bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 5: Historical Evidence about Mary Magdalene

WHERE WE ARE
In Part 4 of this series, I argued that Peter Kreeft’s Objection #2 against the Hallucination Theory was a MISERABLE FAILURE.  This is because the first premise of his argument constituting this objection implies 102 specific historical claims about people who lived two thousand years ago, and yet Kreeft FAILED to provide ANY historical evidence whatsoever in support of  ANY of those 102 historical claims.  Kreeft’s Objection #2 is a clear example of EVIDENCE-FREE Christian Apologetics (a type of IDIOCY that, unfortunately, is not confined solely to the writings of Peter Kreeft).
Kreeft’s Objection #2 is a BAD JOKE.  It is a steaming pile of dog crap.  And we have only just begun to evaluate this objection.
 
WHAT DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT SAY ABOUT MARY MAGDALENE?
Here is the first premise of Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #2:

1a. The witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus were simple, honest, moral people.

Premise (1a) implies at least six claims about Mary Magdalene:

  • Mary Magdalene EXPERIENCED an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
  • Mary Magdalene TESTIFIED about her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
  • We currently possess the TESTIMONY of Mary Magdalene about her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
  • Mary Magdalene was a SIMPLE person.
  • Mary Magdalene was an HONEST person.
  • Mary Magdalene was a MORALLY GOOD person.

Kreeft provides NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE in support of ANY of these six historical claims.
However, it is obvious that if pressed to provide HISTORICAL EVIDENCE for these claims, Kreeft would point us to various passages in the New Testament, specifically to some passages from the Gospels.
I am familiar with the Gospels, so I am aware of the passages in the Gospels that talk about Mary Magdalene, so we can consider those passages and determine whether or not they provide strong HISTORICAL EVIDENCE in support of Kreeft’s historical claims.

Appearance of Jesus Christ to Maria Magdalena (1835) by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov.

DID MARY EXPERIENCE AN ALLEGED APPEARANCE OF THE RISEN JESUS?
Let’s start with the first historical claim listed above:

  • Mary Magdalene EXPERIENCED an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.

Did Mary Magdalene EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus?  The occurrence of such an EXPERIENCE would not by itself settle the larger issues here because such an experience could be explained as being a hallucination or dream or as an ordinary sensory experience of someone who looked like Jesus (a case of mistaken identity).
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Mary did have such an experience on the first Easter Sunday:

1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”  (Matthew 28:1-10, New Revised Standard Version)

This passage does not explicitly state that Mary Magdalene experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, but Mary Magdalene is named as one of the women who visited Jesus’ tomb around dawn on Sunday morning less than 48 hours after Jesus’ dead body was allegedly placed in the tomb.  This passage talks about an angel speaking to “the women”, which would have included Mary Magdalene, and then the passage states that “Jesus met them” referring again to “the women”. The passage also states that “they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him”, which clearly implies that “the women” believed themselves to be in the presence of a living (risen) Jesus, and since “the women” included Mary Magdalene, this passage implies that Mary Magdalene had an EXPERIENCE of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday.
The Gospel of John also implies that Mary Magdalene EXPERIENCED an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday (see John 20:1-18).  So, it might initially seem that Kreeft was right about this first historical claim about Mary Magdalene.  But upon further investigation, it turns out (as we shall soon see) that the historical evidence indicates that Mary Magdalene DID NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, and that Kreeft’s first–and most important–claim about Mary Magdalene is probably FALSE.
Although Matthew and John agree that Mary Magdalene EXPERIENCED an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, their stories about this contradict each other on several key points, and this seriously undermines the credibility of both of these accounts about what happened on the morning of the first Easter Sunday.
In Matthew’s account two or more women go to the tomb on Sunday morning. In John’s account, there is no mention of anyone going along with Mary Magdalene to the tomb.  In Matthew’s account, there is “a great earthquake” and an angel descends dramatically from heaven.  In John’s account, no earthquake is mentioned, and there is no dramatic descent of an angel from heaven.  In Matthew’s account, there are soldiers present who were guarding the tomb.  In John’s account, there is no mention of any soldiers being present at the tomb.
In Matthew’s account, the women are first spoken to by ONE ANGEL present at the tomb, who gives them a message to take to Jesus’ male disciples, and then they leave the tomb to take the message to those male disciples.  In John’s account, Mary finds the tomb empty and there is no mention of an angel or of an angel giving Mary a message to take to Jesus’ male disciples.  Mary leaves the tomb to get Peter and another disciple and brings them back to the tomb, and there is still no mention of any angel being present.  Later Mary is standing near the tomb and sees TWO ANGELS inside the tomb, and they speak to her.  But they do NOT give her any message to take to the male disciples.
In Matthew, both the angel and Jesus ask the women to take a specific message to the male disciples:  Jesus is heading to Galilee and the disciples are to do the same in order to meet Jesus in Galilee.  But in John, the angels do NOT request that Mary take any message to the disciples, and Jesus says NOTHING to Mary about heading to Galilee nor about Mary giving a message to his male disciples to meet him in Galilee. In fact, John has Jesus stay in Jerusalem and go visit his male disciples that evening, contradicting his own message (in Matthew) that he was heading to Galilee.
Clearly, if Matthew’s account is true and accurate, then John’s account is false and inaccurate, and if John’s account is true and accurate, then Matthew’s account is false and inaccurate.  It is also quite possible that both accounts are false and/or inaccurate.   The two primary pieces of historical evidence supporting Kreeft’s first claim about Mary contradict each other and cast serious doubt on the credibility of each other.
There are further contradictions between the various Gospel accounts of Mary’s visit to the tomb, and those contradictions point us to the conclusion that Mary did NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday.
According to the Gospel of Mark, the women who visited the tomb on Easter Sunday find a “young man” in the tomb who tells them to give a message to Jesus’ male disciples.  The women do NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of Jesus in Mark’s account of this event:

1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 
3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 
4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 
6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 
8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  (Mark 16:1-8, New Revised Standard Version)

Clearly, the “young man” in the tomb was NOT Jesus, because he specifically tells the women that “Jesus of Nazareth…is not here.”  If the “young man” was Jesus, then the first words of the risen Son of God were a LIE!  But Jesus is supposed to be “God incarnate” and thus a perfectly morally good person, so Jesus LYING to these women would be powerful evidence that Jesus was NOT the Son of God, NOT “God incarnate”.  It is not an option for Christian Apologists to claim that the “young man” inside the tomb was actually the risen Jesus.  They would be shooting themselves in both feet with such a move.
In the verses immediately following the above passage, it is stated that Mary DID EXPERIENCE the risen Jesus and DID TELL his disciples about this:

9 Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.
10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping.
11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.  (Mark 16:9-11, New Revised Standard Version)

This is rather CONFUSING!  Mark just finished telling us that the women visiting the tomb only met a “young man” in the tomb, and then “fled from the tomb” and “they said nothing to anyone”.  Now he says that the risen Jesus appeared to Mary and that she “went out and told those who had been with him” (his disciples) that she had seen the risen Jesus.  Why does Mark CONTRADICT HIMSELF in the verses immediately following his initial account of Mary’s visit to the tomb given in the first eight verses of Chapter 16?
The solution to this puzzle is very simple.  According to most NT scholars, verses 1 through 8 were part of the original Gospel of Mark, and the remaining verses in Chapter 16 were added sometime after the Gospel was initially published (circulated).  The earliest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end at verse 8.  Furthermore, it appears that the added verses were derived from other Gospels in a clumsy attempt to reconcile the ending of Mark’s Gospel with the endings of the other Gospels.
Mark is the earliest of the four canonical Gospels.  It was composed between 60 and 70 CE.  Matthew and Luke were composed later, between 75 and 85 CE, and John was the last of the Gospels, composed between 90 and 100 CE.  So, Mark, as the earliest of the Gospels, is the best historical source we have on the life and ministry of Jesus.  When Mark’s account of an event conflicts with the accounts found in some other Gospel or Gospels, Mark’s account should be preferred other things being equal.
Mark’s account of the visit of the women to the tomb given in verses 1-8 of Chapter 16 conflicts with the accounts given in Matthew and John, in that Mark’s account implies that Mary Magdalene DID NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, but the accounts in Matthew and John imply that Mary did experience an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Because Mark’s Gospel was composed earlier than Matthew and John, we should prefer Mark’s version of this event to the accounts in Matthew and John other things being equal.
Furthermore, we have already seen that Matthew’s account contradicts John’s account on several key points, so those two Gospel’s undermine the credibility of each other’s accounts of the visit to the tomb.  So, things are NOT equal in this case–things (relevant considerations) FAVOR Mark’s version of this event over Matthew’s and John’s accounts.
John is the least historically reliable of the four canonical Gospels, so we can reasonably ignore the contradiction between Mark and John on this matter, and cast John’s account aside.  But what about Matthew’s account?  Could it be that Matthew’s account is accurate and Mark’s account is not?  That is possible but unlikely.  Not only was Matthew’s Gospel composed later than the Gospel of Mark, but Matthew’s Gospel, especially the ending of it, is filled with DUBIOUS events and details not found in other Gospels.
Furthermore, the Gospel of Matthew relies heavily on the Gospel of Mark as a primary source of information about the life and ministry of Jesus, so Matthew’s reliance on Mark is a vote in favor of the reliability of Mark, but the reverse is NOT the case.  Mark does not use Matthew as a primary source, nor does Luke, nor does John.  No canonical Gospel relies on Matthew as a primary source of information, so no Gospel provides a vote of confidence for the reliability of Matthew.  Also, if Mark provides an historically UNRELIABLE account of the life and ministry of Jesus, then so does Matthew because Mathew uses Mark as a primary source of information about the life and ministry of Jesus.
In Matthew’s Gospel the women go to the tomb on Easter Sunday “to see the tomb” (Matthew 28:1).  Mark and Luke provide a much more plausible reason for the visit to the tomb: to anoint the body of Jesus with spices.  Thus the very first sentence in Matthew’s account raises doubt about the accuracy and reliability of this account of the visit to the tomb.  The second verse in Matthew’s account also raises doubt about the accuracy and reliability of this account of the visit to the tomb:

2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  (Matthew 28:2, NRSV)

There is no “great earthquake” mentioned in Mark’s account of the visit to the tomb, nor in Luke’s account.  There is no earthquake of any sort mentioned.  There is no dramatic “descending from heaven” by an “angel of the Lord” in Mark’s account of the visit to the tomb, nor in Luke’s account.
In verse 4, Matthew provides us with another reason to doubt the accuracy and reliability of his version of the visit to the tomb:

4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:4, NRSV)

Matthew’s Gospel includes stories about soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus to prevent his disciples from stealing the body of Jesus (and then falsely claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead).  These stories about there being guards at the tomb of Jesus are found ONLY in the Gospel of Matthew.   No soldiers or guards at the tomb are mentioned in Mark, or Luke, or John.  Many NT scholars view these stories about soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus as an apologetic legend.  These stories were probably invented by early Christian believers as a response to Jewish objections that the body of Jesus had been stolen by his disciples so that they could fool people into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Verses 9 and 10 provide further reason to doubt the accuracy and reliability of Matthew’s version of the visit to the tomb:

9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:9-10, NRSV)

This is not plausible, from a Christian point of view.  If Jesus is the divine Son of God or “God incarnate”, then Jesus had previously commanded the angels at the tomb to give this message to the women.  If Jesus is “God incarnate”, then he is all-knowing and knew that the angels had already delivered his message to the women, so there is NO POINT in him meeting the women to give them the same message a second time a few minutes later.  Also, it looks suspiciously like the author of Matthew simply borrowed the words of the angels to the women (taken from Mark’s account of this event) and stuck them into the mouth of Jesus.  It looks like the author of Matthew is just making this shit up, using his primary source Mark and plumping the story up by adding in this appearance of Jesus.
The ending of the Gospel of Matthew is filled with DUBIOUS events and details that are NOT FOUND in other Gospels, and that have the function of making the end of this Gospel DRAMATIC.  The Gospel of Matthew is the Steven-Spielberg version of the end of the life of Jesus.  There is one final bit of evidence for this that occurs near the end of Chapter 27, the previous chapter of Matthew (just before the chapter about the resurrection and the visit of the women to the tomb on Easter Sunday):

50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 
52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 
53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.   (Matthew 27:50-53, NRSV)

Mark’s account of Jesus’ death makes no mention of tombs opening up and dead Jews walking around in Jerusalem.  Luke’s account of Jesus’ death makes no mention of tombs opening up and dead Jews walking around in Jerusalem.  John’s account of Jesus’ death makes no mention of tombs opening up and dead Jews walking around in Jerusalem.  That would have been a pretty AMAZING and DRAMATIC event, but somehow NONE of the authors of the other Gospels ever heard about this.  It seems much more likely that this is simply a legend invented by early Christian believers that the author of Matthew gullibly believed (or made use of without any concern about the veracity of this story) and included in his version of events surrounding the death of Jesus.
Michael Licona is an Evangelical Christian and an apologist who defends the resurrection of Jesus, but even Licona could not accept this story in Matthew as being an actual historical event.  He questioned the historicity of this event and got himself into hot water with other Evangelical Christians, particularly with the Evangelical Christian apologist Norman Geisler.  If an Evangelical Christian apologist who defends the resurrection of Jesus finds this story in Matthew 27 to be implausible and unhistorical, then it is certainly reasonable for a critical thinking non-Christian to doubt the historicity of this story.
So, we have very good reasons to doubt the accuracy and reliability of the stories found at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, and thus we have very good reasons to prefer Mark’s account of the visit to the tomb over Matthew’s account of that event.
Furthermore, Luke’s account of the visit to the tomb agrees with Mark’s account on the key point at issue:  Mary Magdalene does NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Mary and the other women with her experience “two men in dazzling clothes” but not the risen Jesus when they find the tomb of Jesus empty (Luke 24:1-11, NRSV).
According to Mark, Mary Magdalene did NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday.  According to Matthew and John, Mary DID EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday, but Luke agrees with Mark that Mary did NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday.   Because the Gospels contradict each other on the main question at issue, we cannot determine with any certainty what actually happened on the first Easter Sunday.  However, since Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels, we should give preference to Mark’s version of the story of the women visiting the tomb other things being equal.  Furthermore, the Gospel of John is viewed by NT scholars as last of the Gospels to be written and as the least historically reliable of the four Gospels.  So, in the conflict between Mark and John about what Mary EXPERIENCED on the first Easter, we should toss John’s account aside, and prefer Mark’s account.
That still leaves us with a conflict between Mark and Matthew concerning what Mary EXPERIENCED on the first Easter.  Because Matthew used Mark as a primary source of information about the life and ministry of Jesus, and because Mark was composed before Matthew, we should give preference to Mark’s version of the story of the women visiting the tomb on Easter other things being equal.  Since the end of Matthew’s gospel contains a number of dubious events that are very dramatic and are found in no other Gospel, and since Luke agrees with Mark that Mary did NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, we have very good reason to doubt the accuracy and reliability of Matthew’s version of these events and to prefer Mark’s account of these events over Matthew’s account.  Therefore, although we cannot be certain that any of these Gospel stories are true or accurate, it is MORE LIKELY that Mark’s account is correct on the point in question than that Matthew’s account is correct.  So, according to the HISTORICAL EVIDENCE found in the four canonical Gospels, it is PROBABLY the case that Mary Magdalene did NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday.
 
CONCLUSION ABOUT PREMISE (1a) OF KREEFT’S ARGUMENT CONSTITUTING HIS OBJECTION #2
So, Kreeft provided NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER in support of ANY of the 102 historical claims implied by the very first premise of his argument that constitutes his Objection #2, and after critically examining the relevant HISTORICAL EVIDENCE concerning Kreeft’s first and most important historical claim about Mary Magdalene, it turns out that the EVIDENCE from the New Testament goes AGAINST his claim!  Based on the EVIDENCE of the NT, it is PROBABLE that Mary Magdalene DID NOT EXPERIENCE an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday.  Furthermore, if Mary did NOT have such an experience, then any TESTIMONY that she might have given about having such an experience would be FALSE or INACCURATE.
So, it would be reasonable at this point to remove Mary Magdalene from Kreeft’s list of alleged WITNESSES.  It would obviously take a good deal of time and effort to critically examine each of the 102 historical claims implied by premise (1A) of Kreeft’s argument.  Since Kreeft did not bother to provide ANY evidence for ANY of those claims, and since the first and most important historical claim he made about Mary Magdalene is PROBABLY FALSE, I think it is unnecessary to continue to take premise (1A) seriously.
Kreeft just barfed up a whole lot of historical claims without any serious thought and without any concern about whether those numerous historical claims were true or supported by relevant evidence.  So, we have no obligation to take premise (1a) seriously, and we have good reason to view that premise as being DUBIOUS.  Given the large number of claims implied by (1a) about people who lived 2,000 years ago, it was LIKELY from the start that many of those claims would turn out to be FALSE or DUBIOUS, and we see that is indeed the case with the first and most important historical claim Kreeft makes about Mary Magdalene.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 4: Were There Qualified Witnesses?

THE CLARIFICATION OF KREEFT’S ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #2
In his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA) Peter Kreeft presented his Objection #2 against the Hallucination Theory in just two brief sentences:

Presenting an argument for the falsehood of the Hallucination Theory in just two brief sentences is IDIOTIC.  One reason this is IDIOTIC is that this argument is UNCLEAR, and yet Kreeft provides ZERO clarification of it.
However, in Part 3 of this series I fixed the argument for Kreeft so that his argument is now much clearer:

1. The witnesses were simple, honest, moral people.

2. The witnesses had firsthand knowledge of the facts.

THEREFORE:

3. The witnesses were qualified.

B. IF the witnesses were qualified, THEN the Hallucination Theory is false.

THEREFORE:

A. The Hallucination Theory is false.

Furthermore, I have previously clarified the meaning of premise (3) as follows:

3a. The testimony of the witnesses is credible.

Although Kreeft does not make this explicit in his statement of this argument, the witnesses of interest to Kreeft are witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus.
So, premise (3) can be further clarified to make this qualification explicit:

3b . The testimony of the witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus is credible.

 
FURTHER CLARIFICATION OF KREEFT’S ARGUMENT CONSTITUTING OBJECTION #2
Because premise (3) has been significantly revised to make the meaning of that premise clear, the rest of the argument also needs to be revised accordingly:

1a. The witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus were simple, honest, moral people.

2a. The witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus had firsthand knowledge of the facts.

THEREFORE:

3b . The testimony of the witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus is credible.

B1. IF the testimony of the witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus is credible, THEN the Hallucination Theory is false.

THEREFORE:

A. The Hallucination Theory is false.

 
 

 
CLARIFICATION OF “THE WITNESSES”
There is one remaining problem of UNCLARITY in this much-improved version of Kreeft’s argument: who are “the witnesses” who testified about the alleged appearances of the risen Jesus?
The phrase “the witnesses” in Kreeft’s argument refers back to the people he mentioned in Objection #1, and I have previously spelled out who those people are:
INDIVIDUALS

  • Mary Magdalene
  • James (the “brother” or cousin of Jesus)

GROUPS

  • the disciples minus Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • the disciples including Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • Thomas
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • two disciples at Emmaus
    • Cleopas
    • an unnamed disciple at Emmaus
  • the fishermen on the shore
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Thomas
    • Nathanael (= Bartholomew?)
    • the beloved disciple (not one of “the twelve” disciples)
    • a second unnamed disciple by the Sea of Tiberias
  • five hundred people
    • unnamed males and females in an unknown location and with unknown religious and cultural backgrounds

 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (1A)
Here is the first premise of Kreeft’s argument that constitutes his Objection #2:

1a. The witnesses who testified about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus were simple, honest, moral people.

The phrase “The witnesses” refers to the above list of people.  The first person on Kreeft’s list is: Mary Magdalene.
In applying the term “witness” to Mary Magdalene, Kreeft implies that Mary satisfies one or the other of the following two definitions of “witness”:

Definition 6a: One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

Definition 6b: One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

In the context of Kreeft’s argument against the Hallucination Theory, only Definition 6b will help Kreeft make his case.  If Mary Magdalene were merely POTENTIALLY able to furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, then that would be of no use or help to Kreeft, because his argument is about the CREDIBILITY of a witness’s TESTIMONY.
There can be no TESTIMONY from Mary Magdalene unless Mary ACTUALLY furnished evidence by giving a firsthand account of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  The mere POTENTIAL or POSSIBILITY that Mary could have or might have provided such evidence is IRRELEVANT.  The only way that Mary Magdalene is relevant to Kreeft’s argument about the CREDIBILITY of the TESTIMONY of witnesses is if Mary actually testified about an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Apart from actual TESTIMONY from Mary, there is nothing that can be evaluated as being CREDIBLE TESTIMONY from Mary.  Only Definition 6b implies that TESTIMONY EXISTS about experiences of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus that can be positively evaluated as being CREDIBLE TESTIMONY.
So, when Kreeft calls Mary Magdalene a “witness” he implies not only that Mary could have or might have furnished evidence by giving a firsthand account of an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, but that Mary actually did furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Kreeft’s argument about CREDIBLE TESTIMONY will work ONLY IF he uses the term “witness” in accordance with Definition 6b.
Premise (1a) implies at least six claims about Mary Magdalene:

  • Mary Magdalene EXPERIENCED an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
  • Mary Magdalene TESTIFIED about her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
  • We currently possess the TESTIMONY of Mary Magdalene about her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
  • Mary Magdalene was a SIMPLE person.
  • Mary Magdalene was an HONEST person.
  • Mary Magdalene was a MORALLY GOOD person.

NOTE: If we do NOT possess the TESTIMONY of Mary Magdalene about her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, then the CREDIBILITY of her testimony is WORTHLESS and IRRELEVANT for use in Kreeft’s argument which is focused on the question of whether or not the TESTIMONY of some particular witnesses is CREDIBLE.
If ANY one of these six claims about Mary Magdalene is FALSE or DUBIOUS, then premise (1a) is FALSE or DUBIOUS.
Premise (1a) implies the same six different specific claims about EVERY person in Keeft’s list of  “witnesses”.  If one of those six claims about ANY of the people in his list is FALSE or DUBIOUS, then premise (1a) is FALSE or DUBIOUS.
So, even before we examine any evidence on these questions, it seems obvious that it is VERY LIKELY that premise (1a) is FALSE or DUBIOUS because this premise asserts six different specific claims about many different people who lived about 2,000 years ago.  Even if we set aside “the five hundred” alleged “witnesses” we still have eleven apostles, plus Mary Magdalene, plus James (the “brother” or cousin of Jesus), plus “the beloved disciple”, and Cleopas, and two other unnamed disciples.  Seventeen people times six claims equals 102 claims.
Setting aside “the five hundred” alleged “witnesses”, with premise (1a) Kreeft has implied 102 different specific historical claims, and thus he needs to provide historical evidence supporting each of those 102 specific historical claims, and it seems very likely that one or several of those claims will turn out to be FALSE or DUBIOUS.  We should at this point set aside “the five hundred” alleged “witnesses” because Kreeft’s third objection is focused on “the five hundred” alleged “witnesses”.  We should evaluate the significance of “the five hundred” separately when we critically examine Objection #3, and ignore “the five hundred” alleged “witnesses” for now, while we are critically examining Objection #2.  
Now that we have fully clarified the meaning of the first premise of Kreeft’s argument that constitutes his Objection #2, we see that (a) he is making 102 specific historical claims, and (b) he has provided NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER for any of these 102 specific historical claims:

This chart makes it very clear that Kreeft’s Objection #2 FAILS miserably, because of the IDIOCY of attempting to make an argument against the Hallucination Theory in just two brief sentences.  Kreeft has provided us with a perfect example of EVIDENCE-FREE APOLOGETICS.  He makes 102 specific historical claims in the very first premise of his argument but provides NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER in support of ANY of those 102 specific historical claims.  Only a MORON (or fan of Donald Trump) would be persuaded by such an intellectual turd as Kreeft’s Objection #2 against the Hallucination Theory.
 
TO BE CONTINUED…
 

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 3: The Witnesses Were Qualified

WHERE WE ARE
Peter Kreeft’s first three objections against the Hallucination Theory in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter HCA) can be summarized this way:

Objection #1:  There were too many witnesses(HCA, p.186, emphasis added)

Objection #2: The witnesses were qualified. (HCA, p. 187, emphasis added)

Objection #3: The five hundred [eyewitnesses] saw Christ together at the same time and place. (HCA, p.187 emphasis added)

In Part 2 of this series, I argued that we should understand the term “witness” in terms of one or the other of the following two definitions:

6a. One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

I think Objection #1 is going to take a fair amount of time and effort to critically examine, so I will get us started with Objection #2, which I think I can dispatch more quickly and more easily.

 
OBJECTION #2: THE WITNESSES WERE QUALIFIED
Here are the entire contents of Kreeft’s Objection #2 against the Hallucination Theory:

Here is Kreeft’s argument in standard form:

1. The witnesses were simple, honest, moral people.

2. The witnesses had firsthand knowledge of the facts.

THEREFORE:

3. The witnesses were qualified.

The most obvious problem with this argument is that it says NOTHING about the Hallucination Theory!   In order for this argument to be RELEVANT to the question at issue, it must say something about the Hallucination Theory (duh!), namely that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE.  So, if this objection is RELEVANT to the question at issue, then the logic of Objection #2 goes like this:

1. The witnesses were simple, honest, moral people.

2. The witnesses had firsthand knowledge of the facts.

THEREFORE:

3. The witnesses were qualified.

THEREFORE:

A. The Hallucination Theory is false.

On the face of it, this appears to be a non sequitur.  The conclusion (A) DOES NOT FOLLOW from premise (3).
However, we can repair this logically broken argument by adding an additional premise:

1. The witnesses were simple, honest, moral people.

2. The witnesses had firsthand knowledge of the facts.

THEREFORE:

3. The witnesses were qualified.

B. IF the witnesses were qualified, THEN the Hallucination Theory is false.

THEREFORE:

A. The Hallucination Theory is false.

Now the argument is more logical and is RELEVANT to the question at issue.  However, the additional premise (B) seems rather dubious, but I’m going to hold off on evaluating the argument until I have clarified it further.
Premise (3) is UNCLEAR because the subject of (3) is UNCLEAR and the predicate of (3) is UNCLEAR.  Before we can evaluate the sub-argument for premise (3), we need to understand what (3) means, and in order to understand what (3) means, we need to CLARIFY the subject of (3) and CLARIFY the predicate of (3):

  • Subject: “The witnesses”
  • Predicate: “were qualified”

 
THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE “THE WITNESSES” IN PREMISE (3)
The SUBJECT of premise (3) is “The Witnesses” and we can clarify WHO this expression is talking about based on the fact that this expression refers to “the witnesses” previously mentioned in Objection #1, and also based on the NT passages relevant to specific alleged appearances of the risen Jesus mentioned in Objection #1 (see the ADDENDUM at the bottom of this post for the details):
INDIVIDUALS

  • Mary Magdalene
  • James (the “brother” or cousin of Jesus)

GROUPS

  • the disciples minus Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • the disciples including Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • Thomas
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • two disciples at Emmaus
    • Cleopas
    • an unnamed disciple at Emmaus
  • the fishermen on the shore
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Thomas
    • Nathanael (= Bartholomew?)
    • the beloved disciple (not one of “the twelve” disciples)
    • a second unnamed disciple by the Sea of Tiberias
  • five hundred people
    • unnamed males and females in an unknown location and with unknown religious and cultural backgrounds

 
In referring to these people as “The witnesses” Kreeft implies that each of these people was a “witness”, meaning that he is claiming that each of these people satisfies one of the following definitions of a “witness”:

6a. One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

What is the “something” about which these people can allegedly give a firsthand account?   To say that these people can give a firsthand account of an interaction with a physically resurrected Jesus would BEG THE QUESTION.  One cannot “give a firsthand account of an interaction with a physically resurrected Jesus” if Jesus remained dead and the experiences of these people were just hallucinations about Jesus.  Kreeft cannot ASSUME that the Hallucination Theory is false, and that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact, because that is precisely the issue that skeptics and Christians disagree about here.
The “something” that some people might be able to give a firsthand account about in this context is an experience had by one or more people which SEEMED to them to be an experience of a physical, living, and conscious Jesus.  Whether it is reasonable to accept this interpretation of such an experience is a separate question from whether such experiences were had by particular people in particular places at particular times.
An important question here is whether Kreeft is using the term “witnesses” in the sense of someone who could POTENTIALLY furnish evidence, sense (6a), or in the sense of someone who ACTUALLY furnished evidence, sense (6b).  This distinction makes a big difference in terms of whether Kreeft has any ACTUAL EVIDENCE against the Hallucination Theory.
 
THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE “WERE QUALIFIED” IN PREMISE (3)
The predicate of premise (3) is also UNCLEAR:  “were qualified”.  What the hell does that mean?  Presenting an argument to disprove the Hallucination Theory in just two brief sentences is IDIOTIC.  But it is even more IDIOTIC to assert as your main premise a statement that has such a VAGUE and UNCLEAR predicate as “were qualified”, and then provide ZERO explanation of what this means.
Presumably, Kreeft wants us to take these “witnesses” seriously; he wants us to believe the TESTIMONY of these witnesses, to BELIEVE what they have to say about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus.  So, my initial guess is that the term “qualified” is just a rather STUPID substitute for the clearer notion of credibility:

3a. The testimony of the witnesses is credible.

However,  I have noticed that William Craig, another Christian philosopher (who specializes in defending the beliefs that Jesus rose from the dead and that God raised Jesus from the dead), also uses the UNCLEAR term “qualified” in relation to “the witnesses” of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus:

Humphrey Ditton in his Discourse Concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1712) argues that the apostles could not have been mistaken about the resurrection.    In the first place, the witnesses to the appearances were well qualified.  There were a great many witnesses, and they had personal knowledge of the facts over an extended period of forty days.      (Reasonable Faith, 3rd edition, p.237)

Craig, like Kreeft, FAILS to define or clarify what the term “qualified” means here.  But Craig is just summarizing the reasoning of the Christian apologist Humphrey Ditton, so it appears that the use of the term “qualified” to characterize the various people who were “the witnesses” of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus goes back at least to early in the 18th century when Ditton published his case for the resurrection of Jesus.
 
DITTON AND THE MEANING OF THE UNCLEAR PHRASE “WERE QUALIFIED”
It is likely that premise (3) of Kreeft’s argument can be traced back to Ditton’s case for the resurrection, so we should look at how Ditton used the word “qualified” and see if his use of this word is any clearer than the UNCLEAR use of it by both Kreeft and Craig.
In looking over passages where Ditton uses the terms “qualifications” and “qualified” (actually “qualify’d” in Ditton’s 18th century English), it is clear that he was in fact talking about the CREDIBILITY of the TESTIMONY of witnesses.  Consider, for example, pages 162 through 164 of Ditton’s Discourse Concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ On page 162, Ditton uses the phrase “credibility of testimony” three times, and uses the term “credible” to describe “testimony” three times:

On the very next page, Ditton uses the phrase “Qualifications and Conditions” as being what determines the “Degree of rational Credibility” of a particular instance of “Testimony”:

Note that the phrase “Credibility of Testimony” occurs four times and that the word “credible” occurs twice as a description of “Testimony” on the above page.
On page 164, Ditton is still clearly focused on the “Credibility of Testimony” but he uses the phrase “well qualify’d” to describe some “Witnesses”, again implying that the “qualifications” of witnesses help determine the CREDIBILITY of their testimony:

Furthermore, it is clear that Kreeft’s Objection #2 has historical roots in Ditton’s defense of the resurrection because the considerations briefly mentioned by Kreeft line up with some of Ditton’s reasons why we should take the “testimony” of the apostles (Jesus’ inner circle of disciples) about alleged appearances of the risen Jesus to be “credible”.  Recall the first premise of Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #2:

1. The witnesses were simple, honest, moral people.

Here is how William Craig summarizes Ditton’s reasoning on this question:

A second popular argument against the disciples’ being deceivers was that their character precludes them from being liars.  Humphrey Ditton observes that the apostles were simple, common men, not cunning deceivers.  They were men of unquestioned moral integrity and their proclamation of the resurrection was solemn and devout. …Finally, they were evidently sincere in what they proclaimed.  In the light of their character so described, asks Ditton bluntly, why not believe the testimony of these men?                    (Reasonable Faith, 3rd edition, p.340-341)

Ditton asserted that the apostles were “simple”  and that they were “not cunning deceivers” (i.e. they were honest people) and that they had “moral integrity”. These are among the reasons Ditton gives as the basis for taking their TESTIMONY to be CREDIBLE.
Kreeft’s use of the odd and UNCLEAR term “qualified” to describe “the witnesses” of alleged appearances of a risen Jesus suggests that Objection #2 derives from Humphrey Ditton’s case for the resurrection, but in addition to that, the very reasons that Kreeft gives in support of his UNCLEAR sub-conclusion, premise (3), are the same as some of the reasons that Ditton gave in support of the CREDIBILITY of the TESTIMONY of the apostles, in Ditton’s case for the resurrection.  Clearly, Objection #2 has historical roots in Ditton’s argument about the CREDIBILITY of the TESTIMONY of witnesses who allegedly had experiences of a risen Jesus.
Because Keeft’s Objection #2 was derived from Ditton’s case for the resurrection of Jesus, it is reasonable to interpret premise (3) of Kreeft’s argument constituting this objection, in the way that I initially suggested prior to learning about the relationship between Kreeft’s objection and Ditton’s discussion about the credibility of the testimony of the apostles:

3a. The testimony of the witnesses is credible.

We can toss aside the VAGUE and UNCLEAR term “qualified” used by both Kreeft and Craig, and substitute the clearer idea about the CREDIBILITY of the TESTIMONY of a WITNESS,  because that was the focus of Ditton’s argument concerning witnesses of alleged appearances of a risen Jesus, and because Kreeft’s Objection #2 derives from Ditton’s argument on this question.
 
TO BE CONTINUED…
 
*The image above of the quotation of Objection #1 is taken from a web page, and the web page mistakenly substituted the word “fisherman” for the word “fishermen”.
========================== 
ADDENDUM: FIGURING OUT THE PEOPLE REFERRED TO BY THE PHRASE “THE WITNESSES”
========================== 
The phrase “The witnesses” in premise (3) is a referring expression, and it refers back to the people that Kreeft was talking about in Objection #1:

The expression “The witnesses” in premise (3) refers to this list of people.  The list gives us only three named “witnesses”:

  • Mary Magdalene
  • Thomas (one of “the twelve” disciples)
  • James (the “brother” or cousin of Jesus)

This list also contains a number of expressions that need to be clarified:

  • the disciples minus Thomas
  • the disciples including Thomas
  • two disciples at Emmaus
  • the fishermen on the shore
  • five hundred people

Although Kreeft does not bother to clarify these expressions, those who are familiar with the New Testament can easily connect these expressions to specific stories or passages in the NT:

  • The expression “the disciples minus Thomas” is a reference to an appearance story found in the 4th Gospel (John 20:19-25).
  • The expression “the disciples including Thomas” is a reference to an appearance story found in the 4th Gospel (John 20:26-28).
  • The expression “two disciples at Emmaus” is a reference to an appearance story found in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 24:13-32).
  • The expression “the fishermen on the shore” is a reference to an appearance story found in the 4th Gospel (John 21:1-14).
  • The expression “five hundred people” is a reference to the mention of an appearance found in one of Paul’s letters (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Unfortunately, the NT passage that corresponds to the phrase “the disciples minus Thomas” does NOT SPECIFY who “the disciples” were:

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
[…]
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. (John 20:19-25).

However, this passage does hint at the meaning of the phrase “the disciples” by pointing out that Thomas was “one of the twelve”.  Presumably, “the disciples” includes other members of “the twelve”, making the absence of Thomas an exception.  According to the gospels, Jesus had selected TWELVE followers to be an inner circle of disciples.  So it seems like the expression “the disciples” in the above quote from Chapter 20 of John includes most of “the twelve” disciples who were selected by Jesus to be part of an inner circle of his followers. The Gospel of John, however, does not provide a list of “the twelve” disciples.  So, the phrase “the disciples” in this passage is an UNCLEAR reference.
But the Gospel of Luke has a similar story about Jesus appearing to some of his disciples in Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter Sunday.  In Luke’s version, Thomas was present at this event, so Luke contradicts the appearance story in John.  In Luke’s account of this appearance “the eleven and their companions gathered together” in the evening of the first Easter (Luke 24:33).  The reference to “the eleven” by Luke is a reference to “the twelve” minus the disciple Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.  The Gospel of Luke, unlike the Gospel of John, provides a list of “the twelve” who made up the inner circle of Jesus’ followers, so we can use Luke’s list of “the twelve” to determine who at least some of “the disciples” were in the appearance stories found in Chapter 20 of John:

13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles:
14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,
15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot,
16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.      (Luke 6:13-15, NRSV)

We can remove Judas Iscariot, because he betrayed Jesus and thus was no longer part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples who (allegedly) gathered together in the evening on the first Easter, according to Luke:

  1. Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
  2. Andrew (Peter’s brother)
  3. James
  4. John
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew
  8. Thomas
  9. James (son of Alphaeus)
  10. Simon (called the Zealot)
  11. Judas (son of James)

According to the Gospel of John, Thomas was not present during this Easter Sunday event, so no more than ten of “the twelve” were present for this alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, based on the account in the Gospel of John.
Who were the “two disciples at Emmaus”?  The passage in Luke where this appearance story is found (Luke 24:13-32) only names one of the two disciples who allegedly saw the risen Jesus:

Cleopas (Luke 24:18).

Luke makes it clear, though, that neither of these two disciples was part of “the eleven” (Luke 24:33); neither of them had been selected by Jesus to be part of his inner circle of disciples.
Who were “the fishermen on the shore”? This phrase refers to an appearance story found in the 4th Gospel (John 21:1-14). In this story, the author of the 4th Gospel provides more information about who was present:

1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.
2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 
(John 24:1-2)

Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, and the sons of Zebedee are part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples.  The “sons of Zebedee” are “James” and “John” mentioned third and fourth in the above list of disciples by Luke.
Additionally, in this group of fishermen, we have “Nathanael of Cana in Galilee” and “two others of his disciples”.  Who were these other people?
In the Gospel of John, Jesus specifically calls Nathanael to be his disciple, so the Gospel of John makes it seem that Nathanael was one of the twelve disciples, one of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples.  However, none of the lists of “the twelve” include the name “Nathanael”.  One plausible hypothesis is that “Nathanael” is the same person as “Bartholomew”.  There are a few reasons that support this hypothesis.  First, the Gospel of John never mentions a “Bartholomew”.  Second, “Bartholomew” means “son of Ptolemy” which implies that this disciple had another name, a first name. Third, the first two names in Luke’s list of “the twelve” are brothers: Peter and Andrew, and the second two names in Luke’s list are also brothers:  John and James (the sons of Zebedee), so it might well be that the next two names in Luke’s list were also brothers (or close friends): Philip and Bartholomew.  In the story in the Gospel of John where Jesus calls Nathanael to become his disciple, there is an indication that Philip and Nathanael were close to each other (see John 1:3-51).  So, I think it is reasonable to assume that the “Bartholomew” mentioned in Luke is the same person as “Nathanael” mentioned in the 4th Gospel, and thus that Nathanael was one of “the eleven”, part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples.
What about the “two others of his disciples” who were among “the fishermen at the shore”?  One of them was Jesus’ “beloved disciple” (John 21:20).  There is much debate and disagreement over who this person was, but the evidence is fairly clear that this person was NOT among “the eleven”.  The beloved disciple appears to be a follower of Jesus from Jerusalem or near Jerusalem, not from Galilee.  The 4th Gospel was probably written by disciples of “the beloved disciple” a follower of Jesus who founded a Christian church or community in the first century.
So, “the fishermen on the shore” refers to the following group of people:

  • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
  • James (son of Zebedee)
  • John (son of Zebedee)
  • Thomas
  • Nathanael (= Bartholomew?)
  • the beloved disciple (not one of “the twelve” disciples)
  • a second unnamed disciple (by the Sea of Tiberias)

Who were “the five hundred” people who allegedly experienced an appearance of the risen Jesus? We don’t know the name of a single person in “the five hundred”.  We don’t know where these people were when this event took place.  We don’t know whether any or all of them were Jewish followers of Jesus or non-Jewish Christian believers at the time this “appearance” happened. We know virtually NOTHING about “the five hundred” because there is only one brief sentence about them in one of the letters of Paul:

6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  (1 Corinthians 15:6)

The phrase “brothers and sisters” here does not mean biological siblings; it means male and female Christian believers.  Paul does not say whether some, most, or all of these people were already Christian believers when this alleged “appearance” of Jesus took place.
The SUBJECT of premise (3) is “The Witnesses” and we can now clarify who this expression is talking about.  It is talking about two individuals and five groups of people:
INDIVIDUALS

  • Mary Magdalene
  • James (the “brother” or cousin of Jesus)

GROUPS

  • the disciples minus Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James
    • John
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • the disciples including Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James
    • John
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • Thomas
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • two disciples at Emmaus
    • Cleopas
    • an unnamed disciple at Emmaus
  • the fishermen on the shore
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Thomas
    • Nathanael (= Bartholomew?)
    • the beloved disciple (not one of “the twelve” disciples)
    • a second unnamed disciple by the Sea of Tiberias
  • five hundred people
    • unnamed males and females in an unknown location and with unknown background(s)

bookmark_borderFeser’s Perverted Faculty Argument – Part 2: Clarifying the Conclusion of the Core Argument

WHERE WE ARE
Edward Feser has put forward a version of the Perverted Faculty Argument (hereafter: PFA) against homosexual sex, so I will now examine that argument in the hopes that it is an actual argument consisting of actual claims.  Based on his book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Feser understands the need to define and clarify the meanings of keywords and phrases in philosophical arguments.  I am hoping that in his presentation of PFA,  Feser will define and/or clarify the meanings of keywords and phrases in his version of PFA so that it constitutes an actual argument that is composed of actual claims.  If I find his effort to constitute an actual argument, then I will attempt to rationally evaluate that argument.
In Part 1 of this series of posts, I attempted to clarify the core argument in Feser’s PFA, based on his summary of that argument in his book Neo-Scholastic Essays (hereafter: NSE) on pages 403 and 404.
 
THE REVISED CORE ARGUMENT OF FESER’S PFA

3a. A situation where a human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings AND where that activity is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

4a. In any situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts, that human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings.

THEREFORE:

5a. A situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts AND where that activity (of engaging in homosexual acts) is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

This revised core argument is significantly more CLEAR than the statement by Feser.  However, all three sentences here still make use of UNCLEAR words and phrases, so I’m not yet willing to admit that these three sentences make actual claims, nor that this is an actual argument.  It depends on whether Feser defines or clarifies the various UNCLEAR  words and phrases in these three sentences.
In this post I will address this crucial question:

Does Feser provide useful definitions or clarifications of the meanings of the keywords and phrases in these sentences that are, apart from such efforts, too UNCLEAR to make it so the sentences may reasonably be treated as actual claims?

 
WHAT DOES THE CONCLUSION MEAN?
Because the conclusion of an argument is the main point of the argument, it is generally best to start an examination of an argument by focusing on the conclusion.  Because CLARIFICATION is often needed to understand the meaning of a statement and thus be in a position to rationally evaluate the statement, it is generally best to start an examination of a statement by working to clarify the meaning of that statement.  I have already made one attempt to clarify the conclusion of the core argument in Feser’s PFA, but it is still UNCLEAR.  So, I will continue to work at achieving a better understanding of this statement:

5a. A situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts AND where that activity (of engaging in homosexual acts) is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

There are at least three UNCLEAR phrases in this statement:

  • human being H engages in homosexual acts
  • activity A is good for human being H
  • situation S is a metaphysically impossible situation

Because NONE of these three phrases has a clear meaning, (5a) is UNCLEAR and cannot be rationally evaluated as it stands.  These are three main parts or components of the statement (5a), and each part must be CLARIFIED.  Apart from a definition or clarification of each one of these phrases, it will not be possible to have a clear understanding of the meaning of (5a), and apart from such a clear understanding, it will not be possible to rationally evaluate this statement, nor to rationally evaluate an argument given in support of this statement.
Breaking down (5a) into its main parts or components, into these three phrases, is part of the process of ANALYSIS.  The point is to take a big task or problem, like CLARIFYING (5a), and turn it into smaller, easier to manage problems.  So, instead of having one big problem, we now have three smaller problems to manage.
 
WHAT DOES THE PHRASE “ENGAGES IN HOMOSEXUAL ACTS” MEAN?
In my previous examination of a PFA presented by Tim Hsiao one of the reasons that I rejected that argument as a worthless piece of intellectual garbage is that Hsiao made NO EFFORT to clarify the meanings of the key phrases “homosexual activity” and “sexual activity”.  So, we are walking down the same path with Feser’s version of a PFA.  The main question now is whether Feser made any effort to clarify the meaning of the UNCLEAR phrase “engages in homosexual acts”.  If Feser attempted to clarify the meaning of this phrase, then his version of PFA might be able to go beyond the FAILED attempt by Hsiao to present a version of PFA.
According to Feser, his article “In Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument” in Neo-Scholastic Essays is his most detailed and systematic treatment of sexual morality (as of June in 2015):

 
The phrase “homosexual acts” occurs not only in the conclusion of the core argument in his PFA but also in the ultimate conclusion of PFA:

Feser uses the phrase “homosexual acts” thirteen times in his article defending PFA.  However, he NEVER DEFINES what this phrase means, and he NEVER attempts to CLARIFY the meaning of this phrase.  Because the phrase “homosexual acts” is an UNCLEAR and AMBIGUOUS phrase, we don’t know what the hell the conclusion of the core argument in PFA means, and thus it is not possible to rationally evaluate the core argument of Feser’s PFA.
 
THE GENERAL UNCLARITY OF FESER’S PFA
This lack of clarity is not confined to just the key phrase “homosexual acts”.  There are other key phrases in Feser’s PFA that he also FAILS to DEFINE or to CLARIFY:

The phrases in bold red font appear in Feser’s summary of the PFA, and the other terms and phrases in blue font are closely related terms that appear in the article.  There are a total of 73 instances of these terms and phrases in the article, and as you can see from the chart above there are ZERO DEFINITIONS of these terms, and ZERO attempts to provide CLARIFICATIONS of these terms by Feser.
Although the phrase “sexual faculties” does not appear in the conclusion of Feser’s PFA, nor in the conclusion of the core argument in PFA, it does appear in three out of the six premises of his PFA, and is clearly a key concept in the argument:

 
I don’t know what Feser means by the key phrase “homosexual acts”, nor do I know what Feser means by the other key terms and phrases in his PFA.  So, it is NOT possible for me to rationally evaluate this argument.   CLARITY is a gateway standard of Critical Thinking.  If a statement is UNCLEAR, then one literally does not know what that statement MEANS, and one cannot rationally evaluate a statement when one does not know what that statement means.

 
CONCLUSION
Feser’s PFA is just as UNCLEAR as the PFA presented by Timothy Hsiao.  In both cases we are dealing with a PSEUDO argument, something that looks and sounds like an argument, but that is composed of UNCLEAR statements which cannot be rationally evaluated, and thus neither “argument” is an actual argument, because an argument consists of CLAIMS, statements that are clear enough to be understood and to be rationally evaluated.
According to Feser his article in Neo-Scholastic Essays defending his version of the Perverted Faculty Argument is the “most detailed and systematic treatment of sexual morality” he has ever written, but that article is a pathetic piece of intellectual garbage that presents us with a PSEUDO argument that only pretends to be an actual argument.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 2: “Witnesses”

THE “WITNESSES” OBJECTIONS
In his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA) the first three objections that Peter Kreeft raises against the Hallucination Theory are all about “witnesses”:

Objection #1:  There were too many witnesses(HCA, p.186, emphasis added)

Objection #2: The witnesses were qualified. (HCA, p. 187, emphasis added)

Objection #3: The five hundred [eyewitnesses] saw Christ together at the same time and place. (HCA, p.187 emphasis added)

Before we examine these three objections, I think it would be helpful to do something that Kreeft FAILED TO DO: get a clear idea of the meanings of the key terms “witnesses” and “eyewitnesses”.

Heinrich Buscher as a witness during the Nuremberg Trials.

 
WHAT IS A “WITNESS”?
Here is how my American Heritage College Dictionary (4th edition) defines “witness”:

witness…n.
1a. One who can give a firsthand account of something.
1b. One who furnishes evidence.
2. Something that serves as evidence; a sign.
3. Law a. One who is called on to testify before a court.
3b. One who is called on to attest to what takes place at a transaction.
3c. One who signs one’s name to a document to attest to its authenticity.
4. An attestation to a fact, statement, or event; testimony.
5a. One who publically affirms religious faith.
5b. Witness A member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The first couple of definitions appear to be relevant, so I will keep those in mind.
Kreeft is clearly talking about people, so definition 2 (about “Something”) does not apply here.
Kreeft is not talking about people who “testify before a court”.   However, people can “testify” in other less-formal circumstances too (e.g. to a police officer or detective who is investigating a crime, or to a group of people engaged in an inquiry that is not part of a legal or courtroom process.)  So, I will keep definition 3a for now, with the understanding that it could be stretched beyond a legal or courtroom setting.
The appearances of a risen Jesus are not “transactions”, so definition 3b does not apply here.
Kreeft is not talking about people signing any documents, so definition 3c does not apply here.
Although “attestation” is not a person, it is something that people do, and such attestation seems relevant to what Kreeft is talking about here, so I will keep definition 4 in play.
Although a Christian believer who publically affirmed the religious belief that “Jesus rose from the dead” would constitute a “witness” according to definition 5a, such a “witness” would provide no help to Kreeft’s case for the resurrection or against the Hallucination Theory UNLESS that person could also provide an account of having personally SEEN a risen Jesus.  So, simply affirming the religious belief that “Jesus rose from the dead” does not count as the sort of “witness” that Kreeft is talking about in these first three objections.  Definition 5a does not apply here.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a modern religious phenomenon, and so definition 5b has nothing to do with the “witnesses” that Kreeft is talking about, who are all people who (allegedly) lived in the first century C.E.  We can toss aside definition 5b.
Here are the remaining definitions of “witness” that might help us clarify what Kreeft means by the term “witnesses”:

1a. One who can give a firsthand account of something.
1b. One who furnishes evidence.
3a. One who is called on to testify before a court [or to a person or group who is investigating something].
4. An attestation to a fact, statement, or event; testimony.

There is an interesting and important difference between definition 1a and definition 1b.  “One who can” give a firsthand account of X might, nevertheless, NOT give a firsthand account of X, just as “One who can” beat his elderly mother to death might NOT want to do so, and thus might well NOT beat his elderly mother to death.  The fact that person A can do X does not imply that person A has done X, nor does it imply that person A will do X.  Thus, someone who is a “witness” in accordance with definition 1a might not ever have given a firsthand account of the event in question.
Compare that definition with definition 1b.  One who “furnishes evidence” by giving an account of an event must necessarily give an account of the event.  So, if we are talking about someone “giving a firsthand account” of some event, then definition 1a includes people who CAN do this (including people who DO NOT actually do so), while definition 1b only includes people who ACTUALLY give a firsthand account of the event.  So, there is a BIG difference between definition 1a and definition 1b.  Because Kreeft never bothers to clarify the meaning of the term “witnesses”, he FAILS to make it clear which of these two sorts of “witnesses” he is talking about.
Both definition 3a and definition 4 make reference to “testimony”.  Definition 3a speaks of someone being called on “to testify”, and definition 4 speaks of an “attestation”, and puts the word “testimony” forward as a synonym.  Also note that definition 3a has the same hypothetical character as definition 1a: someone “who is called on to testify” might, nevertheless, decide NOT to testify, or they could die or become mentally incapacitated before they get the chance to testify.  The fact that person A has been “called on to testify” on matter X does not imply that person A has in fact testified on matter X, nor does it imply that person A will testify on matter X.  Being “called on to testify” about some event does NOT mean that the person in question has or will ever testify about the event.
Compare that with definition 4 which talks about an “attestation to a fact, statement, or event”.  If there is “attestation” to an event, then someone necessarily has already testified about that event.  If there is “testimony” about an event, then someone necessarily has already testified about that event.
Thus, the contrast between definition 1a and definition 1b is similar to the contrast between definition 3a and definition 4.  In both cases, the difference is between potentially giving a “firsthand account” (or “testimony”) and actually giving a “firsthand account” (or “testimony”).
There is another interesting and important difference between definition 1a and definition 1b.  While definition 1a talks about a kind of ACTIVITY (i.e. giving a firsthand account of something), definition 1b talks about a PURPOSE for that activity (i.e. furnishing evidence–by giving a firsthand account of something).  So, both definitions leave something outDefinition 1a leaves out a specification of the PURPOSE of giving a firsthand account of some event, and definition 1b leaves out a specification of the sort of ACTIVITY by which the purpose of furnishing evidence is accomplished.
One could give a firsthand account of an event for the PURPOSE of entertaining people.  People like to tell stories about events they have personally experienced.  When one tells such a story, one is giving a firsthand account of the event, but the PURPOSE of giving that account is NOT to furnish evidence to the audience who is listening to that account.  But entertaining people with a story about an event that one personally experienced does NOT make one into a “witness”.  To be a witness, one must have a particular PURPOSE for giving a firsthand account, namely: furnishing evidence.  I, therefore, recommend that these two elements be combined to provide a fuller definition of “witness”:

6. One who furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something. 

But we must still keep in mind the important distinction between someone POTENTIALLY doing this, and someone ACTUALLY doing this, so I will divide my proposed definition into two alternative definitions:

6a. One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

There is a third important distinction that is suggested by the definition 1a.  The phrase “a firsthand account” suggests that there could also be “a secondhand account” or a “thirdhand account” of an event.  In our legal system, there are significant constraints on “hearsay” testimony.  A person who is called on “to testify before a court” is usually a person who is believed to have been present during a relevant event and who observed or experienced that event.  Such a “witness” can furnish evidence by giving a “firsthand account” of that event.  But there are exceptions to this general rule, so in some instances, a “witness” can be called upon to provide “hearsay” testimony, an account of what someone else said about an event:

Hearsay evidence, in a legal forum, is testimony from a witness under oath who is reciting an out-of-court statement, content of which is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In most courts, hearsay evidence is inadmissible (the “hearsay evidence rule”) unless an exception to the hearsay rule applies.

For example, to prove that Tom was in town, a witness testifies, “Susan told me that Tom was in town.” Since the witness’s evidence relies on an out-of-court statement that Susan made, if Susan is unavailable for cross-examination, the answer is hearsay. A justification for the objection is that the person who made the statement is not in court and thus is insulated from cross-examination.  (from the article Hearsay in Wikipedia)

Although there may be some exceptions to the general rejection of hearsay evidence from a witness, hearsay evidence is a weak and substandard sort of evidence.  There can be a “witness” who furnishes evidence by giving a SECONDHAND account of something; however, such witnesses will not help Kreeft make his case for the resurrection of Jesus, because in order to show that a miracle has occurred, one needs to provide strong and solid evidence, and a witness who gives only a SECONDHAND or THIRDHAND account of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus will not be furnishing the strong and solid kind of evidence that is required to prove a miracle.  Although the term “witness” can in some cases be applied to a person who gives a SECONHAND account of an event, this use of the term “witness” does not apply to Kreeft’s attempt to prove the resurrection of Jesus.  Therefore, we can use definition 6a and definition 6b as potential interpretations of Kreeft’s use of the term “witness” even though those definitions exclude people who give only a SECONDHAND account of an event.
What about definition 3a and definition 4?  Both of those definitions focus on testimony.   Definition 3a talks about testifying “before a court”, but I pointed out that less formal and even non-legal situations can involve a “witness” who “testifies” about his or her experience of an event.  So, being a “witness” in a court trial is a paradigm case of a “witness” who “testifies” about an event, but these words are used beyond that particular sort of situation.  Definition 4 is very close to definition 3a, but definition 3a talks about “One” who is called to testify, whereas definition 4 talks about “testimony” which is basically the content or information provided by a “witness” who “testifies” either in a courtroom or in a more informal setting.  Because the term “witness” as used by Kreeft refers primarily to PEOPLE, definition 3a is better than definition 4 for interpreting what Kreeft means, and since definition 3a captures the idea of “testimony” in terms of the action “to testify”, it is reasonable to set definition 4 aside.
I think we may also set aside definition 3a, because the action “to testify” is already captured in my proposed definitions.  To “furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something” is “to testify”.  So, definition 3a is redundant in relation to definition 6a and definition 6b.  So, it seems to me that we have two clear and useful definitions of “witness” that are sufficient to help us clarify the key concept of “witness” in Kreeft’s first three objections:

6a. One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

 
WHAT IS AN “EYEWITNESS”?
According to my American Heritage Dictionary, an “eyewitness” is:

A person who has seen someone or something and can bear witness to the fact.

This seems a bit too narrow.  A blind person, for example, can be an “eyewitness”, even though a blind person cannot SEE someone or SEE something.  A blind person can HEAR someone or HEAR something, and can “bear witness to the fact” about what he or she heard.  Although seeing someone or something might provide more detailed information than hearing that someone or hearing that something, sometimes the words a person says or the sounds a person makes on a particular occasion are very important information for a criminal trial, and a blind person can have firsthand knowledge or information about such sounds.
The point here is that seeing someone or something is a kind of firsthand experience that provides a good amount of detailed information about that person or thing at the time when they were being seen.  But there are other senses besides vision that can provide firsthand experiences of people, things, and events.  So, I suggest revising this definition to make it a bit broader:

A person who has on a particular occasion seen, or had some firsthand sensory experience of, someone or something and can bear witness to what he or she experienced on that occasion.

Given that this is a clear and accurate definition of the term “eyewitness”,  the term “eyewitness” means basically the same as “witness” in the senses that I have defined above.   Remember, definition 6a and definition 6b both require that a “witness” give (or be able to give) a “firsthand account of something”, so in order to be a “witness” in the senses I have defined, one MUST be an “eyewitness”, one MUST be able to give a “firsthand account” of something.
 
CONCLUSION
As we examine Peter Kreeft’s first three objections against the Hallucination Theory, it will probably be useful to keep in mind the following two alternative definitions of the term “witness”:

6a. One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 1: Kreeft’s Case for the Resurrection

MCDOWELL’S CASE AGAINST THE HALLUCINATION THEORY
I recently examined Josh McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory in his book The Resurrection Factor (hereafter: TRF), and I showed that each one of the seven objections that McDowell raised against this skeptical theory FAILS, and thus that his case for the resurrection of Jesus also FAILS.
The Hallucination Theory is the view that one or more of the disciples of Jesus had a hallucination (or dream or some sort of false or distorted experience) that seemed to be an experience of a physical living Jesus, an experience that took place sometime after Jesus had died on the cross.  This theory also asserts that this experience had by one or more disciples led to the mistaken but sincere conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead, and to the preaching of this belief by some of Jesus’ disciples in the first century, not long after Jesus was crucified.
In the most recent version of his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2017, co-authored with his son Sean; hereafter: EDV), McDowell appears to largely abandon his previous case against the Hallucination Theory and instead points us to Peter Kreeft’s case against this theory (see EDV pages 291-292).
However, Kreeft’s case in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (1994; hereafter: HCA) has thirteen objections against the Hallucination Theory, many of which seem very similar to McDowell’s seven objections in The Resurrection Factor.  Since the first publication of TRF was in 1981 and HCA was published in 1994, it seems likely that McDowell’s objections in TRF strongly influenced Kreeft’s objections in HCA.  McDowell also presented a similar list of six objections against the Hallucination Theory in an early version of EDV, which was published in 1979 (see EDV pages 247-255).  Since Kreeft appears to have borrowed heavily from McDowell on this subject, Kreeft’s case against the Hallucination Theory is probably not much different than McDowell’s case against it.
 
KREEFT’S CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
The logic of Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus is given in Chapter 8 of HCA.

Dr. Peter Kreeft believes there are only five possible theories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus, and the Hallucination Theory is one of those theories:



In Chapter 8 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (co-authored with Ronald Tacelli), Peter Kreeft attempts to disprove the Hallucination Theory, as part of an elimination-of-alternatives argument for the resurrection of Jesus.  Kreeft thinks that by disproving four skeptical theories, he can show that the Christian theory is true, that Jesus actually rose from the dead:

The question is this: Which theory about what really happened in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday can account for the data?

There are only five possible theories: Christianity, hallucination, myth, conspiracy and swoon.

[…]

Thus either (1) the resurrection really happened, (2) the apostles were deceived by a hallucination, (3) the apostles created a myth, not meaning it literally, (4) the apostles were deceivers who conspired to foist on the world the most famous and successful lie in history, or (5) Jesus only swooned and was resuscitated, not resurrected.

[…]

If we can refute all other theories (2-5), we will have proved the truth of the resurrection (1).

(HCA, p.182)

If Kreeft FAILS to disprove the Hallucination Theory, like McDowell FAILED to disprove it, then Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus also FAILS.
 
KREEFT’S CASE SMELLS LIKE FAILURE
Because Kreeft’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are very similar to the objections raised by McDowell, I strongly suspect that all thirteen of these objections will FAIL, just like all seven of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory FAILED.  But Kreeft’s objections are not identical to the seven objections raised by McDowell, and McDowell apparently believes that Kreeft has done a better job of making a case against the Hallucination Theory than he had previously done, so perhaps some of Kreeft’s objections are strong and solid, in spite of their being inspired by McDowell’s pathetic objections.
It is not merely the fact that Kreeft’s case against the Hallucination Theory seems to be based largely on McDowell’s FAILED case against that skeptical theory that leads me to believe Kreeft’s case against the Hallucination Theory will FAIL.  I suspect that Kreeft’s case against the Hallucination Theory will FAIL, because Kreeft’s case against the Swoon Theory FAILED completely and because Kreeft’s case against the Conspiracy Theory FAILED completely.   Kreeft has already demonstrated that he has no intellectual ability to distinguish between a strong and solid objection to a theory and a weak and faulty objection and that he is capable of presenting collections of several objections all of which are weak or illogical or dubious.
Furthermore, a brief glance at Kreeft’s case against the Hallucination Theory reveals that it suffers from the same basic problems as McDowell’s case. First, it is ridiculously short.  Kreeft presents his thirteen objections in less than two (full) pages of text (see HCA, p.186-188).  This results in two major intellectual problems:

(1) empirical claims about the nature of hallucinations are often UNCLEAR and are NOT supported with appropriate scientific evidence and scientific reasoning, and

(2) historical claims about Jesus and his disciples are often UNCLEAR and are NOT supported with appropriate historical evidence and historical reasoning

McDowell and Kreeft both generally make many factual claims and assumptions, and they almost never back them up with appropriate evidence and reasoning, even when those claims are crucial to their case.
 
FIVE SETS OF OBJECTIONS
Kreeft actually presents fourteen objections against the Hallucination Theory (although his own numbering of the objections ends at Objection #13).  I have divided those objections into five groups, based on key problems or aspects of the objections:

I. The “Witnesses” Objections (Objection #1, #2, and #3)

II.  The Equivocation Objections  (Objection #4 and #5)

III. The Dubious-Hallucination-Principles Objections (Objection #6, #8, #9, and #10)

IV. The Self-Defeating Objections (Objection #7 and #14)

V. The Empty-Tomb Objections (Objection #11, #12, and #13)

Having examined these fourteen objections against the Hallucination Theory, I am now convinced that they all FAIL to refute that skeptical theory, and that Kreeft’s case against the Hallucination Theory FAILS, and thus that his case for the resurrection of Jesus FAILS.  For the remaining posts in this series I will work my way through the five groups of objections, and will argue that each of the fourteen objections FAILS.

bookmark_borderBack to God and Leviticus

When Easter rolled around this year, I dove back into the questions “Did God raise Jesus from the dead?”  and “Did Jesus rise from the dead?”  These are issues that I have enjoyed thinking about for the past four decades, and will continue to think and write about for the rest of my life.
 
DEFENDING THE HALLUCINATION THEORY
I wrote a series of posts defending the Hallucination Theory, specifically examining seven objections raised against this theory by Josh McDowell in his book The Resurrection Factor.  I discovered that the main problem with McDowell’s discussion about this skeptical theory is that he DOES NOT HAVE A CLUE about (a) what the word “hallucination” means, (b) what psychologists have learned about hallucinations and dreams, and (c) how to present a clear and intelligent argument for an historical claim about Jesus.  So, McDowell had no chance of producing a solid and strong refutation of the Hallucination Theory.  
His more recent defense of the resurrection in a book co-authored with his son, Evidence for the Resurrection mostly re-hashes the same pathetic objections against the Hallucination Theory, and COMPLETELY FAILS to refute that skeptical theory just like he COMPLETELY FAILED to refute it in The Resurrection Factor.  I noticed that in the most recent version of Evidence that Demands a Verdict McDowell abandoned his pathetic case against the Hallucination Theory and instead points to Peter Kreeft’s pathetic attempt to refute it (although Kreeft’s attempt appears to lean heavily on McDowell’s case).
 
DEFENDING OTHER SKEPTICAL THEORIES ABOUT THE RESURRECTION
If you are interested in the questions “Did God raise Jesus from the dead?”  and “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” you might want to also see my series of posts defending the Conspiracy Theory against objections raised by Peter Kreeft in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (co-authored with Ronald Tacelli), and my series of posts defending the Apparent Death Theory (or “Swoon Theory”) against objections raised by Peter Kreeft.

Portion of the Temple Scroll, labeled 11Q19, one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls

 
BACK TO GOD, LEVITICUS, AND THE PERVERTED FACULTY ARGUMENT
Having exposed McDowell’s sham of a case against the Hallucination Theory, I will now return to my previous topics:

  • Leviticus and Homosexuality

Part 12: More Bad Guidelines is where I left off on Leviticus.

  • Feser’s Perverted Faculty Argument

Part 1: The Core Argument is where I left off on the Perverted Faculty Argument.

  • The Thomist Cosmological Argument

I’m critiquing Norman Geisler’s pathetic attempt to present a Thomist cosmological argument, as a warmup exercise before I attempt to critique Feser’s better and clearer presentation of this argument for the existence of God.

 

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? INDEX

In the series of posts titled “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” I have argued in defense of the Hallucination Theory, the view that one or more of Jesus’ disciples believed that Jesus rose from the dead because of a dream or hallucination (or some other form of distorted or mistaken perceptual experience) in which it seemed that a living and physical Jesus was seen and/or heard by the disciple(s) at some point after Jesus was crucified, and presumably died.
I do NOT confidently believe that the Hallucination Theory is TRUE, but I do think it is a plausible theory that should be taken seriously, and I firmly and confidently believe that the attempts of Christian apologists to refute or disprove this skeptical theory have (so far) COMPLETELY FAILED.
(I also confidently believe that the attempts of Christian apologists to refute or disprove the Apparent Death Theory have COMPLETELY FAILED; see my series of posts defending this theory against several objections raised by Peter Kreeft.  I also confidently believe that the attempts of Christian apologists to refute or disprove the Conspiracy Theory have COMPLETELY FAILED; see my series of posts defending this theory against several objections raised by Peter Kreeft.)
In the series of posts “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” I argue that each one of the SEVEN objections raised by Josh McDowell in his book The Resurrection Factor FAILS, and that his case against the Hallucination Theory FAILS to refute or disprove that skeptical theory.
There is one primary problem, and two main subsidiary problems with McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory.  The primary problem is that McDowell shoots himself in both feet by attempting to refute the Hallucination Theory in less than five full pages of text (TRF, p.91-96. There is only about a third of a page on this subject on p.91 and only about a quarter of a page on p.96).  It was IDIOTIC for him to attempt to do this in just a few pages, and this doomed his effort to COMPLETE FAILURE from the very start.
Attempting to lay out a refutation of the Hallucination Theory in just a few pages resulted in two major problems:  (1) McDowell presents ZERO evidence in support of the key psychological “principles” about hallucinations that his case is based upon, and (2) McDowell does a horrible job of providing evidence and reasoning in support of the various historical claims and assumptions upon which his case is based.  The result is that McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory in TRF is a complete and utter FAILURE.

https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/04/05/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-1-the-hallucination-theory/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/04/06/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-2-more-objections-to-the-hallucination-theory/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/04/12/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-3-the-no-expectancy-objection/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/04/16/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-4-more-problems-with-objection-trf5/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/05/02/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-5-the-failure-of-no-expectancy-objection-trf5/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/05/05/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-6-the-no-favorable-circumstances-objection-trf4/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/05/11/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-7-the-doesnt-match-the-facts-objection-trf7/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/05/20/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-8-the-very-personal-objection-trf2/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/06/08/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-9-dining-with-jesus/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/06/15/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-10-looking-at-luke-24/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2021/06/20/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead-part-11-five-hundred-witnesses/

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 11: Five Hundred Witnesses

WHERE WE ARE
In Parts 1 through 7 of this series,  I argued that at least six of Josh McDowell’s seven objections (in The Resurrection Factor; hereafter: TRF) against the Hallucination Theory FAIL.
In Part 8 of this series, I began to examine McDowell’s one remaining objection: Objection TRF2 (“Very Personal”).  McDowell presents this objection in three short paragraphs (TRF p. 93-94).
I found some serious problems in the first paragraph on Objection TRF2.  I pointed out that McDowell commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION, because the phrase “the same hallucination” (and “the same dream”) is AMBIGUOUS, and McDowell shifts from one meaning of this phrase to another meaning in the course of his confused reasoning.
In Part 9 of this series, I began to examine the second paragraph in McDowell’s presentation of  Objection TRF2.  
I also found some serious problems in the second paragraph on Objection TRF2. I pointed out that, contrary to McDowell, common experience, scientific studies, and a number of passages in the Bible all agree that it is possible for us to dream about a person sitting down and eating something along with the person who is having the dream, and thus it is possible to have an hallucination about a person sitting down and eating something along with the person who is having the hallucination.
I also pointed out that McDowell commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION in the second paragraph, because the following key statement is AMBIGUOUS, and in one sense the statement is relevant but FALSE, and in another sense the statement is true but IRRELEVANT:

An illusion does not sit down and have dinner with you… (TRF, p. 94. I am using the Authentic Media version published in 2005)

In Part 10 of this series, I continued to criticize McDowell’s Objection TRF2.  I pointed out that McDowell does not provide ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER in support of the psychological principles that his case against the Hallucination Theory is based upon.  And I objected that McDowell does a terrible job of supporting the historical claims and assumptions upon which his case is based, including the historical claims upon which Objection TRF2 is based.
McDowell cites a few passages from Luke 24 and from John 20 and 21.   I pointed out that McDowell did not cite or quote any passages from the other two gospels: Mark and Matthew, and that those two gospels CONTRADICT the claims in Luke and John that the risen Jesus appeared to his male disciples on the first Easter Sunday.  This completely destroys the credibility of the passages cited by McDowell from Luke and John, and shows that those passages are probably fictional stories.
The serious problems that I have pointed out with Objection TRF2 seem sufficient to show that this objection FAILS, but I have not yet examined the third paragraph of McDowell’s presentation of this objection, so I don’t want to declare victory until giving McDowell this one last chance to rescue Objection TRF2 from complete FAILURE.
 
FIVE HUNDRED WITNESSES OF THE RISEN JESUS
Since all of the other objections raised by McDowell in TRF against the Hallucination Theory have FAILED, it all comes down to Objection TRF2 and whether this objection clearly shows that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE (or that it is highly probable that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE).  And since the first two paragraphs of McDowell’s presentation of Objection TRF2 fail to support the key claims and assumptions of this objection, and since McDowell commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION in both of those paragraphs, the success or failure of this objection comes down to the contents of the third paragraph of his presentation of this objection.
The first two sentences of the third paragraph state the main point of that paragraph:

A ‘hallucination’ is a very private event–a purely subjective experience void of any external reference or object.  If two people cannot initiate or sustain the same vision without any external object or reference, how could more than 500 do so at one time?  (TRF, p.94)

If this final attempt to shore up Objection TRF2 FAILS, then ALL of McDowell’s objections to the Hallucination Theory FAIL, and his case against the Hallucination Theory FAILS.
McDowell does not present ANY HISTORICAL EVIDENCE in this paragraph supporting the key historical claim that “more than 500” people saw the risen Jesus “at one time”.  Furthermore, he also does not give us an END NOTE with a quotation or citation of a biblical passage to support this historical claim, let alone make an attempt to provide a clear and intelligent argument in support of this key historical claim.  However, he has briefly discussed this claim in a previous chapter of TRF (on pages 78and 79).
Here is the biblical passage that McDowell uses to support this historical claim:

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,
5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
(1 Corinthians 15:3-8, NRSV, emphasis added)

This is a passage from a letter written by the apostle Paul.   The phrase “brothers and sisters” is not a literal reference to family relationships, but means “male and female Christian believers”.
 
WERE THESE PEOPLE ALREADY CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS?
This suggests an important question about these “witnesses” of the risen Jesus: were they all Christian believers BEFORE having this experience or did some/most/all of them convert to Christianity AFTER this experience?  That makes a big difference in terms of the possibility of bias and wishful thinking being involved in their experiences of this event.  If these people were Christian believers BEFORE having this experience, then they already believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and they already believed that some people had seen the risen Jesus.  Such Christian believers would be inclined to desire and to expect to have experiences of the risen Jesus, and thus they would be biased and subject to wishful thinking concerning having such an experience.
Paul gives us NO INFORMATION on this point, other than to indicate that these people are Christian believers now.  For all we know, ALL of these people were Christian believers at the time this event took place.
 
HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE ACTUALLY PRESENT?
“five hundred” is a very round number, and it seem unlikely that a head count would have been done during this event or immediately afterwards, so this number is probably NOT an actual head count. This is probably a guess or an estimate of the size of a crowd of people.
How was this estimate made?

  • Did someone who was present during the event look around at the group and guess at that time the number of people in the crowd?
  • Did someone who was present during the event, make a guess a day or two after the event at the number of people who had been present?
  • Did someone who was present during the event, make a guess a week or two after the event at the number of people who had been present?
  • Did someone who was present during the event, make a guess a month or two after the event at the number of people who had been present?
  • Did someone who was present during the event, make a guess a year or two after the event at the number of people who had been present?
  • Did someone who was NOT present during the event, but who spoke with various people who were present during the event, make a guess a day or two after the event at the number of people present?
  • Did someone who was NOT present during the event, but who spoke with various people who were present during the event, make a guess a week or two after the event at the number of people present?
  • Did someone who was NOT present during the event, but who spoke with various people who were present during the event, make a guess a month or two after the event at the number of people present?
  • Did someone who was NOT present during the event, but who spoke with various people who were present during the event, make a guess a year or two after the event at the number of people present?

Paul gives us NO INFORMATION about HOW this estimate was made, about WHO made the estimate, and WHEN (how long after the event) the estimate was made.
 
WHEN AND WHERE DID THIS OCCUR?
If this was an actual historical event, then it took place on a particular day, and in a particular place.  When and where did this event occur?  Paul gives us NO INFORMATION about WHERE this occurred, and only provides very vague information about WHEN it occurred:  it happened sometime AFTER “the twelve” apostles had an experience of the risen Jesus, and sometime BEFORE Paul had an experience of the risen Jesus. ( It is odd that Paul mentions “the twelve” apostles, because there were only eleven apostles who had experiences of the risen Jesus, according to Matthew, Luke, and John.  No gospel mentions that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, had an experience of the risen Jesus.)   Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus happened a number of years after the crucifixion of Jesus, while the eleven apostles had experiences of the risen Jesus within weeks of the crucifixion, so this is a very broad span of time.
If this event took place a year or more after the crucifixion, these people were probably all Christian believers who already believed that Jesus had risen from the dead, and thus were subject to significant bias and wishful thinking in relation to having an experience they would describe as “seeing the risen Jesus”.
 
WHAT SORT OF EXPERIENCE WAS THIS?
What sort of experience was this for these people?  Did they all have exactly the same experience?

  • Were hundreds of Christian believers gathered together, worshipping, singing, and praying in tongues at the time of this experience?  
  • Did they all experience this as a dream or vision or did it seem like an ordinary sense experience?
  • Did some experience a vision and others seem to have an ordinary sense experience?
  • Did the people all experience a flash of light in the sky at the same time?
  • Did the people all hear the voice of Jesus speaking at the same time?
  • Did the people all hear Jesus speaking the very same words?
  • Did the people all see Jesus walking around in the exact same direction and at the exact same spot at the same time?
  • Did the people all see Jesus wearing the same color and style of clothing, the same style and color of hair, the same eye color, the same height, the same type of facial hair?

Paul gives us NO INFORMATION about WHAT SORT of experience or experiences these people had.  For all we know these experiences were all clearly subjective in nature, like dreams or visions.
 
HOW LONG DID THESE EXPERIENCES LAST?

  • Did these experiences last for only a second or two?
  • Did these experiences last for only a minute or two?
  • Did these experiences last for an hour or two?
  • Did these experience last for several hours?
  • Did these experiences last for a day or two?
  • Did these experiences last only briefly (seconds) for some, but much longer (minutes or hours) for others?

Paul gives us NO INFORMATION about the the DURATION of these experiences.  For all we know, these experiences only lasted for a second or two and then abruptly ended.
===============

In short, we don’t know HOW MANY people had this experience,

and we don’t know WHEN or WHERE this event took place,

and we don’t know WHAT SORT of experiences these people had,

or HOW SIMILAR their experiences were,

and we don’t know HOW LONG these experiences lasted!

===============
HOW MANY OF THESE PEOPLE KNEW THE HISTORICAL JESUS?
There is one more crucial aspect of this event that we don’t know about.  Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus is of dubious value as evidence for the resurrection because, so far as we know, Paul never met Jesus before Jesus was crucified and buried: Paul did not know what Jesus looked like.  
Since Paul did not know what Jesus looked like, Paul COULD NOT IDENTIFY any person as being Jesus of Nazareth.  The eleven apostles traveled around with Jesus for a year or longer, so they knew what Jesus looked like.  But Paul was not a follower of Jesus when Jesus was a preacher, prophet, and faith healer.  Because Paul never met the historical Jesus, Paul would have no way of identifying any person as being Jesus of Nazareth, so Paul’s alleged experience of the risen Jesus has no significant value as evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

La conversión de San Pablo by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

The same problem occurs with the “five hundred” witnesses of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus:

  • Did ALL of these people know the historical Jesus?
  • Did MOST but not ALL of these people know the historical Jesus?
  • Did MANY but not MOST of these people know the historical Jesus?
  • Did ONLY A FEW of these people know the historical Jesus?
  • Did NONE of these people know the historical Jesus?

These are absolutely crucial questions for doing a rational evaluation of the experiences of the “five hundred” alleged witnesses of an appearance of the risen Jesus.  If NONE of these people knew the historical Jesus, then NONE of these people would be ABLE TO IDENTIFY a person they saw as being Jesus of Nazareth.  If ONLY A FEW of these people knew the historical Jesus, then only a FEW of them would BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY a person they saw as being Jesus of Nazareth.  However, Paul gives us NO INFORMATION about these “five hundred” witnesses and whether any of them knew the historical Jesus.
 
FOR ALL WE KNOW
For all we know, given the extremely limited information provided by Paul, this is what actually happened:

Two hundred and twenty-three Christian believers were gathered together in Thessalonica on a Sunday, worshipping Jesus and singing hymns.  The crowd was whipped into an ecstatic religious frenzy, and after two hours of the believers singing and speaking in tongues, a preacher/prophet among them shouted out “Jesus is here!  Jesus is here!” and this preacher/prophet looked up into the sky and had a vision of Jesus in the clouds.  He spoke again:  “I see Jesus standing on the clouds right above us!”  and through the power of suggestion, a few of the Christian believers (more specifically, three believers) who were in a state of religious frenzy also “saw” Jesus in the clouds overhead for about four seconds.   But the preacher/prophet and the few other Christians who “saw” Jesus in the clouds were people who, like Paul, had never actually met the historical Jesus.

Ten months later, someone named Jason who was present during this Christian worship service told Paul that there was “a crowd of about  500 people gathered together” and that the risen Jesus was seen in the clouds overhead, above the gathered crowd.  Jason did not himself see Jesus, but knew that the preacher and some others in the crowd sincerely believed they saw Jesus in the clouds that day.  Jason did NOT say to Paul that everyone in the crowd saw Jesus in the clouds that day, but Paul mistakenly inferred that this is what took place. 

The estimate of there being “five hundred” or more people gathered together at the event was a serious exaggeration due to (a) the fact that Jason’s memory of the event was several months old by the time he told this story to Paul, and (b) due to the strong desire of Jason to tell an exciting and impressive story to Paul.  The number of people who had the experience of “seeing” Jesus in the clouds (as a vision, not as an ordinary sensory experience) was not wrongly estimated by Jason, but Paul misunderstood the story, because the story was told in a vague or unclear way by Jason, so Paul mistakenly inferred that everyone present had experienced seeing Jesus in the clouds overhead, when in fact only a few people in the crowd had a visionary experience of “seeing” Jesus in the clouds that day.

If the above description of the actual event is correct, then the evidence provided by McDowell about the “five hundred” people who allegedly experienced an appearance of the risen Jesus is WORTHLESS as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, and WORTHLESS as evidence against the Hallucination Theory.  For all we know, given the extremely limited information provided by Paul, the above scenario describes what actually took place.  Thus, for all we know, this evidence from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is WORTHLESS as evidence against the Hallucination Theory.
Although such very brief “visions” of Jesus during an ecstatic religious frenzy might not constitute hallucinations, and thus the Hallucination Theory might not itself explain this particular event, the Hallucination Theory would NOT be significantly damaged or thrown into doubt by this event, as described above.  The purpose of the Hallucination Theory is NOT to explain every religious experience any Christian believer will ever have, but to explain why at least some of Jesus’ original disciples came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Of course, McDowell and other Christian apologists can imagine the original event being very different from the description I presented above.  He could imagine that there were in fact five hundred thirty-four people present at the event, that none of them were Christian believers, that they all knew the historical Jesus very well, and that their experiences of the risen Jesus seemed like normal sensory experiences of a physical person, and that they all saw Jesus wearing the same color and style of clothing, and they all saw Jesus up close, face-to-face, and clearly recognized his face and his voice, and that they interacted with this person who taught them parables about the kingdom of God for hours, and…  In other words, McDowell and other Christian apologists can imagine a scenario that would make this event into very powerful evidence for the claim that more than five hundred people experienced an appearance of the risen Jesus, and that this was NOT an hallucination, dream, or a religious vision.
But there is no way to rule out my description of this event or to show that their imagined description of the alleged event is even probably correct.  The evidence is way too skimpy to make a reasonable determination either way.  The one single vague sentence by Paul in 1 Corinthians does not provide enough information to establish whether the alleged event provides any significant support for belief in the resurrection of Jesus or any significant support for the view that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE.
 
A PURELY SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE VOID OF ANY EXTERNAL REFERENCE OR OBJECT ?
McDowell re-states one of his definitions of “hallucination” in the first sentence of the third paragraph of his presentation of Objection TRF2:

A ‘hallucination’ is … a purely subjective experience void of any external reference or object.  (TRF, p.94)

So far, I have not challenged this definition.  However, there is a problem here that is significant for evaluating Objection TRF2.  
The  term “hallucination” is ambiguous.  Sometimes the term is used narrowly to mean a subjective experience “void of any external reference or object”, but sometimes it is used more loosely to refer to subjective experiences that are not entirely “void of any external reference or object.”  The term “hallucination” is sometimes used to refer to distortions of perception of an actual person or object.
For example, suppose that a woman has taken a dose of LSD and as a result she experiences her boyfriend as being a vampire, she sees her boyfriend as having long sharp bloody fangs, and sees him as wearing a long black cape, and sees him as attempting to bite her neck, when in actuality, he does NOT have long sharp fangs, is NOT wearing a long black cape, and is making no attempt to bite her neck.  We would be inclined to say that this woman is experiencing an “hallucination”, but her boyfriend is in fact present, and she is looking directly at her boyfriend, so her experience is ABOUT her boyfriend who is actually physically present in the room with this woman.  Her perceptions of her boyfriend at that moment are mistaken, inaccurate, and false, but her subjective experience is NOT entirely “void of any external reference or object”.
Another example would be if a driver of a car was under the influence of LSD, and as a result of the LSD this driver saw a large fire-breathing dragon sitting in the middle of the highway up ahead, when there was no such creature positioned in the middle of the highway up ahead.  We would be inclined to say that this driver is “hallucinating” the dragon, and yet the driver “sees” the dragon sitting on the highway, and the highway is real and actually exists.  So, in this case the subjective experience of this driver could be reasonably called an “hallucination” even though part of the experience is of an actual external object: the highway.  So, this is an example of an “hallucination” which is NOT  entirely “void of any external reference or object”.
Dreams actually fit McDowell’s definition better than do hallucinations.  In a dream EVERYTHING is subjective and made up by one’s mind or imagination (typically).  There are (typically) no elements or parts of a dream that are directly caused by perception of actual external objects.  Hallucinations, however, often involve a combination of completely imaginary things or creatures that are experienced in a context of other things that are objectively real and perceived by the senses (e.g. the bloody fangs are imaginary, but the boyfriend is real; the dragon is imaginary, but the highway is real).
In any case, if McDowell wants to insist on his narrow definition of “hallucination”, then his case against skeptical theories about the resurrection is doomed to FAIL, because he will be ignoring a significant skeptical theory that refers to subjective distortions of experience that don’t fit his narrow definition of “hallucination”, namely the vast array of distorted perceptual experiences in which a PART of the experience is imaginary, while another PART of the experience is NOT imaginary, but is based upon sensory perception of an actual external object.  His “refutation” of the Hallucination Theory, would in this case, leave untouched the largest collection of mistaken distorted experiences that most people are inclined to call “hallucinations”.
So, McDowell can EITHER stick with his narrow definition of “hallucination” in which case his refutation of the Hallucination Theory will be insignificant and largely irrelevant, OR he can broaden his definition of “hallucination” in which case his argument about hundreds of witnesses seeing the risen Jesus at the same time, will FAIL.  Either way Objection TRF2 FAILS.
 
ONE FINAL PROBLEM WITH OBJECTION TRF2
Since this event where hundreds of people allegedly experienced an appearance of the risen Jesus supposedly occurred after the crucifixion of Jesus and before Paul’s conversion to Christianity, this event took place before any of the four gospels or the book of Acts was written.  This gives us a good reason to doubt that this event was an actual historical event.

  • Why would the Gospel of Mark not mention that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus at the same time? 
  • Why would the Gospel of Matthew not mention that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus at the same time? 
  • Why would the Gospel of Luke not mention that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus at the same time? 
  • Why would the Fourth Gospel (John) not mention that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus at the same time?
  • Why would the book of Acts (about the early spread of Christianity) not mention that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus at the same time?

All five of these books were written by Christian authors who desired to promote the Christian faith, and who viewed the resurrection of Jesus as the turning point of history, so all five of these books were written by authors who desired to promote belief in the death and the miraculous resurrection of Jesus.  So, why do NONE of these books mention that hundreds of people experienced an appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time?  This suggests that this story that Paul told the Corinthians was a story that most Christians in the first century doubted or rejected, including the authors of the gospels.
 
CONCLUSION
Because of the extremely limited information provided by Paul about this event, the claim about there being “five hundred” witnesses of an appearance of the risen Jesus FAILS to show that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE (or that it is highly probable that this theory is FALSE), because this is the main point made in the third paragraph of McDowell’s presentation of Objection TRF2, and because this third paragraph was his last chance of showing that this is a solid and powerful objection against the Hallucination Theory, we may now confidently conclude that Objection TRF2 FAILS, just like all of the other objections that McDowell raised against the Hallucination Theory in Chapter 5 of TRF.
McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory  in his book The Resurrection Factor FAILS, because ALL SEVEN of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory FAIL:

 
 

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 10: Looking at Luke 24

WHERE WE ARE
In Parts 1 through 7 of this series,  I argued that at least six of Josh McDowell’s seven objections (in The Resurrection Factor; hereafter: TRF). against the Hallucination Theory FAIL.
In Part 8 of this series, I began to examine McDowell’s one remaining objection: Objection TRF2 (“Very Personal”).  McDowell presents this objection in three short paragraphs (TRF p. 93-94).
I found some serious problems in the first paragraph on Objection TRF2.  I pointed out that McDowell commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION, because the phrase “the same hallucination” (and “the same dream”) is AMBIGUOUS, and McDowell shifts from one meaning of this phrase to another meaning in the course of his confused reasoning.
Furthermore, I argued that two people having “the same dream” is NOT as unlikely as it might seem, because dreams are based on our experiences and memories, and because people often have similar experiences and similar memories.  We know from empirical studies that people often have similar dreams, especially if those people have similar experiences when they are awake.  For example, many students have dreams about teachers, and classrooms, and about failing exams.  Hallucinations are also based on our experiences and memories, as McDowell himself admits, so two people having “the same hallucination” is NOT as unlikely as it might seem, for the same reason.
In Part 9 of this series, I began to examine the second paragraph in McDowell’s presentation of  Objection TRF2.  
I pointed out that, contrary to McDowell, common experience, scientific studies, and a number of passages in the Bible all agree that it is possible for us to dream about a person sitting down and eating something along with the person who is having the dream, and thus it is possible to have an hallucination about a person sitting down and eating something along with the person who is having the hallucination.
I pointed out that McDowell also commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION in the second paragraph, because the following sentence is UNCLEAR:

An illusion does not sit down and have dinner with you. (TRF, p. 94. I am using the Authentic Media version published in 2005)

This statement is AMBIGUOUS and has at least two different meanings:

Claim A: When you hallucinate about a person, your hallucination will NOT involve that person appearing to sit down and have dinner with you. 

Claim B: When you hallucinate about a person sitting down and having dinner with you, that person is NOT actually having dinner with you at that time.

Only Claim A is RELEVANT to the question at hand, but Claim A is clearly FALSE.  Claim B is clearly true, but it is IRRELEVANT to the question at issue.  So, McDowell commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION in both the first paragraph and the second paragraph of his presentation of Objection TRF2.
 
WHERE IS THE BEEF?
On the front cover of my copy of The Resurrection Factor, just below the title, I find these words:

COMPELLING EVIDENCE WHICH PROVES THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

This strong claim is not repeated by McDowell inside the book, so one might suspect that this is just HYPE that was slapped onto the cover by the publisher in order to sell more copies of the book.  However, when McDowell has finished presenting his case at the end of Chapter 8, he does make a similarly strong claim:

…the evidence forced me to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead… (TRF, p.132)

So, the strong claim on the cover of the book does seem like a claim that McDowell would endorse.
McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory is, in general, based upon “principles” stating “essential conditions” for hallucinations to occur:

… conditions which most psychiatrists and  psychologists agree must be present to have a hallucination. (TRF, p.93)

  • Does McDowell provide “COMPELLING EVIDENCE” showing these psychological principles to be true?  Nope.
  • Does McDowell provide “COMPELLING EVIDENCE” showing that “most psychiatrists and psychologists” agree with these psychological principles?  Nope.
  • Does McDowell provide ANY EVIDENCE AT ALL supporting these principles or supporting the claim that these principles are widely accepted by psychological experts? Nope.

Because NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER is presented in support of these key psychological principles, McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory FAILS, for that reason alone.
A second general problem with McDowell’s attempt to disprove the Hallucination Theory, is the LACK OF EVIDENCE AND REASONING supporting McDowell’s historical claims and assumptions.  McDowell’s case against the Hallucination Theory FAILS not only because he provides ZERO EVIDENCE in support of the key psychological principles upon which his case is based, but also because he does a horrible job of providing historical evidence and reasoning in support of the key historical claims and assumptions in his case against the Hallucination Theory.
This general problem applies specifically to his presentation of Objection TRF2 (Very Personal).  In the three short paragraphs where McDowell presents this objection, there is NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE presented for the relevant historical claims and assumptions.  This is not surprising, since one can hardly present and explain historical evidence in support of historical claims about Jesus and his disciples in the span of just three short paragraphs.  The extreme brevity of his presentation of Objection TRF2 makes it impossible for McDowell to present and explain historical evidence supporting historical claims about Jesus in any sort of clear and intelligent manner.  McDowell shot himself in both feet by attempting to disprove the Hallucination Theory in less than five pages.  This was an exercise doomed to failure from the start.
Of course, McDowell is writing for a general audience, and an audience that is NOT particularly intellectually inclined.  He is writing for Evangelical Christians, who are, in general, unable to think their way out of a wet paper sack.  The fact that they read anything that even pretends to be intellectual is a small miracle.  So, if McDowell were to present actual historical evidence for an historical claim about Jesus, and present that evidence in a clear and intelligent manner, he would lose most of his readers.  So, he is stuck in a bind having to choose between either writing something that is clear and intelligent on the one hand, and writing something that his target audience will actually purchase and read on the other hand.
 
END NOTES FOR HISTORICAL CLAIMS
There is a potential solution to McDowell’s dilemma, however.  He could provide clear and intelligent presentations of historical evidence supporting the relevant historical claims in END NOTES.  That way his anti-intellectual readers won’t have to be bothered with something as silly as the clear and intelligent presentation of evidence to support key historical claims that are required for McDowell’s case.  In fact, McDowell has some end notes in the second paragraph of his presentation of Objection TRF2, so we should carefully examine what he has to say in those END NOTES.  Perhaps his end notes make up for the absence of any significant intellectual content in the body of the text.
Here is the second paragraph, including the numeric references to his end notes:

Christ also ate with those to whom He appeared. [190]  And He not only exhibited His wounds, [191] but He also encouraged a closer inspection.  An illusion does not sit down and have dinner with you, and cannot be scrutinized by various individuals at will.              (TRF, p.94)

Here is the entire contents of the two endnotes for the above paragraph:

190. Luke 24:41, 42; John 21:13.
191. Luke 24:39, 40; John 20:27. 

(TRF, p.207)

McDowell doesn’t even bother to quote the gospel passages!  He doesn’t even give us one single complete sentence!  There is no explication or clarification or explanation or any reasoning at all here.  This is about as horrible and pathetic a job of presenting historical evidence for an historical claim about Jesus as one can imagine.  Citing chapter and verse from one or two gospels (without even quoting the passages) is NOT presenting historical evidence for an historical claim about Jesus in a clear and intelligent manner.  These endnotes constitute “COMPELLING EVIDENCE” as much as does a pile of stinking dog crap.
But, this is not nothing.  This is something.  McDowell at least points us in the direction of some relevant historical data.  Passages from the gospels are historical data, but we cannot simply assume, like the ignorant Bible-thumpers for whom McDowell writes his books, that whatever some gospel passage appears to say happened was an actual historical event that happened precisely as that passage seems to describe.
The first thing that occurs to me, apart from disgust at this horrible job of presenting historical evidence, is that only two gospels are referenced here.  But there are four gospels in the NT, so why doesn’t McDowell reference passages from the other two gospels? Why doesn’t McDowell also cite passages from  Mark and Matthew?
I am familiar with the four gospels, so I already know the answer to this question: Mark and Matthew CONTRADICT Luke and John on the very point at issue!  McDowell has CHERRY PICKED the evidence, focusing on the two gospels that support his historical claim, and ignoring the two gospels that CONTRADICT his historical claim.  Another way of looking at this is that McDowell’s thinking here is infected with CONFIRMATION BIAS. He was looking only for evidence that supports his historical claim, and had no interest in any evidence that goes against his historical claim.
The most important gospel for attempting to get at the truth about the historical Jesus (if there was an historical Jesus) is the Gospel of Mark, because this was the earliest gospel to be written, of the four gospels found in the New Testament.  Also, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke use Mark as a primary source of information for their gospels, so if Mark is historically unreliable, then so are Matthew and Luke.  Mark was written around 70 CE, but Matthew and Luke were written around 85 CE, and the 4th Gospel (John) was written around 95 CE.
The Gospel of Mark is the earliest account we have of the life, ministry and death of Jesus, and so the “information” about Jesus’ life, ministry, and death in Mark are to be viewed as more reliable and more likely to be historical than the “information” about Jesus found in Matthew, Luke, and John, other things being equal.
 
THE 4TH GOSPEL (JOHN) ON THE APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN JESUS
For over a century, scholars who were interested in getting at the truth about the historical Jesus did not even bother studying the 4th Gospel (John), because that gospel was written several decades after the crucifixion of Jesus, and because it was so clearly shaped by theological agendas.
These days, scholars recognize that all four gospels were shaped by theological agendas, and that NO GOSPEL provides a reliable historical account of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus, and, on the other hand, that there are at least bits and pieces of historical data that can be found in each of the four gospels, through careful critical study, even in the dubious 4th gospel.*  McDowell leans heavily on the 4th Gospel, but as I have argued elsewhere ( Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 6: Objections Based on the 4th Gospel ), that gospel is clearly historically unreliable, so it is reasonable to set aside the two passages from the 4th Gospel (John) provided in the above two end notes, particularly since McDowell gives us no reason to take these particular passages from the generally dubious 4th Gospel seriously as providing reliable historical data.
That leaves us with the two passages from the Gospel of Luke to consider.  But before we examine those passages from Luke, we should study the evidence that McDowell FAILED TO MENTION: the evidence about the alleged appearances of the risen Jesus from the Gospel of Mark, and from the Gospel of Matthew.
 
MARK ON THE APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN JESUS
First of all, there are no stories at all about a risen Jesus appearing to any of his followers in the Gospel of Mark (the mention of some such appearances in the second half of Chapter 16 of Mark were not part of the original text of this gospel).  This does not mean, however, that the author of Mark doubted the resurrection or doubted that some of Jesus’ disciples had experiences of a risen Jesus.  The author of Mark clearly implies that a risen Jesus did appear to some of his disciples at some point after Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb.
However, what is crucial about Mark’s account concerning the alleged appearances of the risen Jesus to his disciples, is that the first appearances to his disciples took place in GALILEE, and NOT in Jerusalem:

1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 
3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 
4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 
6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 
8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark 16:1-8 (NRSV, emphasis added)

There is no appearance of the risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene (or to any of the women who went to the tomb on Sunday morning) in the Gospel of Mark.  There is no appearance of the risen Jesus to any of Jesus’ male disciples on Easter Sunday in the Gospel of Mark.
The young man in the tomb dressed in a white robe (an angel?) indicates that the risen Jesus is heading back to GALILEE, and that his disciples will see the risen Jesus in GALILEE.  If Jesus began walking back to GALILEE on the morning of the first Easter Sunday, then Jesus did NOT visit his gathered disciples in Jerusalem on the evening of Easter Sunday.  Furthermore, the author of Mark clearly implies in this passage that the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his disciples took place in GALILEE, and did NOT take place in Jerusalem.
Since it takes several days to walk from Jerusalem to GALILEE, the author of Mark also implies that the first appearances of the risen Jesus took place about a week or two AFTER Jesus was crucified, and did NOT take place on the first Easter Sunday.  Therefore, the Gospel of Mark clearly CONTRADICTS both the Gospel of Luke and the 4th Gospel, which claim that the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his disciples took place on the first Easter Sunday, about 48 hours after Jesus was removed from the cross.
Mark places the first appearances of Jesus in GALILEE about a week or two after the crucifixion, while Luke and the 4th Gospel place the first appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem on the first Easter Sunday, about 48 hours after Jesus was removed from the cross.  The historical information in the 4th Gospel is highly unreliable, so we should clearly prefer the Gospel of Mark’s account of this over the account in the 4th Gospel.  And Gospel of Mark is earlier than the Gospel of Luke, so we should prefer Mark’s account to Luke’s account of what happened after the burial of Jesus, other things being equal.
But if Mark’s account is correct, then Luke’s story about Jesus appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter Sunday is fictional.  It is either entirely fictional or else it is based on a traditional story that had an historical basis but was seriously corrupted and altered either by the author of Luke or by the process that transmitted the story from its original source to Luke.  The time and location of the first appearances to Jesus’ male disciples in Luke are completely wrong, if we accept Mark’s account as correct.  That means that Luke’s account has little or no connection with eyewitness testimony about the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his male disciples, because it is highly unlikely that Jesus’ disciples would fail to remember the time and location of the first appearance of the risen Jesus that they experienced together.  In any case, the stories of Easter Sunday appearances of the risen Jesus in Jerusalem found in Luke  are highly dubious.
The RELEVANT HISTORICAL EVIDENCE that McDowell neglected to mention destroys the credibility of the stories about a risen Jesus appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem on the first Easter Sunday.  Perhaps that is WHY he forgot to mention Chapter 16 of the Gospel of Mark.
 
MATTHEW ON THE APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN JESUS
The Gospel of Matthew largely follows Mark’s account, again clearly implying that the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his disciples took place in GALILEE and NOT in Jerusalem:

1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Matthew 28:1-8 (NRSV)

The author of Matthew clearly implies that the risen Jesus is leaving Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday morning and heading back to GALILEE, and also clearly implies that the first appearances of the risen Jesus took place in GALILEE about a week or two after Jesus had been crucified and buried. Furthermore, Matthew not only says nothing about an appearance of the risen Jesus to his disciples in Jerusalem, but he describes an appearance of the risen Jesus that took place in GALILEE:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV, emphasis added)

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the risen Jesus left Jerusalem heading back to Galilee on the morning of the first Easter Sunday, and an angel gave the women visiting Jesus’ tomb a message to tell Jesus’ male disciples: “Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.”  After the disciples were given this message, they too headed back to Galilee, to a particular mountain, where they “saw him”, where they (allegedly) saw the risen Jesus for the first time.
Note that even upon seeing the risen Jesus in Galilee “some doubted”.  How could some of Jesus’ disciples still doubt that Jesus was alive again IF they had already seen him, and eaten with him in Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter Sunday?  If the stories in Luke and John of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem on the first Easter were true, then the disciples would not still doubt his resurrection a week or two later upon seeing the risen Jesus in Galilee.  Matthew’s account CONTRADICTS these Jerusalem appearance stories found in Luke and John.
So, if Chapter 28 of Matthew is correct, then Luke’s story about Jesus appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter Sunday is fictional.  It is either entirely fictional or else it is based on a traditional story that had an historical basis but was seriously corrupted and altered either by the author of Luke or by the process that transmitted the story from its original source to Luke.  In any case, the stories of Easter Sunday appearances of the risen Jesus in Jerusalem found in Luke and John are highly dubious.
The RELEVANT HISTORICAL EVIDENCE that McDowell neglected to mention destroys the credibility of the stories about a risen Jesus appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem on the first Easter Sunday.  Perhaps that is WHY he forgot to mention Chapter 28 of the Gospel of Matthew.
 
LUKE ON THE APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN JESUS
Here is the passage from Luke that McDowell references in the footnotes for the second paragraph on Objection TRF2:

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
(Luke 24:36-43, NRSV, emphasis added)

The LOCATION of this appearance of the risen Jesus is specified in verse 33:

33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.            (Luke 24:33, NRSV, emphasis added)

The phrase “the eleven” refers to Jesus’ inner circle of twelve male disciples minus Judas, who had supposedly betrayed Jesus.

Christ at Emmaus by Rembrandt, 1648, Louvre

The DAY and TIME of this appearance of the risen Jesus is specified in verses 1, 3, 29, and 33:

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they [i.e. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.

13 Now on that same day two of them [i.e. two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem…

29 But they [i.e. two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas] urged him [i.e. the risen Jesus] strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he [Jesus] went in to stay with them.

33 That same hour they [i.e. two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas] got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.   

(Luke 24:1, 13, 29, 33, NRSV, emphasis added)

Luke clearly implies that the first appearance of the risen Jesus to his gathered male disciples (“the eleven”) took place in Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter Sunday.  This CONTRADICTS the accounts of the first appearances of Jesus to his male disciples found in Mark and in Matthew.
Not only does Luke’s account of the Easter Sunday appearances of the risen Jesus CONTRADICT the Gospel of Mark, but Luke makes it clear that he is consciously and deliberately CONTRADICTING the Gospel of Mark on this point.  The Gospel of Mark was a primary source of information used by Luke to construct his gospel, so Luke generally relies on Mark.  Mark’s gospel has the young man in white robes (an angel?) at the tomb tell the women this:

“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”  (Mark 16: 6-7, NRSV)

Luke consciously and deliberately alters what is said to the women at the tomb to this:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galileethat the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”                                     (Luke 24:5-7, NRSV, emphasis added)

Luke intentionally discards the message that Jesus was going to Galilee, and that his disciples would see him in Galilee.   Furthermore, Luke doubles down on his rejection of Mark’s placing the first appearances in Galilee by having Jesus tell his disciples to NOT go to Galilee, but rather to STAY IN JERUSALEM:

46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
(Luke 24:46-49, NRSV, emphasis added)

What Jesus sent, what his Father promised, was the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, which according to the book of Acts, also written by Luke, was sent by Jesus from heaven 50 days after Passover (see Acts 2:1-4), when Jesus was crucified.  So, according to Luke the risen Jesus commanded that his disciples STAY IN JERUSALEM until the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus, which did not occur until about seven weeks after Jesus was crucified.  This clearly contradicts Mark’s implication that Jesus headed for Galilee on the morning of the first Easter Sunday and that his disciples also headed back to Galilee and met up with him there about a week or two after the crucifixion.  Luke thus not only CONTRADICTS the Gospel of Mark, but does so consciously and deliberately, openly rejecting Mark’s implication that the first appearances of the risen Jesus took place in GALILEE about a week or two after the crucifixion of Jesus.
 
CONCLUSION
One must take sides in this open CONFLICT between Luke on the one hand, and Mark and Matthew on the other hand.  Matthew and Luke were both written around 85 CE, and they both depend heavily on Mark’s gospel as a primary source of information about the life, ministry, and death of Jesus.  So, the contradiction between Matthew and Luke means that Matthew cancels out Luke, in that they both have about the same level of credibility and reliability.
That leaves us with Mark versus John.  Mark being the first gospel written (about 70 CE), and John being the last gospel written (about 95 CE), Mark is clearly to be preferred over John in terms of historical reliability, especially in view of the longstanding scholarly view that the 4th Gospel (John) is highly unreliable and strongly shaped by theological agendas.  Thus, Mark’s implication that the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his male disciples took place in Galilee is more likely to be correct than the account of John that has the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his male disciples take place in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday, and therefore John and Luke’s accounts of appearances of the risen Jesus to his disciples in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday are probably fictional.
The biblical evidence that McDowell neglected to mention shows that the passages from Luke and John that he references in end notes #190 and #191 are probably fictional stories.  Therefore, Objection TRF2 FAILS, because (a) McDowell does not provide ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER in support of the psychological principle that is the basis for this objection, and (b) the bits of evidence that he provides in support of his historical claims are shown to be highly dubious in view of clear contradictions between the gospel passages (in Luke and John) that he references in end notes and related passages from other gospels (Mark and Matthew) that he neglects to mention.
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* NOTE:  Because of wishful thinking, the recent shift in historical Jesus scholarship towards making use of the contents of the 4th Gospel has led some Christian believers to embrace the mistaken belief that many NT scholars have recently arrived at the conclusion that the 4th Gospel provides an historically reliable account of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus.  But this is NOT the case.
In a series of posts I have argued that the Jesus scholars who now take the 4th Gospel into consideration in their studies, still hold the traditional scholarly view that the 4th Gospel does NOT provide an historically reliable account of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2019/11/13/hinmans-defense-of-his-sad-little-argument-wishful-thinking-about-nt-scholarship/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2019/11/23/hinmans-defense-of-his-sad-little-argument-wishful-thinking-by-kermit-zarley/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2019/12/01/hinmans-defense-of-his-sad-little-argument-wishful-thinking-by-joe-hinman/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2019/12/04/hinmans-defense-of-his-sad-little-argument-scholars-do-not-believe-4th-gospel-is-reliable/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2019/12/11/hinmans-defense-of-his-sad-little-argument-seven-key-nt-scholars/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2019/12/25/hinmans-defense-of-his-sad-little-argument-what-joe-knows-for-sure-just-aint-so/