Posted by Zia Shah
Collected and written by Zia H Shah MD
Epigraph: And their (Jews of Jerusalem) saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty. (Al Quran 4:158)
Dan Barker (born June 25, 1949) is a prominent American atheist activist who served as a Christian preacher and musician for 19 years but left Christianity in 1984. Read his biography further in Wikipedia.
He issues a simple challenge to all of us, Christian or not, in his book, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist:
The conditions of the challenge are simple and reasonable. In each of the Gospels, begin at Easter morning and read to the end of the book: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also read Acts 1:3-12 and Paul’s version of the story in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. These 165 verses can be read in a few moments. Then, without omitting a single detail from these separate accounts, write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension: what happened first, second, and so on; who said what, when; and where these things happened.
Since the gospels do not always give precise times of day, it is permissible to make educated guesses. The narrative does not have to pretend to present a perfect picture-it only needs to give at least one plausible account of all of the facts. Additional explanation of the narrative may be set apart in parentheses. The important condition to the challenge, however, is that not one single biblical detail be omitted. Fair enough?
I have tried this challenge myself. I failed. An Assembly of God minister whom I was debating a couple of years ago on a Florida radio show loudly proclaimed over the air that he would send me the narrative in a few days. I am still waiting. After my debate at the University of Wisconsin, ‘Jesus of Nazareth: Messiah or Myth,’ a Lutheran graduate student told me he accepted the challenge and would be contacting me in about a week. I have never heard from him. Both of these people, and others, agreed that the request was reasonable and crucial. May be they are slow readers.
If the reader goes through this exercise suggested by Dan Barker and spends a few minutes of his or her precious time, he or she will realize that the conventional Easter or resurrection story is not reliable and does not hold water.
Sir Francis Bacon, who has remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method during the scientific revolution, once advised, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.” In that spirit keep reading actively.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs, so said Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of USA. Resurrection is an extraordinary claim, never witnessed by any of the seven billion inhabitants of our planet earth.
Resuscitation on the other hand is a daily occurrence in every state of the art hospital, every where and advanced countries even teach laymen, as to how to resuscitate someone, who may be in imminent danger of dying, called basic life support (BLS).
Tomb of Jesus in, Srinagar, Kashmir
If I say Jesus, may peace be on him, died of natural causes, it would appear strange to many ears, even though when the same is said about billions of other humans, it seems but obvious, and is taken for granted.
Human memory leads to the illusion-of-truth effect, meaning that we are more likely to rate those statements true that we are familiar with, regardless of their veracity. As such familiarity impairs judgment and prevents people from noticing let alone accepting the obvious limitations in their views.
Familiar seems true and unfamiliar, however logical and rational, seems fictional.
With this prelude I invite you, to a 53 minute documentary, produced by the government of India showing how Jesus came to India to teach Dharma or religion. This video has been the most popular in our video section:
1. Dan Barker. Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. Freedom from religion Foundation, Inc. Madison, WI, USA. Pages 178-179.