We got your emails, everyone.
A video featuring two animated men talking about Christianity and Jesus’ supposed resurrection has already racked up more than 4 million views in a couple of days, and a lot of people are wondering if it has any merit.
After all, the caption says the video is a response for “when an atheist says ‘Why should I believe in Jesus and all those other fairy tales?’” (The only text in the post says “Tag an Atheist.”)
The video, produced by Christian group Impact 360 Institute and shared by Perry Jay Stewart (a.k.a. “Mobbin for Christ”), presents five “facts” that prove Jesus is God because he resurrected after death. The narrator attempts to separate Christianity from other supernatural myths, saying belief in the resurrection of Jesus is “rational” and “based on historical facts.”
- Jesus existed as a man on Earth, and He died by crucifixion.
- His disciples were convinced he rose from the dead and appeared to them.
- Paul became a Christian.
- James became a Christian.
- The tomb was empty.
It’s true that most religious scholars, including atheists and secularists, believe Jesus was a real man. (But not all.) It’s not that farfetched of an idea, considering that we’ve seen real people become legends before. But does the fact that most religious historians believe this make it true? The video didn’t present any actual evidence for its conclusion, but for the sake of argument, let’s accept this as “probably true” and move on considering it really doesn’t matter whether Jesus was a real person (without supernatural powers) or a work of fiction.
The video’s narrator says disciples of Jesus wouldn’t have lied because they had “nothing to gain.” He further suggests this is an important point… but once again, it’s all but irrelevant. The disciples didn’t write their own stories — the gospels were written generations later by anonymous sources. All we really know about those disciples is what other people said they believed. For all we know, their “beliefs” could have been plot points in a fictional narrative. So let’s ask this question again: does the fact that a few people were convinced of something make it true? Absolutely not. We rightfully dismiss 9/11 “truthers” and Flat Earthers, despite their confidence, because the evidence doesn’t back up their claims. And in this case, people saying the disciples were convinced of the Jesus story isn’t evidence.
Once again, the narrator uses the belief of a character within the text to confirm the validity of the text itself. He describes Paul (who was known as Saul prior to his conversion) as an “enemy of the early Christians” who converted and therefore proved Jesus’ divinity. Let’s keep in mind that Paul never met Jesus… unless you count a “vision” in which Jesus allegedly appeared in a bright light that temporarily blinded the apostle. In other words, we are supposed to accept the word of this ancient person who himself only relied on a mystical experience of some sort. Again, this “fact,” if true, tells us almost nothing.
The narrator describes James as Jesus’ “skeptical brother” and says his conversion –like Paul’s — proves Jesus is real and divine. (Are you starting to notice a pattern here?) Again, we see a character’s belief (in this case, someone who was skeptical despite possibly being related to Jesus) being used as proof. It wasn’t convincing a few seconds ago and it’s still not convincing now.
This is possibly my favorite “fact.” According to the story, Jesus resurrected and wandered around talking to His friends (who in many cases didn’t recognize Him for long periods of time). Then when He really left, they saw that the tomb was empty. To some Christians, this story about a missing body is equivalent to proof of a divine resurrection. To me, it is a story about a missing body. Full stop. Occam’s razor tells us that when there are a number of possible explanations to choose from, we should go with the one that requires that fewest assumptions. If you had to explain an empty tomb, saying that the answer is that the inhabitant miraculously resurrected from death through a mysterious connection with His Father/Self requires many assumptions. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible, only that simpler explanations are much more likely to be true. Consider all the other explanations for why a tomb might be empty that don’t rely on magic: a stolen body, a mismarked grave, a planned removal, faulty reports, creative storytelling, edited scriptures, and much, much more.
These five “facts,” according to the narrator, “demand an explanation… otherwise you have a big hole in human history.” His explanation is the Jesus must be the son of God who brought Himself back to life. The alternative, he argues, is that it’s all fiction (or at least heavily exaggerated). But even if you accept all these facts as true, which I don’t, and you conclude Jesus rose from the dead, it’s still an incredible leap to conclude He’s a demigod (as opposed to a demon or time traveler or alien, for instance). The video doesn’t explain how a resurrected Jesus means the entire Christian conception of God is accurate, but it’s certainly assumed.
The narrator further suggests that atheists ignore these “facts” proving the resurrection because it’s too “scary” to accept them:
… As long as Jesus rising from the dead is just a fairy tale, like Santa Claus and unicorns, it doesn’t threaten my little world. But if it’s a fact, if He actually did rise from the dead, that’s huge! It’s a total game changer. And that’s why it’s so hard to think about it objectively.
How’s that for irony? He admits it’s hard to think about this topic objectively — which would also apply to him — and it seems obvious that an atheist’s rebuttal to his arguments would shake up his “little world.”
I’m not scared that I’m wrong here. If there was good evidence to prove the Christian story, I’d have to accept that. But this video doesn’t contain that evidence.
(Thanks to everyone for the link)