In church today we covered Luke 24: 1-12:
24 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”
8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying[c] by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
I have just two thoughts:
==> It’s hilarious how all of His disciples were so sure that Jesus was forever gone, when (if we “get into” the gospel accounts, even if just as literature) they had seen Him perform hundreds of miracles, including raising people from the dead. Moreover–as the angels above point out–Jesus had specifically told them in precise detail what was going to happen to Him, and that He’d come back on the third day.
It’s a great lesson for modern-day believers, because we do the same thing. No matter how many times something happens in my life that literally takes my breath away because of the sheer improbability of it–and which makes me even more confident that there is a God who is in control of the situation–I will go right back to fretting about money, work deadlines, my son’s health, etc.
==> This observation will probably upset even other Christians, but oh well: My pastor talked about the elaborate ritual preparation of Jesus’ body for burial, involving something like 100 pounds of spices, and bandages like a mummy. I have always wondered if the “arbitrary” Jewish customs, laid down long before, were actually dictated because they would facilitate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus after His crucifixion.
As I have written before on this blog, I don’t think it even makes sense to say that a miracle violates the laws of physics. But I go even further and say that I think physicists are on the right track, and that the laws of nature really are pretty close to what they currently think, at least under the conditions we have thus far observed. (In other words, future advances in physics will only “overturn” our current laws in the way that relativity overturned Newtonian mechanics. It’s not as if people had been systematically mis-measuring the acceleration from Earth’s gravity in the late 1800s.)
So, I think that if modern scientists somehow went back in time and directly observed the events detailed in the gospels, they would see the “miraculous” things reported there. But, if they were atheists, they would be able to “explain” them all away. For example, a bright star would indeed have guided the wise men to the manger, but it would have been a supernova. Jesus would indeed have healed people, telling them that their faith did it, but the scientists would have determined that the scope of psychosomatic conditions was much larger than anyone realized; once these “sick” people truly believed they were well, they were.
And when it came to the death and Resurrection, these atheist scientists might say, “Oh, well his body was only punished on the outside (except for the spear); they didn’t actually break any bones, and he died of suffocation. Then the body was immediately taken down and doused with all sorts of special spices and wrapped, in such a way that prevented normal physical decay. It also helps that it was placed in a sealed tomb. We’re not exactly sure what made it spring back to life, but this was no “miracle.” Give us a few months and we’ll come up with a decent hypothesis.”
It should go without saying that by offering the above, I am in no way denying the miraculous events recorded in the gospel. I’m trying to show that there really isn’t a dichotomy between science and religion. The people who say the events in the gospels “violate the laws of physics” are bluffing. Mark never writes, “And behold, the Lord violated the conservation of energy.” John never claims, “Then He taught them, saying, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who measured the position and momentum of an electron perfectly.'” There’s nothing in the gospel accounts that literally violates the laws of physics as we currently understand them. It’s just that it would be a remarkably unlikely set of conditions that would allow these events to occur. Almost as if, some intelligent Being had deliberately designed the universe from the beginning so that these things would happen…