Does science make it impossible that Jesus rose from the dead? | After Life? #02


(tranquil music) – [Narrator] Did Jesus
really rise from the dead? If he did, it’s the most important thing that’s ever happened,
but many people today think that what we know about
the world scientifically rules out any possibility that he did. We don’t even need to think about whether the historical
evidence is any good. So is it scientifically impossible that Jesus rose from the dead? – One of the main things
we have to realize when we’re thinking about
history is that history and science are similar in some ways and very different in others. The whole thing about science is that science studies,
what can be repeated. I was listening to a radio
program just this morning where somebody said, “Well the great thing “about these experiments
is that, in principle, “we can repeat them, so we can get a firm “and sure take on what’s
actually the case.” He was talking about medical experiments. The point about history is that nothing is ever
quite the same again. You can’t, as somebody said,
step into the same river twice. The water has flowed on. Things are different now. If Julius Caesar had crossed
the Rubicon a second time, it wouldn’t have meant the same as it did when he crossed
it the first time. In fact, he only did it
once, and so on and so on. So in history, we’re always talking about things which can’t, in fact, be repeated. So the historian always
has to be prepared to say, “Well, this may not have happened before “or it may never happen again, “but it’s possible that
something did happen.” When the first space flight took place, when the first man walked on the moon, that had never happened before. Until recently, it would’ve
been completely unthinkable, but we know that, in fact, it did happen. – Science proves that
dead critter stay dead apart from the intervention of God, but science doesn’t say anything
pertaining to whether God, if he exists and wanted to
raise Jesus, could indeed do so. The illustration that
I give is for my son, say he’s three years
old, if a hundred billion people try to walk across
a lukewarm swimming pool and they all sink, the chances
of my son walking across that lukewarm swimming pool is
not a hundred billion to one. If I’m there holding his hands and walking along the side of the pool and holding his weight
up as he walks on water along the swimming pool,
well, then the chances of him walking on water are virtually 100%. And a hundred billion people
being unable to do that says nothing about
whether my son can do it. Now, maybe you’d respond and say, “Well, yeah, but
you were an external agent “who assisted him, so that’s cheating.” Well, precisely, and if God exists and wanted to raise Jesus,
a hundred billion people not coming back to life by natural causes doesn’t do a thing in
terms of establishing a probability of Jesus
coming back to life. – And that’s why the resurrection
is such an explosive event because we know, in terms of repeatable, scientific evidence, of course,
that dead people don’t rise. The early Christians knew
that just as well as we did. This wasn’t something that
was discovered in the 18th or 19th century by
clever, modern scientists. But in fact, the early
Christians all said, we are who we are, we are
doing what we are doing because God raised Jesus from the dead. And the historian has to look at that, in that sense, scientifically, not as a repeatable experiment, but how do we give the best explanation for the data that we have in front of us? – Science tells us what
is generally possible in a natural world. Christians don’t say that the resurrection is a natural event. They say it’s been one of those times when God broke into our world, so it’s not something that’s
governed by natural law. It’s an exception. Christians don’t think the
resurrection happened naturally. – Lots of new atheists are
harking back to a philosophy, which was really championed
by a guy called David Hume, and he basically said, look, we can’t believe in things
that can’t be proven. So he came up with this idea that, unless you could prove a statement, it just wasn’t worthy of
even being considered. The new atheists are
trying to resurrect this. So Hume said, unless
you can prove something either what he called analytically, which would mean you can
use maths, an equation, or something’s true by
definition, a circle is round or bachelors are unmarried, so unless you can come up
with an analytical proof or an empirical proof, so a
repeatable scientific experiment to prove something, so my filling is gold. We can go into a laboratory and test whether what I say is true. So unless something is
analytically verifiable, provable, or empirically verifiable, we can’t even discuss it. It’s not capable of being true. People say, well, the resurrection
of Jesus from the dead, it’s not true by definition. You can’t use a maths
equation to prove it. It’s not empirically true, therefore we shouldn’t
even be discussing it. It’s fascinating this is coming back because, actually, what
philosophers coming after Hume discovered is that Hume’s
idea itself collapses. It’s neither true by definition nor is it empirically verifiable. So the philosophy upon which naturalism, the big ideology behind atheism, that philosophy itself
can’t sustain itself. It’s a faith commitment as much as any other faith commitment. It’s a worldview. It’s not a scientific perspective. So in the same way that
many scientists would say, well, there are lots of
things we can’t prove. We can’t go back and repeat the Big Bang,
but we believe the Big Bang happened on the basis of evidence. Lots of scientific propositions
are based on evidence, so the same is true of history, and I would argue the resurrection of Jesus is historical in that sense. We can’t prove it. We can’t do a repeatable
experiment in that sense, but we can we can go back
and examine the evidence and make a decision
about its truthfulness. – Yeah, it does seem
today, that in the West, science trumps everything. I think there’d be a whole line of things I would say to
that kind of response. One is that, history, far from being irrelevant,
history’s required. It is self-defeating to
try to put history down because the scientist needs history. If the scientist has to start
from square one every time they do an experiment, they’re
not gonna get very far. – I think that that question,
the possibility of miracles, is a logically secondary
question that will be posed later after one has established
the inductive data that needs to be explained. The question of miracles
only arises when one seeks for the best explanation
of the inductive database or the facts to be explained. So establishing facts like the burial of Jesus by Joseph of
Arimathea, the empty tomb, the postmortem appearances of Jesus, the origin of the disciples’
belief in his resurrection, is not something that’s
outside the purview of the ordinary secular historian. Those, in and of themselves,
are purely natural events that can be investigated by
any disinterested historian. The question of miracles
arises only when you ask, well, what is the best
explanation for the evidence of the empty tomb, the
postmortem appearances, and the transformation of the disciples? And that’s when one then
will encounter the question of whether or not it’s legitimate to infer a miraculous explanation, but that’s a secondary issue. The first issue that
needs to be dealt with is establishing what are
the facts to be explained. – And so, the historian is always faced with the challenge to
look at all the evidence. How do you explain, in the
case of the resurrection, the rise of early Christianity, granted that we know quite a lot about other Jewish resistance movements, royal movements, rebellion
movements, whatever, believing that this was God’s movement, et cetera, et cetera,
throughout the time of Jesus, both a hundred, two
hundred years before him and a hundred or so years after him. There were plenty of such movements. Routinely, they ended with the
violent death of the founder and in no other case did anyone say a few days or a few months or years later, actually, God has raised
him from the dead. Of course they didn’t because there was no suggestion
that that had happened. Either they managed to get away with it or they were all killed as well or they found themselves another leader. The historical challenge
of early Christianity is why did the early Christians, who were Jews expecting God’s kingdom like so many other Jews were expecting God’s kingdom at the time, why did they say that this had happened and that, therefore, God’s
kingdom had been launched, albeit in a very surprising
and startling new way? The historian faced with that new movement has to come up with a
convincing explanation of why that took place and I submit that, easily,
the best explanation for that is that Jesus really was
bodily raised from the dead. – [Narrator] The
Christian claim isn’t that Jesus came back to life
in some natural way. It’s that God raised him
from the dead supernaturally. So the fact that when people die, they normally stay dead isn’t relevant. To reject the evidence that
Jesus rose because we’ve decided in advance that it’s impossible isn’t a decision based on facts. It’s a decision based
on a prior worldview. In day-to-day life, we’d
call that a prejudice. We need to get beyond this prejudice, to look at the evidence itself. (calm music) But can we really know about something that happened 2,000 years ago? We’ll look at this question next time. (calm music)

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