Monday 25 April 2011

Resurrection of Jesus and Lazarus: Fact or Myth?

Let me begin this article by saying that I went to Christian churches for many years, first as child going to Sunday school, then as a parishioner, later as a member of church choirs and later still as an organist for a church. Over those years, I had heard many times, stories from the Bible about the raising of both Lazarus and Jesus from the dead. While writing my book ‘The Second Appearance’ I delved into the issue of whether or not Lazarus and Jesus really rose from the dead. I am now 77 years of age at the time of this writing and I have decided that I had better write this article before I also pass on since I don’t expect to rise from the dead to write this article after I am gone.

While writing this article and submitting it to my readers, let me assure you that I do so with the greatest respect I have for Jesus Christ and his teachings.

Resurrection: coming to life again. Canadian Dictionary

There are three organs in human beings that are absolutely necessary for a human being to sustain life. If any one of them fail, the others will follow suit and then the human being will die. If the human being is not resuscitated within minutes after all three of the organs stop functioning, the human being will either suffer permanent brain damage or alternatively, be permanently dead. The organs I am speaking about are the lungs, the heart and the brain.

As we all know, humans have two lungs, with the left one being divided into two lobes and the right one into three lobes. Together, the lungs contain approximately 2400 km (1500 miles) of airways and 300 to 500 million alveoli, having a total surface area of about 70 m2 (8,4 x 8,4 m) in adults — roughly the same area as one side of a tennis court. Furthermore, if all of the capillaries that surround the alveoli were unwound and laid end to end, they would extend for about 992 km (620 mi). Each lung weighs 1.1 kilograms (2.5 pounds), therefore making the entire organ about 2.3 kilograms (5 pounds). Their principal function is to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the bloodstream, and to release carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere. This exchange of gases is accomplished in the mosaic of specialized cells that form millions of tiny, exceptionally thin-walled air sacs called alveoli.

In invertebrates (and we are all such creatures) that possess a circulatory system, the heart is typically a tube or small sac and pumps fluid that contains water and nutrients such as proteins, fats, and sugars. Our hearts pump our blood through the lungs and on the way, our blood cells pick up the oxygen and then our hearts pump the blood through our brains.

The human brain is the center of our nervous system. The brain monitors and regulates the body's actions and reactions. It continuously receives sensory information, and rapidly analyzes these data and then responds, controlling bodily actions and functions. The brain stem controls breathing, heart rate, and other autonomic processes that are independent of conscious brain functions. The neocortex is the center of higher-order thinking, learning, and memory. The cerebellum is responsible for the body's balance, posture, and the coordination of movement. The human brain has been estimated to contain 80 or 90 billion (~85 109) non-neuronal cells (glial cells) as well as 80 or 90 billion (~86 109) neurons, of which about 10 billion (1010) are cortical pyramidal cells. These cells pass signals to each other via as many as 1000 trillion (1015, 1 quadrillion) synaptic connections.

As you can see, these three organs are dependent of each other for us to survive. Of course, we need other organs to survive but as I said earlier in this piece, if these three stop functioning for more than 20 minutes, then our lives are over. For example, losing blood has immediate and guaranteed effects on the human body. In three to four minutes, neurons in the brain begin to die. In four to five minutes, permanent brain damage occurs. In 20 minutes, the heart no longer beats. The brain begins to deteriorate and when that happens, bringing it back to its original state is as hopeless as trying to unscramble an egg.

Suspended animation is the slowing of life processes without termination of life. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means.

Now there have been incidents in history where people who have been declared dead, were actually alive after they were buried or entombed. They were in what is commonly referred to as a state of suspended animation. Nowadays in advance countries, the blood of the deceased is removed and replaced with embalming fluid however, it is not mandatory that all deceased persons being injected with that fluid. But those of us who have made arrangements for our funerals are confident in knowing that after we are buried, we won’t wake up inside our caskets and endure what of life’s horrors; slowly suffocating to death after being buried in our caskets.

There have been incidents in which so-called deceased persons have suddenly come back to full consciousness while on the embalming table and even during a funeral. This is rare but it as happened in the past.

One is forced to ask this rhetorical question; how can it be that the doctors didn’t detect signs of life in the people they declared as dead? If one subject in health law and bioethics can be said to be at once well settled and persistently unresolved, it is how to determine that death has occurred. In the majority of cases, death is diagnosed on the basis of the irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions. But beginning in the middle of the 20th century, increasingly sophisticated means were developed.

But in the times of Lazarus and Jesus, there were very few satisfactory means in which a determination of the cessation of life could be determined with any degree of accuracy.

One would think that one sure way to make that determination is to wait until rigor mortis sets in. Once that happens, death is easily established. Or is it? Those people who were taken to the funeral homes and later came too would have had rigor mortis set in at some stage of their demise. At the moment of death, the muscles relax completely—a condition called "primary flaccidity." The muscles then stiffen after a few hours have passed due to coagulation of muscle proteins or a shift in the muscle's energy containers into a condition known as rigor mortis. The joints become temporarily locked into place.

Depending on temperature and other conditions, rigor mortis lasts approximately 72 hours. The phenomenon is caused by the skeletal muscles partially contracting. The muscles are unable to relax, so the joints become fixed in place. After 72 hours, the limbs can be moved again by those preparing the deceased for burial or entombment.

The onset of rigor mortis may range from 10 minutes to five or six hours, depending on factors including temperature (rapid cooling of a body can inhibit rigor mortis, but it occurs upon thawing). Maximum stiffness is reached around 12-24 hours post mortem. Facial muscles are affected first, with the rigor then spreading to other parts of the body. The joints are stiff for 1-3 days, but after this time general tissue decay and leaking of lysosomal intracellular digestive enzymes will cause the muscles to relax.

In the absence of embalming or relatively rapid cremation, the body putrefies. The first sign of putrefaction is a greenish skin discoloration appearing on the right lower abdomen about the second or third day after death. This coloration then spreads over the abdomen, chest, and upper thighs and is usually accompanied by a putrid odor. Sulfur-containing intestinal gas and a breakdown product of red blood cells produce both the color and smell. This is unquestionably a sure way of determining that a person is dead.

In the time of Lazarus and Jesus, when a Hebrew died, the deceased’s body was laid out – either on bare ground, or on sand or salt. The first duty was to close and secure the eyes and mouth of the corpse, after it was absolutely certain death had occurred. The body then was washed with warm water (cf. Acts 9:37). This custom, called the “Purification of the dead,” still prevails among the Jews. The nails and hair were trimmed, and the body was anointed with ointment in preparation for burial (Mathew. 26:12; Luke. 23:56).

Burial places were located outside of the cities (Mathew 8:28; 27:7,52-53) En-route from the home to the tomb, the deceased was generally carried on a bier (Luke 7:14), which was probably a wooden slab. [Note: Joseph was borne out of Egypt in a “coffin,” i.e., an Egyptian mummy case (Gen. 50:26).]Along the way, the bier might be carried by various family members and friends. Women were required to lead the procession since Hebrew men felt they were responsible for introducing death into the world. Hired mourners, who shrieked and pounded their breasts, along with musicians, might accompany the funeral trek (Mathew. 9:23);

At the cemetery an oration would be delivered and the body would be deposited in the tomb. Frequently these were caves or rock-hewn receptacles. Within these were niches, designed to house several bodies. Usually a tomb could accommodate about eight bodies – sometimes more. The entrance to the grave was secured by a door or large stone (Mathew 27:66;). It was there that the bodies would putrefy.

The raising of Lazarus

Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus. When Lazarus fell ill, his sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." When Jesus heard the news, he waited two more days before heading towards Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus and his two sisters. Bethany was and still is a village located on the east slope of the Mount of Olives and is about one and one-half miles east of Jerusalem. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been dead and in the tomb for four days. The rational of that statement is based on the fact that it was the custom then as it is currently the custom for Jews that a person who dies should be buried as soon as possible after death. The Torah requires burial as soon as possible, even for executed criminals. It follows that Lazarus was entombed for four days before Jesus arrived on the scene.

Now if he really was dead, his body would be in an advanced state of putrefaction especially considering that in Israel, the temperature is quite hot during the day. In order for a body to fight off putrefaction or at least delay it for some considerable time, the temperature would have to be one degree below freezing consistently the entire four days Lazarus was in the tomb and that would not have happened. I have been in Israel and although it can be chilly at night, it generally doesn’t drop below freezing although the lowest temperature ever recorded in Israel was 13.7° at Tel Hatanim in the Beit Netofah Valley on 7/2/1950 and it has snowed in Jerusalem. In any case, the days would be quite warm, thusly even if the body froze overnight, it would thaw during the day and that certainly would speed up the process of putrefaction. The smell would be unbearable to anyone entering the tomb.

According to the New Testament, Jesus told Martha, "Your brother will rise again." But Martha thought he was talking about the final resurrection of the dead. Then Jesus said these words: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Was he speaking of life when Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that life will come when they are in heaven?

Jesus then went to the tomb of Lazarus with Mary, Martha and the rest of the mourners. There he asked them to remove the stone that covered the hillside burial place. Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed to his Father, closing with these words: "Lazarus, come out!" When Lazarus came out of the tomb, Jesus told the people to remove his grave clothes. According to the New Testament, Lazarus lived for many years after that.

I doubt that Lazarus was really dead when he was placed in the tomb. As I said earlier, if he was dead, his body would be in a state of putrefaction when his burial clothes were removed and there is no mention of the people being in shock at seeing him in such a horrible state.

I believe that he was one of a great many people who had been declared dead and who showed no signs of life when he and the others were buried or entombed. They were actually in a state of suspended animation. When he heard Jesus’ voice (remember he was a friend of Jesus) he suddenly awoke from that state and got up and walked out of the tomb.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the restoration of Lazarus is not the only occurance of the supposed raising of the dead. The three Synoptics record the case of the daughter of Jairus (found in the books of Mathew, Mark and Luke) being raised from the dead. What is interesting about that tale is that when Jesus entered the home of Jairus (an official) whose daughter was supposedly dead, he said to the people in the home, and I quote from Mathew (chapter 9, verse 23) as to what Jesus said, “Get out everybody. The little girl is not dead, she is only sleeping.” Then he went into her room and took hold of her hand and she got up. In Luke (chapter 8, verse 51) Luke says the same thing.

As I mentioned earlier,there have been people who were declared dead and were either in the funeral home or at the funeral service suddenly awoke after hearing someone speaking. It follows that once Lazarus heard Jesus calling out his name, he suddenly came too. No doubt, he would have been surprised that he was in burial clothes and had been in a tomb when he came too just as those so-called deceased persons in the funeral homes and during the funeral services would have been just as shocked when they too learned where they were after regaining full consciousness.

The death of Jesus

As we all know from reading the New Testament, Jesus was crucified but he only remained on the cross approximately four hours since as was the custom, he had to be removed from the cross before the Sabbath which would begin on Friday at twelve noon.

I am going to quote from my book, The Second Appearance as to how Jesus really died. In researching the book, I looked at many sources for that information and all Christian scholars are in agreement as to how he died the way I am describing his death.

Now I will quote from Chapter two, pages 21 and 22 of my book.

Russell continued again. “Not all condemned prisoners had their wrists nailed to a cross. Many were simply suspended by their wrists with rope and if their feet were nailed to the post or tied to the post, they were left to die while suspended by their wrists from the crossbeam. Most lived for days, slowly dying of thirst in the hot sun. However, eventually, they all died from suffocation.”

The young assistant minister asked, “Can you explain that?”

Russell continued. “When they were suspended by their wrists and their feet were nailed or tied to the post, their diaphragms that which made it possible for their lungs to breathe in air and exhale; were pulled upwards as a direct result of the muscles of their arms and their sides exerting pressure against their diaphragms. They could breathe in but once they breathed in air, they couldn’t exhale and if they couldn’t exhale, then they couldn’t breathe in anymore. The only way they could stop their muscles from putting upward pressure against their diaphragms, was to stand up. If their feet were merely tied to the post, they would have to remain awake all the time they were suspended on the cross otherwise they would suffocate when they fell asleep.” unquote

Later in my book; (Chapter Two, page 23)

Russell continued, “They didn’t break Jesus’ legs like they did to the other two men on the crosses next to him because when the spear was stuck into him and he didn’t bleed or move, the Romans believed that he was dead and there was no need for them to break his legs so that he couldn’t stand up again to release the pressure against his diaphragm.” unquote

If Jesus was still alive when the soldier thrust a spear into the right side of his chest, blood would have spurted out when the soldier withdrew the spear because his heart would still be pumping blood throughout Jesus’ body. The fact that only intercellular fluid came out of the wound was sufficient evidence to the Romans that Jesus was dead and could then be removed from the cross. If he was still alive at that moment, then the Roman soldiers would have broken his legs also as they had just done with the two thieves crucified next to him.

The entombment of Jesus

His entombment occurred immediately after his death, when, according to the gospel accounts, he was placed in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. The tomb was immediately outside the walls of Jerusalem at that time. I should mention that the current walls surrounding the old city of Jerusalem were built centuries after the original walls were torn down. The location where it is said that Jesus was crucified and entombed are now some distance inside the city that is surrounded by the current walls of the old city of Jerusalem. But when Jesus died on the cross and was entombed a short distance from where he died, it all occurred outside the original walls since criminals (the Romans called him a criminal) couldn’t be executed inside the walls of the city and people couldn’t be entombed inside the city also since space inside the city was at a premium. One can visit those two locations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Of course, you would never recognize the spot as a tomb.

The resurrection of Jesus

According to the New Testament, the tomb of Jesus was found to be empty by the women who were present at Jesus’ crucifixion. They had come to his tomb to anoint his body with spices. These are things his close disciples should have done, but Mark portrays Jesus’ female followers as consistently showing more faith and courage than the men. Proof of that is established when you realize that it was only Mark who witnessed Jesus being crucified and dying on the cross. The other disciples were nowhere to be seen in that immediate area since they were afraid they would be recognized by the guards of the Pharisees.

The gospels report the incident with slight variations. Christ's body is said to have been laid out in the tomb after crucifixion and death, the tomb was found to be empty, the body gone and a young man or angel(s) within the tomb tells the women that Christ had risen. These accounts lead to beliefs concerning the Resurrection of Jesus. According to all four gospels, the empty tomb clearly led to the revelation of Jesus' resurrection.

But was he resurrected from the dead or was his body stolen by some of his followers and placed somewhere else? The Pharisees who hated Jesus were concerned that Jesus’ followers might steal Jesus’ body from the tomb and later claim that Jesus was really alive and would be preaching against them even if he was unseen by the general population. They approached the Rome’s fifth proconsul (governor of Judea) Pontius Pilate and expressed their concern. Pilate then ordered that two Roman guards were to stand at the entrance of the tomb to make sure that no one would enter the tomb and steal Jesus’ body.

Now according to the New Testament, the tomb was in a garden and it was against Jewish law for anyone to be working in the garden on the Sabbath at least until noon hour that Saturday when the Sabbath was over. If the body of Jesus was stolen by some of his followers, they would have had to do it in the dead of night. Now could they do this with two Roman soldiers standing guard? According to the New Testament, the guards had fallen asleep while guarding the tomb. This being so, Jesus’ body could have been stolen after dark on Friday and before dawn on Saturday or after dark Saturday and before dawn Sunday after the large flat circular stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. But is it also conceivable that Pilate ordered the body to be removed at the request of the Pharisees? If he had, it would because he could then be sure that no one could claim to be Jesus at a later date. There is no way that we will ever learn how the tomb ended up being empty on that Sunday morning other than what we have learned from the New Testament.

The gospels report the incident of the empty tomb with slight variations. Jesus’ body is said to have been laid out in the tomb after crucifixion and death, the tomb is found to be empty, the body gone and a young man or angel(s) within the tomb tells the women that Christ has risen. According to all four gospels, the empty tomb led to the revelation of Jesus' resurrection.

Such a revelation would have placed Jesus on a higher footing if he was resurrected and instead of being alive although unseen from then on.

Now, here come the anomalies in the story of his resurrection.

The four canonical gospels all agree that a woman called Mary visited Jesus' tomb, though they differ on which Mary and whether she was in the garden on her own. According to most ancient versions of the gospel of John (and most modern translations) Mary was Mary Magdalene, though the Codex Sinaiticus' version only calls her Mary. No other woman is mentioned explicitly though when Mary says that she doesn't know where Jesus body is, she uses the plural, ‘we’ which may indicate that there were other women with her when she looked inside the tomb. Some have suggested that there were two Mary’s who attended the tomb that Sunday morning.

When the women came back from the cemetery on Passover morning, they brought with them word of an empty tomb and the report that "He is not here but has risen!" The apostles were dismissive. Some have suggested a lack of enthusiasm because the messengers were women. Josephus who was a Jew but also a Roman citizen and a prolific writer during that time, (Ant. iv.:8:15) writes that Jewish tradition stated: "From women let not evidence be accepted because of the levity and temerity of their sex." Theologian Thomas G. Long has offered two other possibilities besides their sex. Perhaps the news of the empty tomb, the resurrection, of Jesus' victory over death was simply too overwhelming for his disciples to believe, too difficult for them to assimilate all at once.

Mark and Luke both explain that the women were intending to continue the Jewish burial rituals. Matthew merely says that they came just to look at the tomb. John makes no mention of the ritual and the apocryphal, heterodox Gospel of Peter claims that she came to mourn. Rabbi Bar Kappara was of the opinion (recorded in the Midrash Rabbah) that the third day was often the prime point for mourning in those days.

The prevailing theory of Markan priority would suggest that the original story had a mysterious man in white in the tomb. In Matthew he becomes an angel and in Luke, written for a non-Jewish audience, he becomes two angel-like men. In John's gospel, this part of the account is omitted. Most Christians and scholars before the discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark tend to the view that the figure was an angel. It is not possible to tell whether the angels supposedly were in the form of men.

In Luke (Chapter 24, verses 1 – 8) it states;

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' Then they remembered his words. unquote

Was Jesus seen soon after that?

After Mary (which ever one she was) looked inside the tomb, she saw a man nearby who appeared to her as being the gardener of the garden. She was frightened because she knew that it was against the law for anyone to be in the garden at an early hour other than the gardener when the sun was just rising. The reason for that law was that bodies had been mutilated for parts and it was a capital offence if anyone was convicted of mutilating the body of a deceased person. The guards weren’t there at that time because (according to one version) they had earlier reported to Pilate that Jesus body was no longer in the tomb so there was no need for them to return. What I find interesting is there is no mention as to how Pilate responded to such information given to him by the guards.

I will refer you to my book The Second Appearance again and more specifically to pages 202 and 203 in which Father Stephen (a Vatican investigator) is speaking directly to Pope John XXIII while they are walking along a path in the Vatican gardens. He is expressing his thoughts to the pope with respect to what Mary actually saw in the garden when she saw a man approaching her and later what the disciples saw after that. I might add at this time, that what you are going to read with respect to the facts about Jesus’ reappearance is in accordance with the New Testament.

“The Bible itself, states this, Your Holiness. On that very day in which Jesus Christ was resurrected and he appeared to Mary Magdalene, she saw him as a man whom she originally thought was a gardener. If Jesus had returned from the dead in the exact form he was in when he was carried to the cave where he was entombed, she would have seen him as Jesus and not as a gardener whom she had never met before.”

“But, my son,” responded the pontiff, “she later realized that she had spoken to Jesus. .

“That is true, Your Holiness but only after he spoke to her and implied that he was Jesus. Her willingness to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead was so strong, she accepted the man before her as the Jesus she remembered in her mind and not a gardener she thought she saw with her eyes." .

The pontiff got up from the bench to walk again in the garden, Father Stephen continued with his dissertation on his position. “I refer you to another so-called appearance of Jesus before two of his disciples who were fleeing north after the crucifixion of their master. On the road, they were talking to each other about all the things that had recently happened in Jerusalem and about the suffering and death of their Savior. While they were talking about all that had happened, the Bible states that Jesus Christ himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him at all as Jesus. In Mark, chapter sixteen, verse twelve, it actually says, ‘After this, he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.’ unquote. Now surely, Your Holiness, these two disciples who had been with Jesus for years would have recognized him when he walked with them after his resurrection, would they not?” Before the pontiff could reply, the priest said, “They didn’t recognize him because his soul was in another body, in another form." .

"But my son,” began the pontiff in reply, “they did eventually believe him to be Jesus soon after they talked." .

“I agree, Your Holiness but not as the man they remembered him as he was while they were both in his service but rather, they recognized him as Jesus in the body of another human being."

“So what you are saying, my son,” responded the pontiff, “supports your position that Jesus Christ returned to Earth in the body of Russell Hendrix.” (a character in the book)

“That is my position, Your Holiness.” Father Stephen then added, “And the same thing happened again after the resurrection when his disciples were fishing and they saw a stranger on the shore who told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat and it was subsequently filled with fish. The other disciples called out to Peter, ‘It’s the Lord!’ believing that Jesus had return to them. As you know, Peter swam to shore and when the others saw him on the shore at a fire he had built, they saw him with a stranger whom they later believed was Jesus. In fact, it was Jesus but none of his disciples dare ask him, ‘Who are you?’ when they really didn’t know who he was. What I am saying, Your Holiness, is that Jesus returned after the resurrection in another bodies and not in the original body his soul had been previous in after his death on Golgotha and before his resurrection.” unquote

What this means is that Jesus’ body was never seen again. People saw a man whom they believed was Jesus but not in the body of the man they remembered as Jesus. This raises the theory of many people world-wide that the souls of human beings are resurrected after their deaths in the bodies of other human beings. In my book, I recited an actual incident that occurred in India. I will quote from pages 212 and 213.

Back in the early nineteen hundreds, when India was still a dominion of England; there was a boy of about five years of age living in a small village in India. One day, he and his parents went to visit some relatives in another small village that was several hundred miles away. This was the first time they had ever been in that village. When they arrived, their young son began talking with the elders in the village. He asked them questions about certain members of their families and about their health. He appeared to know all of them and what they had been doing five years earlier. unquote

On page 213, I wrote;

Although many of the people in India believe in reincarnation, experiencing something like this was rare indeed so a big thing was made about it. The governor in that area arranged for British scientists to interview the boy and the villagers. They finally concluded that in all likelihood, he was the reincarnation of an old man who had died five years earlier in that village. As the boy grew older, he remembered less and less of his previous life in the village until finally, all memory of his past life was gone from his memory. unquote

There have been other such recollections of past lives, some debunked but others taken seriously. In my book, I said in part;

Most religious people believe in life everlasting for the faithful, a continuation of the life force that reaches far beyond the limitations of our mortal flesh. In such belief systems, death is not an end but a transformation where we as human beings shed our corporeal selves at the moment of our demise and that our souls live on to rejoin our Creator. I believe as many do, that once our souls are free from our corporeal selves, our Creator causes them to enter other human beings again at the moment of their conception and live within those human beings until they too are deceased and their souls are transformed again to other human beings being born. unquote

I also said in my book;

The definition of man is best described as an entity on our planet composed of body and soul and made in the image and likeness of God. Man, then, is composed of a material element, the body and a spiritual element, the soul and not as two independent elements that just by coincidence, happen to be joined together while the body grows but rather as two separate elements that by God’s will, are joined together from inception and as such, they need each other to form a complete whole, namely, a human being. I believe that if Jesus returned to Earth, he appeared both in spirit and in body as a human being, as he did when he first appeared on earth almost two thousand years ago. unquote

I later said in my book;

It is my belief that souls, like atoms are indestructible. When we die, our souls do not die but instead they take their places in the bodies of other human beings. I believe that when Jesus Christ died and then was resurrected and later ascended into Heaven, his soul remained with him because he was still alive in Heaven. I also believe that when God decided that his son should return to Earth, his soul then took its place in other human bodies and that the soul in those human bodies was still the soul of Jesus Christ who had returned to Earth, time after time. unquote

When I was referring to Jesus’ resurrection in my book, I was not referring to his body being resurrected but rather his soul being resurrected.

Pope John XXIII actually pondered the reality of this possibility when he said in 1946, when he was the nuncio in France. He gave a sermon in the Cathedral of Bourges and said and I quote, ‘We are the disciples of Christ who has been dwelling among us for two thousand years.’ unquote

It is my belief that Jesus really did die on the cross and his body was permanently extinguished and Jesus never came back in the same form he was in when he died on the cross. If he came back, it was his soul that returned and his soul has reappeared in other human beings and kept on returning over the centuries just as our own souls will keep returning after our bodies are gone and returned to dust, so to speak.

At the very end of my book, I raised an interesting question;

If our spirits live forever and is within each of us in our lifetimes, is it not conceivable that we were here before and that after we are gone, we will be here again? unquote

I believe that when Jesus died on the cross, his body remained dead, just as our bodies and those before us who have passed away; never to return as the living entities they once were. I also believe as millions of others do; that when we die and our bodies are gone forever, our souls will remain behind forever to continue their existences in the lives of others following our deaths.

If Jesus’ soul still exists, and I believe it does, no one will see him as he was before he died. They will see him in the body of another person. When that will be, I have no idea whatsoever. If there is a God, only God will make that determination as to when Jesus will present himself to Mankind as their Savior.

Now many sincere followers of Christian teachings believe in miracles and that the resurrection of the body of Jesus was one of God’s miracles. Real miracles, if there are any, are close enough to natural events to preserve the possibility that they are only natural events recorded by extremely enthusiastic believers.

The problem with miracles is that they are notoriously ‘one time only’ events, or alternatively, completely unpredictable. No one seems to ever be present to scientifically document the ‘one time’ variety, and no one can be scheduled to record the ‘unpredictable’ kind. Further, reported miracles can be explained naturalistically. To me, when any event is reported by a witness, we have 4 possibilities (which may even be combined):

1. The person is telling the truth and such an event really happened.
2. The person is telling the truth but they were mistaken about the event they thought they witnessed.
3. The person is telling the truth but they were delusional and/or hallucinated the event.
4. The person is lying.

Miracles that are not backed by scientific evidence, therefore, until such evidence emerges, they should be treated with severe skepticism.

To Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation they can give for him returning to earth both body and soul. They honestly believe that Jesus’ resurrection was brought about as a miracle by God. Many people on the other hand feel that the miracles recorded in the Gospels were a myth or a fabrication. But devoted Christians who believe in every word written in the New testament is gospel, will complain that skeptics like me and millions others like me are simply closed-minded towards the supernatural.

I agree with the proposition that miracles must fall within the province of natural law. This is not because of a dogmatic contention that the natural laws are indisputable, but rather the idea that natural law, by definition, governs the universe, i.e. ‘anything that is possible.’ Therefore, if something contravenes the law then that thing is obviously ‘something possible’ and the law needs to be reworked so that it fits the facts properly. For example, it is said that Moses struck a rock and water came out of the rock. Where he was in Sinai, there are rocks that anyone can poke at and water will come out of them. It’s not miraculous; it is simply a geological fact. But the writers of the Old Testament didn’t know that when they wrote those scriptures.

We must not forget that the telling of Jesus’ resurrection was passed on for centuries and finally written down by scholars during the time of King James’ reign centuries ago. If anyone told those scholars then that someday people will fly to the moon, they would regard it as a miracle if that happened when in fact it is simply a scientific fact that Man can fly to the moon.

Many people use miracles as an excuse for their inability to explain them away and they refer to God every time they can't explain something. Flying to the moon was not an act of God nor was resurrecting the body of Jesus an act of God. If Jesus was resurrected, it was his soul and not his body but as we all know, that isn’t the way that many Christians see it.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus did exist. Josephus, who was a historian in Jesus’ time, stated this in one of his writings. And if Jesus was quoted correctly with respect to his teachings, then he was an outstanding man whose teachings have followed him by the faithful for almost two thousand years. But as hard as I want to believe that his body was resurrected three days after he died on the cross; I am sorry but I just can’t accept the rational for that kind of belief.

1 comment:

BCReason said...

There are biblical scholars that feel most of the miracles attributed to Jesus are actually lifted from previous myths of Greek, Egyptian and Babylonian gods and heroes.

For instance the story of Lazarus seems to have come from the Egytian god Horus who raised a similarly named man from the dead. Horus was also murdered and raised from the dead after three days.

It was a common formula of myths of that time that gods come to earth, impregnate human women that raise special children that do great deeds. Most either travel to the land of the dead and return or are killed and resurrected.

Jesus, if he was a real man, had the standard hero formulas attributed to him.

Some other notes:

We are vertebrates.
Josephus writings on Christ were apparently faked as they do not appear in older manuscripts. This is accepted by the Catholic church and most scholars.