The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Crucifixion: Matthew's Supernatural Interlude

According to the synoptics, Jesus' death did go unnoticed by nature. According to Mark, the curtain of the temple was torn in two the moment Jesus died (Mark 15:38). Luke had the curtain torn just before Jesus' died (Luke 23:45). Matthew reported even more fantastic occurrences:

Matthew 27:51-53
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Surely we are not asked to simply accept Matthew's word for this occurrence? We have already seen him to be unreliable in many instances. The account as it is does not tell us who were the "holy men" who raised from the dead, nor who they were that saw them. I will leave the critique of this ludicrous and unsupported report of Matthew to the American patriot Thomas Paine (1737-1809):

The book ascribed to Matthew says that there was darkness all over the land from the sixth hour to the ninth hour-that the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom - that there was an earthquake - that the rocks rent - that the graves opened, that the bodies of many saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared to many. Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives, but in which he is not supported by the writers of the other books.

The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead man walking out. The writer of the book of Luke is silent also on the same points. And as to the writer of the book of John, though he details the circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he says nothing about either the darkness, the veil of the temple, the earthquake, the rocks, the graves, nor the dead men...

It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again and went into the city, and what became of them afterwards, and who it was that saw them - for he is not hardy enough to say that he saw them himself - whether they came fully dressed and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitation and reclaimed their wives, their husband and their property, and how they were received, whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive and buried themselves. Strange indeed that an army of saints should return to life and nobody knew who they were, or who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us! [1]

The objections of Thomas Paine is succinct and, I believe, unanswerable. The passage of Matthew, as it stands, cannot be believed.

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1.Paine, The Age of Reason: p202-205

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