Defending the Hallucination Theory – Part 1: Kreeft’s Case for the Resurrection

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THE MCDOWELL CASE AGAINST THE HALLUCINATION THEORY

I recently reviewed the case of Josh McDowell against the Theory of hallucinations in his book The resurrection factor (hereafter: TRF), and I have shown that each of the seven objections that McDowell raised against this skeptical FAILURE theory, and therefore that his case for the resurrection of Jesus FAIL also.

the Theory of hallucinations is the opinion that one or more disciples of Jesus had a hallucination (or a dream or some sort of false or distorted experience) that appeared to be the experience of a physically living Jesus, an experience that took place at some time after the death of jesus on the cross. This theory also asserts that this experience of one or more disciples led to the mistaken but sincere belief that Jesus was raised from the dead, and to the preaching of this belief by some of Jesus’ first century disciples, shortly after Jesus was crucified.

In the most recent version from his book Evidence that requires a verdict (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2017, co-written with his son Sean; hereafter: EDV), McDowell appears to be largely abandoning his previous case against the Theory of hallucinations and rather tells us The case of Peter Kreeft against this theory (see EDV pages 291-292).

However, the case of Kreeft in its Manual of Christian Apologetics (1994; hereafter: HCA) a thirteen objections against the Theory of hallucinations, many of which seem very similar to McDowell’s seven objections in The resurrection factor. Since the first publication of TRF was in 1981 and HCA was published in 1994, it seems likely that McDowell’s objections in TRF strongly influenced Kreeft’s objections in HCA. McDowell also presented a similar list of six objections against the Theory of hallucinations in a first version of EDV, which was published in 1979 (see EDV pages 247-255). As Kreeft seems to have borrowed heavily from McDowell on this subject, the Kreeft case against the Theory of hallucinations is probably not much different from McDowell’s argument against it.

THE CASE OF KREEFT FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS

The logic of the Kreeft case for the resurrection of Jesus is given in chapter 8 of HCA.

Dr Peter Kreeft thinks there are only five possible theories on the alleged resurrection of Jesus, and the theory of hallucinations is one of these theories:



In chapter 8 of his Manual of Christian Apologetics (co-authored with Ronald Tacelli), Peter Kreeft attempts to refute the Theory of hallucinations, as part of an argument for eliminating alternatives for the resurrection of Jesus. Kreeft thinks that by refuting four skeptical theories, he can show that the Christian theory is true, that Jesus really rose from the dead:

The question is, what theory about what really happened in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday can explain the data?

There are only five possible theories: Christianity, Hallucination, Myth, Conspiracy, and Fainting.

[…]

So either (1) the resurrection actually occurred, (2) the apostles were deceived by a hallucination, (3) the apostles created a myth, not meaning it literally, (4) the apostles were deceivers who conspired to impose on the world the most famous and successful lie in history, or (5) Jesus only passed out and was resurrected, not resurrected.

[…]

If we can refute all the other theories (2-5), we will have proven the truth of the resurrection (1).

(HCA, p.182)

If Kreeft DOES NOT refute the Theory of hallucinations, as McDowell failed to refute, so The Kreeft case for the resurrection of Jesus FAIL also.

THE CASE OF KREEFT FEELS A FAILURE

Because Kreeft’s objections to the Theory of hallucinations are very similar to the objections raised by McDowell, I strongly suspect that the thirteen of these objections will fail, just like McDowell’s Seven Objections to the Theory of hallucinations LACK. But Kreeft’s objections are not the same as the seven objections McDowell raised, and McDowell apparently thinks Kreeft did a better job arguing against the Theory of hallucinations than he had done before, so maybe some of Kreeft’s objections are strong and solid, although they are inspired by McDowell’s pathetic objections.

It is not simply the fact that the Kreeft case against the Theory of hallucinations seems to be based largely on McDowell’s FAILURE case against this skeptical theory that leads me to believe that Kreeft’s case against hallucination theory will fail. I suspect that the Kreeft case against the Theory of hallucinations will fail, because the Kreeft case against the Theory of fainting COMPLETELY FAILED and because the Kreeft case against the Conspiracy theory Completely FAILED. Kreeft has already demonstrated that it has no intellectual ability distinguish between a strong and solid objection to a theory and to a weak and faulty objection and that he is able to present collections of several weak or illogical or questionable objections.

Additionally, a brief overview of Kreeft’s case against the Theory of hallucinations reveals that he suffers from the same basic problems as in the case of McDowell. First, it is ridiculously short. Kreeft presents its thirteen objections in less than two (complete) pages of text (see HCA, p.186-188). This results in two major intellectual problems:

(1) empirical assertions about the nature of the hallucinations are often UNclear and are NOT supported by scientific proof and scientific reasoning, and

(2) historical claims about Jesus and his disciples are often CLEAR and are NOT supported by historical evidence and historical reasoning.

McDowell and Kreeft generally do many factual statements and assumptions, and they hardly ever save them with appropriate evidence and reasoning, even when these claims are crucial for their case.

FIVE SERIES OF OBJECTIONS

Kreeft actually presents fourteen objections against the Theory of hallucinations (although its own numbering of objections ends at objection # 13). I have divided these objections into five groups, based on the key issues or aspects of the objections:

I. The objections of the “witnesses” (objection # 1, # 2 and # 3)

II. The ambiguous objections (objection n ° 4 and n ° 5)

III. The doubtful objections of the principles of hallucination (objection 6, 8, 9 and 10)

IV. Self-destructive objections (objection 7 and 14)

V. The objections of the empty tomb (objection n ° 11, n ° 12 and n ° 13)

Having considered these fourteen objections against the Theory of hallucinations, I am now convinced that they all fail to refute this skeptical theory, and that Kreeft’s case against the hallucination theory fails, and therefore his case for the resurrection of Jesus fails. For the remaining articles in this series, I will work my way through the five groups of objections and will argue that each of the fourteen objections fails.



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