Over on Mark’s blog a few weeks ago, there was some fun when a fundamentalist atheist troll by the name of “Jon Peters” came flaming along. (Conversation rescued from Haloscan)
The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, if it were true, would violate numerous scientific laws and principles.
— Jon Peters
Reality trumps “numerous scientific laws and principles.” If it happened, it happened — regardless of whether there’s a scientific model for it. Data precedes theory, at least in good (and rational) science.
Mark is entirely correct — the ancients did not have to have derived relativity and be versed in double-blind experiments to know fundamentally that dead men do not walk again. (Any more than they needed knowledge of microbiology to know that virgins do not, in the general course of events, conceive — at least while remaining virgins.)
G. K. Chesterton says it better than I would:
But my belief that miracles have happened in human history is not a mystical belief at all; I believe in them upon human evidences as I do in the discovery of America. Upon this point there is a simple logical fact that only requires to be stated and cleared up. Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder. The plain, popular course is to trust the peasant’s word about the ghost exactly as far as you trust the peasant’s word about the landlord. Being a peasant he will probably have a great deal of healthy agnosticism about both. Still you could fill the British Museum with evidence uttered by the peasant, and given in favour of the ghost. If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant’s story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism — the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence — it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain miracles of mediaeval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that they occurred. All argument against these plain facts is always argument in a circle. If I say, “Mediaeval documents attest certain miracles as much as they attest certain battles,” they answer, “But mediaevals were superstitious”; if I want to know in what they were superstitious, the only ultimate answer is that they believed in the miracles. If I say “a peasant saw a ghost,” I am told, “But peasants are so credulous.” If I ask, “Why credulous?” the only answer is — that they see ghosts. Iceland is impossible because only stupid sailors have seen it; and the sailors are only stupid because they say they have seen Iceland.
— G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Jon, undaunted, continued on, ignoring my wit (and worse, GKC’s) but lecturing one and all on rationality and science. This counted as a bad move, especially because a number of readers actually are familiar with the findings of modern science — unlike Jon himself, who let loose with this howler:
Prove that there is a privileged frame of reference using modern science,
I just did. The masses of the two bodies are not equal. Thus, their relative motion is not equal. Thus, the earth orbits the sun. The sun does not orbit the earth.
And my amused (and probably less than charitable) reply:
I am stunned.
I was already amazed to see such a prime specimen of 19th-century Scientific Triumphalism™ in full plumage here at the beginning of the post-post-modern 21st century.
But now, I find that Jon actually believes in ether!
A rare find! Someone call H. G. Wells, his time machine has been stolen!
Hint: Try googling for Michelson Morley. It’s pretty cutting edge stuff, the data was only collected in 1887. Kind of fringe too, it only got Michelson the first Nobel in science to be awarded to an American.
For extra credit, try reading up on “photoelectic effect” and “special relativity” — especially the part about “no priviledged frame of reference.”
(I always knew freshman chemistry would be good for something. I just didn’t it would be this …)