Is the Resurrection “Physically Impossible?”

imagesCritics of Christianity will often claim that the key event of the Christian worldview – the Resurrection – is “physically impossible.” Because physically impossible things can’t happen – by definition, of course – they feel quite justified in concluding that Christianity is at best a hoax, a make-believe story, an example of wishful thinking. Though perhaps not wishful, the skeptics’ thinking is instead circular, since they end up where they began, concluding that a physically impossible event did not occur.

How can believers rebut this claim? The first step is to point out the limitations of knowledge. It is much easier to know that a thing exists, or that a thing is possible, than to know the contrary. One example is sufficient to prove existence or possibility. But how can one know that a thing is “impossible?” Does that not require one to possess complete knowledge of all things? This is the problem of “proving a negative.” It is exceedingly difficult to do. One example can negate the claim, and without the ability to survey the entire universe of possibilities, how could one ever show that exceptions to the general rule did not occur?

Some things, by contrast, are easily shown to be “impossible. “ But to qualify, these things must contain an inherent contradiction that would allow us to use logic to reach that conclusion. A square circle is a good example; it is logically impossible.  We can see from the definitions that the two cannot be combined in any coherent fashion. Manipulating the laws of physics to reanimate or reconstruct a body – to perform a resurrection – is certainly not possible for us. The resurrection of Jesus seems impossible, then, as it violates the laws of nature as we presently understand them, and the laws of nature as far as we will ever be able to manipulate them. But this “impossibility “must be qualified by the understanding “for us.” It is not inherently or logically impossible, since with access to enough intelligence and power, it is conceivable that the organic or cellular damage that results in death could be reversed. Since the Creator possesses intelligence and power in unlimited quantities, there is no reason why resurrection would prove to be impossible for Him. If He can create from nothing in the first place, He can certainly restore his creation to life if he chooses. 

Whether the resurrection in fact occurred is of course a different question; whether something is possible says very little about how likely it is, or how strong the evidence for it is. But unless one first accepts that it is possible, there would be little reason indeed to evaluate evidence that it occurred.

But, the skeptic insists, even if possible, Christians should admit that a resurrection event is so exceedingly unlikely that there is no good reason to believe it.  After all, the odds against a resurrection are indeed astronomical, because quite simply there are no other documented cases of it. Near-death experiences are close, perhaps, but the Christian claim is that Jesus was actually dead, not just seemingly so. The odds, then, would be billions to one, considering the number of human beings who have died and, well, stayed dead. This observation has some value, but it misses the point. Odds speak of what might occur; but the resurrection is an historical event. It either occurred, based on the evidence, or it didn’t. The probability of Christ’s resurrection is one, because it happened, or zero because it didn’t. What “the future” might have held before his death isn’t relevant; the event either happened or it didn’t. Probability assessment may play some role in assessing the strength of some pieces of evidence, but it cannot make the determination of whether an event occurred. Only a review of the evidence itself can do that.

Prior to the American Revolution, the odds that a ragtag group of militia could defeat the world’s greatest military power were quite low.  A gambler would have bet on the Empire every time. But we don’t assess history that way. We don’t conclude that the history books are false because the British were too powerful to beat. That would make a good prediction in 1776, but after the event occurred, predictions no longer matter. A thoughtful and thorough review of the evidence does.

Granted, the history of the American Revolution is much more recent and better documented. But the evidence of Christianity is well-attested as well, written in the blood of the first witnesses to these events, who steadfastly through great loss to themselves and their families transmitted the faith through the centuries from generation to generation. We inherited the America of the Founders, replete with the ideas that made this country unique; in a similar fashion, we also inherited a worldview whose impact was so immense that we still mark time from the approximate birth date of the Savior.

Making that case for Christianity’s truth claims is beyond the scope of this post, but the PleaseConvinceMe website is full of free information and training courses that do just that.

In the final analysis, what the skeptic is doing is confusing probability with history. He treats his a priori conclusion about impossibility – i.e. a resurrection cannot occur – as itself being evidence, and since this “evidence” can brook no exception – after all, an impossible thing can’t occur no matter what – he reveals the internal contradiction of his position. And rests his conclusion on circular, and shaky, thinking.

Posted by Al Serrato

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  1. Brett Strong says:

    Hi Al!

    Al says (the core of his premise): “the Creator possesses intelligence and power in unlimited quantities, there is no reason why resurrection would prove to be impossible for Him”

    Brett Strong replies:

    Al, what I’m about to say is 100% FACT (not an assertion but fact that easily conquers all Christian apologists views), i.e. your premise of a “Creator” is purely hypothetical, theoretical, imaginative in reality; THUS all that can follow from your argument is more and a deeper hypothetical, imaginative thinking; thus you are merely speaking on a whimsical level (and you can’t ever get out of it)…so no problem there

    …not much to argue about when the Christian argument is stripped to the core—pure hypothetical, theoretical, imaginative (not found in reality) thinking/the Christian god/the NT superhero Jesus

    Brett Strong strikes again…the new-sensation internet-skeptic taking on all comers…aka the human kryptonite to Christian Apologists dogmas…disarming Christian apologists with utter ease

    Later Al, and have a great day and may your faith in Jesus serve you well all the days of your life…

    Lastly Al, I’m not against Christianity (like I said: Christian nonjudgmental pop music, like 3rd Day/Chris Tomlin/Michael W Smith/Hillsong, and others, is some of my favorite music) , I’m just against divisive Christian dogmas like you are going to hell, god is mad at you, you are a sinner, obey the bible, and so forth…but with that said, there is plenty good in the bible (like Proverbs and Ec., Jesus partying like a rock-star [like hanging out with prostitutes, ‘sinners’, and drinking plenty wine] and taking up the cause of the weak, etc) and Christianity (like feed the poor [regardless of why they do it, it just needs to be done])

    • TC says:


      Since the entire objection is that God is not real, since I accept the existence of God there is no issue with believing in the ressurexction.

      After all, if he exists he can do whatever he wants.

      • Brett Strong says:

        I never said ‘a god’ is not real, I simply stated that utter truth (the undefeatable FACT that totally disarms all Christian Apologists) that all god talk is hypothetical, theroretical, imaginitive talk …therefore you believing in your god is irrefutably hypothetical, imaginative thinking…and that’s the best you will ever be able to do…that’s why you said “if he exists”, you see, the ‘if’ shows you are forever stuck in the hypothetical zone thuis your resurrected Jesus is simply a deepening of the god hypothesy, imaginitve thinking..Brett Strong…disarming Christian Apologists (and people like you) with utter ease

  2. Brett Strong says:

    Hi Al! (This concerning your post a few days ago)

    Al says: “were you slaying apologetic arguments elsewhere or did you take a break?”

    Brett Strong replies: thanks for your interest, Al (funny line too, awesome…didn’t know you had a sense of humor, cool)….besides tothe 3 debates listed below I’ve been strengthening my case for euthanasia, abortion freedom, we are animals (which explains the ‘evil’ in the world), there are no morals (just opinions of right and wrong), the gospels are not eyewitness accounts, apostle Paul had mental issues, the NT Jesus (a mere man with superhero powers) is a fictional character, and so on

    …Redemption Radio, June 2012, first debate 3rd most popular debate in their entire history (in only 3 months) & our second debate is the 4th most popular show in their entire history
    …Backpack Radio, July 15, 2012, one of the most popular shows of 2012

    …also in 2012 I have personally dialogued with Dr Paul Copan, Mary Jo Sharp, Todd Friel, Brian Auten, and many others…

    …in 2013 (Jan 13th podcast) I called into STR radio and gave Greg Koukl a ‘headache’ LOL (because I’ve found even top Christian apologists haven’t thought things through on a lot of issues that should be elementary; just listen to me and Greg go at it in the “The New Testament writers weren’t eyewitnesses” section of the Jan 13th podcast

    …also in 2013 I have a few more radio debates lined up

    Brett Strong strikes again…the internet skeptic taking on all comers…the human kryptonite to Christian Apologists dogmas…disarming Christian apologists with alarming ease

    Later Al, and have a great day and may your faith in Jesus serve you well all the days of your life…

    FYI: I’m looking to book up my 2013 schedule with debates (besides the ones I have already have) so if you want to debate or J Warner wants a rematch or whomever, let me know; you have my e-mail

    Also I have personally dialogued with Dr Paul Copan, Mary Jo Sharp, Todd Friel, Brian Auten, and many others…

  3. Al says:

    Your view seems to be that an historical event is hypothetical and theoretical; I can see why you might think it was imaginary – people made it up for some purpose – but hypothetical? What exactly is that supposed to mean?

    I say this because I think an argument-slayer of your caliber should be precise in the use of language…. why exactly do you think the 1st Century church fathers made up a series of events that resulted in persecution, torture and often death while delivering them no tangible benefits? Or are all those church fathers imaginary figures as well?

    • Brett Strong says:

      Hi Al!

      HYPOTHETICAL to me means “guessed/speculated to be real or true but not found in reality”…which is akin to imaginative thinking (note: imaginative is a SYNONYM of hypothetical)…

      …and the NT superhero character Jesus and the Christian god fits perfectly in the context of being hypothetical (at least in my usage of the word) because neither one is found in reality (exactly like Space Aliens and the god part akin to Allah& Brahma), they are merely surmised (speculated) about in people’s minds and in writings

      2nd question to Al…

      As far as the 1st century church fathers, Al, we have nothing from their hands nor anything about them from the entire 1st century (0 artifacts, 0 writings, 0 inscriptions)…also, the majority of ancient historian scholars (including Bart Ehrman & the esteemed Dale Martin of Yale) deem the entire NT, besides a few of Paul’s letters, as forgeries of some nature…soooooo merely speaking about 1st century church fathers is all hypothetical, theoretical, & imaginative likewise (just like the NT Jesus and the Christian god)

      And everything I’ve said so far is a FACT too Al…

      And as far as the alleged 1st century church fathers alleged persecution, torture, and martyrdom is likewise all hypothetical, theoretical & imaginative too…because it comes to us by unsubstantiated hearsay (i.e. non-evidential church tradition spoken/written decades later)

      Al also asks: are the church fathers themselves imaginative?

      Hmmmm, whether they are real or not is not the point for me (after all, the entire 1st century is wiped clean of them but I wouldn’t debate anyone on that point alone [but they do sound reasonable true when reading Galatians]), but rather the NT Jesus and the Christian god (the crux/the foundation of the Christian argument! Ouch!) are all hypothetical, theoretical, imaginative (like Space Aliens and all other ‘gods’) and you can never get out of that forever fixed state (not my fault Al, just pointing it out to the world)….and that my friend forever disarms you and all Christian apologists when I point that out to the audience….you should know that, I did it to you and J Warner Nov 11, 2011 STR radio show and you guys were utterly helpless to do anything about it…again, not my fault, just enlightening people…what they believe there after is their issue not mine

      Brett Strong strikes again…disarming Christian apologists with utter ease…the next wave is here…and I am he..later Al, have a great day and my your Jesus faith serve you well

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