The comment by @curiousdannii points us in the right direction.
Origins of Major religions.
1) Judaism also calls on its believer's to remember the miracles that set them free from Egypt (an event I believe happened). They were led by Moses, a literate man raised and educated by Egyptian royals. Under Moses, they survived several military attacks, and his disciple, Joshua, was then a great military leader who conquered a large territory. Clearly the success of Judaism is dependent upon a foundational period with a charismatic leader and then a military genius.
2) Buddhism was started by a prince who had the opportunity to hire teachers and study religious ideas. Siddartha was scientific in his approach to religion, trying ascetism of various kinds, abandoning that which did not work. His ideas are clearly the work of a first rate intellect. His rise to prominence required decades, during which time there is no evidence that he faced great persecution.
3) Islam was started by Mohammed, who began a lengthy and successful series of military conquests, and was succeeded by others who continued in that path. During its first century, Islam conquered half of the lands along the Meditteranean sea and Persia to the east.
4) Hinduism's origins are shrouded in mystery. Since no one knows who started it or under what conditions, no conclusions can be drawn related to this question.
5) Zarathustra, founder of Zoroastrianism, did suffer opposition by the leaders of his time, but eventually persuaded a king to follow his teachings, thus cementing a place in society for his ideas.
6) Christianity, by contrast was started by uneducated people:
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they
were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note
that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
The Romans launched ten major persecutions against the Church, lasting for over 250 years. From the very beginning, its followers were on the run. Whatever sustained it, it was not the same as what sustained these other religions during their formative years.
No return to Judaism.
There is a second line of reasoning as powerful as the first. Jesus claimed to be God the Son, but also one with the Father. If he did not rise from the dead, then either God was dead, and there would no longer any reason to worship him, or he was not really God, and there would be no reason to worship him. That would leave Jesus as:
- a healer, like Elijah and Elisha
- a teacher, like Ezra or Moses
- a paragon of wisdom, like Solomon or Daniel
- a prophet, like Isaiah
- a righteous sufferer, like Job
Considering that - apart from claims to divinity - Jesus’ teachings are merely a distillation or restatement of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, what do you have? No reason not to return to Judaism. The fact that the church, which began by worshiping at the temple, did not just dissolve back into temple worship and become a reform movement within Judaism is proof that it had something distinctive. The only distinctive things Christianity had (at first) to make it different from Judaism were the incarnation of God, the substitutionary atonement on the cross, and the resurrection. You need the resurrection to prove the first two, so all you really have is the resurrection.
That is why Paul preached “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2)
Partial Counterexample: Sikhism:
The history of Sikhism is a counterexample to this apologetic argument, because it resembles Christianity in some respects.
- They suffered severe persecution by the Mughal empire, followed by the British
- Many of their lead Gurus were executed
- After centuries of suffering, they acquired political power
- They preach radical equality of all castes...
- ... equality of men and women, including the foundation of schools for women
- They forbid the practice of Sati (wife burning)
- Preach tolerance of Muslims and Hindus
- Hold regular community meals where all people of all levels of society and all races are invited to eat for free
The most important difference is that Sikhs strongly discourage talk of myths, magic and miracles. Their religion focuses on ethics, generosity, morality and equality. Thus they have no supernatural backstory to be invalidated, so there was no problem that the death of a guru promising resurrection or some other miraculous claim could invalidate their beliefs. The teachings on equality alone surely earned their religion many followers. Thus Sikhism is not a real counterexample, but it comes closest among the major world religions.