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VUCommodore: From what I understand, a broad spectrum of biblical historians (including many non-Christians) find it reasonable to argue that Mark was written in the 70s AD (in part due to apparent references to the temple's destruction, etc), and the consensus is that Paul's letters (which I think mention the resurrection multiple times) were written before 100 AD. Throw in the fact that the resurrection is supposed to have happened around 30 AD or so, and you've got the first written mentions of it (of which copies survive) somewhere between maybe 30 and 50 years after the fact.

Personally, I'm happy to accept the idea that the oldest Gospel, Mark, was written in the 70s, some 30 to 50 years after the crucifixion. Hell, I'm even happy to assume that Paul had heard about the supposed "resurrection" only ten years after the crucifixion.

Does that constitute evidence that a resurrection happened?

I answer that one with a question: How often have you heard of something miraculous happening, somewhere in the world?

In fact it happens just about every day. ALL of them are bunk, arising out of various combinations of wishful thinking, hearsay amplification, ignorance, fraud, and mendacity.

Some of these supposed miracles become the precipitating events of new cults. For example, during World War II the airdrops of war matèrial and food made by the US Air Force onto certain Pacific islands resulted in a variety of "Cargo Cults", some of which still exist now some 60 years later.

A prim and proper woman from New England named Mary Baker Eddy encountered a magnetic healer (i.e. a hypnotist) in 1862. She was so taken with her "cure" that she founded a successful religion, known as Christian Science. A lot of people believed her, and the cult is still going strong more than 140 years later.

There as a young man in upstate New York of dubious sanity who took great pleasure in the "treasure-hunting" fad of the early 19th century, even marrying a girl who shared his passion for finding hidden treasure. In 1823 he saw visions of an angel named Moroni, who told him where to find some golden plates. When things became too hot, what with all his neighbors trying to find where he had hidden the plates, he claimed to have returned them to Moroni.

Encouraged by the spectacular success of this "miracle", he proceeded to have further visions, and dictated a whole new book of the Bible. The religion he founded, now known as the Church of the Latter Day Saints, has been successful beyond his wildest dreams, and tens of millions claim to believe in the plates, Moroni, the Book of Mormon, and all the rest of it.

There was once a semi-successful science fiction writer who decided one fine day that it might be more profitable to create a religion than to write yet another piece of fiction. His first attempt — Dianetics — was only a partial success, but his second — Scientology — made his fortune. His followers treat the religious writings of Ron Hubbard as gospel, despite the obvious whimsy that pervades his entire opus. If you haven't read any of Scientology, take a look at the fundamental Axioms and Corollaries:

So, I submit to you this: there is no essentiall difference between the religion-creating activities of the early Apostles of Christianity and the activities of Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and Ron Hubbard. They are all cut from the same cloth, happily producing miracles for the masses who yearn for evidence of supernatural cures for every ailment they have, from the purely physical to psychological and on to the metaphysical.

The millions upon millions who fall for these hucksters are just as gullible as the Cargo Cultists of the Pacific Islands. In truth, they deserve each other. Perhaps you feel these yearnings too? If that is the case, I have a little miracle of my own right here, which I will impart for a suitable contribution to this charity that I conveniently set up last week.

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