Where Are the Resurrected?
3000 people are killed. Millions pray. Years pass. How many of those prayers are answered?
- "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto
you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this
which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this
mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
- - The Bible, Matthew 21:21-22
In God We Trust
The USA. Land of the free. Richest country in the world. And one of the most religious in the industrial world - well over half of all Americans believe that the Bible is indeed the word of God, written down by man in a faithful reproduction of God's intent.
So to these people in particular, and to Christian believers in general, I pose a simple question.
Where are the Resurrected?
The Bible, supposedly the inerrant word of God himself, cannot be more clear on one point: "all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew, Book 21, Verse 22).
On September 11, 2001, a lot of good Americans died in an unprecedented attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Most of them had families, virtually all had someone who loved them dearly.
Many of those loved ones were devout believers. Many were children, whose belief is so pure as to be unsullied by any kind of doubt. And many of them will have prayed, earnestly and piously, to have their stricken fathers, mothers, husbands or children returned to them.
So where are they, the Resurrected?
How Many For Dinner?
Let's do some basic mathematics, back-of-the-envelope stuff. Nothing taxing.
The horrific attacks cost the lives of more than 3000 people. Now, each of them will have had, on average, at least one person who cared deeply about them - their mother, their wife, their child - deeply enough to want them to just walk back through the front door and say "Hi, I'm home," as if nothing had happened.
Now, by the law of averages, at least half of those people will have been believers in the truth of the Bible. A smaller percentage will be literalists - the Bible as inerrant, perfect, a direct transcription of God's own will. Let us say 5% - this is, I hope, on the conservative side.
How many people have prayed for the return of their deceased family member, in the year and more since that dreadful day? I would be very surprised indeed if a significant percentage had not made this wish at some time or other in the intervening twelve months. And as for the children, those with the most unsullied, innocent belief, those most likely to "doubt not" - these are the ones who are most likely to want their parent back.
So, of the 3000 people killed, a conservative estimate suggests 1 in 20 have had a Biblical literalist pray for their return in the last year or so. (Don't forget that there are many who have prayed for the safe return of all those who died, often praying en masse - but we will leave them aside for now.)
And yet, in that whole year, how many of those 3000 dead have turned up for dinner? How many place settings across America and the world have been laid and filled by the newly resurrected? That 1 in 20 figure suggests that we should lay tables for 150, at least. At 1 in 100, that is still 30 people who should now be at home who are not. At 1 in 1000, three extra family members sit down for turkey at Thanksgiving this year.
One, just one, would be international headline news. And that one is a conservative estimate - remember those praying for all those who died? It would only have take one of those people to be sufficiently devout to save everyone.
The Faithful Ignored
I can think of two responses to this question that would rescue the inerrancy of the Bible, but I am not happy with either of them as a realistic explanation.
The first is the old faithful: "God works in mysterious ways". Is He so mysterious that He is prone to go against his own word, as written? If so, then a believer must ask what use is the written word at all?
The second is that those praying were not sufficiently devout or sincere. This is, I suppose, at least possible. However, you would need to ensure that, of the literally thousands of Christian worshippers who have asked for this outcome, not a single one was devout enough. When you take into account those across the globe who prayed for a safe outcome before the towers collapsed, this figure rises to millions, perhaps hundreds of millions.
Can it really be argued that not one of them was devout? Not one of them worthy of the consideration apparently granted in Matthew 21:22? If you yourself prayed for the return of your dear family member, why do you think that God has judged you unworthy enough not to honor this plainly worded contract?
It would seem that, based on Matthew 21:22 and the WTC attacks, either the Bible is not the word of God, or God does not honor his word as written.
Perhaps this realization might persuade those who believe to re-examine their faith, and ask themselves if they can base it on such shaky foundations.