Since it is Easter I thought I would take a look at the messages from two Christian big hitters, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
They both called for peace in the Middle East and expressed the hope that Christianity can help the peace process. I reckon that one thing Middle East doesn’t need is more religion but hey, this is a laudable enough hope and I wouldn’t criticise either of them for expressing it.
I have to say that a lot of what Dr Rowan Williams says passed me by. I often simply cannot understand what he is saying. It’s English, but I still can’t figure it out. I would be genuinely grateful if a Christian could translate it into Plain English for me. In return I’ll help them out with any bits from Richard Dawkins books they might be struggling with.
This being Easter, as you would expect, both messages featured the resurrection. The Pope saying “And lo, on the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, the tomb is found empty. Jesus then shows himself to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to his disciples.”
They also both seem to claim that Christianity completely depends on the resurrection being a factual, historic event. The Pope again “Dear brothers and sisters! If Jesus is risen, then – and only then – has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world.” And the archbishop “Easter makes a claim not just about a potentially illuminating set of human activities but about an event in history and its relation to the action of God. Very simply, in the words of this morning’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we are told that ‘God raised Jesus to life.‘”
This might not seem too surprising but think again about what they are saying – If the literal resurrection is not a historical fact our religion is false. No equivocation, no metaphor, factual, historical resurrection or nothing! This is a brave and rare claim!
But then, in the next paragraph, Dr Williams dashes all my hopes as usual as he says “How do we know that it is true? Not by some final knock-down would-be scientific proof, but by the way it works in us through the long story of a whole life and the longer story of the life of the community that believes it.”
So – the resurrection is an objective fact, not because of evidence, because we all believe it. Faith trumps everything as usual.
The archbishop’s very own logic dictates that hundreds of years ago the world was really flat – because everyone believed it was. Odin, Zeus, and Aphrodite, all of them real – when enough people believed in them.
This IMHO is the basic problem with the religious mind-set. It simply doesn’t understand what the words fact and evidence mean!
If I have misunderstood what the Archbishop meant, please send me an explanation. Plain English only – if I can’t understand the first paragraph, I won’t read the second.
Happy Easter – enjoy the pagan, equinox-eggs.