Tuesday, April 18, 2006

And belief in the resurrection lives

Believer: It was so uplifting to listen to our priest's Easter message. I now believe more than ever the resurrection is a fact.

Skeptic: Must've been a moving homily. So, how do you know the resurrection's real?

B: Well, the gospels say so. St. Paul says so. Or haven't you read the Holy Book?

S: How do the gospel writers, Paul, et al. know that it is true?

B: It has to be since there were witnesses who saw the risen Christ.

S: How did you know there were witnesses?

B: The writers say so.

S: 1. How do you know that the biblical writers were telling the truth, that they were writing something historical rather than something fictional/symbolic/metaphorical, and 2a. How do you know that the so-called witnesses weren't lying, weren't exaggerating, weren't blowing things out of proportion and 2b. that what they perceived was in fact a resurrection and not something else (such as a hallucination)?

B: Well I trust all of them.

S: Why do you trust them?

B: Because I do.

S: So you in fact don't know that the resurrection is real. You just trust your sources.

B: Hey, I do know the resurrection is fact, is historical, is true!

S: How?

B: Because I believe it to be so!

S: Yes, obviously you believe, and believe very strongly. But how do you know that your belief is correct?

B: Because there's a very long tradition to that belief.

S: And how does the fact that there've been billions who believed over thousands of years, and the fact that organizations big and small have institutionalized this belief, and that theologies have woven doctrines around it make this belief true?

B: Are you implying that billions of people have been wrong all this time? How can all of us and all our theologians be wrong?

S: How many millions or billions do you think had believed the earth was the center of the solar system and the universe? Did your tradition believe in the Copernican or the Ptolemaic model?

So, do any of your theologians and clergy have evidence that the resurrection is true?

B: I believe as biblical scholar Monsignor John Meier does that "historians can never prove the Resurrection in the same way" they can verify "Jesus existed and that certain events reported in the Gospels happened in history." And that is because the "resurrection stands outside of the sort of questing by way of historical, critical research that is done for the life of the historical Jesus."

Be that as it may, the authors of the bible tell us it is true.

S: Aren't we back to square one here?

B: You skeptics and nonbelievers just won't accept any evidence we present, will you?

S: You certainly are right that we don't accept just any kind of evidence. We will consider only good evidence. Frankly, you haven't offered any. And I haven't come across anyone who has.

B: Ok, wise guy, we know the resurrection is real because as Meier rightly says "not everything that is real either exists in time and space or is empirically verifiable by historical means."

S: Do you have evidence for that new claim of yours--that not everything real exists in time and space? How do we find out whether that is true or not? What test can we conduct to determine its veracity?

B: Aha! You can't disprove it, can you?!

S: Probably not, but the crucial question is, Can you and Meier substantiate it? Do you have any piece of evidence at all that it isn't merely an ad hoc hypothesis? If you don't have a means to verify it then how do you know it's true?

B: I don't need evidence. I don't need to test anything. I know the resurrection is true!

S: Well, again for the nth time, How do you know that?

B: I just know it! It's intuition, gut feel, whatever you call it.

S: Is your intuition always correct?

B: I don't know, and I don't care. I know this time it's on the mark.

S: Of course. But how do know it's right this time?

B: I just know it!! Just as I know that you're going to burn in Hell for having no faith in our Lord and posing all these silly, blasphemous questions! Now get off my case!

1 comment:

Bronze Dog said...

I have a feeling that if one of us had enough time, we could find a discussion thread that went down exactly like that.