The Resurrection: actually, group hallucinations are a real thing

A long time ago I was caught in an argument regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We considered a number of possibilities:

(1) The resurrection story was made up.

That makes sense to me. After all, the Bible doesn’t report any body to have seen all the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, at best, the story is piecemeal. Add to that the earliest Gospel, the Gospel of Mark originally omitted the resurrection altogether. Adding the story to the Gospel means Jesus fulfils the prophecy, so of course if it wasn’t in the original it better get added in.

As my sparring partner pointed out, if the powers that be added the resurrection after some else had written what we call “the Gospel of Mark”, it wasn’t part of the story for 60 years. That doesn’t account for the early spread of Christianity. Except it kind of does; it is perfectly reasonable that an oral tale existed in other areas that did include a resurrection. Let’s say, for example, the people in the North had a flair for imagination and Christianity started there, and the people of the South had less of the flair and wrote the story without magic (as it was originally told).

(2) People were mistaken about what they saw

Some people saw him die, other people saw him get buried, others apparently then saw him alive. Peasants didn’t have calendars. Piecing the story together wouldn’t actually have been easy.

(3) Jesus didn’t die

In Matthew 27: 33-34, Jesus is given bitter wine. A lot of apologists like to discuss whether the wine was some sort of anaesthetic as mercy, or some sort of mockery. However, that sour wine or gall could have been a poison that induced bradycardia or cardiomyopathy or something else that made Jesus’ pulse and breathing too weak for the experts of the day to detect life. It’s not impressive to resurrect if you didn’t really die.

(4 – related to 1) There was no Jesus

There is a theory of public relations, that Romans invented Christianity so that Titus could fulfil the prophecy of the Jewish Torah. This would be so that the Jews would include the Roman emperor in their pantheon of Gods like the other religions in the area had. There are other theories to explain Jesus never existed and being made up for political reasons.

(5) Group hallucinations

My sparring partner and I agree to ignore the possibility of a group shared hallucination. After all, that doesn’t make sense. Even if two people hallucinate at the same time, why would they be the same? It’s too far a reach to be a reasonable alternative. As it turns out, that’s not true. Group hallucinations are real. It’s  mass hysteria. The Salem Witch trials are an example of this happening. People were honestly convinced they saw the devil in the corner of crowded rooms, and as one person claimed it more people began to share the hallucination. If hysteria grips a crowd, the power of suggestion can completely control the hallucination. Dancing mania is my favourite of a related disorder. Just read it.

If Jesus was real, had followers and was killed for political reasons in a cultural context awaiting a resurrection then all the suggestion and hysteria necessary for group hallucinations existed.

31 thoughts on “The Resurrection: actually, group hallucinations are a real thing”

  1. Atheists have group hallucinations into the greatest mass murders in human history.

    Whereas the Passion of Christ and his Resurrection are a message of peace and brotherly love.

    The choice is clear and it is atheism that must be rejected for its absolutely fiendish effect upon the hearts and minds of men.

      1. You don’t make perfect sense. I, as the intended recipient of your message, am the person to make that call. Not you.

        I said the claims of the Resurrection, which are foundational to Christianity, can be explained away by a number of things. Including hallucination.
        Then you said atheists have hallucinations about mass murders (but didn’t expand on what you mean). You then said the story of the resurrection is a story of love and peace, but didn’t address whether it is true.
        You then said we should accept the story we prefer, implicitly suggesting it should be regardless of truth or evidence.

      2. Alla,

        Therein lies my problem with atheism:

        1. Everything happened all by itself
        2. Proof means absolutely nothing
        3. False means true
        4. True is only true when an atheist thinks it is.
        5. Believing false is true makes perfect sense

      3. Therein lies my problem with atheism:

        1. Everything happened all by itself
        2. Proof means absolutely nothing
        3. False means true
        4. True is only true when an atheist thinks it is.
        5. Believing false is true makes perfect sense

        Therein lies the problem with theists.

        1. Everything happened because of an Athiest god.
        2. Proof means absolutely nothing
        3. False means true
        4. True is only true when a theist thinks it is.
        5. Believing false is true makes perfect sense

      4. Neurotic,

        Part of the Christian worldview which includes Greco-Roman philosophy, is not the atheist worldview, therefore the Christian worldview includes the following:

        1. God is the First Cause
        2. The existence of God has been proven
        3. True means True. False means false.
        4. True is only true if the truth is proven. Science isn’t the only means of proof.
        5. Believing true is false is a lie.

        That’s the reasoning set forth by our Western Heritage, a heritage that atheists have rejected.

      5. Atheists reject the idea that God has been proven. Atheists do not reject the difference between false and true. You are rejecting the difference between truth and comprehensibility.

      6. Alla,


        Whether the existence of God is proven, atheists reject the proof.

        Whether global warming is proven to be hoax, atheists reject the proof.

        Whether ObamaCare is proven to be a pack of lies, atheists reject the proof.

        Atheists reject proof. You said that and atheists prove that every day.

        That is one of the many tragic hallmarks of atheism.

      7. You said I could not be the judge of whether you make sense. That was mistaken.
        Truth is about reflecting reality.
        Making sense is about comprehensibly getting across your view.
        You do not make sense.

      8. You said I couldn’t be the judge of whether you make sense.
        I disagree. As the person you are trying to get a message across to I am the ideal person to decide whether you make sense.
        You do not.

      9. Alla,

        It’s only your opinion that I don’t make since.

        Because atheists reject reason, opinion is all you have.

        If your opinion is that the sky is green, then your opinion is doesn’t make sense, objectively.

      10. Fine, I’ll give you the quote: “Atheists reject the idea that God has been proven”

        Now, that really doesn’t say what you need it to, does it?

        Back to my point: you aren’t making sense and I am in a position to be the judge of that.

  2. Your post reminded me of some research I ran across in a peer reviewed, bi-monthly publication regarding the apparitions of the so called Virgin Mary. Abstract:

    “Between April 1968 and May 1971 hundreds of thousands of people reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary over a Coptic Orthodox church in Zeitoun, near Cairo, Egypt. When photographed, these phenomena appeared as irregular blobs of light. Primarily there were two types of events: small, short-lived highly kinetic (‘doves’) and more persistent coronal type displays that were situated primarily over apical structures of the church. More detailed descriptions of the phenomena , such as visions, often occurred as ‘flashes’; their details usually reflected the religious background of the experiment.

    The characteristics of these luminous phenomena strongly suggested the existence of tectonic strain within the area. According to the hypothesis of tectonic strain, anomalous luminous phenomena are generated by brief, local changes in strain that precede earthquakes within the region. Psychological factors determine more elaborate details of the experiences because there are both direct stimulations of the observers brain as well as indirect contributions from reinforcement history.’

    [Analysis revealed that) ‘luminous phenomena in Zeitoun increased during the month of or the month before an increase in regional seismic activity’ (Derr, John S. & Michael A. Persinger ‘Geophysical Variables and Behavior: LIV. Zeitoun (Egypt) Apparitions of the Virgin Mary as Tectonic Strain-induced Luminosities. Perceptual and Motor Skills 1989, 68, 123-128]

    Talk about mass hysteria on a massive scale.

    “If Jesus was real, had followers and was killed for political reasons in a cultural context awaiting a resurrection then all the suggestion and hysteria necessary for group hallucinations existed.”

    I concur. Excellent post.

    1. The evidence that seismic activity can promote hallucinations is mind boggling to me. But the evidence is there.
      Thanks for the support! I’m glad you liked it.

  3. Another example might be alien abductions. I think I once heard that as certain images of aliens made their way into popular media the reports of people who believed that they had encountered them changed to reflect the new images. It might not explain the resurrection so much, but it probably explains various visitations by Mary, angels, etc.

    1. I think the phenomenon you’re referring to is the term “flying saucers”. Someone claimed to have seen an arrow shape that moved like a saucer would through the air… then people started seeing flying saucers.

      1. There’s been a series of changes in the way both extraterrestrials and UFOs have been perceived. But I was actually thinking of discussion about the aliens themselves. Unfortunately, I saw this on tv back in the nineties, so dredging up any more details from my brain is not likely. I know there were some references to science fiction movies and how reports about aliens changed after that.

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