I got this interesting email in response to last week’s article about biblical inerrancy:
Faith will guide you Sir. If there are a lot of accounts on what transpired during the finding of the rolled stone of the tomb of Jesus – one thing is common – Resurrection! the basis of Christianity. Nothing in this world is perfect. Only God is perfect. The Church is both holy and sinful. It is an illusion to seek for the perfect Bible.
Engr. Cristy G. Gallano
Thanks for writing, Cristy. I appreciate your effort and sincerity. Allow me to respond to your letter sentence by sentence for you and our other readers to see where I’m coming from. Perhaps this will give you some additional insight about how I think and approach these matters and hopefully lead to better understanding.
Faith will guide you
I have written before about why I do not find faith to be a valid method of approaching reality (see my article on Why Faith Is Not A Virtue for a more extensive discussion).
To sort of summarize, faith is not part of my epistemology, or my way of acquiring knowledge. In my own experience, I resort to faith only when I have no way of getting good data on a certain matter, or when there is no time to think things through and process anymore. But unlike the author of Hebrews who proclaims that faith is the “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” I have no such assurance nor conviction.
Faith has never been a reliable guide. I have often made terrible decisions when I relied on faith when I should instead have relied on reason and common sense. But I believe I have given faith its due. I have tested it for many years of my life and found it sorely lacking. At best, it is wishful thinking, pretending to be sure of something you’re not really sure about — or as Peter Boghossian puts it, “pretending to know things you do not know.”
So I’m sorry but my experience tells me not to trust in faith anymore. It is reason that I have chosen to be my guide.
One thing is common – Resurrection! The basis of Christianity
My comparison of the four verses last week was not to refute the resurrection story, but to show discrepancies in the different accounts. However, your point seems to be that the small details do not matter since they all agree that the resurrection indeed happened.
So let me tell you why I find the resurrection improbable (not impossible, mind you but highly unlikely). I can only make one point for now (and maybe have a more robust discussion in a future article) and that point is a direct quote from Carl Sagan who said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
If I claim to have a hundred pesos in my pocket, you would have no cause to doubt me. That is an ordinary claim. You might not even require me to bring out the money but just decide to believe me outright, and there would be nothing wrong with that.
However, if I tell you that I have a laser pistol in my pocket that can shoot death rays, you would be a fool to believe me outright without asking to see it and even ask for a demonstration.
Now, let’s see the circumstances surrounding the resurrection. To claim that someone rose from the dead is certainly an extraordinary claim. What evidence do we have for it?
Well, you have your four gospels, which I have already pointed out, is riddled with contradictions. The scholarly consensus is also that they are anonymous. They were not written by the names they bear.
One would think that such a momentous event would merit the mention of contemporary historians of that time. Indeed, if we are to believe the book of Matthew, it wasn’t just Jesus who rose from the dead but many people did. Matthew 27:51-53: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. One may possibly overlook one man rising from the dead, but a whole town? And no Roman or any outsider thought to write about it?
Christians are fond of using Josephus and Tacitus as non-biblical references of Jesus. Yet, if you read the few sentences they mention about Jesus, it is almost just in passing. There is no mention that he rose from the dead. That is hardly convincing and extraordinary evidence for such an extraordinary event.
Nothing in this world is perfect
You are most probably correct in this statement.
Only God is perfect
But for this, I would ask, “How do you know? Have you seen this God? Have you met him and ascertained that he is indeed perfect?” If I were to base it on my experience of the world, I find that statement highly doubtful.
The Church is both holy and sinful
I neither call anything holy nor sinful, except as symbolic terms. Holiness or sinfulness has no meaning for me apart from being alternative words for good and evil.
It is an illusion to seek for the perfect Bible
Perhaps, but I used to believe the Bible as a gateway to truth, and many people are still under that illusion. I am merely telling my story and I know that it has resonated with a few others who have written to me saying they are comforted by the idea that someone else has articulated what they have bottled up in their own private thoughts.
I do not share my story to change the minds of those who do not think like me. I share it so that those who already think as I do, know and are comforted that they are not alone.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.
Erratum: The original article in Sunstar makes reference to Matthew 28:51-53. That should be Matthew 27:51-53.
Andy Uyboco is sinfully holy. If you kill him, he will rise again as a wooly mammoth after 233,594,348 days. You may leave a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.