OPINION

The truth about Easter: getting to the heart of the matter

BELIEF: As their lives soon proved, the disciples of Jesus had little to gain from preaching a false resurrection.
BELIEF: As their lives soon proved, the disciples of Jesus had little to gain from preaching a false resurrection.

As incredibly different as this Easter will be from all others, the question of whether Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead will probably still arise this year.

The question is perpetually enduring, and eternally significant.

I believe Jesus rose from the dead - that shouldn't surprise you - but what surprises me is that people will say something like "surely you can see there's no logic to the resurrection".

I think logic supports belief, not disbelief, in the resurrection.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines logic as "a particular way of thinking, especially one that is reasonable and based on good judgement".

In the study of logic, there are at least five fallacies often cited for the reasons why people are held back from searching for logical truth:

1) Ad hominem (Latin for "to the man"): The person hearing an argument rejects the argument because they have an aversion to the person making the argument.

2) Non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow"): The person making an argument draws a conclusion that does not follow from their premise, eg: "Jesus didn't rise from the dead because so many of the Church leaders are corrupt."

3) Genetic fallacy: A person making an argument tries to invalidate a position based on how that position originated eg: "You only believe in the resurrection of Jesus because your parents told you to."

4) Straw person: A person making the argument misrepresents their opponent's position in order to refute it eg: "you think that just because people go to Church to celebrate the resurrection makes it true."

5) Red herring (from the practice of dragging a smelly red herring across the path between a bloodhound and the target being tracked to see if the dog will get distracted): The person making the argument raises a totally unrelated issue in an effort to distract the attention of their opponent or audience.

Of all the fallacies in logic I have come across, red herrings are the most common.

People want to discuss everything controversial and unbelievable about Christianity, except the very reason Christians are Christians: the resurrection.

There is no logic in the often expressed view "Jesus' disciples stole his body and said he resurrected", because after Jesus died his disciples hid for fear of the Jewish people.

Jesus said he would rise from the dead, but the Scriptures point out his disciples never really understood what this meant.

They all ran for their lives when Jesus was arrested.

And how did his followers steal his body from a tomb under heavy guard?

If Jesus' disciples stole his body, that means they knew Jesus deceived them and therefore he was not God.

What did they then have to gain by preaching a fake resurrection?

All of them spent the rest of their lives being persecuted and even tortured.

They could only have seen the resurrected Jesus.

People want to discuss everything controversial and unbelievable about Christianity, except the very reason Christians are Christians: the resurrection.

Another pub and late-night religious discussion favourite I hear is that the disciples were themselves deceived and thought they saw the resurrected Jesus.

This theory has been called the "hallucination hypothesis" and contradicts logic.

That one person or even several of his followers might hallucinate out of a state of intense nervous excitement is possible. That all Jesus' disciples and thousands of others suffered from the same hallucination simultaneously - and over a long period of time - is impossible.

Modern (and not so modern) psychology points out to us, as does our own human experience, that different people of different mental states react to tragedy in different ways. Jesus' followers did not believe he was going to die and so were not expecting the resurrection in the way Jesus intended.

Several of Jesus' followers, including his close friend Mary Magdalene, were going to his tomb the Sunday after his death with spices to embalm his body.

When Mary Magdalene saw the body wasn't there, she did not think Jesus had risen - she thought he had been stolen. When she told the disciples Jesus spoke to her and he had risen, they ran to the tomb because they didn't believe her.

Happy Easter everyone!

Twitter: @frbrendanelee

This story The truth about Easter: getting to the heart of the matter first appeared on The Canberra Times.