The Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection, Part 2: How To Do History

By Evan Minton

In the previous blog post, I talked about how important it was that we affirm that Jesus rose from the dead if He actually did, I warned not to let one’s dislike of Christianity’s implications get in the way of interpreting the evidence, and I warned not to let one’s naturalistic bias (provided the reader is an atheist) to not get in the way of their investigation. Be open-minded to the supernatural.

The Evidence For Jesus' Resurrection, Part 2 How To Do History

However, what kind of historical evidence could there be for the resurrection of Jesus? Where does one find this evidence? How does one come up with it? It’s important to understand how historical conclusions are derived. It’s important to understand the reasoning behind the case for Jesus’ resurrection, that is; the procedure at which we will come to the conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. If one doesn’t understand the methodology of how historians come to this conclusion, then one won’t be convinced and might even respond with a straw man argument.

What Is The Minimal Facts Approach?

The approach to evidentially demonstrating Christ’s resurrection I will be taking in this series is what’s come to be known as “The Minimal Facts Approach”. New Testament scholars Gary Habermas and Michael Licona use this method in their book The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus.

The Minimal Facts Approach only employs data that meet two criteria:

1: It has a lot of historical evidence in its favor.

2: It is nearly universally accepted by nearly all scholars and historians who study this subject, even the skeptical non-Christian scholars.

A minimal fact, in order to be a minimal fact, must meet those two criteria. It must be very well attested and have near universal acceptance among scholars and historians who study this subject, even the skeptical non-Christian scholars.

The Minimal Facts approach argues for the historicity of the resurrection by a two-step process:
1: We give a list of facts and the historical evidence that proves they are facts.

2: We arrive at the resurrection as the best explanation of those facts by means of abductive reasoning.

Historical Methodology, Not “Quoting The Bible To Prove The Bible”

With regards to that first step, you’ll notice that I appeal to both extra-biblical sources as well as The New Testament documents. This is where non-Christians get hung up. They think that just because I cite a book or letter from The New Testament that I’m somehow “begging the question” or “reasoning in a circle” because they say that I’m “Quoting from The Bible to prove that The Bible is true.” They think I’m saying that because, for example, The Bible says that the tomb of Jesus was empty, that therefore Jesus’ tomb was empty. They think I’m arguing like this: “The tomb of Jesus was empty because The Bible clearly says it was empty, and The Bible’s the word of God, so you know that what it says is true!”

However, that’s not at all how I’m arguing for the factuality of the minimal facts. Yes, I use The New Testament documents, but I am not citing from them as divinely inspired scripture. Rather, I’m treating the New Testament documents as I would any other document from ancient history: as a set of ancient documents that claim to be telling us about historical events. I do not presuppose the inspiration, inerrancy, or even the general reliability of The New Testament when I appeal to it.

When I use the New Testament documents, I treat them just as a historian would any secular document. And I do that by applying the “principles of historical authenticity.” When historians are examining documents and are trying to figure out whether what those documents say are true, they will employ certain principles or criteria which will make a recorded incident more likely true than it would be without the use of that principle. By doing this, they can come to a conclusion with some degree of certainty that what they’re reading about actually happened.

These principles, known as “the principles of historical authenticity” or the “criteria of authenticity” are the following: the principle of multiple attestation, the principle of embarrassment, the principle of early attestation, the principle of enemy attestation, the principle of historical fit, the principle of dissimilarity, and the principle of multiple literary forms. I will be applying these to the gospels and New Testament epistles to see what kind of data we can extract about what happened to Jesus. This procedure isn’t peculiar. Historians do this all the time when examining secular documents. Now, let me explain these criteria:

The Principle Of Embarrassment — If a document records an event that is embarrassing to the one writing it, embarrassing to someone the writer cares about, weakens an argument he’s trying to make or hurts his cause in any way, it is more likely to be true than false. This principle is built on the common sense belief that if people are going to make up lies, it’s going to make themselves look good, make their loved ones look good, strengthen their arguments, or helps their cause. No one makes up lies to make themselves or a loved one look bad, or to weaken an argument they’re trying to make.

Here’s a hypothetical example of this principle in play. Let’s say we had a letter written by George Washington, the first president of The United States, and in that letter, he records an incident where he was riding a horse along the countryside, and he had a bad case of diarrhea, and he soiled himself. Then he says that he went behind a tree, removed his undergarments, and went commando for the rest of the day. A historian examining that document would conclude that this story is more likely to be true than not because such a story is embarrassing to the one who wrote it (i.e., George Washington). This would be to apply the principle of embarrassment to the letter. Now, no such letter written by George Washington exists (at least to my knowledge). This is merely an illustration to help you see how a historical investigation is done.

The Principle Of Multiple Attestation — The more independent sources an event is mentioned in, the more likely it is to be true. The more independent sources you have reporting an event, the smaller the odds it is that the event is made up since it’s highly unlikely for multiple people to concoct the same fiction.

Let’s say that not only did Washington write about his embarrassing case, but three of his friends each wrote documents recounting the incident. If this were the case, the incident of Washington soiling himself would be even more likely to be true. Why? Because of the principle of multiple attestations. When you have two or more independent sources record an incident, it’s far more likely to be true than not, because the more and more independent sources an event is mentioned in, the less and less likely it is to be made up. If you had three or four different sources recording the same event, what are the odds that all four sources are making up the same thing? So on top of the principle of embarrassment, we would add multiple attestations to this incident, and it would be even more likely that Washington soiled himself out in the countryside.

The Principle Of Early Attestation — The earlier a document dates relative to the event the document purports to describe, the more reliable the account. The earlier a document is, the less time there was for legend and embellishment to creep in.

The hypothetical documents of Washingtons’ friends were written only 2 years after the event. This short timescale makes it less likely that they would embellish things and accurately recall the day.

The Principle Of Enemy Attestation — If Document X is saying something that benefits a person, message, or cause, that X is hostile or opposed to, we have an indication of authenticity.
This principle’s logic runs mirror to The Principle of Embarrassment’s. The logic behind this principle is that people who hate you are not going to make up lies to make you look good. People who are opposed to your cause are not going to make up lies that help it.

The Principle Of Historical Fit — If details in an account conform to well established historical facts of the period, this makes the event in said account more credible.
For example, if Washington’s letters and the writings of his 3 friends described the countryside accurately, described what kind of trees were in bloom in the area that they said they were horseriding in, described the kind of clothes the people back in town wore, etc. these things would heighten the credibility of the accounts.

The Principle Of Dissimilarity — As far as I know, this principle is solely used in examining The New Testament. This principle says that If an event or saying of Jesus cannot be derived from the Judaism that preceded him or the Christian church that came after him, then it’s highly unlikely that the church made up the saying and attributed it to Jesus.

The Principle Of Multiple Literary Forms — Greco-Roman Biographies, creeds, miracles, didactic (these would be sermon summaries), apocalyptic. These are the genres of writings in the first century Roman-Palestinian world. If an event can be found in writings that fall into more than one genre, then it’s more likely to be true than not.

So, even though I’ll be appealing to the New Testament documents, I won’t be “quoting from The Bible to prove The Bible.” Instead, I’ll merely be treating The New Testament documents like I would any other set of ancient documents. By the way, even non-Christian historians treat The New Testament this way! People like Bart Erhman and Gerd Ludemann come to conclusions about the historical Jesus by applying these “criteria of authenticity” to the New Testament documents. As resurrection expert and New Testament scholar Gary Habermas once said: “If you don’t use The New Testament, the skeptics will.”[1] So here’s something to ponder; if the skeptics are allowed to use the New Testament, why aren’t Christian Apologists? If atheists can say “This aspect of Jesus is historical because of criteria of authenticity X,” then why can’t I? These non-Christian historians don’t presuppose the inspiration or inerrancy of scripture. They’re certainly not “Quoting The Bible to prove The Bible.”
Now, when one applies these criteria, what one comes up with are several facts which undergird the inference to the resurrection. These 5 facts are

1: Jesus died by crucifixion.

2: Jesus’ tomb was found empty the following Sunday morning.

3: Jesus’ disciples believed that Jesus appeared to them after His death.

4: A church persecutor named Paul converted to Christianity on the basis of what he perceived as an appearance of the risen Jesus. 

5: A skeptic named James converted to Christianity on the basis of what he perceived as an appearance of the risen Jesus. 

According to Doctor Habermas, these 5 facts meet the two criteria required to be a minimal fact. They both have a lot of historical evidence in their favor (as we’ll see in the upcoming chapters), and moreover, they are nearly universally accepted by scholars and historians who study ancient Palestinian history, even the skeptical ones.[2]

By the way, let me just get a quick word in about these criteria regarding how they can be misused. Some people have tried to disprove things about Jesus through the negative use of these criteria. For example, they’ll say that because some event or saying of Jesus is not multiply attested or not embarrassing, that therefore, it isn’t historical. You can’t use the criteria in that way. They can only be used positively to show that something is true, they can’t be used negatively to show something isn’t true. Just because something isn’t embarrassing to an author, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Just because something is found in only one source, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Just because something isn’t attested by an enemy source, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The criteria only say that if something is multiply attested, embarrassing, enemy attested, etc. then that means it probably happened. Think about it this way; Event X may be mentioned in only one source and therefore is not multiply attested. However, Event X may be embarrassing to the author. So even though event X isn’t mentioned by two or three other writers, we’d still be justified in concluding X happened on the basis of the criterion of embarrassment. Or something may not be embarrassing, but it may be mentioned by two or three independent writers and ergo is multiply attested.

Abductive Reasoning 

Once the 5 facts are established through the historical, methodological approach, we then use abductive reasoning to arrive at the resurrection as the best explanation of those 5 facts. Now, what is abductive reasoning? Abductive Reasoning, also known as inferring to the best explanation, is a form of reasoning that takes a collection of evidence and eliminates the list of possible explanations for that evidence until you arrive at only one remaining possibility. If this remaining possibility has the power to explain all of the evidence in question and if it’s truly the only one left, then the most logical conclusion is that this possible explanation is the true explanation.

In logical form, it looks like this:

1: Either P, Q, or R.

2: Not P or Q.

3: Therefore, R.

Don’t Worry About Alleged Contradictions In The Gospels

In conversations with skeptics about the evidence for the resurrection, almost inevitably, someone will bring up the charge that the gospel accounts are contradictory. They’ll say “How can we believe what the gospels tell us about Jesus!? They’re hopelessly filled with contradictions!” Or they’ll quote Bart Ehrman saying:

“Did he [Jesus] die on the day before the Passover meal was eaten, as John explicitly says, or did he die after it was eaten, as Mark explicitly says? Did he die at noon, as in John, or at 9 a.m., as in Mark? Did Jesus carry his cross the entire way himself or did Simon of Cyrene carry his cross? It depends which Gospel you read. Did both robbers mock Jesus on the cross or did only one of them mock him and the other come to his defense? It depends which Gospel you read. Did the curtain in the temple rip in half before Jesus died or after he died? It depends which Gospel you read. Or take the accounts of the resurrection. Who went to the tomb on the third day? Was it Mary alone or was it Mary with other women? If it was Mary with other women, how many other women were there, which ones were they, and what were their names? Was the stone rolled away before they got there or not? What did they see in the tomb? Did they see a man, did they see two men, or did they see an angel? It depends which account you read.”[3]

Listening to Eherman or another unbeliever list these supposed contradictions off can seem a little overwhelming, and some apologists feel tempted to respond to every one of them and provide some sort of plausible harmonization scenario for each alleged discrepancy. However, in a minimal facts approach, we need not bother with any alleged contradictions in the gospel accounts. For one thing, while I think apologists should provide scenarios to harmonize these differences, since I take biblical inerrancy to be very important (and I think Norman Geisler does a great job at this in his book The Big Book Of Bible Difficulties), nevertheless, since inerrancy isn’t something being presupposed in our case, we can ignore any errors The New Testament may or may not have made.

Moreover, I want you to notice something: all of these discrepancies are in the secondary details, not the primary details.

The gospels are completely in harmony when it comes to the primary details. All 4 gospels agree on the following facts:

Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem on Passover Eve under Pontius Pilate at the instigation of the Sanhedrin, and afterward, he was buried in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, which was sealed by a huge round stone. The following Sunday morning, at least one woman went to the tomb and found it empty. Jesus then appeared to the women and to the disciples alive. 

All four Gospels attest to these facts.

The only places that seem to be discrepancies are in the peripheral details, which don’t really make an impact on the story. For example, who went to the tomb? One woman, or several? How many angels were at the tomb? One angel or two? Do the answers to these questions really matter in the overall scheme of things? No. If the gospels contradict each other, they only do so in the minor, secondary, peripheral details. They’re completely harmonious in the core details of the story.

Dr. William Lane Craig said “Historians expect to find inconsistencies like these even in the most reliable sources. No historian simply throws out a source because it has inconsistencies”[4] and he’s absolutely right. Historians look at whether accounts harmonize in the primary details. If they conflict only in the peripherals, they don’t throw the sources out. Let’s use a non-biblical example to demonstrate this point.

When the Titanic sank, there were differing accounts as to how it sank. Some said the Titanic went down in one piece; others said it broke in half and went down. Some said people continued to play music as the ship sank, others said there was no music. Some said there were shootings happening when the Titanic was sinking, but others disagreed. How in the world could eyewitnesses not agree on these things? I don’t know! But I don’t hear anyone claiming that because of these discrepancies in the eyewitness accounts here that therefore the Titanic didn’t sink.[5] Eyewitnesses may differ as to whether the Titanic broke in half, but they all agreed that it sank. The gospel authors may disagree about how many women went to the tomb, but they all agree that the tomb was empty. The gospel authors may disagree as to how many thieves ridiculed Jesus at His crucifixion, but they all agree that Jesus was indeed crucified.

Objection: But The New Testament Writers Were Biased!

Some non-Christians would object to me using The New Testament even if they fully understand that I’m not treating it like divinely inspired scripture. They say we can’t trust what The New Testament writers wrote because they were biased. They said that they have an invested interest in writing down the things they wrote down. They say it’s propaganda. It’s a religious text. It’s meant to be a tool for converting people and nothing more. So, therefore, these non-Christians argue, we should only look at extra-biblical sources in trying to figure out the truth about what happened to Jesus.

But this argument doesn’t work for three reasons. First of all, everyone is biased to some degree or other. Jews have an invested interest in writing about the Holocaust (namely to try to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again), and African Americans have an invested interest in writing about the unfairness of slavery, so rejecting what a document says because they’re supposedly biased is just fallacious. Basically, it’s just another example of the ad hominem fallacy (rejecting what a person says as true simply because of who they are). If you’re going to reject a source on these grounds, you would throw out every history book ever written. In fact, you’d have to reject not only every source from ancient history, but you’d have to reject every blog, every news site, every radio program, every newspaper, you’d basically be forced into a state of hyper-skepticism. You couldn’t even believe your mother when she tells you she loves you! I’m not joking! Isn’t she biased? No one writes about anything unless they’re interested in their subject.

Secondly, bias does not automatically mean someone is wrong. Someone can be biased, and someone can be right at the same time. In fact, ironically, bias can actually drive a person to be more accurate in their reporting. For example, one might say (and in fact, some have said) that I’m biased in favor of Christianity and that I have an invested interest in winning unbelievers to the faith and equipping believers to defend their faith. True enough. I’ve said so outright in various places on this blog. However, I would submit to you that my bias drives me to be more accurate, more truthful, and more careful in my writing. The reason is that I don’t want to discredit myself. If I even misattribute a quote to someone or take a Bible verse out of context, I’m mortified! I want to ensure that everything I say is true so that my credibility doesn’t suffer.

Thirdly, the criterion of authenticity that I mentioned several subsections ago help to establish facts as historically true regardless of whether an author has a bias or not. Multiple attestations, embarrassment, enemy attestation, etc. These can be used to extract historical pieces of information.

As Dr. William Lane Craig said, “Notice that these “criteria” do not presuppose the general reliability of the Gospels. Rather they focus on a particular saying or event and give evidence for thinking that specific element of Jesus’ life to be historical, regardless of the general reliability of the document in which the particular saying or event is reported. These same “criteria” are thus applicable to reports of Jesus found in the apocryphal Gospels, or rabbinical writings, or even the Qur’an. Of course, if the Gospels can be shown to be generally reliable documents, so much the better! But the “criteria” do not depend on any such presupposition. They serve to help spot historical kernels even in the midst of historical chaff. Thus we need not concern ourselves with defending the Gospels’ every claim attributed to Jesus in the gospels; the question will be whether we can establish enough about Jesus to make faith in him reasonable.”[6]

So the criterion of authenticity does an end-run around the historical reliability of the gospels (which might be affected by a bias). Even if the most unreliable of sources, these criteria can extract nuggets of historical data. For example, one might say “X is an unreliable source, but we can still believe what it says when it reports Y because it’s embarrassing to X to mention such a thing.” or “X is an unreliable source, but X’s mentioning of Y is corroborated by several other sources, so it’s multiply attested and therefore, likely to be true.” Therefore, this objection to the use of The New Testament documents falls flat.

Summary and Conclusion 

Hopefully, you now know how history is done and how the minimal facts are arrived at. Hopefully, you’ll see that the approach we apologists take when arguing for the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection isn’t a question-begging “The Bible says it! I believe it! That settles it!” kind of approach. Rather, this approach treats The New Testament documents the same way we would treat any set of ancient documents. Moreover, non-Christian historians approach the New Testament in the same way and come to the same conclusions. Using the historical, methodological approach, they agree that the minimal facts are indeed facts. They just disagree with Christian scholars on how to explain those 5 facts. That’s where abductive reasoning comes in. We need to see whether any of the proposed naturalistic explanations non-Christian scholars propose are any good. I submit to you that they are not, and only the miraculous resurrection can account for all 5 facts. Finally, we need to not get distracted by claims that the gospel accounts are contradictory. For one thing, they’re all in the peripheral details that don’t make an impact on the story. Moreover, if historians threw sources out because of such differences, little could be known about history.

Now that you know the reasoning process behind the minimal facts approaches, it’s now time to begin looking at evidence for the minimal facts themselves. Once we’ve done that, we’ll eliminate all of the possible explanations until “He is risen!” is the only one left on the table (abductive reasoning).

Notes 

[1] Gary Habermas said this in a lecture at the “To Everyone an Answer: 10th Annual EPS Apologetics Conference”. The lecture was titled “The Resurrection Evidence that Changed Current Scholarship” and can be viewed on Youtube here, uploaded by Biola University’s Youtube account Ă  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znVUFHqO4Q

[2] Doctor Habermas came up with the number that around 95-99% of non-Christian scholars accept the 5 minimal facts presented above. The empty tomb, while not having such near unanimity at the other 4 facts, does have support from an impressive majority of 75% of scholars. He came up with this number by surveying the literature.

[3] (Bart Ehrman vs. William Lane Craig Debate, Is there Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? debate transcript http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-there-historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-craig-ehrman).

[4] William Lane Craig, “Q&A: Inerrancy and The Resurrection,” https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/inerrancy-and-the-resurrection

[5] See “Titanic: First Accounts,” by Tim Maltin (Editor, Introduction), Nicholas Wade (Afterword), Max Ellis (Illustrator), Penguin Classics

[6] William Lane Craig, “Q&A: Establishing The Gospels’ Reliability,” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/establishing-the-gospels-reliability 

 


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85 replies
  1. TGM says:

    That was fine work, weaving George Washington into your explanation of historical methodology. But if George’s, ahem, mishap, were anything like the bible, the story would go more like this…
    .
    Some 40 years after George died, 4 “historians” we don’t know claimed that poor George had poo in his trousers. Supposedly, the poo-incident was witnessed by hundreds of his followers, but we don’t know who they were. Also, the events surrounding the great poo happened in Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston. The writers tell us that some slaves, 2 of them, or maybe it was 3, discovered the soiled underwear in an empty cave three days later. They are sure it belonged to old George himself. We should trust this information because the “historians” would never use slaves as sources because their testimony was considered unreliable. Also, it was magic poo.

    Reply
  2. TGM says:

    Abductive reasoning is deeply flawed in ways very relevant to this conversation. One problem is that it’s not clear whether AR can even be considered a rational process – putting you behind the eight ball right from the outset. Abduction is also probabilistic, yet our basis for estimating probabilities is typically poor. We tend to favor more simplified explanations, using heuristics like Occam’s Razor with questionable justification.
    .
    Another significant problem is that your premise one (1: Either P, Q, or R.) may not constitute the entire set of possible explanations. How did you rule out S or T, etc. which you may not have even recognized as possibilities?
    .
    With respect to the minimal facts approach (which somehow excludes the important fact that the dead do not return to life), a resurrection cannot be determined to be the most likely (best) explanation. How did you even calculate likelihood in this analysis?

    Reply
  3. jcb says:

    My response is a bit like TGMs.
    1. I find a better analogy to be this one: Suppose 500 of George Washington’s closest associates all said they saw him jump to the moon and back. Given what we know about jumping, the distance to the moon, etc., the fact that there were 500 eyewitnesses (we can add that they were willing to die for it!) would not make it probable that GW actually jumped to the moon. This is analogous to the amazing claim that Jesus, when clearly dead, as if cremated, was then bodily re-constituted and came back to life. It too is vastly improbable, and some “eye-witnesses” 2000 years ago hardly makes that probable.
    2. There is a trick in this abduction reasoning that I call “the roulette wheel” analogy. The way the resurrection argument is often presented to me Is as if there are, say, 4 possible explanations: Resurrection, Stolen Body Theory, the Swoon Theory, and Wrong Tomb theory. The theist then argues that the latter 3 are not probable, thus making the first probable. The error in this reasoning is that one could have reversed the direction, and said the first 3 are not probable, thus the last is probable! (One could do the same with a roulette wheel, showing that every individual # is unlikely to be the one the ball lands on, thus the last one you consider is probably going to win! This reasoning is flawed: it could be used to prove any particular number, if you considered it last!)
    So in summary: even though I can’t say that Stolen Body theory (or any particular theory) is probable, I can say that Resurrection Theory is 1. improbable, and 2. less probable than Stolen Body theory, given that dead bodies are stolen a lot more frequently than people resurrecting from the dead.
    (Almost every book I’ve read that tries to prove that Jesus was resurrected never discusses the vast initial improbability of a resurrection.)
    I hope this helps! Please don’t reply with rudeness. Only reply if you have polite, constructive feedback.

    Reply
  4. TGM says:

    It’s interesting that you bring up the sinking of Titanic in your piece. Curiously, Walter Lord published A Night to Remember about 40 years after she went under (about the same timeframe that allegedly saw the earliest gospels written). His book was meticulously researched to the point where, 60+ years later, it remains a go-to source for all events Titanic. There are names, detailed accounts by known witnesses, and material evidence that can be examined for authenticity. Hey, and we know where Titanic’s tomb is located! Surely, Jesus and the gospel writers could have done a little better if they wanted to be credible.

    Reply
  5. Andy Ryan says:

    “This principle is built on the common sense belief that if people are going to make up lies, it’s going to make themselves look good”
    .
    Depends what their objective is. If their objective is to be believed, not to make themselves look good, then why not put in so-called ’embarrassing details’ to lend credence to your story? If George Washington had some story he REALLY wanted you to believe, then throwing in the soiling incident as a side detail to the story might really help you believe it. Say he was cheating on his wife, and told her that rather than seeing his mistress he had actually gone riding with his friends, then mentioning that at some point on the ride he soiled himself might help her believe his lie.
    .
    This goes even more so if it wasn’t even Washington telling the story. If someone else was relating it 50 years after the fact, they can include the soiling story and not feel at all embarrassed because it’s not them doing the soiling. And this seems a more accurate analogy for the Gospels, given that we don’t actually know who wrote them.
    .
    And as Bob pointed out on the other thread, we’ve yet to see evidence that ‘a woman was the witness’ actually counts as an ’embarrassing detail’.
    .
    “3: Jesus’ disciples believed that Jesus appeared to them after His death.”
    You tell me that almost all historians believe this. I don’t know whether they actually do, but leaving that aside, what is the actual evidence that there were a dozen or so disciples who all believed they’d seen the risen Jesus?

    Reply
  6. bob says:

    Ya know, even if I found these “evidences” useful for determining what happened to Jesus 2,000 years ago, it was still 2,000 years ago! What has he done for me lately? Where is he? Is he gonna return? Did he already return?
    Why do “apologists ” continue to march such arguments out when they are only useful in convincing the already convinced to be more convinced?
    I had a month long email dialogue with Evan a few months back and I asked him if he has ever, EVER, convinced a non believer to believe by the use of these arguments – he said he has not. And yet, here we are again.
    .
    We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your moldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this-year’s-fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.
    — Robert G. Ingersoll
    .
    r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

    Reply
    • TVZ says:

      What’s odd from our point of view is the arguing of this stuff. We (Christians) are called to do it for a reason, but I don’t get the atheist coming here over and over from year to year to argue the same stuff over and over and not being convinced nor convincing. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? (trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results). At what point do we get bored of this?

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        You think that Mark and the others coming here and sneering without offering arguments is explained by ‘answering Jesus’s calling’? You can’t believe they’re making genuine attempts to convert, surely?
        .
        Also, conjecturing about why people post here is what Christians do when they have no actual points to make.

        Reply
        • TVZ says:

          You would have to ask Mark and the others why they come here. Theoretically, its to learn apologetics from the site of one of the best… Frank Turek. For me, I can learn from you atheists why you are skeptical so that I can have a better real life conversation with someone who is on the fence and still able to be convinced…. my son, primarily. Its the same old stuff over and over though and you are either convinced or you are not. If I were atheist and was not convinced, I can’t imagine wasting the precious time I have with my consciousness telling delusional people how delusional they are. I think I would be partying…. lol.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “I can’t imagine wasting the precious time I have with my consciousness telling delusional people how delusional they are”
            .
            Yes, that would be a waste of time. I prefer offering strong arguments.
            .
            “You would have to ask Mark and the others why they come here”
            I’ve got a fair idea already. I’m my interested in the arguments people offer than why people post here.
            .
            All that aside, do you have any responses to the arguments people have offered?

          • TVZ says:

            No, I get what you all are saying. If I were skeptical I would have the same questions. I never doubted the resurrection for some reason. The Bible has always hit me as the truth. I’m a very skeptical person, but not in this, for some reason. The Bible hints that we play no part in our salvation; that God is responsible for it. I’ll stop there before I say something heretical.

          • toby says:

            I think I would be partying
. lol.
            We see this a lot. Theists will say that without god everything is permissible so why not run out and start raping? If you found out that there was no god, would you run out and start acting very differently than you do now? Like, “I don’t steal now, but since I found out there’s no god, I think I will!”

          • TVZ says:

            Well, you still have man’s law. I value freedom over prison. I have no idea how we deluded our consciousness to think of the concept of right and wrong though. (I’m not looking to change the topic of this discussion into another evolution debate… just pointing out its a delusion if there is no God).

          • Bryan says:

            Then again, if you live in the Bible Belt you had better be ready. That’s the main reason I come here now. IRL I avoid talking about religion but when you live in a region of the U.S. where, upon meeting someone, the first part of the conversation goes “1. Where do you work? 2. Where do you go to church”, you had better be ready.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “just pointing out its a delusion if there is no God”
            In as much as it’s a ‘delusion’ it remains so with a God. The existence of a God is irrelevant to the question of whether or not there’s such a thing as ‘objective morality’. If morality’s existence is dependent (subject) on the existence off a God then it isn’t objective. If you think murdering a child is only wrong if a God exists then it doesn’t sound like you’re that confident it’s actually wrong. If you were, you’d say it’s wrong in all circumstances with or without a God.

          • toby says:

            Objectivity is also a delusion.
            I would have to agree here to an extent. Objectivity can’t apply to things that are inherently subjective like beauty, humor, morality, etc.

          • TVZ says:

            The Christian world view is that objectivity is a reality because the universe has a moral law to it. People can naturally agree on what is right and wrong. In the atheist world view, chemicals should not have a morality. If they do, its a freak of random gene mutation (or delusion).

          • toby says:

            People can naturally agree on what is right and wrong. In the atheist world view, chemicals should not have a morality.
            That’s like saying that chemicals should not have memories, therefore brains and harddrives are impossible. Morality, like memory, is something that is the sum of it’s parts. You might as well say that an egg can’t be an omelet.

          • TVZ says:

            I mean we were once chemicals in a soup and only brought into cell form (life) when lightning struck the soup of chemicals (this is the best theory science has so far). There was no brain at that point, only amino acids, protein RNA, DNA, etc…. There is no reason these chemicals should have a morality at that point. Any morality that came into being was when the cell started mutating and brains eventually thought they were more than their origin.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “The Christian world view is that objectivity is a reality because the universe has a moral law to it.”
            .
            And yet you just said “objectivity is a delusion”.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “If there is no God”
            .
            No, you just said “Objectivity is also a delusion”, you didn’t specify that was without a God. Either way, my reply is the same: God existing makes no difference to the question of whether morality or objectivity exists. All you’re doing is adding another opinion. If morality doesn’t exist without God then it doesn’t exist with God either. Saying it exists if God exists is a non sequitur.

      • bob says:

        TVZ – What’s odd from our point of view is the arguing of this stuff. We (Christians) are called to do it for a reason, but I don’t get the atheist coming here over and over from year to year to argue the same stuff over and over and not being convinced nor convincing.
        Fair question – speaking for myself, as a former bible believer of 25 years – it’s just a hobby. I enjoy large format photography, motorcycles, kayaking, bird watching, astronomy, a few TV shows, and arguing with bible believers. I hope that is enough of a reason for you…
        .
        And again, speaking for myself – I much prefer one-on-one dialogue. I find this format far to confusing with various people on both sides chiming in. That’s why I usually post my email address at the end, but it is a very, very rare occurrence that a Christian will take the time.
        .
        These blog posts would have a handful of responses at most if it weren’t for non believers challenging the claims made. Christians are just not interested. Christians will read an apologetics blog post, they may attend an apologetic conference, may even buy a book or two – but it is the rare believer that will actually put into practice (dialogue with non believers) what they have studied or have been taught. I know this for a fact – just look at the few believers who post here on this blog.
        .
        r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

        Reply
        • TVZ says:

          I would talk to you one on one, but you seem pretty set in your ways and you seem to look to be a jerk to people who don’t share your views…. with your tone and vocabulary. I’m not sure our conversation wouldn’t be any more or less productive in a one on one situation.

          Reply
          • TVZ says:

            I don’t know you well enough to call you a jerk, but the tone of your conversations on this site comes across as condescending and jerkish to me. That may be why no one is interested in having a private conversation with you…. just something to consider. I don’t care how you behave fwiw.

          • bob says:

            Fair enough – I won’t waste your time or mine comparing behaviors – you tell me I “seem to be a jerk”, l point out that you called me a jerk, you respond that you don’t know me well enough to call me a jerk…?
            I am mature enough to take responsibility for every word I type. And again, in case you missed it the first time – I tend to mirror (respond in like manner) as my opponent – in other words – if they are a “jerk” to me…

    • Mark Heavlin says:

      You asked for a fact. I will give you two FACTS.
      .
      FACT #1 – Robert G. Ingersoll was a man now dead since July 21, 1899.
      .
      FACT #2 – Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment,

      Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          Well then since you FAIL at understanding I see it will take a 3rd FACT. You are welcome to your own arrogant opinion; unfortunately for you that does NOT make you correct. That is called free will. GOD exists whether you like it or NOT. And The Holy Bible is His inerrant WORD. So the TRUE FACTS here are that I am 3 for 3 at 100%; whether you like it or NOT.
          .
          “BRAVO
50% isn’t all that bad (as I am sure your teachers told you all thru school).”
          .
          Again, more arrogant uninformed opinion from you. Obviously, you have ZERO clue as to what you are attempting to talk about or insinuate from the statement. Now for FACT #3.
          .
          FACT #3 – John 10:34-35 34 Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’ ? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and the Scripture cannot be broken —

          Reply
          • toby says:

            So you’re not arrogant at all? Because it’s just true and all that because God. I’m sure you’re completely dispassionate and don’t feel a tickle of glee when you get to judge people and call them names. Doing the lord’s work there buddy!

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “So you’re not arrogant at all? Because it’s just true and all that because God.”
            .
            Do try and keep up – BOB is a self described atheist therefore all he has is his arrogant opinion. You are also welcome to your own arrogant opinion; unfortunately for you that does NOT make you correct either. That is called free will. GOD exists whether you like it or NOT.
            .
            .
            “I’m sure you’re completely dispassionate and don’t feel a tickle of glee when you get to judge people and call them names. Doing the lord’s work there buddy!”
            .
            All I can tell you here is that you appear to be completely clueless about what you are talking about. As for me judging anyone – Well that is way above my pay grade.
            .
            Revelation 20:11-13 11 Then I saw a great white throne and the One who sat on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds.

          • bob says:

            I think just a few more responses from me and Marks head will explode. I just wish I could be there to see it.

  7. Andy Ryan says:

    “In the atheist world view, chemicals should not have a morality.”
    .
    TVZ, you’re made of chemicals whether or not a God exists. What do you WANT us to be made of for morality to exist?
    Chemicals can’t laugh, but I laugh all the time. Chemicals can’t remember things, but I can remember last Tuesday. I believe the name for this is the ‘genetic fallacy’ – making a conclusion that is based solely on something’s history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context.
    .
    “objectivity is a reality because the universe has a moral law to it”
    I’m afraid that sounds like word salad to me. As I said before, either you think that murdering kids is objectively wrong in all contexts* or you don’t. If you’re saying that a hypothetical act would be immoral in a God-created universe but not in a Godless one, then you don’t really hold that it’s objectively wrong – you’ve come up with a circumstance when it wouldn’t be wrong.
    .
    * Leaving aside contrived ‘trolley problem’ scenarios where it prevents an even greater tragedy – please don’t take us down that rabbit hole. If you must, substitute ‘murdering kids’ for some act you truly believe to be inexcusable in any context.

    Reply
    • TVZ says:

      It looks like evolution talk will be unavoidable. At what point did morality enter this world? Was it from the moment the lightning struck the chemicals in the soup (the stuff we are made of), or was it after the first cell(s) started mutating into organisms (probably around the time of the Cambrian Explosion)? If it evolved by mutations of genes (which I would assume is the case), it would have happened for a reason (which shouldn’t exist in a world of no meaning), or no meaning (which is more likely). If meaning and purpose and morality was just a fluke, then right and wrong is a delusion that is just meant (which is another word that implies purpose) for survival. But lets say meaning has now evolved into organisms (even though we now know genes function just as computer code that has been programmed into the cell… and this is 4.5 billion year old technology, per observable science)…. shouldn’t it be considered a delusion to think lightning strikes cause meaning and morality and purpose across every organic level? As for the murdering of kids, all the above applies. Why should that matter if a kid is the result of a lightning strike into a soup of chemicals. We have to develop that first before we can talk about why that would matter (which is another word that implies meaning… in a world that should have no meaning).

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “Why should that matter if a kid is the result of a lightning strike into a soup of chemicals.”
        Who cares where the kid comes from? You see a kid drowning – you can wade in and save him. He’s upset, he’s scared, he’s got family who’ll miss him. You’re making a decision whether to save him – I hope you pick ‘yes’, but I’d be astonished if weighing it up you figure “Hmm, is he the result of a lightning strike into a soup of chemicals billions of years ago, or is he the result of some powerful guy designing humans billions of years ago?”.
        .
        Why should the latter question play any part in your decision? Why would the former kid be less worthy of saving than the latter?

        Reply
    • TVZ says:

      As I understand it, its that life is a fluke. There is no meaning or objective, we just are and don’t ponder why. We write everything off as a mystery and go create some kind of purpose for ourselves until our cells give out on us and we cease to exist, having no impact on anything because everything is meaningless. That’s the impression I get from talking to atheists… maybe that is nihilism (the way my son thinks)?

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “we just are and don’t ponder why”
        I’m here because my parents married, and had kids. That wasn’t a fluke. That said, I don’t see that means my life is worth more than someone who was conceived ‘by accident’. My life isn’t meaningless to me either. I’ve met depressed Christians and I’ve met depressed atheists, and I’ve met people in both groups who see great meaning in their lives. I conclude that religious faith doesn’t make a huge difference to outlook.
        .
        “We write everything off as a mystery”
        Speak for yourself, TVZ!
        .
        “As for the murdering of kids, all the above applies.”
        So you don’t see the murdering of kids as being intrinsically bad? It’s only bad if a God exists, in your opinion, and therefore isn’t objectively wrong?

        Reply
        • TVZ says:

          I’m not talking about you specifically Andy… I’m talking about ALL life. Atheists don’t seem to care that there’s no explanation outside of “God made life” to explain why/how life came to be from non-life. They would rather put their faith in “We don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t God (it’s a mystery that will never be solved and I’m okay with that).” I see the murdering of kids as being intrinsically bad because I believe life has meaning and was designed for purpose and is special. I don’t see how you could agree with me if life is just fluke with no meaning to it. Why should survival of the fittest not overrule love and compassion? Could we have evolved that way too, if our genes would have mutated that way?

          Reply
          • toby says:

            They would rather put their faith in “We don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t God (it’s a mystery that will never be solved and I’m okay with that).”
            It’s not faith, it’s an admission that we don’t know while striving to find out. If we listened to theists we’d throw our hands up any time there’s a difficult question and say, “God is the answer/mysterious ways.”
            .
            Why should survival of the fittest not overrule love and compassion? Could we have evolved that way too, if our genes would have mutated that way?
            I don’t know if you’ve thought about this at all beyond the propaganda that you’ve been given by theists, but have you ever considered that compassion and empathy are factors in survival fitness? You seem to struggle with seeing evolution as an entirely individual process rather than a combination of individual and group.

          • jcb says:

            TVZ,
            It’s not about “caring” here. Atheists would prefer (“care) to have a good, probable explanation for how life/the universe came to be. The difference between atheists and theists here is that the theists tend to jump to improbable “explanations” (that aren’t actually explanations) rather than wait until we have probable explanations.
            Science has provided us with many explanations for many things.
            But we will (probably) never have explanations for all things. Theists often go to such issues (What created the Universe?) where science doesn’t yet have a good explanation, and then wrongly claim that they, theists, do have a good (probable) explanation.
            If something is a mystery, and we are still talking about truth, then one should assert that it is in fact a mystery. That’s what atheists rightly do about the cause of the universe.
            The murdering of kids is usually mean and harmful, and most don’t like it. None of that has anything to do with God (except that murder shows that there probable isn’t a God/perfect being).
            Yes, people find meaning in many activities: art, sports, etc.
            No, there isn’t evidence that life was designed by some supernatural, non-human, intelligent, perfect in all ways being.
            Life is special, to those who find it special. That is, live is valuable to those who value it, which is nearly all of us).
            If there is no God (What you call “life is just a fluke”), there would still be people finding meaning, finding value, finding much of live to be special.
            Yes, survival might win out over compassion, and it often does. That it does doesn’t prove that God exists.
            Yes, we could have evolved to value other things than, say, compassion. That we (compassionate people) ended up this way doesn’t show that God exists.
            That we could have ended up a different way doesn’t show that God exists.
            In the same way that we could have ended up liking different ice cream flavors, we could have ended up having a different attitude towards compassion. None of this helps disprove atheism.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Atheists don’t seem to care that there’s no explanation outside of “God made life” to explain why/how life came to be from non-life. ”
            .
            Who says there’s no explanation? Who says no-one cares? I’ve seen people patiently explaining theories of how life began to you, yet you say no explanations exist. And if no-one cared, why would people be investigating those theories?
            .
            “I see the murdering of kids as being intrinsically bad because I believe life has meaning and was designed for purpose and is special.”
            Why place that condition on caring about some kid? Why would a kid who is part of an evolved species be worth less than a kid who was designed? You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two by talking to them, so why is one worth more than the other?

          • TVZ says:

            Toby: I see what you are saying, but since gene mutation is random, is it possible the world could have turned out differently in a million different ways? I think your bias is that you see the world as it DID turn out and think this is how it SHOULD have turned out, but is that true in a world of random mutation?
            .
            JCB: I agree with your reasoning. If we can’t philosophize about anything, then indeed we will never know anything (about God). Science can take us back to where the universe was nothing, but it can’t observe nothing becoming everything… that takes outside the box thinking, since the box isn’t big enough to explain things.
            .
            Andy: There are no explanations. There are failed hypotheses, but science will still admit that the cause of the universe and life is a mystery. Show me different.
            .
            Bob: If there is no God, that changes everything for me. If there is a God, that changes everything for you.
            .
            I wish I had more time to delve into these things… keep the conversation going on anything I didn’t address.

          • toby says:

            I see what you are saying, but since gene mutation is random, is it possible the world could have turned out differently in a million different ways?
            How is it random if it is influenced by the environment? Nutrition, chemical exposure, etc can make epigenetic changes that are passed on to offspring.

          • TVZ says:

            How is it random if it is influenced by the environment? Nutrition, chemical exposure, etc can make epigenetic changes that are passed on to offspring.
            ,
            What if the environment, nutrition, chemical exposure, etc was altered? Why do we assume order in a chaotic universe of random luck? If we hit “rewind” and started all over: lightning hits the chemicals but the chemicals don’t behave the way they did, but behave in a different way… would things have turned out exactly like they have? You’ve got a normalcy bias, but this could have turned out in a trillion different ways… eating one another could have been virtuous in a potential random evolution of cells. It didn’t and you think that is how it “should” have been, but there can be no “should” in a random world.

          • jcb says:

            TVZ,
            I never said, “we can’t philosophize about anything”. But we don’t know that your belief, that God created the universe, is true. That’s what most of these exchanges are about.
            Yes, science has taken us back (i.e. provide us with answers) to the point of the Big Bang moment, where, prior to that, we don’t know what was there (what you call nothing ,but it was probably something, just nothing we know of).
            We might someday know about some god, but as of now, we don’t.
            You can observe something coming from nothing you are aware of, but yes, something probably comes from something else. But theists, for no good reason, usually claim to know what that thing is (when they don’t know what it is).

      • jcb says:

        TVZ,
        For many atheists they find plenty of meaning in many human activities. They have objectives (I plan to get a job this year!, etc). Yes, we “are”/exist. Many atheists do ponder “why”, but many don’t just accept bad (improbable) theistic answers to such questions.
        Clearly atheists don’t “write Everything! off as a mystery”. There are many things we know: cats exist, apples exist, etc. Oddly, you mean, there are a few things atheists claim are a mystery, like the origin of the universe. Regardless, there are indeed some things that are a mystery.
        Yes, people create purposes for themselves.
        Yes, our cells eventually give out and we die.
        No, it doesn’t follow that we can have “no impact on anything”. Most people do have an impact on many things.
        So almost everything you said there is false.
        More importantly, nothing you’ve said shows that atheism is false/theism is true.

        Reply
      • Bob says:

        My atheism is simply concerning the belief in a god – specifically – I don’t believe. That is not my “world view”. How I view the world around me, and form my opinions / conclusions concerning the world around me, is based on humanism, naturalism, amongst other ism’s. Atheism concerns one thing – the existence of a god.
        As to the impression you get from talking to atheists – I get the impression, based on your impression, that you spend more time talking than listening – and when you do listen, it is the proverbial in one ear and out the other – but that’s just my impression – because I don’t believe anything in your description fits my world view.
        .
        r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

        Reply
    • TGM says:

      I get torqued every time I hear the expression “atheist world view.” Honest people know that it’s not a world view, since there is no philosophy that follows from “I don’t believe in a god”. You can find atheists on either side of any issue. Pro-life/pro-choice atheists, conservative/liberal atheists, more skeptical/less skeptical atheists and so forth. I suppose atheists could even believe in the supernatural, as long as there is no deity attached. Apologists might simply mean “any world view that believes a god does not exist”, but that’s just the sort of distortion or deception we’re used to by now.

      Reply
      • TVZ says:

        there is no philosophy that follows from “I don’t believe in a god”.
        .
        Everybody has a world view… unless they have no consciousness (in a coma, vegetative state, brain damages, etc…).

        Reply
        • bob says:

          Try re-reading his post. He did not say atheists have no world view. He said, as I have said, atheism it’s self is not a world view, as you clearly do not understand.

          Reply
        • TGM says:

          I agree. But if the only thing you know about me is that I have not been convinced a god exists, what conclusions can you draw, regarding anything about me?

          Reply
          • TVZ says:

            Not much. You probably have too much faith in government and lean left. You probably worship entertainment and self-gratification. You are probably displeased and bored with life.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            None of those apply to me apart from ‘lean left’. I certainly have less faith in government than you do.

          • TGM says:

            Probabilities. That’s all you’ve got. And you got most of the answers wrong. Thanks for making my point. I don’t even know what it means to worship entertainment and self-gratification.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “I agree. But if the only thing you know about me is that I have not been convinced a god exists, what conclusions can you draw, regarding anything about me?”
            .
            Only the one conclusion that in the end is all that will really matter. And only because I find it impossible to think that you could possibly believe in The SON if you do NOT believe in The FATHER. You should think seriously about verse 18 in the following passage.
            .
            John 3:16-21 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”

  8. Andy Ryan says:

    TVZ: “Andy: There are no explanations. There are failed hypotheses”
    .
    With respect, my nine year old daughter has a better grasp of science than you, so you’re in no position to declaim about ‘failed hypotheses’. Every science-related statement you’ve made on this board has been based on false ideas and misconceptions. You think scientific learning is full of holes yet somehow we’re all having this conversation using electronic devices built by science. Go figure.

    Reply
        • TVZ says:

          Okay, I guess Andy’s out. Interesting video. Way over my head. The only thing that really stuck out to me was that they said lightning striking a mud puddle is a theory of Ben Stein’s. It’s actually from Alexander Oparin and John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (1924)… they call it the Primordial Soup Theory. It is not silly, but still very relevant today . It is probably more credible than the theories in that video. (I would have to research a lot to know that for sure though).

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Okay, I guess Andy’s out.”
            I was questioning your term ‘failed hypotheses’. How are you judging them to have failed?

          • TVZ says:

            Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. You are right that may be poorly worded. I said there are no explanations for how life came from non-life and you asked who says that. My response was that scientists would say that because all we have are failed hypotheses. The better scientific wording is probably we have not been able to move from hypothesis to theory yet. What I meant is that we are still in the guessing stage (no explanations yet).

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Ah ok. Quite a difference between hypotheses that have all been definitely proved wrong and ideas that have yet to gather enough evidence yet.
            .
            I mean, for centuries we didn’t know what caused lightning. Some people cited Thor as being the source of the phenomenon. Such people could have laughed at the people saying ‘We don’t know what causes lightning’, saying their own position was superior – ‘You guys are just making guesses or saying you don’t know, whereas we know lightning is caused by Thor, the God of thunder’. But those people wouldn’t really have the superior position, would they? And if everyone thought like them, we’d still be putting it down to Thor today.

          • TVZ says:

            Exactly. And for centuries atheists thought the universe was eternal and could not have had a beginning. That was the thing of fairy tales and for delusional people who believed in “gods” to dream about. The truth does usually come out in the end, eventually. Now is just not the time for an explanation of how non-life could became life.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “And for centuries atheists thought the universe was eternal”
            .
            Young earth creationists apparently rejected the Big Bang theory. And many Christians still reject evolution. The advantage of atheism is you can accept the latest scientific evidence, as there’s no book of dogma you have to square it with.

          • TGM says:

            YECs reject the Big Bang Theory because the evidence suggests it happened around 13.7 billion years ago. Hard to square that circle with a 6000-10000 year Earth.
            .
            Not all Christians reject the Theory of Evolution, but enough do. Frank Turek does. I’d imagine most contributors to this site do as well.
            .
            And atheists who accepted an eternal model of the cosmos were wrong (depending on what you mean by ‘eternal’). The difference between them and most theists…? They can be convinced by new evidence.

          • TVZ says:

            YECs reject the Big Bang Theory because the evidence suggests it happened around 13.7 billion years ago.
            .
            Should this mean that they disagree on the time of the Big Bang’s occurrence, but not that it happened.
            .
            Not all Christians reject the Theory of Evolution, but enough do. Frank Turek does. I’d imagine most contributors to this site do as well.
            .
            Christians disagree that a single cell evolved through different organisms to work its way up to human being over millions of years, but Christians do not reject change in organisms over time.
            .
            And atheists who accepted an eternal model of the cosmos were wrong (depending on what you mean by ‘eternal’). The difference between them and most theists
? They can be convinced by new evidence.
            .
            I think all humans can be convinced by new evidence.

          • TGM says:

            “Should this mean that they disagree on the time of the Big Bang’s occurrence, but not that it happened.”
            .
            The consequences of the Big Bang Theory are entirely inconsistent with a young earth (required times for cooling and differentiation of elements, for example). So it’s not just a question of when the expansion, itself, happened, but the steps to get from then to now.
            .
            “Christians disagree that a single cell evolved through different organisms to work its way up to human being over millions of years, but Christians do not reject change in organisms over time.”
            .
            Which is why I specifically used the phrase “Theory of Evolution” and not just the confusing word “evolution”. The Theory of Evolution is a very clear and well-defined thing.
            .
            “I think all humans can be convinced by new evidence.”
            .
            Apparently not. I would need to see some evidence of that.

        • TVZ says:

          This sounds like a very honest answer from Andrew Knoll, Harvard biology professor: “The short answer is we don’t really know how life originated on this planet. There have been a variety of experiments that tell us some possible roads, but we remain in substantial ignorance. That said, I think what we’re looking for is some kind of molecule that is simple enough that it can be made by physical processes on the young Earth, yet complicated enough that it can take charge of making more of itself. That, I think, is the moment when we cross that great divide and start moving toward something that most people would recognize as living.”
          .
          Anybody who claims to know cannot be trusted at this point.

          Reply
  9. jcb says:

    TVZ,
    This is what atheists have been saying: just as we don’t know much about how life began (specifically), we know even less about how the universe itself began. Those who say they do know, apparently, as you say, “cannot be trusted at this point”.

    Reply
    • TVZ says:

      JCB, Christians don’t know how the universe and life happened either, but we believe they were supernatural events performed by the God of the Hebrew Bible. This belief goes back at least 6,000 years. It’s cool that science is confirming these things, but for us the how doesn’t matter as much as the why.

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        Right, you do believe that. And you don’t know it. If you said you knew it, you “couldn’t be trusted”, as you say. So we can all here be in agreement if theists simply said “I believe in God, but I don’t know that he exists”. (This would explain why you literally said, “but we believe”, rather than we know. You don’t need much to show that you believe something. You need much know show that you know such things as that a perfect being exists).
        But no, science is not confirming that a perfect being/God exists. (If it did regularly confirm this, then we would indeed “know” it.)

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        • bob says:

          JCB – expect Mark to come along any moment now and proclaim he DOES know it, and he will copy and paste 12 bible verses as “evidence.”

          Reply
  10. timfink says:

    Actually, the skeptics involved in this discussion are correct about morality. If it is objectively true, it should be true, whether God exists or not. The idea is that the good of being is worth being chosen for its own sake, and for every moral agent, they should choose it for every being according to its relative value. If God did not exist, good would still be good. And the good of your neighbor as yourself would still be true, not because there is a God mandating it, but because it really is good to be chosen. “if you don’t love your neighbor who you have seen, how can you say you love God, whom you have not seen?”

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  11. Andy Ryan says:

    TVZ: “Should this mean that they disagree on the time of the Big Bang’s occurrence, but not that it happened.”
    .
    If they think it happened a few thousand years ago then what they believe in isn’t really the Big Bang. Like saying you believe the moon exists but think it’s only the size of a watermelon. You don’t really believe in the moon in a meaningful sense. An important part of the Big Bang theory is it happened billions of years ago.

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    • TVZ says:

      They are half-believers. They do believe the universe began from nothing. They don’t believe it was billions of years ago. Its more like saying you believe the moon exists but you don’t believe its billions of years old.

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      • Andy Ryan says:

        Here’s a question for you. Most animals can make their own vitamin C. With a few exceptions, it’s basically guinea pigs, monkeys, and humans that can’t. The technical reason for why we can’t: ‘The inability results from mutations in the GLO gene coding for L-gulono-Îł-lactone oxidase, the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the last step in the vitamin C biosynthetic pathway.’
        .
        What this means is that we have a part inside us that SHOULD be able to synthesise our own vitamin C, but it’s broken. The weird thing is that it’s broken in ONE way in monkeys and humans and then ANOTHER way in guinea pigs. Now this makes sense under evolutionary theory – monkeys and humans share a common ancestor, so it mutated/broke at some point in our shared evolutionary history. And the reason that it’s broken in a different way in guinea pigs is that we don’t share a common ancestor with them. It’s like if two film encyclopaedias had the same spelling mistake of a particular actor’s name throughout, you might figure one copied off the other or they both copied off the same source (indeed film encyclopaedias do indeed sometimes put in a deliberate mistake to catch out plagiarists.
        .
        Another question it poses is why we have this broken mechanism if we’re designed. I guess you can say it’s because of ‘The Fall’ but it’s a bit funny that The Fall affected both us and our closely related primates in this same way. It makes more sense to me that a mutation broke it, due our diet at the time (freely available vitamin C) it didn’t affect our survivability and so got locked into the gene pool.
        .
        Similarly, snakes have the DNA for limb development. Pythons and boas actually have small hind leg bones under their skin. A mutation stops those legs developing. Why would a designer put those bones in, put that leg development DNA in? Again, evolution explains this all neatly. I’m not saying there’s no God, just that the evidence points to species on earth having evolved from different species.
        .
        OK, this wasn’t really a question, more something for you to think about.

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  12. Susan says:

    I really have to break the apologetics blog habit because it really is sad to watch all these digressions into origins discussions as if people could explain it all when nobody can.

    The Bible wasn’t given to give a detailed explanation of origins.

    It is the book of salvation where God creates the New Creation Man in people who’s souls die.

    It is amazing how many people want to engage in
    Intellectual battles of the will and ignore death while trying to win their battle.

    While all the while knowing God has revealed Himself and given people the Bible as a self help manual into genuine spiritual knowledge.

    I guess if you go on a long enough diversion then you don’t have to really deal with God’s truth up close and personal.

    That is why Catholicism did such a disservice to the world. It substituted the Old Covenant Levitical type priest system in place of the New Covenant’s priesthood of believers keeping God’s people milk fed and unable to discern on important spiritual topics and disseminate the Gospel effectively. Why Catholicism was sometimes guilty of letting people into priest’s ranks that had no conviction at all. It was just a job to earn a living instead of a sacred trust to them.

    It is a testimony to the glory and power of God that His Word still has the power to effectually motivate people spiritually.

    God is not dead as disease minded Nietzsche said.
    Maybe his diseased mind (they are not sure if he died of a brain tumor or syphilis) was a contributing factor in his not being able to tell the difference between the divine reality of Jesus and that delusional superman he invented.

    Sometimes tumors or cysts can radically affect a person’s ability to think. Some times it causes people to act violently or unconscionably.

    Anyways, the Christian belief system is still getting passed to each generation because God’s Word still contains life changing power.

    And just because the petty minded hyper focus on the sins or certain problems of others does not mean they perceived accurately because they did not. They merely suffer from confirmation bias and refuse to examine the actual testimonial evidence of God’s people.

    If they can dismiss God because you did not come up to the perfectionistic standard in their head then they don’t have to listen to God at all.

    So don’t waste your time on people engaging in self deception.

    Francis Collins has an expert understanding on evolution yet he never let his natural mind’s understanding fully crowd out his spiritual mind’s growth. He almost gave in fully but then God gave him an epiphany and he bounced back.

    So tend to your own heads. It could be a spiritual garden if you planted the right godly thoughts in it but it is a wasteland of fault finding, criticism, trolling and complaints if you don’t.

    Everyone should be more concerned with his own spiritual growth and less about how God did everything.

    Your natural mind may be a marvel but having two minds, a spiritual and a natural mind are better than one but you have to go and study under God to have a truly excellent spiritual mind.

    Hope this clarifies for someone reading and if you are an atheist try asserting your will and take your mind back from the world so you can rededicate yourself to the study of God.

    You atheists like to study so try genuinely learning God’s perspective in exchange for the world’s then maybe you will experience the meaning that these theist keep talking about.

    The world is the battlefield of the mind between God and Satan so try learning about the armor of God and ask God for some discernment so you can spot the wiles of the devil who is beaten yet still actively at work in this world.

    See if you can take your mind back from the world and lesser thinkers before branding Christians as delusional.

    Thanks for reading and God Bless!

    Reply

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