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by S. Joshua Swamidass
Science is full of trust-like faith. We believe grand, counterintuitive things because we trust the accounts of trustworthy sources.
Mass is energy. Time slows with gravity and acceleration. The earth moves around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. Two black holes merged 1.3 billion years ago, sending gravitational waves through space that arrived last year at LIGO. In principle, this is all reproducible, but just in principle. If we personally verified and reproduced every experiment ourselves, science would grind to a complete halt. Yes, we emphasize evidence. But we usually trust the scientific consensus. Yes, we are skeptical and regularly challenge accepted theories. But we usually trust other scientists’ reports of what they have seen.
I am a scientist. Still, on Easter, I celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead about 2,000 years ago. This event, in first-century Palestine, is the cornerstone of everything. In the same way that trust-like faith in science is connected to evidence, so is the faith I have in the Resurrection.
What is the evidence from which grew my trust? A brief and incomplete outline is included here. This evidence is not an answer, but it raises the question. All we need is curiosity.
1. Without the physical Resurrection, two thousand years of history are left begging for explanation, like a movie missing a key scene. No other event in all recorded history has reached so far across national, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, political, and geographic borders. The message spread with unreasonable success across the world. During just the first few centuries, it spread without political or military power, prevailing against the ruthless efforts of dedicated, organized and violent opposition. How did a small band of disempowered Jews in an occupied and insignificant territory of ancient Rome accomplish this unequaled act? What happened so many years ago that reframed all human history?
2. With dates established by radiometric analysis, prophecies from centuries before Jesus’ birth predict his life, death, and resurrection. The great scientist Blaise Pascal identifies this as the “tangible proof” for people who want evidence that God exists. These prophecies include specific details that Jesus and His followers could not control. For example…
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