Debating the Resurrection of Christ with an intelligent friend who equates the first-century eyewitness testimony of the Risen Jesus with Elvis sightings today. My response:
I am reminded of the tragedy which befell a travelling circus when its Human Cannonball was killed while practicing his act of being shot out of a cannon. When interviewed, the circus manager tearfully said, “We will never find a man of his caliber again.”
In order for sightings of Elvis to be of the same caliber as the Risen Jesus eyewitnesses you would need to produce:
1. A dozen of Elvis’ closest confidantes would have to experience seeing him in person (sometimes just a few of them together, sometimes all 12) and hearing the same words as the others did. They would then go on to make a life-threatening career out of spreading the word that Elvis had arisen.
2. Members of Elvis’ family who had not particularly liked him would also claim to interact with him in person post-mortem and also become leaders in spreading the word (as St. James did).
3. One of the biggest Elvis haters on the planet who became violent whenever Elvis was mentioned would have to believe he had a personal encounter with Elvis on a business trip and then decide to abandon his promising career to become the president of the worldwide Elvis fan club even at the risk of his life as well (as St. Paul did).
4. Crowds of hundreds if not thousands (when you count the women and children) of Elvis fans would have to believe they had seen him live in concert (all hearing the same songs in unison) on multiple occasions before that final concert where he was whisked away by helicopter with a promise to come back and do a final tour at some indeterminate date in the future (cf. Mt. 28 and Acts 1).
First-century eyewitnesses to the Risen Jesus are not of the same caliber as the random Elvis sighters in supermarket tabloids. Elvis sighters do not invalidate eyewitness testimony generally.