Tag Archives: Lazarus

Miracles, Part 2: The skeleton of a dogfish and the resurrection of Jesus Christ

I was surprised when the Turin Shroud was tested in 1988 and allegedly turned out to be a forgery made 1290-1390. I’m still not totally convinced it isn’t the real shroud. But, when the tests were taking place, it got me thinking about the crucifixion of Jesus.

I am no Christian, but it did take me back to the Religious Knowledge lessons at my school where our R.K. teacher was an ex-Army padre and he went into so much physical detail about the crucifixion that I had to leave the class. I was a frail wee soul whenever gross anatomical detail was discussed and prone to nausea at the mere thought of the innards of things. Let’s not even mention the skeleton of the dogfish in the General Science lesson.

But I do remember from R.K. that the reason Roman Citizens were never crucified was that it was such a horrendous way to die. You didn’t die from having nails hammered into your wrists and ankles (they were not hammered into the hands and feet, they were hammered into wrists and ankles to support the weight of the body more and prolong the agony). You died from exhaustion, dehydration etc and it could take a week or more to die.

Jesus, according to the Bible, managed to die in one brief afternoon. A bit of a surprise, that. He was then taken down from the cross. Normally, at this point, the Romans broke people’s arms and/or legs to check they really were dead. This did not happen, according to the Bible. Instead, Jesus’ ‘body’ was taken away by a rich man whose personal physician treated the body not with the normal oils used to anoint dead bodies but with medical oils normally used on live but injured bodies. A bit of a surprise, that.

It seems to me entirely likely that Jesus was not dead when he was taken down from the cross. But, given his body had been scourged, had had a crown of thorns shoved on the head and he had been stabbed in the side with a spear, it might take a bit of time for him to recover – let’s say it might take three days before he was up and able to walk around and talk to people. Let’s say he would rise on the third day.

After three days, the lad could have been talking to people – let’s say he talked to the uneducated and fairly simple fishermen etc who were his disciples – and, if you doubted that the Son of God whom you had seen with your own eyes crucified and die was now resurrected… well,  you could actually put your fingers in the holes made by the nails of the crucifixion. There would be no arguing with that.

If you were a simple fisherman or shepherd or prostitute, that would certainly convince you that a dead person had come back to life just as Lazarus had apparently been brought back to life by Jesus himself and you would be prepared to die yourself in the certain knowledge it was true and you had seen God’s only son re-born.

If Jesus had survived the crucifixion, though, with his injuries, he might only last about a week before he died from his wounds and/or disease from the injuries. After that he would die or, to re-phrase it, join his Father in heaven.

No surprise there.

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Miracles, Part 1: iPads and the high chance of being hit on the head by a falling pig

When I came home in the early hours of Sunday morning, I absentmindedly switched on the TV and BBC2 was screening Fritz Lang’s 1953 film noir classic The Big Heat.

My friend asked, “When was that made? It looks very old.”

“Well,” I said, “it was way before they had an iPad.”

“But,” she replied without the slightest pause, “that woman’s got one!” and she disintegrated into laughter.

Because, at the exact same moment I said the word “iPad”, on the TV screen, a woman walked through the door wearing an eye-pad.

What are the odds of that coincidence happening?

Well quite good, actually.

The odds against unlikely events and coincidences always seem to me to be misquoted.

The odds of me myself being killed by a pig falling on my head are astronomically high. At least, I hope they are.

But if, God forbid, I live until I am 80 or so it is fairly likely that, sometime during my lifetime, several people in different parts of the world will have been killed by a pig falling on their head.

The odds of me being killed by a downwardly-mobile pig are low.

The odds of anyone being killed by a downwardly-mobile pig are high.

Bizarre coincidences happen. Bizarre events happen. All the time.

The odds are often not as high as they seem.

Millions of little events happen every month to every person on the planet. Most of these millions of events are totally forgettable. But, if one unlikely event or coincidence happens to you, you will remember it and the several-million-to-one chance of it happening will seem amazing but it is actually not unlikely given the millions of other times it did not happen.

And then there are the miracles in the Bible.

If you see Lazarus raised from the dead and you are a simple shepherd, fisherman or generic peasant who knows nothing about comas, it seems a rock-solid 100% miracle. But it is not so amazing.

I have read that, with the winds from the right directions, the waters in a tributary of the Red Sea, apparently, really do separate and it is possible, briefly, to literally walk across the sea bed from one side to the other. Something which seems utterly impossible does happen naturally – though very very rarely.

The odds against the Red Sea parting seem so great as to be impossible. And it seems against Nature. But (with a slight geographical adjustment – it’s not really the Red Sea itself) the impossible becomes merely a rarity. What seemed impossible becomes unlikely but possible.

And the unlikely happens all the time.

Which brings us back to iPads and eyepads.

Oh, alright, it’s not profound, but I find it mesmerising.

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