This one is a different from the rest of our collection, because the letter isn’t about creationism. It’s about a different miracle — the resurrection — but it uses the same method of reasoning that creationists use. We don’t know, but we assume the letter-writer is also a creationist. Anyway, this is about the reasoning, not the resurrection.
Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s Jonathan Payne, pastor of the Panola United Methodist Church, which has no website. We’ll give you a few excerpts from rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go:
I admit it. I want there to be a resurrection. There is nothing appealing to me about eternal nonexistence (atheism). Nor is there anything that turns my crank about nothingness (Far Eastern, New Age). When I die, I want to be consciously alive in the presence of God for all eternity. I admit that this desire contributes to my belief in the resurrection of Christ.
That’s an honest statement of the rev’s motivation. Then — for a brief moment — he gets realistic:
Just because I want something to be true does not make it so. Just because I want to believe in Christ’s resurrection does not mean that it occurred; however, the church insists it did. Question is, “Did Jesus actually arise?” Let me share three evidences that indicate he did.
Okay. Here comes the rev’s evidence. First he tells us:
The first is philosophical. If there is a God (the best explanation we have of the universe), why couldn’t he? If God is the creator, the giver of life, why couldn’t he restore the life of his son who had died on the cross? Unless one does not believe in God or believe that he is capable of miracles (a choice one makes), Christ’s resurrection is entirely feasible.
That was exceedingly weak. What else does the rev have? He continues:
The next two reasons are historical. There are those who mistakenly state there is no way Christ’s resurrection can be scientifically verified, but his resurrection is not a question of science. We cannot scientifically establish the fact that Abraham Lincoln was president during the War Between the States. In fact, we cannot scientifically prove there was a War Between the States; however, these facts can be established with historical evidence, the kind of evidence that would be presented in a court of law.
Okay, let’s get to the historical evidence. We’re told:
When it comes to historical evidence, there is more reliable evidence of Jesus’ resurrection (more sources and sources closer in time to the alleged event) than there is for any other event of ancient history.
What? Let’s read on:
There is more historical evidence of Jesus’ resurrection than there is of the conquests of Alexander the Great, the teachings of Plato, the assassination of Julius Caesar, or the infamous reign of Nero. We accept these events as fact. Why refuse to accept as fact Christ’s resurrection (which has more evidence of having occurred) unless we have a philosophical bias against such a thing being possible?
Perhaps we’re mistaken, but we always thought the only historical evidence for the resurrection comes from the four Gospel writers. Your Curmudgeon isn’t an historian, but there’s gotta be an ark-load of evidence for the other events the rev mentioned. Ah well, here’s another excerpt:
There is a second strand of historical evidence that indicates Jesus’ resurrection occurred: the church. [Skipping some bible accounts about Jesus’ followers.] Under hostile conditions, they boldly proclaimed that Jesus was risen. (Acts 2) Why? Because they were eyewitnesses of the fact that Jesus was alive. The change in these men’s lives and the establishment of the church is, perhaps, the greatest evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.
Fine, but it’s still the same four Gospels. And now we come to the end:
Without the resurrection, the church has no message. No; let’s rephrase that. Without the resurrection, there is no church. Today’s church, with all its flaws and failures, is the greatest evidence of the resurrection and the basis of our hope of life beyond the grave.
We’re not going to comment on Christianity itself, because that’s not what we do here. We don’t mind if the rev takes it all on faith — but he should say so! When he says it’s based on evidence, he sounds like … well, like the creationists we’re always writing about. And that’s not good.
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