In Chapter 8 of the Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA) Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli attempt to prove that God raised Jesus from the dead. They claim that there are only four skeptical theories that are alternatives to the Christian view:
- The Swoon Theory
- The Conspiracy Theory
- The Hallucination Theory
- The Myth Theory
Based on that assumption they attempt to refute each of these skeptical theories in order to try to prove the resurrection of Jesus. They claim to have refuted all four of these skeptical theories in Chapter 8, and they conclude that this proves that the one remaining theory (the Christian view that God raised Jesus from the dead) is true.
I have examined their arguments against these four skeptical theories and my conclusion is that they have FAILED to refute ANY of these skeptical theories. Furthermore, it is clear that these are NOT the only four skeptical theories concerning the alleged resurrection of Jesus. So, their case for the resurrection of Jesus is a complete FAILURE.
But before one can show that their arguments against these theories FAIL, one must first analyze and clarify the objections that they make against the skeptical theories. One must have a clear understanding of an objection or argument before one can do a careful job of evaluating the objection or argument. Careful argument analysis is a prerequisite for doing careful argument evaluation.
I have previously carefully analyzed and clarified their nine objections against the Swoon Theory so that I could carefully evaluate those objections. But recently, I have developed a step-by-step process for careful argument analysis, so I decided to go back and work through those nine objections again, this time following my step-by-step process for careful argument analysis. I have completed that work, and can now share a DRAFT document containing my revised and improved careful argument analysis of the nine objections that Kreeft and Tacelli put forward against the Swoon Theory:
If you do not have a copy of the Handbook of Christian Apologetics, you can read the objections by Kreeft and Tacelli against the Swoon Theory in this web article:
Although I have previously carefully evaluated each of their nine objections to the Swoon Theory, and concluded that ALL of these objections FAIL, I plan to go back through these objections again, to make sure that my previous evaluations hold up in relation to my revised and improved argument analysis of these objections.
I will be publishing more posts on this subject as I work my way through these nine objections, carefully evaluating them in terms of my revised analysis of them.
WHAT IS THE SWOON THEORY?
A basic principle of critical thinking is that one needs to be clear about the meanings of key words and phrases in an instance of thinking that one is attempting to analyze and evaluate. CLARITY is one of the universal intellectual standards to which a critical thinker consciously strives to conform his or her thinking. So, before we examine any of Kreeft and Tacelli’s objections against the Swoon Theory, a first step should be to determine what specifically the Swoon Theory asserts.
Here is what Kreeft and Tacelli say to characterize the content of the Swoon Theory:
Jesus only swooned and was resuscitated, not resurrected.
What does it mean to say that Jesus only “swooned” on the cross? Here is the first definition of the word “swoon”:
- To Faint
(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers.)
What is the significance of Jesus fainting on the cross? In a blog post about the Swoon Theory, Peter Kreeft provides an important clue:
Today we’ll examine what’s often called the “swoon theory,” which suggests that Jesus never really died on the cross—he simply fainted, or swooned, and was presumed dead.
On this theory, Jesus was “presumed dead” by the Roman soldiers BECAUSE he had fainted on the cross and thus appeared to be dead.
These are the basic elements of the Swoon Theory:
- Jesus was crucified by the Romans.
- Jesus fainted while he was on the cross.
- Because he fainted, Jesus appeared to be dead, but he was still alive when he was taken down from the cross.
- Jesus later came back to consciousness (without any divine intervention), and he met with some of his disciples who sincerely, but mistakenly, inferred that Jesus had died on the cross and that God had caused Jesus to come back to life sometime after Jesus was removed from the cross.
- The sincere but mistaken belief of the disciples who saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion was the primary cause of the origin of the Christian belief that God raised Jesus from the dead.
The Swoon Theory asserts at least these five claims. According to Kreeft and Tacelli, their objections to the Swoon Theory, spelled out in Chapter 8 of HCA, refute this theory. If their objections FAIL to refute the Swoon Theory, then their case for the resurrection of Jesus also FAILS.