By Ernest O’Neill
Is there such a thing as superhuman life? Is there any kind of life that ishigher than the creaturely existence you and I have here on earth? Or are weimprisoned here on this planet with no hints of where it came from or how we gothere? Have any of us succeeded in getting sufficiently deep into space that wecan tell what, if anything, lies beyond this physical universe?
The answer is bluntly “No.” Not even the great religious leaderslike Buddha or Isaiah claim ever to have got off the earth and remainedconscious. BUT in the whole history of the world, there has been one visitorfrom Outer Space that has been able to tell us that there is a superhuman lifebehind the physical universe. He existed about 1950 years ago and hedemonstrated his ability to leave the earth and return to it at will.
Such a claim as this requires almost superhuman substantiation because thiskind of fantasy has been imagined by human authors for generations. Does thisvirtually superhuman evidence of a visitor from Outer Space exist? Yes — thoughit seems too good to be true, the historicity of this person’s life on earth ismore firmly established than almost any other human being of that era.
First, this man’s life has been recorded by eye witnesses like Peter andJohn who were well-known figures in Palestine in the first century. Their ownexistence is confirmed in many contemporary history books unconnected with theBible which contains their own writings. Secondly, their accounts of this man’slife are corroborated by other contemporary historians like Pliny, Josephus,Tertullian, Porphyry, and Celsus who make this kind of comment: “Tiberiusaccordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world,having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearlyshown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, withhis own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given theapproval itself, rejected this proposal. Caesar held to this opinion,threatening death against all the accusers of the Christians.”
But this seems incredible unbelievable! Is it not more probable that thesefollowers were so deeply impressed by this remarkable leader that they allowedtheir admiration to get the better of their love of truth, and they exaggeratedhis power over death? This might happen if their story about the resurrectionresulted in their fame and fortune. But it did not! If they had just spread histeaching they could have lived long and respected lives; what they insisted onclaiming was that this man rose from the dead–this is why they were persecutedby the Jewish and Roman authorities. This fact was the cause of their earlydeaths — and the deaths of their wives and children.
Now men will die for something they think is true but which later turns outto be a lie. BUT men will not create a lie or an exaggeration that not only theybut their families have to die for. Such an event is an ethical andpsychological impossibility!
However, there is an even greater reason for accepting with absolutecertainty the historicity of this unique life that occurred on our planet at thebeginning of this era. The first written accounts (which we have today) wereread by hundreds of people who had themselves seen Jesus’ life and death. Theyonly had to laugh at these written records and tell what had really happened,and these accounts would never have survived the first century as history letalone the twentieth.
One of the letters that recount this unique life was written to people wholived in the Roman province of Galatia in the year 48 a.d. Obviously there weremany people alive in 48 a.d. who had seen Jesus crucified in 29 a.d.. Even a manof 20 at the crucifixion would be barely 40 when this account was circulating.The population in that small area of the globe was not large and the writtenreports were being read far and wide. In such a situation, historians have towrite it “like it was” – otherwise their histories will be exposed asfantasies. There was no such scandal! There was no such outcry! Incrediblethough this unique man, Jesus, was, the evidence that he existed is stronger andmore detailed than the evidence for Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. Ifthis man did not live in our world, then history does not exist!