Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The resurrection: A story no one would make up, part 5

Objections to the evidence

(See also part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4)

After arguing that the resurrection of Christ is a story that no one would make up, I think it is appropriate to address some objections to the resurrection.

I briefly addressed a claim that Paul does not teach a bodily resurrection in the comments of the first post of this series.

Resurrection from the dead is impossible. As improbable as it may be for this story to be made up, it is even more improbable for it to be true.
Dead people don’t get up. It’s impossible. Which is the point. It is impossible; that’s why it’s a miracle. The question becomes, “Are miracles possible?”

If Genesis 1:1 is true, if God can create everything out of nothing, then what is impossible for Him? That the laws of physics are immutable for us does not make them so for God. If you accept the existence of God, the miraculous is not a priori impossible, and the evidence for the resurrection has to be evaluated on its own merit.

We don’t have evidence of appearances and the empty tomb; we have evidence of reports of appearances and the empty tomb. That is quite a bit different from an actual empty tomb and actual appearances.
If I get what he’s saying, he’s claiming that, since we didn’t see the tomb/appearances ourselves, we have no evidence of it happening – only evidence that people said it did. That is, of course, the only kind of evidence we have for all kinds of things – all of history and most criminal cases. Eye witness testimony is the evidence unless you have video (which was kind of hard more than a couple of decades ago).

We have eye-witness reports, and we have good reason to believe those witnesses. Barring time travel, that is the best evidence we will ever have, but it should be enough. If it’s enough to take a man’s life away, it is enough to change how you live yours.

Jesus was not buried. also Jesus didn’t die; he swooned.
We already briefly addressed the argument that Christ wasn’t buried in the body of the first post. I would like to say something about these kinds of objections in general. At the heart of these assertions, I believe, is a bit of modern arrogance that thinks that we can ask meaningful questions about these things that no one thought about for the previous two thousand years or so.

We have no evidence to suggest that anyone claimed Jesus swooned on the cross – probably because they were not daft enough to propose such an idea. If they assumed Roman soldiers knew how to kill, we can too. If they accepted that bodies were occasionally claimed and buried after crucifixion, we can too. (Actually, the fact that the gospels all go into so much detail about the burial may be evidence that it was unusual.) If people who saw crucifixions all the time were not concerned about these little details, we who are 1500 years removed should not be either.

Why should I have to make life (or longer) decisions based on something that happened 2000 years ago?
Great question. Why can't we get more up to date information to make decisions of this caliber? We don't know. It doesn't change the fact that everyone has to make a decision about Christ. Not making one is the same as deciding against Him. So the question is, do you want to make your decisions based on eye witness testimony by people who had nothing to gain and everything to lose in standing by this story, or do you want to decide based on your feelings, notions, or theories about what life "ought" to be like?

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