Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Question: Hypothetically, if you and I could get in a time machine, travel back 2000 years, watch Jesus be crucified and watch him walk out of the tomb alive on Easter morning, would you then become a Christian? Why or why not?

Answer:

You assume a great deal. If we go back in time and we don't see anything of the sort, will you give up Christianity?

Your question includes many presuppositions. You presuppose that the events of the Christian religion actually occurred (otherwise our time-travel trip would be for nothing). There isn't even solid evidence that Jesus existed, let alone that he rose from the dead, yet you have faith that there would be something to see if we went back in time. I don't share that faith, I don't think it is justified.

In any case, let us pretend we go back and see a man tortured on a cross (planned by a "loving" god). We see him put into a tomb, and we come back some days later and the tomb is empty. If Jesus did exist and get crucified, I think it is likely that he was removed from the tomb at some point and thrown into a common criminal grave and eaten by dogs, as this was common treatment for persons crucified.

But let's go further. Say he goes into the tomb and we wait the whole time. Friday to Sunday (which is not three days) we wait. Then instead of seeing an empty tomb, we actually see him walk out. How did we verify his death? Did we being an EEG machine with us to check for brain waves? The people alive at the time certainly didn't check brain waves. (And incredibly enough, in this modern world with plenty of EEG machines available to test for brain death and miraculous recovery, there are no confirmed and reliable miracle reports of brain-dead people coming back.)

So to summarize, here are a couple points. First, when faced with the possibility that laws of nature are being violated vs. the possibility that I am personally mistaken, the latter is always more likely. Therefore the answer to your question is "no". (As an observation is validated and tested by others, a "yes" answer becomes more justified. Considering that the crucifixion story started as an oral tale passed along by zealots, the justification just isn't there here in the real world. We have no time machine.)

Second, you are talking about an alleged event from 2000 years ago based upon flimsy unverifiable evidence. The reason you bring up the time machine is because you understand how remote these hypothetical events are from us today. If I don't believe the Chriistian story, your loving god threatens me with eternal torture. If this god is just, he surely would have provided solid evidence that does not require a mythical machine to experience, especially considering the magnitude of the threatened (loving) hell torture. In other words, whether those events occurred or not, your god makes no sense. Torturing a person because he uses his (god-given?) rational mind is not just.

My rational mind says no, and if there is a just god who wants us all to believe (and threatens us if we don't), it makes no sense that he created a world in which rational people can disbelieve by thoughtful means.

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