Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

When investigating the resurrection, the scientific, rational (dare I say honest?) approach to the claim of a miracle is to say, “This is a terribly unlikely event but nonetheless, we must look at the evidence.”

Recently I met a couple of skeptics who both wanted to make an end run around the evidence.

The first skeptic (the man I mentioned in another post) believed that historical truth could be known and that there were well-established, scholarly criteria for examining and evaluating historical claims. But when I proposed that he choose one of those well-established historical methods and then apply it to the resurrection, his response was that “you’ll get the wrong answer.” I found it curious that he knew the answer already.

Carl Sagan said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (called the “Sagan Standard” by some), with which I heartily concur. But we must first establish a baseline. Examine the claim, without bias, using basic historical, scholarly criteria for truth. If the claim meets those basic requirements, then we should proceed further, applying more strenuous tests. If, on the other hand, the claim cannot even withstand a basic test, then we can and should conclude that it is false . . . but NOT BEFORE.

The second skeptic made the statement that “any non-supernatural event is more likely than any supernatural event. Therefore, any non-supernatural scenario must be given greater consideration than any supernatural scenario.”

In essence what the second skeptic is saying is that no matter how great the weight of evidence for the supernatural, and no matter how unlikely a non-supernatural alternative explanation might be, the supernatural is still to be rejected.

He has effectively created a method of “investigation” that rules out the supernatural claim 100% of the time. His presuppositions have told him what CANNOT happen, and from that starting point his “investigation” concludes what DID NOT happen.

Bottom line: neither skeptic was willing to honestly evaluate the historical claim of Jesus’ resurrection in light of the evidence.

Said another way, both of these approaches assume the resurrection DID NOT take place, and then stack the rules to exclude the possibility that any quantity or quality of evidence would ever be sufficient to change their view.

The Obvious Answer

Even if every scientist in the world says that there was no universal flood and that all life forms came from a single-celled organism, they are pitted against the one who DEMONSTRATED the ability to take non-living material and give it life. And that same man claims to have created the world in the first place. The man who has power over death and the ability to create life has given us an answer, and his answer is intellectually far more satisfying than any answer any scientist in the world has produced.

What do we “know” for sure?

  • no worldwide flood
  • all life forms came from single-celled organisms millions of years ago

Even if these two claims were true, they do not take into account two greater issues:

  • where did life come from in the first place?
  • where did all matter, space and time come from in the first place?

Proof

I was talking to a Sikh woman. She asked me about the resurrection. So, as I was explaining the historical evidence, an atheist man came up and began interjecting his perspective. I told the woman to find a historian from any university around the world, like Stanford, Berkeley, Cambridge, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, Amherst, etc., and use the historian’s criteria for determining what is historically reliable. Then apply those same standards in the same way to the resurrection of Jesus and see what happens. The atheist man then declared, “You would get the wrong answer.” Isn’t it interesting that, when investigating the historicity of the resurrection, an atheist does not want us to employ the tried and tested methods used by the academic world for all other historical studies?

Infected

About a month ago I watched Zombieland with my sister and one of my best friends. As I saw people being infected with the zombie disease, I thought of the fact that I have been infected with the disease of sin and it will end in death.

The Incredible Hulk gives us a nice picture of the evil that lives within us when he gets angry—the beast within is released, and he does things that he does not want to do. An even better picture might be a werewolf, who helplessly turns into a predator.

In The Lord of the Rings movies there is a scene in which Bilbo Baggins sees The Ring around Frodo’s neck. The depiction is fantastic. Bilbo is absolutely horrified by his own behavior.

“The Good I want to do I do not do, and the Evil I do not want is what I keep doing. Who will save me from this body of Death?” [Romans 7:15–25]

Who Deserves Eternal Life?

One of the guys working on my car was asking me about heaven and hell and who goes there. He wondered if Hitler could go to heaven. I asked him if he thought that he deserved to go to heaven, and his response was that he was more deserving than Hitler. I guess the real question is, “does any one deserve eternal life?” I was trying to get him to see that he was a sinner deserving only God’s punishment. But he saw himself as a pretty good guy. Only when we accept the fact that God requires perfection will we realize that even our (supposedly) minor sins (relative to Hitler) still deserve nothing but God’s wrath. So, if we doubt whether Hitler’s sins have been paid for, then we can’t be sure if our own are paid for either, can we? I am glad that the Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the WORLD, which includes my sin, too.

A Week Like No Other

We are in the midst of Holy Week. We started with Palm Sunday, also known as the Sunday of the Passion. We processed into the church waving palm branches and I preached about Jesus coming as a king to rescue his servants. Thursday night we had a Passover, or Seder service. This is what Jesus was doing during what is now called The Last Supper. In it, we remembered that God released the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and how he releases us from the bondage of our sin by forgiving us. And Friday night we quietly read about the crucifixion of Jesus in a darkened sanctuary, extinguishing the candles one by one until we were in total darkness, remembering the death of Jesus that paid for our sins. And now we wait. Then, on Sunday we will celebrate the resurrection as Jesus promises to raise us as well.

So that is my week like no other.

Free and Not Free

There are only two religions in the world. This can be clearly seen when we ask, “Is the ultimate outcome, (heaven, paradise, nirvana, the new earth, your own planet, etc…) accomplished by what you do, or is it given to you freely? There is a distinction between Jesus and all other religious leaders. The distinction is not arbitrary. This distinction goes to the heart of our needs. How does the religion operate? I am asserting that, functionally there are only two religions. Using the texts of the religions of the world, this concept can be shown to be true. Therefore, when we say that Jesus gives heaven away for free and no other religion does, we are only agreeing with them. No religious leader across the span of history has ever declared all people to be forgiven because of what he has done, with one exception: Jesus.

Truth

With all of the religious diversity in the world, how can someone even begin to find the truth, if there is truth at all? It seems as if there are many religions in the world and they contradict each other, so they can’t all be true. So, if there were a simple way to help sift through them to narrow my focus that would be helpful. Jesus does in fact present himself to be unique, in that he came to rescue the world. Or put another way, there are only two religions: Free and not free.