Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why Donate to P-Dunn's Apologetics?

If you clicked this link, you're wondering why you should donate to a blog like this. So what about Brain Is Ignorant, or any one of my blogs, deserves your financial support? Why in the world should you donate?
  1. Donating any amount is an expression of appreciation for what I've done, a "thank you" for all of the time and effort it has taken me so far. This is a ministry that I've run for almost three years now. I began contributing to Brain Is Ignorant in July of 2006, and it has been an ongoing effort. I've worked a lot of hours and hopefully saved you the trouble.

  2. As you can see, it is still not finished. And it will never be finished. I think that what I've done here will be a continuing effort: continually rewriting and re-evaluating what I have already put forth. And that's not just on the blog! I have a YouTube channel that is also used for apologetics, and continuing that is a goal of mine as well. Your contribution will encourage me that people really are interested in what I've done, and really do want me to continue this effort.

  3. Your contribution will allow me to purchase more resources to make better responses to atheistic arguments. I have an extensive Amazon Wish List for books about Christianity, many of which are in relation to atheism, and I can't get any of them without money.

Thank you for taking the time to consider donating to P-Dunn's Apologetics. I'm not a non-profit organization, and you won't be tax exempt; I'm just a (broke) college student trying to make it. Anything you give me will be very much appreciated, especially in such a time as this.

Thank you again,
Patrick Dunnevant

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chapter 23 - Was Jesus' coming Prophesized?

Rather, "Chapter 23 - Did you really just say 'prophesized?'"

In the eyes of Christians, one of the things that irrefutably proves that Jesus is God is the fact that Jesus fulfilled many prophesies from the Old Testament. For example, if you look at the Web site for the Campus Crusade for Christ, you find this paragraph:

More than 300 prophecies like this were made in the Old Testament and then fulfilled through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The chances of one person fulfilling a mere 8 of these prophecies are 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. For one person to fulfill 48 of these prophecies, the number becomes staggering--1 chance in 10 to the 157th power (1 with 157 zeros after it). Add to that the 250 other prophecies and it becomes impossible for any other person except Jesus to ever fit that particular sequence of time and events. [ref]

300 certainly is a huge number of prophesies, and Christians put a lot of stock in them.

However, the "prophesies" that Jesus fulfilled are odd. According to whom, exactly? They are a collection of rather strange, oblique references scattered throughout the Old Testament. Strange? Oblique? Where are you getting these words from? People have grabbed onto them as somehow indicative of something having to do with Jesus, although it is not clear why they do that. With some, maybe. With others, it's pretty clear. Let me show you several of them so that you can see what I mean.
Why thank you, Mr. Brain.

Example 1

Here is a complete chapter from the book of Isaiah so that you have plenty of context: So you've suddenly realized the benefit of reading things in context? Or is this only when its convenient for your case?

Isaiah chapter 7:
    1 When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.

    2 Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.

    3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field. 4 Say to him, 'Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood-because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it." 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

    " 'It will not take place,
    it will not happen,
    8 for the head of Aram is Damascus,
    and the head of Damascus is only Rezin.
    Within sixty-five years
    Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.
    9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
    and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah's son.
    If you do not stand firm in your faith,
    you will not stand at all.' "

    10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 "Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights."

    12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test."

    13 Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. 16 But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah-he will bring the king of Assyria."

    18 In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. 20 In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River-the king of Assyria-to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also. 21 In that day, a man will keep alive a young cow and two goats. 22 And because of the abundance of the milk they give, he will have curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. 23 In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. 24 Men will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. 25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.

That's a lot of stuff. So you look at it. You read it closely. You read it again. You read it again in a different translation. You read a commentary on this passage. You read another commentary on this passage. You look up words in the original language that you don't understand. You read about this passage from a historical perspective. It is pretty dense, I realize, and much of it is completely nonsensical (see chapter 17 on irrelevant material in the Bible). Any further comment about material being "nonsensical" or "irrelevant" will be ignored, for this reason: such a comment betrays a petulant chronocentricism, a very basic ignorance of the Bible, and a lack of desire to actually understand anything we say. I will make you a wager that you cannot get halfway through it without your eyes glazing over, but try to muscle through it and read the entire thing. If you really wanted to get the meaning of the passage, you would complete the rest of what I said too. In there is an important prophecy of Jesus' life. Can you see it? It is in verse 14. The sentence is:
    14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
According to Christians, this sentence prophesizes that Jesus will be born of a virgin mother. And also, Immanuel means "God with us," which seems to be very indicative of God himself showing up. That is one of the 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that prove that Jesus is the son of God.

You have the context of the entire chapter -- do you see anything here that indicates we are talking about Jesus? Well, yes. The child in question would be born of a virgin, called "God with us," he will always choose good over evil, and he will come at a time where Israel needs redemption and salvation. Then there are all the other "prophesies" in this same chapter -- the flies and the bees, the curds and honey, the razor from across the river, the cow and the goats, the briers and thorns, etc. What is the relationship between curds and honey and Jesus?
It shows that this child would grow up like any normal child; he would eat the same food as everyone else, not eating some sort of divine food.

Example 2

Here is another example. In the book of Hosea, chapter 11, there is an important prophecy about Jesus. This is the entire chapter so you have plenty of context:
    1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Ba'als, and burning incense to idols. 3 Yet it was I who taught E'phraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. 4 I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one, who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. 5 They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. 6 The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them in their fortresses. 7 My people are bent on turning away from me; so they are appointed to the yoke, and none shall remove it. 8 How can I give you up, O E'phraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboi'im! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. 9 I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy E'phraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy. 10 They shall go after the LORD, he will roar like a lion; yea, he will roar, and his sons shall come trembling from the west; 11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD. 12 E'phraim has encompassed me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah is still known by God, and is faithful to the Holy One.
So you look at it. You read it. You read it again. Etc. Once again you notice that the material is completely nonsensical (see chapter 17). In there is an important prophecy of Jesus' life. It is in verse 1. This is supposedly the prophecy that Jesus will be called out of Egypt after God sends him there to avoid the murder of thousands of babies (see chapter 16).

You have the context of the entire chapter -- do you see anything that indicates we are talking about Jesus besides the random pair of words "my son"? Well, it's actually "Out of Egypt I called my son." Even verse 2 is nonsensical. How? It is a statement that people sacrificed to idols. They either did, or didn't. Nothing is nonsensical about saying they did. There are all the other "prophesies" in this same chapter -- the Ba'als, the incense, E'phraim, the bands of love, the return to the land of Egypt, the kingdom of Assyria, the sword, the yoke, Admah, Zeboi'Im, the lion, the birds, the doves of Assyria and so on. Many of those you just mentioned are not prophecies, but just normal statements. Are you merely assuming that literally every sentence in the book is called a prophecy by Christians? What is the relationship between all of this random material and Jesus?
Well, it's all once again talking about how God loves Israel and wants to provide salvation and redemption for them.

Example 3

In Zechariah Chapter 9, there is a prophesy that Jesus will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Here is the context and the verse:
    1 The word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach and will rest upon Damascus- for the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel are on the Lord - 2 and upon Hamath too, which borders on it, and upon Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful. 3 Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. 4 But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire. 5 Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted. 6 Foreigners will occupy Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. 7 I will take the blood from their mouths, the forbidden food from between their teeth. Those who are left will belong to our God and become leaders in Judah, and Ekron will be like the Jebusites. 8 But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch. 9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. 12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. 13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and make you like a warrior's sword.
Once again you notice that this material from the Bible is totally irrelevant and nonsensical (see chapter 17). The prophesy is verse 9. Most would say it continues on from there, too. Do you see anything in there that says we are talking about Jesus? I am beginning to wonder if you are expecting a literal, "This is talking about Jesus" to be there...Some sort of Biblical footnote. Verse 8 is also interesting in light of Hitler. Then make your case. What does "house," "my people," and "overrun" mean in the context of this passage and its original language?

Example 4

In Micah Chapter 5 verse 2 there is a "prophesy" that Jesus will be born in Bethlehem:
    1 Now you are walled about with a wall; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel. 2 But you, O Bethlehem Eph'rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. 5 And this shall be peace, when the Assyrian comes into our land and treads upon our soil, that we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; 6 they shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the drawn sword; and they shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border.
Look at all the other stuff around this "prophecy." There is the wall, the siege, the rod, the cheek, the flock, the Assyrians, the seven shepherds, the eight princes, the Nimrods, the sword, and so on. Once again all of this material is irrelevant and nonsensical (see Chapter 17). Not if you're reading this realizing that this is all talking about a future messiah, coming to provide salvation and redemption for the Jews.

There is something else that you may notice in this passage. Look at this phrase: "with a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel." Let's say that, at some point in the Gospels, Pontius Pilate had struck Jesus with a rod on the cheek. If that had happened, then Micah 5:1 would be a prophecy about Jesus' coming. Notice, then, that Jesus was flogged for a long time prior to his execution. So this criterion is essentially fulfilled. Where are the Christians saying this is a prophecy? Since Jesus is never struck on the cheek with a rod in the New Testament, this "prophecy" is never mentioned. Not only are you resulting to mere conjecture here, you're also somehow contorting the Bible to make it seem like literally every verse is a prophecy. How is this true? Seems like, in the context of this passage, that it is referring to the fact that the ruler of Israel at the time may have been attacked by the forces. Once you understand that, you completely understand the "300 prophecies of Jesus." So by quoting four examples, saying "These are strange and there's a lot of material that I don't think applies," you have somehow discredited an additional two hundred and ninety-six prophecies?

This "rod and cheek" phenomenon is where the "prophecies" of Jesus are coming from. The Old Testament contains thousands and thousands of words, most of them total nonsense. You're a bigotted idiot, Mr. Brain. Out of those thousands of words, you are going to get some that happen to match up with the New Testament accounts of Jesus in some obscure way. However, you are going to get thousands more, like the rod and the cheek, the curds and the honey, the razor from across the river, the Nimrods and all the rest, that do not. Are these prophecies? If you look for the ones that do happen to randomly match up and completely ignore the thousands and thousands that do not, you can claim that the Old Testament "prophesizes" the coming of Jesus. The argument you're trying to make here is noble, but it falls dramatically short. The whole Bible isn't just a prophecy about Jesus. The books prophecy about a lot of different subjects. Go audit even one Old Testament course, or read even a single book about Old Testament prophecy, and you would realize that. Any normal person, on the other hand, sees it all as gibberish. Any correspondence is complete coincidence.
So you're a completely unbiased interpreter, aren't you?

In chapter 17 of this book we discussed the amount of nonsense in the Bible. In all of the quotes that you have seen around these prophecies, do you find that you are left in amazement at the word of the Lord? Am I supposed to? Or have you found it all to be completely meaningless to you? Sigh. Why, if the Bible and these "prophecies" are the word of the Lord, is book filled to the brim with such meaningless, useless, ridiculous nonsense?
I will respond by quoting what I said in chapter 17:

"I've never seen such cultural snobbery, such petty self centeredness, such abject anti-intellectualism, or ridiculous stupidity. Who in the world are you, of all people, to say that certain things in a book written thousands of years ago are "useless" or "irrelevant?" Has it occurred to you in the slightest that when it was written down, these events and regulations meant literally the world to people? Have you ever considered that, to the Isrealites, these books made up probably the sole written record of the history of their people, and they spent years memorizing every single word so that they could base their lives around it?

"This is exactly the reason why the new atheists are chastised: because of their complete hypocrisy."

Here is one last thing to consider. No one would care about these "prophecies" in the Old Testament if Jesus had actually proven that he is God. Since Jesus did not prove that he is God (see chapter 19), Christians have to fall back on the "prophecies" because this is all they've got. What a laugh. Jesus provided more than enough proof that he's God. Your attempt to refute that has been miserable. Since any normal person can see that the prophecies are completely meaningless, this is a very sad place for a Christian to be.
Don't patronize me, Mr. Brain. You're not in any position to.

Reaching a conclusion

If you are a Christian, you have heard the following statement over and over again: "Jesus' coming was prophesized hundreds of times in the Old Testament, centuries before Jesus' birth! The ONLY way that could have happened is if God wrote the Bible and if Jesus were sent by God! The chances of one man fulfilling all of these prophecies together are infinitesimally small -- Jesus MUST be God!" You've heard it so many times you've simply taken it on faith.
Says who? You're merely assuming.

But have you ever actually taken the time to read the Bible and check out these "prophesies"? Yes. Have you ever looked at the context around them as we have here? Yes. Have you ever noticed that the "prophecies" are scattered far and wide throughout the Old Testament [as we would expect] without a single thing tying them together [except the New Testament and Jesus's life, of course] and absolutely nothing indicating that they point to Jesus [except Jesus's life and the New Testament, of course]? Have you ever noticed that there are thousands of other prophesies -- like the rod and the cheek, the bees and the curd, the seven shepherds, the eight princes, the Nimrods, the doves of Assyria, the razors from across the river, etc., etc., etc. -- that never came to pass?
How do you know they never came to pass? Have you looked at extra-Biblical history? Have you looked at the actual history in the Bible and seen if it matched up?

If you read all of the examples in this chapter, and especially if you read the material in the Bible surrounding the "prophecies", I believe that you will understand two things. First, the "prophecies" that "prove" that Jesus is God are irrelevant and meaningless. Any unbiased observer can see that. No need to pretend we don't have biases, Mr. Brain. Jesus' coming was never "prophesized" in the Bible. The word you're looking for is "prophesied." Why should I think you're a credible source if you don't even know the correct term? These prophesies are as random and arbitrary as your horoscope in the newspaper -- so vague and diffused among so much irrelevant material that they are completely meaningless. Let's see about that later.

The second thing you will see is a reiteration of chapter 17 -- much of the Bible is irrelevant to us today. Since God is all-knowing and timeless, it is difficult to understand why that would be unless we assume that God had nothing to do with the Bible. Again...Nothing to say except, "You're wrong."

All right, Mr. Brain. Let's look at the Suffering Servant passage, one you seemed to completely ignore in your diagnosis of prophecies. Tell me if this is "random," or "arbitrary," or "irrelevant," or "nonsense." We'll provide the entire passage for context. Tell me that Isaiah 53 doesn't sound like Jesus:

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied ;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

So what can we infer about this person?
  1. He was hated by a lot of people. Jesus was hated by lots of people.
  2. He was rejected by men. Jesus was even rejected by his own family.
  3. He took up our infirmities and sorrows. Jesus felt our pains, and healed people.
  4. He was marked and afflicted by God. Jesus was transfigured.
  5. He was "pierced for our transgressions" and "crushed for our iniquities." Jesus was crucified for our sins.
  6. His punishment "brought us peace." Jesus's death brings us forgivenesss.
  7. By his wounds, we are healed. Jesus's death brings us healing from sin.
  8. He did not resist his punishment. Jesus did not speak in his defense at the trial.
  9. He did not have any descendants. Jesus never had any kids.
  10. He was given a grave with the wicked, "with the rich." Jesus was buried by a rich man, killed amongst theives.
  11. He had done no violence or deceit. Jesus never sinned.
  12. God made him a "guilt offering." Jesus died as a guilt offering for our sins.
  13. He will see the "light of life" after his soul suffers. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.
  14. By his knowledge, his servants will justify many. His disciples and followers carried on his mission and now we have a religion in his name.
  15. He poured out his life unto death, numbered as a transgressor, bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the other transgressors. That's Jesus.
So, Mr. Brain? What about that chapter? Fifteen clear indications of Jesus from this passage, and that's just from me reading it. Is this irrelevant or nonsensical?

© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chapter 22 - Why do so many children live in poverty?

Rather, "Chapter 22 - Why does Mr. Brain keep bringing up completely unrelated topics?"

If, on any Sunday morning in America, you were to visit a Sunday school class full of small children, there are two things that are nearly guaranteed. On the wall there will be a picture or poster of Jesus with a group of children around him. And the class will end up singing the song "Jesus loves the little children." Christians are quite fond of both the imagery and the music.

The question that we should ask is a simple one. If Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving, and if Jesus loves the little children, then why do so many children live in abject poverty? So, this is the problem of evil, then? More specifically, the "problem of hunger." A paper entitled "Chronic poverty in India" describes the poverty faced by the world's children in this way:

Poverty has been described as a situation of “pronounced deprivation in well being” and being poor as “to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothing, to be sick and not cared for, to be illiterate and not schooled…Poor people are particularly vulnerable to adverse events outside their control. They are often treated badly by institutions of the state and society and excluded from voice and power in those institutions.” Using income as a measure of poverty, the World Development Report refers to the “deep poverty amid plenty” in the world and states that a fifth of the world’s people live on less than $1 a day, and 44% of them are in South Asia. [ref]

Sounds like the environment of the New Testament.

Even in the United States -- one of the wealthiest nations on earth -- poverty is a major problem. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 26 million children in the United States participate in the National School Lunch Program, which provides low-cost or free lunches to children at or near the poverty level. [ref] 26 million children represents about half of all the children in the United States.

One thing that you quickly realize, if you allow yourself to think about it, is that the number of people living in abject poverty on this planet is staggering. A "fifth of the world’s people" is more than a billion people. You also realize that $1 a day means that these people are living in hopeless, wretched conditions. Think about how little food you can buy for $1. Actually in many countries, just one American dollar goes a very long way. You would probably have known that if you've ever sponsored a child. Now consider the fact that the $1 is spent on that little bit of food, so there is no money left for housing, clean water, restroom facilities, clothing, shoes, health care, education, infrastructure, etc. etc. Disease runs rampant. Starvation is common. This level of poverty is nearly unimaginable to most people in the United States, yet more than a billion people live this way today. Ironically, in many of these same countries, there's also an immense amount of wealth restricted to a small amount of people. Greed and selfishness run rampant.

Now consider the fact that, if you raise the bar to $3 a day -- still an extremely meager amount -- half of the people on the planet are living at that level of poverty. More than three billion people. As discussed in Chapter 5, 10 million children die every year as a result of abject poverty.

Where in the world is Jesus?
I think a better question is this: "Where in the world are Jesus's people?" Or even, "Where in the world are you?" Or, even, "Where are the atheist organizations fighting poverty overseas?"

Here is what Jesus has to say about poverty in the Bible. If you look in Matthew chapter 6:25, you will find this amazing quote:

    "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."

    Read this with the context in mind that Jesus himself was homeless and living in abject poverty. So was everyone he was speaking to.

If "your heavenly Father knows that you need them all," then what in the world has gone wrong? When Jesus says, "Do not be anxious," what could he possibly mean? If you are living on $1 a day, you are going to be anxious about everything including food, clean drinking water, clothing, basic medical care, sanitation facilities and education. Does that make being anxious right? More than a billion people are living like that today.

How many people is a billion? Prepare for an emotional appeal...Take all 300 or so million people in the United States. That is a lot of people. Here it comes... Quadruple that number. That is how many people are living in abject, wretched, unimaginable poverty around the world. Ah. There it is. If Jesus loves all the little children of the world, he has a truly bizarre way to show his love. Wait, this is Jesus's fault? Somehow I thought it was our responsibility to take care of the world. Silly me!

What any normal person realizes, when looking at the facts that are plainly visible in our world, is that what Jesus said in the Bible is completely wrong. Jesus' statements about poverty in Matthew 6:25-32 are clearly false. I think it's a lot more clear that you need to contextualize the passage before you make brash, across-the-board attributions. God is not looking out for these people. Are you? God is not feeding them, nor is he clothing them like lilies. Your complaint seems to amount to, "God isn't opening their mouths and putting pre-chewed food inside, nor is he putting their clothes on for them. Therefore, he doesn't exist." God doesn't even do that with the animals, Brain. Jesus hates quite a few of the little children of the world, and he demonstrates his hatred by imprisoning them in abject poverty.

Okay, let's turn this argument around. Because you're not doing everything you possibly can do to help these poor, deprived children, you therefore are a vile person. For crying out loud. You have a website that explains how things like washing machines work. Think of how many people are dying right now that could be saved with the amount of money you pay in bandwidth and server costs every month.
I guess all we can conclude is that you hate these children.


Jesus is completely wrong

This is not the first example that we have seen in the Bible where Jesus is completely wrong. So you're recapping for basically the twentieth time in twenty chapters, then? In section 1 of this book, we saw that Jesus is clearly wrong when he talks about the power of prayer. Jesus says in Matthew 21:21 for the ninth time so far:

I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

That is obviously false. I don't feel like any comment is needed here other than: "You're wrong." Section 1 demonstrated dozens of examples that prove this statement to be incorrect. See in particular Chapter 7.

This statement is also false in John chapter 14:12:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

If this were true, we would have completely eradicated all diseases and eliminated all poverty centuries ago.

This statement in Mark 16:15 is provably false:

And [Jesus] said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."

I don't even need to mention that this is not in the original Bible. Or do I?

If this were true, we would not need doctors, hospitals or pharmaceutical companies. You would not need health insurance. And we've been over this. The two billion Christian believers on planet earth today could take care of all of our medical needs for free by simply laying their hands on us. Blah.

This passage from Matthew 15:21-28 is quite bizarre:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

The thing you notice is the incredible racism. Jesus equates the woman to a dog because she is not an Israelite. ...No, he didn't. He told her not to feed her children's food to the dogs. How you pulled that conclusion out is beyond me. Would God do that? No. Good thing he didn't. Imagine a world leader today equating someone to a dog because she is not of the correct nationality or religion. The negative reaction would be overwhelming. Probably.

What you realize is that, if you go through the Bible and actually read what Jesus says, he is completely wrong in quite a number of cases. The question you must ask yourself is this: If Jesus is God, why is he not perfect?
You have failed in each instance to prove this.

Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand: The reason why Jesus was incorrect in so many places is easy to understand. Jesus was not God. Jesus was a normal human being who was way, way out on a limb. So you've stopped talking about hunger and children now? Now it's all about Jesus and how bad of a person he was? What about all the children dying of preventable diseases?

It's interesting that the only reason you ever refer to these children is to make an argument for atheism, and then you proceed to abandon them after you've made the point. Thank you, Mr. Brain, for merely using them as a pawn to further your propaganda. You don't really care about them, do you?

For those of us interested in a real response to your original argument, let's continue.

First off, check out my YouTube video called The Problem of Hunger: A Christian's Answer. I summarize my video by making this argument:

  1. Suppose you are at a banquet table. You symbolize your country. God is the patron of the banquet, and there is enough food for everyone, all the countries.
  2. But the rich countries push the poor countries out of the way and eat all the food. Nothing is left.
  3. Suddenly, the rich countries realized what they have done, and begin to shout at God, saying, "Why didn't you put enough food on the table for everyone? How can you call yourself a good patron if these people don't get to eat?"
  4. On the one hand, God put enough food on the Earth for everyone and commanded humans not to be selfish or covet.
  5. On the other hand, we humans who are more fortunate eat comfortably while they starve to death.
  6. So is it God's fault, who has given us all the necessary resources to solve this problem? Or is it our fault for continually ignoring him and failing to do so?
Furthermore, notice that almost all of the organizations that are in these poor countries doing relief efforts, and almost all of the organizations that offer us the ability to sponsor children and even entire families, are religious in nature, or founded because of religion.

Think about these organizations:
  1. The Salvation Army
  2. World Vision
  3. Food For The Hungry
  4. Christian Disaster Relief
  5. Mission of Mercy
  6. Operation Blessing
  7. Christian World Adoption
  8. Compassion International
  9. World Missionary Evangelism
  10. International Mission Board
  11. Young Men's Christian Association, aka YMCA
  12. Habitat for Humanity
  13. Christian Children's Fund
  14. Mercy Ships
  15. Farndale Charity Network
  16. Christian Outreach for Relief & Development
  17. Christian Blind Mission
  18. Food for the Poor, Inc
There are many many more. Notice that all of them were founded by Christians for the purpose of doing Christian outreach.

So, Mr. Brain? Are you sponsoring children, paying for their well being with your pocket change? Are you donating to charities, providing these organizations with the money they so desperately need to operate? Are you doing volunteer work in inner cities, providing education, cleanup, food, medicine, and love for people who do not have the ability to do these things themselves? Do you ever spend time with homeless people, feeding them meals and providing them with clothing? Are you going on relief trips to foreign countries, helping to build schools?

If you're not doing everything you can, then you cannot make the argument that God is evil because he isn't doing everything He can.

© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chapter 21 - Why do we eat Jesus?

Rather, "Chapter 21 - Willful Stupidity, Copied Almost Verbatim from Proof #29"

If you are looking for an easy way to prove to yourself that Jesus is not God, try this simple experiment. Take a small child, perhaps age 4 or 5, to church on Sunday and let the child watch communion. Because we all know that things four and five year old children say, who cannot really think for themselves nor understand complicated theological concepts, have a bearing on the validity of the truth claims of religion. You may experience something like this, though I seriously doubt it:

Child: Daddy, what are they doing?

    Daddy: Well dear, this part of the service is called communion.

    Child: What's communion?

    Daddy: Well, it's where... Well, it's... you know, what we do is we eat Jesus' body to... Well, it's complicated. Let me see...

    Child: We eat Jesus' BODY???

    Bright: Hey, guys. Nice to see you in church this morning. What happened to Norm and Chris?

    Daddy: Yes. Well, no, but...

    Child: Why do we need to eat Jesus??? I don't want to eat Jesus!!!

    Daddy: No, no, no. It's OK honey. It's OK. Be quiet now, don't cry in church. Shhhh. Shush. Now it's OK.

    Bright: Don't worry, kiddo. It's symbolic.

    Child: But Daddy, I don't want to eat Jesus!

    Daddy: Mom, help me out here.

    Mom: Honey, it is a holy sacrament. You see, we eat Jesus' body and we drink his blood because...

    Child: I have to drink his blood too??? Mommy, I don't want to drink blood!!!

    Mom: Honey, calm down! You don't actually drink his blood.

    Bright: Right, it's just grape juice. Or maybe it's wine...I haven't been to this church in a while. Either way, it's all metaphorical.

    Child: But that man up there is holding up a cup and he is saying that it is Jesus' blood! Mommy! I want to leave! I am leaving!

    Mom, Dad: No honey! Wait! We can't leave now!

    Bright: Seriously, guys. You need to learn how to discipline your children.

And so on...

Because Christians have been participating in the communion rite for many years, they tend to forget just how bizarre this ritual is. But any child sees it with fresh eyes. And many children are, naturally, horrified at the thought of eating Jesus' body and then drinking his blood. It is grotesque in the extreme and a child implicitly understands that. What's funny is that I don't know a single person that has ever experienced anything remotely like this. I don't know any child that was "horrified" by this, or thought it was "grotesque." Perhaps that's because we understand the symbolism, and you apparently have no creative ability whatsoever.

Or, you're merely being antagonistic for the sake of argument. You're being willfully stupid.

Have you ever wondered where this ritual came from, or why billions of people would participate in a ritual that is this bizarre? First, let's look at the part of the Bible that prescribes the ritual. You find it in Mark, Chapter 14:

    And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

There are a few lines in Luke chapter 22 that are nearly identical.
Reading through this passage, can you seriously say you don't see the metaphor? Is it really this difficult to see the blatant symbolism here? I think any child reading this could easily make the association that bread = body, and beverage = blood. We could study this in our English courses as an example.

Jesus gets far more graphic, however, in John chapter 6:53-55:

    So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

To any normal person, this sounds very much like the script of a gruesome horror film. Actually, I'd say most "normal" people totally understand what communion is all about. It sounds like some sort of revolting satanic ritual. What does "satanic" mean, Mr. Brain? It definitely does not sound like the words of the all-loving creator of the universe.

Imagine that you are a normal person, and you have never been exposed to Christianity before. Now imagine that a Christian comes up to you and quotes John 6:53. Just out of the blue? Walked up to you in the street and blurted it out for no reason? Any normal adult would rightfully assume the Christian to be insane. Probably, because the verse is out of its context. But, to be fair, if you were a "normal person" and had never been exposed to the theory of evolution by natural selection before, and someone came up to you and said that chimpanzees and humans have a common ancestor, you would likely assume that person to be insane too. That doesn't make it false. Thus, you never see a bumper sticker that says "John 6:53."

However, the assumption is accurate. You can't be serious. The dictionary describes cannibalism in the following way:

    The usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being

What Jesus is demanding is cannibalism. So you're serious?

No, he's not demanding anything. I think you're being really extreme when you're saying such a thing, and you're probably doing this knowing how over the top you are. To truly come to that sort of conclusion, you must rip those verses out of the rest of the context of Jesus's entire ministry and out of the entire history of Christianity.

You may be beginning to see a pattern here. The only pattern I'm observing is your complete cluelessness about Christianity. We have already discussed in chapter 14 that God, in the Old Testament, is quite captivated by animal sacrifice. Did we now? God tells people how they are to sacrifice animals in minute detail. In the New Testament things move to a completely new level and God requires human sacrifice. God is not the only one who gets excited by human sacrifice -- a flood of Christians saw the movie "The Passion of the Christ."
Oh, come on.

Now we learn that the human sacrifice is not enough, and we need to ritualistically cannibalize Jesus' body, and satanically drink his blood, to have "eternal life."
But what does that mean? What is a metaphor? What is a symbol?

What does your common sense tell you about all of this? My common sense, as well as the "common sense" of every "normal person," says that you're woefully misguided. Look at it through the eyes of a child who doesn't know what a metaphor is. Now it all makes sense. What we are talking about here is cannibalism, and what Christians are doing looks exactly like a pagan/satanic ritual. If you are a Christian, the two questions you may be asking yourself right now are:
  1. Why in the world am I, as a sane individual, participating in ritualistic cannibalism? How in the world did I stoop to this point?
  2. Why would an all-powerful, all-loving God demand that I do this? What sort of God am I worshipping?
    Actually, I don't have any of those on my mind right now. I do have another one, though:
  3. Why does Marshall repeatedly ignore the concepts of metaphorical language, hyperbolic language, dramatic orientation, and symbolism?
As we saw in section 2, God condones slavery, demands animal and human sacrifice, hates women and revels in the annihilation of children. How loaded can we be? Cannibalism is just one more thing to add to this pile of insanity. I feel like there's nothing else to say other than you're an idiot.

The source of the ritual

If you are curious, here is why Christianity contains this bizarre ritual. Please tell us, oh wise one. It is not the case that an all-powerful God in heaven demands this behavior. All of the rituals in Christianity are completely man-made. Christianity is a snow ball that rolled over a dozen pagan religions. As the snowball grew, it freely attached pagan rituals in order to be more palatable to converts. Wait...Christianity is a snowball? But...I thought it was a religion...What does that mean? Mommy? DADDY?! AHHHHH!!!! The process is described succinctly and accurately in the book "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown. Apparently, he still hasn't realized the incredible mistake of citing a popular fiction book as an accurate source about historical religion. The book offers these two accounts of the creation process:
  1. "The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Even if that were true, it wouldn't have any bearing on the validity of the faith, would it? Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. "Miraculously conceived?" I mean, sort of...Horus was born when Isis had sex with Osiris after putting his body back together. But using the term "miraculously conceived" as a comparison to the virgin birth is laughable. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual - the miter, the altar, the doxology, and communion, the act of "God-eating" - were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions." Yeah, you're going to have to back that up.
  2. "Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras - called the Son of God and the Light of the World - was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday or Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity's weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans." Wrong, wrong, wrong. He wasn't called the Son of God and the Light of the World...You can look through many scholarly works and you won't find those titles attributed to him. The December 25th issue is really a non-issue, since nowhere does the New Testament attribute that date to Jesus's birth in the first place. Most importantly, there are NO references anywhere in Mithraic studies literature to Mithra being buried, or even dying, for that matter; there is no resurrection three days later, because there's no death in the first place. I've also found no references to the gift giving either. Dan Brown might as well have made all of that up.
To any normal person, the practice of communion is one of the most bizarre things that Christians do. Jesus' cannibalistic tendencies offer explicit evidence that Jesus is not God. Actually, even if we all were real bloodthirsty cannibals, it wouldn't have any impact on whether or not Jesus was actually God or not. The two don't have any logical correlation.

When you research it historically, you realize that Jesus was a human being like any other. Your historical research is "The Da Vinci Code." You have no room to talk. The mythology of his birth, life and death are pagan stories that are all man-made.
Keep shooting yourself in the foot, Mr. Brain. It can't get much worse. Or maybe it can.

© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.

Chapter 20 - Why doesn't Jesus appear to each of us?

Rather, "Chapter 20 - Why don't you believe everyone who says he has?"

In the last chapter, we discussed Jesus' miracles. There is one miracle, however, that deserves special discussion. Jesus' resurrection after his death is the ultimate and defining proof of Jesus' divinity.

Just about everyone knows the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. The story is summarized in the Apostles' Creed. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And will come to judge the living and the dead. Don't forget!

There is only one way for Jesus to prove that he rose from the dead. He had to appear to people. So your criterion to establish this is that he must appear to people. Noted. Therefore, several different places in the Bible describe Jesus' appearances after his death:

  1. Matthew chapter 28
  2. Mark chapter 16
  3. Luke chapter 24
  4. John Chapter 20 and 21
1 Corinthians 15:3-6 provides a nice summary of those passages, as written by Paul:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

As you can see in this passage, Jesus appeared to hundreds of people a number of different times. Which means, by the criteria you provided, his job of proving that he rose from the dead is fulfilled. You say he had to appear to people, and he appeared to hundreds of people. I'd say that over five hundred witnesses is more than enough, even overkill, to establish something like that. Done.

Being like Paul

When we look at these Bible passages, there is a question that comes to mind -- why did Jesus stop making these appearances? Why isn't Jesus appearing today? It might be an interesting question, but it has no bearing on whether he rose again back then.

Even so, I have two questions for you, Mr. Brain. First, what makes you think this is necessary? And secondly, who says he isn't?

It really is odd. Obviously Paul benefitted from a personal meeting with the resurrected Christ. Because of the personal visit, Paul could see for himself the truth of the resurrection, and he could ask Jesus questions. He also stopped being a terrorist and murderer who targeted Christians.

So... Why doesn't Jesus appear to everyone and prove that he is resurrected, just like he appeared to Paul? There is nothing to stop Jesus from materializing in your kitchen tonight to have a personal chat with you. I mean, there's a great deal. On a very basic level, I'm not worthy of such a visit. Not even in the slightest. And if you think about it, Jesus really does need to appear to each of us. No, he doesn't. Most Christians wouldn't say that. We already believe in him. If Paul needed a personal visit from Jesus to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why wouldn't you?
Perhaps because we aren't terrorists or murderers who will go on to compose over half of a Testament.

It is an important question for the following reasons:

  1. We are told by the Bible that Jesus appeared to hundreds of people, which therefore fulfills the criterion of, "To prove he resurrected, he had to appear to people."
  2. We know that it is OK for Jesus to appear to people -- it does not take away their free will, for example -- because it was OK for Jesus to appear to hundreds of other people. Perhaps this was because it was necessary to prove a resurrection to even get the faith off the ground. Think about it. Do we need Jesus to appear to us now that a third of the population believes in him, and another third regard him as a very important prophet?
  3. We know that it would be easy for Jesus to appear to everyone all through history, since Jesus is all-powerful and timeless. Having the ability doesn't make it more probable or necessary.
  4. We know that, if Jesus did reappear to everyone, it would be incredibly helpful. We could all know, personally, that Jesus is resurrected and that Jesus is God. Except the Bible says that it's OUR job to seek God, not God's job to seek us. If Paul (and all the other people in the Bible) needed a personal visit to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why not you and me? Because we are not the future founders of the religion, who are responsible for spreading the Gospel so that it survives into culture.
  5. Yet, we all know that Jesus has not appeared to anyone in 2,000 years.We all know?
Mr. Brain, let me tell you a story. Just for clarification, I am not making this up as an example; this actually happened.

I know a girl who claims that on the night she became a Christian, Jesus physically appeared to her. There was a great light in the room that didn't go away until she fell asleep. He stood by her and spoke comforting words to her.

If this is true, then Jesus has appeared to someone. So do you believe her?

In other words, there is nothing stopping Jesus from appearing to you, and several good reasons for him to appear. I don't think this has been established, to be honest.

Praying to Jesus

What if we pray to Jesus like this: "Dear Jesus, please appear to us, as you did to Paul and the 500 brethren, so that we can see the evidence of your resurrection. In your name we pray, amen." If we are already praying to Jesus in such a way, we likely already believe in his resurrection, and therefore don't need further evidence. Here is what Jesus has promised us in the Bible:

Matthew 7:7 Jesus says:

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

We've been over this. There's nothing in this verse that promises a guaranteed positively answered prayer.

In John chapter 14:14:

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

God, please kill all of the Jews. You have to do it now, right?

In Matthew 18:19:

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

And we've been over this too.

Jesus is actually in our midst. So he is right here already, supposedly. Yet when we pray to him to physically materialize, as he did to hundreds of others, nothing happens.

Isn't it odd that Nothing happens, given the fact that Jesus promises us that something will happen? Actually Jesus promises nothing of the sort. Jesus never mentions anything about appearing to anyone in these verses. What you are doing here is called decontextualization. Isn't it odd that nothing happens when, supposedly, Jesus is right here with us already, and materialization would be trivial for him?
No, it isn't odd. Not for Christians, anyway.

Let's discuss this whole "trivial" question. What does it mean for something to be "trivial" for God?

Suppose Jesus actually was to appear to you, Mr. Brain. Let's go through what would happen.
You are minding your own business, most likely on the computer. A great light shines out of nowhere, and suddenly there is a person standing where there used to be just air. You, therefore, are scared out of your wits, potentially going into some state of shock. Furthermore, you would probably attribute it to some form of hallucination, not to God.

But is this business of scaring the hell out of you "trivial?" God would have to violate his hidden nature, which to me doesn't seem very trivial.

What you will find, if you think about it, is that the situation we see here is exactly like the situation in Chapter 5. We have created a situation where coincidence cannot "answer" the prayer. The only way for this prayer to be answered is for Jesus to actually, unambiguously, materialize. In this situation, we also know that it is trivial for Jesus to materialize, that there would be many benefits if Jesus did materialize, that Jesus has supposedly materialized to other human beings, and that Jesus has promised to answer our prayer that he materialize.

How do we explain the fact that this prayer goes unanswered, no matter who prays, despite Jesus' promise that he will answer our prayers?
How can you say that with no proof? You are making a claim based on an assumption, with no evidence.

As you think about this, you will realize that Paul's story in the Bible must be false. Based on what logic? Simply look at Paul's story like any judge in a courtroom would. What Paul's story in 1 Cor 15 is suggesting is entirely unprecedented - a man dead three days with mortal wounds came back to life. Yet there is no evidence that it is true, and there are many alternative explanations for what Paul is saying. If the direct visual testimony of five people, in addition to the confirmation of five hundred people, is not evidence, then my name is Stephen Spielberg. Paul could be fabricating the story, which would not explain the empty tomb, other post mortem appearances, and would render his sudden change of heart from a terrorist to a humanitarian completely inexplicable. Paul could have hallucinated or dreamed the meeting, which would not explain other conversions and post mortem appearances, nor the empty tomb. Paul could have seen an imposter, which would not explain the great light, nor the experience of the people he was with, nor the post mortem apperances and conversions of others. etc. In addition, no one is seeing Jesus today, even though it would be trivial and obvious for Jesus to appear to people today just like he did with Paul.
If we were in a court room, this would not be considered evidence to the contrary; one, it is an argument from ignorance; two, no judge would demand to see the murder again to establish a victim as guilty. That would be an absurd criteria.

Given this evidence, if this were any normal situation instead of a religious one, people would conclude that what Paul is saying is untrue. Would they? Suppose someone came up and told you that they saw a dead man walking around again, alive. You may dismiss his testimony. But if a mass crowd of five hundred people came up to you and confirmed his testimony, you would probably be convinced.

There is zero evidence to support Paul's story, zero reason to believe it, a motive to lie and plenty of alternative explanations. A motive to lie? That's an incredibly curious statement. Paul was a terrorist and murder who's job was to kill Christians. Why in the world would he make up a lie so that he can be one? Why would he resign himself to a life of homelessness, poverty, persecution, inprisonment, and eventual execution, forsaking all of the prowess, power, and position that he had established as a Pharisee, just so he could lie about a resurrection? Seems like there is no motive whatsoever to lie. There is also the fact that much of the rest of the Bible contains provably false stories. Funny: you haven't mentioned one. Plus the fact that it would be trivial for Jesus to provide the evidence that Paul needs to confirm his story by reappearing on earth. There is no need for us to have this done to us. Think this through. Add to that the fact that Jesus has promised to answer our prayers but refuses to materialize when we pray to him. I've shown you how fallacious this reasoning is on multiple occasions. The only thing to do is to reject Paul's story. Every bit of evidence points to the fact that the resurrection story is a myth, nothing more. Yet, the mythological explanation fails on numerous points of the criterion of explanatory power, and thus, the explanation must be rejected.

What about Jesus' famous statement in the Bible, "Happy are those who have not seen yet still believe"? A better translation would be "blessed." What you realize is that this statement creates the perfect cover for a scam. Let's say you are Jesus, you are a normal human being, you realize that you are going to die and you want to cover for this fact. Jesus had already risen when he made this claim. Here is what you would say: "Happy are those who have not seen yet still believe." What you are saying is, "I exist, and the way I am going to show you that I exist is by not showing that I exist." This is a ridiculous summary, and I think even you know why. For every other object in the universe, the way that we know it exists is because the object provides evidence of its existence. Jesus provided evidence to hundreds of people, and some people today claim he has done so for them. If you don't believe them, why should I think you would beleive Jesus? If there is no evidence for an object's existence, we call it imaginary (e.g. Leprechauns). But with Jesus, the lack of evidence is turned into evidence. That's not what he said at all. This statement has nothing to do with evidence. Quite clever, but obviously a scam.

If the resurrection were true, then Jesus would be answering prayers as he promises in the Bible. He would also appear when people pray to see him. The fact is, as we saw in Section 1, there is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus answers prayers. Wrong, time and time again.

© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.