Christianity - Resurrecting the debate
Stand To Reason posts that ABC's 20/20 recently did a report on the Resurrection which, as Melindda Penner informs was fairly well balanced. Beliefnet also has a serious of contributions by those who took part on the topic that are well worth reading.
Melinda points out
What was consistent in those who deny the Jesus' physical resurrection is their conviction that the Gospel accounts are late, written decades after the event, probably in the second century long after the eyewitnesses had died. They believe that the accounts are legends grown over time. Those who defended the physical resurrection take the accounts to be written early. This is always something to look for as you evaluate a scholar's explanation. It's important to know why someone believes something, not just what they believe. What is their view of the Bible?Indeed. But I think she misses the real point of disagreement. Those who think the resurrection was 'spiritual' or a metaphor clearly have an anti-supernatural bias. As ABC says
They say after the crucifixion, the disciples — dispirited and defeated — simply went home to their lives as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Instead of a physical return of Jesus, they say, the stories in the Gospels are describing dreams or visions that Jesus' closest followers had.But why conclude they are dreams? Certainly the bible clearly indicates visions and dreams from waking reality time and time again, yet somehow this time they didn't?
John Shelby Spong clearly displays this anti-supernatural bias. From his comments on beliefnet
We have identified the places in the narrative where exaggeration entered the texts, where miraculous elements were heightened, and where history forced new details into the ancient story.Does anyone wonder how we have identified these places in the narrative? Obviously because of the anti-supernatural bias, it was in the miracles. Spong continues
Noting the time-sequence gaps in the gospels, we suggested that "three days" was a symbol, not a measure of time. This opened the possibility that months may have separated the day of the crucifixion from the dawning of Easter.Spong is just making it up. He follows with long rationalizing story-telling about how the disciples finally came around months later and starting spreading christianity. Unfortunately for him though, his explanation has no evidence supporting it and indeed historical evidence in the bible that contradicts it. Whilst he has provided possible explanation, that does not make it likely or true, and due to the ad hoc fashion of his explanation and his need to explain away historical evidence makes it exceedingly unlikely. The only way you would accept the explanation as the most likely is if you have already ruled out supernatural events, which is begging the question.
I have to wonder why people feel the need to reinterpret the bible and the lengths that people go to justify this interpretation is sometimes astounding. ABC continues
Scholars also say that dreams to people in the first century were no less real than waking reality. "In the ancient world, dreams were real. If you had a dream at night, the assumption was that it was real," said Arthur Dewey of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.What a joke? This is just more bigotry against the people of those times wrapped up in pseudo-intellectual authority. If anyone cares to think about the range of dreams you have had in your life and then ponder on what you would conclude if you thought those dreams were actually reality. It is absurd and insulting to the intelligence of those people.
Clearly, people are so attached to their preconceived notions that they are unable to be objective. I am impressed that ABC have done a well balanced job of presenting the different opinions, it is just a shame that they didn't connect the dots interms of people making conclusions before looking at the evidence.