Ep 7 | Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? Questions and Answers Session 2


Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?


Today we invite you to hear a debate between one of the world’s foremost philosophical atheists, Dr. Antony Flew, former professor at Oxford University, and Christian philosopher and historian Dr. Gary Habermas, current chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Liberty University, on the topic “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”

Dr. Antony Flew: For a person like myself confronted with an apparent miracle, the rational thing is to think that there must be some mistake here. Though I could be persuaded that a miracle occurred, it would need something really very spectacular.
Dr. Gary Habermas: Probably the single most important fact is that the disciples had experiences that they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus.
Dr. John Ankerberg: “The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus.” Well, obviously, you’re taking that in a naturalistic way. So give me your theory, how did that happen? I mean, something happened, is what everybody is saying.
Flew: I take it these were grief-related visions and there was nothing there that anybody else could have seen.
Ankerberg: What do you think, Gary?
Habermas: I think Tony is getting himself in a lot of hot water. Number one, he’s got an empty tomb with no cause ventured for the tomb. Secondly, he’s got hallucinations for the disciples that don’t work for the half dozen reasons I gave earlier: groups don’t see hallucinations; they weren’t in the right frame of mind. You have different times, places, people, gender, doing different things. The empty tomb, it doesn’t transform lives. James, Paul. All reasons.

Christianity stands or falls on Christ’s resurrection. If Christ has risen from the dead, then Christianity is true. If He did not, then Christianity is false. Even the apostle Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is groundless, your preaching is useless, and you are still in your sins.” We invite you to join us for this important debate on The John Ankerberg Show.

Audience: I wanted to ask Professor Flew, this is a question for you. In the records that I’ve read in my Bible it shows that there were many witnesses after the resurrection and yet there were much less denials than there were believers of the resurrection and I’m saying here, who was the person who said, “Touch me not for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto my Father and my God and your God.’” [John 20:27] I know this was to Mary Magdalene but the question is, who was talking? Was that Jesus talking to her or do you think that she was having a hallucination there?
Flew: Well, I don’t believe there was anyone there, no.
Audience: You don’t believe He was there?
Flew: No.
Q5: Why is it you don’t believe He was there?
Flew: Because I regard this sort of thing as practically impossible.
Audience: For what reason?
Flew: Well, it’s a matter of the whole development of natural science. And, of course, it’s only because you think that this sort of thing is normally impossible that you think there was something remarkable about a particular case where you believe that it happened.
Ankerberg: Let me ask you a question in follow up, and that would be let’s take Gary’s illustration of the Wal-Mart phenomenon. And let’s say that one of your friends was just like that and the friend did see you and you did see the friend. And then your wife saw that friend. Alright? Now, where does evidence come in versus your philosophical viewpoint? Would you then… I mean, how would you persuade a friend at school that holds the same view when you actually saw it? In other words, there wouldn’t be any way, then, would there?
Flew: What am I supposed actually to have seen?
Ankerberg: Let’s say that you saw somebody come back from the dead. They appeared at Wal-Mart…
Habermas: You saw a buddy and you have a lot of evidence that he was there, but you were at his funeral a week earlier. How much evidence would it take you to, you know,… what would you do to deny your own senses if he were in front of you? If you were in Thomas’s shoes?
Flew: Well, I must say I find it very difficult to answer this question. I mean, if you describe a situation which everyone here believes is altogether impossible, and then to ask me, “What would I do if confronted by this?” If I were to be confronted by this, I should have to think of an answer. But I cannot at the moment predict what I would do confronted by an absolutely ridiculous and impossible situation which everyone knows to be ridiculous and impossible.
Ankerberg: Let’s go the other way. Let’s say that it did happen. What I’m saying is, can you figure out a way to convince somebody like another Dr. Antony Flew when you saw it?
Flew: No.
Ankerberg: So the fact is, you could actually have evidence, but you couldn’t persuade that person.
Habermas: I mean, what would you do if you were A. J. Ayer and had a near-death experience and believed in your mind that you stood before the Being who is responsible for the whole universe? See, he was in that situation.
Flew: Yes. I should wonder really why this sort of thing as described by Ayer should persuade me of such an extraordinary conclusion.
Habermas: But if you thought you were there and stood in front of this light who was responsible for the universe, that might shake you up a little bit. It apparently shook him up.
Flew: Well, yes, I’m very puzzled about this: why this should lead Ayer to think he was confronting the Maker of the universe when what he actually says he experienced was some sort of patch of light. I find his reactions are simply unintelligible. I can’t understand why a person like Ayer should believe that this experience was sufficient. I would have thought if you were going to see the Maker of the universe, you’re going to see something a bit peculiar, you know? Somehow dramatic and surprising. But what he says he saw is the sort of thing that most people had seen that sort of thing, they’d have said, “I saw a colored patch.” Why does someone seeing something utterly unexciting, utterly undramatic say, “Ooh! I thought I was confronted with the Maker of the Universe! My goodness! I’ve got to rethink my whole philosophical position.”
It seems to me this was a reason for thinking he was getting a little crazy. It’s such a grotesque, utterly inappropriate, utterly extraordinary reaction to what he says he saw.
Audience: Yes. For Dr. Flew, and I must admit I believe you’re real even though we haven’t touched. Will you admit that a person rising from the dead today would be the more difficult to prove today than 2,000 years ago considering our abilities today to create special effects with cameras and mirrors, computer imagery, and laser generated holograms?
Flew: You’re probably right, yes.
Audience: So there would be no way to actually, if someone was bent or set on disbelief, it would be very difficult to ever present enough evidence to convince them.
Flew: Yes, conceivably if I were in the position of a Creator wanting to persuade people of something, I would find, given the powers of omnipotence, it was comparatively easy to do it, you know? I wouldn’t set about trying to do it in the capital of a Roman colony, you know, and at that time and do it before the invention of modern media and so on. Actually, one of the ways if I were doing it at any time would simply be to produce an appropriate voice making some prediction of some dramatic effect and doing this once or twice, you know, to be heard right throughout the world.
Ankerberg: But the fact is, to pontificate and say this is how you would have done it, you have to still posit a cause for this Christian church, the origin of which goes right back to these events. We don’t have hallucination now. We still have the main message of that church being, “We saw Him.” And Gary, one of the things you should differentiate is that, you know, the guys that believed the Hale-Bopp Comet was coming for them, there’s a lot of people that believe crazy things.
Flew: Yes.
Ankerberg: So people, when you say, “Well, they died for Christianity” and so on, they put them in the same category. But there’s a categorical difference there. Would you explain that?
Habermas: Yeah, there’s a huge difference. People who say that they’re waiting for the Hale-Bopp Comet or people who say, “David Koresh is the Messiah” or somebody like that, the difference between those people and the disciples is because to believe that somebody today is the Messiah, it’s much easier to mistake that than it is to be a first century disciple and say, “I believe He is the Messiah because He was raised from the dead.” What I’m saying is, the disciples have data that nobody else would have because no major founder of a religion, it’s not believed that any of them were raised from the dead. I mean, there are orthodox followers that are not going to believe that. So what the disciples had that nobody has is experience with a resurrected Being. In other words, we can be wrong on our beliefs about people, but in the case of the disciples, their beliefs were tied to empirical data.
Audience: Dr. Flew, are you aware of the fact that every disciple, including Paul, died a martyred death, I mean, horrible death because they believed and taught about the resurrected Christ? James was thrown from the temple mount. Peter was crucified upside down. Paul was beheaded. I believe it was Thomas who was skinned alive. I mean, do you think that they would have died horrible martyred deaths if they were believing a hallucination?
Flew: Well, I’m afraid that if it had seemed absolutely real to them, then it might have done.
Audience: Every last one of them?
Flew: And the crucial thing is how it seemed to them in human behavior, isn’t it?
Ankerberg: The problem is, you’ve got then if it was just a hallucination then the body was sitting over in the grave, and they could have checked it out and the message would have been squished down pretty good in Jerusalem because you can’t stand up in Jerusalem and say, “Jesus is alive. We saw Him” when the body is three blocks over.
Flew: No. I think the crucial thing is what people believed themselves.
Ankerberg: My question to you would be that then the fact is, if Jesus’ body was in the tomb, how did these boys get away with spreading this message when it would have been so easy to disprove it? And even the Jewish sources down through the years reported that the tomb was empty. I mean, why would they do that? I mean, it just piles up higher and higher and higher that it’s not probable to hold to that other view. It’s more probable to believe Jesus actually came forth from the dead.
Flew: The more persuasive you make the case for the resurrection, the greater difficulty you have in explaining why so many people in Jerusalem at the time who were in a position to know this apparently did not believe it. I don’t know what the answer is, but….
Ankerberg: Gary, what do you say to that?
Habermas: Several shots. Number one, a really intriguing verse: Acts 6:4b says, “Many priests became obedient to the faith.” We’re not told why. That’s one insight. But secondly, we can’t argue from non-evidence. We don’t know who didn’t believe. I mean, as far as we’re concerned, maybe the majority of people believed. I mean, we don’t know because we don’t have data. Third shot. I think philosophical worldviews overpower evidence in many cases. I think people don’t believe because they don’t want to believe. That doesn’t touch the evidence one iota.
Ankerberg: Another way of saying it would be, let’s say you had a kind of an Agatha Christie kind of scenario where the police broke into this room that had one door and it was locked and they come in and they find a person that’s dead on the floor and is cut up into 18 equal pieces and there’s the person standing over the body with a big knife and blood dripping right off of her hands. Okay? So they bring this person into court and they give all the testimony and the jury goes to the jury room and they come on back. And you know, it’s a quick trial because the evidence is so clean cut. And the fact is that they ask the foreman of the jury, “Please give the verdict.” And the guy stands up and he says, “Your honor, we find the defendant over there completely innocent,” whereupon his honor wakes up for the first time in four hours and says, “I need an explanation here.”
And the guy says, “I’ll tell you what, you know the fact is that even though you had all of this evidence, it’s certainly possible, isn’t it, that something else happened? I mean, it’s possible that a Martian came down here and took his ray gun and he cut up that body into 18 equal pieces and because he’s such an ornery Martian, he made it look like this person did it.”
His honor would have apoplexy because he told those people to draw attention only to the evidence, not everything that could be possible. And what we’re talking about here, you’ve got to deal with the evidence. Does that make sense?
Flew: Yes, but when one is confronted with a case, some people reporting something that is not possible – a resurrection.
Ankerberg: “Not possible” has to be defined. What is possible?
Flew: Well, look, unless you think that it was practically impossible, there’s nothing to be excited about at all.
Ankerberg: Isn’t that where near-death comes in, near-death experiences and these prayer deals and healing cases and things like that? Aren’t they outside the box? Don’t they open the door?
Flew: Well, any of these things are things awaiting explanation, yes.
Audience: Gentlemen, this question is for Dr. Flew. Jesus clearly was a conundrum to the religious leaders of His day. They didn’t understand Him. They couldn’t explain Him. And they asked Him repeatedly who He was. According to the Gospels on many occasions Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The basis of His claims were the miracles that He performed. He said on more than one occasion, “If you don’t believe me because of the words that I speak, then believe me because of the miracles that I perform.”
The miracles of Jesus are a recorded event for both secular and religious historians and writers, as is the performing of miracles on the part of the disciples in the name of Jesus. These miracles are also recorded events that Luke wrote about in Acts 2:22 when he said this: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you as ye yourselves also know.” Do you not agree that it would have been fatal to Luke’s purposes of evangelism to point to these miracles and wonders and signs as well as these well-known historical events that had occurred “among you” unless he was confident that his readers had personally witnessed these supernatural events and that they would confirm these remarkable events to others? My question simply is this: If Jesus was not who He claimed to be, by what power did He perform such miracles? If His miracles were real, if He claimed to be the Son of God, should it not be unreasonable to believe that Jesus rose from the dead?
Ankerberg: Tony, do you want to take a shot at that?
Flew: Again, I think the only thing I can say is that, if you are starting with the Old Testament background, then that is the reasonable reaction for you.
Audience: Quite the contrary. I’m starting with a New Testament background. Jesus performed miracles as recorded by secular and religious writers and historians of His day. The miracles that He performed were not without question. In fact, they were so obvious to the religious leaders of His day that they questioned who He was and they were fearful of Him because of the signs that He performed. Jesus’ explanation to them was, “I am the Son of God, and if you don’t believe me because of my declaration, then believe me because of the works that you see me do.” So my question is, by whose power did He perform those miracles which are clearly recorded and evidenced by secular and religious writers alike. And if He performed those miracles by the power of God, is it not unreasonable to believe then He is in fact the man He claims to be, Jesus, the Son of God, and is it not therefore unreasonable to expect that God’s Son would be resurrected from the dead?
Flew: If He performed these miracles, then it would be not unreasonable, but in all this, if this is right, why didn’t more people believe in this?
Audience: Well, I could give you a clear answer from my point of view and from the little reading that I’ve done. More people didn’t believe in this because they were looking for a different kind of Messiah to come. The people in Jesus’ day were looking for a Messiah that would save them from the tyranny of Rome. Jesus clearly made it plain to them that His kingdom was not of this earth; His kingdom was a heavenly kingdom. And a great deal transpired between the day that He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey with the people of Jerusalem crying “Hosanna!” to a few days later when they crucified Him. What caused them to go from people en masse who wanted to make Him king to people en masse who cried, “Crucify Him”? The answer very simply, I believe, is found in the Scripture and that is, when the people understood that Jesus wasn’t going to set up a kingdom on this earth, that He wasn’t going to deliver them from the tyranny of Rome, they changed their cry from, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” to “Crucify Him.”
Ankerberg: The other way of asking the question would be is, you know, going back to our trial illustration, the question is not how many people didn’t see the fellow pick up the gun and shoot the other guy. You know? The question is always, how many guys saw him pick up the gun and shoot the other guy? And we keep coming back to this thing, you know, apart from Habermas’ witnesses here, you’ve got nothing. And it seems like he’s got an awful lot. It’s not what we don’t have; it’s what he’s got that’s awfully important here.
Audience: Well, it seems to me, Dr. Ankerberg, also that the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God in His own words were founded on the miracles that He performed. He said, “Believe me because of the works that I do. Forget what I’m saying. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead are raised to life. Believe me if for no other reason than the works that you see.” Those miracles are recorded facts by secular and religious historians and writers. By whose power has any man before or since done those? When Jesus allegedly died and “allegedly” was raised again, in whose name did His disciples again perform those miracles? Jesus. In the name of Jesus. So, my point very simply is, the Lord Himself said, “I am who I claim to be by virtue of the works that you see me do.” And if Jesus was able to perform those miracles, He clearly had to be the Son of God and if therefore the Son of God, it should be no surprise to us that God would raise Him from the dead, without regard to who saw Him or didn’t see Him.
Ankerberg: Take a shot at that, Gary. What do you think?
Habermas: Well, I agree with your logic. I think the resurrection is a greater miracle than the others, but I think you’re quoting, if I’m not mistaken, you’re quoting Acts 2:22?
Audience: I am.
Habermas: Because if you read the next two verses, Acts 2:22 says “He is a man approved among you by the miracles that He does.” Next two verses: “He died on the cross, God raised Him from the dead.” So Peter speaking there, Luke giving Peter’s words. According to Luke, the supreme miracle was the resurrection because his argument is: Miracles, death, resurrection.
Audience: I agree with you.
Habermas: So I think Luke says the big one here is the resurrection. But people, of course, are believing all along. But I like John’s point, too. What we have to deal with is the data we do have, not the data we don’t have.
Ankerberg: Any final words from you fellows?
Audience: I’m waiting for an answer to that.
Ankerberg: Tony, talk to us here.
Audience: There’s no debate over whether the miracles of Jesus took place. So by whose power did He perform those miracles? From the beginning of recorded time until now, in whose name other than the name of Jesus have miracles ever been performed? He had to be who He said He was, or He could not have done the works that He did and therefore, if He was who He said He was, surely as He said of Himself, His Father would not leave Him in the grave.
Flew: Yes. I think, granted the premises, this conclusion follows. Yes.
Audience: So you agree. He was who He said He was.
Flew: Granted the premises, I would agree with that, yes. I just don’t believe these miracles happened.
Audience: So the secular and religious writers who recorded them were seeing hallucinations of himself and Luke of himself? Why would Luke write to the people who was making an attempt to evangelize people and convert people to Christianity, why would he write to them and say, “Ye men of Jerusalem, you know this man Jesus of Nazareth who has performed these miracles among you.” If Jesus had not performed those miracles among them, they would have said, “Who are you talking about? You’re crazy. We never saw any miracles.”
Flew: Well, didn’t some of them?
Audience: No.
Habermas: Even the Jesus Seminar today, the miracles of Jesus are in right now. And Marcus Borg gives three reasons for accepting Jesus’ miracles and one of them is, the enemies couldn’t do anything about it. The enemies admitted them. Marcus Borg, the co-founder of the Jesus Seminar. He has a hard time with the supernatural element, but he believes that many of the things that the Gospels reported….
Ankerberg: What do they do with the creeds, the critics that aren’t evangelical Christians, but look at the creeds of Acts, say, 1 through 5, or 1 through 10, where Peter is preaching and he’s preaching to other eyewitnesses and pulling them in on that? What do the critics make of that?
Habermas: They struggle with that and they especially struggle with 1 Corinthians 15. In fact, Marcus Borg takes the 1 Corinthians account very seriously. He says, “Reading Paul in a straightforward manner, I have to assume he saw something. He definitely believed it was Jesus. I don’t know what else to say.” And in a couple of places in the Gospels he said Jesus supposedly raised the dead. Now, this is the co-founder of the Jesus Seminar. He said Jesus supposedly raised the dead. He said, “Can I deny that?” He said, “Most of my colleagues deny it.” But he said, “I don’t think we can be quite so fast here.” He said, “He was an extraordinary man and I’m not sure what He did and what He couldn’t do.” That’s Marcus Borg.
Ankerberg: Didn’t Charlesworth make a statement about Josephus lately at Princeton? Tell me about that.
Habermas: Yes. James Charlesworth of Princeton said that the Josephus account from what we know from history we can be as sure as any historical conclusion can warrant that Josephus referred to all these things, you know, the disciples… He believed He was the Messiah, you know, that disputed passage which includes the disciples believed He was raised from the dead. Good data.
Ankerberg: So again, historical evidence that piles up. Anything else?
Audience: Well, I’m not wanting to be unkind but I’m still looking for a direct answer. By whose power did Jesus perform those miracles, and if by the power of God and if His words were true: “Believe me for the very works you see me do,” then He claimed to be and in fact was the Son of God.
Flew: Yes, well, I think if you believe in the miracles, this is a rational conclusion.
Audience: So in other words, it’s possible to believe in secular and religious writings of historical events. On what basis do we have selective choice of what we believe from history? In other words, we want to believe in certain writers and certain historical accounts but then there are other writers and their historical accounts that we dismiss as being unfathomable.
Flew: Basically I don’t believe in anyone’s accounts of a miracle, period.
Audience: So no matter who wrote them or how often they wrote them,…
Ankerberg: I don’t think you want to say that, Tony, do you?
Flew: No, this is in fact the method of critical history. You try to discover what actually happened guided by your best evidence as to what was probable or improbable, possible or impossible. And the miracles are things that you take to be impossible.
Audience: I would say this. I’m neither a scholar nor a theologian nor an attorney here this evening, but I would tell you from a legal perspective and I would challenge an attorney to contradict this, the evidence as supported by those who were eyewitnesses to – forget the resurrection – the miracles alone, would be overwhelmingly enough to convict this man of the words that He spoke. In the 20th century, if He was being charged for murder, He’d be found guilty. Too many eyewitnesses; too many things that they saw; too many miracles were performed; too many people saw them; too many people wrote about them, not all of which were religious, not all of which were believers, many of which were in fact secular people who didn’t believe He was the Messiah but clearly admitted to the miracles that they saw Him perform. So it’s not a question of whether I believe that they took place, it’s a question of reading from historical fact the writings of those who said, “I was there. I saw it. These things happened.”
Ankerberg: Alright. I want some interaction between the two of you on what David has said. Gary, what would you say to your buddy? Is he being unreasonable?
Habermas: Tony said something to me going to the airport, if he recalls this. 1985. I was taking him to the airport to drop him off, and I said, “How much evidence would it take for you to believe? Do you wish there was more?” And he said, “No.” And I said, “Why not?” And he said, “Christians believe because they want to believe. Atheists don’t believe because they don’t want to believe.” I don’t know if you remember saying that.
Flew: No. I don’t.
Habermas: But I’m guessing that’s where he is. It’s a volitional matter and he chooses not to believe. And you can’t twist anybody’s arm. Jesus never did. I think you make your own decisions.
Audience: Maybe the answer, Gary, is that we still believe in miracles today and we will still, therefore, hold Dr. Flew in our prayers that God will do a miracle in his life.
Flew: Well, thank you.
Ankerberg: I’d like to have a closing comment from both of you. Gary, do you want to go first?
Habermas: I think the best case for the resurrection is one that builds on facts that critics accept for two reasons: it’s a common ground that we can both talk about as we did tonight; and secondly, we accept only evidences which are multiply attested for a lot of reasons. When you go with those facts, you have to make a decision based on that data. And if the evidence seems to indicate that Jesus was raised, I think you have to be strict. I think you can be a skeptic but I think there’s a point at which you have to say, all the evidence we have is in its favor. None of the first century evidence is against. Then you narrow this list almost arbitrarily down to four, five, six facts, and these facts can disprove the naturalistic theories. These facts can show that Christ was raised from the dead: evidences. And you do it on this minimal basis.
Tonight I think we’ve shown, and he doesn’t like most of the naturalistic theories but even hallucination, I think there are serious problems with it. But here’s where everybody agrees. Here’s the bottom line. Every critic believes that the disciples thought they saw the risen Jesus. So here’s the issue. If the disciples thought they saw the risen Jesus, and hallucinations don’t work, as far as we know nothing else works. All we have is this is an incredible event. There’s got to be a time at which we say what they gave evidence to occurred, especially if this is a world where I can see God, prayer, healing, life after death and now I’m saying, “This looks like the Son of God.”
And I do think the resurrection evidences who Jesus claimed to be. And back to my wife, I do think in 1995, 2,000 years later, the resurrection says if Jesus was raised and He offered that to everybody else, I mean, I think when the disciples saw Jesus, they saw walking, talking Eternal Life. I mean, that’s just to bring it down to the lowest common denominator. They saw Heaven walking on earth. And I think that allows me to say someday I will be able to see my wife and on the authority of the resurrection, let me just end this way: Every ounce of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is evidence for my resurrection if I believe.
Ankerberg: One last thing before Tony talks and that is, what is the message that Jesus gave? Let’s assume for a moment that it’s not just intellectual facts that we’re trying to have people accept here. How would you illustration the fact of what real belief is versus just the historical evidence?
Habermas: Sure. I think your example of marriage is fantastic and I think what Christianity is about is saying “I do” to Jesus. You gather data about somebody. Nobody would suggest getting married in a vacuum. You learn facts about somebody and then you exercise faith. You say, “I do.” You don’t know if it’s going to be a perfect marriage, but you have facts and you say, “I do.”
I think that’s what the case is with Jesus. He has invited us to check Him out and there’s a point at which you’ve got to say, “I do” or “I don’t.” And the point at which you say, “I do” is what Christianity is all about. It’s not something… I mean, there is something mystical there, but I mean, for all intent and purposes, it’s about as mystical as marriage is. I mean, we’ve got data to go on and we make a decision. And all I can say is, after ten years of skepticism myself, I’m not trying to stand up here and say I’m special but I’m just saying God gave me a shot and I said, “I do.” God gave C. S. Lewis a shot, and he said, “I do.” I think we can just make a decision based on the data and not on data we don’t have.
Ankerberg: Tony, I just really appreciate your being here and coming all the way from England and your busy schedule. And I’ve also appreciated so much your honesty. Give us your closing remarks. Summarize the evidence, because that’s what we’ve been trying to go on.
Flew: Well, I think the most important thing I said was that what it is rational to do about any evidence depends on what you already believe with good reason. And therefore, what it is rational for, well, people with the background of Jews at the time of the events in Jerusalem is very different from what it is rational for people from a completely different background of belief and knowledge.
Ankerberg: But you would admit now, let’s kind of summarize where we’re at, is that hallucination theory needs a lot of work, doesn’t it?
Flew: Oh, yes. But this idea that some may think impossible about saying that it was a hallucination, if you believe that people had some experience and they believe that they were seeing something, do you believe that that something wasn’t there, this seems to me just what a hallucination is. You may say that sort of thing doesn’t occur, but what I’m claiming, if I claim that people believed they saw something that wasn’t there, I am just claiming that they had that sort of belief in something that wasn’t there.
Habermas: But if the data say these are the last people to see hallucinations, say Paul with the conversion disorder, the disciples who saw Jesus in groups. In other words, if hallucination doesn’t work, then what do you do?
Flew: Well, it does work with individual cases; therefore, you’ve got to….
Habermas: Then you have to have 500 individuals, or 12 or 20.
Flew: Now, this is the first mention of those 500. And as this is the first evidence we have, it seems to me if there had really been a collective thing of 500 people, we’d have heard something about this in the Gospels.
Habermas: But Paul predates the Gospels.
Flew: Exactly so.
Habermas: We have it in Paul.
Flew: Yes, exactly so. And if this really occurred and you know, Christians were talking about it, it’s impossible to explain why the story is not repeated.
Habermas: By the way, you have an appearance in Galilee with an unspecified number of people. You have an appearance in Jerusalem before the Ascension with an unspecified number. Some people think those are one of the big groups. But we do know there were 12 and the Gospels say that, too; so even 12 individual hallucinations would be incredible. It would just be incredible. Hallucinations are rare.
Ankerberg: Well, guys, I’m going to cut it off here. I just want to say thank you for spending the time and presenting the facts and debating the facts. And those of you that are watching, I hope that you will examine these facts and you will draw your own conclusions. We appreciate your being with us.

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