If Believing in the Resurrection is Dumb, Bring Me My Dunce Cap

If Believing in the Resurrection is Dumb, Bring Me My Dunce Cap April 13, 2009

Having, I am sure, read my post, Advent, Easter and Ordinary Time: Knowing the Christian Calendar, you are aware that we are now in the Easter season of the Christian year. This season lasts lasts 50 days and ends on Pentecost Sunday, which this year falls on May 31.

If we were back in Jesus’ time, today would be the first day that the resurrected God was back walking amongst us. (And being funny, too. In Luke 24, Jesus sidles up alongside two guys walking together and talking about his recent murder. “Hey, guys,” he says. “Whadd’aya talkin’ about? How come you’re so bummed?” Not hilarious, maybe—but pretty darn mischievous!)

Can you imagine? You saw the man killed. And then his tomb is empty. And then there he is again!

A lot of atheists think Christians are fundamentally (ha, ha, ha) dumb. Dumb people tend to have limited to no imagination. But we Christians sure do imagine the resurrected Christ walking around, as alive as he ever was. (And hungry! And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”—Luke 24:14.)

And seeing the risen Christ in our mind—believing that his return to life actually and truly happened—we are stunned and inspired by the … well, unimaginable power of it.

If this is dumb, bring me my dunce cap. (In extra large, still.)


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  • I'll take a dunce cap too, if you're ordering….

    About the trip to Emmaus. Why is it called that when they didn't stay. I've often called it The Long Return Trip From Jerusalem To Jerusalem. Its amazing how a short talk with Jesus will bring you right back where you belong.

    Thanks for the post.



  • Christine

    you might have to order a whole box of dunce caps lol. awesome post per usual

  • Daniel Harrell

    I'll take one of those caps too. I admit it was a real shock to learn how important Easter is compared to the rest of the year.

  • Thanks and God Bless

  • Mike: But … you have no idea how many atheists I think think Xtians are dumb. All I said is that a lot of them do. "A lot" means nothing.

    Bless you all for saying how you, too, would like a dunce cap. That's a lot of fun to hear.

    Thanks for your kind words, Greta.

    Brian: Maybe, see, you could avoid using words like "nonsense" when referring to deeply cherished views held by millions and millions of sane, decent, caring people. Not that what you're saying doesn't have a valid point that should be rationally addressed. But just that when you call people's religious system "nonsense," you kind of forfeit—at least to that considerable degree—the right to be taken as if you are being rational. You start swinging like that, and all people tend to want to do is swing back, or duck and stay down. And maybe that's all you're looking for.

  • I don’t think the resurrection is dumb, I just think it’s unnecessary.

    To me, Christianity would be a lot more appealing if it was fundamentally about what the man said, taught, and did while he was alive rather being about how he died and what happened to him after. If the most important part of Christianity was what he said in Matthew 5-8, the world would be a whole lot better place, in my opinion. Instead that’s relegated to second place (or lower) compared with the whole nonsense about dying, resurrecting, and ascending.

    >Jesus is now with us, in his most rarefied and illuminated manifestation. He is >beside us, chatting with us, asking us what we’re talking about, how we’re >feeling. And why, if we are, we’re sad.

    I don’t think that statement is dumb at all. In fact, I respect it. It makes as much sense to me that he went directly from the cross to the rarefied and illuminated manifestation with no requirement at all that he stopped back on earth to visit an In N Out Burger to needle the other customers in line.

  • Greta Sheppard

    There’s no doubt about it, John . . . you have met the resurrected Christ!

  • John: Don't be so sensitive. I thought I made a pretty respectful point about the whole thing and because I consider that one aspect of it nonsense, I don't think I should have to pull my punches.

  • Also, I'm unclear why it's okay for you to set up a strawman that the world thinks you're "dumb" and when I say I don't think you're dumb but that the emphasis your religion places on the man's death rather than his life is nonsense, then I'm being irrational.

    Other than it's your blog and not mine, of course.

  • Finally, I know it's impolite to post three in a row, but at least I have my picture and my real name finally working on here.

    You suggest it's wrong to impugn the "deeply cherished views held by millions and millions of sane, decent, caring people." I suppose that Galileo and Copernicus guys were being irrational when they challenged the deeply cherished views that the sun and the stars go around the earth. If so, count me in among those kind of irrational people.

  • I’ll take one, too.

  • “A lot of atheists think Christians are fundamentally (ha, ha, ha) dumb.”

    A lot fewer than you think John.

  • Brian: Your mama.

    No, wait, wait. Sorry.

    You were respectful in that one regard. I appreciated it, and should have said so. Sorry I didn't. But my point was that by calling Christianity nonsense, you immediately eradicate the goodwill of that kindness. It's like saying to someone, "That's a nice shirt you're wearing," and then punching them in the head. The compliment about the shirt gets eradicated by the much stronger offense.

    The death, resurrection and ascension of Christ isn't "one aspect" of Christianity. It is Christianity. You call those things nonsense, and you are saying the whole religion is nonsense.

    And dude. C'mon. Copernicus and Galileo had real, new, factual, objective, empirical INFORMATION to impart. I like you a great deal, but I think it's safe to say that proving a revolutionary truth of astrophysics and calling Christianity nonsense aren't exactly comparable.

  • John: You're the only who used the provocative language in the title of your post. You would have been okay if I had called Christianity "dumb" instead of "nonsense"? Well at least it would have confirmed the premise of your post. But that's not what I did.

    The whole point I was making (which you concede I have a point but don't bother to address it because I used my provocative word instead of yours, I guess) is that the death, resurrection and ascension SHOULD be just one aspect of Christianity, one that takes second place to the man's actual teachings. I think the Sermon on the Mount should BE Christianity while the business (is that a more neutral word for you?) about what happened after his execution should be secondary.

    Finally, you know enough history to realize that at the time of Copernicus and Galileo, the Christian church considered the cosmology of Ptolemy to be an essential part of Christianity, that to question the movement of the heavens was tantamount to questioning the Word of God. The mere use of empirical INFORMATION instead of unquestioning obedience to the Scriptures was considered un-Christlike. Copernicus, Galileo (and my personal hero) Giordano Bruno were calling the Church's cosmology "nonsense" I still associate myself with those men and their willingness to confront nonsense and call it that.

    In love, your friend


  • " it’s safe to say that proving a revolutionary truth of astrophysics and calling Christianity nonsense aren’t exactly comparable."

    I sooooo totally agree with you on that John….

    Re: the 'stupid' moniker…

    I don't have the statistics, but I hear 'stupid' being brought up far far more from the theistic side that the non-theistic side. I think you do yourself a disservice by using the term within your community (even in jest). A rough comparison would be inner-city black youth calling themselves 'ni***r'.

    Speaking only for myself…I presume everyone to be equivalently intelligent on some base level (of course there are the outliers). There is a minority of the population who is so disposed to do the legitimately hard work to assimilate the vast body of accumulated knowledge on subjects such as biology, astrophysics, particle physics, geology and the like. 'Ignorance' is not a derisive term; it merely means that one has not [yet] been exposed to a body of knowledge. I do not believe theists to be 'stupid', but I can generally say I believe most believers to be ignorant of some important, pertinent matters.

    This is borne out if we look at some statistics…

    Nobody here would argue that education is a bad thing….right? [put your hand down over there in the corner]. If we look at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS); fully 73% of the 500+ members claim no belief in any supernatural power. Add the 'deistic' believers and it brings the total to 93% that have no belief in any supernatural power that interacts with our universe.

    These are highly educated individuals and it matches other studies that show that as education increases (being exposed to bodies of knowledge), the rate of belief declines (on the whole). We can zoom in even further… Of those NAS members that specialize in the fields that come into conflict with religious beliefs (astronomy, astrophysics, physics, geology, biology), virtually 100% claim no supernatural beliefs. These individuals, at some juncture, were faced with evidence and had to either accept it or discard it…and they accepted it to the detriment of their faith. The greatest collection of NAS believers are in fields that do not come into conflict with religious beliefs (i.e. chemists and mathematicians…I am pretty sure that it was mathematicians that had the highest level of theistic belief).

    It seems that the unfortunate truth for the heathen like myself is that making headway in these discussions is virtually impossible. While the theist can say "read C.S. Lewis"; my most effective retort would be "go get a degree in biology". I hardly think my challenge will be taken up.

    On the topic of exposing oneself to knowledge; here is a 30 minute radio piece from University of Chicago professor on "Why Evolution is True". I haven't listened to the whole thing, but the gist is that evolution is so well established, that the true breadth and depth of that evidence is seldom communicated. [Warning: there are some disparaging remarks about fundamentalists]


  • Gee, John, I didn't know that you had to have your posts approved by the atheist community in order to be legitimate, and you can only point out that someone else's position exists if you can properly prove that the position is statistically relevant according to said atheists.

  • Rasmussen is one of the most respected polls around. Here's what they say about belief in the US:

    88% believe that Jesus Christ walked the earth 2000 years ago

    82% believe Jesus is the son of God

    79% believe that Christ rose from the dead


  • BTW: I have no problem accepting that Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago…so you can count me in the 88% that believe so.

  • Ummm … no.

    Miracles don't actually evaporate. Dead people don't walk out of graves, as Lazarus and Jesus did. Nor do blind people come to see again, water instantly turn into wine, or leprosy just go away. Nor do people walk on water.

    The use of stats ceases to be relevant because, for one thing, there aren't any failures. Moreover, the events described simply can't happen.

    However, this is a matter of faith, and I'm not going to get into an argument over it. It is impossible for someone who rejects the idea of God to accept that He does miracles, but if He doesn't exist, then He can't do anything. Since you and I simply aren't speaking the same language, there is no point in engaging on it. All I'm doing is spelling out to you why I don't have any interest in your premise.

  • But Wickle,

    What about all the Hindu 'miracles'. They have just as much evidence as your Christian miracles.

  • Okay, Mike. We gotcha. Stop now.

  • Yeah Mike, we're only welcome around here as long as we conform to their stereotypes…

  • Yikes. That's not fair, Brian–and you know it. You know me better than that.

    Mike drives me crazy because he's so grossly logically inconsistent. Which is fine; most people aren't exactly into advanced syllogisms. But his whole THING is how scrupulously logical he is. It's like someone serving you plate after plate of raw macaroni and yard weeds, all the while telling you how much they love fine food, and what great cooks they are. Of course I have to ask him—after giving him fair enough time and space to make his point, which I always do–to stop.

  • Maybe Brian can point out my logical inconsistencies here….

  • (Brian: Besides, in what possible way are you NOT conforming to anyone's stereotype of an atheist? Does anyone even have such a stereotype? I think the only thing about atheists that I think is that they don't believe in a God. That's … about it.)

    And … for the record, relative to how intolerant of atheists I guess you've decided I am, maybe you recall the below post o' mine—being one of about … whaddaya think, TWENTY such posts:

    I mean, c'mon. Gimme a break.

  • How can I resist you, Mike—when, with your every comment, it's clear how boldly you're ready to proclaim to all the world, "In 1972, I was a stoner!" (Not that I'm throwing stones, by any means. I know that phase well.)

  • That was 1977 actually! …and I am not sure I was a stoner…yet. That was a photo booth where a friend and I were trying to look like bad-a**es.

  • Hey!! I changed my WordPress picture…I thought it was supposed to propagate to here.

    BTW: No one has told me how anything I said here was illogical or inconsistent.

  • Thanks Wickle….

    I forgot to bring up the knowledge of statistics and probability in regards to education. This is an area that very few people understand. It is human nature to remember the ‘hits’ and forget the ‘misses’. This fact, alone, is what creates miracles. With a fuller understanding of statistics and probability…miracles evaporate.

  • Mona,

    I don’t dispute the Rasmussen report…that is pretty common knowledge and puts us at the very high end for nations with religious belief. My point was the [negative] correlation between level of education and religious belief. This is similarly and repeatedly documented just as the findings of the Rasmussen report are. My point further focused on education in fields that come into direct conflict with theistic claims…and how that education almost invariably diminishes faith. I don’t imagine someone with a doctorate in French Impressionist Art is faced with much theological dissonance in their studies.

    It would be off topic to bring up the research that compares societal ills with the level of religion in a society…so I shan’t.

  • I gotta side with John on this. He as deleted only a handful of my posts and left some that SHOULD have been deleted. The fact that I still able to access this site demonstrates that John is pretty tolerant of non-believers.

  • Appalachiana

    I know I’m late jumping in here, but I kind of feel like I just have to write something – even if you’ve gave up on this subject soon after Easter.

    So Jesus said he was the way, the truth, and the life, and that he was the only one who could get us tickets to a sold-out celestial concert,. What does that mean exactly? Must we strive to live as Jesus did (even going so far as to forgive the teenager who used my mailbox for batting practice last Saturday night)? Or instead must we accept the story of the resurrection as a literal truth? Maybe some would say we have to agree with the whole shebang (hmmmm, I think that word is getting to be overused). Could there be value to the resurrection story even if it is a myth and without a basis in literal truth? Is the resurrection the most important point about Jesus? If following Jesus doesn’t end up really buying us everlasting anything, does that mean Christianity is pointless?

    Maybe it’s not a dunce cap SOME Christians should don, but a nice pair of polarized sunglasses. They could surely use them either to (1) cut the glare of a blinding faith, or (2) if Christian’s of Brian’s ilk really do have it all wrong, they are definitely going to need to shield their eyes from the all that bright light that is likely to accompany Jesus resurrected and encountered. I bet old Saul would have given anything for a pair on the road to Damascus.