[quote="CalCatholic, post:2, topic:350195"]
When I was exploring Christianity a little over 10 years ago (after 47 years of almost no religion in my life), one of the doctrines of the faith I had to deal with was that of Christ's resurrection.
A book that helped me with this was, 'A Case for Christ' by Lee Strobel. A conclusion I came to (by that and many other books on faith and history), was that the faith that the Apostle's and the other followers of Jesus had in proclaiming the resurrection, was so powerful. The Apostles and other disciples of Jesus were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming it, and this was a life of hardship, persecution and death. And there is no evidence that they wavered in their belief!
Unlike today's Televangelists and other book writing Christians, who may or may not have a strong faith in Christ, have made a lot of money writing or preaching about Jesus' resurrection. There was no profit to the disciples of Jesus to profess his resurrection (financially). Would men like Peter and Paul continue preaching that Jesus had appeared to them after his death, and spend the next 35+ years walking, riding and sailing all over the Roman Empire in hardship and persecution? Would they go to Rome (the source of much of their persecution), where they both would be executed by the Romans for their belief, unless they actually saw the risen Christ? My conclusion was no. The disciples truly believed what they had seen and touched with their own hands, and that was the risen Jesus Christ!
There are other ways of looking at it, other possibilities, but I would agree that a glib dismissal is out of the question.
In answer to the question, "why would they be willing to die for their beliefs?" it is not amiss to point out that they would be following the example of their lord and master, Jesus. Martyrdom had in itself become an ideal, as had love of neighbor and resist not evil. All of these values, as taught by Christ, are exemplified by the behavior of the apostles, even if Jesus had not risen from the dead. So it might not be a case of, "why bother dying for something that isn't true?" The very truth that Jesus taught, the very values that he promulgated, were that of love one's neighbor, turn the other cheek, and being willing to die for love. Their willingness to do it, even absent a resurrection, would a testimony to the power that this idea had to them. And if they believed in eternal life -- which they may have, even if Jesus did not resurrect physically -- and if they believed that he would come again -- which they may have, even if Jesus did not resurrect physically -- and if they believed that he lives and is seated at the right hand of the father -- which, again, is not contradicted by the idea of a Christ that resurrected not in flesh and blood, but in spirit, then there would not be the feeling that Christ's teaching died with him on the cross. They would very powerfully be convinced that his teaching still lives.
The same could be said about the extraordinary power and impact that the living Christ had on their lives -- that memory of the living Christ would have been stronger than his dead. Indeed, the idea of Christ would have survived his death. This idea that, "you can kill the body, but you cannot kill truth." The human psyche has "magazines" of conceptualization that are seemingly infinite, and there is a resilience and hope that can prove un-quenchable.
A Christian does not believe this -- or, rather, believes all this, and also believes that Jesus rose from the dead -- but I don't think it is convincing to say that, if Jesus simply died, it would be impossible or even unlikely for his followers to retain any loyalty to his teachings or values, or even be willing to die for them, or to be on fire with his teaching, convinced that he is glorified with God, and that he will return to them one day. A simple belief in eternal life is an energizing enough idea, making any prospect of a physical death pale in comparison.