Don’t believe everything you see
If there is a God who created us, how would you expect him to reveal himself? Since sight is one of, if not the primary way we humans take in information, we naturally would want to see him. But if he created the entire natural order, then he is outside of it and, safe to say, totally “other” in being. So it’s reasonable to assume that we may not even have the capacity to see him as he really is.
Atheists and skeptics sometimes question God’s existence because they’ve never seen him and know of no hard evidence that anyone ever has. They may or may not allow for the believability of the historical Jesus, but certainly don’t ascribe to the notion that he was God in the flesh. Some even find it convenient that he lived in a pre-technological era, before video cameras were around to record the feeding of the five thousand or the healing of the man born blind. Or his torturous crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. “Maybe if I saw him perform a miracle on the evening news I’d believe,” they seem to be saying.
In my last post I presented a fictitious scenario with the suggestion that the written word was the most logical method for God’s revelation of himself. And I would maintain that the Bible is believable not in spite of but because it was written in ancient times, and the record of Jesus just as valid, if not more than, because he came before the invention of photography.
First, the problem of visual recorded evidence. As everyone living in today’s digital age knows, “reality” can be manufactured and images doctored. Sometime in the last few months I ran across a video of a man supposedly getting struck by lightning twice in about 5 seconds. It looked very believable. Turns out, this video has been making the rounds for a few years and had already been debunked as a fake. You can see the evidence here.
If Jesus had been born in the 20th century, and say we had film from the 1940s of him changing water into wine, wouldn’t the skeptically-inclined suspect some Disney animation-type alterations? Or of him healing a paralyzed man so that he stood up from his wheelchair and walked. Would that be enough to convince most folks that he was God? Would we not question whether the man was truly unable to walk before, and even if medical records were found to corroborate his paralysis, wouldn’t we suspect that they had been faked?
Or suppose there was footage purported to be of his death, by electric chair, most likely. And then of him walking the streets three days later. Faked. Staged. Altered. The challenges to its authenticity would abound, just like they do today for the written accounts.
But the written accounts are reliable precisely because of their ancient “hard copy” format. No one will ever know the multiple changes I’ve made in this composition, but it’s pretty difficult if not impossible to selectively remove ink from papyrus or parchment without leaving evidence of the deed.
But, of course, what survives today are copies of the original manuscripts, not any originals themselves. So one might ask, why should we believe that the original documents were copied accurately? We have very good reason to, and I am going to outline those reasons in my next post.
“why should we believe that the original documents were copied accurately? ”
Why does that matter?
The tale of a young Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider could be copied accurately for thousands of years…but that doesn’t mean Spider-man ever actually existed.
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Lordy…Jesus could be hooked up with Mr. James Randi…Randi is a skeptic who offers a million dollars to anyone who can produce a supernatural event…So far, no winners and a lot of debunking of quacks….Christ’s alleged “miracles” are very pathetic, the eyewitness were fanatical believers who were NOT seeking to question what they had “seen”, they did not take the time to include the counter-evidence against the resurrection, the manuscripts were copied, translated, edited, censored, the scribes would make notes on the margins which were later incorporated into the text, other scribes “corrected” what they saw as mistakes from ideological standpoints, you have the Gnostic gospels, and Constantine’s political ambitions, etc.
We can even have more fun and dig into the average IQ of Iron Age knuckle-draggers, “We once thought IQ was a relatively stable, inherited trait. But the evidence has accumulated that problem solving and critical thinking abilities are much more responsive to environmental factors like culture and schooling than we thought (…) Furthermore, IQ has been on the rise (…) We are getting smarter, and it’s not because humans are genetically or biologically changing that much. It’s because our environment is changing. We have access to huge amounts of sophisticated information, better nutrition, better healthcare, more affluence, improved education, higher literacy rates, etc. (…) What are the implications of the rise in IQ if we project it backward in time? It means that the average person from three hundred or five hundred or one thousand years ago would be less mentally able than the average person of today (…) The people who founded the world’s religions, on average, would have had distinctly worse reasoning abilities, would have been less able to comprehend complex ideas, and would have had a worse comprehension of their surroundings (…) Would you readily accept conclusions about the most important questions facing humanity -without question-from someone with an IQ of 60?” McCormick, Matthew. Atheism and the Case Against Christ. New York: Prometheus Books, 2012.
Nice ad hominem. Asserting that in your opinion the ancient writers did no due diligence does not make it so.
Setting aside the Christian apologetics for a moment, the anthropological argument you offer is a non-sequitar. I would say that while people have more access to information it does not make them smarter. Measuring IQ is a recent innovation and I would submit that Aquinas, Augustine, and Anselm had many points of intelligence than many of the people who trust Wikipedia as a source of trusted scholarship.
“Nice ad hominem. Asserting that in your opinion the ancient writers did no due diligence does not make it so.”
I don’t think they did that.They’re basically pointing out what scientific research has revealed about our brains compared to our ancestors brains, which would include those who invented these religions. We use our brains differently now and we have more access to information. We process information differently. We’re healthier and have more time to think.
That doesn’t mean our ancestors couldn’t have been as ‘smart’ as we were or that they lacked the capability to be as smart. It means they didn’t have the benefits we do, and so their overall IQ would have suffered. They also thought in different terms than we do.
You can even see this in psychology, where the hypothetical is now taken seriously.We think differently now than we did in the past.
Note: Wikipedia can be a good source of info. It just means checking out the sources at the bottom.
You know what would know exactly what it would take to convince me it exists and have the power to see that it happens?
An all knowing, all powerful god.
I am agnostic with respect to your claim.
And, if you were given satisfactory evidence, would you be willing to change your manner of life according to God’s demands?
“And, if you were given satisfactory evidence, would you be willing to change your manner of life according to God’s demands?”
I don’t know. I would at least believe in your God. How would I have to ‘change my manner of life’? What would that involve?
Submitting to his authority in every area of your life, in thoughts, words and actions.
Sounds like slavery. I think I’d pass.
But I’d still believe it existed.
You are already a slave, my friend. But, whom God sets free is truly free. Slave in one sense and free in another no matter which religion or non-religion you choose.
Speak for yourself. I’m not a slave.
:Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin…[but] if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
I trust a man who beat death.
Or a book that says a man beat death. I could write a book saying the same. You have to do better to convince me than a bible quote.
History book. But, you wouldn’t have as many witnesses or a world that was radically changed within a hundred years to give your claim credibility. Its 2014, my friend. We count years by Jesus.
History book doesn’t mention Jesus. Only the religion. In fact, Roman records don’t show a Jesus, and they kept pretty good records.
We use the Gregorian calendar. The Mayans used their religion to count years. Who cares? That’s not proof your deity exists.
The Gospels are history accounts, my friend. And, they are worthy of at least the same consideration as Roman annals. The proof that God exists is apparent in creation, my friend.Your sinfulness suppresses this knowledge but you are without excuse. Desire to live as one pleases is a powerful thing–powerful enough to blind one to the obvious. And, you’ve already admitted that you would still refuse to bow the knee even if the evidence was compelling.
Step one is belief. But even if I believed, I wouldn’t necessarily think that the deity in question was a good being. Finding that out would be step two.
You are your own god, my friend. There is your belief. There is your worship.
I am not my own god, and I worship nothing, myself least of all.
Measure your use of time and resources and you’ll be able to follow the trail to your god, my friend.
Sorry, but no. Unless your definition of ‘god’ is unrecognizable from its standard usage.
Also, you’re not my friend. You’re an anonymous internet commenter.
If it offends you then I will stop calling you “my friend.” But, my real name is Clint so I’m not entirely anonymous.
3: a person or thing of supreme value
Define ‘supreme value’.
So, notascientist drops by to empirically prove he is notahistorian either. Accurate transmission of the extant writings establish the historicity of the bible. The point you attempt to make fails to establish any correlativity between Spiderman and the overwhelming manuscript evidence substantiating the claims of the bible.
There is historical evidence that someone can rise from the dead, that talking snakes are real, that someone can walk on water, that demons really do exist, that there is a magic tree of knowledge, that a virgin gave birth to a god/human, that there was really a worldwide flood, that people can age to be over 900 years old in the past, without the aid of even the most advanced technology we have today, that someone can live inside a whale etc…etc…?
Huh. Interesting. Please share, BBG.
Or are you only assuming (presupposing) that there really is evidence of these things?
Yes, and you believe that through an unknown process, over an unknown period of time, with unknown and unknowable processes life springs out of the aggregation of single celled organisms. Volumes of information magically appears with genetic sequencing so precise that the mathematical probability is so unlikely as to be impossible.
You believe that laws of logic are the chemical interactions of brains, ignoring the fact that there are nontemporal abstractions yet the parade of horribles you attribute to my worldview are somehow out of the realm of possibility since of course you have experienced the sum total of all experiences; and know with apoditic certainty that such things could never happen, an unprovable universal negation by the way (unless you are claiming omniscience of course?)
Furthermore, you assume that all beings are contingent, yet so far I have not seen a rational response that accounts for the set of contingent beings that are contained within the world, so are all the beings in the world also contingent? How is this even possible, and you think talking snakes are problematic? Remember my worldview accounts for a creator that can abrogate the laws of physics, you would have more difficulty explaining the uniformity of nature based on your worldview than I have explaining how God can abrogate the uniformity based on his good pleasure.
You’ll like this…I once heard it said that in ancient times, it was a miracle when a Jackass spoke, nowadays its a miracle when a Jackass keeps it mouth shut.
Ah, okay. So how many first-hand accounts of alien abduction do your believe? All of them, I hope. Or else you lack consistency.
Are you asserting that there a contradiction in my worldview? How did you come to know what a contradiction is?
I’m asserting that if you claim that written testimony is good enough evidence for the claims of the bible then you have no good reason for claiming that written and verbal testimony isn’t good enough evidence for alien abductions.
If I deny this you are asserting that my worldview posits a contradiction, right?
I have no idea about your worldview. I’m talking about you and the claims you have made on this blog.
Do you object to answering questions at all? Because it seems you have a hard time doing so. Or choose not to.
No, I answer questions all the time when there is legitimate question proffered. Alien abductions fit quite nicely into my worldview. I believe there are liars, and understand that the material world is not the sum total of a human’s existence. I leave open the possibility that alien abductions are part and parcel of Satan’s plan to deceive and even convince people that they have been abducted. Certainly some people are convinced that there is no God. Same thing essentially.
Okay. That’s fine. You believe in the Bible and alien abductions.
I think both are nonsense, but commend you for seeing and admitting that the evidence for both is equivalent.
“Yes, and you believe that through an unknown process, over an unknown period of time, with unknown and unknowable processes life springs out of the aggregation of single celled organisms.”
I thought you’d know better. *smile*
I didn’t say I believed any of those things. There is no book of atheism that says I have to believe that. Your book on the other hand, includes all of those things. So please stop deflecting by trying to put words in my mouth about what I believe. You made a very specific comment about the amount of proof for your bible being correct. I challenged that claim.
Please cough up the goods!
“Remember my worldview accounts for a creator that can abrogate the laws of physics”
Making it possible for you to explain away anything. I know.
But I wasn’t asking about that. I was asking for your evidence that YOU said substantiated your biblical claims. So please, share away.
I’m waiting. No more deflecting. Or at least finally admit that you have none, but only assume ‘on faith’ that your bible is correct in the same manner that every other religious person does who must take their religion ‘on faith’.
Whose deflecting? Provide your account of origins…unless you have no evidences? Let’s stop talking past one another. Please tell me how *you* evaluate evidences? On what basis would the claims of the bible be evaluated by you without recourse to what you already presuppose to be true. You have ruled out the possibility of my worldview from the outset thus the discussion must remain at the presuppositional level.
“Provide your account of origins…unless you have no evidences?”
I made no claim about origins. I also made no claim about talking snakes, magic trees etc. That was all you and your book. Stop deflecting. Back your claim.
“Let’s stop talking past one another.”
Okay. Provide your historical evidence, like you claimed you could a few comments ago. You said: “So, notascientist drops by to empirically prove he is notahistorian either. ”
Please provide historical evidence that everything I asked you and is said to have happened in your book is true.
“Whose deflecting? Provide your account of origins…”
I don’t have to. I’m honest enough to say ‘I don’t know’, instead of assuming an ancient book of mythology had it all right.
“the discussion must remain at the presuppositional level.”
That’s cool. Then don’t make historical claims. Keep it at the ‘presupposition’ level of assuming. That’s called faith, and something your religion even tells you is required.
Not evidence. Faith.
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I want to offer a very brief and honest insight to your pondering lack of visuals as a reason to disbelieve. I have no doubt that is the case for some. In my case it was the bible that fueled my questioning. During that time of questioning I kept returning to children; children in the bible and children in the present. I concluded that no deity could exist, be caring of anything good, and do to children and people what he is told to have done.
No ma’am, I certainly hold no belief in any deity. Were the christian god to exist, it would have much to answer for.
Hey, everybody. Just thought I’d interject a little something here whilst a few of you
duke it outdebate. My goal with this blog is to engage honest seekers and skeptics who are genuinely interested in discovering the truth about God, as well as to encourage believers with the evidences and reasons to believe that I have learned. I am not interested in debating with those who seem intent only on deriding and arguing.
That being said…I would like to make a few general statements regarding some issues that were raised. If you are going to dismiss out of hand a book that continues to be incredibly influential almost two thousand years after its completion, and has been more intensely scrutinized than any other at any time and has not been diminished or found false, you had better have some pretty good evidence backing up your disdain or you will end up looking foolish.
And if you are not willing to allow for the supernatural, i.e. miracles, then debating theists is a waste of everyone’s time. Furthermore, if we are contemplating a concept as big and all-encompassing as God and his work in the world, we have to understand that things may not always be as they seem. What seems unjust from our limited perspective may not only be just but merciful from God’s. There is so much more to know than we do…some that we can discover if we try, and some that we may never know.
But if you are more about burying (as in, your opponent) than you are about discovery…this blog really isn’t for you.
“And if you are not willing to allow for the supernatural”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m more than willing to ‘allow’ for the supernatural. I just require good evidence. An anecdote, written 2000 years ago or told to me first hand, is not good enough evidence by itself, however.