Religions are usually chock full of miracles, and it's a good thing too, because otherwise they'd be as boring as going to church, and no one likes going to church. Not even Jesus. But full of entertaining, jaw-dropping, and stupefyingly improbable events as they are, religions keep you, me and Jesus sufficiently amused for an hour each week, bridging the gap between Sunday morning TV and brunch.
But in depending on their audiences' stunned credulity, religions are also extremely vulnerable. Because what if they're false?
If I understand my theology, and I think I do, Jesus was stapled to a more or less crossish plank of wood and left to die, which he eventually did after several Ridley Scott-inspired drawn out and highly dramatic sequences. Then, with a stunning Ronald Reagan-like refusal to die, he rose from the dead, and in doing so spawned a whole subgenre of amateurish horror films.
Now, the problem posed is that science currently doesn’t recognize resurrection as an activity of which humans are generally capable, opposable thumbs notwithstanding. Certainly, if we peruse history, we encounter several near misses:
- In 1099, legend has it that El Cid fought off Death’s scythe and led his troops to victory over the Muslim hordes at the gates of Valencia. What the Muslims didn’t know was that El Cid had died and was simply strapped to his horse. He would later not come back to life.
- Lord of Gondor and companion of Frodo, Boromir son of Denethor fought and killed several Uruk-hai while nursing a chest full of arrows. He died shortly thereafter, and other than a deleted scene in the subsequent film, would not come back to life either.
- Jesus… oh, wait, never mind.
- Anastasia Romanov was the daughter of the last Czar of Russia, and though believed for decades to have been murdered by Bolsheviks in 1917, was suspected by some still to be alive. A 1997 Disney film based on the myth captured the hearts of millions of children, until her decomposed body was discovered an almost comically short time later to prove that, no, in fact, she had died as advertized.
So, if Jesus was actually resurrected, history isn’t going to help us and we need to examine the hard science behind his particular case.
Possibility #1 – Jesus was a zombie
It has been demonstrated by countless films and highly unverifiable folklore that humans are capable of resurrection, the unfortunate caveat being that they become zombies. The traditional view of the zombie, or ‘undead’, is that of a mindless automaton that eats ‘brains’. This is of course a sexed up Hollywood stereotype. Prudent zombies are thought to be every bit as clued up on the dangers of hematophagy as a disease vector as we are, and are more discriminate in their consumption of blood products these days for the risk of HIV.
The one bit of evidence in support of this theory is that zombies are unhindered by serious blood loss. It is thought that Jesus’ own blood loss would have been prodigious due to his hemophilia which he would have inevitably inherited due to the eons of inbreeding kicked off by Adam and Eve.
Possibility #2 - Jesus was an immortal wizard
Alternatively, it is possible that, like Gandalf, Jesus was a wizard who couldn’t die, even after falling from a very great height and then climbing back up that very great height, all the while hacking and slashing at a demon wrought from smoke and fire.
Yeah, that'd be cool.
Possibility #3 - Jesus never lived
Possibility #3 - Jesus never lived
We must also recognize the chance that Jesus never lived in the first place. The so-called 'Jesus Myth' hypothesis, popularized by certain scholars of the ancient Middle East, states that the historical person of Jesus Christ was most likely an inanimate sack of flour, or perhaps a scarecrow. Accordingly, the physical attribute of never being alive would have made death less of a problem for Jesus, and crucifixion a mild inconvenience at most.
It's all coming together...
The only complication still being researched by scientists is a linguistic one. The problem is it is not known whether 'to resurrect' is a reflexive verb. Those who argue a subject can resurrect itself have some explaining to do, as it is generally thought that dead people are incapable of acting out verbs.
Please feel free to read the other articles in the ‘Miracles’ series:
Part I - Is Jesus out of blood by now?
Part II - How hard is it for virgins to give birth?