Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Corresponding With Father

The other day I emailed a Catholic priest who is the son of an acquaintance:
Hello Fr. X,

I happened to attend a Mass you said at St. X's a year or two ago, and am just now getting around to asking you a question.  I too grew up in Z, though I think I'm a dozen years older than you.

Do you believe in Jesus' Resurrection based on evidence--or entirely based upon faith?

All the best,
Gavin Sullivan
Eden Prairie, MN
You can read his reply here.  While he quotes lengthily from Catholic authorities, here is the substantial portion he himself wrote:
You ask perhaps the most central question regarding the claims of Christianity. 

I believe Jesus rose from the dead based on faith that (1) does not contradict reason and (2) presupposes reasonable argument.
I reply:

I enjoy questioning religious people--and having them explain why they believe what they believe.

And so yes--I succinctly put to you 'perhaps the most central question regarding the claims of Christianity.'  I'm glad we agree upon the parameters and the weightiness of our topic.

I'm also pleased we're engaging, with civility and politeness, across the belief/non-belief divide.  I've long felt people who have religious disagreements should reach out across that chasm--and trade meaty questions with the smartest people from the other side.  I think it is possible we might learn important stuff as a result of such intercourse.

So--to review again--I asked you on what foundation do you base your belief in the Resurrection of Jesus?  Faith or evidence?

You believe--you reply--in the Resurrection based on faith that 'does not contradict reason.'

What do we know about the Resurrection, when we disregard magic and adopt a neutral outlook--and go wherever the historical evidence takes us?

When we engage in a purely reason based investigation, we must score the likelihood of any actual Resurrection very close to zero, no?  I mean, we have no evidence whatsoever, do we?

If you think there is one single strong piece of evidence buttressing the Resurrection, can you please bring it to my attention?

Warmest regards,

Gavin
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