The Skeptics Week is currently going on at NTNU, and I have found myself defending my faith many times already. A faith I have been examining quite intently on my own over the course of the last year or so – a process that seems to just have started. A healthy process, I believe. But like anything healthy in this wicked world, it doesn’t always taste so invitingly pleasant.
And what exactly is it, that I defend? I claim to believe that somebody rose from the dead about 2000 years ago. Nothing less. On a cabin trip this weekend, where candles, darkness, the guitar and squeaking walls seemed to create just the right atmosphere, the topic of God versus science; arrogance versus ignorance came up. How can we possibly know? According to some, Gödel destroys the battle ground even before the battle gets started. A lovely discussion indeed it was, though, with some jolly good British accent. A good warm up for the Skeptics week, and after the debate between dr. Payne and Law yesterday, I went down to ask the agnostic part in the debate – mr. Law – his opinion on my stupendous claims as a Christian.
“Is there any way I could possibly convince you that somebody rose from the dead for say – quite hypothetically – 2000 years ago?” I asked.
“No,” he answered, just as honest as I had hoped for him to be, and then seemed to feel obliged to add a “well, I couldn’t rule it out as a theoretical possibility, but I think it is going to be tough for you.”
Quite frankly no, then. There is no way I could possibly convince mr. Law that somebody did this. At this point, as a good Christian I should probably fold my hands and shake my head at such a shockingly arrogant position. In fact the topic of the debate was; “Accused of arrogance; is Jesus the only way?” a good topic for a debate, except many Christians would at this point wonder if the accusation was addressed to the right part. To be a bit more fair with him, and in the same spirit of honestness (or hotness, as my spell-checker suggests) as he answered me with, I quite frankly understand his position, and on logical grounds I might even respect it. And perhaps so should (or do) you?
What if somebody came along and preached that as a matter of fact Caesar himself rose from the dead 2000 years ago. As a Christian you wouldn’t believe it for a second. Or say a Muslim woke you up at night and said Muhammad came about 1400 years ago preaching as a prophet from God. You wouldn’t even have to wake up to shake your head, turn around and sleep on. Not because you are arrogant. No, not at all, but because you QUITE FRANKLY wouldn’t believe it. You couldn’t, and you shouldn’t. And why is that so?
“The evidence that this claim is true simply isn’t good enough! ” you shout in my ears. And this is where the philosophers start dancing around mr. Law, because that is exactly what he claimed about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead;
“There simply isn’t enough evidence – and how could there possibly be?”
I think that is a fair question to ask, and we as Christians could ask ourselves the same question. Is there any way that I would believe that Caesar rose from the dead if somebody came along in a professors suit and tried to convince me with historical facts, dates and a convincing voice? Or, to be more self-examining and less pleasant;
is there enough evidence to believe that Jesus rose from the dead 2000 year ago – which indeed is a rather radical claim?
After all that strikes at the very core of the Christian faith, and thus it better be true. As Paul puts it:
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.”
(NET 1Cor 15,13-19)
So I find myself asking why it is that I so strongly have believed up till now. Not believed as in “I think perhaps…”, but as the Bible puts it; with full certainty (Heb 11,1). In fact I have believed so strongly that if somebody came to me only a couple of years back and said they didn’t believe there was a god, I would write him off as a liar and think he just didn’t want there to be a God ( of course that is true for many, but not everybody, I believe – or is it?).
I have my own answers to the boldfaced question, but it seems as if at the moment I prefer just asking questions, and not giving away my answer, so in the spirit of Socrates you will have to give birth to the answers on your own.
How can you possible believe that somebody rose from the dead 2000 years ago? What is your evidence?
If you know God, I think you know the answer.