Archive for Matt J. Rossano

Does Resurrection Contradict Science?

Posted in Science! with tags , , on April, 2011 by melendwyr

This is the remarkable question asked at Why Evolution Is True, in response to an unusual column at the Huffington Post.

I won’t get into the idiocy of Matt J. Rossano arguments. It’s too depressing.

I will simply point out a very important, elementary, yet often overlooked fact about our attempt to explain the universe:

Before we try to generate an explanation for something, we need to make sure it’s actually happened.

Being able to explain anything – regardless of whether it actually happens – is a profound sign that our model of the universe is wrong, and wrong in a fundamental way that cannot be repaired. We can’t make predictions, because predictions require ruling out one class of possibilities in favor of another. And it follows from this that always being able to come up with an ‘explanation’ means we can never actually say anything meaningful about reality and how it works. If we can fit anything into our model, especially lies and errors, it’s not good for much. Except pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible people, of course, possibly including ourselves. But if we’re not interested in that? Forget about it.

Can we demonstrate that any given person came back from a three-day period of metabolic inactivity, at normal temperature, after considerable decay? (Bodies decay rapidly in hot regions, which is why the traditional burial practices were and continue to be emphatic about disposing of corpses soon after death.) ‘Death’ isn’t so meaningful – it’s usually meant to indicate the point at which a person cannot be revived, and so the standards for evaluating it have changed as knowledge and technology altered the conditions which a person could endure and still be made functional. But decay?

There is no need to abolish all our standards in order to account for a counterfactual.