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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Is the Resurrection of Jesus a Falsifiable Prediction?

Atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists like to tout this claim about the so-called scientific theory: it can be repeatedly tested and, hence, verified. Scientific theory can as well make falsifiable predictions. I understand their use of the term. It is not the same as in the popular sense which views theory as something which is unsubstantiated and speculative. So, we do not need to chase down that rabbit. I am not going to take issue with their use of the term. I accept their use of the term and will abide by it in this article. Let’s keep in mind that repeated testing of a theory does not equate to replication of whatever is being tested nor does it require the replication of that which is being tested in order for it to be considered verifiable or falsifiable.


Also, I am not going to take issue with the claim that an aspect of the natural world can be repeatedly tested. Yes, all things ought to be subjected to testing.
Certainly, verification through rigorous testing such ISO in the business and manufacturing sectors is highly valued. However, it does beg the question, how is that an accomplishment? How does that build knowledge? Advocates of scientific theory tout it as far more than a method of investigation.  The work of scientific theory is akin to repeatedly testing a battery charge which will go from a positive charge to a negative charge eventually; a process of degradation on which the tester causes no significant effect. It is akin to the educational system which touts that its students passed a test, but have those students learned anything substantive beyond the facts which were necessary for them to learn in order to pass the test? My purpose is not to criticize scientific theory, although it is not above criticism and scrutiny. My purpose is to apply the scrutiny of a falsifiable prediction to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.


What can scientific theory reveal about death?
Atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists expend much time and energy theorizing and testing. Generally, those areas of theorizing and testing involve either the vastly remote and infinitely distant in terms of billions of light years, the vastly long ago such as the beginning of the universe billions of years ago or the microscopically minute of molecular biology. Certainly, these areas of focus are important areas for study, but they are not exactly foremost in the daily lives of people. So, here is something which does affect all human beings regardless of whether they are atheists, theists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists: it is death.


How does one test death to determine whether it leads to, according to nihilists, the annihilation of a human being at the time of death? Fundamental scientific knowledge tells us that there is nothing, for example a rock, which can be annihilated. It may cease to be visible and palpable, but it is not annihilated. The stored energy which was the rock is merely transformed into the energy of disassociated subatomic particles. This can be repeatedly tested with other things such as water or steel. Theoretically, the atomic makeup of the rock remains in the universe and can be recomposed in the form of a rock, again. What the application of the method of scientific theory reveals about death is that death is the catalyst by which life, as energy in a human body suit, is transformed, and like the disassociated subatomic particles of the energy of a rock, it is capable of being recomposed.  Life is no less capable than a rock of being transformed. This is the easy part.


The interesting point about this much touted bit of scientific information concerning the transformation from the state of static, solid matter of a rock into dynamic energy is that it is not applied to human beings when they die. This raises a couple of questions:


1   How is it that an inanimate, lifeless object with its vast atomic information such as a rock can not be made to cease to exist?

2   Yet, a human being with a vastly complex chemical and atomic makeup and a wealth of knowledge information of itself and its environment ceases to exist as though, according to the conclusions of atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists, it never existed in this world?


This nihilism neither reflects nor reveals the work of scientific theory nor the result of repeated testing to determine whether death is a falsifiable prediction. This is the hard challenge. The query continues.


Is the resurrection of Jesus a falsifiable prediction?
I expect that the question about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead would likely summon all manner of cynicism and mockery. This is not a surprise. However, do not be deceived or dazzled so as to mistake cynicism and mockery with the diligent work of scientific theory and repeated testing to determine whether death or the resurrection are falsifiable predictions.


If the atomic elements which make up a rock can theoretically and predictably come together again to form a rock, then a similar predictability would be no less true of a human being as another object in the universe when it dies. Scientists know and deal in the realm of events, such as the beginning of the universe, which cannot be replicated in the lab. The theories concerning the beginning of the universe may or may not be true. The scientist can only work within the realm of theory and with theory as a search tool. He does not need to replicate the beginning of the universe in the lab in order to conclude whether it is or is not falsifiable. The conclusion, or the results of testing of a theory, lead him to declare that repeated testing of theories concerning the beginning of the universe reveal that those tests do not and likely will not lead to a falsifiable prediction concerning the beginning of the universe. This is the understandable work of scientific theory. (Here is a brief interesting article concerning the big bang and the beginning of the universe. See A. Penzias and R. Wilson on their discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background [CMB].)


Theory is the same resource available for the scientist to frame and explain his examination concerning the resurrection event of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus, not unlike the beginning of the universe, does not need to be replicated by the scientist. The work of repeated testing is to determine whether or not the resurrection is a falsifiable prediction.


Jesus stated publicly to friend and foe alike that he would die and be buried and that he would rise again from the dead. He stated that he would rise up from the dead on the third day following his death by crucifixion. Essentially, Jesus revealed that he knew and had the code, that is, the scientific information, the authority, to take up his life from the grip of death and to rise up again. There were others, as is often noted derisively, before and after Jesus who made similar claims. The question is here are they now? Their passing and their claims about their own death, burial and resurrection are like the rock when it is obliterated. They were cast from this life into death without ever substantiating or fulfilling their claims.


The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is what reveals that death is a falsifiable prediction.
What Jesus demonstrated is that death has no power, hence, it is a falsifiable prediction.
Jesus revealed that the resurrection from the dead is not a falsifiable prediction.


This is not to say that death does not occur. Death does occur. However, the point of the scripture is precisely counter to the mocking notion of atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists that the grave of death is the ultimate end and existence of a human being as though he or she had never existed. This is the falsifiable prediction of death.


The resurrection of Jesus complements scientific theory
The fact is that what Jesus claimed and fulfilled concerning his death, burial and resurrection exactly complements scientific theory and scientific knowledge concerning matter and energy and that these are merely transformed. Jesus himself emerged from death with a transformed body which his disciples were able to see and touch. Hence, his claims and the fulfillment of those claims is not a falsifiable prediction. Those claims and the fulfillment of those claims mirror the same scientific theory concerning the transformation and theoretical recomposition of matter and energy. The claims and fulfillment of those claims by Jesus concerning himself is not a vastly remote, distant or obscure reality. It is a as close and real for every human being as it was for Jesus.


conclusion
The claims and the fulfillment of those claims are to Jesus what scientific theory and falsifiable predictions are to scientists. Just as scientists point out that theory is not an unsubstantiated speculation so to the claims of Jesus are not unsubstantiated speculation. The fulfillment of those claims can bear and stand up to the scrutiny of scientific theory and its repeated testing and its conclusions concerning the transformation of matter and energy. Certainly, from a human perspective those claims and theories are usually presented by their respective adherents as two totally separate and never-to-be-associated responses to life and to death, but, really, they are about the same quest of all human beings. When the claims of Jesus concerning his death, burial and resurrection in the first century were realized there was no denial of those facts. However, this does not mean that even those in the first century who experienced it and knew about the resurrection necessarily accepted the reality and the implications of the resurrection of Jesus for themselves much less mankind.

This is no different than running a test repeatedly in the twenty first century. The test results will speak for themselves, but the tester is free to accept or reject the results of those tests. He could even forge or force the test results, but this is not necessary. He has the free will to accept or deny, like those first century witnesses, what the test results reveal for him. Even the skeptical scientist knows that according to scientific theory an event, such as the beginning of the universe need not necessarily be replicated to be verifiable, true and not a falsifiable prediction. Similarly, the resurrection of Jesus need not necessarily be replicated in order to be true and verifiable and true and not a falsifiable prediction.

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