First, I hope you don’t mind but I will have to move this to a post as otherwise it becomes too long. You bring some really good points and I need to give further clarifications to my previous comments.
They key word there is ‘If’; IF Jesus was sent by God. This is based on two assumptions:
1. That a real historical Jesus actually existed. I have already given reasons for doubting the historicity of Jesus, which you have not adequately refuted;
2. Assuming 1, that Jesus was ’sent by God’, and wasn’t just an ordinary mortal with a messiah complex who mistakenly *believed* he was the Son of God, or merely a con-man and fake guru, like some latter-day cult leader, who simply *claimed* he was the Son of God because he thought this would impress his followers. Those are two pretty big assumptions. If even the second – lesser – one is wrong, then your claim that we can know can know who God is, and what his plan is, is unsupported.
Answer: On the issue of historicity of Jesus I did answer a number of queries to a number of enquirers so I can’t remember which one you demanded but I can quickly point you to some links on this blog if you like to re examine this issue. I think it conclusively shows that the majority of scholars today do hold to the historicity of Jesus.
You will find enough information on those two posts regarding what Christians and others who are only interested in History believe but there are a few more on this blog.
On the issue of presupposition: you are right; we are starting with the presupposition but hey that is the nature of the investigative work whatever you try to prove with some certainty. Whether you believe or not you will start with assumptions.
In fact, you formulated your reply in a very similar way to CS Lewis who proposes that Christ is either:
- Son of God
- Lunatic who was mistaken
- Liar who’s only objective is to benefit from his lies, an evil man
He then goes on to look at all 3 options finally concluding that the only truly viable option has to be option 1. He came to this conclusion because Jesus himself was not benefiting from his teaching, he made perfect sense and his teaching was logical. The issue of a liar is not possible as he was making claims in locations where the people in close proximity had readily available information that could easily prove whether he was a liar or not. As you can see, this is not a new idea to Christianity but is one that has been analysed and examined before. By the way, a lunatic, a naïve person or a mistaken person is not an option for if he was normal enough to make sense of his teaching he would also be normal enough to know that what he was teaching was not only highly controversial but taught in a very volatile environment during Roman occupation. Making the claims he did would not have been very wise unless they had meaning and purpose to them.
Defend the word Previously [On the issue of being minuscule of no importance, I would argue that this is not how God would view his creation, and further more we have all the faculties that ants don’t have, we use more than simple instincts. These are God given tools to process all necessary information.]
Once again, these statements are contingent on the Existent and Knowable God Hypothesis (EKGH). You must first be certain that God exists, and that you know what he thinks, in order to assert that God does not regard us as being miniscule and of no importance. And you simply cannot be *certain* of these things. *Believe* is not *certainty* – it is only *belief*.
Answer: Yes I agree, you will find number of posts on this blog dealing with that issue.
Now I do accept that you may want me to give you an example where I will point to the sky and you see the hand of God writing down “Defend the word is right. I’m here and I love you and this is why I sent Jesus to die for you”. However, I would argue that even with that kind of argument people would find an excuse, with some kind of logical explanation as to why still they would not believe. For example, perhaps this was done by using mirrors, lasers, hypnosis etc?
Metasapien previous comments: [[Following on from my last comment about meditation and our ‘inner God’, I would suggest it was not the Biblical God that answered your prayers, but your inner God. Your inner wisdom gave you the emotional strength and resourcefulness you required in your time of need.]
Defend the word Previously This is hard to prove either way; it is after all based on our faith whichever way you choose to interpret it. There is a problem with self help methodology and one main issue is that it is leaving many people very frustrated. For example you may change your exterior, you may appear more confident but those facades are easily destroyed, if you put man under pressure soon they will reveal the real man underneath.]
Of course, one could say exactly the same about the supposed benefits of faith. I could rewrite your remakes as follows: There is a problem with RELIGIOUS methodology and one main issue is that it is leaving many people very frustrated. For example you may change your exterior, you may appear more confident (or MORAL or PIOUS) but those facades are easily destroyed, if you put man under pressure soon they will reveal the real man underneath.
That second version rings very true for me; I often see the carefully-constructed facade of mild-mannered reasonableness that some religious people try to maintain crack wide open when they are robustly challenged about their basic beliefs, to reveal a neurotic defensiveness and a capacity for vicious, spiteful nastiness that is quite shockingly at odds with the popular perception of – at least ‘moderate’ – Christians.
Answer: Your answer does not disprove my proposition; it only gives another option to consider. You are absolutely correct in that we all get provoked but this is not looking at my reply as I intended it to be looked at. I was being generous by giving you 50 / 50 options, plus giving you a bonus concerning the fact that I have big reservations about self help psychology.
Defend the word Previously: [On the issue of studies of failed prayers from the videos that I watched in particular “Why God does not heal amputees”. We are back at the point of treating God as some kind of Cosmic Vending Machine, after all if we should be humble not pretending to know his mind as per your first comment should this not be the case with healings?]
A clever evasion that is quite typical of the way certain Christians try to avoid giving a direct answer to a direct question ) True, if we do not know the mind of God, then we cannot expect him to always answer our prayers, because he may have his own mysterious reasons for not doing so. But you yourself have just claimed that we CAN know the mind of God, because his nature and his plans were revealed to us through Jesus Christ. So which is it? You can’t have it both ways. If we cannot know the mind of God, then all the religions we have built up around him are potentially pointless and futile, because they are all repdicated on our belief that we know what he wants for us. The same goes for the act of praying. If we CAN know the mind of God, then the arguments set out – very clearly, simply and logically – in “Why won’t God heal amputees” ask some very awkward questions about our belief in the power of prayer. And, as those arguments conclude, the simplest explanation for certain prayers never being answer (such as ones asking for the regrowing of an amputated limb) are that God simply doesn’t exst – so NONE of our prayers are ever answered, not even the simple, easy ones, and the belief that they are is simply delusion and wishful thinking on the part of the believer.
Answer: I appreciate that maybe I should have clarified this further. First of all, through the Bible we know what God wants us to know about him and his plan but we do not exist within the pages of the Bible and neither are we part of that time anymore. However, we find even in the Bible itself that there are times when miracles are not part of God’s plan for us and even more importantly, now that we have a catalogue of answers readily available and many examples of God’s care for us through his healing in the past, we don’t need any further proofs. To seek healing today and in particular to insist that they should be demanded from God is to forget that we are eternal creatures. Focusing on the temporary but forgetting the everlasting is contrary to the teaching of Christ. Therefore in the eyes of Christians, these are not necessary and atheists to make such demands could only do that from the perspective of Jesus not on the outside. There is no prerequisite in the Bible to say you can only believe in God if he heals you.
Defend the word previously: [But I should also not forget to mention that there were studies done in America; these are statistical studies, grant you these are not millions of people, but one took 400 people and second were slightly higher. I can probably find more details for you if you want specifics, they monitored heart patients, and monitored affects of their recovery they split them in two groups observation conclusion was that more people who were prayed for survived and interestingly enough for those who were deeply religious and preyed for themselves seemed to do better than all, in fact study concluded that none of them died during the period of that study.]
Sorry, but you are flat wrong. As recent research published in scientific and medical journals has conclusively demonstrated, there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that prayer as any effect in the recovery and survival rates of patients. By this I mean that properly conducted, double-blind trials showed no statistical correlation between recovery and survival rates and whether or not specific patients were being prayed for. And this necessarily rules out patients who were deeply religious and prayed for themselves, because it is well-known that a ‘psychological placebo effect’ exists, whereby patients who believe they will recover (either beecause they have faith in God, and that he will answer their prayers, or simply have faith in their doctor and his treatments), and who have a positive and optimistic emotional outlook, tend to do better than patients who succumb to despair, and who have a negative and pessimistic outlook.
My Answer: Are you not too quick to make such claims? After all, if you don’t have all the necessary data, can you make such a claim? Sorry to point this out but that is a premature statement. I have included the research data from 1997 in America that I came across. I would love to see your data to compare notes.
Note that both groups were unaware of the ongoing study. This would discount any placebo to the knowledge of the study being conducted in the first place. Though on the note of the people praying who were religious, I see your point but equally note that no GP would ever recommend to anyone that they should take the placebo effect of prayer over medication. What I mean by that is a.) As a Christian I endorse and support medicine and b) we have no proof that this was an effect of placebo rather than God healing. Otherwise we should not stop at that, we could say the same about medicine i.e. it was not medicine it was your faith in medicine that cured you.
Note that I do accept the positive thinking effect on our recovery, but when you are limiting your view to just that option you are not being fully statistically inclusive. In other words there are other options that you didn’t consider. Note my openness and friendly prompting to you does not mean that I’m in two minds about this. I firmly believe in the power of prayer.
Doctors Have Faith in Faith
A survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians shows that ninety-nine percent of doctors believe a relationship exists between faith and physical healing. Recently, more than one thousand health-care professionals met at Harvard Medical School to examine the connection between spirituality and healing. Doctors’ faith in faith was bolstered by a California study of the effect of prayer on recovery from heart problems. About two hundred heart patients were assigned to Christians who prayed for them, while an equal number, a control group, received no known prayers. Neither group knew about the prayers, yet those who received prayer developed half the complications that were experienced by those in the control group.
A similar study by the Dartmouth Medical School examined the effect of prayer on healing when the patients prayed for themselves. The death rate six months after bypass surgery was
- 9 percent for the general population
- but 5 percent for those who prayed for their own healing.
- And none of the deeply religious patients died during the period of the study.
The Associated Press, quoted in “Religion in the News,” Signs of the Times, March 1997,
[[One final suggestion concerning the power of prayer. I think you might find these websites very interesting – and challenging. They start from the premise that God exists, and that prayer works, and then obtain contradictions derived from these premises, which in turn suggest that either prayers are pointless, or God does not exist. There are text sections and also video presentations on both sites: godisimaginary.com/ and whywontgodhealamputees.com/ I would be interested to know your responses to them.]
Defend the word previously: Thanks for these I did see number of them on Youtube before, I would however argue that some basic logical mistakes have been made in number of them.
1. He assumes that Christians cannot think for themselves critically? Why do we have such a verity of denominations if this is the case?]
No, if you listen to the preamble to the videos, the presenter is actually very flattering towards the Christian viewer, attributing to them an intelligent, logical and rational mind, and then challenging them to apply those attributes to thinking openly and honestly about the arguments presented.
My Answer: I am very well aware of demagogy which can be used often on the people that you disagree with. One will be pleasant in order to gain their trust i.e. “one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” And I’m well aware of good oratory techniques which is why I try and avoid them. My reasoning is either through the Bible or logic.
Defend the word previously [2. We could not make God heal anyone, this is his choice and in fact Jesus said as much when he was taunted to preformed miracles and give them some kind of sign. So the logic is squired and twisted, it is like this “humans have eyes” and “Cats have eyes” Cats can see really well in the dark therefore humans can see in the dark. It just does not follow, does he ever wonder why it that people will watch his videos yet still decide not to become atheists?]
You really seem to be trying very hard to NOT understand what the videos were getting at. Well, as the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water…
My answer: Whilst this is a possibility it is not a probability in my view.
Defend the word previously [This brings as back to that feeling of superiority. He probably thinks he has something that Christians don’t. I use to think that I was smarter than most people, but that can be very lonely place, Jesus whom I consider to be the most amazing and intelligent person ever to have walked this earth, spent time bothering to explain intricate inter-relational issues. He made God accessible through intellectual reasoning and faith, “you believe because you see” is what he said to Thomas.]
Magicians and stage illusionists such as Derren Brown use that same ’seeing is believing’ line to very entertaining and baffling effect, of course. The problem is that our senses can deceive us, and things are not always as they appear. This is the lesson of science.
My reply: You are confusing science with magic and they are completely separate, though I understand your logic. However, note that I’m actually saying that faith based on seeing is not faith at all. Faith kicks in once you have enough evidence that is reasonable.
Defend the word previously [But he also praised those who would put their trust in him, based on the “enough evidence” in other words. It is good to seek and ask, but there comes a point where God says what about our relationship?]
In other words, what your religion says is ‘Stop thinking and just believe; too much thinking will make you doubt your faith, and we can’t have that…’ In other words, it is the age-old anti-intellectualism and the distrust of honest and open intellectual inquiry that religions have always fostered in order to protect their turf. Unthinking, uncritical credulity is a heavy price to pay for comforting beliefs. Personally, I value intellectual integrity more than piety.
My Answer: No that is not what I said, that is your misunderstanding. I understand that you may have come across some Christians who may have given you such an answer but that never came from me. On the contrary, you will find many solid reasons on my blog why you should both believe in God and Christianity. I do use the word believe as I said before everything we know is based on faith that our understanding of the presented information is correct. This is not philosophy; it’s just a fact of life. You believe that you interprete all the available data and their implications correctly whilst I look at the same evidence and I may come to a completely different conclusion. The question that we need to ask is did we use logic or is our reasoning based on wishful thinking? This is often what atheists would say. However, I strongly argue this from the opposite side. In other words, no matter how many arguments I would give, atheists will always try to find some kind of plausible solution but when this is multiplied over many arguments you know that the debater only looks for excuses and not the truth. In other words, if there is more than one explanation, the choices that we make will show our starting position is always defended regardless of all the possibilities that may exist.
Defend the word previously [3. I like how the narrator in the video equates, Mormons with Muslims and then with Christians. Just because you find miracles in all of them you should not conclude that they are all irrational and you live in the bubble of delusion.]
Oh, I see – so Christian miracles are ‘real’, but Muslim and Mormon miracles are fake, eh? And I have no doubt sure that Muslims and Mormons would regard the miracles of other faiths with the same suspicion. So who is right? The simplest answer, of course, is NO ONE; there are no such things as miracles.
My reply: Lets just look at some of the information that determines my view point.
- Christianity is older than Islam by about 600 years and it has more than 1700 years on the Mormons. Both show teaching that is not open to criticism due to the closed nature of “evidence”, unlike Christianity which is why you can attack Christianity but with others you just have different opinions.
- Both have many things that have been blatantly “borrowed” from the Bible.
- Basic Christianity (Original biblical teaching – note that I’m not talking about the Catholic view of damnation if you don’t believe) continues to use reason as its foundation, and continues to put these out in the open to be either credited or discredited.
Defend the word previously [That is jumping a gun, first atheists would conclude that you could not know God, then when you say but God revelled himself through Christ they want to deny that too.]
Well, that is entirely logical; if God does not exist, as atheists maintain, then he cannot be ‘known’, and nor can he be revealed through anyone, can he? You see how simple everything becomes when you start with the premise that God does not exist? All those other questions about whether he can be known, and whether someone revealed him, just evaporate – they are meaningless )
My reply: I should have clarified so sorry.
- My point is that if Christ did exist and did teach in the history of human kind then it is possible that he could have revealed God’s plan for us. This possibility could not be discounted as a possibility regardless of how sceptical you may be.
- Atheists see this as a treat then try to deny that Jesus even existed. When you tackle this and give good reasons why Jesus should be considered as an historical character then they turn and say but was he deluded or mistaken or an evil genius?
Defend the word previously [You offer them evidence that even those who are non Christian accept that he was a Historical character, ]
Erm, I don’t. See my earlier posts.
My reply: see other links I have included on the issue of the historicity of Jesus. Please check the above answer.
Defend the word previously [but people tend to choose minority fringe ‘scholars’ on the far left as their authoritative source. As I keep on saying to people ‘you can’t simply pick and choose’, we have to stay objective about this.]
But that is precisely what Christian do! They pick and choose whom to read, whom to listen to, whom to believe, and filter everything and everyone else out. Pot. Kettle. Black )
My reply: the fact that you and I converse so readily shows that this is not true for all Christians, does it not? There are plenty of theologians and apologists who are very eager to talk to atheists.
Defend the word previously [I can see now why you may think that all Christians suffer from self delusion, but note that the fact that this is aired to the general Christian population serves to show that either there are smart Christians who will understand his reasoning but find solution to his problem, as I believe I have.]
Then perhaps they are not quite as ’smart’ as they think they are ) Or simply not as courageous in questioning their own beliefs as they should be.
My reply: First you give a “perhaps” answer which is not an answer and secondly I will repeat my previous answer: the fact that you and I converse so readily shows that this is not true for all Christians, does it not? There are plenty of theologians and apologists who are very eager to talk to atheists.
Defend the word previously [Or are none of us (Christians) are capable of understanding his argument, in which case he is wasting his time which is logical contradiction.]
Well, he has to start somewhere, doesn’t he? You can’t fault him for trying, even if his efforts might ultimately be futile where most Christians are concerned.
My reply: You can’t have clever Christians as you say that he starts with complementing intelligent Christians and intelligent Christians who are not able to understand him at the same time. That is a contradiction in terms of logic.
Defend the word previously [Common saying amongst atheists and Christians as I just commented to someone else is that “Nobody can make you believe, this is what you do to yourself” now as I keep on saying that our faith is inseparably linked to our reasoning, so whichever way you go you still need to base these on presuppositions which you choose to be true.]
Faith is inseparably linked to reasoning, yes – but to FAULTY reasoning, which is actually more dangerous than a complete absence of reasoning. Because faulty reasoning can still fool people into thinking they have thought things through rather than just accepted them, and give them a false sense of confidence in their beliefs.
My reply: The same can be said about atheism especially when you consider how limited and twisted the knowledge and understanding of Christianity is amongst atheists.
Defend the word previously [Just because people are confident in their faith, whether they be Mormons, Christians or Atheists this does not make us right ]
Ooh, what’s that – a tentative admission of the possible fallibility of your faith? Well I never. 🙂
My reply: Of course, if you can provide me with evidence that there is no God I will be the first one to publish it here on this blog.
Defend the word previously [If neither side has all the information then no side can claim to possibly use reason above anyone else.]
Wrong – an utterly fallacious argument that misrepresents the true nature of reason and knowledge; it is fashionable to claim that ‘all knowledge is relative’ and ‘there is more than one truth’ in certain fraudulent academic disciplines such as post modern philosophy, but the people who practice these disciplines are intellectual charlatans, of questionable rationality, who wouldn’t know an absolutely, unambiguously true statement (such as 1+1=2) if it bit them on the nose. It *is* possible to assert, with complete justification, that some beliefs, and some people, are more reasonable than others.
My reply: I need to apologise again as I think I need to clarify myself here. If no sufficient evidence is provided and only limited information is available the we cannot possibly have a solution to our problem. Again, I am being very generous here by giving you 50 / 50 chances that if the information needed is not available then either side should be more cautious in their claims. However, I agree 100% with you that we can find an absolute truth on many issues where sufficient data is provided. However, you will note as a mathematician that there are some problems that are just not workable as only very limited data may be available.
Defend the word previously [What I think is good and commendable is that people should allow others to challenge their beliefs, but this has to go both ways. I hope I didn’t make this too Christian for you and that it stands under the scrutiny of reason even if you may disagree with my conclusions.]
Well, how about I throw down a challenge to you, defendtheword? I have been attacking your beliefs for several posts now, and you have been defending them. How about we turn the tables at this point? You try attacking my atheist worldview, and I will try defending it. That might be interesting. 🙂
My reply: Thanks that would be great. Note I was not trying to impose this on you; I was only commenting on it. You will find many claims on this blog that challenge the Atheists’ world view. If you like, I will put a new post outlining why I am not an atheist and then you can give me your comments on that new post. Does that sound like a good idea?
Optional question: I will write more about this in a separate post, But if you want something to think about in the meantime how about this?
I assume that you are a moral and upright citizen of this country so I come to you for some advice.
I have read a book by Dr Dawkins about the selfish gene which has concluded that we co-operate for the mutual benefits of each other’s needs. This is the source of our morality and law according to some atheists. Now I see that despite the fact that you are an atheist, you are extremely caring and concerned for the good of others and very friendly towards your fellow men. However, I’m not as nice as you are, so here I come to ask you the following.
If I don’t believe that there is a moral law or if I don’t believe that your standard of mutual benefiting, even though I may think that it is of a high standards, then I may not feel obliged to obey them or that I don’t need to adhere to the same rules as you do as I don’t need the benefits of others. I have no conscience like you and right and wrong is different in my book. I love to live alone and / or all my friends have the same opinion as me. We believe that it is OK to oppress others to make them do what we want them to do. In fact if I want to kill (say I have links with the Mafia) why should I not do that, in order to benefit from someone else’s misery? Don’t give me any “rubbish” about mutual benefits as I don’t believe in that stuff. I believe in domination of the strong and the ruling over the weak masses. I believe this is how we evolved and this is good for stupid ignorant masses as this will eliminate the weak and keep only those who are the same as me ie strong and clever. So based on the information I give you why should I change my mind bearing in mind that I’m in control of the masses. The rest of the world’s population totally depends on me and is at my mercy so you can’t simply just make me not do bad things. Say I control American, Russian and Chinese rulers and the rest of Western Europe and all nukes are in my possessions.
Is there a moral code I should abide by? Should I destroy or should I spare the weak? And would this not be immoral if I show mercy as this will only make our human race weaker due to genetic pollution when you mix the weak with the strong? Should I not use drugs to control others, make good use of oppression, exploitation and so on if all that there is, is just us?
Note that I believe and stand for the complete opposite moral values and I do not doubt your honesty, kindness or goodness but if I was evil in your eyes and most people’s eyes, what would make me evil? And vice versa, what would make me good? Why should people consider me noble?
Defend the word