And now for some final evidence for the existence of God ...
5. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Christian story is founded on an empty tomb.
If the tomb was not empty, then the Christian movement would have been snuffed out just by someone going and getting the body of Jesus.
There are four main theories to explain how the tomb became empty.
- Firstly, maybe the Jewish or Roman authorities stole Jesus’ body, and the disciples mistakenly assumed he had been raised, inventing stories of appearances afterwards. The reason that this is so clearly wrong is that the authorities were trying to stop the Christian movement from growing, and if they had stolen his body they would simply have produced it.
- Secondly, maybe Jesus did not really die, but fell into some sort of unconscious state, then revived in the tomb, and moved the stone himself. This is even more ridiculous, if you know anything about Roman crucifixion. Soldiers executed hundreds of people a year, they knew exactly what they were doing, and one could survive it, far less roll away a two-ton stone and then take out two guards.
- Thirdly, maybe the disciples stole the body and then imagined or pretended they had seen him alive afterwards. But consider the high improbability of multiple near-identical hallucinations that would have been needed and the fact that many of the witnesses were tortured and killed for their proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection, which you would be unlikely to undergo if you had made it up.
- This only leaves option four – that God really did raise Jesus from the dead.
Surprisingly, Dawkins never discusses the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is strange for a book proposing to be undermining belief in God, and especially the Christian God. From the earliest days until now, the resurrection has been central to Christian belief and practice. In fact, it is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and its strongest evidence (1 Cor.15:14). Dawkins never even mentions it! Instead he spends a lot of time on material not directly relevant to his main topic.
Andrew Wilson in his book Deluded by Dawkins responds to this in this way … “To make fun at the ontological argument while ignoring the resurrect, and to think that one has thereby removed the basis of belief in God, is to chase mice out of the sitting room, and thus announce that the house is free of animals, while there is an elephant grinning on the sofa!” [p.82]
P.S. For some excellent detailed evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I recommend these two books:
- The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright
- The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel