One of the main arguments for the historicity of the resurrection is the fact that Christians were willing to stake their lives on the truth of the resurrection and die for it. How would one respond to the objection that people die for things that aren’t true all the time? Is this really a strong argument for the factualness of the resurrection?
I think the most important insight on this question is whether or not people die for things they personally know not to be true.
Is this a general trait of humans, to lie even when the falsehood is personally costly? Or are we more likely to lie when it is to our advantage to do so?
That is, what’s important is that the original disciples were eye-witnesses of the resurrection.
The apostle Paul provides a list of such eyewitnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Let’s assume for a moment that Christianity is false.
In that case, you would have hundreds of people claiming to be eyewitnesses of the resurrection - “I saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion” - when they knew that claim was false.
Further, many of them were willing to suffer negative consequences, up to and including martyrdom, for making this false claim.
How would we account for their motivation to make false claims and suffer for them?
That’s an excellent point - there’s a world of difference between an apostle dying for something that he absolutely knows is a lie, and a suicide bomber dying for something he’s been deceived into believing.
Along the same line, I once heard someone note that an argument supporting the resurrection was Jesus’ incredibly daring claim beforehand that He would literally and bodily rise after three days. No false Messiah would ever do that, for he’d know he couldn’t pull off such a hoax after death, and his deception would be exposed. He might claim to rise spiritually, since no one could falsify that. But bodily? Only the real Messiah could get away with such a claim!
Thank you!! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that…it makes so much sense. Thank you for taking the time to respond.