The Resurrection Hypothesis

The resurrection hypothesis states that ‘God raised Jesus from the dead’. However, there is nothing about the claim “God exists” that predicts a resurrection. One must also add the claim that God wants to raise Jesus from the dead. But the problem is that there is nothing in our background knowledge that expects that God (if God exists) would desire to raise Jesus.

Even if God wanted to raise Jesus from the dead, there is nothing about this that entails an empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, etc. God can raise Jesus from the dead without there being an empty tomb. In addition, God can raise Jesus without Jesus appearing to others. Thus, we would also need to add the auxiliary hypothesis that Jesus would appear to his disciples. However, it’s far from clear that a resurrected Jesus would want to appear to his followers. Even if we could come up with a plausible motive, we’d have to admit that we are engaging in pure speculation. Thus, it’s often assumed that the hypothesis of “God raised Jesus from the dead” just obviously explains all the supposed facts (the facts surrounding Jesus’s death). However, I think this is far from apparent.

In addition, as we have seen, the supposed resurrection hypothesis is not as simple as one might have originally thought. In other words, one must add the claims that God would want to raise Jesus, and Jesus would want to appear to his followers.

Nevertheless invoking God as an explanation isn’t even simple to begin with. Apart from the problem of figuring out God’s motives and intentions, we also have the problem of appealing to supernaturalism. How do supernatural things work? And why would we ever want to appeal to this whole new class of entities to explain something? It should be stated that even if “God raising Jesus” is the best explanation, it doesn’t follow that the explanation is probably true. It also doesn’t mean that the resurrection hypothesis is more believable than the disjunction of naturalistic hypotheses [1].

Finally, one can’t just cherry pick the facts. One must also take into account facts that are utterly surprising if Christianity were true. For instance, where did Jesus go? Did Jesus go up into space? Or, is Jesus just good at hiding? And why has nobody seen a physical appearance of Jesus in over 2,000 years? There is nothing surprising about nobody seeing Jesus if Christianity is false. Cherry picking the facts is what conspiracy theorists do.


[1] One also wonders why “God raised Jesus from the dead” would be the best supernaturalistic explanation.


9 thoughts on “The Resurrection Hypothesis

  1. Resurrection is the delusion that hooks folks into believing that humans are special. They have been conned into believing in an eternal soul and therefore an eternal existence in heaven! It is the perfect scam, and it has been successful for centuries. That is the frightening part. Hopefully, with education, God will go the way of Santa Claus. GROG

      1. It makes a difference because of their belief in Armageddon and the end of the world. It s a cult of death, not life. Not all religious groups are like that, they keep their gods closer to home, but not these guys. They pray for the final battle between good and evil. What crap? And get serious about death. Everything dies. Humans are special in that we have survived for so long, but we each get only one life. How short a time, 10 years of less for some. Others get over a 100 years, and life is just a matter of luck, as to how good and how long it is. GROG

  2. David Robertson

    Though it doesn’t answer many other questions, I would say if God exists, this does potentially predict Jesus’ resurrection. If you can assume God is all powerful, which is implied whilst debating in the Christian context when saying “God exists” than it is fair to say that God has the creative power to resurrect

  3. “…there is nothing in our background knowledge that expects that God (if God exists) would desire to raise Jesus.”

    I’m not sure I understand your argument. What background information would provide us expectations for anything God does? Is the resurrection more surprising than creation itself? I don’t think it’s possible to predict the specifics of what God desires. The scripture does give us a broad-stroke picture of how God thinks.

  4. Well once again, we are seriously discuss things that do not merit serious discussion. In the meme of “God sacrificed himself to himself to save all of us from himself,” people do not step back and ask if this is the manner in which an all-knowing, all-powerful god would act. We just end up discussing the minutia of his standard stories.

    God’s curse is what we are supposedly being saved from, although the NT ratchets up the punishment from Sheol to Hell quite a bit for those who fail. If an all-powerful God wanted to withdraw his curse, all he needs to say, either in the privacy of all of our minds or there and out loud everywhere on the planet, “I am removing my curse … but their are conditions.” Wouldn’t that get your attention? Wouldn’t that be more effective than a human blood sacrifice (banned by said god, by the way) in a tiny locality in just one culture with no effective way to spread the word quickly?

    Or he could have had angels flap down to talk to groups of people, say where 20 or more gathered in one place. Or …

    Most of the actions of the god of the Jews and Christians are far from worthy of the description of their god. He is supposedly all-knowing, and all-good, and all-powerful, etc. Yet he creates humans and what do they immediately do? Rebel against his authoritarian dictates. He creates angels and what do they do? rebel and actually fight an effing war in Heaven! Maybe an all-knowing god would have seen this ahead of time and been a teensy bit more careful during the creations process. he could have made both humans and angels a bit more respectful of authority, maybe? As creator gods go, this one seems to make a great many mistakes. He even came to a point where he regretted making humans and wiped them all out (save eight)! How does an all-knowing god not know the consequences of his actions? (Please don’t answer with the free will trope because if he gives humans free will, then he is, by definition, not all-knowing any more.) How can a perfect being change his mind … without admitting he is not perfect?

    All it takes is a step back and asking a few simple questions and the whole thing falls apart of its own weight. Think about it! Satan is still around because this god needs a fall guy to blame for all the bad things. Step back and you realize, well Yahweh created Satan and he could uncreate him with a thought but doesn’t because … (as I said). Ask yourself: how can an all-powerful, all-knowing god brook any opposition whatsoever. He can see any opponents moves before they think of them themselves and he can counter any moves they make with a thought.

    Oh, and why does an all-powerful god need helpers? Can create an entire universe in one day (or two or three depending) but he needs something to deliver messages (angels, cherubim, etc.)? WTF?

    1. Philosophy of Religion blog (Does God Exist?)

      It does deserve criticism/replies because billions of people believe these things.

      1. Loy

        Respectfully, wouldn’t “criticism/replies because billions of people believe these things” require an in-depth understanding of many different traditions, doctrines and theologies?

  5. I have to agree with John Branyan in that I am not sure of your point. Are you saying we can’t say that the existence of God predicts this particular miracle so therefore the miracle of the Resurrection is not evidence of God? I suppose if we thought that a good argument, it might be made for any miracle. So we would say miracles are not evidence of God. So then what would be evidence of God?

    It seems to me that often atheists like to say there is no evidence but then if someone says I will die and on the third day God will raise me from the dead, and then that happens – they say “well that is not evidence.” At which point I hope you can see why Christians think many atheists are simply putting on blinders to the evidence we do have.

    I did a blog on what “evidence” is here:
    I would be interested in your thoughts.

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