Recently it was posed to me in a discussion the proposition that "you might think that Jesus rising from the dead is baloney, but IF Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity MUST be true". I did a bit of poking around and discovered that this is not an isolated instance of this refrain -- I came across a poem: "If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said" -- and a Huffington Post piece claiming "If Jesus rose from the grave, then he is who he claimed to be.... everything else he ever did was right and everything he ever said was true.... the rest of the Bible is true as well."

But this is not a correct logical progression, for it commits that most grave sin of the fallacy of the excluded middle. There are in fact an essentialy infinite number of possible scenarios wherein Jesus lived more or less in the times and places claimed of him, spoke more or less the words attributed to him, and indeed literally died and was entombed and then rose from the dead, and yet Christianity itself is still false.

For example....

Another supernatural force or entity:

If we are presuming the existence of supernatural forces and entities, then really any kind of such phenomenon can be presumed to exist. The raising of a dead person to life would be accomplishable by literally (and definitionally) any entity with power precisely sufficient to raise precisely one person from the state of being dead for precisely three days. And so such a rising from the dead could have been the handiwork of a demonic entity intent on sowing confusion, or the doing of a localized egrigor which doesn't realize that it is simply a construct, or a sorcerer practicing sorcery. It has been noted that all of the witnessed miracles claimed in all of the books of the original Abrahamic faiths occur within a circle of a few hundred miles, with no evidence of the capacity of any involved entity to act a mile outside that range.

As for sorcery, those Marvel fans who've seen Doctor Strange know that he possesses the Eye of Agamotto, an Infinity Stone which permits its possessor to manipulate time, and which Strange himself in fact uses to restore a recently killed Wong to life. But without seeing Strange do it, Wong wouldn't necessarily have known how he was resurrected, and could well have thought it to result from some divine characteristic within himself. Or maybe no sorcery was involved at all, just some elbow grease in a supernatural realm. In Greek myth, Hercules (a figure somewhere below godhood, even amongst their finite gods with their limited domains) ventured to the underworld realm of Hades to retrieve the deceased Alcestis. Perhaps Hercules hung around for a few hundred years and then made a return trip to retrieve a deceased Jesus -- who, due to a dip in the memory-draining Styx, conveniently forgot the rescue. Since no supernatural explanation operates by mechanisms subject to proof by natural evidence, all of these are equally as plausible as the official story of the most invested storytellers.

In a pandeistic Universe, such a miracle could simply be a consequence of especially gifted people individually exercising their inherent divineness to unwittingly bend physics to produce a manifestation of their own desires. Though it must be admitted, this would be a tougher cross to bear in a world where Pandeism were the underlying theological model than the approximate Maltheism of the demonic model, or just plain sorcery.

Technology:

A person could conceivably be brought back from the dead by intervention by orbiting interstellar aliens utilizing superadvanced technology, or by local future time travelers possessing the same technology. Interestingly, though the brain starts to deteriorate with the cessation of oxygenation, this is not at all an instantaneous process. It is entirely possible that technology can be developed that can at least partially resuscitate the consciousness structure of a brain which has endured only a few days of such degradation. Whether through some kind of transporter technology, or simply materializing the time machine right inside the tomb (it's always depicted in the movies as being quite roomy inside), and used whatever technology was needed to restore Jesus to the peak of health, and then vanish without a trace (returning to outerspace or present/future day) without anybody being any the wiser.

A quantum event:

To quote myself from one of my other nodes, "Quantum mechanics teaches that, among other things, even in a complete vacuum, particles are simply popping into existence all the time for no reason. If the correct array of particles happened to pop into existence at once, they might form an object." While there I was proposing that a quantum (popping into being) event was as likely an explanation for the origin of life as was any given supernatural creation explanation, quantum mechanics can just as readily be applied as an equally likely explanation for any assertedly miraculous occurrence. Simply by random coincidence, all the molecules making up a living "Jesus" could have spontanously popped back into superposition over the dead Jesus (or nearby at the same time as all the molecules of the dead Jesus coincidentally popped out of existence).

Now, all of the above being taken in, none of this is in denigration of the possibility of the Christian theological account being equal to any of the above. The point of these illustrations is simply to divide the logical line between the assertion of Jesus having risen from the dead, and the proposition that such could only follow from one cause.

Addendum:

And, contrapositively, there are equally infinite scenarios under which all people can experience a beautiful and loving and harmonious and just afterlife, even if Jesus never rose, or (as some historians propose) never even existed.



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IRON X

If Jesus rose, it means a few things.

  • It means if you really hate and are tired of hatred, thievery, jealousy, rape, murder, injustice and hurt, any of it that you do won't be held against you.
  • It means that there is a future in which the Arabs and the Jews, the Democrats and the Republicans, the feminists and the gun owners will love each other in harmony.
  • It means that death is not the end, and that there is an afterlife. A beautiful, harmonious afterlife.
  • It means that in that afterlife every terrible suffering and injustice that has ever existed will be utterly destroyed and there will be no more tears.

And there are those who think us stupid to dream of such a thing.

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