A second alternative explanation is the twin hypothesis, according to which Jesus had an unknown identical twin brother who faked the Resurrection by walking around pretending to be Jesus, after the real Jesus had died. This possibility was identified by Christian historian Paul Maier — note I said “identified” not “defended” — and then defended by Robert Greg Cavin in his Ph.D. dissertation. Unlike the Resurrection hypothesis, the Twin hypothesis entails all of the data to be explained. It has an overall higher balance of prior probability and explanatory power. According to Bayes Theorem, that’s all one needs to show that the Resurrection is not the best explanation.
i) There's no evidence whatsoever that Jesus had a twin brother, while there is prima facie evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.
ii) How does the postulate that Jesus had an unknown identical twin brother have a higher prior probability and explanatory power than the Resurrection? How would that be kept secret for 30+ years? In order for his twin brother to show up about 18 hours after the Crucifixion, to impersonate Jesus, where was he hiding all that time?
After Jesus became a local celebrity in Palestine, wouldn't people begin to notice his identical twin brother? If you look like a famous person, people take notice.
Why do atheists resort to such a cockamamie conspiracy theory? How is that supposed to be rational? If Christians resorted to theories like that, how would atheists react? The twin hypothesis is a backdoor admission of secular desperation.
iii) How would that explain the empty tomb? On the twin-theory, there'd still be a body in the tomb. So Lowder and Cavin require an extra, add-on, auxiliary hypothesis.
iv) Is Jeff saying the postulate of an unknown identical twin has higher probability than God raising Jesus from the dead? If so, how does Jeff quantify the probability that God had no reason for raising Jesus from the dead?
Or is Jeff assuming it's less probable because there is no God to raise Jesus from the dead? If so, then his argument is contingent on an extra, add-on, auxiliary hypothesis regarding God's nonexistence.
v) The twin-hypothesis contradicts other alternative theories.
It is pretty easy to show that any "alternative" scenario, such as a "Passover Plot" scheme or a twin hypothesis has improbable and implausible features. So, the apologist goes through each such alternative and concludes that each was unlikely. His conclusion? The only "reasonable" account is that a dead man was miraculously resurrected--not resuscitated, resurrected. That is, he was given an entirely new, supernatural body that could do magical things like pass through locked doors a la Marley's ghost, but was still material enough to eat a piece of fish. Uh huh.
i) It's true that Jesus was dead too long to be resuscitated. However, Keith is posing a false dichotomy. The alternative is not "an entirely new body". According to the Gospels, Jesus was only dead for about 18 hours. Even if his body underwent necrosis, it didn't disintegrate. What would be required is miraculous restoration, not wholesale replacement.
ii) According to the Gospels, Jesus could do "magical" things before he died. Jesus could do "magical" things when he had a normal body. In that event, he didn't need a "supernatural body" to do "magical" things after he rose from the dead.
No doubt Keith denies that Jesus was a bona fide miracle-worker. But my immediate point is that he's drawing false inferences from the source material.
I do not know how Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Maybe he swam, or rode his horse, or maybe he paddled a raft. I am pretty sure that he did not sprout wings and fly across. The apologists' modus operandi is to throw cold water on every naturalistic explanation and then offer, as the only "reasonable" explanation, the explanation that, to the skeptic anyway, looks like the most implausible of all.
i) Caesar didn't need to sprout wings and fly to cross the Rubicon.
ii) Caesar was just an ordinary human being.
Keith's analogy is disanalogous with the nature of the Christian claim. He fails to engage the argument on its own terms. Jesus and Caesar are not comparable propositions. He's attacking the Christian claim by drawing a parallel that's not not analogous to the issue at hand. That's a straw man comparison.
To be a skeptic about the resurrection, you do not need the hallucination theory or any theory at all. You simply note that what we have is a farrago of scenarios of varying degrees of implausibility, with the orthodox Christian answer as the most implausible scenario of all. We will NEVER know what happened. It was too long ago in circumstances that were too obscure and recorded only in records written years after the event by parties with a strongly vested interest. Maybe we can infer to the best explanation, but even the best explanation will not be very good.
Yet in this very same comment thread, Keith testifies that:
Growing up in the Deep South as a Christian and regular church attendee I never heard of the "resurrection apologetic" until I was an adult and an atheist. In church we used to sing a hymn with the following rather corny lines:
He lives! Salvation to impart!You ask me how I know He lives?He lives within my heart!
According to his HuffPo bio, Parsons was born in 1952. That makes him about 64, as of 2016. Notice his confidence in recalling events that happened to him in childhood, some 50-60 years ago. We have no independent corroboration for his testimony. And he has a strongly vested interest in what he says.