3. Were the Disciples Hallucinating?
Morison wondered if the disciples might have been so emotionally distraught that they hallucinated and imagined Jesus’ resurrection.
Psychologist Gary Collins, former president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, explains that, “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature, only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people.”
Hallucination is not even a remote possibility, according to psychologist Thomas J. Thorburn. “It is absolutely inconceivable that … five hundred persons, of average soundness of mind … should experience all kinds of sensuous impressions – visual, auditory, tactual – and that all these … experiences should rest entirely upon … hallucination.”
The hallucination theory, then, appears to be another dead end. What else could explain away the resurrection?
4. Is it just a Legend?
Some unconvinced skeptics attribute the resurrection story to a legend that began with one or more persons lying or thinking they saw the resurrected Jesus. Over time, the legend would have grown and been embellished as it was passed on. But there are three major problems with that theory.
- Legends simply don’t develop while multiple eyewitnesses are alive to refute them. One historian of ancient Rome and Greece, A. N. Sherwin-White, argued that the resurrection news spread too soon and too quickly for it to have been a legend. Even skeptical scholars admit that Christian hymns and creeds were recited in early churches within two to three years of Jesus’ crucifixion.
- Legends develop by oral tradition and are not supported with contemporary historical documents. Yet the Gospels were written within three decades of the resurrection.
- The legend theory doesn’t adequately explain either the empty tomb or the fervent conviction of the apostles that Jesus was alive.
Morison’s original assumption that the resurrection account was mythical or legendary didn’t coincide with the facts.