Something that’s come up a bit recently, mostly in Facebook conversations, is the issue of people raising others from the dead. Something I find fascinating is that charismatic Christians love to make claims such as, “raising people from the dead is now commonplace,” and “God raises another from the dead!” On the face of it, without any investigation, these claims seem remarkable. If they are true, it seems, this would change everything. Verifiable cases of raising a human being from the dead would be revolutionary.
Here’s one such testimonial that I stumbled across this morning on the Bethel Church website.
“Jon was driving on the freeway on Father’s Day with his cousin from Chicago, who had prayed the night before that God would use him. They were driving to Jon’s church on Sunday morning. There was a lot of traffic, and he saw two policemen zoom by on his right. There was a big accident. One car was on fire on the shoulder, its front smashed in. The other car also had a smashed front. Two guys were giving CPR to a woman on the ground, her boyfriend and someone else. The cops were already there, but the paramedics weren’t there yet. Jon and his cousin somehow were able to lay hands on her. As Jon was taking her pulse, she died in front of him. So he and his cousin started praying in tongues. Jon saw her spirit and an angel and demon fighting over it. God showed him that her soul was on the line, so Jon was contending for her. Twenty minutes later, she was alive! The policemen kept trying to get him to move away, but he wouldn’t. He kept contending for her soul.”
There are a few points in this story that have emerged as very common themes in any of the so-called resurrection stories I’ve read lately. First, the resurrection occurs in a relatively brief period of time after the supposed death — twenty minutes in this case. Second, the resurrected person was declared “dead” by someone with little or no medical expertise, and by someone with a strong motive for confirmation bias. Third, the stories are anecdotal and completely unverifiable.
We can see themes expressed very clearly in this particular case. First, the testimony claims that “twenty minutes” after death, the victim was alive again. Obviously, there was no way that it could be confirmed that the victim was indeed dead, except by the person writing the testimony. That leads directly to the second theme: the suggestion that simply because a passerby could not feel the victim’s pulse, the victim was therefore dead, is a complete non sequitur. Accurately detecting a pulse is actually something of a fine skill, particularly in a frantic situation, such as the one describe above. Thus, it is entirely plausible that the victim was never indeed without a pulse. And, of course, there is absolutely to verify the truth or accuracy of this story in any way.
Also note that the story does not state whether the “two guys” who were giving CPR ever stopped.
So, we can see that the rational explanation for these events, if the story is to believed at all, makes a hell of a lot more sense than a supernatural one.
More on resurrections in the future.