Eddy asked me why I had not answered his article, so I’m going to, in point form, and answer each objection in its place. And thank you Eddy, for not just dismissing us as crackpots, even if you believe we are.
The controversies surrounding the issue of God's existence (the God debates) are of broad interest since they impact a significant portion of society. That is why on Mynews24 the God debates get a lot of attention to the chagrin of the casual wishy-washy news reader whose attention span is shorter then Tickey the Clown. They do not enter into debate with atheists because the existence of God is assumed. Proof is irrelevant as assumption is all they need to convince themselves of the existence of God.
They are not really “truth seekers”. They are fantasy dwellers. They pay little credence to the fact that the resolution of the question of the existence of God is primary in religious debate, since, without his existence, other issues surrounding religious arguments, such as the truth of evolution, the truth of some religious doctrine, the moral standing of atheists, and so on, are incidental. So kudos to atheists and God fearing believers that make these debates possible.
This is an issue which would create huge controversy as, on the one hand, it speaks of man’s final destination to the believer, where, to the atheist, it speaks of an infringement on his rights. (His denotes both genders; I refuse to use their)
The debates are for the most part good-natured and very seldom descend to outright insult and name-calling from either side, which has made this debate possible. So into the fray!
I have never assumed the existence of God because, as a child, my parents belonged to this weird church that believed heaven to be in your head, and it didn’t take me long to find out that this was bollocks. It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I actively rebelled and, by eighteen had become a militant atheist, largely due to being forced to go to church in the army.
I had to be convinced of the reality of God, and that against my will. But He convinced me thirty-two years ago, and I’ve never had reason to doubt Him since.
We’ll start here with the truth of evolution. I have done in-depth investigation, largely at the urging of charles.evendumber and, the deeper I dug, the flimsier the evidence for evolution appeared, with a huge amount of circular reasoning and gaps called ‘unconformities. Two hundred and forty-five thousand peer-reviewed papers does not impress me in the slightest, as there were thousands of peer-reviewed papers for the science of eugenics, which has since been absolutely discredited.
Without going into the moral standing of atheists, as some of them are fine people I personally know, who are better men and women than me, there begs a question. Atheists are amongst the most law-abiding people on earth as can be attested by the prison figures kept by the FBI and The British Penal System.
This is, however a slightly skewed system, as it appears intellectuals and academics, as a group, are law-abiding citizens, and borrow, in a sense, the morals of the country and culture in which they reside. An atheist residing in a Muslim country would follow the moral mores of the country in which he resided. When we look at independent morals, such as those espoused by secular humanists, we find many grossly immoral acts being passed into law, such as the age of consent in Europe being lowered to anywhere from thirteen to fourteen, and Cabinet Ministers not being held accountable to traffic laws in South Africa.
In 1998, this government dispensed with one of the cornerstones of parliament and removed the Bible from its place of honour in the portals of Parliament. It was replaced by a plinth on which they burn the bones to the ancestors. They also refuse to have any form of Christian prayer, as we are a multi-cultural society.
Since dispensing with those two little items, plus a whole lot more, all Christian, South Africa has become the most corrupt country in Africa and perhaps the most lawless in the world. Give man control of his own destiny and that is the end result. The crimes committed in this country beggar belief and, in my opinion, are driven by their desire to eradicate every vestige of God from the fabric of our country.
Most people who attend church regularly, read and study their Bibles intensely don't know much about the history of the world, other religions, myths or the pagan customs and ideas that were incorporated into Christianity. To them, Christianity is a direct line from God with all original thoughts. In fact they don’t even know that the Bible "teaches" absolutely nothing. It is the denomination or church they belong to that infers doctrines from cherry picked passages of scripture and proceeds to teach from those inferences. If the Bible clearly "taught" anything there wouldn't be so many competing versions or factions of Christianity (33 000 and counting). The Bible asserts, it does not teach. It is the church that takes its pet assertions found in the Bible and teaches them as fact.
Their critical analysing skills of the canonised Bible leaves a lot to be desired; how, why, who, where, when and what was the original source. They think that the original Greek or Hebrew is the original source, but of course that is not true, for where did they get it from. This naivety is easy to understand for obviously believers would rather prefer to concentrate on building up their faith then in breaking it down and so through wilful ignorance they continue to reinforce the falsehood that is the shaky foundation for their faith. And as any good builder will tell you, if the foundation is weak, the building will fall down like a pack of cards. If you think you have the “true faith” it should be able to withstand critical scrutiny. Confirmation bias runs amuck in the minds of most believers. They judge the merits of any argument based on whether they agree with the conclusion. Even apologists who defend Christianity start with their conclusions and then construct arguments to support them and therefore it is irrational to embrace and support Christian faith.
The house of cards, once built, is easily demolished. Christians are a disparate lot, there’s no question about that, or the thirty-three thousand plus denominations around the world. Jesus did prophesy this, by the way, as did Paul.
What we have to realise, however, is that there are about thirty-two valid denominations and, for the sake of this article I’m including the Catholics and all the Orthodox Churches. Thousands upon thousands of men and women, believing they’ve had a divine revelation, leave their church and start their own church, which is why we have so many denominations.
The teaching of Jesus and the Bible itself is absolutely clear. Number one: the Ten Commandments, or the Great Law. When Jesus spoke of the Law, he was speaking of this law, not the six hundred and thirty-three other laws. With more than thirty thousand manuscripts and fragments, it has more evidence for its authenticity than any other ancient book. Add to that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint and you have a pretty impressive record.
The Sermon on the Mount is regarded as one of the greatest moral teachings of all time and yet, without the person of Jesus, is meaningless. Jesus stands alone of all the great religious leaders in that He was not a way-shower, but the Way.
Last year my son went to Petra, and marvelled at the emptiness of this place, and the fact that no-one lives there or even goes there at night, yet the destruction of Edom was prophesied exactly in the book of Obadiah and it was prophesied that it would never be inhabited again. It never has been.
The beauty of the Christian faith is that it has stood up to intense scrutiny for two thousand years and still stands strong.
In order to be able to establish the existence of any given entity; you have to be able to define that entity somehow. If the definition is logically incoherent, as most definitions of God seem to be, it's not any more difficult to disprove God than it is a square circle. If some God, worthy of being called a God, exists then it has the capacity to communicate directly with each of us rather than going through intermediaries who reach different conclusions and apply different standards for which is the correct version of what God said in the Bible.
All though Christians consider the God of Judeo-Christian tradition and the creator to be one and the same entity, it is obvious that there is a difference between; some nebulous impersonal abstract supernatural being out there, some where beyond space and time, and the Christian God. There could be no evidence for or against the existence of an abstract God because he only exists; as a concept, an idea, a primitive and naïve explanation of the unknown. Some try to prove God exists by engaging in desperate attempts to disprove biological and galactic evolution. They are fighting a losing battle as these have been proved by the available evidence beyond scientific doubt, by thousands working in many fields of science for over hundreds of years.
Many mystical entities have been or are thought to exist by primitive and superstitious people all over the world. Spirit beings like fairies, unicorns, tockalotches, goblins etc and gods from other religions like; Ra, Zeus, Krishna, Odin, Xenu, etc. All of these either have or have had believers just as ardent as any Christian, yet there is exactly as much evidence for the existence of any of them, as there is for the Christian God. That is, to say, no evidence at all. Yet obviously every committed Christian on the planet would vehemently deny the existence of these other Gods and adamantly profess before all that their God really exists. They are atheists to all other gods.
The question then is what evidence is there for the existence of God. For God in general, cosmological, ontological, and tautological (rhetoric) arguments all fail. (1) For the personal, prayer answering God of Judeo-Christian tradition, there the cited evidence is the Bible, which however, is not evidence, but a collection of claims that are either anecdotal personal revelations or post-hoc reasoning based on cultural bias and circular logic.
First off, the Bible never says there are no other gods, or God would not say, ‘You shall have no god before Me.’ We believe firmly in the existence of those gods and many Christians, especially missionaries have come up against those gods. So we are not atheists in terms of other gods, we are firm believers.
I’ve used the argument before, but it will suffice here: a friend posed the question, ‘Why do I never hear from God?’ This was because I had told him I had heard from God. He is an atheist. I said to him, ‘Do you ever hear Classic FM?’
He said no, and I asked, ‘Does that mean they’re not broadcasting?’ God spoke to people at one time, but people were so determined to have their own way that He can no longer be heard by them. Now I did not hear an audible voice when He spoke to me, just a very strong impression that it was God talking and not just my thoughts. In order to hear God, even in that way, I have to spend time with Him, building a relationship and intimacy with Him.
The evidence for God can be both anecdotal, and often is, but not on this forum. The evidence for God is the completeness and historical accuracy of the Bible, the fulfilled prophecies and the person of Jesus Christ. Despite all the clamouring claims to the contrary, there are vast amounts of evidence that speak of His walking the earth, preaching and teaching: some of it by His enemies.
Disproving galactic evolution is easier than disproving biological evolution, but both are fraught with circular reasoning and are believed because they are believed by the intelligentsia. And let us not forget, peer-reviewed. How about the thousands of peer-reviewed theological papers? Do they count for nothing? They are peer-reviewed, after all.
Cultural bias cannot explain the fact that forty percent of South Koreans are Christian, as it is a primarily Buddhist country. Cultural bias cannot explain the hundreds of Christians who are persecuted and even martyred in Muslim countries, where it is against the law to be a Christian.
These people have every reason Not to be Christian and yet, in the face of overwhelming resistance and persecution, are. So religious bias cannot be the answer: a living saviour, on the other hand, can.
Is Bible God also just a concept; existing only as an idea, a revelation residing in the imaginations of pious believers, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as they ponder ancient texts regarded as sacred? Are words in a book enough to cause one to believe in a supernatural being? Surely a mental construct of God does not infer his existence and/or inner witness of the “heart” consent is no substitute for physical proof. Perhaps the real reason no one has seen God is because he is a spirit as Jesus said to his disciples that “God is a spirit and must be worshipped as such.” (2)
What is a spirit, what does it weigh and what is it made of? A spirit being could be defined as a non-physical entity or a super natural being. We know today that a spirit/supernatural/non-physical being cannot exist in a natural world. If he could he would not be a spirit. Now would he? Think about this. If a spirit being were to exist it would consist of nothing. It would have no matter, just empty space. So how can something which is nothing interact in a natural world? Is God a force just like gravity, wind and radio waves are? No, a spirit being has no force in the natural world; your TV remote has more power. We have no way to experience non-physical things as our experience is with a physical world which we interact with by using our five senses. What does non –physical even mean and how can it have effect in the physical world? How can any one make a distinction?
So the power God or any other imagined spiritual being has over you is in your imagination (mind). What you believe has power over you and you become enslaved to it. If anyone today claimed he had spoken directly to God and was given instructions to do X, would anyone take him serious. (Actually some probably would, but that makes the point doesn't it.) Why then would we accept the idea that anyone from Adam to Zechariah in the Bible did either, while at the same time rejecting the claim of Muhammad or figures of any other culture.
Much work has been done on the mind and what it is. The brain is not the mind, this has been established quite clearly, yet the mind cannot exist without the brain. Mind is a fact, as much as the fact that we breathe, and we cannot understand how it functions, no matter how much we try. My brain could not cause me to respond to this post, only my mind could. The most powerful computer ever built, has enormous processing power, but cannot make arbitrary decisions: the mind can.
It weighs nothing, cannot be seen, felt, experienced in any way except mental interaction with other like minds.
Quite clearly, the same could be said to apply to the spirit or the soul. We have no way to measure them and no proof they exist, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. It means we might not accept them, that’s what it actually means.
As to speaking to God, here’s a wonderful example. My mother-in-law died in 1986 and my wife was devastated. Understandably. Later that year she fell pregnant and was later found to be pregnant with twins. It turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy and her tube ruptured, bringing down the healthy foetus and nearly killing her in the process. Her tube was removed and her contraceptive device as well, as the doctor said she would never have another baby.
A few months later, at church, this guy approached her; someone we’d seen, but didn’t know at all. He told her that when he’d looked at her he’s felt an overwhelming compassion for her and had a message for her. God had told him to tell her that He was a God who gives as well as takes away, and that God would bless her with a child. We smiled politely and pretty much ignored it, because so many people have so-called words from God that it becomes tiresome to listen to them.
Less than a year later my second son was born and he has been a blessing to us in every way imaginable. He also seems to be blessed by God, as everything in his life seems to go right.
God obviously spoke to this man; there was no way he could have known about my wife’s loss, or her ectopic pregnancy, as we’d only been in the church a few months.
Muhammad, according to The Qur’an, was the seal of the prophets, the greatest of all prophets and yet only made one prophecy in his life: ‘I will return to Mecca.’ Not much of a prophecy when compared to the prophecy concerning Edom and the many other fulfilled prophecies, especially those concerning Jesus.
As an ancient sacred text the Bible tells us that long ago in a land far away, magical and mystical things happened. There is a word for this genre of literature (Fantasy). In the first place, what is the evidence against the existence of fairies or unicorns? If by looking and not seeing any isn’t considered evidence against their existence, then I don’t know what is required. Someone cannot provide evidence against the existence of a non-entity, since if it doesn't exist then it cannot leave any traces of its non-existence for us to examine. Think about this.
Can God really be found in the pages of the Bible? Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes that they search the scriptures and have not found him (Jesus) there. (3) If they could not find Jesus, who was the Son of God in human flesh, how can we do any better today? They all ready believed in God but could not find his Son who was standing in front of them! Neither could the Jews and Romans that crucified Jesus. It seems to be difficult to find God even when you are looking directly at him or humbly searching for him on bended knees. So where is he? His silence is deafening and his inertness in the presence of suffering, horror and evil is unbelievable. It is as if he is incapable of knowledge, thought or action just like a rock or a vegetable or as if he does not really exist. He is less capable of influencing the world than a single electron.
To be contd.
(1) Cosmological Argument: The argument from first causes, prime mover, the beginning of the universe, Kalam, etc.
Ontological Argument: An a priori argument based on the "perfection" of God. Typically
1. God is the most perfect ('the greatest') being conceivable.
2. It is more perfect ('greater') to exist than not to exist.
3. Therefore, God must exist.
MIT conducted a study recently, the findings of which were published this week: Jesus Christ is the most important person in history. This is not based on His miracles, His resurrection or anything that cannot be ascertained historically. His influence on history is greater than that of any human being that ever lived. Not bad for a carpenter.
When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, he called the blind leaders of the blind, saying they would cross the oceans to make one convert and then make him more a son of hell than themselves. They were not looking for the Messiah He represented; they were looking for someone who would restore Israel to its former glory.
Without Jesus as represented in the Gospels, the entire Bible becomes meaningless. With Him as its central theme, the entire whole comes together in harmony, making it unique amongst all books ever published. From start to finish, the story is about a coming King, who would restore mankind to his proper relationship with God.
In this manner, Jesus has influenced the world in manners inconceivable in His day. He has set in motion more pens writing hymns, poems, books of praise and teachings than any that went before Him. He has mobilised millions of men and women who, with no thought for their own comfort or safety, gave of themselves and their goods to help those who could not help themselves.
God is represented in Jesus, and His influence has been vast.
And the MIT team are not Christian, nor are they crackpots. But they do recognise Him as the most important Man who has ever lived.