As noted in Off Topic: Why We Can Be Confident Bin Laden is Dead, all the skeptics of his death need to do is show us his live body. How about a video of him holding this week’s Time magazine?
The same thing could have been done by the early enemies of Christianity, only they would have been able to produce a corpse if they were right.
Despite what some skeptics claim, the message of Christianity spread very rapidly. In only 30 years it had spread to Rome, and in large enough numbers for Nero to make scapegoats of Christians for the fires there. So this movement obviously had a lot of visibility in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. All the enemies had to do was produce a body. But they didn’t.
Now consider the case for Christ. In the months and years following the crucifixion Jesus’ disciples proclaimed that he was alive. I believe them, because, again, no one in their right mind would declare to be true that which can easily be proven false. The religious leaders of the time had a keen interest in stamping out the Christ cult. They hated Christ and his followers with a burning passion. All they had to do to bring Christianity to a screeching halt was to produce Jesus’ body. Having every interest and motivation to produce the body, they did not, which leads inexorably to the conclusion that they could not.
Now there appears to be two possible explanations for their failure to produce Jesus’ body: (1) A group of discouraged and frightened fishermen untrained in war overpowered a well armed Roman guard, rolled away the stone, took the body, and hid it. And to top off their feat every one of them (save one) died a martyr’s death for refusing to renounce a known lie. Or (2) there was no body to produce. Can anyone doubt that (2) is more plausible than (1) by several orders of magnitude?
I am unable to deny the resurrection. To do so requires a leap of blind credulous faith that I simply cannot manage.
I love Acts 4:
1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.