What If Jesus Rose?

What if it’s true? What if  He really rose from the dead?

Let me answer that plainly. If Jesus actually rose from the dead, one of two things must be true. The first possibility is that Jesus rose from the dead miraculously, that is, via an event that is contrary to scientific laws. The second is that Jesus’ resurrection fits in nicely with scientific laws, but we just do not understand the process yet.

The Miracle Hypothesis

If the Resurrection was miraculous, the implications are enormous. Now most folks run straight to the conclusions that Jesus must be God, that He died to save us from our sins, and that the Bible must be the Word of God. I don’t.

Granting that a miracle actually happened, how could I ever coherently conclude anything? “Miraculous” means nature was violated, which means that reason (“the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic” according to Google) no longer applies, which means…what, exactly? Reason is a tool that we use to form consistent judgments of reality, translatable from one person to another. It is an objective means of obtaining knowledge.

But if a miracle happened, how can I know what to conclude from it? Reason would no longer apply to any judgment that I make, as its reliability has forever been tainted. And if it did apply, how could I ever know it? Without reason, I have no tools other than whim, emotion, and subjective experience to evaluate the world around me.

The Natural Hypothesis

If Jesus rose from the dead without miracle, then it is truly the most extraordinary event to have occurred in the history of mankind. We would do well to study it in every detail to learn what biological, chemical, and physical processes enabled such an anomaly.

Unfortunately, details are sketchy and inconsistent and evidence is sorely lacking, making such investigation nearly impossible and almost certainly futile.

What we cannot conclude, however, is that Jesus is God. Natural events require no divine agency for them to occur. The “Natural Resurrection” would not refute Jesus’ claim to be God, certainly, but it does nothing to support it.

Six of One…

The astute reader will notice that what I have presented here is a kind of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” argument. If a miracle occurred, reason no longer applies (at least not consistently and knowably), so you cannot reasonably conclude anything at all, let alone that Jesus was God. If a miracle did not occur, you cannot reasonably conclude that Jesus was God.

And that’s the point. You ask, “What if He really rose from the dead?” with the expectation that I will reply, reasonably, that He must then be the Savior He claimed to be. But if he really rose from the dead, I cannot use reason to draw any conclusion whatsoever about his divinity, or much else.