What could possibly motivate someone to become a serial killer?  To randomly kill complete strangers?  Every so often, a confessed serial killer gets interviewed by some news outlet and is inevitably asked this question.  Many of the answers these killers give only add to the infuriating mystery of why they took so many human lives so senselessly. 

But in many of the interviews I’ve seen, a common theme emerges: killing gave these “monsters” a rush like no other; it gave them a feeling of power like nothing else they could ever experience; even if momentary and fleeting, it enabled them to know what it feels like to hold the power over life and death.  And as obscene and perverse as this is, it does make sense how taking someone’s life—controlling whether they live or die—could be a rush that has unmatched intensity. 

Holding the power over life and death is the ultimate power.

So, what does this have to do with the Resurrection? 

Think about it: what’s the central problem of life?  It’s the fact that goodness seems so weak; that so often goodness gets defeated, with death being its total defeat.  But if Jesus really rose from the dead, then the Resurrection completely reverses this.  Jesus is the perfectly good human being, the ideal moral man.  He is pure goodness in the flesh, incarnate.  Since the power over life and death is the ultimate power, His Resurrection is the ultimate victory of moral goodness over evil.  Perfect goodness conquers our greatest nemesis, death itself. (For more on this, see Peter Kreeft, Socrates Meets Jesus, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2002, pp. 161-165)

The union of perfect goodness with perfect power, the Resurrection utterly reverses the central problem of life.

A number of well-known experts from various fields of study, including The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, ancient literature scholar C.S. Lewis, renowned psychologist C.G. Jung, literature professor and comparative religions author Joseph Campbell, and contemporary psychologist turned internet sensation Jordan Peterson have all pointed out how deeply the archetype of good defeating evil is woven into the fabric of the human psyche.  They also recognize that the Resurrection of Jesus is the fullest expression of this archetype, with several of them pointing out how every other “myth” of good conquering evil is simply pointing in some vague way to this one.  All other myths, especially those of dying and rising gods, are anticipating the Resurrection. 

In the depth of our being, the Resurrection is what we as humans are hardwired to anticipate most.

To paraphrase Tolkien, there is no other story we as humans would more want to be true.  It is the greatest thing imaginable, the ultimate victory of good over evil. 

When people start talking about the Resurrection as the ultimate archetype, though, they usually mean that it didn’t really happen.  Like the other dying and rising god myths, it has symbolic meaning.  It might even capture the deepest truth about ultimate reality.  However, it’s ridiculous to think of it as anything more than a myth; as an individual actually triumphing over death.

But here’s the thing.  The meaning of Jesus’ Resurrection provides a good (philosophical) reason for believing that it literally did happen. 

See, this archetype is so pervasive, it begs the question: from where did we derive it?  One explanation is that it’s a figment of our imagination, something human beings subconsciously manufactured to deal with the harsh realities of life. 

But it could just as likely be explained as a deep intuition that actually points us to the ultimate nature of reality, an intuition given to us by our Creator.  In fact, there is no convincing naturalistic explanation for this intuition, such as it providing some kind of selective advantage.  For example, the nearly universal consensus among evolutionists is that altruism for a stranger can’t be explained by natural selection.  Since we consider such altruism a reflection of the highest good, the noblest dimension of humanity, and, therefore, absolutely fundamental to the archtype Jesus, in His perfect goodness, embodied, it seems more likely this archetype derives from an intuition of something real. 

And if that’s the case, the Resurrection is what we would naturally anticipate happening.

Moreover, the Resurrection differs from all the other archetypal myths in two critical ways.  In the other myths of pagan gods dying and rising, everybody telling those stories knew they were myths; no one actually believed, let alone staked their life on the fact, that their god had actually come back from the dead.  But with Jesus, it is a real myth—there were many who knew Him who also claimed, even unto their own deaths, that it actually happened.  Jesus’ Resurrection is consistently presented as a historical event.

Second, the story of Jesus includes elements that nobody at the time could have imagined: the transcendent God becoming a finite human being, suffering utter rejection and humiliation, and being raised with a glorified body that had transcendent qualities.  None of this would have been conceivable prior to the Resurrection.  The story is told in a way that no myth, no human, ever anticipated.

If this story is true, then it’s not just the ultimate archetype.  It actually is the ultimate defeat of evil and death.  Death has no more power over us.  Goodness wins.  Everything will be made right in the end.

Clearly, there is no other story we as humans would want more to be true.

And the fact that, deep within our collective consciousness, this is the exact thing we’ve been anticipating most all along, is a good reason to think it might actually be true.

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About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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