Let's now look at the rose again and ascended into Heaven part.
The evidence for this is to be found where? You've guessed it; in the Bible which was written by people who wanted you to believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and is still alive. No other evidence exists outside the Bible and no contemporaneous written accounts of it appear anywhere in any records or any non-biblical sources what so ever.
The accounts in the first four books of the New Testament of the Christian Bible is all there is. Now, Christians would have you believe they were all written by eye-witnesses to the events who were close associates of Jesus. Of course, they offer no evidence to support this at all. We are expected to take it on faith.
Basically, the entire thing hangs on two alleged events:
- Jesus' tomb being found to be empty.
- Jesus appearing to some of his followers soon afterwards, then going bodily up to Heaven.
So, lets look at the four accounts:
Matthew 28:1-20. Mary Magdalene and 'the other' Mary arrive at the tomb and an earthquake occurs. Then an angel appears and rolls back the stone from the mouth of the tomb and sits upon it. The keepers (i.e. the guards who had been placed there to make sure the body wasn't stolen) 'became like dead men'.
The angel says that Jesus has risen and takes them to see where he had been. He then tells them to go and tell the disciples. On the way Jesus appears and tells them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee where they will meet him.
The 'keepers' are then bribed by their officers to say they fell asleep but none-the-less somehow saw Jesus' followers come and steal the body. (We are not told if anyone believed this idiotically implausible story, nor are we told how Matthew knew about the secret bribe).
All eleven of Jesus' disciples then go to Galilee and meet Jesus on a mountain.
Matthew says nothing about Jesus ascending to Heaven.
Mark 16:1-20. Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome go to the tomb but this time the stone has already been rolled back. There is no earthquake and no angel sitting upon the rolled-back stone. Instead they find a young man sitting inside the tomb. He tells them Jesus is not there but has risen. He then tells them to go and tell the disciples, and Peter, what has happened and to make their way to Galilee where they would meet Jesus.
However, the women were afraid and fled and said nothing to anyone. We are not told how Mark then knew this.
Jesus then appeared to Mary Magdalene, but when she told the disciples, they didn't believe her. He then appeared to two of the disciples as they walked in the country. They told the others but still no one believed them.
Afterwards, Jesus appeared to all eleven in a room and told them they were to go and preach and all those who believed them could cast out devils, speak new languages, handle serpents, drink poison with impunity and heal the sick just by touching them.
Jesus then goes to Heaven but we are not told how, when, who witnessed it or how Mark came to know about it.
Luke 24:1-53. Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the Mother of James (and maybe other women; it's not clear) go to the tomb and find it open and empty. Two men appear standing near to them. They tell the women that Jesus has risen.
The women then go and tell the eleven disciples but they don't believe them, so Peter goes to check. Peter wonders what has happened.
Two men then go to Emmaus, about 7.5 miles from Jerusalem - we aren't told why - and there Jesus appears but they didn't recognise him! He then spent all day with them and had a meal. Suddenly they recognised him and he vanished. They then go back to Jerusalem and tell the eleven disciples that Jesus had appeared to Simon!
Jesus then appears and they give him some fish and honeycomb. He then takes them to Bethany and ascends to Heaven.
John 20:1 - 21:25. Mary Magdalene went alone to the tomb. It was open so she ran to get Simon Peter and 'the other disciple who Jesus loved' and they ran back to the tomb, Peter arriving last. Then the disciples went home and left Mary Magdalene alone at the tomb. When she looked in she saw two angels sitting down. Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but didn't recognise him. Then she recognised him but wasn't allowed to touch him.
Jesus tells Mary to go and tell the disciples that he is going to ascend to Heaven. That evening, in a closed room, Jesus appears to all the disciples except Thomas Didymus. Thomas doesn't believe them so after eight days, Jesus appears again and convinces Thomas.
Jesus then appears a couple more times during which he helps them catch some fish.
After that, John seems to get bored with the tale and finishes it like a schoolboy ending a bad essay with "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." No mention of ascending to heaven.
So, those are the four 'witness' statements. Imagine a District Attorney or Counsel for the Prosecution presenting four 'eye-witness' statements as confused as these before a court and expecting to get a conviction.
They can't agree whether the tomb was open or closed when the women arrived, how many women there were, how many angels there were, whether the angels were inside or outside the tomb, whether they were standing up or sitting down, who said what to whom and whether Jesus appeared to them and told them to go tell the others, or whether an angel did. They can't agree on who told whom and whether the women actually told anyone or not. And we're expected to believe that, according to one account, the women told no one, being too afraid, yet somehow someone else was able to relate what they witnessed.
The 'eye-witnesses' who were supposedly amongst the eleven disciples, can't agree on whether they went to Galilee to meet Jesus or whether he appeared amongst them in a room in Jerusalem. Two of the eleven appear to have been in Emmaus with Jesus all day but didn't recognise him, yet others say all eleven went to Galilee. Another account has all eleven together in the room in Jerusalem but one says Thomas was missing. Two accounts say nothing about Jesus ascending to Heaven, another places it in Bethany a few days after the alleged resurrection, and the third mentions it in passing but doesn't say where it happened. Nor can they agree on how long it was before Jesus ascended. John has him hanging around long enough to work all manner of miracles - enough to fill more books than the world could contain, apparently, and never does get to the actual ascension. None of the others, just like contemporaneous historians, seemed to have noticed all these additional miracles.
And these confused, contradictory, highly embroidered, and quite obviously not eye-witness accounts are what the entire Christian faith hangs on.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I put it to you that these statements are merely hear-say at best and cannot possibly be the statements of eye-witnesses to the same events. The claim that they are so is a lie beyond any shadow of a doubt. They cannot even agree amongst themselves which town they were in at the time. I put it to you that the entire evidence from these witnesses should be dismissed as the evidence of liars and scoundrels.
I put it to you that, since these statements are the only evidence offered, there is no case to answer.
No wonder such a huge store is placed on believing by 'faith' and not looking too closely, if at all, at the 'evidence'. No wonder the church portrays questioning this 'evidence', and not merely being gullible enough to accept it without question, as some sort of character weakness.