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Historicity of Jesus

December 14, 2010 32 comments

Hey everyone, I was wondering who out there doesn’t believe Jesus to be a historical person at all, and what evidence they base that on.

I’m finding that serious atheists have all made a decision, formed a belief, on who Jesus was, was not, or if he existed at all. It’s interesting because the only evidence I’ve seen that stands up to scrutiny is doubting particular passages of Josephus and Tacitus. Other than that, I’ve been running dry of things to look into on the subject. I’m sure there’s more out there, but on this point in particular the atheist really has to ignore a lot of evidence, and lean in to a minority pool of possibly falsified second or third hand sources for any sort of evidence to lean on to form their beliefs. Other than that it’s just misinformation or selective information. I’d love to discuss in length, but I would suggest you get Josh McDowell’s New Evidence that Demands a Verdict and read the chapters ‘The Historical Reliability of the New Testament’ and ‘Jesus, a Man of History’. Of course you should read some counter arguments, I’ve been looking into them. But there’s not much he doesn’t address in his book and cite some source for extra reading. What do YOU think?

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Genesis: Abraham’s sacrifice; NT: Jesus is Lord

December 10, 2010 2 comments

I’ve heard a lot of popular jokes about Abraham and Isaac, and some really good criticisms. Family Guy makes a good joke about it, as well as Year One. Funny stuff, legitimate concerns. I’ve heard Christopher Hitchens bring it up a few times too. I am particularly fond of Hitchens, even though I disagree with him on most all accounts. In my next few blogs I plan to bring up a few of his ‘immoral’ citations from the bible including circumcision, and the crucifixion of Christ.
When I was young growing up in the church it was obviously not a terrible thing for God to ask Abraham to go kill Isaac because I knew the ending long before I understood it. And when I did understand, it was already settled in my mind. In Brave New World, this would be called conditioning. Admittedly I have been conditioned. Having acknowledged that I want to show some truths of why God would ask Abraham to do such a thing.

Abraham was from Ur, a Sumerian city. He was not an Israelite (being Israel’s ancestor) but a Sumerian. In the region he was from child sacrifice was not uncommon. Abraham was old and childless when God told him he would make his babies as numerous as the starts, and through him would bless all nations. Abraham believed, and Isaac was born. God then tells Abraham to go kill his son, as sacrifice. Abraham reluctantly goes to follow the Lord’s command. When the knife is raised high God stops Abraham and lets him know that he will provide the sacrifice. This means that the culture Abraham came from where child sacrifice was accepted, is wrong. God was teaching him- a questionable teaching method, I know, but a good lesson, wouldn’t you agree. The story does not end here, however, but goes on.
Through Isaac is born Jacob, who bears Joseph, through which the nation of Israel is born in Egypt, where they grew in numbers that rivaled the stars in the sky. Moses is used by God to free his people where they break up into tribes, and wander around, bla bla bla, David is king- who is a descendent from Abraham, and an ancestor to Jesus. Jesus, is born and blesses the world (first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile) with his sacrifice on the cross. If Jesus is the son of God, then the prophesy given to Abraham became true at the resurrection.
But, wait, there’s more. Remember when God said I will provide the sacrifice? Well, the sacrifices were made so that those who transgressed could be forgiven. Jesus was then provided to forgive all, not provided or truly even provoked by man. The sins of man could not be forgiven by sacrificing what man had to sacrifice. Only God could provide a substantial sacrifice on man’s account. This is not terrible, because Jesus A) was self willed, and B) rose from the dead “conquered death” was not “obedient to death”.

[ added 12/11
The big moral issue is why would God ask Abraham to go kill Isaac to teach him not to kill his babies? I don’t know. But, I have a possible response, that does not totally satisfy the question. God asked because of where Abraham’s heat was at, and this works two ways.

1. Abraham said yes. He was not totally against child sacrifice, or he would have protested, and been right. But God was able to ask because Abraham would not have protested, and did not. It was not God who was the immoral Father but Abraham who was an immoral father.
2. Abraham was faithful to God, as Isaac was faithful to Abraham. God wanted Abraham to trust, even when it was uncomfortable. Abraham was not totally opposed to it, obviously, but he wasn’t jumping for joy at the chance to kill Isaac. God was letting Abraham know that he would be taken care of, even if it was hard to remain faithful to God; God always provides.
Also, I think God wanted to really bring this point home. When I get engaged I’m not just going to ask my girlfriend on a tuesday over at her mom’s house while eating Doritos. I’m going to go do something fun, and bring the emotions up, remind her of our first few weeks together, and make her nostalgic and longing for the future. I’m going to make her totally there in the moment emotionally, and then I’m going to ask. And it’s going to be awesome. I want that because I’m passionate about my future wife. I think God wanted the same thing for the same reasons. He didn’t just want to say, Oh, and don’t sacrifice your babies. He wanted Abraham to remember, to say to his children and grandchildren, “God always provides, and it’s important to listen and obey, even when it’s hard. He has a plan for you, not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future. Like the time he…” It is important to God, life is sacred, and he wanted to bring it home.
And lastly, God knew what was going to happen to His son, Jesus. He knew Jesus was to be led like a lamb to the slaughter. Abraham was called God’s friend, I think there’s a lot to that. My friends have shared some of my experiences, and the ones whom I’ve had more similar experiences often are closer. They shared an experience to share a friendship.]

The story of Abraham may be questionable, but look at it in new light as an object lesson for Abraham and an allegory and prophesy. If nothing else, it makes for a really ridiculously well fabricated story bordering on the divine.

Strong Atheism: Incompatible Arguments

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

This was fun to write. I like refuting syllogisms better than reading through oddly worded stuff to find the real arguments. If you’ve read my blogs, it’s that kind of writing I do that I’m talking about. This is all ontological, my favorite, and I got a great leading argument into the person of Christ at the end, focusing on the events of the cross. So it’s good stuff.

“I. A. The Perfection vs. Creation Argument, Version 1

  1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
  2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
  3. A perfect being can have no needs or wants.
  4. If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.
  5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 and 4).
  6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).”

The rationale here is that being perfect, lacking nothing, means that perfection would not create out of no necessity or longing. That is a rather dumb assumption. Perfect, lacking nothing, means in this sense, not-flawed, and self-sustaining. An author hardly writes a book to complete him or herself, or become their imperfect in some way. Authors create works of literature to bring them pleasure, and it has no bearing on their perfection, while it might have something to do with necessity of money. However, many authors do not have the same necessity. Good thought, but bad assumption, when applied looks silly.

“I. B. The Perfection vs. Creation Argument, Version 2

  1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
  2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
  3. If a being is perfect, then whatever he creates must be perfect.
  4. But the universe is not perfect.
  5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 and 4).
  6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5)”

There are two major flaws in this line of thinking. 1. Why does perfection always produce perfection? I understand how perfect math does not produce incorrect answers, but how does a perfect creator create beings with choice to make good or bad decision always make ‘good’ decision and so act perfectly? 2. This is entirely up to the readers definition of perfection. From the natural laws the universe adheres to and the whole knife edge thing, along with marveling at subatomic matter, and cell structure and how it all relates in the practical world, it would be safe to say this universe is kind of perfect. But again, debatable.

“II. The Immutability vs. Creation Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is immutable.
  2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
  3. An immutable being cannot at one time have an intention and then at a later time not have that intention.
  4. For any being to create anything, prior to the creation he must have had the intention to create it, but at a later time, after the creation, no longer have the intention to create it.
  5. Thus, it is impossible for an immutable being to have created anything (from 3 and 4).”

Honestly I think I just don’t understand this one at all. 1. I think they ran too far with immutable. and 2. When did God ever lose the intention of creating the universe? I don’t think that’s even relevant. After something is created it’s not a matter of intent or not… I mean I don’t think God’s intentions changed because He created something. Just like an Ayn Rand’s intentions didn’t change after she wrote Atlas Shrugged.

“III. The Immutability vs. Omniscience Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is immutable.
  2. If God exists, then he is omniscient.
  3. An immutable being cannot know different things at different times.
  4. To be omniscient, a being would need to know propositions about the past and future.
  5. But what is past and what is future keep changing.
  6. Thus, in order to know propositions about the past and future, a being would need to know different things at different times (from 5).
  7. It follows that, to be omniscient, a being would need to know different things at different times (from 4 and 6).
  8. Hence, it is impossible for an immutable being to be omniscient (from 3 and 7).
  9. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 8)”

I reserved the immutable discussion for this argument, it seemed more relevant. Immutable applied to God means that He is constant, and non-circumstantial according to his morality, and divine nature. It means when there is extra-marital sex God is against extra-marital sex. Or murder, God is not a fan. That does not change. Does it mean if someone gets murdered he is unaware because that would be a change? No, he is aware, he just still thinks it’s wrong. Feels kind of silly to think these are incompatible ideas.
Also, this is the third argument, so far, that made an assumption about time. The transcendent God is admittedly outside of space and time. So why could God not already know, and remain immutable, by this warped definition? I will talk more about that, because that’s not the conclusion I’ve come to, just noting how another argument here can be applied to reconcile these two.

“IV. The Immutable vs. All-Loving Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is immutable.
  2. If God exists, then he is all-loving.
  3. An immutable being cannot be affected by events.
  4. To be all-loving, it must be possible for a being to be affected by events.
  5. Hence, it is impossible for an immutable being to be all-loving (from 3 and 4).
  6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).”

Is not the ‘all’ part of all-loving not sufficient in itself to stand up to this? But my previous questioning of immutable works too.

“V. The Transcendence vs. Omnipresence Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).
  2. If God exists, then he is omnipresent.
  3. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.
  4. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space.
  5. Hence, it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent (from 3 and 4).
  6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).”

This is a curious speculation.  I like this thinking, but again challenge the definition of transcendent. Transcendent means uncontextualized. Whoa. Basically, the transcendent is not confined to a particular place, time or event. Place in this case is the universe; time is as applied in the universe; and event is all as applied in the uinverse. God is confined to these. St. Augustine speculated on such ideas saying something to the effect of “[God is] wholly present in everything without being wholly present in any one thing.” His presence is entirely there, but He is not confined to any one place, for he transcends them all.

“VI. The Transcendence vs. Personhood Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).
  2. If God exists, then he is a person (or a personal being).
  3. If something is transcendent, then it cannot exist and perform actions within time.
  4. But a person (or personal being) must exist and perform actions within time.
  5. Therefore, something that is transcendent cannot be a person (or personal being) (from 3 and 4).
  6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).”

L.T. Jeyachandran described Jesus as an equal and whole part of God coming and interacting in our universe like a cube in a 2 dimensional world. It is represented by a square. The 2 dimensional world cannot show you all of what a cube is, but it can be represented in that frame of reference without becoming any less than what it is, only interpreted as such. Any my argument for the definition of transcendent applies as well. It’s hardly an argument, though. Just look it up on dictionary.com.

 

“VII. The Nonphysical vs. Personal Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is nonphysical.
  2. If God exists, then he is a person (or a personal being).
  3. A person (or personal being) needs to be physical.
  4. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1-3).”

Now this is just lazy. 2 BIG things, then I’ll move on.
1. Why must God be less than physical? Maybe He’s more than physical. Maybe we don’t understand the ontological nature of God (definition for transcendence, look it up).
2.  Why does one need to be physical to be personal?

“VIII. The Omnipresence vs. Personhood Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is omnipresent.
  2. If God exists, then he is a person (or a personal being).
  3. Whatever is omnipresent cannot be a person (or a personal being).
  4. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1-3).”

Again, with the same faulty ideas. Why can’t the all-present be personal? You would have to redefine terms to something other than what they are to make this seem sensible.

“IX. The Omniscient vs. Free Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is omniscient.
  2. If God exists, then he is free.
  3. An omniscient being must know exactly what actions he will and will not do in the future.
  4. If one knows that he will do an action, then it is impossible for him not to do it, and if one knows that he will not do an action, then it is impossible for him to do it.
  5. Thus, whatever an omniscient being does, he must do, and whatever he does not do, he cannot do (from 3 and 4).
  6. To be free requires having options open, which means having the ability to act contrary to the way one actually acts.
  7. So, if one is free, then he does not have to do what he actually does, and he is able to do things that he does not actually do (from 6).
  8. Hence, it is impossible for an omniscient being to be free (from 5 and 7).
  9. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 8).”

The simple response is “God is not free”. In fact, if God were free He could then burn everyone out of boredom, each a chicken sand which and watch TV all afternoon. But he cannot do that, that is unless he already decided to before he was faced with the opportunity to decide. Wow, gives new meaning to living life in the past. No, I think God can see all possible choices, and their outcomes, and the future choices they lead to, for everyone, including himself. But wait, that’s impossible? Well, omniscient means to know everything infinitely why downplay the word? The choice is available, we just need to get out of the one track of time, and see what could be, know that God sees all of what could be. Also, God is loving, just, merciful, compassionate, and bla bla bla, all by nature. Those words are not attribute, but defining characteristics. God is not free to do things contrary to his nature, or things logically impossible (the square circle thing).

“X. The Justice vs. Mercy Argument

  1. If God exists, then he is an all-just judge.
  2. If God exists, then he is an all-merciful judge.
  3. An all-just judge treats every offender with exactly the severity that he/she deserves.
  4. An all-merciful judge treats every offender with less severity than he/she deserves.
  5. It is impossible to treat an offender both with exactly the severity that he/she deserves and also with less severity than he/she deserves.
  6. Hence, it is impossible for an all-just judge to be an all-merciful judge (from 3-5).
  7. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 6).”

God does judge according to what each person has done, and the wages of sin is death. I will pull no punches there, that is truth. And yes, God is a merciful God who pardons those for their sins. How is this huge logical flaw reconciled? Pick up the bible, and read the gospels. Jesus ______fill in blank_____

  • paid our ransom
  • pardoned our transgressions
  • took on our iniquity
  • died for our sins
  • bore our cross
  • healed us through this wounds

The list goes on and on. It wasn’t freely that we are free from the consequence of our sin, but at a great cost. The cost has been paid for all who accept it. Only He who was transgressed could forgive our transgressors. Because we are sinful and inflicted with iniquity we do not work with the physiological nature of God. It says in Revelation 3 “I am about to spit you out of my mouth” the word being puke, like a sickness. In Isaiah 53 we read of a doctor who does not bandage our wounds, but take them on himself though he did not deserve them; because of that He can withstand them and we cannot. And it now reconciled how God can be omniscient, transcendent, all-just and all-merciful, all-loving, all-personal, and creator. Because he is also Lord and Savior. “How much more then should we submit to the father of our spirits and live!” Hebrews 12:9

Treating the Symptoms

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Colds are mean nasty little bugs. They come over you, and all you can do is take some nasty “cherry” flavored stuff and hope your cough stops so you can get some rest. The interesting thing about a cold is the medicine doesn’t actually help you get better, it just treats the symptoms.

I use this analogy a lot for the way I go about my life trying to become a better person. Instead of attacking the root of my problems, I go about attacking the symptoms. Instead of working to become loving, I avoid the people I hate- and let the wound fester.
Lately I’ve noticed that people, like myself, attack big thinking questions the same way. When asked the question of ‘why is there suffering?’ I was quick to jump into books and the bible, and jot down my thoughts and apply them to situations, and get other perspectives, and I hardly took the time to really understand the question, and ended up treating symptoms and getting nowhere in the end. See, from the question inevitably becomes the object of the question, and it is no longer a problem of why is there suffering, but ‘why do I suffer?’ and ultimately ‘can the answer remedy my pain?’ When it becomes personal it is not at all the same thing. And see, if I answer why suffering exists, you may get the answer to the question you asked, but most likely will be less fulfilled. Treating the symptoms while the wound festers, and never gets better at all. But I suppose I’d like to stop the discharges even if my body was inevitable ill.

What do you think about treating symptoms instead of problems?

In what ways do you treat symptoms?

What are your problems?

Does treating symptoms help? Why? Why not?

How does this apply to your ideology? To your apologia?