Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
Modern hermeneutics, redaction criticism and linguistic analysis can arrived at these historical facts: the empty tomb and the appearances to the disciples.
The empty tomb can be explained in various ways. The only thing to say is that if the tomb were not empty, Christianity would have been nipped in the bud.
The claim of the disciples that Jesus appeared and ate with them can also be verified, but cannot be established as a fact. The fact that they were afraid before and then boldly proclaimed the truth of Jesus’ rising from the dead, all of them dying as martyrs to their faith, can be used to bolster faith in the Resurrection.
Scientists from NASA brought 14 tons of equipment to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, said to be the linen cloth used to wrap the body of Jesus after the Crucifixion. There are still a lot of intriguing questions to be answered scientifically. Believers claim they found faith in the image of the face in the cloth that is so peaceful, even as the marks of flagellation, the crowning of thorns, and the marks of the nails that are anatomically correct.
Jesus’claim that He had a special, unique relationship with God and could heal and in God’s name forgive sins would find complete validation in Jesus’ resurrection.
The implications are cosmic in scope. If Jesus really rose from the dead, then all that he said is true. Those who take up their cross and follow him will live with him in joy without end. And those who murder without mercy, those in government positions who plunder the wealth of the people, will not get away with it and will be sent to a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Resurrection and modern science
During the early years of Christianity, the Romans went to great lengths to discourage the belief in bodily resurrection. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, one group of Christians executed by the Romans had had their corpses left to rot for a week, unburied (so that they would be denied proper funerals). The remains were then cremated, and finally dumped into the Rhone River. As the ashes washed downstream, one of the overseers remarked aloud, “Now let us see if they will rise again!”
Atheists have been trying, like the Romans of yore, to disprove the Resurrection. They are spending a lot of time and ink talking about a God they say does not exist and about a carpenter from Galilee they claim was either mad or bad in proclaiming himself equal to God.
Christians have to explain to these atheists how physical laws can be open to the otherwise physically impossible, to divine intervention in the affairs of the cosmos.
In the time of quantum physics, experiments show that particles may somehow remain united, regardless of the amount of space separating them, since the idea of quantum entanglement is a non-local phenomenon, unaffected by distance.
According to Matthew Allen Newland, entanglement suggests that particular events leave a lasting “mark” upon their subjects, right down to the subatomic level. Events unite particles together, whether the spin of a progenitor particle (like a pi meson), or (perhaps!) the shared participation in a particular living body.
Jesus’followers did, in fact, discover an empty tomb days after His death, and were surprised by His living, physical presence among them. Such an event cannot be rendered impossible by modern science because of the openness of the physical universe to seemingly unlikely events in the subatomic world.
The death and resurrection of Jesus suggests that God involves Himself intimately in the sufferings, tragedies and joys of creaturely life, in surprising ways, according to the article “Quantum Theory and the Resurrection of Jesus,” by Anders S. Tune.
This idea of a physical object embodying more than one set of observable features, even conflicting ones, exists in the physical sciences where light can be a wave and a particle at the same time. With Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Schroedinger’s cat who can be both alive and dead, modern physics states that material reality is fundamentally probabilistic.
This is because of “quantum non locality,” which states that once complex quantum systems (the universe) have interacted, they are forever entwined, no matter how far apart they are in space. This illuminates all the more profoundly the cosmic dimensions and significance of God becoming All in all.
Faith and unbelief
The Resurrection of Christ has resulted in centuries-long reflection on what it means for a human being to rise again from the dead. This reflection included questions about the relation of the self to the body, occasioned explorations into human identity, and resulted in the return towards a more holistic understanding of the human person.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily at the Easter Vigil, April 15, 2006, said that the Resurrection of Christ is something more, something different: “If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, it is the greatest ‘mutation,’ absolutely the most critical leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us and concerns the whole of history.”
The Resurrection is a qualitative leap in the history of “evolution” and of life, according to Pope Benedict, “towards a new future life, towards a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself.”
The Resurrection inaugurates a new form of life, a new dimension of creation. As the poet wrote, “Our measure is not dust, enough to fill a small cup, our measure is Christ, unbroken, everlasting.”
This is the credo of believers which goes against the materialist view of reality that understands the universe as being dead, and even if there is life in it, will one day end up in a state of absolute lifelessness.
Faith is a leap into the dark. Faith in an afterlife or a future of the universe populated by black holes and dead stars—that is the choice we have.
“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope,” according to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
The Lord is risen, Alleluia!