Good evening to those of you just joining us here on the Burning Hot Radio Show. Today we have an unusual crime that has so far stumped everyone who has tried to wrap their minds around the puzzle. It’s a real brain-teaser of the most tantalizing kind. We’ll get to that in a while.
We have a special guest on our show today. Monsieur Hairkill Parot, the famous French detective, has been called in to solve this inexplicable mystery. The local investigators are utterly counfounded and hopelessly stumped, and it is up to Mr. Parot to discern the truth behind the puzzle.
Now I shall describe the crime scene. A tomb in the backwater territory of Judea has been disturbed, and the body that was interred within removed. The body in question is none other than that of the controversial religious figure who was executed just three days ago (by local reckoning), Jesus who was also called the Christ or Messiah.
There are mysterious circumstances surrounding this case, not least of all to do with the safeguards installed to prevent just such a thing happening.
First, a large boulder had been placed at the entrance of the tomb. Second, a crack squad of guards had been assigned to guard the immediate area.
And yet, on the morning of that Sunday, the boulder was found to have been moved aside and the dead body missing. The guards who were supposed to be on duty are nowhere to be found. But there is no sign of a struggle in the area of the crime scene.
In place of the dead body were found burial wrappings, placed neatly in a pile. That in itself is a strange piece of evidence, as it means that whoever did the deed took the time to remove the wrappings from the dead body before absconding with the corpse.
Rumours have been circulating that there was a minor earthquake during the previous night, which may have something to do with this case. It is also reputed that there are eyewitnesses to the deed: The guards who have all mysteriously gone into hiding, and the women who claim they were the first to realize that the tomb was empty.
A brain boggling challenge indeed. Whodunit, how was it done, and what was the motive? Monsieur Parot leaps into action in our exclusive dialogue! Shall we begin, Monsieur?
Parot: Merci for the narration. I shall now begin by examining zee method used to remove zee body. First, zee boulder is obviously too large for a solitary man to move. Zee size also means that zis would be make it a noisy affair.
Ah, how true! That means that moving the boulder would have alerted the guards.
Parot: Precisely! And zese guards are no cheap rent-a-polis, zey are Roman soldiers, zee best zat Imperial dictatorship can hire! Zey do not fall asleep on zee job. To be caught slacking while on duty is punishable by zee death, no?
But hold on just a second, Mr. Parot. Some say that these were just Temple guards. And since we can’t find them at this time, we can’t tell for sure.
Parot: Point taken. But none-zeless, zee Temple guards are also highly trained. If zey are found out to be sleeping on zee job, zey are merely set on zee fire. Zis does not neccessarily lead to zee death, zee fire can be put out you see.
Uh, okay… Still rather painful and worth avoiding. But couldn’t the culprits have just sneaked in through a small gap in the boulder-blocked entrance, or a secret passage or something?
Parot: You have been reading too many Agatha Christie novels. Zis is not some elaborate manor house, where zee butler did it in zee library with zee candlestick! Zis is a tiny hole cut into it the rock, with a tiny hole for zee entrance. Zere is no gap wide enough for even a child to squeeze into.
Oh, okay then. Point taken. Just to be clear to you folks at home, I prefer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle myself. Ahem, back to the boulder?
Parot: Oui, zee boulder! As I had mentioned earlier, zee boulder could not be moved in stealth. As you can see, zee guards, zey are zee key. If zey were at zee scene of zee crime when zee crime happened, zey would surely have responded with zee gratuitious violence. Zerfore, my conclusion is zat the guards on duty must have been absent or else overpowered.
You know, your accent is really quite strong…
Parot: Please sir, do try and pay attention!
Sorry, sorry! My apologies! Do go on.
Parot: Oui. As I was saying, zee guards are zee key to zee mystery. Anyone who wishes to remove zee boulder, must first remove zee guards!
Aha! I see! But who, pray tell?
Parot: We have several suspects. I shall describe each in detail and present to you zus my conclusion. First, we have of course zee dead man’s followers. Zey have zee most motive for stealing zee body. With zee body gone, zey could claim zat zeir leader had risen from zee dead! Zis would be most excellent propoganda for zeir movement.
Ah, yes! I do recall hearing rumours that this Jesus fellow said something about being the resurrection and the life and whatnot.
Parot: Oui, as I have heard also. But even if zey did not wish to make such a claim, zee body would still be of great sentimental value to zem. Zerfore, zee powerful motive to steal away zee corpse.
So it was those Apostle ruffians! I knew it!
Parot: Ah, but zere you are mistaken. For although zey have zee motive to commit zis crime, zey do not have zee ability! Remember, zey could not stop zeir leader from being crucified. As I hear, zey ran away like frightened sheep even at zee arrest.
Yes, that did happen. In fact, although they were reported to have sneaked closer to see their leader, one of their most senior members denied all association with Jesus upon even casual interrogation.
Parot: Cowards and charlatans, I call zem! Why, I’m sure that if zee Germans even shook a fist at zem, zey would surrender immediately. Haha! How wimpee. So do you think it is likely zat zey would be able to overpower a team of armed and gratuitiously violent guards?
Well… Maybe they were really fanatical? Madmen’s strength and all that…
Parot: It is highly unlikely. Zee guards could not be bribed either. Zerfore, I conclude zat zee followers of zee dead man are not zee perpetrators, and we move on to zee next suspects. And zey are… Zee Pharisees or zee Romans!
Zee Pharisees or zee Romans?! I mean, the Pharisees or the Romans?!
Parot: Oui! If zee guards could not be bribed or overpowered, zen zee only ones with zee authority to disperse zee guards would be zeir superiors. If zeir superiors wished to remove zee body, not only would zee guards not be an obstacle. Zey would be ordered to move zee boulder and de-bandage zee corpse, before removing both it and zemselves from the scene. Zerfore, zee authorities have zee greatest ability to remove zee body from zee tomb.
But… But… That makes no sense! Why would they do that? Wouldn’t it contribute to the rumours that this guy really can come back to life, and from there that he really is the Messiah like he claimed? I mean, the rumours are already circulating. If they really did do the deed, they should produce the rotting body for everyone to see!
Parot: Your doubts are not unfounded! For while zee authorities have zee ability to remove zee body, zey have no motive. As you say, it is counter-productive to zeir agenda for zee body to disappear. Thus, zey are also not zee guilty party.
Parot: Who indeed. We next move on to the next possibility, one zat has been proposed by many parties. Zee theory zat zee culprit who moved zee boulder, unwrapped zee bandages and took away zee dead man’s body is… Zee dead man himself!
Parot: Exactly! It is impossible for a dead man to accomplish all zis, being dead as it were. Zerfore, he must have still been alive, so zee certain parties say!
Phew! For a moment there, I thought this was the Curse of Tutankhamun or something… Alive, you say?
Parot: Actually, as zey say. Zey say zat zis Jesus did not actually die during zee crucifixion. What happened is zat zee Pharisees were in a hurry to finish zee execution before zee Sabbath. Zerfore, when zee Roman executioner let down zee body, zee man was not yet dead – merely in zee condition of a faint!
That sounds logical… I hear that even Herod was surprised that he died so quickly.
Parot: Ah, but zis theory has very many holes in it! Like a Swiss cheese I might say! Zat is why I put it that zey say so, and not I myself who says so.
Holes in the story, you say? Like a Swiss cheese? Interesting… Let’s hear them!
Parot: First, it is highly unlikely zat zee condemned man could escape fatality. Zee process of zee scourging is highly damaging to zee body. It especially causes great blood loss. Zis could not have been helpful to zee health of zee victim.
Ouch! Yes, I’ve witnessed a few myself. Not a walk in the park, I must say.
Parot: Second, zee crucifixion was not merely hanging out on a piece of wood for a few minutes. With zee arms stretched out like zat, you cannot breathe without lifting your whole body up. Zis would require continual effort, which coupled with zee scourging and exposure would exhaust a man quite quickly – leading to suffocation when he can no longer lift himself to breathe.
I might add for the audience’s benefit… The English word for extreme pain, excruciating, literally means ‘out of the cross’ – So painful was the experience.
Parot: Thirdly, zee comndemned would be certified as properly dead by zee executioner. Zis fellow would have enough experience to know whether a man is dead or merely pretending. As evidence, zee soldiers broke zee legs of the other two condemned – with broken legs, zey could no longer lift themselves up, thus suffocating shortly afterward. Zey did not do zis for Jesus, but rather stabbed a spear into his side to make sure he was already dead and did not need his legs to be broken.
Quite gross… This gets more and more explicit, accurate though the description may be. Our apologies to the folks with family at home.
Parot: And finally, zee body of zee condemned was smothered with preservative spices and tightly wrapped in bandages. As I have heard some say, if zee flogging and nailing didn’t kill him… Zis surely would!
So then, you think he couldn’t possibly have survived all this?
Parot: You are correct, I do not believe so. For him to survive would be a great miracle indeed, worthier than zee silly rumours about fish and whatnot zat I heard on my way here! In any case, even if he did somehow survive, I do not think he would have even a fraction of zee strength needed to move zee boulder from zee inside, get past zee guards somehow and escape without a trace… While leaving zee neat pile of wrappings behind.
My, my, my… A verdict worthy of the best forensic medical examiners indeed! So then, what else do you have left in your list?
Parot: Zere is zis: Zat some other phenomena was zee cause, or at least contributed to zee circumstances. Something zat is not of human intervention. For example, zee earthquake zat that was reported.
Oh, oh! I know! The tremors shook the boulder loose, rolled it aside and scared the guards off! Following which, the Apostles or some other grave robbers came and did the dirty deed. That removes the need to bypass the guards. A brilliant deduction, hmm?
Parot: You are intelligent, I must say! But not, of course, as intelligent as moi. For zis is a very convenient explanation, but one zat fails to properly address zee contraints. As I have explained, zee guards are neither cowards nor unprofessional buffoons. An earthquake is nothing compared to zeir duty and zeir lives! So to bring in such a phenomena is merely to invoke Deus ex Machina, a convenient solution and one zat shuts zee mind to furzer consideration.
Okay, fine. So what is YOUR conclusion, great detective? Who DID scatter the guards, move the boulder and steal the body?
Parot: First we shall recap. In a systematic order, we have made zee following conclusions… Zee followers of zee dead man did not have zee ability. Zee Roman and priestly authorities did not have zee logical motive. Zee dead man was, quite assuredly, a dead man. And zee earthquake did not do anything of note. Which leaves one possibility…
Which is? The suspense is killing me! I’m sure the audience feels the same way!
Parot: The last possibility is… Zat zis was an act of God!
Parot: Yes! An angel came down from zee Heaven, scared zee guards witless and moved zee boulder, so zat zee dead man who had come back to full life and health could just walk casually out of zee tomb, exactly as he prophecied he would. All after folding his burial wrappings neatly, of course.
Are you sure?! Jesus came back to life?!!
Parot: ………..Just kidding! Hahaha! I had you going zere for a moment, zid I not?
Haha! Phew! You did, Monsieur Parot, you certainly did! Good one. So what’s the real last possibility?
Parot: …Zere is none.
Uh, come again? What do you mean, none?
Parot: I mean zat zere is none. As all zee viable explanations have been exhausted, I zerfore conclude zat zis case is unsolvable. Neither zee culprit nor zee method can be identified.
But… What do you mean no more viable explanations? What about that miracle stuff? I know I laughed when you suggested it, but maybe you should consider…?
Parot: Do not act zee buffoon, sir! Miraculous explanations are out of zee question, because miracles do not exist. Zey are most improbable occurances.
I agree that miracles are quite improbable. But a great English detective once said: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So even if it’s highly improbable, if it’s the only remaining explanation, then…?
Parot: I advise you to stop reading bad literature, sir. Let me make it simpler for you. It is not improbable, it is totally impossible. Zere is no such thing as God and miracles.
The reason being…?
Parot: Because I know that zere is no such thing.
And how did you reach this conclusion?
Parot: Simple. Because it is impossible.
Um, let me get this equation straight… It’s impossible because you know there’s no such thing, and you know there’s no such thing because it’s impossible?
But… That’s circular reasoning! Did you start with a foregone conclusion that there is no such thing as the supernatural, even before you examined the evidence for and against it?
Parot: Nonsense! We scientific-minded types do not hold prejudices. We make our conclusions based solely on observations and facts.
Then you’ll at least consider that the supernatural exists?
Parot: No, it cannot exist because it is impossible. Zere is only nature and zee laws of physics, zerfore zee supernatural zoes not even need to be considered. It would be a waste of time.
But you’ve already made your conclusion at the start! You’re convinced that the supernatural doesn’t exist and therefore exclude it before you even begin weighing the evidence for it. It sounds like you prefer not to confront even the possibility that there is a supernatural.
Parot: Look, my good sir, zee supernatural does not exist and zerfore cannot be proven to exist. Zerfore we should not even waste our time consizering or testing it. Anyway, what am I here for, to ziscuss chilzish philosophy or to solve zee case scientifically?
Fine then. So how Do you solve this case?
Parot: Zere is no solution. Zat is all. And with zee cased closed, I shall now bid you all adieu.
Very well. Adieu to you too, Monsieur Parot.
And so there it is, folks. By excluding all explanations of a supernatural nature from the get-go as ‘impossible’ – without even bothering to first consider such a possibility – we have reached a dead end. No pun intended.
Ladies & gents, by beginning with a foregone conclusion that miracles cannot happen, can we really say that the case was handled with neutrality and lack of bias?
Is science that from the offset holds to the dogma ‘Nature is everything there is and there is nothing besides it’… Really science?
Or is it instead a philosophy, something already firmly decided in the mind? Even perhaps a faith, held onto tightly with eyes and ears closed to any contrary evidence?
Sounds like some sort of religion, doesn’t it folks? Say, the worship of the unchallengeable NO-SUPERNATURAL under the masquerade of proper science?
And what if Monsieur Parot here had looked at the evidence from a truly neutral, unbiased viewpoint? One without his predetermined stance that “Anything not explainable by natural laws is automatically impossible”? What might he have concluded? What might we all have discovered?
Why don’t you, attentive audience, take a look at the evidence yourself – With no pre-formed conclusions or preferred solutions in mind – And decide for yourselves if this is a case of robbing a grave, or a case of Resurrection.
And this concludes our show for today. Tune in again next week folks… Same time, same place. Good night!