That gloriously immodest quote from the late Labour MP Eric Heffer came to mind when reading George Galloway’s reply to the question posed by the Spectator this week, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?”:
Yes, I believe in the Resurrection. I believe God restored the life of Jesus of Nazareth and took him to his bosom. The example of suffering and sacrifice followed by vindication is central to my religious belief.
Gosh, George, what are you driving at?
The Spectator article is alternately entertaining and encouraging. The magazine approached “politicians, churchmen, media folk and entertainers”, as well as Spectator staff, and asked them the question, “Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?”. As the magazine puts it:
The results of our inquiry reveal a remarkable mix of faith, doubt and evasion.
Not to mention naughtiness on the part of the Spectator, particularly when it reprints its exchanges with those (such as Tony Blair and Jeffrey Archer) who declined to comment or were unavailable. (The Archbishop of Canterbury did not provide a personal response – “I’m afraid we don’t take part in compare-and-contrast surveys”, sniffed a member of his staff – but an assistant later rang the magazine to say “Archbishop Rowan said to put him firmly in the ‘yes’ camp”. Which is reassuring.)
What was interesting that while there were some who failed to reply, and some who came out with meaningless evasive blather (hell-o, Fergal Keane), the only person to come out with an unequivocal “no” was the ever-reliable Richard Dawkins, who asserts (and “asserts” is the word – Dawkins never actually “argues” when it comes to questions of religion):
People believe in the Resurrection not because of good evidence (there isn’t any) but because, if the Resurrection is not true, Christianity becomes null and void, and their life, they think, meaningless. From this it is grotesquely false logic to conclude that therefore the Resurrection must be true.
Well, yes, that would be grotesquely false logic, if that were the logic on which Christians founded their belief in the resurrection of Christ. But that’s enough Dawkins for one day, especially this day.
Though I may – no promises, mind – get round to blogging on the excellent book by Alister McGrath that I’m reading at the moment, Dawkins’ God, in which McGrath completely pwns Dawkins’ “schoolboy debating society” views on religion. Sample quote:
In the end, Dawkins’ atheism does not really rest on his science at all, but on an unstated and largely unexamined cluster of hidden non-scientific values and beliefs.
But the last word should go to Fraser Nelson, associate editor of the Spectator, who answers the question as follows:
It’s what makes a Christian: belief in a stone rolled away, body vanished, death conquered and mankind emancipated. If the verifiable bones of Christ were discovered, you’d have to admit that the Muslims were right, Jesus was a prophet and Christianity was a 2,006-year hoax.