A Man Rising From the Dead? We’re So Much More Sensible Now

The New York Times recently published an article describig the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem as “the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried.” Really, they did. (The line has since been amended online.)

It’s an amusing gaffe. Possibly, it was born out of simple habit, one that reasonably thinks of people who died as still being dead. Or it might point to a misunderstanding of a central doctrine of the Christian religion. I can’t help but wonder, however, if it points to something even more than that. Perhaps the reason for the error is an underlying conception of the world that can’t begin to allow for the possibility that a man died–genuinely died–and then rose bodily from the dead.

I can’t get into the head of the article’s author of course, but there’s little doubt that there are many, many people in the world today that would role their eyes at the thought of a Jesus, or any other truly dead person for that matter, walking out of his or her tomb.

Foolishness, they say. When have any of us observed someone rising from the dead? No, this Christian supernaturalism is merely a myth, something akin to Zeus throwing thunderbolts. Sure, it was once a quaint story to buck up the masses, but it simply won’t stand up in our day. The modern mind is so much more grounded in reason and observable data, and consequently, far less likely to fall into serious errors about the ultimate nature of reality.

And so those who are willing to put away childish things now ascribe to a different, modern creed:

We believe in the one knowledge, Science, born of the Enlightenment, Lord of space and planet Earth.

We believe that the universe sprang from nothing (or has somehow always existed and/or is continually expanding and contracting and/or is a part of an infinitely-larger-but-as-of-yet-unobserved multiverse that has an equally unexplainable origin) and has no purpose.

We believe that the physical world is all there is, and that all life (as we understand it) evolved, randomly, from purely inanimate matter and energy, and proceeded, unaided by any outside design and guidance, to develop astonishingly complex forms.

We believe in a “Science of the gaps,” whereby anything that seems to threaten this accepted account of our origins, as well as any current uncertainty or lack of verifiable evidence in its favor, will inevitably be explained by future discoveries, and that any dissent is born of regrettable ignorance and/or dangerous ill-will.

We (quite stubbornly) believe that our experience of and search for purpose, values, friendship, love, morality, and the like is still meaningful in some way, despite the fact that they may be reduced to nothing more than purely physical processes that enable our species to survive and reproduce in a universe that, being impersonal, neither knows nor cares what happens to individuals or species.

We believe that striving vaguely toward progress is commendable, though entropy will come again to dissipate matter and energy across the universe.

We believe in the communion of likeminded people,

the irrelevance of sin,

the destruction of the body,

and death everlasting.

Yes, we are surely wiser now.

Please understand that none of this is meant to dismiss science, rightly understood. On the contrary, I would vigorously assert that science is a wonderful gift and its pursuit has lead to uncounted benefits for humanity.

Instead, I want to join a line of many others* in pointing out the possibility that the pervasive modern mindset has leapt past the proper boundaries of science to embracing several “articles of faith” in its own right. And this gives rise to a handful of incredibly important questions, including whether this modern creed really does the best job of explaining our world and experiences. Is it really as well grounded as its adherents believe?

* See, for example, this essay.

HT: Mollie Hemmingway

One Comment

  1. Jack Bragg said:

    Michael Licona’s book “The Resurrection of Jesus” does an exhaustive, in depth analysis of whether or not a historian can, using the tools of the professional historian, examine the resurrection. His conclusion is clear, yes you can and he does. In over 640 pages he carefully details how he went about researching historical information on the resurrection and shows that you can show to the satisfaction of professional historians that the resurrection of Jesus did most likely occur. In chapter two he answers objections from people like David Hume and Bart Ehrman who have argued against the possibility of the resurrection.

    N.T. Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God,” James G.D. Dunn’s “Jesus Remembered,” and Dale Allison’s “Resurrecting Jesus” all independently demonstrate that not believing that Jesus was resurrected from the dead puts you at odds with the facts.

    Numerous facts that few can dispute argue for the resurrection such as the vast number of eyewitnesses, secular and Jewish as well as Christian sources on the resurrection, lack of produced the body of Jesus, Christ predicted his resurrection, the conspiracy theories can all be shown to be false and many, many other easily demonstrable facts attest the the reality of Christ’s resurrection.

    Do you have to believe Jesus resurrected from the dead? No, but there are certainly good reasons to believe.

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