As Easter draws near, it’s a good time to talk about its central component: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In my recent posts, “Pulling Back the curtain on Materialism” and “God is not a god,” I tried to show incoherence of the materialist ontology concerning the question of the existence of God, and that idealism is a much better fit, especially in light of what we know about quantum realities (see also “Reality…what reality?” and “Christ, the Cosmic Mind, and Consciousness” for further background into this philosophical discussion).
What’s interesting about this is that what you think about the resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals more about your worldview than whether or not miracles are actually possible.
For instance, the historical evidence surrounding the Easter story is pretty much not disputed by credible historians and textual critics. Here’s what a former atheist philosopher and a current atheist textual critic (respectively) said about the Easter event:
“The evidence for the resurrection is better than any other for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity…” (Antony Flew, “Did the Resurrection Happen?”, p.85)
“There are a couple of things that we can say for certain about Jesus after His death. We can say with relative certainty, for example, that He was buried. The earliest accounts we have are fairly unanimous in saying that Jesus was in fact buried by this fellow Joseph of Arimathea, and so it’s relatively reliable that that’s what happened. We also have solid traditions to indicate that women found this tomb empty three days later. This is attested in all of our gospel sources, early and late, and so it appears to be a historical datum. And so I think we can say that after Jesus death, with some certainty, that He was buried… and three days later appears not to have been in the tomb.” (Bart Ehrman, “Lecture on the Historical Jesus with the Teaching Company”).
What’s in question is not the historical event itself but whether or not a miracle occurred. Naturalist reasoning (via David Hume and Ehrman) says that miracles cannot occur because they violate natural regularities and aren’t part of our normal human experience. This argument is not only circular but it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the claim (see video below for explanation).
C.S. Lewis gives an illustration to show why the resurrection does not violate natural laws:
“If this week I put 1,000 pounds in the drawer of my desk, and 2,000 the next week, and another 1,000 the week thereafter, the laws of arithmetic allow me to predict that the next time I come to my drawer I shall find 4,000 pounds. But suppose when I next open the drawer, I find only 1,000 pounds, what shall I conclude? That the laws of arithmetic have been broken? Certainly not! I might reasonably conclude that some thief has broken the laws of the State and stolen 3,000 pounds out of my drawer. Furthermore, it would be ludicrous to claim that the laws of arithmetic made it impossible to believe in the existence of a thief or the possibility of his intervention. On the contrary, it’s the normal workings of those laws that have exposed the existence of the thief.” (“Miracles,” p. 62)
Furthermore, science cannot even answer the question of miracles. Science studies nature. And the question before us is whether there is anything outside of nature.
“Science neither denies nor opposes the supernatural, but ignores the supernatural for methodological reasons.” (Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education)
The laws of nature can predict what will happen with a degree of certainty as long as there is no interference from outside. But if there is interference in the process, you won’t get what science predicts will happen. C.S. Lewis makes this argument brilliantly here.
No Christian claims that Jesus was raised from the dead according to natural laws, which is Hume’s argument. The claim is that God raised Jesus from the dead by overpowering natural laws, much like jet propulsion overpowers the law of gravity every time a plane takes off. The plane didn’t violate the law of gravity. It overcame it by a stronger force. This is what is meant by a miracle.
With the discovery of quantum mechanics, we’re finding out that the cosmos is not so closed as we once thought it was under a Newtonian paradigm.
“Science, at least to the extent that is influenced by quantum mechanics, is no longer so certain as to what can and cannot happen.” (Dr. Mark Worthing, “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cosmology and Evolutionary Biology,” p. 158)
Here’s a short video by Inspiring Philosophy explaining the logical argument for miracles.