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God is as Believable as Unicorns

atheist christian discussionA chapter in Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World (1995) is titled “The Dragon in My Garage.” In the spirit of Sagan’s story, here is an imagined exchange between you and me about my unicorn.

Me: I have a unicorn in my garage!

You: Wow—let’s see!

Me: You don’t want to just take my word for it?

You: Of course not—I want to see.

(I open the garage door.)

Me: Okay, here you go.

You: Uh … this garage is empty.

Me: No … uh, he’s invisible.

You: Okay … can you make him make a sound?

Me: No—he’s silent, too.

You: Can we see food vanish as he eats it?

Me: Of course not—he’s magic. He doesn’t need food.

(You wander through the garage with your hands out in front.)

Me: What are you doing?

You: Trying to feel for it.

Me: Uh … no—he’s really small and he scampers away.

You: Can you hear him running? Like the sound of hooves on concrete?

Me: No—I told you he’s silent.

You: Well, how about spreading flour on the floor so we can see the footprints.

Me: Nope. He can float. And I’m sure he would, because he doesn’t like to be detected.

You: Can we can catch him with a net and weigh him? Can we put a sheet over him so I can see him moving underneath? Could we spray paint and see it on his body?

Me: No—he’s … he’s noncorporeal. Yeah, that’s it. Noncorporeal.

Of course, by now you’ve lost interest in this “unicorn.” Still, you haven’t been able to falsify my claim. I win!

But no one would accept this conclusion. By slithering away from every possible test, this supernatural claim has no evidence in support of it. Any unicorn that has this little impact in the world is pretty much the same as no unicorn at all. We can’t prove it’s nonexistent, but it’s functionally nonexistent.

“You haven’t been able to falsify my claim” is true, but this is backwards reasoning. The proper conclusion is: There is no evidence to support this claim, so there’s no reason to accept this claim.

Isn’t this how Christians evaluate the miracle claims of other religions? Why not handle those of Christianity the same way?

Jesus is Santa Claus for adults
(seen on a bumper sticker)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Karl Udy

    I’ve got some quarks in my garage

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Perhaps with some instruments, we could find evidence to back up your claim.

      • Karl Udy

        Just like your unicorn :-)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I’m missing the parallel. What instruments could find the unicorn? Every time you propose an experiment that could find it, I’ve got an excuse for why that experiment wouldn’t work in this case. Quarks aren’t like that.

        • Karl Udy

          Well, you do have the advantage of being able to improvise any excuse you like for your unicorn. According to your post it’s already a tiny invisible, floating, non-corporeal unicorn – doesn’t sound like any definition of a unicorn I know.

          However, if there were an as-yet-unidentified “thing” in the universe then we may not yet have the capacity to discover or measure it.

          But the definition of God has always been that God is super-natural, so to say that a scientific test can’t discover God is not running away from verification/falsification, it is a reminder of what the definition of God really means.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Does God have no impact on the physical, natural world? According to Christianity, he does. Therefore, Christianity makes scientific claims.

        • Karl Udy

          Does God have no impact on the physical, natural world? According to Christianity, he does. Therefore, Christianity makes scientific claims.

          Can you discern the conductor of the orchestra by observing individual members of the orchestra?

          We see members of the orchestra in turn start playing. And stop. Speed up, and slow down. Play louder and softer. And if our eyes see only the members of the orchestra and no conductor it can appear just as if there is no conductor telling the members what to do and when it can seem as though each member is deciding what to do on their own. We never see anyone interfering with the members of the orchestra or their instruments.

          I propose that God generally interacts with the world in a similar way. His purposes and desires are accomplished in the main, not by causing things to act in ways which is against the normal laws of the universe, but orchestrating them within these laws to bring about his desired purposes.

          Now I do believe that God has done miracles in the past, and that he still does them today. But he doesn’t do them on demand. He does not wait for double blind control tested samples to perform miracles as if he were a genie at our command.

          Not that such a thing would satisfy all skeptics anyway. If a study came out where the results seemed to indicate clearly (ie above 95% confidence, not merely a minor correlation) that miracles happened, then many skeptics would raise questions about the methodology, accuracy of measurement, possible bias of the researchers, etc.

          As Jesus said, “If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe even if someone is raised form the dead.”

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Karl:

          Is that a good example? The conductor is always there, and the musicians are always following his lead. In the case of God-caused miracles, most things we see are not. A very few are. Or, at least that’s how many Christians see it.

          But he doesn’t do them on demand.

          Obviously. But “ask and ye shall receive” and the many equivalent claims of prayer’s effectiveness argue differently.

          then many skeptics would raise questions about the methodology, accuracy of measurement, possible bias of the researchers, etc.

          Because you know how ineffective prayer is. A study that said that prayer is actually effective would be about a very different world than the one we live in.

          Skeptics that I know would be happy for miracles to happen. No bias here. It’s simply that there’s no reason to imagine that they do.

          As Jesus said, “If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe even if someone is raised form the dead.”

          Balderdash. Nutty guys who tell about the supernatural are a dime a dozen. Completely natural and expected. Seeing an actual miracle and having science verify that this is the real deal would, for the first time, be serious evidence for the supernatural. Obviously, everyone worldwide would take notice.

        • Karl Udy

          Is that a good example? The conductor is always there, and the musicians are always following his lead. In the case of God-caused miracles, most things we see are not. A very few are. Or, at least that’s how many Christians see it.

          I’m not following your argument here. Are you saying the miracles are not always there? Or not always following God’s lead?

          Obviously. But “ask and ye shall receive” and the many equivalent claims of prayer’s effectiveness argue differently.

          Request and demand are not the same

          Because you know how ineffective prayer is. A study that said that prayer is actually effective would be about a very different world than the one we live in.

          I think we’ve discussed this before. I don’t think a study on prayer would necessarily give us any helpful information because the result depends on what God decides to do. He could decide to heal or not for a myriad of reasons in every case. Whether people people ask for healing is only one reason.

          Balderdash. Nutty guys who tell about the supernatural are a dime a dozen. Completely natural and expected. Seeing an actual miracle and having science verify that this is the real deal would, for the first time, be serious evidence for the supernatural. Obviously, everyone worldwide would take notice.

          I fully expect that if a miracle did occur that you were able to document then you would have a string of excuses for why science could not verify this as a miracle. Again, “the methodology was sloppy, there must be some unaccounted for variables in play, the measuring equipment must have been playing up (perhaps there was an electrical surge or a solar flare), the subjects are lying about some aspect, etc”

          Can you see how these excuses can be trotted out against almost any scientific test that you think doesn’t fit with what the data should be? And of course, by definition, there’s no repeating the miracle to rule out these problems definitively.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I’m not following your argument here.

          Yeah, I wasn’t clear. My point was that musicians are always following the conductor. By contrast, most events on earth are not mediated by God.

          Request and demand are not the same

          And how does this help us with the fact that prayer is ineffective?

          He could decide to heal or not for a myriad of reasons in every case.

          Fair enough. But then prayer becomes an extremely unreliable avenue for change. And I think all Christians acknowledge this, despite the contradiction this creates with what the Bible says about prayer.

          you would have a string of excuses for why science could not verify this as a miracle.

          Nope. I wouldn’t be doing the analysis. I’m simply not qualified.

          And we’re not talking about one incident where we have this back-and-forth argument. You’re imagining a situation where we have repeatable, reliable evidence of miracles–that is, something science could actually study and verity.

          When the scientific consensus is that miracles happen, what alternative do I have but to accept it?

          Or perhaps I misunderstand the situation you envision. If it is just one event then you’re right–we would disagree. But in this case, you’re still in the realm of faith, so you can hardly blame me for not following.

        • Karl Udy

          And we’re not talking about one incident where we have this back-and-forth argument. You’re imagining a situation where we have repeatable, reliable evidence of miracles–that is, something science could actually study and verity.

          When the scientific consensus is that miracles happen, what alternative do I have but to accept it?

          Or perhaps I misunderstand the situation you envision. If it is just one event then you’re right–we would disagree. But in this case, you’re still in the realm of faith, so you can hardly blame me for not following.

          Miracles tend not to be assembly-line produced, but probably better compared to works of art. God revealed himself in a burning bush once.

          Where is the scientific evidence that Caesar crossed the Rubicon, or Alexander cut the Gordian Knot?

          The way to test miracles is not by science but other means. If you say that it is by faith, then our belief in these claims of history are also by faith.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Karl:

          Miracles tend not to be assembly-line produced, but probably better compared to works of art.

          Understood, but we’re simply agreeing on the enormous difficulty of providing a basis for the claim, “miracles happen.”

          Where is the scientific evidence that Caesar crossed the Rubicon, or Alexander cut the Gordian Knot?

          The former is likelier than the latter, IMO.

          I would think this would be categorized as “historical” evidence. Surely you don’t imagine that historians would come up empty if you asked why they claim that Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

          The way to test miracles is not by science but other means.

          Why don’t we test miracles with a means that has been shown to be reliable? Looks to me that you reject science as a path simply because it doesn’t give you the answer you want.

          If you say that it is by faith, then our belief in these claims of history are also by faith.

          Of what value is faith in discovering the truth? Faith, it seems to me, is the route of last resort. If science or history would take you where you want to go, you’d grab that over faith.

        • Karl Udy

          Why don’t we test miracles with a means that has been shown to be reliable?

          For the same reason you wouldn’t use science to test whether Caesar crossed the Rubicon. The decisions or actions of a being in response to a situation at a particular place and time is not something that science tells us a lot about.

          Looks to me that you reject science as a path simply because it doesn’t give you the answer you want.

          Science has limits. It is not very helpful in cases which are not repeatable, or where the environment can’t be controlled/predicted. Caesar crossing the Rubicon can’t be tested scientifically because we don’t have a Caesar, his legions, or a Roman Rebublic. A particular miracle claim (eg a healing) can’t be tested scientifically because we can’t bring back the exact sick person with the exact illness and the exact prayer (not to mention any other extenuating circumstances which could cause God to decide whether or not to heal)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          OK, so science can’t evaluate miracles because they’re elusive and nonrepeatable. Is history relevant? I would think that the only thing we can agree on from history is that it gives us a long list of false miracle claims.

          What do you rely on instead? We’re in agreement on the difficulty of supporting the statement “miracle X happened.” The obvious conclusion to me: don’t make such statements.

          You?

          You seemed determined to find something with which to justify miracle claims. My conclusion instead is to not even make the attempt.

  • Rick Townsend

    Suppose you went to a place which had recently experienced a flood, but the waters had receded. You’d see evidence of what had happened and could figure out the cause.

    Similarly, though we don’t see God directly, we see evidence of an incredibly powerful force having created matter from nothing at some point. We see order in the universe in terms of the laws of physics, chemistry, and other well ordered sciences (as we have defined them). We see incredibly complexity in genetics and all life forms, including the ecosystem. Therefore, we can see evidence of what God did and whatever you call him, we see an intelligence behind all of life and its environment from stars to planets to the Earth’s highest atmosphere and deepest oceans.

    And to anyone whose mind is open to logic, these things speak of a necessarily ordered creator. Unlike the unicorn in the garage, who leaves nothing different between where he has been and where he hasn’t, God has indeed left his calling card.

    Your unicorn analogy is simply grasping at straws and falls flat. The physical universe clearly points to a powerful, creative, intelligent designer. Scripture and fulfilled prophecy name and validate who He is. You just have to assemble the pieces, and it is unmistakable…if you are open to the facts, of course, and not so deeply invested in atheism that you refuse to see them for what they are.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      we see evidence of an incredibly powerful force having created matter from nothing at some point.

      Do we? Seems to me that science says “I don’t know” when asked about the creation of the universe.

      We see order …

      That’s how it looks to me. But we must avoid the error made by Douglas Adams’ puddle.

      We see incredibly complexity …

      Yes, lots of complexity. But let’s avoid the “complexity = design” error.

      we can see evidence of what God did and whatever you call him, we see an intelligence behind all of life

      I don’t, though I’m not surprised that you do. I see no evidence for intelligence. Only wishful thinking demands an immediate answer; “science don’t know yet” is satisfactory for me for those questions that science hasn’t answered yet.

      And to anyone whose mind is open to logic, these things speak of a necessarily ordered creator.

      Guess my mind isn’t open to logic then.

      God has indeed left his calling card.

      Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

      The physical universe clearly points to a powerful, creative, intelligent designer.

      And yet science doesn’t agree.

      Scripture and fulfilled prophecy name and validate who He is.

      As I’ve said before, the fulfilled-prophecy argument is quite weak. If you want to propose a specific prophecy that we can discuss in detail, that’d work for me.

      • Rick T

        Very impressive slight of hand to dismiss all of the claims I made. I’m waiting for you to show evidence of where the complexity that isn’t designed comes from. Saying you aren’t impressed, or aren’t convinced, or appealing to someone’s puddle with warnings against inferring a cause for design, or saying you find it weak without saying why–none of that is very strong refutation.

        Show me where the appearance of design in anything we see around us where we can validate the source is NOT from an intelligent source. Otherwise you are grasping at straws and making empty claims. Hint: molecular arrangement doesn’t count. So you can’t use a snowflake being hexagonal as an argument. It is random but following a chemical pattern. Show me how it can randomly do something OTHER than its chemical six-sided makeup requires and you might have something to discuss.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          dismiss all of the claims I made.

          That which is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

          none of that is very strong refutation.

          Then here’s one: evolution explains where complexity that isn’t designed comes from. And it’s the scientific consensus. Sweet!

          I know you credit yourself with whatever it takes to dismiss the scientific consensus without pangs of conscience or logic. So my response will mean nothing to you. Nevertheless, I wanted to answer your request.

          And, of course, you’ve got to wrestle with the challenge of explaining where God came from. Pretty complex, I imagine, if he can create the entire universe.

      • Jeevan Sivasubramaniam

        This “order” you speak of was not created magically but happened because all that did not fit died out — which is evolution. It’s not like a divine hand created things and BAM! Forget vestigial organs — is it easier to believe that God intended for 12-year old girls to become pregnant or that the same genetic programming that allowed for rapid maturity in other species also functions in humans, except humans don’t have physical and mental maturity when they are able to become pregnant because evolution is imperfect and not all components evolve at the same pace.

        • Rick T

          And what’s your proof that evolution did any of that?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Rick:

          Science never has proof for anything. Math and logic, yes, but never science.

  • Jeevan Sivasubramaniam

    @Rick, your argument makes sense up to a point. Theists always point out the incredible complexity and beauty of the natural world and the universe as God’s calling card but never stop to address things in the human body alone: why do we have an appendix? A coccyx? Or any of the other 101 useless body parts left over from evolution? Why can little girls become pregnant at 12? How is it that our own body often turns against us as in the case of cancers? For all the beauty and complexity in the world, there are also a number of illogical self-destruct buttons built into almost all of them — why?

    • Rick Townsend

      The fall of man explains the illnesses and deformities we see much more satisfactorily than the randomness creating order can ever hope to do. When looking for the big answers, the ones that solve ALL the riddle simultaneously (as the Bible narrative does) are much more reasonable than myriad of unlikely just so stories imagined by the atheist world view.

      As for vestigial organs, we have gradually found valid and sophisticated purposes for nearly every one. And as for junk DNA, (the next line of argument of atheists) the sophisticated switching mechanism that tailors each cell to reproduce even though the code for the whole organism is present is so elaborate that we haven’t figured out very much of it yet. Not likely to be an accident, in my book.

      • Jeevan Sivasubramaniam

        I’m sorry, but the fall of man argument is used too freely to explain such things. I could just as much say that it’s the magic unicorn that gives us all appendicitis. That is a belief with no evidence (to non-believers) but the appendix is real and concrete and I would need an equally concrete explanation.

        The Bible narrative does not solve all issues. That is merely your interpretation. But just as in this example, I can answer all things using the magic unicorn, but without proof, it is not conclusive. Too many theists use the Bible to explain things but when inconsistencies are raised, they explain away such things as irrelevant (if I were to get all my answers from the Bible, then I have carte blanche to kill, rape, and enslave).

        • Rick Townsend

          Come talk to me when your magic unicorn produces a book with demonstrably and historically archaeologically verifiable prophecies and fulfillments. Until then, you aren’t making a serious argument, and I don’t see any point in responding in a serious manner.

        • Jeevan

          No need to get testy, Rick.

          And what prophecies has the Bible demonstrated as being accurate?

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Rick:

        I agree: the god hypothesis explains everything. Problem is, by explaining everything, it explains nothing.

        I can never prove that God didn’t do any particular thing you’d care to argue. It’s unfalsifiable. Because it’s unfalsifiable, it’s useless as an explanation for any trait in nature.

        As for vestigial organs, we have gradually found valid and sophisticated purposes for nearly every one.

        “Vestigial” simply means “not used for what it’s supposed to be used for,” not “useless.” For example, wings are supposed to be used for flying. That doesn’t mean that an ostrich can’t use its vestigial wings for high-speed steering (pretty useful).

        Not likely to be an accident, in my book.

        Hard to imagine a protozoa having 200 times more DNA than a human being purposeful. Or every human cell containing DNA for a broken vitamin C gene.

        If I were you, I wouldn’t look to DNA to save your bacon.

        • Rick T

          Thanks for redefining “vestigial.” I stand corrected. But the point stands. And most claims about vestigial organs had to do with things like the appendix, not wings.

          Just because you can’t imagine why DNA would have differing quantities doesnt change the fact that it is a functioning sophisticated code. Show me where that happens by accident anywhere in our experience. We know that all complex and functioning inventions are … invented.

          Save my bacon? Don’t need DNA for that. There’s lots of evidence. DNA is just a strong piece of puzzle. But thanks for your concern.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You wouldn’t stand corrected if I “redefined” the word. Sounds like I’m being accused of playing games. Explain the charge clearly, please.

          Uh, yes, the appendix is the organ that leaps to mind most quickly, but I’m sure you can see how my point applies there as well. The appendix isn’t useless (this is your point, and I agree); rather, it doesn’t serve its original function.

          Re DNA: so you agree with my point that that evidence is devastating for the argument that DNA was written by God?

          it is a functioning sophisticated code. Show me where that happens by accident anywhere in our experience.

          Technically, it’s not a “code.” But it does seem to be information, so I think we’re on the same page here.

          I don’t know of any other examples of information in nature. Maybe this is the only one. Shouldn’t be a problem for you since you imagine that God is the only one in his category.

          DNA is just a strong piece of puzzle.

          You must not’ve understood my last objection. Not strong at all as far as I can see.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      JS:

      Great points. In addition to vestigial organs (say, hip bones in whales), we have atavisms (say, hind limbs in dolphins). Vestigial organs are in all animals of that species, but atavisms are rare manifestations of ancient traits that are not quite dead. Evolution explains this sloppiness quite nicely; they god hypothesis not so much.

  • Rick Townsend

    Jeevan,

    Not trying to be testy. Just don’t have a lot of time for comments today so short is better than nothing. If you Google “fulfilled prophecy in scripture” you can get lots of that information without me having to type it or copy it here. If you have trouble, let me know and I can send you some useful links. If you don’t know anything about fulfilled prophecy, I’m thinking you are fairly new to the conversation, but don’t want to assume that.

    Rick

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, there are many claims of fulfilled Bible prophecy. I’m familiar with the biggies (Is. 53, Ps. 22, and perhaps a few others) and find these to be quite weak. Again, point out one that you think is compelling and we can discuss.

      • Rick T

        OK. How about crucifixion being predicted before it was invented for starters? That would be Psalm 22:16. You can combine that with some elements of Isaiah 53 where it was prophesied that the Messiah would pay for sins.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Huh? “They pierced my hands and feet”? There’s a lot more to the definition of “crucifixion” than just this, especially when we look at the NET Bible’s version: “like a lion they pin my hands and feet.”

          If Sylvia Brown presented this kind of argument as her ironclad evidence for accurate prophecy, you’d laugh. Why give it more weight because it’s in the Bible? (I mean, why, if you’re looking for the truth. If you’re simply hoping to prop up your preconceptions, I understand.)

          As for Is. 53, read the last verse (53:12). “He” is divided a portion among the strong. Jesus now has peers? He’s just one of the strong? Obviously, this can’t refer to Jesus.

        • Jeevan Sivasubramaniam

          That’s the standard response, but unfortunately an inaccurate one. This is a misinterpretation of the Hebrew text behind the King James Version. Here are three reasons why it’s bunk:

          a. It’s not an accurate reproduction of the Hebrew text because the Hebrew equivalent for “they pierced” was not found in the manuscripts available to the translators of the King James Version. The word rendered in those manuscripts means “like a lion” which Bob also mentions above.

          b. The evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls (often used to prop up this argument), is ambiguous at best. The word found there, kaaru, has no known meaning and may actually be meaningless.

          c. Many have argued that a careful analysis of the readings given in the ancient versions does not support “they pierced” as the correct translation. The analysis shows that there were two extant readings in the Hebrew text, one being kaari (like a lion) and the other kaaru (which I mentioned before as being a bit of a mystery). The very fact that translators did not translate the latter word consistently showed that even by that time, the meaning of that word was no longer known.

          d. The use of this “proof” is a later development.
          No early Christian writer, including the evangelists and Paul, until the time of Justin around the middle of the second century CE, made any explicit reference to the word “piercing” in Psalm 22:16b in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus. There are no writings or references anywhere to such a definition although there were ample opportunities to do so.

  • Orbital Teapot

    To Bob S,

    I see. Some time ago, you appealed to fairies, to trekkies and now you are appealing to unicorns. The classical trick of atheists.

    On a positive note, I would agree that it makes sense against the belief in angels and in spirits. But God, the Ground of being, and the ground of right and wrong, is in another league.

    People seek happiness, they seek love, they seek meaning, and they have the dim awareness that it must be possible to find it. But not in this world. Therefore there must be a perfect being who can quench our thirst for happiness, love and meaning.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      The classical trick of atheists.

      Trick? What trick?

      God, the Ground of being, and the ground of right and wrong, is in another league.

      What God? I see no evidence.

      But not in this world.

      You can’t find happiness, love, and meaning? I’m sorry to hear that.

      If someone is promising you these things in the afterlife, keep your hand on your wallet!

  • Bob Calvan

    OT says:
    ” On a positive note, I would agree that it makes sense against the belief in angels and in spirits. But God, the Ground of being, and the ground of right and wrong, is in another league. ”

    Yes, And for the Athesist to know anything , to reason, to use logic is because God is the preconditon of intelligence.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Another Bob C drive-by!

      You’re good at bold assertions. Gotta work on providing evidence, however.

  • Pingback: God is Nonexistent | Cross Examined

  • Bob Calvan

    Ok. Bob tell us how you know what you know?

  • Rick T

    Bob,

    Reference your comment, “That which is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

    Nice slight of hand, but are you asserting that there is no order? I didn’t think you would force me to list all the ways that the physical world embodies the appearance of being designed. If you want me to, I will refer you to functioning DNA, functioning astronomy and environments to include the Earth’s habitats, the solar system, and the universe in general. That enough order for you? Now explain it by randomness.

    Your other comment: “Then here’s one: evolution explains where complexity that isn’t designed comes from. And it’s the scientific consensus. Sweet!”

    Ahhhh. Your god, consensus. Consensus without demonstrable means and actual evidence is just brute force. Doesn’t accomplish creativity well, unfortunately.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Nice slight of hand…

      You frequently praise me for being dishonest. Call a spade a space, please. Am I playing games with the facts? Then make your charge plainly.

      Now explain it by randomness.

      I’m pretty sure that the consensus view within biology, geology, astronomy, and any other field you touched on is that natural explanations are sufficient.

      Your god, consensus.

      It ain’t perfect, but it’s all we’ve got. You got a better approximation to the truth? I’m all ears.

      Consensus without demonstrable means and actual evidence is just brute force.

      You’ve lost me. The scientific consensus isn’t scientific? I’m not sure what your complaint is.

  • Rick T

    To Jeevan and Bob regarding interpretation of Hebrew translations (not enough reply strings above, so you’ll have to connect the dots or fix your blog structure.)

    Generations of scholars have settled on meaning, but I am supposed to throw that all out in favor of yours? Nah.

    You can find some arcane scholar to argue your point for you, but the fact remains. The OT is replete with prophecies about a suffering messiah who would sacrifice to pay for the sins of those who trust him. The NT narrates that a man in the first century performed miracles, was born in the right place at the right time and fulfilled numerous prophecies, then was crucified, after which he was seen alive by numerous witnesses. This evidence may not be sufficient for you, but you have yet to provide ANY contemporary historic controversy arguing these facts. The whole of OT prophecy points to an event that was fulfilled in the NT history. The nation of Israel was prophecied to be reformed and gathered from the ends of the Earth and that took place in 1947. You would do well to consider the possibility that God is the God who revealed himself in the Bible.

    Do we understand everything? No. But we understand enough to have faith in a reasonable being who has revealed himself in innumerable ways.

    Your faith in the god of “consensus” is blind. My faith in an intelligent entity who revealed himself is far more reasonable. It is a consensus filling the gaps sort of faith for you. You continue to hold it without evidence other than the brute force of your son of consensus, namely the belief that somehow a majority of scientists (if they really believe in evolution rather than giving lip service to it so they can be published) makes it so. That’s not how truth works.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      (not enough reply strings above, so you’ll have to connect the dots or fix your blog structure.)

      Adding a new comment at the bottom is fine. To continue appending new comments to a comment thread, just scroll up until you see the Reply button. WordPress only nests 3 levels deep.

      Generations of scholars have settled on meaning, but I am supposed to throw that all out in favor of yours? Nah.

      What you have to do is defend your claim. If you claim that Ps. 22 clearly defined crucifixion centuries before it was invented and that Is. 53 clearly talks about the crucifixion, but both claims don’t stand up to scrutiny, then either defend your claims or retract them.

      (Speaking of which: another reason why Is. 53 isn’t talking about the crucifixion is that, if it did, it wouldn’t omit the most important part—the resurrection.)

      You can find some arcane scholar to argue your point for you, but the fact remains.

      Not necessary in this case. No parsing of Hebrew required. The counter arguments are pretty simple to explain.

      The OT is replete with prophecies about a suffering messiah who would sacrifice to pay for the sins of those who trust him.

      I’ve heard the same thing. And yet I’m still waiting for a compelling argument.

      Here’s the weird thing: you know what a compelling prophecy looks like. It’s precise and detailed, it’s made before the event, the documenter of the fulfilled prophecy had no opportunity to make up the “fulfillment,” and so on. There are no OT prophecies that meet these requirements—the requirements that you’d demand of a faux seer like Sylvia Brown.

      Sure, there are hundreds of “prophecies” that hopeful Christians have pulled out of the OT, but don’t tell me that these stand up to any rigorous investigation.

      The NT narrates that a man in the first century performed miracles …

      C’mon, bro, it’s a story! The resurrection, the witnesses, and all that is just part of a story. Why imagine that it’s history? (Besides wishful thinking, I mean.) I’m sure you don’t believe everything you read; how can you justify dropping your standards in this one case?

      you have yet to provide ANY contemporary historic controversy arguing these facts.

      Oh, please. You’re actually demanding that if there is no contemporary contrary documentation that you’re entitled to believe anything you read? I’ve discussed this fallacy here: Principle of Analogy.

      You first: you show me contemporary evidence that argues against Merlin being a shape shifter. Until that point, I’m quite justified in believing that he was, right?

      Your faith in the god of “consensus” is blind.

      My trust in the scientific consensus is well founded. Look at the science-laden world we live in. I guess science works and that the consensus is a pretty decent guess at the truth.

      the belief that somehow a majority of scientists (if they really believe in evolution rather than giving lip service to it so they can be published) makes it so. That’s not how truth works.

      The consensus isn’t the truth; it’s an approximation to the truth. Further, it’s the best guess at the truth that we laymen have access to.

      Show me something better.

  • Orbital Teapot

    To all,

    You should stop calling me OT, it may come to be confused with the Old Testament, which we speak of here quite often. Just call me “teapot” if you want.

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