Throughout his book, The God Hypothesis, Victor Stenger appears to be obsessed with the need for concrete proof that the son of God was a real man. He feels that if Jesus of Nazareth really walked on the earth, someone would have unearthed his actual bones.
Now, I don't want to get medieval here, but frankly, how many Christians in the 21st century need the bones of Jesus as proof of their faith? After all, according to the resurrection story, Christ transcended matter as Mary Magdalene found an empty tomb, not a body.
During my recent trips to Israel and Jordan, I lost track of the historical discrepancies regarding where a given bit of biblical business occurred. Despite the debates over the exact place where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, the specific church that marks the spot where Gabriel brought to Mary the good news that would change the world, and other historical critical snafus, I seemed to feel the presence of God's saving grace throughout history every time I stepped on a piece of seemingly sacred soil.
Also, look at the Easter story in its proper sociopolitical context for a sec. Right about now, Jesus and his crowd were persona non grata (mild understatement). The so-called leader of this ragtag group of rabble rousers had just been crucified. Unless Jesus rose from the dead, all their years of following him would have been for naught. Before they encountered him on the road to Emmaus, they had no clue if Jesus was the real deal, or if they had just drunk the wrong Kool-Aid by following a false prophet. They were left leaderless and scared for their lives, knowing full well they might be next on Pontius Pilate's hit list. Suffice to say, tensions were running pretty durn high.
As expected, the Romans did everything in their earthly power to prevent this resurrection myth from developing legs. The tomb was sealed, and guards were posted outside the cave 24/7. No way they would have let the disciples steal the body and run around claiming that Christ had risen. No siree. From a historical standpoint, the resurrection story could not have occurred without some kind of divine intervention. Check out a timeline of the early church and it's pretty clear that saying you believed in the risen Christ was a deadly move. Why would so many people risk banishment, torture, and even death for such an elusive myth?
Becky Garrison is senior contributing writer for The Wittenburg Door. Portions of this posting are excerpted from The New Atheists Crusaders and Their Unholy Grail. Reprinted with permission from Thomas Nelson, Inc.