Thursday, 6 August 2009

Theo Hobson on Faith & Evidence

You might almost think he had been reading my last blog. In Falling into the literalist trap he criticises Bishop Tom Wright for his literalist approach to claiming that the Resurrection is a well-attested historical fact, on grounds not all that dissimilar to those I used. As Theo says:
This is a mug's game: trying to show how strong the historical case is for an empty tomb, for post-death appearances that were not mere hallucinations. In his final paragraph he says: "It is possible to argue historically for the truth of Jesus' resurrection. I and others have done so and the case is remarkably good." My point is that the attempt to argue in this way is bad theology.

Instead we should say to the likes of Rutherford: of course it is not historically likely. We are talking about a miracle, a mystery – something that defies reason. When we assert that this thing happened we are talking in a different way from normal.

That is very much the kind of honest approach I called for in my last blog, and it is to Theo's credit that he is prepared to say it.

Of course, Theo also accurately points out that to accept the Resurrection requires that you abandon reason, at least in the context of this specific belief and those associated with it. You have to accept the truth of something extremely unlikely or even impossible by all scientific knowledge now available to us (we know that the dead don't rise). That is even the case if you refuse to accept the more physical versions of the resurrection story (e.g. Jesus telling Mary Magdalene not to cling to him) and hold more towards the poetic imagery of Paul.

That may be the reason Theo Hobson finds the Resurrection "a difficult thing to talk about, to know what to think about". I can sympathize to a degree, but that sympathy doesn't extend to being willing to abandon reason for this or any other irrational proposition.

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