Re: Descendants and Thomas Trap

George Murphy (
Sun, 22 Nov 1998 15:55:50 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> Hi George,
> At 09:43 AM 11/21/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> > Since we & other Christians agree that Genesis is true and authoritative,
> what
> >we have to do next is study the texts to decide what types of literature
> they are. &
> >it seems clear that some of them are not simply propositional evidence -
> Gen.1:1-2:4a
> >for example. This is not a modern scientific description of the big bang,
> condenation
> >of the sun & solar system, &c. It is a theological, perhaps liturgical,
> statement about
> >God's relationship with the world. It is a true statement. But to
> publish it as a
> >scientific paper in Physical Review would put it in the same type of
> inappropriate
> >setting as the language used by your car salesman.
> But I still disagree with you about Genesis 1:1. It can't be true in any
> sense if god didn't actually create the universe.

I don't, & never have, argued with that. But I understood your original claim
to be that Gen.1:1 can be verified by natural science. That isn't the same thing -
unless you think that only scientific claims can be true.

> >> > The Easter message is that Jesus is alive. The way of
> disproving it is
> >> >to demonstrate that Jesus is dead.
> >>
> >> You didn't answer the question. How could you even in principle prove that
> >> Jesus was dead from the vantage point of today? Are you proposing we use
> >> Mary's DNA to verify the skeleton is the son of Mary? That doesn't exist.
> >> We can't prove that Jesus is dead. So, I say that you are not able to
> >> falsify the Bible by the method you suggested. If you agree, ooutline a
> >> method whereby without doubt we could prove Jesus is dead? If not, is there
> >> any other misfit that would cause you to say the bible is false? If not,
> >> you have divorced science from Scripture.
> >
> > Let me turn this around: What scientific evidence for the resurrection
> of Jesus
> >do you propose to find _beyond arguments which have already been made for
> the accuracy
> >of the New Testament accounts of the appearances of Jesus and of the empty
> tomb_?
> Rather than turning it around, I still would like an answer to this
> unanswered question (and I asked first). How do you ever propose to prove
> a given body is the earthly remains of Jesus Christ, son of Mary wife of
> Joseph?

Your initial question wasn't unanswered. You asked for a finding which would
tend to disconfirm the message of the resurrection and I gave one. I agree that it
would be hard to say with certainty that a certain skeleton _was_ that of Jesus of
Nazareth. Too bad. The fact remains that the way to disprove a claim that a person
lives is to show that that person is dead.

> If proving that Jesus didn't resurrect is the only way to disprove the
> Bible, then it can't be disproven. And this divorces the Bible from science.

How would we prove that Socrates didn't survive the hemlock & continue to live?
As is the case with Jesus, we could disprove that _in principle_ by identifying his
remains, but in practice that's pretty remote. Does that mean that the claim that
Socrates died, as in the Phaedo, is unscientific? I don't think so.
a. We have to take seriously the textual evidence, which is not the stuff of
natural science. I.e., we are dealing with human history.
b. The continued survival of Socrates has never been claimed & would, if true,
simply be an isolated bizarre fact. As far as we know now, nothing would follow from
it. A lot follows from the resurrection of Jesus - which returns to the statements I
made earlier about evaluating the consequences of presuppositions.

My attempt to turn the question around is not simply for the sake of avoiding
your question. I really would like to know what scientific evidence you expect to find
for the resurrection.

> >> So why didn't Jesus condemn Peter and John for running to the tomb rather
> >> than sitting there eating breakfast. It clearly says that they thought the
> >> women's story was crazy. They went to check it out, which is evidence
> >> gathering.
> >
> > I don't know. Maybe at some point he did. The longer ending of Mark
> (16:14)
> >says that "he upbraided them [N.B.] for their unbelief and hardness of
> heart, because
> >they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."
> > BUT - you continue to avoid the clear statement in the gospel at the end
> of the
> >Thomas story - "Don't be like Thomas. Believe the witnesses."
> Correction. He did not say 'Don't be like Thomas. Believe the witnesses."
> Those words do not appear in Scripture. That is an interpretation. It may
> be what he meant but it might not be.
> He might very well have merely meant
> that those who don't have the doubts that Thomas had are happier. I know
> that when I was a young-christian when I had no doubts about YEC etc. I
> was in many ways happier (blessed) But I was also unknowledgeable. I would
> prefer the present state to ignorant bliss.

"He might very well have meant" that blessed is bad, war is peace, love is hate
&c, but I think I'll end my discussion of this text at this point rather than get into
such Orwellian exegesis.

George L. Murphy