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I come from an ancient Syrian Christian family in Kerala, India which has its heritage of Christianity from A. D. 52 when Apostle Thomas landed in its coasts.  Our family is part of one of the four families to which Thomas is said to have handed down the gospel as a trust to be taught to the rest of the world.  As a baby, I was given the faith delivered once for all to the saints about the salvation through Jesus.  But we were told also that this has to be a personal decision based on reason and personal verified experience.  

It is important that we do serious research and find out the reality of Jesus.  If God exists, and God did try to reach out to man through the Incarnation, it is vital to find out ourselves.  Is there a God?  If God exists how can we know?  The answer is simply that we cannot know him unless God somehow reveals himself to us?  This is because God has to exist in much more dimensions than our mundane human dimensions.  This is exactly what Christianity claims in the person of Jesus the Christ who incarnated as one of us within history to let us know who God is.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

If Jesus really lived who will know?  Evidently those who walked and lived with him.  That is why the "eye witness" accounts are the first line of study.  Do we have eye witness accounts of Jesus?  Certainly.  John clearly claims that.

"We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." 1 john 1:3

There is a spectrum of opinions among those who question the reality of Jesus of History.  These include

         Jesus never existed.  These are all fables cobbled together by later Christians to keep up the lies. The Jesus Christ is a collection of several myths of godmen through history. These are cobbled up from myths taken from the Roman and Indian myths.

         Jesus lived but he was just a man - the stories of miracles and resurrections are just later inventions

         Jesus lived but he was just a man - the miracles were fake magic tricks and resurrection a farce skillfully orchestrated. In effect Jesus was a liar - a clever one at that.

Questioning the foundations of faith is fair and is an essential start.  But, none of these are conclusions based on observed facts.  They are the assumptions made by people on their rationalist standing.  They then try to fit the observations and facts to fits their assumptions.

There is nothing wrong with this.  In fact every one should follow the rationalism and arrive at their own conclusions regarding Jesus Christ.  This is the normal procedure for coming to faith.  However the conclusions are to be based on realities and facts and not by assumptions.  I am Professor Physics.  Like most scientists of our times, I believed that science gave the ultimate answers.  Who could question the Sir Isaac Newton's universal laws of gravitation? What about all the other scientific laws which made our lives so easy compared to our fathers.  Brought up in a Christian tradition of 1900 years old I went to church and knew about Jesus and took him for granted as a social need and inherited the Christian morality and standards without accepting the reality of Jesus the Christ and a faith in Jesus as the Son of God.  I took positions which took shades of all the assumptions I had mentioned.  In the Nkrumah's Ghana, with its Anglican heritage coupled with Marxist Dialectical Materialism, I was the right person to stand for reason. 

The dialectical materialism seemed to be the solution.

Hegel developed the concept of dialectics.  For him  the material world was dependent on an underlying non-material reality, a world of Ideas (logos) -- in fact, this hidden world was merely a form of the development of God's knowledge of 'Himself'.  But then Engels turned it upside down.  For the materialist - the enlightened scientists of our period - the only reality was material realm.   But then we turn round insist that nature operates according to unbreakable laws so that supernatural intervention into nature could never happen.  But when the supernatural is included in the universe of logic even that is predictable, only when I knew the absolute laws.

That is the basic assumption of Dialectical Materialism:  The only reality is matter and its motion. Everything is in a constant process of change, motion and development.  As a good scientist I thought that was the real scientific stand and all my fellow scientists argued for it. 

Then one day I was asked to teach the Philosophy of Science while I was in Ghana.  This was the first time I took to the subject.  It turned my world upside down.  For the first time my rationalism was found to be wrongly rooted.  Logic and Rationality are based on observed realities and not the other way round.  To my surprise I was told 1 + 1 is not always two even though the absolute logic demands it.  If one river flows into another how many rivers will there be?  Simple, it results into just one river.  Surprise.  We do not make the physical law by reasoning alone, but we make them to fit the observed facts.  More than that, logic is remodeled to fit the realities.  That is why we do repeated measurements in the Physics lab.  We make the law to explain the observed facts.  When additional facts arise we modify the laws and logic. 

The truth is that there are other dimensions of existences beyond this material one.  If we try to explain even the basic concept of mind, spirit and life, simply on the basis of matter and its motion we are sure to be being unscientific - simply being reluctant to admit the existence of spheres other than matter. 

I will illustrate it with an example from the theory of light.  My specialization over sixty years ago for my Master's degree was Radiation and Spectroscopy.  Even in those days we have encountered the simple problem of determining what the nature of light is.  Newton proposed the Particle theory of light.  However it was not long after we came across the phenomena of 'Interference of Light'.  We were forced to redefine light in terms of electromagnetic wave nature of light.  We rewrote the Particle Theory of light with Wave Theory of light.  But then came the big shock, in the discovery of Photoelectric effect which was well explained by the Particle Theory of Light - we called that particle as Photon.  We were forced to admit that light was both particle and wave depending on the context.  The whole reality was that light was both in spite of the fact we in out material dimension finds it difficult reconcile.  We are still there for over six decades.  Science adapted to this unpleasant situation of calling light Wave and also Particle.  Could you explain what is light?  There are dimensions beyond the material realm and we need to accept them as they impact in our lives.  I did my Doctoral Studies in Quantum Physics when I came to recognize that we need more dimensions to explain even the basic phenomena of nature; leave alone the mind and spirit.

This is true when we take the study of Historical Jesus.

If our basic assumption is that there is no God, Jesus cannot be God in our theory. If miracles are not possible, Jesus naturally could not have done miracles. If death is irreversible, Jesus could not have risen from the dead.

But truth does not depend on my assumptions.  If on the other hand if I want the truth, I change my assumptions based on the observations.  The final decision depends on one's personal experience with Jesus.

Before we go into the difficult problem let us make sure that the Jesus is real - a person who lived as one among us.