After too much wine, I guess I might imagine that dematerialization might have happened.

clip_image001Though my recent posting, The Process of Resurrection, got few comments (only 14), it did generate some emails to which I here respond without bothering to repeat the content of the emails; you’ll get the gist of them.

No, the Resurrection is not a scientific fact. No John Jackson did not prove any such thing. And no, the “fact” that Jesus walked through a closed door is not evidence that his post-resurrection body had dematerialized. Nor did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene not to touch him because he was mechanically transparent.

The Bible doesn’t even say that Jesus walked through anything. John 20:19 (New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition) reads:

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Where does it say that he walked or passed through a door or a wall? Now go read The Process of Resurrection if you haven’t already done so. Read about angels and the in-between. Understand, we are talking metaphorically.

Verse 26 doesn’t offer any support to the idea that Jesus passed through anything:

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

And verse 27 doesn’t say that Jesus had rematerialized mechanically while in the upper room with Thomas:

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”

It doesn’t say that Thomas touched Jesus.  Maybe this was history’s greatest bluff and Thomas was not only a doubter but someone who failed to call that bluff.

Verse 17 does not mean that Jesus’ body was dematerialized:

Jesus said to her “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father…

Wishful imagination is permitted. But it is only wishful imagination. The author of John’s Gospel, whoever he was, could have been more specific. And Jesus could have been clearer.

“Do not doubt but believe,” said Jesus to Thomas.

What we find in the Bible, in John’s Gospel, or in any of the Old or New Testament books, is not scientific fact. And no, it isn’t even evidence. To my way of thinking this is not only true in the fields of science but also so in the objective study of history.  It is not historical fact that Jesus appeared to anyone after his burial. Thus I don’t know if the events in the cenacle happened as John’s Gospel tells it. I don’t know if these events happened at all.

But I do believe the stories; that is a different way of thinking, altogether. I peg my faith on what I believe not on what I know to be fact.

“Do not doubt but believe,” said Jesus to Thomas.

So, I should also tell you what I don’t believe.  I don’t believe that Jesus’ body dematerialized and/or rematerialized, not as part of the Resurrection and not at any other time before the Ascension.  There is no biblical, scientific or historical basis whatsoever for thinking so.

I’m saying I don’t believe it. I’m not saying I believe it didn’t happen. The distinction is in why.

But the shroud proves dematerialization, nonetheless, right?

Wrong! The idea that Jesus’ burial cloth fell through a mechanically transparent body while something energetic created an image on the cloth is complete fantasy.  I turn to the best short answer anyone has ever written on the subject. There is nothing new in what Hugh Farey writes, just wonderfully, right-on, articulate brevity:

[You say:] “The fall-through hypothesis fits the data of the image characteristics.”

Well, of course. The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

After too much wine, I guess I might imagine dematerialization might have happened. After all, nobody can prove it didn’t.