Re: Seeing a life-giving spirit with a camcorder

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 11:17:50 EDT

A superb post Ted. For which I may be labelled as an unthinking fundi.

Wright is by no means unique in his arguments for the resurrectionand he has
given us the best contemporary argument fro the bodily resurrection of Jeus
who left behind an empty tomb. In contrast to some who want a resuscitated
Jesus or some phantom

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 2:19 PM
Subject: Re: Seeing a life-giving spirit with a camcorder

> Steven,
> Sorry, I don't do blogs, esp not blogs run by someone who is apparently
> interested only in baiting people so as to appear to win arguments before
> a
> home crowd. And we are talking about appearances here, aren't we? I
> have
> better things to do with my time, and better places in which to place the
> results of the labor involved.
> This little post will be my last on this topic, so that I can get on with
> some of those other things.
> If you want to discuss literary constructs, why leave out scientific
> works--such as Galileo's Dialogues, Darwin's Origin of Species, or
> Newton's
> Principia? The General Scholium in the Principia, e.g., was very
> carefully
> constructed by a non-Trinitarian Christian (that part ought to interest
> you
> in and of itself), reflecting his specific theological beliefs in several
> ways. Simply b/c its structure and content reflect Newton's own agenda,
> does that mean that it makes no truth claims? If you wish to rule out a
> priori the possibility that any "miracle" claims are ever true, well then
> you wish to rule out a priori that any "miracle" claims are true. If that
> is point in question, then an a priori position is not an established
> conclusion. Like John Polkinghorne, who understands the history and
> philosophy of science better than most other scientists and theologians, I
> thnk David Hume is the elephant in the room here. And like Polkinghorne,
> I
> think (as an historian of science) that Hume's unshakeable confidence in
> his
> own ideas about the laws of nature "is one that was certainly falsified by
> the history of science subsequent to the eighteenth century, and it could
> never be pressed to dispose of an event like the resurrection of Jesus,
> which claims to be a particular act of God in a unique circumstance."
> (The
> Faith of a Physicist, p. 108). I imagine we differ on that.
> Again on literary constructs, the *whole point* of Wright's "tour de
> force"
> as you rightly describe it, is to show the utter implausibility of
> believing
> that someone invented the stories of Jesus' resurrection. His argument is
> precisely and exactly directed at those whom you refer to as "applying
> techniques developed by Christians," in order to argue that the whole
> thing
> was a collective hallucination. Wright's conclusion is reached by an
> inference to the best explanation--something Hume would have appreciated
> if
> the subject were not religious. THe problem with those "techniques
> developed by Christians" is not the techniques, but the a priori
> assumptions
> from Hume and others that accompanied their application. Wright,
> Polkinghorne, and many others today are not held back artificially by the
> assumption that no amount of evidence, however great, can ever establish
> that something apparently miraculous actually happened at a particular
> place
> and time.
> But I do not expect you to agree on this, and neither does Wright. I
> recommend to all on this list chapter 18 in his book, where he discusses
> the
> grand historical problem of "Easter and History," a chapter in which I
> agree
> with every single word--and I am a professional historian myself. Why do
> I
> not expect you to agree, Steven? Because, as Wright rightly says, there
> is
> no netural historiography on something of such religious significance as
> this. Here is how he puts it:
> "Many will challenge this conclusion, for many different reasons. I do
> not
> claim that it constitutes a 'proof' of the resurrection in terms of some
> neutral standpoint. It is, rather, a historical challenge to other
> explanations, other worldviews. Precisely because at this point we are
> faced with worldview-level issues, there is no neutral ground, no island
> in
> the middle of the epistemological ocean, as yet uncolonized by any of the
> warring continents. We cannot simply arrive at a topic and make grand
> declarations, as in Francis Drake's celebrated annexation of California,
> and suppose that all the local inhabitants will take them as binding.
> Saying that 'Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised from the dead' is not
> only a self-*involving* statement; it is a self-*committing* statement,
> going beyond a reordering of one's private world into various levels of
> commitment to work out the implications. We cannot simply leave a flag
> stuck on a hill somewhere and sail back home to safety." (717)
> On that much, at least, perhaps we agree, Steven?
> Let me close my part of this discussion with a stanza from John Updike's
> "Seven Stanzas at Easter," which Wright uses as an epigraph for this
> chapter:
> Let us not mock God with metaphor,
> analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
> making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of
> earlier ages;
> let us walk through the door.
> Ted
Received on Wed Oct 19 11:30:11 2005

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