Skeptics have long posited naturalistic explanations for Jesus’ resurrection appearances to Cephas and the Twelve. Maybe, out of terrible grief or some completely natural transcendent mental state, the disciples were hallucinating. On the other hand, maybe the disciples were inventing resurrection stories to lend divine clout to, and carry on, Jesus’ social ethic cause of “loving your neighbor and enemy,” a ethical cause the disciples may have been willing to die for (like Socrates).
Historian Richard Carrier characterizes the possibilities in the following way in a recent blog post:
“Of course Habermas tries to sell Strobel on the tired apologetic line that “no one dies for a lie.” Surely not, “if they knew it was a hoax,” we hear said. This is a classic straw man. And as such, another lie. It’s one thing to ask how likely it is the resurrection appearance claims were a hoax. It’s altogether another to ask how likely it is they were like every other divine appearance experience in the whole history of all religions since the dawn of time: a mystical inner vision. Just as Paul tells us. Our only eyewitness source. Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.” see: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12263
If you are interested, I have outlined the theory that the resurrection stories were “Noble Lies” here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/
What do you think? Should we have a naturalistic or miraculous explanation for Jesus’ resurrection appearances?