Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the person in charge of the banquet.” So they took it. (NRSV)
Robert Rucker wrote a paper. The Disappearance of Jesus’ Body – Part 2: Physical Considerations.
So when Jesus’ body disappeared from the tomb, the atoms, including the neutrons, protons, and electrons in the atoms, had to disappear from the tomb. While understanding that God is the ultimate cause of Jesus’ resurrection and thus of the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb, it is legitimate to consider various physical processes or mechanisms that were operative in the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb, such as the following options:
1. The molecules in Jesus’ body broke into their constituent atoms which then passed through the shroud and into the walls of the tomb.
2. The atoms in Jesus’ body disintegrated into their neutrons, protons, and electrons, which passed through the shroud and into the walls of the tomb.
3. The atoms in Jesus’ body disintegrated, with the entire mass of his body being converted into energy – specifically electromagnetic energy such as light, ultraviolet, and X-rays. The photons of this electromagnetic energy penetrated through the shroud and into the walls of the tomb.
4. The atoms in Jesus’ body disintegrated, with the entire mass of his body being converted into neutrinos and anti-neutrinos which would have penetrated through the shroud and through the walls of the tomb.
5. Jesus’ body was transported out of the shroud and the tomb into some other location in this physical universe by a wormhole.
6. Jesus’ body disappeared from inside the shroud by a transition into an alternate dimensionality.
7. Jesus’ body disappeared by an unknown mechanism not related to, and not an extrapolation of any known physical phenomenon or law of physics.
Spoiler alert: Just in case you are planning to stop here and read Bob’s paper before finishing what I wrote, he favors number 6, which is too bad because I was hoping it would be the wormhole. If you want to know why, you will need to read Bob’s reasoning. If you want to understand it you will certainly need to be a whole lot smarter than I am.
I’m not sure if Bob’s list of seven possibilities includes John Jackson’s idea of Jesus becoming mechanically transparent or Frank Tipler’s process of resurrection as a form of electroweak quantum tunneling. I say this mainly because I don’t understand anything about what I am writing about.
Certainly, Bob’s list omits my favorite New York Catholic priest and skeptic-of-the-Shroud of Turin. He put it something like this (reconstructed):
Dematerializing is not resurrection. Nor is exiting the tomb. Nor is animation. Resurrection is very much also about being conscious, being aware and being awake. If you wish to prove Resurrection you must prove everything about it. . . . I see a glorified Christ rising, first just to his knees while he prays to our Father, then victoriously upright, his burial wrappings now turned into brilliant colorful robes. In fact, in my mind, I don’t think the Resurrection happened in the tomb at all. Jesus was buried in a tomb and indeed the tomb was empty on Easter. But Christ, in my imagination, awoke and rose to his knees and then his feet in the garden near Mary Magdalen. Why not?
The following water-into-wine analogy illustrates what I have come to believe about miracles: The measure of a miracle is the result, not the process. There are no moments, no arrows of time in a miracle. Time explicitly does not exist. There is no moment when a miracle has started but not yet ended. There is no moment when water is in the process of becoming wine. There is no moment when carbon atoms, that do not exist in water but are essential to wine, are becoming carbon. The carbon, normally found in the wine we drink, was created sometime well after the Big Bang in red giant stars, which in their dying, compressed with enough force to fuse a helium-4 nucleus with a beryllium-8 nucleus. It made its way into our gravitation trap over eons, to our earth in particular, well before the first plant or creature emerged. We and good wine share some very ancient atoms.
So, to my way of thinking, there are two ways to change water into wine: 1) nature’s way which includes crushing and fermenting grapes (wine is still 85% water after all) or 2) God’s way at Cana, which ignores nature altogether and is beyond our ability to comprehend. What was water is suddenly wine. There was no swapping in and out of atoms or molecules or anything. There was no process at all. Water was water and then it was wine. There was no moment when the water was becoming. Scripture, if you take it quite literally, seems to be intentionally telling us this.
Can we imagine fish and bread forming by atoms pouring in from someplace over the horizon during the feeding of the multitude? Or was the food just there as needed? It seems starkly free of any process. Are we to imagine a process when a man’s eyesight is being healed, partially healed after one second and the rest of the way healed after two, three, four?
I’m guessing that the Resurrection is supra-conceptually so. I’m thinking, a gazillion times more amazing.
If the Resurrection is real and it was physical, which is what I believe, then it seems to me that Jesus’ body was in the tomb and then it wasn’t. He did not walk out, fly out, stream out, dematerialize, go through a wormhole or visit some other dimension. At least not necessarily. Nor did a cloth fall through a mechanically transparent body. There was no motion at all as there was no time for that. There was no vacuum where Jesus had been, not even for an instant. And as there was no time, there were no neutrons emitting or being absorbed. There was no process of resurrection. There was only a before and after.