Prof. William Lane Craig makes false claims about swoon hypothesis!

Prof. William Lane Craig

Written and collected by;Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Contents

Prof. William Lane Craig is an American Evangelical Christian apologist, theologian, and analytic philosopher known for his work in the philosophy of religion, historical Jesus studies, and the philosophy of time. I applaud and honor much of his work for the cause of theism, but, when he makes tall and false claims about Jesus, I need to expose him. Swoon hypothesis , which I will be arguing for in this paper, means that Jesus did not die on the cross; he only went into a coma or a swoon. In his much publicized debates with Dr. Peter Slezak and Christopher Hitchens, about existence of God, Prof. Craig cites the so called resurrection of Jesus, as proof for existence of God and claims that other explanations for an empty tomb and sighting of Jesus after crucifixion have been universally rejected. He has perhaps not read the early history of Christianity thoroughly or he would not have made such an exaggerated claim. He calls the assumed resurrection a divine miracle and a great proof for the existence of God. He suggests that belief in resurrection is based on three historical facts but completely overlooks alternative and more plausible explanations for these facts. Given his theological and doctrinal biases, he has an axe to grind. Prof. Craig highlights in his presentations exorcisms performed by Jesus, may peace be on him, as miracles and feels that in doing so he is buttressing his claims about resurrection of Jesus, but as every student of allopathic medicine knows that exorcisms, demons and witches were a creation of the medieval mind, and so is the claim of resurrection!

In his debate with Dr. Peter Slezak of University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, about existence of God, Prof. Craig nicely outlines the proof for God from the argument of the First Cause or the Big Bang and the biophyllic characteristics of our universe:

I thank him for an eloquent presentation of arguments for theism and I will gladly accept all of them except for his insistence on resurrection of Jesus.  In the second clip of this debate, after discussing the proof of God based on absolutes of morality that exist in humans, he moves into fairy tales and cites the so called resurrection of Jesus, as proof for existence of God and claims that other explanations for an empty tomb have been universally rejected.  He has perhaps not read early history of Christianity thoroughly or he would not have made such an exaggerated claim.  He calls the assumed resurrection a divine miracle and a great proof for the existence of God. He suggests that belief in resurrection is based on three historical facts but completely overlooks alternative and more plausible explanations for these facts. Given his theological and doctrinal biases, he has an axe to grind.  First hear his claims, towards the second half of this clip:
His thesis and claim about resurrection of Jesus continue into the third clip of this debate.  In addition to the empty tomb and sighting of Jesus after crucifixion, he cites the zealous belief of the early followers of Jesus as a proof for resurrection.  Craig self-indulgently announces, “Attempts to explain away these three facts like the claim that disciples stole the body or Jesus was not really dead, have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship.”  This is gross generalization on Craig’s part and a complete failure to recognize the strong evidence that has accumulated in favor of the swoon hypothesis in the last 130 years, which is collected below in this very post.  But first the claims of Prof. Craig:
The first two facts of Craig thesis, empty tomb and sighting of Jesus after crucifixion, are extensively examined in the articles linked below.  The logic in the third element of his thesis is also weak. The zealous belief of the early followers of Jesus does not prove the theory of resurrection. If a zealous belief could be used to prove the truth of a faith, then the religions of Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Mormons, who also zealously believe in their faith, should also be taken as true religions. The point is that sincerity of belief does not necessitate a resurrection like miracle, Jesus’ resuscitation or survival from extreme vulnerability and punishment meted out to Judas, the informant against Jesus, could have served the same purpose.
 
Please, review the articles linked below, where I have accumulated clear proofs that Jesus did not die on the cross.  There has been sufficient traffic on these posts, but no refutation of the thesis that Jesus did not die on the cross.

Jesus did not die on the cross

If Jesus did not die upon the cross: A study in evidence

In this book, Judge Ernest Brougham Docker has very lucidly explained the swoon hypothesis and the inference that the apostles were seeing the resuscitated body of Jesus and not resurrected body.

The Swoon Hypothesis

Did Jesus rise in a physical body or a spiritual one?

Dr. Peter Slezak highlights in his refutation that even if there was no historical discrepancy in the empty tomb story and even if it were recorded in a recent documentary, we should still not call it resurrection. He said that a lot could be said about the facts in the case but in the debate his emphasis was on their interpretation. Are they best explained by miracle or some other way? He is amazed that Prof. Craig cannot think of any other explanation besides the miraculous one, whereas he himself and other creative minds can think of several alternative explanations. For example, Jesus was not dead but was only sick or in a swoon and some friends got him out of the cave, while no one was looking! Slezak very wisely also issues the disclaimer that Craig may not particularly like his hypothetical version of the story, but that does not matter, as any other explanation that is consistent with laws of nature is more likely to be true than the typical interpretation of the empty cave by the Christian apologists.
If you can have an explanation consistent with the laws of nature why would you go for a miraculous one and say it is more plausible, while in Christian theology a miracle implies violation of the natural law! This brings me to the metaphor to understand resuscitation as opposed to resurrection; Timothy James McVeigh was convicted of crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to electric chair. A few days after his supposed execution, he was seen roaming the streets of Oklahoma. Did he resurrect or escape or survive his punishment? If facts similar to the resurrection story were presented to Christians by replacing Jesus with Timothy McVeigh or any other character, they will come up with a secular and non-miraculous explanation of such facts. It is merely the stubborn insistence on part of the apologists, to interpret the facts about Jesus in a given theological fashion, to uphold the failing dogma of Christianity, as more and more in the West opt for agnostic or atheistic positions, which is upholding the structure of resurrection!In a later clip Prof. Craig suggests again that the only explanation of empty tomb that the Christian theologians have accepted is the miraculous one. This does not amount for much as it only reflects the pre-existing biases and prejudices of these theologians. Additionally the Christian apologists use the label of ‘theologian,’ only for those who agree with their premise. Craig equates other explanations for the empty tomb with flat-earth theory and by implication his own interpretation and emphasis on resurrection to very well founded scientific realities.  Such analogies are unfair propaganda only.  To raise Christian dogma to the level of completely proven and fully established scientific realities, for which evidence abounds, whereas, the evidence for resurrection is only well meaning and pious stories from 20 centuries ago, amounts to religious fundamentalism only and no scholarship of any kind.  It is unfortunate that highly accomplished people like William Lane Craig do not carefully examine the ramifications of their belief in resurrection of Jesus, may peace be on him. Craig nicely explains the proof from First Cause and the Big Bang, banking on the information from science; if he were to examine resurrection in the same scientific scrutiny he will find that his belief system implies a nuclear explosion several times more powerful than Nagasaki and Hiroshima!

 

If we assume that Jesus died on the cross and then came to life again three days later, we have to imagine that his soul returned to a putrefying and decaying body three days after death, which is hard for any student of biology to conceptualize.  I would suggest that those who have seen refrigeration in funeral homes in the Western world should visit tropical areas and find out what happens to dead bodies three days after death in lack of refrigeration.   But, this is not the only difficulty for Prof. William Lane Craig’s stubborn insistence on resurrection.  There is ascension of Jesus also!  Now, remember that Jesus is a hybrid, a perfect man and fully divine according to the Trinitarion understanding.  As he leaves the planet earth at the time of ascension, we have to find out what happens to his earthly physical body.  The eye witnesses do not report that he left his body behind on the planet earth as is usually the case for all of us, the mere humans.  His body must have disappeared in thin air and that did not raise a dilemma in the medieval world but these days we believe in E = mc2 and that raises the stakes tremendously, it brings in the nuclear option and the mushroom cloud.  That is precisely what William Lane Craig and other Christian apologists have not thought about!

Mirza Tahir Ahmed explains in his book, as he examines, what happened to Jesus body at the time of ascension, in his book Christianity a journey from fact to fiction:

A closer critical examination from the point of view of common sense and logic reveals further absurdities inherent in the episodes of the Crucifixion and Ascension as presented by the Christians of today. As far as the question of Jesus’ return to his human body is concerned, enough has been said. We only want to add to the issue of what might have happened to that body when Jesus finally ascended, if he ever did.

When confronted by the question as to what happened to the body of Jesus Christ, it is suggested by some Christians that as he ascended to his heavenly Father his carnal body disintegrated and disappeared in a glow. This raises a fundamental question. If the departure of Jesus from the human body was to result in such an explosive event, why did it not happen at the instant of his first reported death? The only reference we have in the Bible to Jesus’ death is when he was still hanging on the cross and in the words of St. Matthew ‘he gave up the ghost’. Apparently nothing else happened other than a smooth departure of the soul from the body. Are we to assume that he did not die upon the cross after all, because if he had left the body, it should have exploded in a similar fashion even then? Why did it only happen the second time Jesus left his body? Under the circumstances only two avenues are open to proceed further.
1. That the person of Jesus did not remain eternally confined to the human body after his soul returned to it and that during his ascent he cast away his human body and ascended purely as a spirit of God. This is neither supported by facts nor is it conceivable because that would lead into a blind alley of believing that Jesus died twice. The first time on the cross and the second time on Ascension.
2. That he remained confined within the human shell eternally. This cannot be accepted because it is utterly repulsive and inconsistent with the dignity and majesty of the image of God.
On the other hand, we have a point of view of common sense; ‘It would be a mistake to understand Jesus’ ascension as a sort of ancient space trip, and heaven as a place beyond the sun, moon and the galaxies.’ The truth is neither here nor there. The concoction of such a bizarre story, therefore, could only have been motivated by the insoluble dilemma that the Christians faced during the nascent period of Christianity. When Jesus disappeared from view, naturally the question would have been raised as to what happened to him. The early Christians could not have resolved the quandary by openly professing that as he had never died so there was no question of a body being left behind and that his body had in fact gone along with him during the course of his migration. In this way the problem of the disappearance of the body could have been easily resolved. But this confession was impossible to make. Those who would have dared to admit that Jesus was seen alive and gradually moving away from Judea faced the peril of being condemned by the Roman Law as an accessory to the crime of escape from justice. To seek refuge in the concoction of a story like the ascent of Jesus to heaven offered a safer option, however bizarre the idea. Yet of course it would involve indulgence in falsehood. We must pay our tribute to the integrity of the early disciples who despite this predicament did not seek refuge in a false statement. All writers of the Gospels chose to remain silent on this issue rather than take refuge behind a smoke screen of misstatements. No doubt they must have suffered the jeering of their adversaries but they chose to suffer in silence.
If Jesus’ carnal body was saved at the time of his assumed death on the cross, his soul must have returned to his decaying body three days later, which does not stand to scientific scrutiny.  Now, examine the event of ascension, as his body disappeared into thin air at that time, according to E = mc2, assuming an average body mass of 120-140 pounds this would have been a nuclear explosion of unprecedented proportions.  Is Prof. Craig’s science only limited to the Big Bang and suitable physical constants that make our universe biophyllic or does he believe in Einstein’s theories also that suggest a certain quantitative relationship between mass and energy?

Until we know historically, philosophically and scientifically what happened to Jesus carnal body, there is no resurrection! There is no logical room for Trinitarian Christianity, only for Judaism, Unitarian Christianity and Islam.
In a different debate in April of 2009 with Christopher Hitchens, does God exist, Prof Craig makes the same comments about resurrection:

It seems he uses the same words about swoon hypothesis, in all his presentations, as he parrots the same message in a third debate, John Shook v. William Lane Craig Debate: “Does God Exist?”:

Prof. Craig brings forth science as a proof for God in his arguments but then terribly violates scientific principles in proposing the resurrection of human flesh, namely Jesus, allegedly a perfect man and God in one.  This is the general vulnerability of the Christian faith where miracles are presented as a violation of the laws of nature with resurrection being the biggest of them all.[2]  This misinterpretation of miracles in Christianity is grounded in her history and tradition and the Christians find no easy way out of it.  In order for genuine intellectual unification of their religion and science and peaceful and harmonious co-existence of faith and reason, the only solution for Christians is to accept that Jesus also worshiped Allah and he was a Jewish prophet in a long chain of prophets, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Samuel, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Ezra and John the Baptist!

When constrained by time and strong opposition by articulate atheists, William Lane Craig chooses not to mention resurrection as a proof for God.  Listen to the following debate his opening statement is within the first 20 minutes of the video. This debate took place in Mexico and is titled, Does the Universe have a purpose?
 

Resurrection is based on the eye-witnesses’ accounts in the Bible but that is half the time based on forgery:

One can easily fall in the trap of becoming penny wise and pound foolish.  William Lane Craig has invested his life time, in studying logic and philosophy and in precisely stating the case for God but when he makes a case for resurrection, his situation with the new information that has piled in the last few decades has become increasingly of one who is penny wise and pound foolish.  How reliable his case for resurrection can be when it rests on 2000 year old text that is not reliable.  It seems Prof. Bart Ehrman is carrying the day at least on the issue of reliability of the New Testament.  He has written several books on the issue.  His most recent book was covered as follows by CNN:

A frail man sits in chains inside a dank, cold prison cell. He has escaped death before but now realizes that his execution is drawing near. ‘I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come,’ the man – the Apostle Paul – says in the Bible’s 2 Timothy. ‘I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.’
The passage is one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament. Paul, the most prolific New Testament author, is saying goodbye from a Roman prison cell before being beheaded. His goodbye veers from loneliness to defiance and, finally, to joy.
There’s one just one problem – Paul didn’t write those words. In fact, virtually half the New Testament was written by impostors taking on the names of apostles like Paul. At least according to Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned biblical scholar, who makes the charges in his new book ‘Forged.’
‘There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,’ says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.

In “Forged,” Ehrman claims that:
* At least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries.
* The New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate.
*Many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/13/half-of-new-testament-forged-bible-scholar-says/?

Christianity a journey from fact to fiction:

What is true and genuine in the New Testament can be better explained by resuscitation than adamant insistence on resurrection that has no historical precedence and is anti-thesis of science at several different levels. For a more plausible understanding of some of the details after crucifixion read the book titled, Christianity a journey from fact to fiction online:

http://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/index.html

References

  1. http://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/chapter_5.html#pgfId-1000917
  2. http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/february-2011-alislam-egazette/1qhnnhcumbuyp/330#

 

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