Recently, a Christian pointed me to N.T. Wright's "refutation" of the hypothesis that that the first appearances of the risen Jesus were visionary or hallucinatory experiences:
My response to this proposal is (a) that it requires enormous credulity to suppose that, even allowing Peter and Paul to have had such fantasies or hallucinations they would have generated more than a passing comment of sympathy among their colleagues or contemporaries; (b) that psychological theories of this sort—about people two thousand years ago in a different culture—are at best unprovable and at worst wildly fantastic. But, and most important, (c) the proposal simply does not make sense within the world or first-century Judaism.
Let's just think about this:
(1) It is an established historical fact that large numbers of nineteenth century Americans abandoned their homes in upstate New York for an arduous trek to Navoo, Illinois, followed by an even more arduous trek to Salt Lake City based on Joseph Smith's claim that he had looked into a hat and used magic seer stones to translate golden plates whose location had been revealed to him by a native american angel. Nevertheless, it somehow strains Wright's credulity to think that first century Jews and pagans might have been taken in by claims that a man had risen from the dead.
(2) Wright believes in the literal truth of every supernatural story in the Bible up to and including the zombie saints of Matthew Matt 28:53. Still, he insists that the possibility that Paul and Peter had a hallucination borders on the "wildly fantastic."
(3) Wright sneers at the notion of proposing psychological theories about people living two thousand year ago in a different culture. Nevertheless, he claims to understand first century Jewish thinking so well that he can confidently dismiss the possibility that they might be as gullible and uncritical as the nineteenth century followers of Joseph Smith, the sixteenth century followers of Sabbati Zevi, and the twelfth century followers of Francis of Assisi who all believed that God had acted miraculously through their leaders.
Is there anything in there that withstands thirty seconds reflection?