Posts tagged ‘apologetics’
(from comment #96 on A Curious Christian with a Few Questions for de-converts)
It is my firm belief that any book which asks the reader in its preface to put away all subjectivity and view both sides of a debate topic equally will immediately plunge headlong into logical fallacies and spin-doctoring. Such is the case with Strobel’s ‘The Case for Christ’. Not that I mind Strobel presenting only one side of an argument – he is after all making a ‘case’. However, to pretend this has any objectivity at all makes Strobel’s intentions suspect from page 1.
Strobel, acting as a journalist, interviews a dozen or so leading Evangelical scholars for their evidences for their belief in Jesus Christ. The questions he asks are fine, but in general he never asks the follow-up questions that are just screaming to be asked. One assertion after another is left unchallenged. Bruce Metzger claims there are over 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, so the reader is left with the impression that each manuscript is evidence of the reliability of Scripture. But Strobel fails to asks how many of those 5000 are actually useful for determining the actual text. Strobel fails to ask how many centuries have passed between the time of Jesus and the time the vast majority of those manuscripts were written.
Donald Carson claims that Jesus fit the profile of God revealed in the Old Testament. Strobel should have asked Carson about Marcion, the early church heretic who found no similarity between YHVH and Jesus, and in fact claimed they were two entirely different deities…
Frequently, when I bring up the fact that God never does any revelation, vision, miracle, visitation, etc, to make his existence obvious, I encounter an apologetic for the do-nothing god that goes something like this.
“God can’t reveal himself with total clarity because it would violate our free will. If He revealed himself with total clarity, we could not possibly choose anything else. And God must respect our free will.”
Well this is just a load of rubbish from every angle. Let’s look at some angles.
First off there’s the whole issue of free will. Do we really have free will? That’s debatable, both from the Bible and from secular philosophies. And if you introduce a deity with perfect foreknowledge, then free will is definitely gone. [But despite this, I’ve actually heard Calvinists use the above apologetic. Go figure.] I’m not going to settle the free will issue for anyone, but an apologetic based on such a highly debated issue is hardly a slam-dunk.
Next we have the problem of “God can’t “. That’s a biggie. The all-powerful God “can’t”???…
April 13, 2003.
Why are we born so far from home? Why is it so hard to travel on that narrow path and enter that tiny gate?… Sometimes the path is covered by so much debris that it is impossible to decipher where we are to go. I just want to see a little bit of the road. Why do my feet lead me down another path? Have I turned away the light beneath my feet? Am I looking too far ahead rather than the imminent path?… Deliver me from my own shadows… Open my eyes…
April 30, 2003.
Is it only me, God?… Why the distance? How does such a finite being come to “know” you? You know I do not like to speak in the “unreal” and the abstract… Is “knowing” you nothing but a cliche?… People say they are close to You at certain times in their lives, but do they really know what they mean by what they say? Are they not just in a heightened or, dare I say, “enlightened” state?… Are Christians just a special case in which they have certain special knowledge of what they are close to when going through a certain type of mindset? What about unbelievers?…
We’ve had several entries on this subject over the course of this blog including:
- Jesus – to be or not to be, that is the question!
- Is Jesus mentioned in the Talmud?
- Were the Gospels eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus?
However, on a recent comment, evanescent mentioned this subject and I would like highlight it (with some slight edits for flow):
There is good reason to believe there was a man at the centre of the cult that became Christianity. Actually, there was probably many men at the time. The cult that become Christianity retrospectively convoluted stories about its leader.
A fantastic set of articles exploring the historical evidence (or lack thereof) for Jesus can be found here: http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel.html…
The other day, while browsing some Kent Hovind videos on YouTube, I caught an interesting remark. Hovind, a notorious young earth creationist, claimed that dinosaurs lived as recently as 5000 years ago. Our legends of fire-breathing dragons come from our memories of dinosaurs, and that those dinosaurs breathed fire. Now, where did Hovind get these ideas which have no historical or scientific support? I believe it to specifically be a reference to Behemoth and Leviathan, two creatures mentioned in Job 40 and 41. Since Behemoth has biblical reference outside of this passage, I thought I would look into Leviathan, and see what the Bible says about this creature, and various ways in which it can be interpreted. Let’s look up some of the Biblical references to Leviathan. Some Bibles interpret the Leviathan of Job 41 to be a crocodile. This was the view taken by my old church when I was growing up. Ken Hovind believes this to be a dinosaur. Let’s take a look at the description of this beast as given by YHVH in Job 41:
The Lord (YHVH), in expresses his power and might to Job thusly:
“Can you draw out Levi’athan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? (vs 1,2)
Implying that YHVH can do these things to Leviathan, and poor mortal Job cannot…
I remember as a teenager, a friend’s mother devoted a lot of her energy to get me “saved.” Here I was, the son of a preacher, living a life I thought was dedicated to God, but because I did not participate in communion each week and did not believe I needed to be baptized to be saved, I was destined to spend eternity in hell. Oh, and the church I attended used musical instruments and females during worship.
From this side of the fence, I have to laugh about all the petty arguments we had within Christianity and how quickly we were to condemn other sects to hell because of their beliefs or their lack of beliefs. Mormons and JW’s of course were the biggest transgressors for not accepting Jesus as God. Catholics were a close second with their belief in purgatory, their “worship” of Mary and all those “idols” of the Saints; so they too were sliding down that grease poll straight to you know where…