Listening to the ‘Unbelievable’ podcast with Justin Brierley (“Unbelievable? Can Justin defend his own book?”) and then subsequently listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast (Episode 1163 with Banachek) got me thinking.
I personally don’t think Jesus existed (at least the famous Jesus in the Gospels) mostly because no one outside of the Bible seemed to notice his notorious deeds while they were happening and because there are no hard dates, etc. But nevertheless, it came up in the Unbelievable podcast how much evidence Christians see for Jesus rising from the dead. Banachek (a mentalist) on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast mentioned how great he could be as an evangelist. For background, he’s the mentalist who discovered (along with James Randi) that Peter Poppoff was using an earpiece and radio waves to con his audience back in the day.
But what if Jesus was just performing tricks? Even now, with today’s technology and knowledge, Banachek convinced a bunch of scientists that his magic was real. How much more could people be fooled in the first century before all the modern technology. Jesus turned water to wine, he walked on water. Maybe final magic trick was convincing people he rose from the dead.
The Bible reveals it’s tendency toward magic in the Old Testament too. One of my favorite magic tricks was when the Pharoah’s magicians threw their staffs to the ground and they became snakes and then Moses threw his to the ground to become a snake and eat the other snakes (Exodus 7:10-12). I wonder if Penn and Teller could pull that one off.