Tuesday, October 20, 2009

That Does It For Me!

I think it was Rab who said something like, “If God gave me irrefutable proof of his existence, I’d believe.”

Regardless of whether that statement is believable (it isn't), we do have cases where that has happened. The Apostle Paul is just one example. Jesus' family is another. Of course there are hundreds of others, but the point I want to make is, or, the question that I want to ask is, How would you know if someone claimed that he’d had irrefutable proof? What would be the best indication that they weren’t lying?

Of course, you can’t know for sure, but the lives of Paul and Jesus' brother James give us a pretty good indication of what to look for. Everyone in the Bible, who is described as having encountered God, demonstrated a dramatic transformation in character and in the direction of their life’s goals. At the very least, that’s what one would expect. Again, none are documented better than the lives of Paul and James.

Paul, the zealot, the Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. Educated - the top of his profession. Listen to how Paul describes it. “If anyone else thinks he has reason to put confidence in the flesh. I have more: circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”

Here was someone that hated Christianity even more than Ditchens and their followers. In a relentless and tenacious hatred of those who followed Jesus, Paul tortured and killed those he believed were making the world a worse place in which to live.

James, and indeed his mother and siblings all thought Jesus was insane to be telling people that He was God incarnate. Yet, after the resurrection, we find all of them now part of the Christian camp.

After meeting Jesus face to face, both Paul and James began to worship Him whom they had both denied. Both were willing to die for the claim that they’d experienced the risen Christ. Both gave their lives to the cause of Christ, to minister to the poor and the sick and the outcast, just as Jesus had done during His time on earth.

Anybody can lie with words, like the Mormon Joseph Smith.

Anyone can be mistaken, like Rab. He wouldn’t become a Christian upon “seeing” Jesus. Atheists don’t believe in miracles and Rab would call his "irrefutable proof" a hallucination or something.

People whose lives dramatically change however, require further investigation. Dying to self in order to live for others requires some type of intervention from one's Creator. That is why, having experienced my own transformation under the Spirit and Power of the risen Jesus, a transformation that is similar to that of the first witnesses to the risen Christ, I am all the more sure of Him in whom I have believed. Irrefutable Proof? The risen and living Jesus does it for me.

18 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

Everyone in the Bible, who is described as having encountered God, demonstrated a dramatic transformation in character and in the direction of their life’s goals.

As did everyone who met Hitler, Mao Zedung and Stalin. In fact, about 400 people had exactly the same reaction to Jim Jones. This is not evidence of a divine being.

Makarios said...

I don't think that the same, PF. Those who met Hitler an Jones et al. may have changed the direction of their lives, but their fundamental human quality of corrupt self-love remained the same.

Leo B. Vadalà said...

PF is very well describing people who fell under the trance of a political movement or cult of personality and, once ensnared, all means of pressure (peer and political) was applied to keep them ensnared. Whether it was the compound in Guyana or the repressive country in which they lived, they were not free to leave if they had a change of mind. They would not dare recant, at least not openly.

On the other hand, Paul, James, the other apostles and the rest of the first century church were encouraged to recant their beliefs and conform to the rest of society. More than encouraged, they were threatened with death if they did not recant the Lordship of Jesus and start saying "Caesar is Lord." They had any and every opportunity to promote their own lives and well being by doing as they were told. No one was pressuring them to stay loyal to Jesus, but they did so until their last breath, even as they were being beheaded, mauled by lions or turned into human torches.

Hugo said...

The answer to your claims Makarios, and to Leo, is quite simple.

Actually, I will ask you a question first.

Do you think that people are willing to die for a lie?

From what I understand, your answer would be no. Actually, your answer HAS to be no.

The first Christians must have not been lying, they would have not suffered terrible death if what they saw/believed was false. They would not have lied, up to the point of being killed for it.

That's where you make two major mistakes.

First, it's very possible that these people DID see what they claimed to have seen. If that is the case, they were not lying. We have no way to prove it however, and that's the problem. You can go to living people, right now, and they will tell you exactly how they were abducted by aliens. Are they lying? I don't think so. Are they wrong? Of course yes!

But, second, and much more important. YES, people are willing to die for a lie! So no matter what they said before getting executed does not matter, you have no way to prove that because they refused to change their mind they were not lying.

I encourage you to go read this blog post for a lengthy explanation and precise examples of people who have lied only for personal fame.

There are examples of people who confessed of murders for example, facing a death penalty, when the evidence was clear that it was not possible for them to be the killer... can you imagine that? Well yes, it does happen...

Oh and Rod, there is a question for you on my blog that I would like you to answer: Why don't you commit murder?

Cheers

feeno said...

Ola Hugo

Sure people will die for a lie. They do it all the time. That's why we have dumb asses flying planes into buildings. But people wont die for something they know is a lie.

Had Peter or James simply denounced Christ and his resurrection they wouldn't have been put to death. But they actually saw a risen Lord.

The question is, if they had not witnessed this, do you think they would have died for something they knew was a lie.

These Dudes were scared to admit their allegiance with Christ. They were scared little girls. (no offense ladies). But then they got bold as hell. Why?

I'll be checking in with you at "Seeking Rational Thought".
Later, feeno

Hugo said...

sup feeno!

My point was that YES, some people ARE willing to die for something they KNOW is a lie.

There are examples of that happening before.

Of course it's freaking crazy to do so but anything can happen you know... there are so few cases of things "nobody would do"; you always find one example at least...

But of course, I am not saying that any of the apostles thought they were dying for a lie; I think there are good chances that they did believe what they were dying for. The point is only that it's not impossible however, and that the only thing we can be sure of is that they BELIEVE what they were dying for. We have no way to know if they were lying or not.

Take a good 30 minutes of your time when you can and read carefully the blog post I put a link to previously; Tracie explains it in much more details and give real life examples.

=====

What's up with the Spanish by the way?
My first language is French :P

Spanish: Pero hablo un poco de espanol porque apprendele en la escuela secondaria,

French: Au revoir mon ami et je te souhaite de passer une excellente journée!

Hugo ;)

Leo B. Vadalà said...

Yeah, right. That whole slew of Christians from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, from the unlearned fishermen who were soiling their pants and runnng away the night Jesus was arrested, to the scholarly and zealous Pharisee who initially did everything in his power to stamp out Christianity, they all somehow deluded themselves into believing something that was patently untrue, the equivalent of believing that they had been abducted by space aliens, and they all went to their deaths insisting it were so despite multiple opportunities and circumstances to reconsider and recant.

As you throw logic to the winds and dismiss not only this argument, but also the cosmological argument, teleological argument, etc etc. you continue to heap improbability on improbability and insist with a straight face that everything created itself out of nothing.

Apparently for some, that leap into intellectual suicide is far preferable to acknowledging the God to whom they refuse to submit.

Hugo said...

@Leo,
No, you got it all wrong
. IF anybody died for something they knew was a lie, that would be exceptional.

For the vast majority, and actually anybody who was not an eye witness, the question is not the same. They did believe what they died for, for sure, but that does not mean that what they believed was true. That's the point.

So again, there are two things here, let me repeat...
1) People would not die for something they knew was a lie is FALSE
2) People died for their belief in "X", so "X" must be true, is FALSE, ALWAYS, even if "X" is true sometimes.


Concerning the other points that you brought up without any support, you are correct, I do reject the logical arguments or cosmological arguments, ontological, kalam, presuppositionalism, whatever, name it. Everything I have encountered, up to now, was not convincing.

If you have something to present, do it, and we'll discuss it. Don't just throw it like that without making a point, you are just making a fool of yourself and look like a brainless zealot.

No, I do not believe that everything created itself out of nothing, YOU are the one who believes this if you believe God created everything... out of nothing.

And finally no I won't submit to your imaginary friend you call God until you justify its existence, because for now it's only a concept you have in your mind, nothing more.

Makarios said...

They did believe what they died for, for sure, but that does not mean that what they believed was true."

No it doesn't but we have these historically factual questions to answer:
. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why was the tomb empty

. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did the sceptic and Christian killer Paul become a follower and worshipper of Jesus - to the point of dying for that belief?

. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did the sceptic and believer that Jesus was a lunatic, Jesus' brother James, become a follower and worshipper of Jesus - to the point of dying for that belief?

. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did his closest follower go from cowards to bold and effective witnesses to His resurrection, to the point of living in poverty, hardship and finally martydom for that belief?

. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did the Christian faith begin?

You need and an answer to these questions. Not an answer that deals with one or two of them but with all of them. I have an answer, an answer that fits the evidence. Jesus the Christ rose from the dead.

Gorth Satana said...

"You need and an answer to these questions... an answer that fits..."

Your answer "Jesus is MAGIC!" fits. Just because it fits your perception of the "evidence" doesn't make it true. With a minutes thought anyone can come up with different answers that fit.
For example:

"If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why was the tomb empty"

We have some conflicting religious stories about this "empty tomb" and no evidence...

"If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did the sceptic and Christian killer Paul become a follower and worshipper of Jesus - to the point of dying for that belief?"

For control. Modern Christianity is more based on Paul's ideas than Jesus'.

"If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did the sceptic and believer that Jesus was a lunatic, Jesus' brother James, become a follower and worshipper of Jesus - to the point of dying for that belief?"

For control of the followers of the folk hero Jesus.
Interesting sidefact: I was reading Historia Ecclesiae and Clement mentions there were people who thought James was the Christ!

"If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did his closest follower go from cowards to bold and effective witnesses to His resurrection, to the point of living in poverty, hardship and finally martydom for that belief?"

What real proof does anyone have that they did?

"If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why did the Christian faith begin?"

If Mohamed wasn't the prophet, why did Islam begin?

Makarios said...

We have some conflicting religious stories about this "empty tomb" and no evidence...

Oh really? Which of them says the body was still in the tomb? Son, when your enemies agree that the tomb was empty, that is powerful confirming evidence.
============
For control. Modern Christianity is more based on Paul's ideas than Jesus'."

For control of what? Paul lost everything of earthy value, including his life.

You would have been better off just ignoring my question. The fact is, you don’t have an answer to explain these historical events, nor will you try to find an explanation that isn't less incoherent than all other bunk that atheists base their faith on.

Gorth Satana said...

We don't know how Paul died. All we have is Christian tradition.

Gorth Satana said...

The fact is your answer "MAGIC" is no answer at all.

Makarios said...

Paul was beheaded by Nero in AD64.

Gorth Satana said...

According to Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded.

Leo B. Vadalà said...

And according to atheist tradition Paul died at a ripe old age sipping premium wine on the Amalfi Coast.

Get serious, will you!?

Gorth Satana said...

"Get serious, will you!?"

What makes you think I'm not serious?

Wiki:
"Tradition has said that Paul was beheaded... Paul's death is commonly dated to c 60-62 or c 62-65, or c 65-67..."

Hugo said...

@LEO
"And according to atheist tradition Paul died at a ripe old age sipping premium wine on the Amalfi Coast.

Get serious, will you!?
"

Wow, nice contradiction, you ask to get serious right after writing a somewhat funny joke, ;)

Paul is a guy who wrote some letters that are part of the Bible. He believed in God; he was wrong.

Any claim he made you agree with concerning God?