Christians rightly point out that the resurrection would have been easily falsifiable not long after Jesus’ death. All the opposition had to do was produce the body. Then the disciples would have confirmed that it was Jesus and went back to their day jobs. I wouldn’t be writing this blog, and there would be no A Clear Lens.

What a terrible world we would live in!

But there was no claim that Jesus’ body was ever found, and the first Christians preached the resurrection in the very place where Jesus died. They preached this radically new doctrine because according to them, they experienced the risen Jesus firsthand.

The Question of Falsifiability

Skeptics will point out that the resurrection is not falsifiable today because too much time has passed since Jesus’ death. In other words, if a body was produced today, there would be no way to confirm that it was Jesus of Nazareth’s body.

I agree with this. However, if we discovered an ossuary dating back to the first century that contained the bones of a crucified individual, and it had an inscription on it that read “Jesus of Nazareth,” then that would be a problem for Christianity! 

It seems unlikely that some kind of evidence could be presented that would prove with absolute certainty that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. In the case of the ossuary, there could be several alternative explanations even though they are highly improbable. For example, there could have been more than one Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified in the first century.

Reason to Doubt the Resurrection?

Even if it’s not possible to disprove the resurrection with absolute certainty, it could still be the case that people who believe in the resurrection ought not to do so because of evidence against it.

Here are three scenarios that ought to make Christians doubt the resurrection if they were true.

1. The Apostles Lied about Jesus.

The primary sources of the resurrection are the New Testament documents. Based on these sources, the earliest Christians claimed to have met the risen Jesus. But if it could be shown that the apostles were lying, then Christianity would be based on a lie.

Now this could be done in a few ways, but here’s one possibility: the disciples borrowed from other stories to create a mythical Jesus. Jesus never existed, and all of the facts about his life were made up by the apostles. This would mean even people like Paul were deceived into believing that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

2. The Original New Testament Wording Is Lost Beyond Recovery

Many Christians may not be aware of this, but none of the original New Testament manuscripts exist today. Textual critics compare the manuscript copies we have today to discern the original wording of the text. But if the original wording of the New Testament cannot be recovered, then all of Christianity is in trouble. We would be left with later Christian documents and some mentions of Jesus in a few secular sources.

We wouldn’t know what really happened that Easter morning. We wouldn’t know who Paul really was or what he actually experienced. We wouldn’t know very much about Jesus at all, much less specific details about his resurrection!

3. God Doesn’t Exist.

This one goes without saying but is still important to remember. The central claim of Christianity is that God raised Jesus from the dead. But if God doesn’t exist, then resurrection is impossible. We would then be left with a human Jesus who died and remained dead just like everybody else.

Conclusion

I think one of the greatest strengths of Christianity is that its central claim is a historical event. The resurrection of Jesus is something that we are invited to investigate for ourselves. I encourage you to do so; there might be more evidence for it than you think. 

As I have personally investigated the evidence for the resurrection and continue to do so, I ultimately side with the apostles:

“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

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