This same type of challenge finds its way into criminal courtrooms every day in America. The challenge has some intuitive appeal: whenever we are assessing the evidence for an event that we did not ourselves perceive, the possibility that something bizarre and out of the ordinary was at play is not far from our minds. Afraid to be seen as gullible, we will quickly form a doubt if we begin to sense that perhaps someone is trying to mislead us. The safe bet, in that setting, is to remain ambivalent, consider both sides, and appear to be open, putting off a decision. No one likes to be wrong. Defense attorneys will, consequently, use this ploy to exploit to their client's advantage.But this line of thinking goes too far. If I accept it, then I will be unable to make any decisions. I will approach every inquiry doubting that any aspect of what I perceive is accurate, and in the end I will begin to doubt whether my senses are providing me with any reliable data. If it is true that “anything could explain how the drugs got into my client’s car,” then I must acquit before I begin to assess the remainder of the evidence. That’s not the way it works, because generalized statements like that are simply not accurate. They either fail to account for actual pieces of evidence that are reliably known, or they introduce the hidden assumption that nothing can ever be reliably known.
Applying this to the resurrection, could I not posit an evil troll living under a bridge that has the power to cause resurrections, but who can remain invisible? No one has ever disproven this proposition, so it could be argued that the troll’s power is quite impressive. The troll became aware of Jesus’ works and decided to mislead his followers by faking the resurrection, even though Jesus actually died. Since such a being “fully explains” the resurrection, we have no way, then, of distinguishing between the two explanations.The short answer is that this is simply false; the only explanation that fully and adequately explains the evidence for the resurrection is the Christian God. I have no good reason to believe that trolls exist, or that there are beings with such magical powers. So, “positing” one is a mental exercise that does not advance our knowledge. Similarly, I have a reliable basis for rejecting the “evil god” hypothesis, for two reasons: it is based on a misunderstanding of the concept of God; and in it fails to account for the cumulative case for Christianity. Let’s start with what we mean by God. St. Anselm expressed it effectively in his ontological argument – God is that being who possesses maximal greatness, a being a greater than which cannot be conceived. What attributes exist, God possesses them in an infinitely maximal way. The basic operation of our minds allows us to discern and intuit certain characteristics that such a being must possess, including such things as infinite power, perfect knowledge and perfect goodness. Goodness is the key to our inquiry here - why goodness? St. Augustine’s reflections on evil (in Confessions) may help make this point clear; evil is the perversion of the good, not a thing in and of itself. Evil and good are not independent forces at war against each other. Evil is the reflection of how what was good has been perverted or sullied. God, therefore, possesses and reflects this maximal goodness; he is the source of all the good we can perceive is an infinitely good God. So “positing” an evil God runs afoul of this conceptual sense. There may be "evil" beings - even powerful ones like the Devil - but they are "evil" precisely because they deploy their will against God. It is their thoughts and acts contrary to God's perfect goodness that allow us to recognize them as evil in the first place, not some inherent quality of "evilness" which they possess.
The second source of knowledge is from revelation. Knowing what limited (conceptual) things reason can tell us about God, we see in the pages of Scripture the account of God’s actual interaction with this world, which culminated with Jesus’ sacrifice. Several authors have made this case in easily readable formats, such as Gary Habermas, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig and Mike Licona. Though beyond the scope of this limited post, the case includes: Jesus fulfills prophecies written centuries before his birth, claims to be God while impressing people with both his sanity and his goodness, performs miracles to prove his claim, and then pulls off the greatest miracle of all by rising from the dead. Jesus’ ministry is marked by goodness and love, and includes repeated references to the importance of forgiveness and love of enemy. He tells the disciples exactly what is going to happen, and then goes about making it happen. In short, Jesus has both the power and the motivation to not let the disciples be fooled by "evil gods."Taken together, these two sources provide the one explanation that makes the most sense of the data. Could an “evil god” have snuck in there somehow and fooled the disciples through the use of some unexplained power? The answer in the abstract would have to be yes. It’s possible also that no one wrote this post and you are only imagining that you are reading it. But the reasonable conclusion, based not on abstractions but on all the evidence, is that this unique event in history was the product of the God of goodness and love who sent his Son into the world to save us from ourselves. And that is "good" news indeed.