Friday, March 5, 2010

Skeptic Month: Jesus and the Zombies

Continuing on with the theme of Skeptic Month, here’s a hard one for even the most die-hard fundamentalist to defend.

According to Matthew 27:51-53, upon Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection graves around Jerusalem were, ". . . opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised."

And this wasn’t just some secretive act of necromancy carried out in the dark of night. Verse 53 tells us that these disinterred patriarchs then took their party into the holy city and appeared to many. Wow.

Now, this is hard to believe. But even if you chalk it up to an incredible miracle, don’t you think there’d be some extra-biblical source out there to corroborate this? Wouldn’t the Christian’s favorite historian Josephus have something to say about it? But, no, there is nothing outside of these three verses to verify this extraordinary event. Not even another mention anywhere else in the Bible!

This is not to say that Jesus didn’t exist, or that he wasn’t an influential figure in human history. The point is that the biblical account of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is suspect at best. And while it may contain some historical facts, the story (along with all of Scripture) is vitiated by mythology and human bias.


Kristin said...

I have to say I found this amazing as I have never, EVER heard it before. I'm still chewing it over but I will comment after I've figured it over a bit!

Pastor Kip said...

I know, Kristin! I've found myself avoiding this passage in preparing for Easter sermons.

Honestly? I've always felt it was kind of embarrassing . . .

I suspect that's why you don't hear much aboout it from the pulpit, though most wouldn't admit it.

Kristin said...

Kip, I simply do not have a hard time believing this passage.

Scientifically speaking, if we assume that Christ raised raise others wouldn't be impossible.

I would say that perhaps this is somehow symbolic, but that seems unlikely in Matthew.

I know, I can't make an argument that would sway a skeptic, but I can persuade myself!

Pastor Kip said...

YES! Krisitin, your last line is where I think this whole Skeptic Month experiment is taking me (and it's a good thing because I'm running out of material!).

"I can't make an argument that would sway a skeptic, but I can persuade myself". Brilliantly expressed (stop blushing!).

It makes me think of the poster in Fox Mulder's office, you may remember (I don't know if you were an X Files geek or not). There's a picture of a flying saucer and big block letters that read "I Want To Believe".

I hate the thought of faith and eternal destiny hinging on human volition, but it seems that if you want to believe, there are reasons to believe; and if you don't want to believe, there are reasons to be skeptical.

Kristin said...

Kip, that's exactly it.

It's the same with science - part of the "scientific method" is to make an educated guess. Then, you're supposed to see if the guess proves correct. Now, it's the same way with this - we determine what we want the answer to be, then find reasons to support it.

I'm OK with this being a matter of human volition. God puts it out there and it's up to us whether or not we take it. Of course, He hopes we do, but free will was given to us and He won't make us take it.

I like God's way of doing that. It's a good pattern for relationships and all kinds of things.

OJB said...

Interesting, isn't it. there are so many aspects of Jesus' alleged life which are inconsistent in different gospels. Why are some, quite important, stories (like this one but also the star, etc) only mentioned in one gospel? I'll tell you why: because they made it up!

Come on, this is clearly untrue. if it had happened (the zombies, the darkness, etc) there would be many records of it in the historical record. But no, there's not a thing. Another Jesus myth. I often wonder whether he existed at all.