Aldous Huxley and others could not dispute that the disciples believed they saw the risen Jesus. He argued a psychological miracle of mass hallucination is a more likely explanation than a physical resurrection, since hallucinations have been observed to occur, whereas no resurrection has ever been observed.
So why not? Isn’t it possible? It would be a rare event. Auditory hallucinations happen but are not very common, visual more rare and tactile least common. In schizophrenics, lifetime prevalence for auditory hallucinations is 64-80%, visual 23-31%, 9-19% tactile, and 6-10% olfactory. These are among seriously mentally ill patients with schizophrenia, and lifetime occurrences.
Psychiatry Res. 2017 Jun;252:154-160. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.01.102. Epub 2017 Feb 24
So, it would be very unusual to experience all three (auditory, visual, tactile) at once, as the disciples report. Even more rare is having a conversation with the hallucination, and the hallucination having a conversation with other people and with you. But having conversations (auditory) and seeing the person, and finally (as Thomas did when he touched Jesus wounds in his side after Jesus said “put your hand into the wound in my side” (John 20:27)) would be unique. Then everyone in the room having an identical hallucination is even more unlikely. 500 people having the same hallucination (as Paul reports in 1 Corinthians 15:6), and multiple people hallucinating over a 40 day period, all seeing and hearing and touching the same person would make this an event never observed before or since. The disciples showed no evidence of having schizophrenia, so this would be even more unlikely.
However, a resurrection has never been observed before or since either. So why not an incredible psychological miracle? There is one simple reason. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, the dean of The Simon Greenleaf School of Law when I was a student, used to say “because there is no evidence for it.”
If the body was still in the tomb, the Romans rolled the corpse through downtown Jerusalem, other eyewitnesses said there was no Jesus in the room when the hallucinating crazies saw him, if hostile eyewitnesses like the Pharisees knew Jesus was still in the tomb, if in fact there was any evidence Jesus was still dead, then the hallucination miracle would have some weight. But there is NO EVIDENCE to support this theory. If you are after the truth, you go where the evidence leads. It all leads to a physical resurrection. It all leads to sober, sane, rational, sensible, even very wise and exceptionally emotionally healthy disciples, as evident in their actions and statements and writing, reporting observations. They were reluctant to believe them. They needed lots of proof. The tomb was empty. And, there is no evidence to the contrary.
When people have hallucinations, we know they are such because others do not see or hear the hallucinations. They are verified by other non-hallucinatory observations and facts. In psychological evaluations, I ask the question “have you seen things other people do not see, or heard things other people do not hear?” If an observation is corroborated in multiple ways, and there is no contradicting evidence, go with the eyewitnesses. Otherwise we could know and learn nothing about what happened. The argument could always be made to trump all the evidence, no matter how powerful, consistent, valid and uniform, that “everyone involved is just hallucinating.” Imagine using that approach for all scientific “observations” you don’t like, all eyewitness testimony in the court, anywhere else in life.
The only reason then to believe a psychological miracle rather than a resurrection has nothing to do with the evidence. It has to do with previous assumptions that, no matter what the evidence, a physical resurrection is impossible, and any other explanation, whether there is any evidence for it or not, HAS to be the explanation. These kind of people, like Aldous Huxley, have ulterior motives. It’s like Jesus predicted (Luke 16:31) “they would not believe even if someone came back from the dead.”
Aldous gave us a clue when he said “We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom” and “There was one admirably simple method of justifying ourselves, […] we would deny that the world had any meaning”