This is a point that it seems is too often overlooked or forgotten. Christians will always challenge us to try and explain the gospel's testimony of the resurrection in terms of natural explanations. That's easy, of course. But the even greater challenge should be why Christians accept a particular supernatural explanation given the even greater number of such explanations!
You have an interesting argument. Make them realize "You can't have your cake and eat it too". But, it seems, many Christians don't get this. Not up front, at least.
I'm an ex Pentecostal, so I don't think that argument would influence me much -- at least, not at first. Perhaps it would plant a seed, though. I was really deep into the supernatural stuff and I would have probably just ignored your point of view. But, other types of Christians who were not so deep into the supernatural stuff might feel a jolt from your argument.
That's a great way to plant a seed, even if they simply dismiss your argument.
Have you ever heard about the book "When Prophecy Fails"? It's based on a study by three social psychologists. Here are the main points:
* Psychologists theorize that cults who believe in a prophesy still remain in their cult after the prophesy fails.
* Psychologists see a news paper article about a UFO cult waiting on aliens to take them away before destroying the earth.
* UFO cult shuns the local press and refuses interviews. Does not actively seek to recruit new members.
* Psychologists work their way into the cult as new members.
* The aliens arrival date is set -- even to the hour -- 12:00 Midnight (I can't recall the day).
* The aliens never arrive (of course). Some members become disgusted and leave the group.
* However, the most loyal members remain. They rationalize that the aliens want to spare humankind a little longer.
* As a result -- the cult opens up and evangelizes and seeks out the local press for attention.
* The Psychologists documented all of this. Ironically, the psychologists became the true prophets in this whole situation.
Can you figure out the implications? Here's where my mind immediately went:
Jesus dies, but never raises.
The disciples rationalize that Jesus rose as a spirit and will return again later for all to see.
Until then, they are to evangelize the Jews.
The Jews aren't interested. They're too monotheistic to believe in Jesus and God, too.
So, the Christians start to evangelize anyone else.
Because these people had so much to lose if they turn their backs on their initial commitment (cognitive dissonance), they stay committed -- even though Jesus never rose. Perhaps even to death. All for a lie.
I haven't tried to argue this with any other Christians yet, but I'd bet they'd scream anathema! and start to pick up stones!
Or, they'll just dismiss the argument altogether. But, maybe that will still plant a seed, at least.
The thing about Christianity is that it has an answer for everything. GOD KNOWS that people die without knowing Christianity or being fully exposed to it which is not your fault. BUT, he also knows that each religion, even though they are wrong, will have a set of rules to follow. That is why he said you will be JUDGED.
But, if you are a Christian, God wants us to be free of ALL sin, believe Jesus is our Savior, and love God with all your heart and love everyone
PS. Being good is not good enough, and you are only credited for your works through Christ only, not for personal gain etc....
GOD is ALWAYS FAIR.
So you're arguing that demons possessed those who claim to have witnessed Jesus death and resurrection and did this in order to trick believers into thinking Jesus actually did something that he did not do? This seems odd since your whole basis for this argument is that Jesus could not have risen from the dead because miracles of this sort don't happen correct?
You then argue that you're actually just trying to take the roof off the Christian argument by playing the supernatural game and accepting that miracles can happen and then dismissing one of the options (that being Christ did actually rise from the dead) because it doesn't fit your view that miracle cannot happen. You don't actually state in that line of reasoning that there is proof for demons causing this belief but you just choose that one over what the gospel authors testify of and the only reason you seem to do this is because you don't accept miracles.
This seems a little dishonest. The only way it seems that your argument could really work is if you supplied some reasonable evidence for Satan performing this stunt that would in effect defeat the God the bible declares is sovereign. Obviously you don't agree that the God of the bible is sovereign but if you don't supply any evidence you've only succeeded at providing an nice story.
The "demon" / "you can't your cake and eat it too" is counter-able for a number of reasons:
A) Most faith traditions now acknowledge that what was often viewed at demonic possession in the Bible was actually mental illness (perhaps derived in some instances from sin but necessary "it"). Some could have been actual possession but either does not in context detract from the moral teaching in each instance.
B) Just because something (another supernatural explanation) "could be" does not necessarily mean it could "possibly be" as much as something else with a similar characteristic (ie supernaturality) so the entire premise is completely false. For instance, is the alternative explanation internally evident or justified or logical or connect within context.
C) The argument attempts to obscure the primary point of it which is that there are a many accounts from various sources that 11 of the 12 apostles were martyred as Christians because they were so. But let's say that half of those accounts were false. That leaves 5 or 6 that knew they were lieing and died anyway for absolutely no purpose whatsoever and they knew it. That is the key. NOT that they died for something they erroneously believed but rather that they KNEW they DIED for something they themselves KNEW was false. Why? It makes no sense. Did they all CLAIM to believe Jesus was resurrected? NO. They CLAIMED THEY SAW Jesus resurrected. Therefore, if he did not they were lying and knew they were lying. If ANY of them HAD broken and come clean saying Jesus did not rise then how in the name of creation or nothing did this not get on the "news" of the day? It would have been plastered by every Roman Governer and Emperor for ALL to see so the Christian would GO AWAY!! But, NO. There is a complete silence. Where are the accounts of people to claim first hand knowledge recanting? Nowhere.
A) The moral teaching? Is there a supernatural realm that can interact with us humans? If you answer yes, the full force of the possibility confronts you. If you answer no, you don't believe God has an influence on humanity.
B) I'd agree that for natural explanations, "could be" would have varying degrees of believability informed by our everyday experience. We find a coin balanced on its edge -- it could be that I tried to flip it and it landed on it's side. Or, it could be that I balanced it to make a point. You don't have that luxury with supernatural explanations. How do you put even rough odds on one supernatural explanation over another?
C) What? I'm granting you for the sake of argument that everyone you want to have been an eyewitness died proclaiming what they saw. I'm saying, one supernatural explanation is that all of them were possessed by trouble-making spirits. Why would people lie about it? They were possessed, and people who are possessed do and say things contrary to what you expect people to do. Dead simple explanation.