Original Posting At https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/boolean-logic-the-resurrection/
These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. The discussion was based upon a reading from 1 Corinthians 15:1-22.
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here. Note: the questions on this handout are often different from the questions raised in the discussion.
George Boole, an English mathematician, is considered to be the father of the digital revolution. Unfortunately, he could have never known the impact of the mathematics he discovered. He died (December 8, 1864) nearly 80 years before Hewlett Packard was founded (1939) and nearly 100 years before MIT researchers developed direct keyboard input for the computer (1956). Though he probably could never have imagined it, the mathematics George Boole discovered laid the foundation for much of the technological advances we take for granted today.
The basic concept of Boolean Logic, or Boolean Algebra, is that everything can be reduced to a simple true or false (on or off) statement depicted numerically by a 1 (“true” or “on”) or 0 (“false” or “off”). Everything is either true (1) or false (0).
Pilate was interrogating Jesus, before authorizing the crucifixion, when he asked Jesus, “what is truth?
How do we determine if something is true?
How do we determine something to be false?
We are constantly bombarded by claims of competing “truths.” How is it that truths can compete? Perhaps, a better questions—and this is not meant to be a political statement—
With so many competing “truths,” how do we determine what really is true and what is “fake news”?
George Boole argued that everything can be boiled down into simple statements that are either true or false. If all the basic statements are true, then the thing is true. Truth is pure; if there is any falsity in it, it cannot be true. This is visually depicted using what’s called an AND gate along with its corresponding “Truth Table.”
Mathematically, this is depicted as:
Now, I don’t mean to oversimplify Boolean logic—I’m not an expert in it—but, in some ways Paul uses it in defense of Jesus’ resurrection. He says, this is true, because this is true, this is true, this is true, this is true. Because these things are all true, my first statement is true.
Christ died; he was buried; and, he rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. We know he rose because he appeared to all these people—some of whom are still alive! Paul says—and, he appeared to me. Because Christ rose and appeared to me, Paul continues, I have dedicated my life to this message which I have passed on to you. The resurrection is the foundation and hope of our faith and it is true. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can expect to experience the same thing.
Every Easter we proclaim the good news that “Christ is Risen.” Paul defended the claim. How will we?
How do we know “he is risen indeed”? How can we affirm the truth of the resurrection?
While, I would assume, most people don’t know the name George Boole, most people adhere to his logic pattern. We believe something to be true until something false is found in it and that single falsity brings the whole argument down.
So how can we live the truth we proclaim this day? How is it that we can support and affirm the truth of the resurrection so that we’re not the single falsity that brings the whole argument to its knees?
I like what the theologian Peter Rollins had to say, “I affirm [the resurrection] when I stand up for those who are on their knees. I affirm the resurrection, when I cry out for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I weep for those who have no more tears left to shed.”
We affirm the truth of the resurrection when we walk with our neighbors in their despair; when we forgive our enemies and bless those who curse us. We affirm the resurrection when we continue to gather at the table with those who will betray us. We affirm the resurrection when we continually invite those who will ultimately turn us down.
We affirm the resurrection when we choose love over hate, love over fear, love over despair. We affirm the resurrection—we embody it—when we choose to be present with one another in spite of the barriers (and stones), no matter how large, that may separate us.
Friends, Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures. May we affirm this truth in the way we live our lives both together, as a community, and individually, as we go about our daily lives.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Now go forth from this place and prove the truth of that statement to a world in desperate need to know it.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Other thoughts and questions:
- 1 Corinthians is one of the earliest writings in the new testament. It dates to between 50-60 CE, about 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, some 20 years before the Gospel of Mark was recorded, and some 40-60 years before the Gospel of John. The discrepancy in Paul’s list of the appearances of Jesus may be due to the, as of yet, undiscovered or untold stories of Jesus’ resurrection.
- I think it is important to note that truth should not and cannot be defined solely upon what it is not, what is false. Things that are true stand on their own merit. A truth simply is; and for every is there are an infinite number of nots. It is a statement of truth that you came to church this morning (or are reading this online). That statement is true. There are an infinite number of other places you are not (or things you are not doing). Something is true so long as it is completely true, there is nothing false in it.
- Dictionary.com (accessed April 1, 2018) defines true as “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact; not false.” False is defined as “not true; erroneous.”
- Something that is false is always defined against the truth it is not. Truth is not defined by what it is not. Truth is.
- Peter Rollins has an eloquent statement about denying (and affirming) the resurrection. You can find a link to the teaching here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T8FVaI9Bc0.