions of a truly risen man idea.

 

The view that God can give genuine revelations through mental illness and mushrooms and hallucinations is correct enough but God cannot give original revelation through these channels. He cannot reveal the resurrection of Jesus to apostles who are mad for then nobody knows if it was real or from Heaven or not. But he can reveal to mad people through their illness that the message he gave to sane people is true. So he can only use them to draw attention to what has already been revealed.

 

It must be a sin to believe that hallucinations that mimic reality are possible if Christianity is true. It must also be a sin to believe that if a group hallucinates, their hallucination will be so influenced by the stories the others are telling that they remember it all differently from the way it really happened. (People hallucinate in relation to memory all the time – like witnesses seeing the same event and reporting different details.) They will eventually seem to have seen the same thing and heard the same words. It must be a sin for the gospels could be describing this kind of delusion and we are not allowed to think or suspect they are. So much for religion being compatible with science.

 

It is possible that just like devout Catholics telling you they know by spiritual insight and experience that when they take communion they get the body of Jesus himself that the experience of the apostles was something similar but such an experience can hardly be equated with a hallucination for they just perceive what they condition themselves to perceive. It may be incorrect to stress the hallucination theory of the resurrection appearances too much. Perhaps the resurrection appearances were or involved something similar to what these Catholics report. These Catholics are saying they have experienced Jesus as a risen saviour as much as the apostles would have or might have.

 

The Christians have a nerve when they say that it is unlikely that the apostles had a delusion, dream or hallucination when they saw Jesus.

 

First, it is possible that they had a vague hallucination of Jesus appearing to them and promising them perhaps just by implication and by the fact that there were loose ends to be tied up that there would be more revelations which led them to believe that their imagination and perceptions that Jesus was communicating with them comprised these subsequent revelations.

 

Second, the main witness Peter has some strange visions and could be like the Mormon witness Martin Harris who loses all credibility as a witness to visions when you hear how many bizarre visions he actually had.  Peter saw a sheet with different animals on it.  Then he learned that certain animals were not unclean but the problem is the gospels say he did not need that vision for Jesus had settled the matter.  Having visions without need is a clear sign that something is wrong.  Peter is described in Acts 12 as seeing an angel getting him out of jail. King Herod had imprisoned Peter to please the Jews who were delighted with the execution of Jesus' disciple James. The angel, it is related, appears in the cell and fills it with light. The angel taps Peter on the side to waken him up. He makes the chains fall off him. Then he tells him to get his belt and sandals and put them on. Next Peter is told to put his cloak on and cover up well. He then walked all the way out of the jail to safety outside. Acts says that Peter had no idea that this was real for "he thought he was having a vision". They had walked to the end of a street when the angel vanished and it was then we are told that "Peter came to himself and said to himself, "Now I know that this is all true. The Lord really did send his angel to me to save me." So Peter was being totally oblivious to the fact that this was really happening. Peter then did not trust his visions totally. We are talking here about a very coherent vision not like a dream. Dreams are silly. Peter walked a long way with the angel before he believed that the vision was real and Acts tells us that it was then that he came to himself. We are talking about Peter experiencing the angel for what must amount up to a half an hour at least. We are talking about Peter who supposedly had visions of Jesus risen from the dead and many other visions and he acts as if this vision in the prison cell was the first vision he ever got! Maybe he lied about his Jesus visions or the gospels are lying that he had these Jesus visions.

 

Peter suspected that there was something wrong when he was having his visions. No matter how long and how real they seemed he thought they could be hallucinations. His suspicions were very strong when he was so hard to convince that his visions were real. Peter must have been having visions that he didn't believe in.

 

He also believed that his seeing and hearing the angel was unreal meaning he did not trust his visions or the messages from Heaven that touched his ears. When the leader of the pack of visionaries felt that way what does that say about them and how he felt about their visions and experiences?
 

Peter would have noticed things like most of us do, things that we just turn a blind eye to. Say people have free will. If they do they deserve blessings and or punishments. I am about to lose a vast fortune. Some person does something, foil robbers or something, that results in me keeping it. I would have lost all the money without that person. That person is entitled to half the money in justice for that is what he or she deserves. But the Church never supported this view which shows that it invents its love and its justice and twists everything so a religion that opposes love and justice as it must see them is hardly likely to be a channel of real revelations from a good God. As deniers of free will, we don’t accept that half of what is gained must be parted with. It is safe to assume that when people are so hypocritical that they lie about having the power to give beneficial revelations from Heaven.

 

PAUL'S HALLUCINATIONS

 

Paul is the only person who wrote down his claim that he saw the risen Jesus. Paul in his writings showed signs of religious madness: "The appointed time has been winding down and it has grown very short. From now on, let even those who have wives be as if they had none. And those who weep and mourn as though they were not weeping and mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they did not possess anything. And those who deal with this world as though they were not absorbed by it and as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:29-32). The incoherence is plain. For example, he asks those who should be mourning not to do it and then expects others to mourn who should not be doing it. It is not like he considers mourning or not mourning to be a block when you are preparing for the coming of Christ to end the world. A man like that who predicts the end of the world as if it is just days away and who asks for bizarre behaviour in preparation for it is definitely mentally disturbed. His visions cannot be relied on or his reports of them cannot be relied on. He would not be giving a command like that and would not be able to get people to obey it unless he claimed he had been told all this in a vision of Jesus! Even if he really did have visions, the visions lied and so we are entitled to put them down as tricks of the psychic powers of the mind or indeed from Satan if we wish. It would be blasphemous to take his visions seriously for it would not be very dignifying for God if we did that.

 

Paul writes that fourteen years previous to writing he was taken up to the third Heaven and he does not know if he was in his body or out of it and was told things so great that he cannot tell them. What does this tell us about Paul? He was prone to boast and was able to hallucinate in such a way that he could not tell if he was physically in Heaven or not. He had physical illusions.  He admitted to boasting.  It is one thing to boast and give details about the wonderful things you have heard.  It is another to boast that you have heard wonderful things and not give any details.  That is what Paul did!   He really embarrassed himself in front of a rebel section of the Church!  So great was his ego!  He boasted about this vision more than the one where he supposedly saw Jesus!  He told us more about it which makes us wonder how reliable he was when he saw Jesus.

 

A mad apostle is looked  up to by an eccentric Church.  The Church should not be taken seriously.


People who reject the hallucination hypothesis should recognise that experimental research has been done to verify how psycho-social forces can make a group reporting a weird experience conform in all essentials (Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 4, No 3). They fall into illusion because they have deep rooted psychological needs that need these illusions. You can explain people seeing a Jesus who never rose again and who was only in their minds without having them being subject to hallucinations.
 
HYPNOPOMPIC HALLUCINATIONS

The phenomenon of hypnopompic hallucinations is conveniently left out of Christian apologetics. This is a form of hallucination that sometimes happens before sleeping people are ready to waken up. They can see ghosts or even aliens (page 96, Why People Believe Weird Things). There are no rules though since it is a hallucination and not a dream it is necessary for the person to think they have woken up already.


The gospels tell us that the apostles slept the night Jesus was arrested and he could not get them to stay awake so stress did not affect their fondness for sleeping. We read that Peter, James and John had fallen asleep and then thought they saw Jesus’ face change its features and Moses and Elijah appear (Luke 9:32). Hypnopompic hallucination suffices as an explanation for this. When the three main men were prone to such hallucination what does that say about the other apostles and the women?

 

Were some of the visions of the risen Jesus just hypnopompic hallucinations?

HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS

This book argues against the hallucination possibility in chapter eight. Not a single quotation from reputable psychiatric experts appears in the text. The authors make their view of what hallucinations can and cannot do in such a way that they can make it look like hallucinations are not an explanation for the resurrection visions. They use a straw-man approach in relation to answering the suggestion that the appearances were hallucinations. They deliberately ignore the fact that many psychiatrists hold that hallucinations that cannot be explained by normal or earthly forces and disorders happen. Psychiatrists only claim to deal with hallucinations identified as such by the laws of this world. If somebody reports alien abduction visions and lying and mental illness and fantasy and abnormality have been excluded the psychiatrist will naturally assume that it is a hallucination but outside the scope of medical science in its current state.

 

The book claims that mere visions of Jesus would prove nothing. What we need, it continues, is for Jesus to appear to be physically alive after his death. It says that it couldn’t have been a hallucination for the body was missing from the tomb – see pages 187-188. Page 180 says that resurrection is distinct from a vision for a vision can be caused by your own mind or by some supernatural power such as a demon and it remains “purely spiritual and subjective: it is in your psyche”. To eliminate the idea that the resurrection was a vision, it says that Jesus’ risen body was seen by several people in public at the one time and he was touched and he was able to eat.

 

A body missing from a tomb is not evidence that visions of the person being alive are true.  The loss of the body could trigger hallucinations in the person's loved ones or could lead to one's imagination going into overdrive.

 

What the argument amounts to is, the mystery of the empty tomb proves the resurrection and the resurrection proves the empty tomb for visions alone aren’t good enough. If visions alone aren’t enough how can we depend on visions if they say that say the explanation for the empty tomb is that Jesus was raised?

 

It says that there were too many witnesses to hallucinate. It says that 500+ saw Jesus and just takes Paul’s word for that. It even has the nerve to lie that Paul invited his readers to go and interview these people (page 187). The even more laughable part is that it says the witnesses were reliable though we know next to nothing about them! The gospels even say that the apostles had trouble believing in Jesus though they knew him best meaning that they were not reliable though they do not mean for us to see it like that. But it will be replied that they changed their minds.

 

The book then tells the lie that Mary appeared to 70,000 at Fatima knowing full well that she did not for they only saw the miracle of the sun and not all of them did. It says that this matches the vision of the 500 and says that this however was a vision and not a physical resurrection. But the appearances of Jesus were not a resurrection either but only visions of a resurrected man like the three children of Fatima supposedly saw Mary as a resurrected woman. I don’t know why I bother attacking this shocking tissue of deviousness. The book says that five hundred separate visions of Elvis may be dismissed. But even the New Testament gives no real indication that all who saw Jesus saw the same thing at exactly the same time. Then the handbook claims that unlike hallucinations Jesus hung around for forty days. But he may have only been seen for a few moments at a time over that period.

 

Then it is dishonestly argued that the hallucination would not have been believed in if Jesus had been still in the tomb! But what about the early Christian doctrine that the resurrection body is made from the seed of the dead body? The dead body contributes something to the formation of this body – that is all. If a body was cremated and a tiny pinch of dust was used to form the resurrection body that would satisfy the situation for it to be a resurrection from the dead.

 

WHY DO WE IMPUTE INFALLIBILITY TO THE WITNESS TESTIMONY?

 

The presumption behind all acceptance of the resurrection witness testimony is that the witnesses were guided by God to be infallible witnesses.  So it is really belief in infallibility that is behind it all.  Acts 1 implies that as the apostles needed the Holy Spirit to turn them into Jesus witnesses and one of the main functions of the Spirit is to protect from error that the apostles were not guarded against making mistakes about Jesus’ visions and the information Jesus gave. A belief in infallibility is the best religious scam of all for nobody can prove that if you say you were told something untestable by a God that you were not told it.  Its the safest lie possible.  It is not therefore a noble basis for a doctrine of resurrection that is supposedly about salvation and love.

 

We need to remember that people having hallucinations is one thing but people thinking they are infallible and then having hallucinations is a different matter.  The latter is worse.  It is harder to assess on the psychological level and impossible to treat.
 
CONCLUSION
 
We know that Christians are able to see a vague shape as an apparition.  It has happened all over the world.  A poor hallucination could lead to similar illusions.  The resurrection appearances could be 1% hallucination and 99% illusion. There is nothing wrong with the idea that Jesus’ appearing after his death was a hallucination by the witnesses. There is also nothing wrong with the notion that faith sometimes is a form of hallucination which may be mild but able to make people "remember" having visions that never happened in reality.  Christians use distortion to avoid these conclusions.  Their approach is totally anti-science.
  
FURTHER READING

Christianity for the Tough-Minded, Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
He Walked Among Us, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha, Cumbria, 2000
Jesus: The Evidence, Ian Wilson, Pan, London, 1985
The First Easter, What Really Happened? HJ Richards, Collins/Fount Glasgow, 1980
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1982
The Jesus Event, Martin R Tripole SJ, Alba House, New York, 1980
The Jesus Inquest, Charles Foster, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2006
The Passover Plot, Hugh Schonfield, Element, Dorset, 1996
The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1993
The Resurrection of Jesus, Pinchas Lapide, SPCK, London, 1984
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Second Messiah, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, Arrow, London, 1998
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1973
The Womb and the Tomb, Hugh Montifiore, Fount – HarperCollins, London, 1992
Verdict on the Empty Tomb, Val Grieve Falcon, London, 1976
Who Moved the Stone? Frank Morison, OM Publishing, Cumbria, 1997
 
THE WWW

Still Standing on Sinking Sand, Farrell Till,
www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1997/1/1sink97.html

Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story by Richard Carrier
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/index.shtml

A Naturalistic Account of the Resurrection, Brian Marston
http://www.phlab.missouri.edu/~c570529/PhilosoStop/resurrection.html
This site argues that somebody unknown stole the body to stop the apostles stealing it or venerating it and lost it and argues that the witnesses of the risen Jesus were lying because no effort was made by them to preserve first hand reports of what was seen and how and when. It argues that since the apostles had followed Jesus at great personal sacrifice and now he was dead they invented the resurrection to save face. Also the inclination of people at the time to believe in dying and rising gods may have overwhelmed them and made them lie to themselves that Jesus had risen. He answers the objection that a lie like that would need a large-scale conspiracy for lots of lies start off with a small group of people and if the lies are attractive other people will believe them. Plus he says that Jesus could have rigged events to make sure he would fulfil Old Testament prophecy so the Christians should not be saying the gospel story is true for it fits old prophecy. I would add that owing to the total absence of evidence that Jesus was nailed to the cross and the fact that the gospels never say any of his friends were close to the cross that Jesus might have been tied to it and the Christians later assumed he was nailed because the psalm seemed to say so.

The Case For Christianity Examined: Truth or Lies?  
www.askwhy.co.uk/awstruth/ChristianCase.html

Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story, A Reply to William Lane Craig by Jeffrey Jay Lowder
www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/empty.html

The Resurrection, Steven Carr
www.bowness.demon/co.uk/resr.htm

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker versus Mike Horner
www.ffrf.org/debates/barker_horner.html
 
Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/indef/4e.html
 
Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb by Amos Kloner
www.bib-arch.org/barso99/roll1.html