Would any scientific discovery make you lose your faith?

If the bones of Jesus were found then the Christian Faith falls (1 Corinthians 15).

Other than that - I can’t see any scientific finding that would make me lose my faith. My faith is centred in Jesus and His resurrection.

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What I want to add to Mervin is something that I just realized, although it is so blatantly obvious: There is just no way to satisfy every believer in their view on creation, which is why I should try to not make such claims as to what scientific discovery would challenge it. Two examples:

  1. Simon Conway Morris and Ian Tattersall (I know that he is an atheist, but I count him in the same category of interesting atheists as e.g. Thomas Nagel). In a discussion Tattersall concluded that a creator god would show low creativity if aliens would turn out to look or to be like us.
  2. This example is more fitting to this discussion here because what @heddle argues to shatter his faith is the same thing that cosmologist Gerald Cleaver argues is what follows from the infinite christian God in this Interview and in this article on Christianity Today (paywall)
    [added by moderator: You can try this link for the CT article]

Edit: Thank you @Christy!

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Yours maybe, but not mine.

According to Paul in 1 Cor 15, Jesus was bodily resurrected not to a physical or natural body bound by the laws of nature made of the stuff of the earth and thus weak and perishible, but to a spiritual body made of the stuff of heaven and thus powerful and imperishable, which can appear in a room without opening the door and able to go to the Father in Heaven. God is spirit, and thus spirit is the far greater, substantial reality and infinitely more capable than this physical simulation of atoms according to mathematical laws of space and time. So I don’t see how any bones of Jesus’ physical body has anything whatsoever to do with the bodily resurrection of Jesus to the life giving spirit described by Paul.

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Hmmm, so you’re suggesting that when Jesus appeared to the Apostles in the upper room, and then to Thomas with the marks of the crucifixion…that was not a physical resurrection? The the body that bore the marks of the crucifixion which He showed to Thomas was not the body that was on the cross?

Are you saying something different than the Gnostics?

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God did not want to leave the material body of Jesus behind; to be used and abused. The angels came down to the burial chamber, and with the power of God, they dissolved Jesus’ physical body. When Jesus returned from His victory over Satan on Easter Sunday, the same angels helped Jesus manifest His spirit body so the disciples could see HIm. This process was not yet complete when Mary came to the tomb and it was dangerous for her to be there. This is why Jesus sent her away. His spirit body is more beautiful and that is why they did not recognize Him and how he passed through locked doors. But since the spirit bears the same injuries as the physical body, His spiritual wounds had not yet healed, and these could be seen by His disciples. (Ian Stevens and Jim Tucker have documented scientific evidence of the phenomenon of the spirit carrying injury into a new life.)


Ref: Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (Stevenson 1997)

First it is not about what I am suggesting but what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 15. Did you read it? Or do you even have a copy of the Bible? I only ask because when someone gives me a Bible verse I automatically look it up and read it for myself so I can see both the context and how it reads in my translation.

Second, it depends on what you mean by physical. There are two definitions of the word.

  1. pertaining to the body as opposed to the mind.
  2. pertaining to the natural sciences or laws of nature.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says the resurrection is a bodily resurrection to a spiritual body not a physical or natural body. Thus it is pretty clear that Paul is saying it is physical in the sense of the first definition but not physical in the sense of the second definition.

Ah! So you believe that Jesus could heal the blind, lame and festering sores, make them see, walk, and whole again, but couldn’t heal Himself of a few wounds? Interesting! What I believe is that Jesus had those wounds ONLY because Thomas expected to see them and because Thomas said he wouldn’t believe unless Jesus had those wounds. But in that case, does the presence of those wound really tell us ANYTHING about the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body? I don’t think so! Or do you envision resurrection and the kingdom of God as a zombie apocalypse of rotting corpses crawling out of graves and having a party? How bizarre!

You might like to make your Xtianity to fit the teachings of the Gnostics, with a gospel of salvation by knowledge of dogma, a nasty creator, and the insertion of souls into bodies, but I purge all such elements of Gnosticism from the Christianity I am willing to accept, with a gospel of salvation by the grace of God and a creator who does what is in our best interest because He loves us. And the physical world is not a prison for pre-existent souls but a womb for the conception and growth of the spirit. As Paul says in the 1 Cor 15, “But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.”

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After reading many of these comments I realize that for me it seems like the only thing that could shake my faith in the realm of science, (which I translate as absolute undeniable reality) is if when I die, or even during life, a world altering spiritual revelation aka other all knowing god or something presents him/herself as non refutable evidence that Christ is not real.
However for me, the paradox in that is that doubt can afflict my day to day personal faith as I study my bible and try to wrap my head around the literal Jonah, Tower of Babel, or reality of the devil with a pitch fork etc.
Lately I rarely fail to do a Bible study every morning and I pray and I speak to the Lord as I struggle with these doubts. Yet when I go out in the world I always feel and know the truth in my heart, that the Lord is real and He is with me.
Strange but true lol
How would the atheist view that response to his question and would he post my answer? Maybe he would be happy to (that’s my guess)

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Greetings friend: Yes, thanks be to God, I do have a bible. I have, and did, read 1 Cor. 15. I count it as one of the most important passages in the Scriptures. You will find, and I suspect you have already, that many people who do indeed have bibles, and who have spent quite a bit of time reading them, will disagree with you here.

It seems to me that I am (as well as the majority of the Church for 2000 years) disagreeing with what you are asserting St. Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 15 regarding the resurrected body of Jesus. That Jesus’ body was glorified in the resurrection is clear. After the resurrection Jesus made full use of His divinity (we get a glimpse or preview of this in the Transfiguration when His divinity shines through His humanity). That in the resurrection it was the body that was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and was buried, and on the third day rose again…is what Christians have believed always and everywhere.

I’m not sure how to respond to this, to be honest. However, I agree with your assessment of the bizarre.

I wasn’t suggesting that I find myself in league with the Gnostics. I dare say you will find me rather boringly in line with the historic orthodox Christian Faith and reject the same ancient heresies. I was inquiring if you perhaps hold to a Gnostic perspective, because of what I interpreted from what you had written as a rejection of the material. I was also wondering if perhaps a Docetic view was influencing you as well? Perhaps not, but it crossed my mind. I am pleased to find that we are of one mind when it comes to the Gnostic claims.

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This sounds like what many Hindus believe. However, they also believe that breaking out of that cycle is the endgame. It is not like the same thing happens over and over again, it can’t because each time some souls break free. It’s an interesting version of “salvation” with being stuck in the cycle of birth-death as “hell”.

It would not cause me to question my faith in God. It would cause be to re-evaluate Christianity. I may have to look at Gudhi’s view of many ways to truth in such a case.

Again I would have to say, not me, such an experience would not alter my faith. Lot of Christians talk like their trump card is, when you die then you will know we is right and you is wrong. But I really don’t see why some voice from the sky or someone claiming to be God should be believable as if special effects could somehow make something true. To me that just sounds like a fancy con. What makes something true in my book isn’t putting on a good show but sound reasoning.

So I have no problem imagining myself confronted after death with all sorts of nasty gods of the Romans, Norse, and various muslim and fundy Xtian cults trying to dictate various things to me. And that is when I join Sisyphus and the atheists to give those devil-gods my middle finger. And meanwhile since I do believe, I will be giving my praise to the one God of love and freedom who is worthy of belief – and who demonstrated His choice for love rather than power by becoming a helpless human infant to grow up as one of us.

You are probably thinking, here is a guy who will not submit to God. But it is just that power doesn’t impress me, for the devil has power enough to make me a bug by comparison, and I will not bow to that. Morality is another matter, however, and that is why the God I believe in will have me with my face on ground quite easily.

Yes, it seems that many who call themselves Xtian like to pick and choose, so they mostly don’t even read the Bible but just listen to others telling them what it says. But it is kind of funny that when it comes to 1 Cor 15 that usually means ignoring practically everything Paul says.

Friend, this is just ad hominem argumentation. It’s not an argument to say that if people disagree with you, in fact the vast majority over the last 2000 years, on how we are to understand St. Paul in 1 Cor 15 is because they “pick and choose,” “don’t read the bible,” and “ignore practically everything Paul says.” This is hardly a charitable approach. Nor, I dare say, a reasonable argument.

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Even in John’s vision, Jesus bears His physical scars:

Revelation 5:6 6Then I saw a Lamb , looking as if it had been slain , standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

I think it was Rachel Held Evans that said once someone has no hope in a good God, one loses interest in finding God.

I have simply been quoting Paul or telling you read what he wrote, while you keep making up things, not only about what I say but also about what some so called majority of the Church for 2000 years has said. But if one looks for oneself at what Christians have said about 1 Cor 15, like Thomas Aquinas (13th century and John Chrysostom (4th century), it is easy to see this is utter nonsense. And these are simply the first that I could find writing about 1 Cor 15 and not by any effort to find people who agreed with me. They take the Bible most seriously and at its word and are not driven by this rather recent insanity of reactionary fundamentalism which tries to make the Bible contrary to the findings of science in every way possible.

What we find in Aquinas is an explanation that the physical or natural body which Paul says is NOT our resurrected body is a body like those of the animals using the adjective “animality” which we have by virtue of our relationship to and inheritance from Adam. Whereas the spiritual body is like that of the Holy Spirit, a principle of spiritual life which we have from Christ. The physical natural body is, as said by both Paul and Aquinas, of the earth made of dust with the life of the animals, but the spiritual body is of a divine nature like the things of heaven with the life of grace and likened to the life giving spirit of Christ.

Next we can turn to the 4th century and John Chrystostom. John focuses on how the life of the physical natural body depends on the soul and how when the soul is departed, the flesh cannot hold together anymore. But the resurrected body is a spiritual body and thus of the very essence which gives life. And then he goes on at length regarding our sadness for those departed and tells us to rejoice for these are like the seeds planted in the fields so that they can find new life, recalling the book of Job and how everything was taken from him so that Job could be given more abundantly than before. But John does specifically address the skepticism we may have about the resurrected body being spiritual in nature, supposing that it might be lighter and more subtle and thus blown away into the air, but then tells us to remember the heavenly bodies like the stars which are glorious, durable and tranquil and thus God can make the spiritual body so much better than these we have which are visible.

But lets clarify that my purpose here is NOT to say that we must agree with these earlier attempts to understand the Bible for they are very much influenced by notions which are disproved by the findings of science and influenced by pagan philosophies which can be greatly improved upon as well, for there is certainly no need to buy into the medieval notion that the knowledge and opinions of the ancients is necessarily superior. The purpose is only to disprove the claim made by mlkluther and others that their attempt to discount the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 is supported by 2000 years of Christians agreeing with them just because this is the dogma they have heard all 50 or so years of their life.

Now we know from science that the physical natural body is animated by physical principles rather than by the pagan notion of a transmigrating soul inserted into the body. Nor do I agree with Chrysostom that the spiritual body is lighter, less substantial, less visible, or indeed lesser in any way at all but that since God is spirit, then clearly the spirit is the greater and the more substantial reality. Thus the spiritual body Paul talks about is greater in every way than the natural body. I also to don’t agree with Aquinas when he tries to incorporate NeoPlatonic thinking to compare the spiritual body to the things of the mind, though I think his identification of the physical natural body with bodies of the animals is right on target.

Obviously this is not what Christians have believed always because Paul didn’t believe this. He made it quite clear that first we have a physical natural body and this body dies and when resurrected we have a spiritual body. He then explain the differences in considerable detail. The physical natural body is perishable, weak and made of the stuff of the earth, while the spiritual body is imperishable, powerful, and made of the stuff of heaven. But these differences Paul points out are particular and thus there is no reason to think the spiritual resurrected body is different in every way and so we can ask, in what ways was the resurrected body of Jesus the same as the body born of Mary then buried and crucified and what ways was it different? Well it may not have been made of the same stuff according to Paul, but it was nevertheless recognizable, so we can say it was the same shape, and it can be of the same appearance though at times it might be shining with divine light or even invisible sometimes as John Chrysostom suggests.

No support is given in the Bible or by the Christian fathers for the anti-science irrationality which claims it is the same body as in the grave and made of the same matter even though in life we know that the body is constantly replacing everything – not just all the cells replaced in 7 years, with all your skin replaced in only 2-4 weeks, but the substance of the cells themselves replaced constantly in its repairs so that 98% of the matter of your body is replaced every year from the food we eat, water we drink, and the air we breathe.

Dear Mitchell, It would be good to clarify the spiritual anatomy for this discussion. The spirit body comes through Jesus and the spark of eternal life comes from God. The soul is the container that holds this spark of life. It also holds our virtues and vices. For a pure spirit, like Jesus, there is nothing dampening His spark as it does for us humans. A human consists of physical body and a coincidental spiritual body. The spirit is what gives the physical body life through the silver cord that connects the two. Once the cord is cut, the physical body dies and the spiritual body lives on. When Jesus’ physical body died on the cross, He lived further in spirit, as we all do. Our appearance, in spirit, after death is similar to our physical appearance. A ghost, is a spirit who does not recognize he/she is dead because they see no difference in their appearance.

And yes, the neoplatonist view of the soul is not the same as Plato’s. And the spirit is superior, in that it is immortal, and can only be destroyed by God’s flame.

I wonder if, perhaps, we’re actually saying the same thing here. Or, more likely, I’ve communicated poorly.

As we confess in the Apostles’ Creed “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” I agree that the resurrected body is glorified. On the Last Day when Jesus returns and there is the bodily resurrection the dead will be raised in glory. It is not simply the body as it is. Is this what you’re saying?

So, this is Gnosticism. This is not, as I understand it, what @mitchellmckain is saying.

No, this is based on modern research.

I’m not qualified to be able to enter into that area of discussion. However, I’d like to better understand your claim.

Are you claiming that modern scientific research has something to say about “spiritual bodies living on” and “ghosts?” I don’t ask to be argumentative - I’m truly curious.

It might help to go back to where this began which was the idea of yours that if archaeologists found the bones of Christ then the faith of Christianity would be no more. But my faith would not be effected by this at all because I don’t see why the resurrected spiritual body talked about by Paul has any need whatsoever of these bones or of any of the stuff of which the physical natural body was made, which science knows to be constantly recycled anyway.

I am not really sure where the things Shawn talks about are coming from, but it doesn’t sound like any Gnosticism I have heard about before. But to be sure there was considerable variation in what the Gnostics were teaching.

From Wikipedia

These systems believed that the material world is created by an emanation or ‘works’ of a lower god (Demiurge), trapping the divine spark within the human body. This divine spark could be liberated by gnosis, spiritual knowledge acquired through direct experience. Some of the core teachings include the following:

  1. All matter is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
  2. There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
  3. The creator of the (material) universe is not the supreme god, but an inferior spirit (the Demiurge).
  4. Gnosticism does not deal with “sin”, only ignorance.
  5. To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with gnosis .

I certainly tend to generalize some of these and associate the following with Gnosticism:

  • The insertion of a pre-existent spark or soul into the body.
  • All the physical/bodily aspects of life are evil and to be rejected.
  • Characterizations of the creator as a selfish, unforgiving, sadistic monster.
  • A gospel of salvation by special knowledge such as doctrine.

While what seems to trigger your idea of Gnosticism seems to be any suggestion that the spiritual (heavenly) is greater than the physical (earthly)… which I think is a little bizarre.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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