Easter and the Atheists

By its very definition a miracle breaks into the closed system, and to deny a miracle by simply saying it can’t happen is to skirt the argument. Hume uses the example of a dead man rising again because he knows this is the central miracle. If this miracle, then any miracle, and if any miracle, then the system is not closed, and if the system is not closed, then there is a being greater than the system and that being we recognize as God.

Hume’s argument against miracles has been a cornerstone of the atheist position, but it is rarely examined closely. Hume does not discuss evidence for such a miracle. He simply places the possible miracle over against the testimony of a person who claims the miracle. What he avoids in the Easter miracle is that it is not one man claiming a miracle, but many, and that their testimony is backed up by evidence that cannot be interpreted in any other way.

When the evidence is examined, Hume’s reductionist argument: that we must believe the theory that is most likely to be true, actually helps prove the resurrection. This is because all the alternatives to the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead are more incredible than the miracle.

It therefore all stands or falls on the miracle of the resurrection. St Paul addresses this very question in the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved…Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. 

Put very simply, if Christ is not raised from the dead, then the whole Christian religion is vain. It’s all or nothing, and the all or nothing depends on the evidence for Easter. While five philosophical proofs are useful, arguments about the existence of God should really begin with the Easter argument.

Did the first century Jewish preacher Jesus of Nazareth rise from the dead or not? If he did, then miracles are possible and God exists. If he did not, then one it’s up to you what you believe for one belief system is therefore as good as any other.

For a concise summary of evidence for Easter check out Peter Kreeft here.

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