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Practical Application of Yesterday’s Theory

Yesterday, I presented a theoretical post.  I said that the Euthyphro dilemma could be solved, as William Lane Craig observes, by the ontology of God.  God is the ultimate source of good, and therefore the dilemma creates a false dichotomy.  God neither commands something because it’s good, nor is it good because he commands it.  God is good, and therefore his commands are good since they flow from his nature.

However, I observed, this wouldn’t satisfy most skeptics because they don’t think a syllable of the Bible is either true or reliable.  Most believe that the Bible has been completely disproved by every discipline of science:

  • Paleontologists and geologists have shown that the earth is older than the Bible declares (my buddy Mike disagrees, as does this website)
  • Archeologists have shown that most of the sites mentioned in the Bible don’t exist (check out some discoveries that attest to the veracity of the Bible)
  • Historians have demonstrated serious contradictions between what the Bible claims and what is reported in other historical documents (begs the question; why couldn’t the Bible be right and the other documents wrong?)
  • Biology shows us that the Bible reports nonsense about animals; hares don’t chew cud, bats aren’t birds, humans aren’t fundamentally different and therefore not special creations of any god (the last has to do with the rejection of the soul, so I won’t give a specific defense)

And on the list goes.

Now, all of those have logical answers.  I’ve linked to what others have said (I haven’t actually addressed any of those claims in depth) if you, the skeptic, would actually care to read them.

But let’s get to a practical application of yesterday: the Resurrection.  This is the central tenet of Christianity, but if the skeptic believes that the Bible is as riddled with error as many believe (above), then how are they ever going to swallow something as improbable and unbelievable as the Resurrection?

And make no mistake: It is both unbelievable and improbable!

How important is the Resurrection?  Paul writes:

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:17-19)

Wow.  If Christ isn’t raised, we are still slaves to sin and loyal to a delusion.  Those believers that have died are worm food.  If we only have hope in this material existence only, then we are to be the most pitied people of all.

It seems that the Resurrection is as central as it gets.  Because if it never happened, then we are to be pitied.

Yet, if the skeptic isn’t convinced by anything in the Bible, if he thinks that the Bible is a load of crap and that anyone who believes it is deluded, then there’s no hope he’s ever going to believe that the Resurrection happened.

And it only gets worse–those that subscribe to metaphysical naturalism don’t think that anything could raise the dead.  So, not only is the entire Bible nonsense, but even if some of it might be true, dead people just don’t rise and gods just don’t exist.

Quite a pickle.

So why are there atheists who have converted to Christianity?  Josh McDowell, for example.  Or Lee Strobel?

Well, I’m more familiar with Lee’s story than Josh’s, so permit me an exposition of Lee’s conversion.  First, though, I need to establish that you generally find that which you seek.  If you’ve lost a sock in the dryer again, unless you get out the wrench and start taking apart that blasted sock-eating apparatus, you will forever have an odd number of socks.

Moreover, no one approaches anything from a perspective of pure neutrality.  Sorry, but this includes your hometown newspaper, where ever you are reading this from.  I’m in Toledo, and the biggest criticism of our paper, The Blade, is that it is super-biased.  Guess what?  No other newspaper in the world is any different, some just show it clearer than others.

Put these two things together, and you will see why Lee Stobel converted.  It wasn’t because he objectively approached the facts and followed the evidence where it lead.  It was because he was seeking God, most likely because his wife had previously converted.  He didn’t so much do it to prove her wrong, then proved himself wrong.  He did it because he, however unconsciously, expected to find that Christianity is true.

You find what you’re seeking.

On the other hand, what is the committed atheist going to find?  Well, he’s already decided (often a priori) that religion is a delusion, miracles aren’t real, people don’t rise from the dead three days later, and the Bible is total BS in everything it says.

So, the Bible won’t be enough to confirm the Resurrection.  The atheist will have to look elsewhere.  But, is the Resurrection recorded elsewhere?  Nope.  Would we expect it to be?  Nope.

Even if the skeptic were to conclude that the Resurrection might have some meat, he still thinks miracles aren’t real.  The Resurrection is a miracle, and therefore is going to be rejected on that ground.

What if, by some (ahem) miracle, the skeptic could get over the first two objections?  He might think this way:

All of those people had to have seen something, even people hostile to Jesus saw him, right?  And, the very people who claimed the visions died confessing it.  Maybe it isn’t a miracle, but something real affected a staunch Pharisee like Paul enough for him to break the Law and write to others scolding them for trying to adhere to it, and to Jesus.

But wait, says the skeptic, that would require me to believe that a miracle happened, which would be powerful evidence for God.  That means religion, and religion is nonsense!!

Three defeaters to the Resurrection.  Somewhere down the road, one of them is going to stick in the mind of the skeptic and he’s going to conclude that the Resurrection didn’t happen.

Where does the chain start?  With the historical reliability of the Bible.  This is a neglected area of apologetics, and I think it is the key to finding some middle ground with the skeptics that challenge our faith.  If we can do some more work in this area as apologists, and break some new ground (pardon the archeology pun), then I think we might be able to lead a new generation of seekers to Christ.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on August 13, 2011, in Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Religion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Héhéhé…if I believe the Bible was true, I think that’d make it even harder for me to swallow the play of words William Lane Craig is suggesting…I’d then believe all the atrocities God committed in the Old Testament actually happened, in addition to the suffering in the present world, to the notion of Hell, etc…making a nonbeliever accept what the Bible says wouldn’t help much…of course, we could always define all those things as “good”, “moral”, etc, as I said earlier, but God wouldn’t be morral (the other definition, héhé)…

    I read the texts, watched the video about bats/birds, haha…they make nonbelievers look stupid…”Darkins”, héhéhé…it’s all good, there may be translation errors in the Bible…but none of the nonbeliever criticisms you address are about EVENTS in the Bible, like miracles, the only ones I mentioned the other day…I didn’t talk, for instance, about the Bible saying the Earth is a disk (I don’t know the original language, maybe they did mean “sphere”, though many sources argue the contrary), is “suspended” (again, open for manipu…interpretation…héhé) implying that pi=3 (you could say it was an approximation or something), that insects have 4 legs (none match THAT description, héhé…but you could say it meant “crawling animal” or was speaking metaphorically there or something) and there are other passages that are accused of scientific inaccuracy…the main problem is, I’d say, when the Bible talks about a miracle…is it a metaphor (I’m sure some Christians would say that today, but I don’t know if you would)? And, héhé, I didn’t know you accepted the Earth was old, you made some posts in the past where you seemed to express doubt about evolution and such ideas, I didn’t know how far you went in that direction…

    I’ll add something I was telling a religious person the other day…in science, if a theory’s prediction is contradicted, doesn’t match up with observation, the theory either needs to be discarded or modified (in some cases, as in relativity, there was no place for modification…it’d either match observation or be thrown out; luckily for Einstein, the first happened)…I think that should apply to the Bible…it might be right about something here, have made scientific predictions there…a historical site might match an author’s description somewhere else…but multiple glaring mistakes elsewhere are enough to put into question it’s status as the words of an infallible being…in Haiti they used to give us small spelling tests (called them “dictées”)…the teacher would read a text out loud and students were supposed to write it out without spelling/grammar, etc, mistakes…well, I don’t know if that’s practiced here in the states, maybe they make you write essays instead and judge you on that…if they do have “dictées”, forgive me for describing something you’re probably familiar with…anyway: you would get a zero (F) if you made 5 mistakes, usually (depending on the test)…you couldn’t say: “Hey, look: I got everything else right…look at this difficult word, I spelled it correctly, most other students didn’t get it right! I deserve some credit!!”, no…héhé, the Bible has a zero on its dictée, if you see what I mean…

    You’re right about us not being 100% unbiased, objective…but that doesn’t mean all of us are as likely to accept a claim that goes against everything we’ve ever observed as something else that would conform to known science…there is a limit to our bias, héhé…at least there’s a limit to mine and I feel to that of a significant number of other folks…if you’re a cop and suspect someone committed a crime, then you’re certainly expecting to find something incriminating as you inspect the person’s home…you search and find nothing, then a DNA test absolves the person, then you discover the person has a solid alibi, something with 50 trustworthy witnesses or something…as biased as you were, as serious as your hunch was, you’re going to follow the evidence, you’re certainly not as likely to continue thinking the person is guilty as you had been before, you’ll certainly realize they’re probably innocent at that stage…

  2. Héhéhé…actually, just to clarify, 5 mistakes would be 5/10, not considered too great…10 mistakes would usually be falling, though 20 would be required on a huger test…but I think the Bible needs to be more harshly judged, 1 mistake should be enough to solidely shatter the idea that the Bible is the direct word from an Infallible Being…

  3. I think the challenge here really lies upon how much work that needs to be done for someone who is ‘looking’ or ‘searching’. I wouldn’t be the first to say that many skeptics need God to literally tear open the sky and prove his existence. I wonder then what would be the next objection.

    I was recently talking to someone who was challenged with the ‘faith’ portion of Christianity. Not so much about that it takes faith to be Christian, but how does one get to the point where they are faithful because God revealed it to them. Sort of a how do you know you know situation. It was a great question and a challenge to many believers and non believers alike.

    I decided to start from the beginning about truth and if it is knowable. Almost immediately, after granting the premise that God does exist, he wanted to jump right into how then could he have the certainty that the Bible is true and is worth putting faith into. That’s a leap, a big one–especially for someone with lots of questions.

    Our conversation got cut short. But upon reflection, analogically, it was like starting out on a long backpacking trip (I live in Idaho and we have great outdoor opportunities, so bear with me) and placing yourself at the trail head and then looking at the destination on the map, lets say, a great fishing lake. Almost immediately, the desire is to leave the starting point and get to the destination. Along the way, there is certain to be many sights to see; glacial waterfalls, calm peaceful meadows, jagged ridge lines and mountains. But there are going to also be many challenges and risks to your mental and physical well being; Thirst, hunger, back pains, exhaustion, cuts, bruises, dangerous falls, swift river crossings. All of which are going to make the destination that much more a priority. Unfortunately, for many travelers, they’ll turn back. They’ll get lost, maybe injured. But for those willing to put in the hard work, they’ll find the destination on that map. Can I prove it? No, but no more than someone can prove that if they drive to work tomorrow they’ll arrive safely. But they do it anyway because of the plausibility.

    What I can prove however is that if someone is willing to be diligent and do the hard work, that God will be revealed along the way. How? Because I’ve seen it. 🙂

    I think as Christian apologists, we need to start asking the same questions that are being asked of us. I think we need to get people (including Christians) to start questioning the world around them, questioning their own truth claims and start doing the hard work.

  4. Cory Tucholski said: “However, I observed, this wouldn’t satisfy most skeptics because they don’t think a syllable of the Bible is either true or reliable. Most believe that the Bible has been completely disproved by every discipline of science:

    There are two different types of skeptics that you might be mixing up.

    A self-labelled skeptic is a person that is committed to rationality, the scientific method, avoiding believing BS, critical thinking, etc. (e.g. James Randi). A skeptic(denier) has their preferred opinion, and then denies/ignores opposing information.

    A skeptic(denier) might believe that global watrming is a lie. A self-labelled skeptic would not.

    A skeptic(denier) might believe that most(all) of the sites mentioned in the Bible don’t exist. A self-labelled skeptic would not.

  5. Great blog! I “liked” on Facebook.

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