Why God did not raise Jesus from the Dead

The evidence for the claim that Jesus was alive and walking around on the first Easter Sunday is weak. Overall, the evidence indicates that the first post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus probably occurred in Galilee several days after, perhaps several weeks after, the crucifixion of Jesus.

Although there probably were  some sort of ‘resurrection’ experiences or visions or dreams by some of Jesus’ followers, it is difficult to determine what those experiences consisted in based on the skimpy, unreliable, and third or fourth-hand evidence that we possess now.

But we all know that a true resurrection is physically impossible, and thus would require some sort of supernatural intervention into the normal operation of the laws of physics and chemistry.  If God, a being who is omnipotent and omniscient and perfectly good, exists, then the resurrection of Jesus would be possible,  for the laws of physics and chemistry can certainly be overruled by an omnipotent and omniscient being.

The evidence for the existence of God, however, is far from compelling.  But, I like to grant as much as I can to the other side, to see whether such generosity will allow for a strong case to be made for a Christian or religious belief.  If we grant, for the sake of argument, that God exists, would that allow the case for the resurrection of Jesus to be strong and compelling?

An important, but often neglected, aspect of the issue of the resurrection of Jesus is the motivation(s) of God.  We can observe the behavior of human persons, and form hypotheses about their tendencies, habits, goals, and motivations, and then test our hypotheses by making further observations of the person.  If we spend enough time with a person, and if we carefully and thoughtfully observe his/her behavior, it is possible to make some predictions about what that person will or would do in certain circumstances with some degree of probability.

But we cannot observe the behavior of God in this way,  and God, although a person, is clearly not very similar to a human person.  God is omniscient and God is perfectly good, and no human being is omniscient or perfectly good, so we have no actual experiences of such a person to use as the basis for formulating hypotheses about what God will or would be likely to do in certain circumstances.

Nevertheless, since God is by definition both omniscient and perfectly good, this gives us some (admittedly thin) basis for drawing conclusions about how God, if he exists, will or would likely behave.   Apart from some such assumptions, the mere existence of God does little to support the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, or the closely associated claim that God raised Jesus from the dead.  One must establish a likely motive for God to raise Jesus from the dead in orderto use God’s existence as part of the case for Jesus’ resurrection.

Furthermore, one must also be able to disprove or discount any alleged motivations that God might have which would make God opposed to the resurrection of Jesus.   That is where a big problem for Christian believers comes into view.

There are many reasons why an omniscient and perfectly good person would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus, and thus even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that God exists,  the existence of God can actually be used as an argument AGAINST the alleged resurrection of Jesus.

If you have read some of my posts on Jesus and Jehovah, you can probably guess one of my favorite reasons why I think that God would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus:

 Jesus was a false prophet because he taught his followers to pray to and worship a false god (i.e. Jehovah).

This one reason, it seems to me, is sufficient to show that the existence of God would be a strong reason for believing that Jesus did NOT rise from the dead.

But there are several other reasons that point in the same direction:

  1. Jesus did not object to the slaughter of men, women, children, and babies by his namesake Joshua.
  2. Jesus did not object to slavery nor to the approval of slavery by Jehovah.
  3. Jesus was a sexist who did not object to the sexist ideas and laws of Jehovah.
  4. Jesus did not advocate logic, critical thinking, careful argumentation, but rather advocated faith over reason.
  5. Jesus was an otherworldly “pie in the sky” thinker, rather than a this-worldly practical-minded thinker.
  6. Jesus believed in and taught that diseases could be healed by faith, and was an advocate of the practice of faith healing.
  7. Jesus believed in and taught the existence of angels and demons and advocated the practice of exorcism.
  8. Jesus believed and taught the doctrine of eternal punishment, and thus he believed that the use of torture can be morally justified and that purely punitive punishment can be morally justified.
  9. Jesus believed and taught that the world was about to end and he discouraged long-range planning.
  10. Jesus believed and taught that the Jews were God’s chosen people, thus putting his stamp of approval on the sociocentric delusions of the Jews.
  11. Jesus was opposed to efforts to violently overthrow or rebel against the Roman oppressors of the Jewish people in Palestine.

In conclusion, an omniscient and perfectly good being would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus, because the resurrection of Jesus would provide a divine stamp of approval upon:  the worship of a false god,  mass murder, slavery, sexism, cruelty, injustice, irrationality, superstition, sociocenrism, pacifism (i.e. tolerance of oppression) and other evils.

Christian believers are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  If there is no God, then the resurrection of Jesus would be unlikely because true resurrections are contrary to the laws of nature and thus require a supernatural intervention by God or a god-like being.  If there is a God, then the resurrection of Jesus would be unlikely because God, an omniscient and perfectly good person, would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus.  Either way, the case for the resurrection fails.

 

 

  • Tony Debono

    How about the fact that in Mark 4 Jesus (citing the book of Isaiah) admits that he preaches using parables in order to obscure his message so that certain people will not find God’s forgiveness?

    • Bradley Bowen

      Nice example! Thank you.

      Most believing Christians don’t take these sorts of points into consideration when thinking about the alleged resurrection of Jesus. But then it is also the case that most unbelieving skeptics don’t take these sorts of points into consideration when thinking about the alleged resurrection of Jesus.

      Perhaps if more atheists and skeptics pressed these objections whenever Christians make the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead, then more believing Christians would take these sorts of points into consideration when thinking about the resurrection.

      Some believers will be moved by skeptical objections to arguments for God. Some believers will be moved by skeptical objections about how miracles involve violations of natural laws, and thus the idea that miracles require very strong and compelling evidence. Other believers will be moved by skeptical objections to the historical claims made in support of the resurrection of Jesus. But some believers will be moved by skeptical objections of the sort I raise here about the motivations that can reasonably be attributed to God.

      Different strokes for different folks. Skeptics should not limit themselves to just one or two kinds of objection to the resurrection. There are many different kinds of problems with the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead, and we should not hesitate to point out the wide variety of problems with this belief (scientific, historical, philosophical, ethical, theolgical, etc.).

  • http://www.facebook.com/Chandra.Plainswalker.Nalaar Chandra Nalaar

    Stop trying to make these people have logic and reason……It aint going to happen.

    • Bradley Bowen

      I used to be one of “these people”. So, not all Christian believers are immune from logic and reason.

      • archatheist

        Congratulations on being in the minority of thoughtful and reasoned (former) Christians. We need more people like you. Truly.

  • danallison

    Genuine reason and authentic logic show a lot of false premises here.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Can you point to a few examples of false premises? Please be specific and explain why you think the premises are false.

  • http://www.facebook.com/judith.fursdon Judith Fursdon

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say Jehovah was a false god – can you explain that further?

    • Bradley Bowen

      Sure. The word “God” is generally understood to refer to a person who is omnipotent (having unlimited power), omniscient (having unlimited knowledge), perfectly good (always does what is morally best or morally right and never does what is morally wrong or evil), and who has always existed and will always exist in the future. Such an impressive being would be worthy of worship, according to Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

      If someone prays to or worships a “false god”, then that person is either (a) praying to or worshiping a fictional or non-existent person, or (b) praying to or worshiping a being who is less than omnipotent, and/or less than omniscient, and/or less than perfectly good, and/or less than eternal.

      Most Christians and Jews and Muslims would say, for example, that worship of Zeus was worship of a false god because Zeus was either (a) a fictional character who did not exist, or (b) a spirit who was less than omnipotent and less then omniscient and less than perfectly good.

      • http://www.facebook.com/judith.fursdon Judith Fursdon

        I’m not sure you would convince a believer with that – “Gods’ ways are greater than ours” or “He is all of these things, but you don’t see it because you don’t believe” or some other such tripe.

        • Bradley Bowen

          If someone has a belief that they accept blindly and dogmatically, a belief to which they have a strong emotional attachment, then it is quite easy for him or her to dismiss objections and challenges to that belief. Humans are very good at being irrational, when they don’t want to be rational, when there is some emotional need that a belief satisfies, such as to fight off fear or anxiety or to justify a way of life.

  • Lori

    Interesting points. I had never put it together quite the way you did (separating Jesus’ character from an all-loving God’s character).

    I have always been puzzled as to what the big deal is about the idea of Jesus being alive through resurrection. No one claims that he walks around in his body on earth now, right? He is thought of as if in the form of a spirit when people pray to him. Yet it seems in order for his story to be true and for him to be “alive” now, people need for his body to have been resurrected. Why? God isn’t dead or alive, he just is. Why does Jesus need to be alive either?

    I think the reason is because of the Jewish concept of death and afterlife at the time of Jesus’ death. The biblical idea that some day we will all have our bodies back, and that there will be a 1,000 year reign of a messiah on earth all points to an idea that there is no afterlife without a body. But modern Christians have lost this idea. No one hears preaching from the pulpet about everyone’s bodies being resurrected some day. No one thinks of Jesus really needing his body right now. Yet at the time, I think Jews couldn’t conceive of an afterlife without a body. So of course Jesus needed his body to still exist after he died on the cross. Of course they had to say he was “alive” after he died on the cross. If you can’t exist without your body, then in order for Jesus to exist after his death, his body had to be resurrected. Now that we imagine our loved ones in heaven immediately after they die, and we pray to Jesus as a spirit, why do we make such a big deal about his resurrection being proof that he was the messiah? I think it’s a tradition that Christians pretend means something pivotal which actually does not fit their modern sense of spirituality.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments about life after death and how Christians tend to think about this. I will try to respond to your comments later today.

    • Bradley Bowen

      “Yet it seems in order for his story to be true and for him to be ‘alive’ now, people need for his body to have been resurrected. Why? God isn’t dead or alive, he just is. Why does Jesus need to be alive either?

      I think the reason is because of the Jewish concept of death and afterlife at the time of Jesus’ death.”

      ==========================
      I think you are correct about the origin of the idea of Jesus’ resurrection being grounded in certain Jewish beliefs about the afterlife that were present in first century Palestine.

      However, I don’t think Christians could just toss this belief aside. According to the Gospels, Jesus believed in the resurrection of the dead, and predicted his own death and resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, and if those who follow and believe in Jesus will not be raised from the dead one day, then that means that Jesus was a false prophet and that Jesus was mistaken about a very important religious and theological question.

      How can someone logically and rationally believe that Jesus was the greatest prophet who ever lived, and also believe that Jesus was a false propthet? How can someone be a devoted follower of Jesus and view him as the divine Son of God, as “the way, the truth, and the life” and yet believe that Jesus was mistaken about a very basic and important theological matter?

      Also, most of the New Testament was written by Paul, and Paul insists that belief in the resurrection of Jesus is essential to being saved, to gaining eternal life. If Paul is wrong on this very basic theological issue, then what sort of confidence could a reasonable person have in the divine inspriration of the New Testament?

      If we simply set aside the teachings of Jesus and Paul concerning life after death, then why be a Christian? Why claim to be a follower of Jesus? Why would one view the New Testament as sacred scripture? It seems to me that a person who rejects belief in the resurrection of the dead has ceased to be a Christian, whether they know it or not, because this implies that the teachings of Jesus and Paul on a basic religious and theological issue are wrong.

      • Lori

        I agree that Christians can’t ever toss the emphasis on Jesus’ resurrection aside. It’s too traditional at this point. But they sure have tossed the resurrection of their own bodies aside. For me, it all points to a made up belief system. I just don’t think Christians think about these things (“needing” our bodies in the afterlife). If your religion is man-made, then it can change so foundationally over time.

  • snoissea

    You make moral judgements of Jesus based on what? Your morals? And who is to say that your morals are the standard by which Jesus should be judged? Your judgement of Jesus is totally and completely subjective. You claim a moral God could not have raised Jesus from the dead using subjective moral standards. You say “Jesus was a sextist..” I say “Jesus was not a sexist.” Who’s moral code is objective? You have no basis to claim your morality is any more objective than mine. I reject your morals. They are not moral at all, in fact, they are evil. You have no way to disprove my moral statement that your morals are evil without resorting to using your subjective moral standard, which is not a standard at all.

    • Lori

      We all make moral judgments based on our consciences and what works in our society. God-in-the-flesh’s beliefs and actions should be timeless, but they appear to be based on the times in which he lived (such as allowing for the owning of another person which we now think is abhorrent).

    • Bradley Bowen

      Your use of skepticism concerning moral judgments may prove more than you want to prove.

      If moral judgments are subjective and cannot be proven, then the moral judgment that “the creator of the universe is morally good” is also a subjective statement that cannot be proven.

      Furthermore, since the word “God” implies a being that is “perfectly good”, one could never prove that such a being exists, because one would first have to show that it is possible that some person is in fact “perfectly good” and also that it is either probable or certain that some person is in fact “perfectly good”.

      If morality is purely subjective, then morality cannot also be objective, and if morality cannot be objective, then it is logically impossible for any being to be actually and objectively good, let alone to be actually and objectively perfectly good. Thus, if morality is purely subjective it would be logically impossible for God to exist.

      Is that what you are trying to show? that it is logically impossible for God to exist?

  • Nathan Apodaca

    Hmmm…interesting article, but how do you answer the Historical evidence and eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection? Try this article: http://biblicalworldviewacademy.org/531/resurrection-summary/

    • Bradley Bowen

      There are no eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. If Jesus was raised from the dead in accordance with the Gospel accounts, then he was raised from the dead inside of a sealed stone tomb sometime between sunset on Friday and sunrise on Sunday following the crucifixion. Nobody has ever claimed to have been an eyewitness to that event.

      I suppose what you mean is the eyewitness accounts of the empty tomb on Sunday morning, and eyewitness accounts of appearances of a living, walking, and talking Jesus on the Sunday following the Friday when Jesus was crucified.

      There are no eyewitness accounts, however, of the empty tomb, nor of appearances of Jesus on the first Easter Sunday.

      So my question to you is, how can you believe in the claim that a miraculous resurrection took place when you have no eyewitness accounts to support the key historical claims required to show that a resurrection actually happened?

      • Nathan Apodaca

        “There are no eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. If Jesus was raised from the dead in accordance with the Gospel accounts, then he was raised from the dead inside of a sealed stone tomb sometime between sunset on Friday and sunrise on Sunday following the crucifixion. Nobody has ever claimed to have been an eyewitness to that event.”

        Hey, thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, no one ever claimed to see the actual resurrection. But we do have eyewitness accounts to the appearances of Jesus AFTER his resurrection:

        1. The Women who found the tomb.

        2. Nearly 500 people afterwards

        3. James, a skeptic at the time.

        4. Paul, on the road to Damascus.

        These are just a few of the people who saw Jesus. If you read the creed in 1 Corinthians 15, it gives an account of just who witnessed Jesus after His resurrection. Many Historians date 1 Corinthians 15 as being about four or five years after the actual event(although I find that somewhat hard to believe)

        also, don’t forget the accounts of Matthew and John, who were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded.

        Read this article, it gives reasons to believe in the eyewitness accounts.

        http://answersforatheists.com/03/the-problem-of-jesus-eyewitnesses/

        (if it doesn’t come out as a link, just copy and paste it into your search box)
        Thanks for taking the time to answer me :)

        • Greg G.

          Have you seen articles about all the clichés we use without realizing we are quoting Shakespeare? The Greeks did that too. In Acts 26:14, we see “kicking against the goads (or pricks depending on the translation). This comes from Euripides’ Bacchae. So we have Luke quoting Paul quoting Jesus quoting Euripides quoting Dionysus, a Greek god. Would Jesus come down from heaven and not be able to express himself without quoting Greek literature and Greek gods? Acts also has discrepancies as to whether it was an audible event. When we compare the Acts versions with what Paul actually says about it, we see a different picture. There is no reason to take the Acts accounts seriously.

          In Galatians, Paul describes it as God revealing the Son in him. He insists that he didn’t learn it from any man. It sounds like he found the story from scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15, he uses the phrase “according to the scriptures” often. He describes the others’ revelations in the same words as his own so there’s no reason to think a risen Jesus appeared to them either. The all read about it in the scriptures and were trying to make sense of the writings.

          If the eyewitnesses at the tomb was a good argument, why wasn’t it used in Acts 26? Paul testifies in Agrippa’s court and uses the Jews as character witnesses. Instead of a preposterous story about Jesus quoting Greek gods, he could have used people in the city as eyewitnesses of the empty tomb.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

          ’3. James, a skeptic at the time.’

          James knew his brother had been born of a virgin and that he had never committed a sin in his whole life.

          On what planet could the brother of this virgin-born Jesus possibly have been a sceptic?

        • Bradley Bowen

          “Hey, thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, no one ever claimed to see the actual resurrection. But we do have eyewitness accounts to the appearances of Jesus AFTER his resurrection:

          1. The Women who found the tomb.

          2. Nearly 500 people afterwards

          3. James, a skeptic at the time.

          4. Paul, on the road to Damascus.”

          ===============================

          Response:

          Not true.

          Concerning point (1):

          We have NO ACCOUNT of the empty tomb that was written by a woman who claims to have been present at the discovery of the empty tomb.

          Furthermore, NONE of the Gospels contains the following claim (or anything close to this): “I spoke with Mary Magdalene and she said that on the Sunday morning after the crucifixion, she went to the tomb where Jesus was burried….” So, we don’t even have a CLAIM that the Gospels give us a second-hand account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Even if such a claim was made, we could not be sure that the claim was true, but without any such claim we cannot have any confidence that any Gospel contains a second-hand account that came from one or more women who allegedly discovered Jesus tomb empty on the first Easter Sunday.

          Concerning point (2):

          What are the names of the “500″ people? When and where did they experience the “risen” Jesus? Did these experiences occur within a few days after the crucifixion? a few weeks after? a few years after? What was the nature of their experiences? Were they dreams? visions? had they been drinking or fasting at the time? Did they see a light or the appearance of Jesus in the sky? Did they hear Jesus speak? Did they get close to Jesus or physically touch him? How did they recognize the person as being Jesus? Did any of them know Jesus before the crucifixion? Did the risen Jesus look like Jesus looked when he was preaching in Galilee?

          We don’t know the answers to these questions because there are NO EXISTING ACCOUNTS of these experiences that were written by any of the “500″.

          Furthermore, there is NO GOSPEL and NO LETTER from the first century that makes this claim (or anything close to it): “I spoke with some of the 500 people who were witnesses of an appearance of the risen Jesus, and one man, described the event this way….” So, we don’t even have a claim of an alleged second-hand account of some of these alleged experiences.

          Concerning point (3):

          • Nathan

            I do have a question: how do you know that the evidence is false? Nowhere does it say: “I spoke with so and so, and blab blab blab” besides, those were just a few examples. I was somewhat short on time. I hope you wouldn’t mind, but how do you know that there were no eyewitnesses? Have you searched every account to see if its true? If so, would you mind giving me links or names of articles I can look up?

          • Chris

            He said there were no eyewitness accounts, not ‘no eyewitnesses’. Two different things. There could have been eyewitnesses who left no accounts. There could have been eyewitnesses whose accounts were lost, etc. But your original claim was that we have eyewitness •accounts•, which was shown to be false. Anyone reading the bible can see that none of the post-Resurrection ‘sightings’ are eyewitness accounts – •at best• there are second-hand accounts •purportedly• (meaning, there is otherwise no secondary evidence for this) based on eyewitness accounts. Since there are no extra-biblical sources for the Resurrection stories, that means that we have no eyewitness accounts, neither in the bible nor in any other source. Technically, this doesn’t mean that the Resurrection didn’t occur or that there weren’t eyewitnesses to Jesus’s post-mortem appearances. On the other hand, even if we •had• accounts that claimed to be eyewitness accounts, that wouldn’t necessarily be good evidence for the Resurrection, since anyone can write an ‘account’ of anything.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            ‘On the other hand, even if we •had• accounts that claimed to be eyewitness accounts, that wouldn’t necessarily be good evidence for the Resurrection, since anyone can write an ‘account’ of anything.’

            Correct.

            Acts has ‘eyewitness’ accounts of Jesus flying into the sky on his way to Heaven.

            Without even a magic carpet or a winged horse to help him!

            Of course, 2000 years ago people believed that heaven was somehow above the sky and had no problem making up stories about people ascending into heaven and claiming they were witnessed.

            But now we know what they sky really is.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Nathan said:

            but how do you know that there were no eyewitnesses? Have you searched every account to see if its true?

            ==================
            Response:
            See the response by Chris. I agree with that response.

            Many Christians are under the mistaken impression that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses of the death of Jesus and of the post-crucifixion “resurrection” appearances of Jesus on the first Easter Sunday. This is not true.

            The Gospel of Matthew was probably not written by the disciple named Matthew and the Gospel of John was probably not written by the disciple named John. The authors of Mark and Luke were never viewed of as having been eyewitnesses of the death or resurrection of Jesus.

            Furthermore, none of the Gospels give us details about where their information came from. They don’t say, for example: “I spoke with Mary Magdalene, and she said that the women all went to the tomb on Sunday….” Most NT scholars who study the Gospels conclude that the authors were second or third generation Christians who relied upon a combination of documents and oral traditions for their sources of information.

            So, what we have in the Gospels is not eyewitness testimony, and not second-hand testimony, and probably not even third-hand testimony, but traditions that were passed along for a period of several decades, and then re-worked into coherent historical-fiction narratives. That is, the authors took liberties with the already suspect materials that they had, and shaped and tweaked the materials in accordance with their own theological and ideological beliefs and purposes.

  • Steve Bruecker

    You made the assertion, “One must establish a likely motive for God to raise
    Jesus from the dead in order to use God’s existence as part of the case for
    Jesus’ resurrection.” You also said, “…so we have no actual experiences of such a person to use as the basis for formulating hypotheses about what God will or would be likely to do in certain circumstances.” What about the Bible to help us understand God’s motive? Here is a source that can give insight into God’s reasons for resurrecting Jesus.

    God’s motive is redemption. God is reconciling the broken relationship between humanity and Himself. We turned our backs on God; we broke his laws and wanted nothing to do with Him. He didn’t rescue us for anything we do. God redeemed us because of His great love. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:8-10 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Paul says we were enemies of God and yet, He chose to die for us on the cross.

    As man Jesus could die on the cross and as God he could pay the penalty we
    deserved. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates He had the power over death and all followers of Jesus will be resurrected to life. In John 2:18-22 Jesus says he will raise Himself from the dead. Only the God/man could resurrect Himself. It is sin that brings spiritual death and since Jesus lived a sinless life, death had no power over him. God’s motive is called grace. Grace can be defined as receiving Christ’s
    righteousness which we don’t deserve and not getting the punishment for moral
    wrongs we do deserve. He bestows grace on undeserving individuals like me.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Steve Bruecker said:

      You made the assertion, “One must establish a likely motive for God to raise
      Jesus from the dead in order to use God’s existence as part of the case for
      Jesus’ resurrection.” You also said, “…so we have no actual experiences of such a person to use as the basis for formulating hypotheses about what God will or would be likely to do in certain circumstances.” What about the Bible to help us understand God’s motive? Here is a source that can give insight into God’s reasons for resurrecting Jesus.

      =======================

      Response:

      Keep in mind the distinction between “the logic of discovery” and “the logic of proof”. How you come up with an idea or explanation or hypothesis is up to you. There really are no logical contraints on how to discover an idea or hypothesis. If you want to eat mushrooms and have visions in the desert, that is fine by me. If you want to search the Bible for ideas, that is fine with me too. Or you can search Shakespeare or Dickens or read modern graphic novels. Whatever.

      But once you come up with an idea or explanation or hypothesis, then the “logic of proof” comes into play, and you need to be able to give good reasons why your idea or explanation or hypothesis should be taken seriously, reasons why your idea should be believed or considered true or probable or certain.

      You have suggested some possible motivations that God might have for raising Jesus from the dead, and I have suggested some possible motivations that God might have for OPPOSING the resurrection of Jesus. The fact that your suggested motivations come from your reading of the Bible does nothing to show that your ideas are true or probable or certain.

      So, you need to show that there are good reasons for believing that God had the motivations that you suggest and that there are good reasons for believing that God did not have the motivations that I suggest.

      Your explanation of God’s motivations might seem obviously true to you because you already have a religious commitment to such views about God’s motivations, but that religious or theological commitment on your part is not a legitimate reason in support of these ideas or beliefs.

      I was a devout Christian for many years, and I am familiar with the story and explanations that you are offering. It seems to me that your explanations are more complex and much less plausible than mine.

      The idea that a perfectly good person would be opposed to putting a stamp of approval on a religious teacher whose teaching involved support for mass murder, cruelty, injustice, irrationality, and superstition is a fairly clear and simple and plausible idea. But what you are suggesting is not as clear, not as simple, and not as plausible:

      1. Human beings originally had a close relationship with God.
      2. God issued some rules or commands for humans to follow.
      3. Some human beings disobeyed God.
      4. Because some human beings disobeyed God, all human beings lost their close relationship with God.
      5. Human beings were unable, on their own, to restore a close relationship with God.
      6. God wanted to restore a close relationship with human beings, but God could NOT simply forgive humans who had disobeyed him.
      7. In order for God to be able to forgive humans and to restore a close relationship with humans, a human who was completely obedient to God must suffer and die in order for God’s forgiveness to be possible.
      8. Jesus was a human who was completely obedient to God and his suffering and death on the cross was sufficient “payment” for God to be able to forgive human beings for disobeying him.

      There is more to your explanation than this, but these are some of the key assumptions. Each one of these assumptions can be reasonably doubted and challenged. This is a very complex and very implausible explanation. My explanation of God’s motivations is clearer and simpler and more plausible than yours, significantly clearer and significantly simpler and significantly more plausible.

      How do you know that humans once had a close relationship with God?
      What evidence is required to show that a particular human being has a close relationship with God? In order for humans to disobey God, there must first be some rules or commands of God to disobey. What evidence do you have that the earliest human beings knew about any rules or commands of God? Why would God give rules or commands to human beings? If God did give such rules or commands to the earliest humans, why aren’t those rules or commands public knowledge now? Why are human beings confused and in disagreement about what it is that God commands? Why would a close relationship with God depend on obedience to his commands? Even human parents can have a close relationship with children who sometimes disobey their commands. Why is God incapable of doing what human parents can do? Why is a human sacrifice required to reconcile humans to God? How can God forgive me for evil things that I have done to other people? Don’t the people that I have wronged have any say in the matter? Don’t I need forgiveness from them, and not from God? Why would the disobedience of the earliest humans have any impact on my relationship with God? Isn’t that unfair and unjust? But God is a perfectly good person, so he would not punish me for the sins of Adam and Eve.

      I could go on and on about the problems and inconsistencies and implausible aspects of your views of God’s motivations, but that is enough for now.

      Ultimately your complex explanation can be tied back to the idea that “God” by definition is a perfectly good person, who is omnipotent and omniscient. But the connection is stretched and weak and implausible.

      • Steve Bruecker

        You said, “My explanation of God’s motivations is clearer and simpler and more plausible than yours, significantly clearer and significantly simpler and significantly more plausible.”

        Nice…you win because you have awarded yourself the victory. You can pat yourself on the back for acknowledging to yourself how you gave a more plausible explanation. However, you haven’t proven anything?

        How do you know God is a perfectly good person, who is omnipotent and omniscient? What authority are you using to reach your conclusions? What is your evidence?

        By what source of authority are you making the following claim: “Jesus was a false prophet because he taught his followers to pray to and worship a false god (i.e. Jehovah).” This is simply a conclusion that needs to be supported by evidence. Why should I believe that?

        Please provide the authority by which you reached these conclusions:

        1. Jesus did not object to the slaughter of men, women, children, and babies by his namesake Joshua.

        2. Jesus did not object to slavery nor to the approval of slavery by Jehovah.

        3. Jesus was a sexist who did not object to the sexist ideas and laws of Jehovah.

        4. Jesus did not advocate logic, critical thinking, careful argumentation, but rather advocated faith over reason.

        5. Jesus was an otherworldly “pie in the sky” thinker, rather than a this-worldly practical-minded thinker.

        6. Jesus believed in and taught that diseases could be healed by faith, and was an advocate of the practice of faith healing.

        7. Jesus believed in and taught the existence of angels and demons and advocated the practice of exorcism.

        8. Jesus believed and taught the doctrine of eternal punishment, and thus he believed that the use of torture can be morally justified and that purely punitive punishment can be morally justified.

        9. Jesus believed and taught that the world was about to end and he discouraged long-range planning.

        10. Jesus believed and taught that the Jews were God’s chosen people, thus putting his stamp of approval on the sociocentric delusions of the Jews.

        11. Jesus was opposed to efforts to violently overthrow or rebel against the Roman oppressors of the Jewish people in Palestine.

        You say your explanations are superior to mine but where do they come from? All you have provided is your conclusions and need to provide evidence to support each one. Why should I believe any of these?

        You have written many of the above conclusions with hidden assumptions. Such as: “Jesus did not object to the slaughter of men, women, children, and babies by his namesake Joshua.” This is like asking me, “When did you stop beating your wife?” You are
        assuming I am beating my wife. Who can answer that? In the above example you are assuming what Joshua did was evil. I cannot answer your conclusion until you make a case for your hidden assumption.

        “Jesus did not object to slavery nor to the approval of slavery by Jehovah.” Hidden assumption: God approved of slavery. What is your evidence? How do you know God approved of slavery? How do you know Jesus did not object to slavery? Was slavery different during this time period in comparison to today? How was it different? How were slaves treated? What was the year of jubilee?

        “Jesus was a sexist who did not object to the sexist ideas and laws of Jehovah.” Hidden assumption: God’s ideas and laws are sexist. What is your proof? How were women treated by the surrounding cultures?
        You assume Jesus was sexist. How do you know Jesus a sexist? Again this is a classic when did you stop beating your wife scenario? You are assuming God’s laws in that culture and time period are sexist. I cannot answer you until the hidden assumption is justified. Again how do you know that? In your answers please don’t compare an ancient culture to our present culture.

        I could go on but I’ll stop for now. Have you shown a plausible motivation for God not to raise Jesus from the dead? Not yet.

        My answer was simple and plausible and supported by the writers found in the Bible. Here the Apostle Paul teaches God raised Jesus from the dead. Galatians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead).”

        My authority for the resurrection is the testimony of the individuals compiled in the Bible. I have multiple independent attestations that support my contention. In a future post I will give evidence for why I support the writers of the New Testament and their accounts of the resurrection.

        • Bradley Bowen

          Steve Bruecker said:

          How do you know God is a perfectly good person, who is omnipotent and omniscient? What authority are you using to reach your conclusions? What is your evidence?

          =====================
          Response:

          I do not know that God is a perfectly good person, because I have never met him or her.

          Actually, I believe that there is no such being as God, so I believe that it is NOT the case that there is a perfectly good person who is omnipotent and omniscient.

          However, as stated in the post, I am being generous to the Christian point of view by supposing, for the sake of argument, that there was a God. Then I think on the basis of this supposition about the following question:

          “Would God, supposing that there were such a being, be in favor of or opposed to the resurrection of Jesus?”.

          I have never met God, nor observed God’s behavior, so I have no direct information to use to answer this question. However, I do know the meaning of the word “God” as this word is used by Christian believers, Christian philosophers, and Christian theologians.

          Christians are not completely in agreement on all details about what the word “God” means, but there is a general concensus among educated Christian believers, Christian philosophers, and Christian theologians on some of the key attributes of God: God is omnipotent (unlimited in power); God is omniscient (unlimited in knowledge); and God is a perfectly good person (who always does what is morally good and never does what is morally wrong or evil).

          So, my “authority” is the use and understanding of the word “God” by educated Christian believers, especially those educated believers who study Western philosophy of religion or Christian theology.

          If you believe that God is an evil person, or that God is an ignorant person, or that God is a weak person, or that God is not a person at all, then my arguments won’t have any force for you, but then that would mean you are not a Christian believer, or that you are a very odd and idiosyncratic Christian who parts company with your fellow believers on some very basic points of theology.

          • Steve Bruecker

            Braddley said: (according to Christian theologians, etc.)

            God is omnipotent (unlimited in power); God is omniscient (unlimited in knowledge); and God is a perfectly good person (who always does what is morally good and never does what is morally wrong or evil).

            I am good with you focusing on 3 divine attributes of God. Others may come into play as we move forward.

            Also you challenged me to be open minded to your arguments. I am willing to say that if you convinced me that Jesus did not rise from the dead I would give up my Christian beliefs. I agree with the Apostle Paul when he wrote: 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 (NASB) “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

            How about you? If I make a convincing case for the resurrection, will you give up your atheism?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            Can you prove Jesus ‘became a life-giving spirit’ to quote Paul’s words?

            It is clear from 1 Corinthians 15 that Christian converts believed Jesus was alive, but scoffed at the idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

            One thing is certain. They were not converted by stories of corpses rising from graves.

            Paul reminds them that if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body, and trashes the idea that resurrected bodies will be made out of the dust that corpses become.

            It is clear that the idea of the body which goes into the ground being the body which left the ground is foreign to Paul’s thought, who is convinced that Jesus became a ‘life-giving spirit’, and that he (Paul) had seen and talked to this spirit, presumably in much the same way that Paul believed he (Paul) had gone to the third heaven.

          • Steve Bruecker

            It will take a few posts to flesh out this issue. Did Jesus rise physically from the dead? 1 Corinthians 42-49

            Jehovah’s Witnesses and others argue that after the crucifixion, Jesus rose spiritually from the dead. They say it was not a physical/bodily resurrection. They use the words of the
            Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 as their primary source. Were the appearances of Jesus after his death simply a vision projected by God? Did his physical body stay in the grave?
            What implications does this have for our future postmortem resurrection?

            The verses I will deal with are 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. Paul is going to write about our future resurrection body and he will draw some conclusions from the resurrection of Jesus. I have underlined in the verses key words. Paul begins by writing about believers in Christ.

            “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”

            Paul argues how our resurrection body is going to be different from the present one. In verses 42-44 he is going to present four contrasts that are all mutually exclusive.

            The first contrast in verse 42 is a perishable versus an imperishable body. The perishable body will decay and eventually turn to dust. The future body, the imperishable, will not see decay. Paul is helping the Corinthians understand this new body will be incapable of decaying; it will not die and will be something permanent.

            The second and third contrasts are found in verse 43 where
            we see the new body will have honor instead of shame, power and glory instead of weakness. This new body will have
            status (glory) and capabilities the present body will never have. In the future this resurrected body will be given power by the creator instead of the many weaknesses we now possess in our earthly bodies.

            The fourth and final contrast has traditionally been the most controversial. I will deal with 1 Corinthians 15:44 in my next post.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Steve Bruecker said:

            How about you? If I make a convincing case for the resurrection, will you give up your atheism?

            ================
            Response:

            It depends what you mean by “the resurrection”. If you made a convincing case for the claim “God raised Jesus from the dead” that would incline me to give up my atheism, because God cannot cause ANYTHING to occur unless God exists.

            But in order to persuade me of this claim, you would have to make a convincing case for the existence of God, and that would be a very difficult thing to do, especially in my case, because I’m already familiar with many arguments for the existence of God, and remain convinced that there is no such being.

            If, however, what you mean by “the resurrection” is that Jesus died on the cross on a Friday, and that on Sunday morning he was alive and walking around and talking to people, then making a good case for the resurrection would not require proving the existence of God. So, it would be easier to prove such a claim. However, precisely because you would not need to show that God existed in order to prove this weaker claim, making a good case for this claim would not persuade me to give up my atheism.

            If you persuaded me to believe that Jesus died on the cross on Friday and was alive and walking around the following Sunday morning, then that would be some evidence for the existence of a supernatural being or a supernatural force. So, this weaker claim would move me in the direction of supernaturalism and away from naturalism.

            However, in order to persuade me to believe in supernaturalism, you would need to convince me not only that Jesus died on Friday evening, and that Jesus was alive and walking around on Sunday morning, but also that Jesus remained dead for at least 24 hours before coming back to life. Otherwise, it is possible that Jesus came back to life as the result of natural rather than supernatural causes.

            I don’t think there is much evidence that Jesus remained dead for at least 24 hours, because even if we assume that Jesus was dead on Friday evening, and that his body was placed into a stone tomb that evening, nobody remained in the tomb with Jesus to be able to observe what time it was when he came back to life, if he did come back to life.

            In any case, I suggest that you make a case for the weaker claim, which at least has the potential to move me away from naturalism and towards supernaturalism.

          • Bradley Bowen

            email from Steve Bruecker:

            Subject: RE: Resurrection discussion
            Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2013 09:12:32 -0700

            The other problem, other than who is Jehovah, but who is Jesus? If you are going to show the Christian belief in the resurrection false, you need to make sure you represent the Christian Worldview accurately. If you say Jehovah is not a personal name of the one true God then we have a problem. If you say Jesus is not God, the second person of the Trinity then we have another major problem. Without agreement in terms your premises are compromised. Does that make sense?

            Thanks,

            Steve Bruecker

          • Bradley Bowen

            Steve Bruecker said:

            If you say Jehovah is not a personal name of the one true God then we have a problem. If you say Jesus is not God, the second person of the Trinity then we have another major problem. Without agreement in terms your premises are compromised. Does that make sense?
            ===============
            Response:

            I am ARGUING that ‘Jehovah’ is not a personal name of the one true God. I am not assuming this to be the case. If I assumed this, then I would be begging the question. But I’m giving reasons and evidence to support this claim, not just assuming it to be true.

            It is true that we need to have some “agreement in terms”. We need to agree on what ‘Jehovah’ means in order to communicate with each other clearly and without ambiguity.
            We don’t have to agree on every possible point or claim about Jehovah to be able to use the word ‘Jehovah’ in a way that is clear and unambiguous. Jehovah is the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses was a prophet of Jehovah. Jehovah is the god who is a central character in the biblical books attributed to Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Jehovah is the god of Israel, the god of the Jewish faith.

            We should be able to agree on those key characteristics and use that as our common understanding of the word ‘Jehovah’. On the other hand, whether Jehovah is omniscient, or whether Jehovah is omnipotent, or whether Jehovah is a perfectly good person are issues about which we may disagree, without there being any unclarity or ambiguity in our use of the word ‘Jehovah’. I argue that the god of Israel, the god for whom Moses was a prophet, the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was NOT a perfectly good person. In making a case for this claim, I am making a case for the claim that Jehovah was NOT a perfectly good person, and you understand what I am claiming, even though you disagree with my claim.

            The same goes for Jesus. I do not assume that Jesus was a false prophet. Rather, I am arguing that Jesus was a false prophet. To simply assume that Jesus was a false prophet would be to beg the question on a controversial issue. I’m not begging the question; I’m giving you reasons and evidence in support of the controversial claim that Jesus was a false prophet. By ‘Jesus’ I mean the first century jewish man who grew up in Nazareth and travelled around Galilee preaching, and practicing faith healing and exorcism, who gathered a group of followers and who was crucified in Jerusalem about 30 C.E.

            Whether Jesus was a true prophet or a false prophet is something you and I disagree about. Whether Jesus was the divine Son of God is something you and I disagree about.
            But when I say “Jesus was a false prophet” you disagree with me precisely BECAUSE you understand what it is that I am saying. We have some agreement about who Jesus was, and that degree of agreement makes it possible for us to disagree about other alleged characteristics of Jesus.

            We disagree about whether Jehovah is a false god. We disagree about whether Jesus is a false prophet. But we are able to disagree precisely because we already have a shared understanding of the meaning of the words ‘Jesus’ and ‘Jehovah’.

            There is nothing wrong with making this shared understanding explicit, but our disagreement presupposes a shared understanding of the meanings of these key words.

          • Bradley Bowen

            email from Steve Bruecker dated 4/16/13:

            Bradley said: It is true that we need to have some “agreement in terms”. We need to agree on what ‘Jehovah’ means in order to communicate with each other clearly and without ambiguity.
            We don’t have to agree on every possible point or claim about Jehovah to be able to use the word ‘Jehovah’ in a way that is clear and unambiguous. Jehovah is the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses was a prophet of Jehovah. Jehovah is the god who is a central character in the biblical books attributed to Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Jehovah is the god of Israel, the god of the Jewish faith.

            Steve’s Response: Since you are being careful not to overstate your case, I can accept that Jehovah (YHWH) was the God of the first 5 books of the Bible. I can accept premise #4.

            I am also good with your making the case that Jesus is a false prophet. And I agree with premises 2a and 2b. Premise #2b is a little dicey because of our disagreement over Jehovah. However, if you can show that Jehovah is a false god then Jesus would be a false prophet for asking others to worship Him.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Steve –

            I appreciate your honesty and sincerity here. As I had expected, or at least hoped, we agree on most of the premises in my argument. There is just one premise which we disagree about, as I thought would be the case:

            5. Either Jehovah does not exist or Jehovah is less than perfectly good.

            If this premise is true, then we can infer that Jehovah is a false god, and as you have agreed if “Jehovah is a false god then Jesus would be a false prophet for asking others to worship Him.”

            So, my case depends crucially on premise (5). If I can persuade you that (5) is true, then you would see my case as a good or strong case. If I cannot persuade you that (5) is true, then you will not see my case being good or strong.

            I personally don’t believe that Jehovah existed. I believe the OT stories about Jehovah talking to Moses are fiction. However, it would probably be difficult to persuade you to adopt my naturalist metaphysics. I believe that it is more likely that I could persuade you of the claim “If Jehovah does exist, then Jehovah was less than perfectly good.” In that case, since you believe Jehovah exists, it would follow from your belief and this IF/THEN claim that Jehovah was less than perfectly good.

            So, that is the strategy I will adopt in order to try to persuade you to accept premise (5).

        • Bradley Bowen

          Steve Bruecker said:

          By what source of authority are you making the following claim: “Jesus was a false prophet because he taught his followers to pray to and worship a false god (i.e. Jehovah).” This is simply a conclusion that needs to be supported by evidence. Why should I believe that?

          ====================

          Response:

          You are correct. I have made a bold and controversial claim here, and you have every right to doubt and challenge that claim, and I have no right to expect you to believe this controversial claim simply on the basis of my say-so. I need to make a case for this claim, and provide you with reasons and evidence in order to try to persuade you that my claim is true or probable or reasonable.

          If I do make a strong case for this claim, I would not expect to persuade you to immediately accept the conclusion and toss your faith aside. The best I would hope for is that I manage to make a strong case for this claim, and that you would simply and honestly acknowledge that my case has some significant force, and if that were to happen, I would hope that over the coming weeks and months you would think more about the sorts of issues I have raised in this blog post.

          If I don’t manage to make a strong case for this claim, then, of course, you would be perfectly reasonable to forget about my blog post and my objections to the resurrection of Jesus and use your time to think about other things that are of interest to you.

          It may take me a while to build a case for this controversial claim, so I hope that you will be patient and give me a few days or a maybe a couple of weeks (?) to make that case, one bit at a time.

          Let’s start with an important premise of my reasoning:

          1. If a person claims to be a prophet or takes on the role of being a prophet and that person encourages others to worship a false god, then that person is a false prophet.

          Do you agree with this premise or disagree? Do I need to argue this point, or can we agree that (1) is true and move on to consider a more controversial premise?

          • Steve Bruecker

            First I love your attitude in this discussion. Since you have set the stage of respectfully presenting your case I am willing to go with you over the long run.

            Yes I am willing to accept your first premise. And I might add someone who claims to speak for God and speaks falsely, under the Mosaic Covenant, was to be put to death.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Great. I have one more premise that I believe is uncontroversial:

            2. Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be a prophet or took on the role of being a prophet, and Jesus encouraged others to worship Jehovah (i.e. the deity of the Old Testament).

            Do you agree with this premise? If so, then I will move on to the controversial premise with which you will undoubtably disagree.

          • Steve Bruecker

            Jesus was more than a prophet, He was God in human flesh, the second person of the Trinity. Rather than use Jehovah you could simply use God. The OT God is the same in the NT. God has eternally existed as 3 persons. I define the Trinity as one God subsists in 3 person Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, co-equal and co-eternal. Does that help with your premise?

            [Bradley are you on Facebook? I'd like to communicate both online and email. Easier for me to check my email to keep up with the posts. I don't want to share my email address on the web site. I am just looking for a way to get it to you. Does that work for you? I am open to another method of sharing email addresses.]

          • Bradley Bowen

            My email address is: bbowen737@msn.com

          • Bradley Bowen

            Steve Brueker said:

            Rather than use Jehovah you could simply use God. The OT God is the same in the NT.
            ====================
            Response:
            That won’t work. You are assuming that Jehovah = God. But it is that very assumption that I intend to challenge.
            I’m not, however, challenging that assumption in premise (2). I will challlenge that assumption in premise (3), the controversial premise over which you and I will probably have an extended discussion.
            Let me break premise (2) into two parts and try again:
            2a. Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be a prophet and/or took on the role of a prophet.
            Do you agree that (2a) is true? If not, why not?
            2b. Jesus of Nazareth encouraged others to worship Jehovah.
            Do you agree that (2b) is true? If not, why not?

          • Steve Bruecker

            I can agree with both 2a and 2b. I am interested in how you are going to make a case there is a difference between Jehovah and God. Many consider Jehovah simply to be the personal name of the one true God. However, that issue can wait. Also I am making the case God raised Jesus from the dead as the scriptures teach. I will argue for God’s existence.

            I hope you aren’t as dogmatic about your atheism as you previously communicated. What I’d like to know, could you be wrong about your atheism? I know you have strong beliefs but could you be wrong?

          • Bradley Bowen

            Steve Brueker said:

            I hope you aren’t as dogmatic about your atheism as you previously communicated. What I’d like to know, could you be wrong about your atheism? I know you have strong beliefs but could you be wrong?

            ===================

            Response:

            I’m not sure why you think I sounded dogmatic. I could be wrong about Jesus, and wrong about God, and wrong about Jehovah, and wrong about the Old Testament, etc. I have strong beliefs and convictions about these topics, but I try to be fairminded and objective, and most importantly to listen to people who see things differently than I do.

          • Steve Bruecker

            Great…what’s next?

          • Bradley Bowen

            Here is what I sent you in an email:

            The next premise is where I expect disagreement:

            3. Jehovah is a false god.

            Since this premise is clearly controversial, I need to provide you with evidence or reasons to show that it is true or probable.

            A brief sub-argument will get me started on this task:

            4. If Jehovah either does not exist or is less than perfectly good, then Jehovah is a false god.

            5. Jehovah either does not exist or is less than perfectly good.

            Thus,

            3. Jehovah is a false god.

            Do you accept premise (4)? If not, why not?

          • Steve Bruecker

            Who is Jehovah? If Jehovah is not God, who is he? Without some sort of definition for Jehovah I am struggling with accepting premises 4 and 2b. I don’t know what I am agreeing to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

    We know from 1 Corinthians 15 that early Christian converts must have openly scoffed at the very idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

    Paul calls such people fools and tells them that Jesus ‘became a life-giving spirit’.

    To Paul , it was simply idiocy to reject Christianity just because the body of Jesus was still in a grave. ‘If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body’.

    The Corinthians still didn’t understand so Paul wrote again, explaining that the earthly body will be destroyed and they will get spiritual bodies. ‘ For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.’

    Paul often uses ‘tent’, or ‘clothing’ metaphors to describe resurrection – both imply leaving one thing and moving into another thing.

    Even N.T.Wright recognises the force of this and has to write ‘Did Paul, perhaps, believe that Jesus’ new body, his incorruptible Easter body, had been all along waiting ‘in the heavens’ for him to ‘put on over the top of’ his present one?’

    How do you put a new body on top of a corpse?

    Normally, when you change clothes, you take the old clothes off and put the new ones on.

  • Nebulous

    Bradley – Are you really willing to cheapen your message with such straw men as these alleged beliefs of Jesus? You know as well as most of us that you can get the upper hand in an argument by offering a long list of controversial conclusions that take long arguments of their own to defend or disprove, and that that mental trick itself causes those who differ with you to give up the argument prematurely.

    My brother was much stronger than me and could beat me up. But he couldn’t run like me. If I wanted to “win” I could just wear him out by running until he gave up.

    Do you really want to “win” this argument by exhausting your opponents?

    Every thing you said about Jesus’ beliefs – from Him allegiance to a false god to His tolerance of oppression – is controversial, and these statements are certainly not proven by your assertion of them. As a matter of fact, I agree with some of them. But my agreement with some doesn’t prove them either, nor does contextualize them.

    FWIW, I also despise it when believers use such question-begging to “prove” their assertions related to… let’s say.. science or philosophy. In fact, it bothers me even more when believers do it. But you are as sloppy above as the most ignorant believer. Shame on you.

    It would be much more helpful if you gave an honest response to snoissea, who challenged you about moral judgments. You know very well that s/he wasn’t saying morality is relative. Snoissea apparently believes in objective truth and objective morals. His/her argument, perhaps not stated carefully enough, was that you have no objective basis for right and wrong – which is why you can denounce today things that were perhaps considered acceptable a few thousand years ago. And yet you suggest that your assertions about Jesus are all bad, bad enough that a good god wouldn’t accept and resurrect Him.

    Snoissea’s question might have been boiled down to “For the sake of argument, let’s assume your assertions about Jesus are true. And let’s assume that god would only resurrect a good person. By what standard are you judging those things about Jesus to be ‘bad?’ How can you conclude through logic that a good god wouldn’t approve of those?”

    After all, that is the entire basis for your argument, whether or not you chose to use the words. Your argument, in a nutshell (which is an appropriate receptacle, I think) is “Jesus was bad. Therefore a good god wouldn’t resurrect him. That proves that if there’s a god then the resurrection didn’t happen.”

    ~ N

    • Bradley Bowen

      Nebulous said:

      “Bradley – Are you really willing to cheapen your message with such straw men as these alleged beliefs of Jesus? You know as well as most of us that you can get the upper hand in an argument by offering a long list of controversial conclusions that take long arguments of their own to defend or disprove, and that that mental trick itself causes those who differ with you to give up the argument prematurely.”

      ===================

      Response:

      Why do you call these alleged beliefs of Jesus “staw men”? That implies that I have incorrectly characterized Jesus’ beliefs. You state later that you agree with me on some of my claims about Jesus’ beliefs, so it is unclear whether your intention is to object to the truth of what I have claimed. But then “straw men” seems like the wrong expression to make your criticism.

      You say that I have offered “a long list of controversial conclusions that take long arguments of their own to defend or disprove” in order that “those who differ with you to give up the argument prematurely”. That is not my intention here. I would be more than happy to engage you or anyone else on just one of the specific points I made for as long or as short as you wish. My preference would be that you (or any other critics of my post) hang in there with me for an extended dialogue or debate and NOT give up easily or quickly.

      If I’m right on a particular point, then an extended discussion or debate on that point will probably reveal that I am right. If I’m wrong on a particular point, then an extended discussion or debate on that point will probably reveal that I’m wrong on that point. Sound bites and talking points won’t get us very far along the path to truth.

      I agree with you that my claims about Jesus in this post are controversial. I agree with you that claims about what Jesus believed or taught are subject to reasonable disagreement by well-informed and thoughtful people. I agree with you that to deal with just one of these claims in an adequate and nonsuperficial way would require a lengthy discussion. I don’t expect anyone to be persuaded on any of the controversial claims I make just because I make them.

      I’m opening up my head to let you and others see what is in my thinking, to let you see how I look at the world, to see how I think about Jesus. If you disagree with something I claimed about Jesus, then say so, and please explain why you think differently, so that we can have an intelligent discussion of that disagreement.

      I would not expect anyone to try to respond to all of my points. If someone wants to object to one or two of my claims that is just fine with me. I would hope that you and others would not focus too much on what seems to be a stupid or obviously false point, if some of my points seemed so. I would hope that you and others would focus on one or two of my points that seemed strong or plausible to see if it holds up under careful scrutiny and extended discussion.

      • Nebulous

        Bradley – I will discuss in depth any one of your 11 main points if you will first tell me where your objective right/wrong, good/bad, moral/immoral, or however you want to describe it comes from.

        I know how the sentence above may sound. You don’t know me yet, but you’ll never find me to be disingenuous. I make that offer sincerely.
        ~N

        • Bradley Bowen

          Sure. I will assume that you are sincere until you give me reason to think otherwise.

          Let’s clean up your question a bit first before I get too deep into trying to answer it.

          The word “where” seems metaphorical rather than literal in your question. Locations in space don’t seem relevant to questions of ethics and metaethics. So, we need to get rid of the metaphorical language and come up with something more literal, if possible.

          The subject of your question is also a bit unclear “objective right/wrong, good/bad, moral/immoral”. These are adjectives, and you are missing a noun for the adjectives to operate upon. Typically “right/wrong” and “moral/immoral” are applied to actions.

          But you are NOT asking the question “Where do right/wrong actions come from?” for that question has an easy answer: people or agents of some kind. People or agents perform actions, and it is (primarily) actions that we think of as being right or wrong, moral or immoral.

          So, what I think you meant to ask was not a question about where actions come from, but where my standards or criteria for evaluating actions as right or wrong come from. Obviously not from God, at least not in my view of “where” they come from.

          Since the preferred answer of Christian believers and of western theists in general is that standards or criteria for evaluation of actions “come from God” or “ought to come from God”, that is presumably the reason for the use of the phrase “where do they come from?” in your question.

          Of course a false criterion or standard could “come from God” in that God might tell me about a standard used by Satan to evaluate human actions: “The more suffering and confusion that results, the better.” In telling me about that standard, God would not be commending or approving of the standard, so if I adopted that standard, it would not be God’s fault. God would not have deceived me about the standard, and yet the standard would have, in a literal sense, “come from God”.

          So, for a standard or criterion of morality to have the authority of God behind it, requires something more than just that it “came from God”. In any case, it is not really “coming from God” that matters. It is some sort of divine authorization or commendation that is in view. Furthermore, I suspect that the point is that authorization or commendation of a standard of morality that comes from God is viewed as a sufficient condition for justified belief in the correctness of that standard.

          OK. Maybe I can formulate your question a bit more clearly now:

          How do you arrive at a justified belief (or knowledge) that a given standard used for evaluation of the moral rightness or wrongness of an action is a true or correct standard?

          Do I have your question correct? Do you want to clarify or modify the question a bit more?

          • Nebulous

            Bradley –

            Impressive. I gave you credit for being able to discern what I meant to ask (as it’s a standard question), so I didn’t try to be too precise in my wording. It’s unfortunate that you used the same word “where” that I did in the same sense after you were done critiquing my word choices ["what I think you meant to ask was not a question about where actions come from, but where my standards or criteria for evaluating actions as right or wrong come from"]. But let’s not belabor that. It seems distracting and unprofitable.

            I’ll restate my question. I can state objectively that driving through an intersection while the traffic light facing you at that intersection is red is illegal in the United States (unless you are a police officer, fire fighter, or ambulance driver who is driving an emergency vehicle and are responding to an emergency with the siren on). There is an objective and authoritative standard of what is legal/illegal, and I can point to that standard to prove my statement is true.

            To what objective, authoritative source can you point to prove that “slavery, sexism, cruelty, injustice, irrationality, superstition, sociocenrism [sic], pacifism (i.e. tolerance of oppression)” are “evils” (as you called them).

            Suppose I say all of those are perfectly delightful and good, and that “since” Jesus taught all of those things, God would naturally be inclined to resurrect Him? Upon what would your whole argument stand?

            BTW, when we’ve bled this issue enough, I’d like you to choose any one point from your list of 11 “reasons for believing that Jesus did NOT rise from the dead” and we’ll discuss it in detail.

            ~N

          • Bradley Bowen

            Nebulous said…

            To what objective, authoritative source can you point to prove that “slavery, sexism, cruelty, injustice, irrationality, superstition, sociocenrism [sic], pacifism (i.e. tolerance of oppression)” are “evils” (as you called them).

            =======================

            Response:

            This re-statement of the question is clearer than your previous question. However, my first impression is that this is a loaded question (like “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”), a question that assumes a Christian or theistic point of view. I was looking for a more neutral statement of the question at issue than this.

            Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but I will have to think about this a bit before I accept your question as a fair one.

            Here are some similar questions to think about (I will be thinking about these analogous questions):

            –>To what objective, authoritative source can you point to prove that there are five fingers on your right hand?

            –>To what objective, authoritative source can you point to prove that 2+2 = 4?

            –> To what objective, authoritative source can you point to prove that inductive reasoning is legitimate?

            –>To what objective, authoritative souce can you point to prove that other persons with minds exist besides yourself?

            –>To what objective, authoritative source can you point to prove that your sensory experiences are NOT being caused by a deceptive god? or that you are NOT a brain in a vat?

            Are these questions fair and reasonable questions? If not, then the problem (or problems) with these questions may also be a problem (or problems) with your question.

          • Nebulous

            Let’s try again:

            Is there an objective standard of evil/non-evil?

            I am intentionally using your own word, “evil,” which you used in relation to the 11 claims you made about Jesus. Your entire argument in the article hinges upon these being evil. Otherwise there would be no way to conclude that a god (if one existed) wouldn’t resurrect Jesus.

            If there is an objective and/or authoritative standard – the way that the law books are objective and authoritative regarding running red lights – then what is that standard and/or how can one know it.

            I think this restatement of the question is adequate and that you could answer it directly However, if you still don’t like it, then please rephrase my question the way you think I mean it.

            Although I do believe precise language is often important, it is also limited. Words themselves are just symbols whose meaning we’ve (sort of) agreed upon. Perhaps that is a good parallel for your answer? Is some action evil/non-evil only to the extent that a given word does/doesn’t mean what a dictionary says it means?

            I think we could have better conversation without overdoing semantics.

            So, please either:
            1. Respond directly to my restated question (and its context) at the top of this reply, or

            2. Restate what you believe I mean by my question with language that satisfies you.

          • Nebulous

            Bradley – I expect you will offer a much more thoughtful reply than Steve Carr did above. I’m looking forward to discussing it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            ‘If there is an objective and/or authoritative standard – the way that the law books are objective and authoritative regarding running red lights -’

            You mean you will regard human opinion as objective and/or authoritative?

            Are you saying that Jesus could do no evil, because whatever Jesus did was good, because Jesus said so?

          • Nebulous

            Steven – I mean no disrespect by the statement, but I simply don’t feel that I can hold a conversation with you. Your disrespectful tone, your ill formed thoughts, your lack of trying to understand what I am saying and then ascribing ludicrous conclusions to me – these prevent real study and useful discussion. I would just prefer to tell you that up front rather than dissing you without comment.
            ~N

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            Why not just provide some evidence that your Jesus really did fly into the sky on his way to Heaven, as ‘witnessed’ by ‘eyewitnesses’, rather than resort to personal abuse?

            It can’t be done, hence your refusal to talk to somebody who points out that Christianity is on a par with people who claim a second gunman shot JFK.

            The fact remains that we know from 1 Corinthians 15 that even Christian converts must have been scoffing at the very idea of their god choosing to raise corpses. Paul tells them that Jesus ‘became a life-giving spirit’.

          • Nebulous

            Steven Carr -

            My comment was intended to display respect, not personal abuse.

            I am interested in reason, not combat. I am interested in discovering truth, not winning a contest.

            You have far too much angst for the sort of reasonable discussion I’m drawn to. That angst taints both your questions and your responses and, for me, detours conversation in unhealthy ways.

            Perhaps others will be enticed by your combat. It simply holds zero appeal to me.

            ~N

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            Well, you could always produce some evidence that Joseph of Arimathea existed.

            To everybody looking at this thread, it looks like you just ran away from that challenge.

          • Nebulous

            Steven -

            Thanks for the confirmation. I’m sorry it is that way.

            ~N

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            I’m sorry also that you are so taken in by this crazy theory that someone rose from the dead, flew into the sky, and the authorities knew what happened and hushed it up.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Thank you for hanging in there with me. I appreciate your patience.

            You have now asked three questions, which is fine with me:

            1. Is there an objective standard of evil/non-evil?

            2. What is that standard of evil/non-evil?
            3. How can one know it?
            I will probably want to clarify these questions a bit, but these are more neutral sounding than the previous question. This is progress.

          • Nebulous

            That is a fair summary. I will look forward to your replies to these questions.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Continued thoughts about Q1….

            I have briefly discussed the general form of Q1:

            “Is there an X?”

            Now I would like to focus on the general concept within X:

            “an objective standard of…”

            It seems like this would contrast with the phrase “a subjective standard of…” But does the idea of a “subjective standard” even make sense? If so, what would be some examples of a “subjective standard”?

            Matters of taste and personal preference are considered to be “subjective”, so one way that a standard could be subjective is by being based upon a personal preference. If a man prefers to date women with blonde hair rather than women with red hair or brown hair, then that would be a personal preference. The standard would be something like: “Must have blonde hair”. This standard would be reasonably called a “subjective standard” because the basis of the standard is a personal preference, so the standard has no authority or rationale for people who don’t share that personal preference.

            A different sense of “subjective standard” is implied in the notion of an “objective test” which is a multiple-choice or True/False test, I believe. The implication is that essay and short-answer tests are subjective in nature.

            Tests are a sort of standard for evaluation of students or of student learning. So, some tests are thought to be more “objective” and other tests are thought to be more “subjective”, which suggests that standards for evaluation of students can be more objective or more subjective, and there would appear to be degrees of subjectivity and objectivity in testing.

            But whether a test is “objective” or “subjective” it is not based on personal preference, or it need not be. Specifically, the answers in an essay test may require some interpretation on the part of a grader, but this does not mean that the grade is based on the personal preferences of the grader. So, it appears that in some sense of “subjective standard” there can be a rational basis for the standard as well as for the evaluations that are produced by use of that standard.

            Some examples to consider:

            “An objective standard of health.”

            “An objective standard of logic and reasoning.”

            “An objective standard of automotive performance.”

            “An objective standard of beauty.”

            “An objective standard of intelligence.”

            “An objective standard of mental health”

            “An objective standard of economic health.”

            “An objective standard of political stability.”

          • Nebulous

            Bradley -

            Your examples above are not proper uses of the phrase “objective standard.” Actually, “objective tests” are close in that the answer key (not necessarily fact) is the objective standard for deducting or not deducting a student’s answer from his or her 100% grade (not necessarily for determining whether the answer was right or wrong at a level that is above the test itself).

            I’m using the word OBJECTIVE in the sense of:
            “not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings; fair or real”
            (Cambridge Dictionary of American English).

            I’m using the word STANDARD in the sense of:
            “An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; a criterion. An object that under specified conditions defines, represents, or records the magnitude of a unit.
            (American Heritage Dictionary)

            Since that American Heritage definition creates a sort of circular definition for our discussion by including the word “object” in the definition of “standard,” I’m using its 5th definition of OBJECT as:
            “Something intelligible or perceptible by the mind.”

            EVIL, as I’m using it, is:
            “the condition of being immoral, cruel, or bad, or an act of this type.”
            (Cambridge Dictionary of American English)

            Putting those together, I am using the phrase “objective standard of evil” to mean:
            “Something intelligible or perceptible to the mind that – without the influence of personal beliefs or feelings – serves as a criterion for determining whether an action or thought is immoral, cruel, or bad.”

            Bradley – I realize that we can continue defining words ad infinitum. In the above definitions we could continue to define the words perceptible, personal, beliefs, feelings, criterion, determine, action, thought, immoral, cruel, and bad for example.

            By the time we finish that discussion, Jesus will have already come again and the true answer will have been made objective and explicit ;-).

            Do you have enough to go on here to answer your best understanding of my question?

            ~N

          • Nebulous

            Wow, I have no idea what happened in that post! It looked fine before I submitted it. Hmmm. Conspiracy against theists? [kidding]. I think my use of angle brackets (greater than/less than signs) messed it up. Please give me a few moments here to rewrite it. It would be great if after I do, the moderator could delete the bad one.

            ~N

          • Nebulous

            What I did in that munged post was choose to use “angle brackets” to offset a parenthetical thought. I knew that I shouldn’t do that, but I did it mindlessly and without wrong motives.

            Still, the code behind the discussion forum is the objective standard for what is good and bad in post writing here, and it determined that my use of those symbols was bad irrespective of my innocent intentions. So I suffered the consequences irrespective of my innocent intentions.

          • Nebulous

            Bradley -

            (I posted this earlier but the displayed post was garbled up. I think I’ve fixed it)

            Your examples above are not proper uses of the phrase “objective standard.” Actually, “objective tests” are close in that the answer key (not necessarily fact) is the objective standard for deducting or not deducting a student’s answer from his or her 100% grade (not necessarily for determining whether the answer was right or wrong at a level that is above the test itself).

            I’m using the word OBJECTIVE in the sense of:

            “not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings; fair or real”

            (Cambridge Dictionary of American English).

            I’m using the word STANDARD in the sense of:

            “An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; a criterion. An object that under specified conditions defines, represents, or records the magnitude of a unit.

            (American Heritage Dictionary)

            Since that American Heritage definition creates a sort of circular definition for our discussion by including the word “object” in the definition of “standard,” I’m using its 5th definition of OBJECT as:

            “Something intelligible or perceptible by the mind.”

            So, in the United States someone may say that a ruler is the objective standard for determining whether something is an inch long, but that is not exactly true. It is true only insofar as the ruler’s “inch” corresponds to an inch as determined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (I think that’s the authority, I could be wrong).

            EVIL, as I’m using it, is:

            “the condition of being immoral, cruel, or bad, or an act of this type.”

            (Cambridge Dictionary of American English)

            Putting those together, I am using the phrase “objective standard of evil” to mean:

            “Something intelligible or perceptible to the mind that – without the influence of personal beliefs or feelings – serves as a criterion for determining whether an action or thought is immoral, cruel, or bad.”

            Bradley – I realize that we can continue defining words ad infinitum. In the above definitions we could continue to define the words perceptible, personal, beliefs, feelings, criterion, determine, action, thought, immoral, cruel, and bad for example.

            By the time we finish that discussion, Jesus will have already come again and the true answer will have been made objective and explicit ;-).

            Do you have enough to go on here to answer your best understanding of my question?

            ~N

          • Bradley Bowen

            Your clarification is helpful, but it appears to beg the question.
            It begs the question, I think, in my favor.
            How do I know that cruelty is evil? Because that is part of the meaning of the word “evil” (according to you).
            In defining the word “evil” you have provided a criterion for determining whether something is in fact evil. If an action is cruel, then it is an evil action, or it is at least prima facie evil (it is evil unless there are other relevant considerations that outweigh or cancell out this consideration).
            Also, your definition introduces another problem: the concept of a perception that can occur “without the influence of personal beliefs”. This idea appears to involve a logical contradiction. This appears to be an incoherent concept, at least on the surface.
            A perception is a cognitive event, a form of cognition or coming to know something. How can one of my cognitions occur without any influence from my other beliefs? Beliefs exist in logical networks in the mind. Beliefs are not separate little BBs in a bag. So, it seems to me that any cognition that I have cannot help but be influenced by other beliefs in my mind. The other beliefs provide a context in which that cognition has meaning and significance and (perhaps most importantly) plausability.
            If a new belief clearly contradicts some other beliefs I already hold, then to the extent that I am aware of this contradiction and to the extent that I am a rational person, this will raise doubt about the truth of this new belief.

          • Nebulous

            Bradley – I am having trouble seeing how my definition begs the question. The question is whether an objective standard by which to evaluate something as evil/cruel/moral exists.

            If you mean that my definition of evil is circular, I agree: “Evil is cruel, cruelty is evil.” We can only define words with words, and words are by nature abstract (I might say “metaphysical”) symbols. No matter what we attempt to define, we would eventually create a full-circle definition if we followed it all the way through. To complexify it more, evil, immoral, bad, good, etc.are abstract and metaphysical concepts, so we’re attempting to agree upon the meaning (another abstract concept) of an abstract concept with abstract symbols.

            We are also communicating from different starting points, and as much as are each trying to leave our existing understandings out of our definitions, they are affecting how we read each others’ words.

            For example, when I speak of evil I already believe that it is an entity on its own – that it exists apart from actions, thoughts, etc. I also, of course, use the same word to describe or evaluate a quality of an action or thought (as I would use “red” to describe a quality of a fire truck). So to me, the word evil can be used properly both as a noun and as an adjective.

            When you speak of evil, I believe you only consider it to be an adjective. It is a qualitative word, and so we could disagree about the evilness of something the same way we could disagree about something’s redness.

            Maybe in this discussion we could get father if we used the words evil(n) and evil(a) to make clear whether we’re referring to a noun or adjective?

            I would love to discuss evil(n) at some point, but I think our conversation is about evil(a).

            Question:

            Qualitatively, is a thought or action of mine:
            1. Only evil(a) if I consider it to be evil(a)
            2. Potentially evil(a) even if I do not consider it to be evil(a)
            3. Never evil(a), regardless of what I consider it to be

            [Side note: You did the same thing when you wrote:
            ..............
            "If a new belief clearly contradicts some other beliefs I already hold, then to the extent that I am aware of this contradiction and to the extent that I am a rational person, this will raise doubt about the truth of this new belief."
            ..............
            The words "clearly," "rational." and "truth" are abstract concepts that raise the same questions as "evil" or "moral"].

            jb

          • Bradley Bowen

            Nebulous –

            I don’t think we need to completely pin down the meaning of “evil” at this point, so I’m going to make an attempt to give you some kind of answer to (Q1), and then we can work through issues of clarification as necessary to support or defend our respective views.

            I will try to be a bit less cautious and a bit more open about my beliefs since you have been willing to patiently hang in there with me on this topic.

            Q1. Is there an objective standard of evil/non-evil?

            In this context “evil” relates to actions. The word “evil” can be used in other ways in other contexts, but here it means, roughly, very bad actions. So, if a child steals a candy bar from the local grocery store, that action would be morally wrong, but since it is a relatively minor theft, it would be odd and excesive to say that this action was evil.

            We normally reserve the word “evil” for more serious wrong doing, like murder, torture, rape, especially when such wrong doing occurs on a large scale serial murderers, and serial rapists are considered to be evil and to have done evil.

            In any case, what I have in mind is actions that are morally wrong, and especially ones that are serious or extreme in their moral wrongness.

            So, in order to answer (Q1), we really ought to start by trying to answer a closely related question:

            Q1A. Is there an objective standard for determining whether an action is morally right or morally wrong?

            We can worry about the subtle difference between “morally wrong” and “evil” later, if need be.

            My initial response to this question, setting aside my concerns about the precise meaning of “objective standard”, is that I believe that morality is objective, to a degree. What actions are morally right and morally wrong is not a matter of personal preference or personal taste.

            Morality is objective in that the same “rules” apply to all persons in all places at all times, kind of ike the laws of physics. There is not a French morality, and a German morality, and a Spanish morality, and a Chinese morality. There is not a 1st century morality, and a 12th century morality, and a 19th century morality.

            However, morality is, I believe, also subjective to some degree. I think one reason why it is subjective is that there is no one single purpose or interest or “objective” that all actions can be measured against.

            So, in one sense, I do not think there is a single “standard” of morality, or better, there is no one criterion of morality. Rather there are multiple criteria, which makes morality into a messier business than we might desire it to be. However, morality is not the only sort of evaluation that involves multiple criteria.

            Q4. Is there an objective standard for the evaluation of the health of an economy?

            I have been discussing this question with my nephew recently, and I argued that although there are several criteria that may reasonably be used to measure the health of an economy, in order to come up with an overall evaluation, one must select which of the many available criteria to use and assign a specific weight to each of the criteria. Some criteria are clearly more significant than others and deserve to be given more weight in the determination of an overall evaluation.

            The same thing is true, I believe, for any kind of evaluation that involves taking multiple criteria into account.

            Some criteria may be obviously irrelevant for evaluating the health of an economy. Other criteria may be of obvious relevance for this purpose. But when various criteria point us in different directions, we heed to synthesize that information into a single grade or evaluation, and that requires giving a relative weight to each of the criteria.

            There are clear-cut cases of unhealthy economies. This happens when most of the relevant criteria point in the same negative direction. There are clear-cut cases of healthy economies. This happens when most of the relevant criteria point in the same positive direction. But when many of the criteria point in a negative direction, and many in a positive direction, then subjectivity enters the picture as we assign weights to the individual critieria.

            Now through experience over time, different weightings of criteria can be compared and evaluated at a higher level. So, we might be able to approach a greater degree of objectivity on the basis of experience, which can reveal that giving certain criteria a great weight may be misleading or wrong-headed or cause us to neglect other considerations which end up producing very negative results. So, it seems to me that although the weighting of criteria may be unavoidably subjective in the short term, this subjectivity could be reduced on the basis of experience over the long term.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            ‘There is an objective and authoritative standard of what is legal/illegal, and I can point to that standard to prove my statement is true.’

            So you don’t need a god for objective standards…..

  • General Nate
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

      Let’s start from the start.

      ‘ Joseph of Arimathea’

      Find one Christian in the first century who named himself as ever having even heard of this second gunman who shot JFK, sorry, ever even having heard of Joseph of Arimathea….

      Or name somebody who had ever even heard of Arimathea….

      • Nebulous

        I’ll name 5 – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Nicodemus

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

          In other words, you failed miserably, as the Gospellers hid behind a cloak of anonymity, plagiarising each other and the Old Testament.

          I asked for people who named themselves, not anonymous cowards who refused to let people know who they were.

          At least the people who went to their graves claiming they had seen Joseph Smith’s Golden Plates were people whose names we know.

          • Nebulous

            It would be great if you would learn a little about what you’re saying before you say it.

            What historical support is there for Joseph Smith’s witnesses that is missing for Joseph of Arimathea’s witnesses?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

            There are no witnesses for Joseph of Arimathea, just anonymous writers who plagiarised each other.

            No Christian in the first century named himself as ever even having heard of Arimathea, let alone Joseph of Arimathea. He is as unknown to history as the second gunman who shot JFK.

            By contrast, David Whitmer went to his grave insisting that his testimony be placed on his tombstone.

            All Christians have is a conspiracy theory just like the people who say a second gunman shot JFK, or that Bush planned 9/11.

            Christians even wrote a document where they say the government hushed up the resurrection.

            Gosh, who would have thought that supporters of a conspiracy theory actually think they are credible?

            If I want to listen to people babble on about how the authorities knew it had happened, but hushed it up, there are far more interesting conspiracy theories than the Christian one.

  • junaid

    Yesterday 3 bloggers of Bangla blog community have been arrested for not
    believing in any organized religion and for criticizing of the
    religious fundamentalism, religious institutions and religious Dogmas.
    Few days back, 84 freethinker bloggers were listed by some religious
    fundamentalist groups named ‘Hefajat e Islam”
    and the list was submitted to the government to arrest them and to
    impose Blasphemy law on them. I’m one of the listed bloggers, and In
    January, I was stabbed brutally by some Al-Qaeda terrorist group in
    Dhaka. And after one month, Blogger Rajib Haidar was slaughtered by the
    same group. Now our co called secular government are doing the rest of
    the job.

    There was a time in the 17-18th century in Europe
    when women who excelled in knowledge, science and philosophy more than
    men were blamed for witchcraft and were burned alive by the churches and
    their theocratic government. Education and thus advancement for women
    has always been a threat for radicalism so this is why the church and
    the government indulged in burning the progressive women by branding
    them as witches.

    The exact same situation is in Bangladesh
    right now. The whole new generation who brought in a revolution in
    Bangla blog community with their advancement in science, philosophy and
    critical mind, who wrote against the religious fundamentalism and in
    favor of our great liberation war, freedom of speech, secularism and
    democracy will be burned alive just like witch-hunt in the late middle
    ages.

    Religious sentiments are so easy to be offended, that
    sentiment is always ready to be hurt. Religious fundamentalist always
    search google, facebook and youtube for the contents that hurts their
    sentiment and always cry to stop those Blasphemy! I don’t know who told
    them to search those things and hurt themselves! This is so ridiculous
    and nonsense.

    Religious feelings can be hurt in a number of
    ways. The mass slaughter of cows at Muslim ‘Qurbani’ festivals may be
    offensive for the Hindus who worship the Cows as gods. Similarly, public
    worship of idols, celebrating the Bangla New Year and giving flowers at
    the Shahid Minar in a Muslim-dominated country can offend a true
    follower of Islam because all of the cultures are forbidden in Islam.
    Moreover, followers of other religion might not accept or feel insulted
    when someone says that ‘Islam is the best religion in the world’, or it
    might hurt Muslims when a Hindu person claims that all humans are born
    as Hindus. So as a matter of fact, if you want to prohibit the criticism
    on religion, you have to prohibit the statements that go in favor of
    the religion also.

    The general people who take religion as a
    part of humanism, aren’t really interested in such propaganda that
    relates to religious ignominy but when things like these are used in
    political deceptive maneuvers, they make people believe that their own
    religion is endangered and to protect it they have to take part in war,
    murder, rape and what not. This was exactly how the genocide of 1971 was
    planned in Bangladesh, in the name of Islam, Pakistan army killed
    3000000 of our people and raped more than 200000 women.

    So
    Insulting religion is obviously a political issue, political leaders
    just want to use religions for their dirty politics and to save the
    religion, they want middle aged laws to be imposed and to promote
    religion based education system which is not compatible with modern age.
    The listed bloggers were solely doing the right job to separate
    religion from politics and the state. When religion remains out of the
    politics which gets dirty at times, it will remain sacred and then no
    one will ever want to disrespect it, or insult it.

    To drag
    religion into politics and playing with it like a football is the real
    offense towards religion. So separating the religion from the state is
    the primary concern of the Blogger community in Bangladesh, also to save
    the religions from being insulted.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Junaid said…

      Yesterday 3 bloggers of Bangla blog community have been arrested for not
      believing in any organized religion and for criticizing of the
      religious fundamentalism, religious institutions and religious Dogmas.
      Few days back, 84 freethinker bloggers were listed by some religious
      fundamentalist groups named ‘Hefajat e Islam”
      and the list was submitted to the government to arrest them and to
      impose Blasphemy law on them. I’m one of the listed bloggers, and In
      January, I was stabbed brutally by some Al-Qaeda terrorist group in
      Dhaka. And after one month, Blogger Rajib Haidar was slaughtered by the
      same group. Now our co called secular government are doing the rest of
      the job.

      =======================
      Response:
      I’m sorry to hear that you are being attacked and persecuted simply for thinking independently and critically about religious beliefs and practices and expressing your thoughts to others. I hope that one day you will be able to think your own thoughts and express them without fear of retaliation. I’m very greatful to be able to think independently and critically about religious beliefs without having to fear retaliation.

  • Daniel Sharp

    Bradley,

    One problem I have with your arguments that Jesus was a bad person is the assumption that a lack of stated opposition to the evils in the world (like sexism, slavery and the like) is the same as support for them. It’s true that there is no documented case of him teaching against every single type of evil in the world, but that does not mean he endorsed it. When you include the fact that Jesus’ principal teachings (as recorded in the Bible) deal with loving everyone, and doing good to others, it seems clear what his opinions would be on some of the evils you mentioned in your list.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Daniel – Good point. This is a fairly obvious objection, so I’m surprised that you are the only person to have raised this objection.

      I don’t think your objection will work, but I will need to respond to you about this a bit later. I will try to do so tonight.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Daniel Sharp said:

      When you include the fact that Jesus’ principal teachings (as recorded in the Bible) deal with loving everyone, and doing good to others, it seems clear what his opinions would be on some of the evils you mentioned in your list.

      ==========================

      Response:

      At Lake Wobegon, “All the children are above average.” This is humerous, in part, because we recognize the truth about parents and human nature captured in this statement. Parents tend to view their children in a positive light, and they often do not appreciate when teachers point out flaws or shortcomings in their children. “My lIttle Johnny would never threaten to beat up another child.”

      Love is blind. When you care about a person or admire a person, that can create a bias towards seeing the good in that person and a blindness in seeing the flaws and the dark side of that person. When I was a young man, I loved Jesus, and I admired Jesus, and I saw his virtues and his good side, but I was blind to his flaws and unable to see a dark side of Jesus.

      So, when I criticize Jesus, my intention is not to say that Jesus was purely evil. That would be idiotic. Though I’m no longer emotionally attached to Jesus, I freely admit that Jesus was indeed “above average”. He definitely had some admirable qualities, some good ideas, and a bright side. When I point to flaws in Jesus and point to a dark side in Jesus I am doing so to help those who are blinded by love and admiration to these truths about Jesus.

      What is clear to me, but not to those who are blinded by love and admiration for Jesus, is that Jesus was a flawed and imperfect human being, not a morally perfect and sinless person.

      One thing that I admire about Jesus was that he set the bar high in terms of morality. Jesus didn’t just ask people to be a little less bad a little less selfish. Jesus urged people “To be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He demanded that the Rich Young Ruler sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. He demanded not only that we refrain from violence towards others, but that we show love and compassion, that our good behavior be not for show but flow naturally out of good will towards others.

      Jesus said that we would all be judged by the measure that we use to judge others. Given that Jesus promoted very high standards of morality, I think it is quite appropriate that Jesus be judged by a high standard of morality, and when I do this, having left the blindness of love and admiration behind, I find that, despite his admirable and positve qualities, Jesus had significant moral flaws, and Jesus had a dark side.

      • Daniel Sharp

        Thanks for replying by the way. I got to this post from your post about types of debaters, and I hope we can be from the rational camp and have a nice discussion.

        So really you’re just saying that Jesus isn’t perfect and God being perfect, wouldn’t want to resurrect someone who wasn’t an example of perfection? If you agree that he is actually pretty good, and significantly better than average, I think God would want to make him an example for the rest of us average or less than average people. Especially since a big part of the message of Christianity, and thus the Christian God, is that grace and mercy make up for our human frailties. I believe that Jesus was perfect, but even if he wasn’t this could be a powerful example/opportunity for God to show mercy.

        You are also assuming what God’s message and purpose in resurrecting Jesus would be. Someone else, and even you I think, have mentioned the difficulty in assuming what an absolutely perfect and omniscient being would do.

        • Bradley Bowen

          Daniel Sharp said:

          So really you’re just saying that Jesus isn’t perfect and God being perfect, wouldn’t want to resurrect someone who wasn’t an example of perfection? If you agree that he is actually pretty good, and significantly better than average, I think God would want to make him an example for the rest of us average or less than average people. Especially since a big part of the message of Christianity, and thus the Christian God, is that grace and mercy make up for our human frailties. I believe that Jesus was perfect, but even if he wasn’t this could be a powerful example/opportunity for God to show mercy.

          ==============

          Response:

          If the resurrection of Jesus clearly communicated the message that “Although Jesus was a morally flawed human being, God demonstrated his love and mercy towards all humans by raising Jesus from the dead” then I would agree with you.

          But that is NOT the message that billions of Christians received or understood from the resurrection of Jesus. What was received or understood by billions of Christian believers was the message that “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.

          Now should God have anticipated that this was the message that would be received? Yes, because God is omniscient (unlimited in knowledge). Being omniscient God would know the future. Or if you follow Swinburne’s limited notion of omniscience, God would know every fact and detail about human psychology and human behavior and communication with human beings, etc. And God would have the intelligence to utilize this unimaginably massive amount of relevant data in order to make very reliable (though not absolutely certain) predictions about what sort of messages humans would receive from the resurrection of Jesus.

          But Jesus was a false prophet who encouraged others to pray to and to worship a false god (i.e. Jehovah). Jehovah promoted mass murder, slavery, sexism, sociocentrism, authoritarianism, and other great evils. So, Jesus did not merely fail to take a stand against mass murder, slavery, sexism, and sociocentrism (for example) but he promoted these evils by promoting worship and prayer to a deity who advocated and promoted those evils.

          An obvious reason why Jesus did not speak out against mass murder, slavery, sexism, and sociocentirsm, is that to do so would be to stand in opposition to Jehovah, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

          Because Jesus was a false prophet who encouraged others to worship and pray to Jehovah, Jesus actively promoted great evils, and I cannot believe that an omniscient and perfectly good person would want billions of people to be deceived by the resurrection of Jesus so that they would think that a person who actively promoted the evils of mass murder, slavery, sexism, and sociocentrism was his “beloved son” in whom he “was well pleased”. So, an omniscient and perfectly good person would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus, not in favor of it.

          • Daniel Sharp

            I agree that based upon the assumptions/decisions you have come to about the nature of God, Jehovah, and Jesus, God would not want to endorse that. I heartily disagree with you on some of your assumptions, but I’m not sure how good a job I would do debating those with you, especially since I am ok with the Bible being wrong sometimes.

            For example, you say that: “Jehovah promoted mass murder, slavery, sexism, sociocentrism, authoritarianism, and other great evils. ” I would say that the Israelites claimed their deity approved of their wicked decisions, or that they revised their sacred stories/texts to approve of their historical actions. I would also be willing to say that some of those problems were rooted in the culture and intellectual development of the world at that time. Basically every society was sexist, sociocentric, had slavery and did bad things. I’m ok with God realizing that and taking baby steps. Assuming again that he is not all knowing, but greatly respects the agency and free will of mankind, he might be willing to take the long view, working on the human race a little bit at a time. Jesus taught that everyone should love everyone, and yeah, Christians haven’t been good at following that. Does that mean God was not-omniscient because people are still bad and interpret the things he says wrong? I don’t think so.

            As an example, I think most Americans would agree that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the like were great men and politicians. We celebrate their achievements and remember them for those good things. Some Americans are stupid and evil and whatnot, and take their “teachings” to mean many different things. We’ve been involved in lots of wars and not so great things. Even those Founding Fathers did “bad” things in their lives, and had slaves and were sexist and such. But that doesn’t lessen the impact of their lives.

            I know that is not a perfect example, because I can’t think of any other good examples of someone claiming to be the Son of God and come back from the dead.

            Another thought: Another of Jesus main teachings was that the Jews as a whole had gone astray. He was always criticizing the Pharisees and Rabbis and such for their misinterpretation of the gospel of God. So it’s not implausible that he was trying to correct the falsehood and false practices (like all the bad things you mentioned) that had become associated with his Father, and teach the true doctrines and practices of Jehovah.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            I heartily disagree with you on some of your assumptions, but I’m not sure how good a job I would do debating those with you, especially since I am ok with the Bible being wrong sometimes.

            For example, you say that: “Jehovah promoted mass murder, slavery, sexism, sociocentrism, authoritarianism, and other great evils. ” I would say that the Israelites claimed their deity approved of their wicked decisions, or that they revised their sacred stories/texts to approve of their historical actions.

            ================
            Response:

            You and I are in agreement about these aspects of the Old Testament. We agree that “the Israelites claimed their deity approved of their wicked decisions” including approval of mass murder, slavery, and sexism. We see eye to eye on this point.

            But in that case, and assuming for the sake of argument that Jehovah was God (i.e. that Jehovah was an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good, and eternal person), then the claims and teachings of the Old Testament are not merely “mistakes” about Jehovah, they are BLASPHEMY. The Old Testament is falsely attributing great evils to a person who is (on this assumption) actually perfectly good.

            Jehovah and the Old Testament scriptures were viewed as the primary source of moral guidance by Jews, especially in 1st Century Palestine. So, if the source of the ten commandments and the moral teachings of the Old Testament is portrayed as justifying and even promoting mass murder, slavery, and sexism, then a person of moral integrity must stand in OPPOSITION to the Old Testament, and point out the gross blasphemy that is at the heart of the Old Testament.

            Jesus did not merely allow some minor “mistakes” of the Old Testament to slip by unmentioned. Jesus failed to stand in opposition to the hideous Old Testament blasphemy of falsely attribuing the promotion of great evils to a being who was actually morally perfect (if one assumes that Jehovah was in fact God).

            How could the “Son of God” remain silent when his Father was being so horribly slandered?

            Either Jesus recognized that the OT had attributed great evils to Jehovah, or he did not. If he did, then his silence on this matter, and his apparent endorsement of the OT, are themselves a great evil. If he did not, then Jesus was a very morally flawed human being, subject to being deceived about moral issues by his upbringing and culture.

            Either way, Jesus was a morally flawed human being, not the sinless Son of God.

          • Daniel Sharp

            I get what you’re saying. I still don’t think that failing to comment on a topic, or the failure of a comment on a topic to be recorded and handed down to the present time (John, in his record of Jesus teachings, wrote that they could not make record of everything that Jesus spoke), do not constitute approval of the topic (absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence sort of thing).

            Also, I think that Jesus did speak out against the teachings of his time that he found incorrect. You have the whole clearing out the temple of moneychangers, his frequent rebuttals and condemnations of the Pharisees and Sadducees (ex Matthew 16:6-12, all of Matthew 23), his attempts to clear up for his followers what God was actually like (“if you have seen me you have seen the Father” sort of things), and just his general example of being kind, loving and merciful.

            Many of Jesus’ teachings were also about fulfilling/replacing the old laws and ways, and that the Jews had fallen into bad habits and such. He called on people to repent and be good. It seems pretty obvious Jesus was unsatisfied with what Judaism had become, and was seeking to rectify it. Teaching the right way and trying to set an example instead of attacking the establishment/getting angry about the way the OT was interpreted sounds like an issue of picking your battles and picking a less combative teaching style, not an acceptance of the bad stuff.

            It just sounds to me like your reason why you don’t think God would resurrect Jesus is because you don’t think Jesus is divine. That’s like saying you don’t believe God would resurrect Jesus because you don’t believe in God. It’s a perfectly good reason for not believing it, but not a very convincing one in the context of your original post. You essentially said you would assume there is a God for the purpose of this discussion, but you are unwilling to assume that Jesus was divine. In that case of course God wouldn’t resurrect him. Just like a hypothetical non-Judeo-Christian Deity wouldn’t resurrect Jesus either. You’ve created a definition of God for this discussion that by your definition excludes Jesus, so it doesn’t seem to be a point worth making that they don’t get along.

            I’m not trying to downplay your opinion that Jesus isn’t divine. That’s a perfectly valid opinion. But in the hypothetical world of this discussion, it seems a little arbitrary to assume that there is a God but that he isn’t Jesus. That assumption there defines the outcome.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel –

            I appreciate your intelligent and articulate comments and objections. You have a nuanced perspective that differs from the standard Evangelical or Catholic Christian point of view, and I think we have somewhat similar views about the Old Testament and Jehovah-as-portrayed in the OT.

            I will respond to some of your points in the above comments later, but I wanted to thank you now for the interesting and thoughtful discussion.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            I get what you’re saying. I still don’t think that failing to comment on a topic, or the failure of a comment on a topic to be recorded and handed down to the present time (John, in his record of Jesus teachings, wrote that they could not make record of everything that Jesus spoke), do not constitute approval of the topic (absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence sort of thing).

            =====================
            Response:

            It is not merely the failure of Jesus to comment on the gross blasphemy of the Old Testament (assuming that Jehovah was God) or the failure of of Jesus to comment on the evil ways of Jehovah (if we take the OT to be accurate or an athoratative representation of Jehovah and conclude that Jehovah was NOT God) to which I am pointing.

            It is Jesus promotion of worship of Jehovah in conjunction with his promotion of the Old Testament as divinely inspired.

            I would be OK with Jesus promoting the worship of Jehovah if he made it clear that the OT was polluted with blasphemy against God, falsely portraying Jehovah as a promoter of mass murder, slavery, and sexism.

            Conversely, I would be OK with Jesus promoting the view that the OT was in fact inspired by Jehovah, if Jesus then clearly proclaimed that Jehovah was a false deity who was evil, because Jehovah had promoted the evils of mass murder, slavery, and sexism.

            But Jesus did not take either of those options. Instead, Jesus promoted the worship of Jehovah WITHOUT making it clear that the OT portrayal of Jehovah was false and blasphemous, WITHOUT making it clear that the OT was wrong in teaching that Jehovah promoted various great evils.

            This is not a matter of Jesus remaining silent. It is a matter of Jesus speaking up, of Jesus teaching and guiding his followers to worship Jehovah, when given their existing Jewish point of view that meant that they should worship a deity who was a promoter of various great evils.

            If Jesus had either (a) asserted that the OT had blasphemed God in portraying God as a promoter of great evils, or (b) asserted that Jehovah, the God of the OT was a false god (becasue Jehovah had promoted great evils), then that would have raised a great stir and debate with other devout Jews.

            No eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus would forget such a dramatic confrontation between Jesus and other Jews on such a fundamental issue of theology. And to know about such an event but to leave it out of the accounts of Jesus’ life would be a gross deception and a gross distortion of the life and teachings of Jesus.

          • Daniel Sharp

            Quick question, because I’m having trouble finding this. Where does Jesus promote the worship of Jehovah specifically, and not just his Father, or even the true God?

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel -

            This may be a quick question, but the answer is not so quick.

            Think about modern Christian worship services. There is music, singing of hymns, scripture readings, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers for forgiveness, prayers requesting healing and protection from danger, prayers for divine guidance, sermons of moral exhortation, sermons of theological explanation and sermons of scriptural exposition, testimonies, donations/offerings are collected, sometimes there is a celebration of a holy day (Easter or Christmas, for example).

            In view of modern Christian worship services, we can see that “worship” can be a various and multi-faceted thing.

            Jesus was into: faith healing, exorcism, preaching sermons that included moral exhortation, theological explanation, and scriptural exposition, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers for forgiveness, prayers for healing and protection and guidance, testimonies to God’s power and mercy and healing, and celebration of holy days (such as Passover). All of this activity by Jesus relates to “worship” of God.

            If Jesus was raised by devout Jewish parents (he was), in a community that consisted primarily of Jewish believers (it was), and if Jesus represented himself as a devout Jew (he did) and preached primarily to an audience of Jewish believers (he did), then whenever Jesus used the word “God”, we can conclude that he was referring to “Jehovah” the deity of the Jewish faith, UNLESS Jesus clearly and explicitly disavowed the Jewish faith or the deity worshipped by his fellow Jewish believers.

            As you know, there is no record in the Gospels of Jesus disavowing either the religion of his fellow Jews or rejecting the deity of the Jewish faith.

            If Jesus believed that Jehovah was a false god and he believed in and worshiped some other deity, such as Zeus, Jupiter, Ahura Mazda, or Vishnu, then when Jesus used the word “God” in his preaching and teaching to other Jews, he would have had to explicitly state “I am not talking about the false god ‘Jehovah’; rather, I’m talking about the true god Ahura Mazda.” in order to avoid being misunderstood. Jesus never made any such statement, according to the Gospels.

            Now it is possible that Jesus made such statements but that the early Christians supressed this fact about Jesus’ beliefs and preaching, and that these statements never made it into the Gospels or were purged from the Gospels very early on. If this is the case, however, then the Gospels present a gross distortion of the beliefs and teachings of Jesus, and Christianity is founded upon a BIG FAT LIE.

            But this is a rather unlikely possiblity. People who are born and raised as devout Jews in a community of Jewish believers, usually adopt the Jewish faith (the same goes for any other religious tradition). This would especially be true in a time when religion was very closely bound up with culture and ethnicity, which it was in the first century, especially for the Jews. The very word “Jew” is ambiguous between “believing the Jewish religion” and “being culturally or ethnically Jewish”.

            So, when Jesus speaks of “God” he is referring to “Jehovah”, unless the Gosepls are all presenting us with a big fat lie.

            I have a great deal more to say on this topic, but will save the specific biblical evidence for another response at a later time (maybe tomorrow).

          • Bradley Bowen

            The cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem is a famous and important event in the life of Jesus. This event might well be the main reason why Jesus was crucified:

            Luke 19

            New Revised Standard
            Version (NRSV)
            ========================
            Jesus Cleanses the Temple

            45 Then he [Jesus] entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46 and he said, “It is written,

            ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
            but you have made it a den of robbers.”

            =========================

            In this event, we see Jesus as zealous for the proper woship of God. The God who was worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem was the deity of the Jewish religion: Jehovah. So, in this action Jesus was actively promoting and supporting the worship of Jehovah.

            Furthermore, Jesus quotes from Jewish scripture to justify his aggressive actions. Specifically he makes reference to Isaiah chapter 56 and Jeremiah chapter 7. If you read those chapters, you will see many references to Jehovah as the God who is to be worshiped at the temple:

            ===================

            Isaiah 56

            American Standard
            Version (ASV)

            Thus saith Jehovah, Keep ye justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

            2 Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that holdeth it fast; that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

            3 Neither let the foreigner, that hath joined himself to Jehovah, speak, saying, Jehovah will surely separate me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

            4 For thus saith Jehovah of the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths,
            and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant:

            5 Unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

            6 Also the foreigners that join themselves to Jehovah, to minister unto him, and to love the name of Jehovah, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast my covenant;

            7 even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

            8 The Lord Jehovah, who gathereth the outcasts of Israel, saith, Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own that are gathered.

            ========================

            Jeremiah 7

            American Standard
            Version (ASV)

            7 The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,

            2 Stand in the gate of Jehovah’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of Jehovah, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship Jehovah.

            3 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your
            ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

            4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, are these.

            5 For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute justice between a man and his neighbor;

            6 if ye oppress not the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your own hurt:

            7 then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, from of old even for evermore.

            8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.

            9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods that ye have not known,

            10 and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered; that ye may do all these abominations?

            11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it, saith Jehovah.
            =================
            These prophets of the Jewish sacred tradition clearly identified themselves as prophets of Jehovah, and they clearly worshiped Jehovah and promoted the worship of Jehovah.

            In the very passages that Jesus used to justify his cleansing of the Temple, where Jews would travel from all around the Roman empire and beyond to arrive at Jerusalem and worship Jehovah in that very Temple, Jesus quotes prophets from the Jewish sacred tradition to justify his actions, and in those passages the prophets are clearly and explicitly speaking about the worship of Jehovah.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah by promoting prayer to Jehovah, prayer which includes praise to God:

            Matthew 6

            New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

            Concerning Prayer

            5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
            6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
            8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
            9 “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
            10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
            11 Give us this day our daily bread.
            12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
            13 And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

            ===================
            Jesus does not use the name “Jehovah” here, but as I have argued (above), his references to God (or in this case “Our Father in heaven”) are clearly references to Jehovah, given that Jesus was raised a devout Jew, represented himself as a devout Jew, and spoke primarily to audiences of Jewish believers.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah by promoting the attitude of being thankful towards Jehovah:

            Luke 10

            New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

            Jesus Rejoices

            21 At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you
            have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

          • Daniel Sharp

            I guess my question was more trying to make a distinction between the Jehovah you describe as a false God, and who Jesus was speaking of when he said God/Jehovah. The God that Jesus talks of and the doctrine that he teaches in many ways differs from the negative aspects of Jehovah you focus on. I’ve already shared my thought that the OT authors may have misrepresented Jehovah and his will, so I won’t repeat that. By your own admission Jesus promoted the worship of Jehovah, and that the Gospel that Jesus taught differed greatly from the list of bad things you have as teachings of Jehovah.

            My point is this: If you accept the possibility that the OT as we have it now may not be a faithful rendition of Jehovah’s nature/character, and accept that Jesus taught good things (in opposition to the bad things you find about Jehovah in the OT) including a much more accepting and merciful God, isn’t it possible that Jesus was attempting to correct the misconceptions and is teaching us the more accurate nature of Jehovah? That the merciful, loving and kind God taught in the NT is a more accurate portrayal of Jehovah’s nature?

            I’m not disagreeing that much of the OT account of Jehovah’s nature is disconcerting and theologically difficult to handle at times. I guess I, and many Christians, are just ok with that, for a variety of reasons (including a lack of understanding of God’s plan, what actually happened instead of what was reported by the Jews, an incomplete historic and scriptural record, etc), and instead focus on the loving God taught in the NT.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            My point is this: If you accept the possibility that the OT as we have it now may not be a faithful rendition of Jehovah’s nature/character, and accept that Jesus taught good things (in opposition to the bad things you find about Jehovah in the OT) including a much more accepting and merciful God, isn’t it possible that Jesus was attempting to correct the misconceptions and is teaching us the more accurate nature of Jehovah? That the merciful, loving and kind God taught in the NT is a more accurate portrayal of Jehovah’s nature?

            =====================
            Response:

            I think you and I have a different sense of who Jesus was. Here is a dilemma for you to ponder:

            –> Either Jesus was Spongebob Squarepants or he was not.

            A slightly more clear statement of the dilemma:

            –> Either Jesus belongs at Weenie Hut Juniors or he does not.

            The prophetic tradition in the Jewish faith is one of ‘speaking truth to power’ as illustrated by the prophet Nathan’s confrontation of King David about David arranging for the death of a subordinate (a military commander) in order to take that man’s beautiful wife.

            Jesus was not Spongebob Squarepants and would not fit in at Weenie Hut Juniors. Jesus was like Nathan: ready, willing, and able to speak truth to power, to rock the boat, to call them as he saw them. That is something I admire about Jesus, despite his moral failings and his dark side.

            If Jesus believed that Jehovah was a perfectly good person, and that Jehovah was wrongly portrayed by Moses and the OT as having supported the mass murder of civilians in a war of agression in order to seize land that was owned by others, then Jesus would have spoken up and not kept silent on this matter. Jesus certainly would NOT have pointed to Moses and the OT as authoritative sources of moral and theological truth if he believed that Moses and the OT had so grossly blasphemed against God.

            Jesus was not Spongebob Squarepants in my view. But if Jesus was silent about such blasphemy against God, for fear of being beaten up, or ostracized, or killed, then I am wrong and Jesus was Spongebob Squarepants, and Jesus was a person with a significant moral flaw, who was therefore not the divine Son of God, but was instead, a false prophet.

            If Jesus was, as I believe, a person of integrity and moral courage, then I can only conclude that Jesus, like most of his fellow Jewish believers, did not see a moral issue with Jehovah ordering the mass murder of civilians in order to steal their land. This is a very serious moral failure, because it suggests that Jesus promoted the worship of a false god, a blood-thirsty and morally evil god.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Because our discussion has been long on reasoning and short on facts and data, I will continue to present some facts and data to support my claim that Jesus promoted the worship of Jehovah, and some related ideas.

            I’m going to walk throught the Gospel of Mark, pointing out evidence that is relevant as I go. Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels, so it is a good place to start. The Gospel of John is the latest of the four Gospels, and it is, in my view, worthless as a guide to the beliefs and teachings of the historical Jesus. Matthew and Luke are better, especially where they agree on teachings which are not found in Mark (such agreements are generally attributed to the early written sayings source called Q).

            Matthew is a bit suspect for my purposes here, because it was written by a Jewish Christian for a Jewish Christian audience, so it naturally portrays Jesus as being very Jewish. But that is partly the question at issue here, so Mark is a better, less questionable source to use for this particular question.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Pronouncement About the Sabbath

            25 And he [Jesus] said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food?

            26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.”

            (Mark 2:25-26, NRSV)

            ==================

            In this incident Jesus supports his view of the Sabbath by pointing to a story in the Jewish scriptures. The reference is to 1 Samuel Chapter 21. If you read this passage in 1 Samuel you will find it refers to Jehovah (in verse 6):

            ===================
            1 Samuel 21

            American Standard Version (ASV)

            21 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech came to meet David trembling, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?

            2 And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know anything of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed the young men to such and such a place.

            3 Now therefore what is under thy hand? give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatsoever there is present.

            4 And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.

            5 And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days; when I came out, the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was but a common journey; how much more then to-day shall their
            vessels be holy?

            6 So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread, that was taken from before JEHOVAH, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.

            =================

            I put the name “Jehovah” in ALL CAPITALS to meke it easier to see.

            Notice that Jesus refers to the temple of Jehovah as “the house of God”. This implies that Jesus believed that Jehovah was God, and it implies that Jesus did NOT believe that Jehovah was a false god.

          • Daniel Sharp

            To be clear, I’ve never disagreed that Jesus promoted the worship of Jehovah. From my perspective, Jehovah is just another name for God. I’ve been trying to make a distinction between the supposed character of Jehovah as we can make out from the OT we have today (which is not necessarily the same as the “original” scriptures) and how he/God might actually be. I don’t have any factual grounds for making this distinction, because the case is that the evidence is flawed. Hard to back that up with evidence, I know.

            I’ve mostly been trying to make the case that it is not illogical to think that God would resurrect Jehovah. You have done an excellent job at showing that if: A) Jehovah is a false God, then B) the true God would not resurrect Jesus, a prophet of Jehovah. I can’t dispute that. I do disagree fundamentally on some of your assumptions underlying that logic, but that logic is sound.

            I didn’t feel (and still don’t feel) that it would be effective or productive to go through each of your points and explain why I disagree with them, because you have obviously put in a lot of thought about why you believe those things, and you would probably just go through your thought process again. I can probably find that in previous posts you’ve written.

            My point is this: not all of your assumptions are necessarily true, and I believe that there are other assumptions equally as valid that can explain the same set of facts. It could be that the scriptural record and oral traditions of the Jews are factually flawed, and that the events and wishes of God are different than the records we have today, which could be different from the records of Jesus’ time. A lot of transcription and translation errors have most certainly arisen since ~4000 BCE.

            It could also be that your basis for defining Jehovah as an evil being are flawed. As you mentioned in your post, it is hard to define what is absolutely good and absolutely bad. It is easy to say that it was wrong for the Jews to kill people and conquer other societies, because it goes against the ethics/morals of our more “modern” society. Back then, though, it was just a fact of life. If Jehovah had commanded his people to be pacifists they would have remained in slavery to the Egyptians. You are also assuming the Jehovah did not have good reason for deeming the lives of the Jews over the lives of the people they conquered. Maybe they were are very wicked people who needed to be stopped.

            I realize that I am totally what if’ing here, which isn’t a very good argument, but my point is that all our arguments are based on assumptions about past events and the significance of those events. Your whole argument in this post is based on assumptions you don’t even believe in. You don’t believe that there is a true God to begin with, nor do you think that Jesus was anything more than a man. Yet in this post you ascribe supernatural powers to Jesus (him performing miracles) and to his false god, Jehovah (doing all the bad things you don’t like). You have a whole post about how Jesus is the same name as Joshua, and Joshua was a murdered. Yet in the story of Joshua, he only won because Jehovah knocked down the walls of Jericho. It sounds like you think that Jehovah is a real supernaturally powerful being/deity, just not a very nice one you don’t like.

            I totally accept that you don’t believe in God or Jesus or religion, because of your personal thoughts, beliefs and experiences. I only believe because of mine. It just seems unfair to assume just enough of the beliefs of Christians while not assuming the rest in order to prove them wrong about something. But I guess that is more of a general beef with the Atheist channel here at patheos. I’d love to see some more uplifting things coming out of it, like secular humanists being great people, or how you define morality and goodness and how you decide to be nice and such, and not just article after article trying undermine Christianity.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel –

            Thank you for your many comments and responses. I appreciate your persistence and your articulate explanation and defense of your viewpoint on this subject.

            I’m going to continue a bit more with laying out some facts from the Gospel of Mark and related passages from the OT, but I don’t expect you to comment or respond, or even to read any more of my thoughts on this topic (unless you really want to).

            Thank you for your thoughtful comments and discussion!

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel said:

            You have done an excellent job at showing that if: A) Jehovah is a false God, then B) the true God would not resurrect Jesus, a prophet of Jehovah. I can’t dispute that.

            ==================
            Response:

            Thank you for this concession. I appreciate your honesty in conceding points that you see as correct or reasonable. That is a mark of intellectual integrity, and it also tends to make for better discussions when both sides in a disagreement are willing to concede some points that appear true or reasonable.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel said:

            It could be that the scriptural record and oral traditions of the Jews are factually flawed, and that the events and wishes of God are different than the records we have today, which could be different from the records of Jesus’ time. A lot of transcription and translation errors have most certainly arisen since ~4000 BCE.

            ===================
            Response:

            I agree that the Old Testament writings descriptions of “the events and wishes of God” may be “factually flawed”. In fact, my assumption is that the Old Testament stories about Moses and Jehovah are filled with false and fictional details, events, and characters.

            However, Jesus did not indicate that he had this sort of modern skeptical view of the OT (the view that you and I share). Jesus, from what we see in the Gospels, took the OT to be the inspired Word of God, free from historical errors, or at least reliable in terms of historical claims and details.

            So, even if Jehovah never ordered the Israelites to engage in mass murder of civilians to steal their land, and even if Jehovah never issued commands to make people slaves or issued laws that presumed the moral legitimacy of slavery, and even if Jehovah never issued commands or laws that promoted sexism, in promoting the worship of Jehovah, Jesus was still promoting the worship of a deity who, so far as he knew and believed, commanded or endorsed the mass murder of civilians, slavery, and sexism.

            What matters here is NOT what the real facts are about Jehovah’s actual words and actions. What matters is the beliefs about Jehovah that are promoted in the OT and that were accepted by the majority of Palestinian Jews in the first century. The OT clearly portrays Jehovah as commanding or endorsing mass murder of civilians, slavery, and sexism, and the majority of Palestinian Jews in the first century accepted and believed the OT claims about Jehovah.

            There is no reason to think Jesus was any different in his views on this than the majority of Palestinian Jews of the 1st Century, and there is evidence that supports the common sense view that Jesus agreed with his fellow Jews that the OT accurately described the words and actions of Jehovah.

            The idea that the OT in Jesus day was significantly different from the OT we now possess is grasping at straws. There is no reason to believe that our present OT is significantly different from what Jesus and his fellow Jews possessed in the 1st century, and there is evidence that the OT we possess is NOT significantly different from the OT that was available in the 1st century.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel said:

            It could also be that your basis for defining Jehovah as an evil being are flawed. As you mentioned in your post, it is hard to define what is absolutely good and absolutely bad. It is easy to say that it was wrong for the Jews to kill people and conquer other societies, because it goes against the ethics/morals of our more “modern” society. Back then, though, it was just a fact of life.

            ========================
            Response:

            If in order to justify your faith in Jesus, you find it necessary to justify the mass murder of civilians for the purpose of stealing their land, then perhaps your faith in Jesus needs to be re-examined.

            Christianity is often put forward as being a good thing because it teaches high standards of morality. I concede that there is some truth to this view. However, given that this is one of the main selling points of Christianity over atheism or secular humanism, the fact that Christians are willing to adopt the stance of moral relativism and/or attempt to justify the mass murder of civilians shows that this big selling point of Christianity is empty.

            As an atheist and a secular humanist I’m willing to take a stand against the mass murder of civilians, and against the institution of slavery, and against sexist beliefs and practices. I don’t care if Jehovah says these things are OK. I don’t care if Jesus says these things are OK. I’m against them, and will oppose these things no matter who says they are OK.

            If Christianity is leading you to defend these obviously immoral actions, then that suggests that I”m more than justified in waging intellectual warfare against Christianity. Your comments here are just adding more fuel to my fire.

          • Daniel Sharp

            Bradley, I’m not saying mass murder is fine. I’m saying judging Christianity because people thousands of years ago waged war and killed each other because today we are more enlightened and know we shouldn’t do that is kind of silly. Yes, the Jews fought their enemies and apparently won and were brutal. I don’t think that is cool. Very few Christians would probably think it is cool. Because of that they obviously will feel some need to explain how/why it happened, to reconcile their beliefs/faith with an event that is, as you say, pretty bad. I was merely showing you some possible ways of explaining/dealing with it, not endorsing one.

            I am increasingly convinced that there is nothing I could say that would in any way convince you. You are obviously set and decided in your world view, and that’s ok. I like your previous to last post were you thanked me for an interesting discussion and was hoping we could leave it at that, but now I feel like I have to say something or you’ll somehow use me as a reason why all Christians are amoral people who endorse genocide. I don’t like being made to be the genocide promoter.

            The way your last post was written makes me want to defend the Jews waging war just by the accusatory attitude it includes, even though I don’t agree, so please don’t push me into that box. All I was saying is that there could be reasons why the Jews waging war is ok enough that Christians aren’t bad people just because they did it. Is it bad to hold to philosophies based on the works of Aristotle and Plato because the Roman Empire waged war and killed people? Back to religious examples, is it ok for God to have sent a flood that may have killed lots of people? Or to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? You would probably say no, but I think that is more of a lack of belief in a God to begin with. In both of those cases (and in many other example in the OT) the wicked were commanded to and given many opportunities to repent before they faced their destruction. Another possibility for a theist to reconcile the Jews killing whole cities is that those people were likely to be in rebellion against God in the first place.

            Meh, I have a hard time caring about this argument anyway, because it really isn’t a big deal to me. I don’t think genocide is cool, but the fact that the Jews did such doesn’t bother me.

            Also, a thought for you. I feel like I have been trying to respond to your entire post, to you as a person and your whole argument. However, I feel like you are pulling apart my posts looking for someone to prove me wrong about, and then ignoring the rest of my post and even questions that I pose you. I understand that you are writing an opinion blog trying to make a point, but it is frustrating. So if in the future I stop responding to your comments, just know that I am probably tired of not having a full 2-way conversation. I’m not going to be tired or afraid of talking more because you have “beaten” or “stumped” me or anything, but I may tire of hearing the same points over and over again without receiving a reciprocal respect for my own thoughts and points.

            Anyways, if you don’t want to talk anymore that’s also fine. I’ve had a lot of fun talking to you and learning your view on things. Reciprocal respect and understanding has been my only goal this whole time.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            Bradley, I’m not saying mass murder is fine. I’m saying judging Christianity because people thousands of years ago waged war and killed each other because today we are more enlightened and know we shouldn’t do that is kind of silly.

            Daniel also said:

            All I was saying is that there could be reasons why the Jews waging war is ok enough that Christians aren’t bad people just because they did it. Is it bad to hold to philosophies based on the works of Aristotle and Plato because the Roman Empire waged war and killed people?

            ===================

            Response:

            This is a mischaracterization of my thinking. I am NOT arguing that Jesus was a false prophet because the ancient Jews did bad stuff.

            That is not my argument. The problem is not that the ancient Jews practiced slavery, mass-murder of civilians, wars of aggression, sexist abuses of women, etc. The problem is that they did these bad things on the ORDERS OF, or with the BLESSINGS OF, Jehovah. Furthermore, Jesus was aware that they did these things on the orders of, or with the blessings of, Jehovah, and yet Jesus promoted worship and obedience to Jehovah.

            Germans are not an evil people just because many Germans followed Hitler and supported the mass murder of Jewish civilians. However, if a German today, knowing that Hitler promoted the mass murder of millions of Jews, nevertheless promotes admiration of Adolf Hitler and advocates following the ideas and teachings of Hitler, then that German is a person with a serious moral flaw, and that particlular German cannot possibly be the divine Son of God, nor can that person be the embodiment of God, who is, by definition, a perfectly good person.

            If such a person claimed to be a prophet of God, we could immediately and justifiably infer that that person was a false prophet who had no real communication and fellowship with God who is perfectly morally good.

            The fact that many Germans participated in evil actions and policies seven decades ago does NOT automatically make all Germans bad people. But if a particluar German promotes admiration of Hitler and conformity to the ideas and teachings of Hitler, then that particluar German has demonstrated that he or she has a very serious moral flaw.

            The fact that many ancient Jews participated in evil actions and polices a thousand years before the birth of Jesus does NOT automatically make all Jews in Jesus day bad people. But if a particular Jew promoted worhip and obedience to Jehovah, who according to the OT commanded and endorsed the mass murder of civilians, among various other evil actions and policies, then that particular Jew has demonstrated that he or she has a very serious moral flaw.

            If such a Jew were to claim to be a prophet of God, or to be the divnine Son of God, or to be the embodiment of God on earth, we could immediately and justifiably infer that this person was a false prophet who had no real communication and fellowship with God who is perfectly morally good, and that this person was NOT the divine son of God nor the embodiment of God on earth.

            Jesus was such a Jew, so Jesus was a false prophet, and Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God.

          • Daniel Sharp

            So, we’ve discussed this before, so I’ll try to just summarize and not be overly repetitive. Nice example with the Germans and Hitler by the way.

            The crux of your argument for Jesus being bad, as I understand it, is that Jehovah was a false god who promoted evil things, and Jesus promoted the worship of Jehovah, therefore Jesus is a false.

            The crux of my arguments have been that your argument is based on assumptions that aren’t necessarily true, and that assuming different facts about God and Jesus provide a different picture.

            In my mind, neither of these arguments are really that convincing to the other, because they are both based on assumptions we can’t validate.

            That’s my main comment I feel you’ve ignored; the weakness in assumptions. I totally get that you don’t believe in God and therefore don’t believe in Jesus. I just find it not very convincing for you to start at that point and then create an artificial situation where there is a God who doesn’t like Jesus and therefore doesn’t resurrect him. I could just as easily create a situation where there is a God who likes Jesus and therefore resurrects him even if he isn’t perfect. They’re equally valid assumptions, especially from your point of view that there isn’t a God at all.

            Anyways, I know that we aren’t going to agree on this, because your views on Jehovah and Jesus are very firm, as are mine, and we are both arguing based on the assumptions and beliefs that shape who we are and how we see the world.

            I guess my real question for you is why do you care so much? I’ve never really understood that aspect of atheism. I get that it is definitely annoying being told by theists that you are wrong and probably going to hell and stuff like that, but spend so much effort trying to prove them wrong and convince them of such? I’d love you hear your perspective on that.

            Here are my thoughts on this, just to start this discussion. The basic premise of atheism is that there isn’t a divine being/god and that that is perfectly ok and life is still good and full of meaning and such. I feel that atheists spend an inordinate amount of time fussing over the first part of that premise instead of the second. I would love to read uplifting stories and lessons from secular humanism teaching about how to have a good life and how to rationalize morals and behavior and stuff and philosophize about the meaning of life and such. Instead, it seems like a big chunk of their energy goes towards trying to prove to theists that they are wrong.

            I get that you disagree and that theists are often jerks to atheists, but to theists, their belief in a divine/god shapes the way they view the world and informs their decisions and helps them be good people. Why take that away from them? It makes them happy and gives their life meaning and fulfillment. Yeah, a lot of US Christian groups are extreme and annoying and try to force their opinion on other people. That’s an annoying side effect of believing you know the truth, I guess. Also of having freedom of religion and speech and living in a democracy where people can voice opposing opinions. I feel pretty confident though that most theists are actually just trying to be good people and have meaningful lives and be good to mankind.

            Even if the doctrine and theology of theism isn’t true, it makes a lot of people better and teaches high standards of morality and behavior and character. A lot of theists end up not following those standards and do bad things, but that doesn’t negate the good that comes to many peoples’ lives because of their religious beliefs. So why does atheism want to destroy that? Unless “evangelical” atheists are similar to “evangelical” theists in being a loud vocal minority.

            I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m kind of tired of discussing the previous topic :)

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            I guess my real question for you is why do you care so much? I’ve never really understood that aspect of atheism. I get that it is definitely annoying being told by theists that you are wrong and probably going to hell and stuff like that, but spend so much effort trying to prove them wrong and convince them of such? I’d love you hear your perspective on that.

            [...]

            I get that you disagree and that theists are often jerks to atheists, but to theists, their belief in a divine/god shapes the way they view the world and informs their decisions and helps them be good people. Why take that away from them? It makes them happy and gives their life meaning and fulfillment. …

            ====================
            Response:

            I do care. I feel a powerful tension between what human beings could be and what human beings in fact are, between the ideal and the real, between the values people espouse and the values implicit in their actions, choices, and institutions.

            Human beings are stupid, ignorant, irrational, self-deceived, cruel, self-centered liars, cheaters, and hypocrites, for the most part. But I don’t believe that this is the result of original sin or sinful human nature. I believe this is more a matter of culture and socialization and education than it is of genetics or hard-wiring of the brain. So, the massive extent of human pain and suffering and misery that exists is not necessary. We impose hell on earth on ourselves.

            I oppose religion and faith because they help to perpetuate the ingorance, prejudice, and irrationality of the human species, which I believe to be the primary causes of our ‘fallen’ human condition. Like John Lennon I dream of a day when science, reason, and critical thinking are the normal human ways of arriving at beliefs and of solving problems.

            However, I don’t care all that much. Because I have a dark, pessimistic, and cynical view of humans, it is hard to care deeply about the pain, suffering, and evil that people constantly experience. It is like the suffering and misery of a smoker who gets lung cancer, or the suffering and misery of a drug addict. You feel bad for the person, but you also want to say “Duh! so you thought you could smoke for years and that contrary to established scientific research and widespread experience of smokers getting cancer there would be no price to pay in your case?”

            One of the things that really gets my goat is, interestingly enough, blasphemy. Many believers view the beliefs and opinions that I express as blasphemous. But they are wrong. Furthermore, it is they who blaspheme on a regular basis, by calling what is good ‘Evil’, and calling what is evil ‘Good’. Jesus said there is just one sin that cannot and will not be forgiven, and he implied the sin was blasphemy. I agree with Jesus. But nearly every Christian I know, including you, worships JEHOVAH an evil deity who ordered the mass murder of civilians, and who gave his blessing to slavery, and who relegated women to being property of men.

            Jehovah is evil. Jehovah is a bastard. If there is a hell, Jehovah deserves to burn in hell. These words are considered blasphemy by many, but they are the truth. Those who worship Jehovah are committing blasphemy. They are treating an evil bastard as if he were the paradigm of goodness. I long for the day when the truth is not treated like a lie, and when lies are not promoted as noble truths. I long for a day when blasphemy will end, or at least become a quiet little murmer, like the ramblings of the members of the Flat Earth Society.

            Also, my motivations are not purely moral and altruistic. I enjoy philosophy. I enjoy logical analysis. I enjoy argument and debate. There really is nothing more interesting to me than to discuss and argue about issues like “Does God exist?” “If God existed, what would God be like?” “How can we rationally determine whether God exists or not?” “Do miracles occur?” “What is a miracle?” “How can we rationally determine whether a miracle has occured?” “What makes an action right or wrong?” “Are there objective moral truths?” “How can we rationally determine whether there are objective moral truths?” etc.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            The crux of my arguments have been that your argument is based on assumptions that aren’t necessarily true, and that assuming different facts about God and Jesus provide a different picture.

            In my mind, neither of these arguments are really that convincing to the other, because they are both based on assumptions we can’t validate.

            That’s my main comment I feel you’ve ignored; the weakness in assumptions. I totally get that you don’t believe in God and therefore don’t believe in Jesus. I just find it not very convincing for you to start at that point and then create an artificial situation where there is a God who doesn’t like Jesus and therefore doesn’t resurrect him. I could just as easily create a situation where there is a God who likes Jesus and therefore resurrects him even if he isn’t perfect. They’re equally valid assumptions, especially from your point of view that there isn’t a God at all.

            ========================

            Response:

            The fact that you are not persuaded by my arguments does not show that my arguments are weak or unsound. Furthermore, even if my arguments were weak or unsound that does nothing to show that strong arguments for my claims about Jehovah and Jesus are impossible to construct or find.

            You have not shown that my arguments are weak or unsound, nor have you shown that there is any reason to think that the effort to construct a strong case for my conclusions is doomed to failure.

            Let me respond to the one specific point you do make above:

            “I just find it not very convincing for you to start at that point and then create an artificial situation where there is a God who doesn’t like Jesus and therefore doesn’t resurrect him. I could just as easily create a situation where there is a God who likes Jesus and therefore resurrects him even if he isn’t perfect. They’re equally valid assumptions, especially from your point of view that there isn’t a God at all.”

            First of all, I do NOT start from an assumption that God doesn’t like Jesus. I start from the assumption that God is a perfectly good person, who makes decisions on the basis of what is the morally best thing to do. This is a basic Christian belief.

            I start from the assumption that raising an alleged prophet from the dead when that person is actually a false prophet would involve a great deception on the part of an all-knowing person who would know whether or not someone was a false prophet. This might not be a basic Christian belief, but I think most Christians would accept this assumption.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel said:

            Also, a thought for you. I feel like I have been trying to respond to your entire post, to you as a person and your whole argument. However, I feel like you are pulling apart my posts looking for someone to prove me wrong about, and then ignoring the rest of my post and even questions that I pose you.

            ====================
            Response:

            Yes, I am looking for parts of your comments to find things to prove you wrong about, but my focus is on significant issues and disagreements, not on nit-picking. At least that is my intention.

            I apologize if I have neglected or ignored important points you have made or questions you have asked. You are clearly an intelligent and articulate person, so please feel free to point out important points that I have neglected or significant questions I have ignored. If you do so, I will make an effort to give you a response.

          • Bradley Bowen

            In a meeting with the inner circle of his disciples, Jesus explains the meanings of some of his parables. In that teaching session, Jesus explains why he uses parables, and quotes from Isaiah Chapter 6.

            The book of Isaiah is part of the Jewish sacred scriptures, and Isaiah claimed to be a prophet of Jehovah. So, in quoting from Isaiah Chapter 6, Jesus is giving an endorsement to the book of Isaiah, to the prophet Isaiah, and to the god whom Isaiah claimed to be speaking with and for.

            Reading the quote in context of the surrounding passage in Isaiah Chapter 6 provides more evidence that Jesus promoted the worship of Jehovah.

            ====================

            The Purpose of the Parables: Mark 4:10-13

            11 …”To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables;

            12 in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’ ”

            ===================

            Isaiah 6

            American Standard Version (ASV)

            6 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.

            2 Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

            3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is JEHOVAH of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

            4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

            5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, JEHOVAH of hosts.

            6 Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

            7 and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven.

            8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me.

            9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

            10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.

            11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste,

            12 and JHEHOVAH have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land.

            13 And if there be yet a tenth in it, it also shall in turn be eaten up: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof.

            ==================

            I have put the name of the god of Isaiah in ALL CAPITALS to make it easier to see. The name “Jehovah” is stated in three different verses in this passage. Angels are worshiping “Jehovah” by crying out “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts…” (vs. 3). Isaiah clearly agrees with the sentiment expressed by those angels (see vs. 5).

            In quoting from Isaiah Chapter 6, Jesus implies that Jehovah is “Holy” and worthy of worship.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac: Mark 5:5-20

            Jesus heals a demon possessed man, and when Jesus begins to leave the area, the man begs him to stay. Jesus responds “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” (Mark 5:19, NRSV)

            As with the incident where Jesus healed a man with leprosy (Mark 1:40-44), Jesus encourages the healed person to praise God and to testify to God’s goodness. As I have argued, in the context where Jesus was raised a devout Jew, represents himself as a devout Jew, and preaches primarily to a Jewish audience, references to “God” or “the Lord” or “heavenly Father” should be understood as references to Jehovah, the god of the Jewish religion.

            Thus, in this passage from Mark, Jesus is promoting the worship of Jehovah.

          • Bradley Bowen

            The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth: Mark 6:1-6

            Jesus returns to his hometown, and then:

            “On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogure, and many who heard him were astounded.” (Mark 6:2)

            There was only one temple for the worship of Jehovah, and that temple was located in Jerusalem, several days away from Nazareth for those travelling on foot. But devout Jews had another alternative for the worship of Jehovah: the synagogue. Just like devout Christians go to church to worship on Sundays, Palestinian Jews went to synagogue on Saturdays to worship Jehovah.

            In Mark, chapter 6, we see that Jesus respected this religious tradition. He observed the sabbath, and went to the synagogue to worship Jehovah. We also see, once again, that Jesus’ audience was primarily Jewish believers, and that was intentional on Jesus’ part. This is further evidence of Jesus’ Jewishness, and thus further evidence that his references to “God” or “heavenly Father” were references to Jehovah, the god of the Jewish faith.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Feeding of the Five Thousand: Mark 6:30-44

            “Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he [Jesus] looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all.” (Mark 6:41, NRSV)
            ===================

            Here we see Jesus saying grace, praying to Jehovah before eating a meal. Concerning the above verse, the IVP Bible Background Commentary says:

            “It was customary to begin a meal by giving thanks for the bread and then dividing it.” (p.152)

            Jesus was following an established Jewish custom, and thus Jesus was endorsing prayers of thanksgiving to Jehovah, which is a form of worship. So, by engaging in a prayer of thanksgiving to Jehovah in public view, Jesus was encouraging others to worship Jehovah.

          • Bradley Bowen

            The Tradition of the Elders: Mark 7:1-14

            Some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem challenged Jesus, pointing out that “some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.” (Mark 7:2, NRSV).

            Jesus said to them:

            “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
            ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me: in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’: and ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that…thus making void the word of God through your tradition…”
            (Mark 7:6-13)

            Jesus points out that some of the traditions of the Pharisees are used as justification to violate “the commandment of God”. It is clear from the context that Jesus believes Moses to be a prophet of God who communicated commandments from God to the nation of Israel. Who is the god with whom Moses claims to have communicated? JEHOVAH!

            So, we see here that Jesus is encouraging others to faithfully obey Jehovah, to treat the writtings of Moses as “the word of God”, and thus to worship JEHOVAH. For God is to be worshiped and obeyed, and Jesus is here encouraging people to obey Jehovah and to view Jehovah as God, which implies that Jehovah should not only be obeyed, but that Jehovah should be worshiped.

            Jesus also implies that Isaiah is a prophet of God, and Isaiah claimed to be a prophet of JEHOVAH. So, again, Jesus implies that Jehovah is to be worshiped by calling Jehovah “God”. The passage in Isaiah from which Jesus quotes explicitly refers to JEHOVAH as “the God of Israel” (see verses 22 and 23 below):
            =====================

            Isaiah 29
            American Standard Version (ASV)

            29 Ho Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! add ye year to year; let the feasts come round:
            2 then will I distress Ariel, and there shall be mourning and lamentation; and she shall be unto me as Ariel.
            3 And I will encamp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with posted troops, and I will raise siege works against thee.
            4 And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust; and thy voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
            5 But the multitude of thy foes shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones as chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be in an instant suddenly.
            6 She shall be visited of JEHOVAH of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.
            7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her stronghold, and that distress her, shall be as a dream, a vision of the night.
            8 And it shall be as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.
            9 Tarry ye and wonder; take your pleasure and be blind: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
            10 For JEHOVAH hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, hath he covered.
            11 And all vision is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed:
            12 and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned.
            13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them;
            14 therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
            15 Woe unto them that hide deep their counsel from JEHOVAH, and whose works are in the dark, and that say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
            16 Ye turn things upside down! Shall the potter be esteemed as clay; that the thing made should say of him that made it, He made me not; or the thing formed say of him that formed it, He hath no understanding?
            17 Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?
            18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
            19 The meek also shall increase their joy in JEHOVAH, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
            20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scoffer ceaseth, and all they that watch for iniquity are cut off;
            21 that make a man an offender in his cause, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just with a thing of nought.
            22 Therefore thus saith JEHOVAH, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.
            23 But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name; yea, they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall stand in awe of the God of Israel.
            24 They also that err in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmur shall receive instruction.

          • Bradley Bowen

            I have been walking through the Gospel of Mark pointing out passages that support my claim that Jesus encouraged others to worship Jehovah. I’m less than half-way through Mark, but have already accumulated enough evidence to make a strong case for this claim.

            Let’s briefly review the evidence I have presented above. I began with a few passages from Luke and one passage from Matthew:

            Jesus Cleanses the Temple: Luke 19:45-46

            [Jesus' teachings] Concerning Prayer: Matthew 6:5-13

            Jesus Rejoices: Luke 10:21

            Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers: Luke 17:11-19

            Each of these Gospel passages provides significant evidence in support of the claim that Jesus encouraged others to worship Jehovah. In Luke Chapter 19 where Jesus cleanses the temple in Jerusalem, it is the Jewish temple which was built for the purpose of the worship of Jehovah. Jesus is showing his passion for the proper worship of Jehovah, and he quotes from two OT passages (Isaiah Ch.56, and Jeremiah Ch.7), both of which explicitly mention JEHOVAH as God.

            Then I began walking through the Gospel of Mark. Here are the passages that I have pointed out from Mark:

            Jesus Cleanses a Leper: Mark 1:40-45

          • Kevin V

            Hello,
            William Lane Craig has recently done a podcast responding to your post here!! Thought you would like to know.

          • Daniel Sharp

            I did some more thinking since my last point and I think I’ve figure out the core assumption that the rest of your assumptions are based on. Let me try to explain and then let me know if I know where you are coming from.

            Obviously, you don’t believe in God, but for the purposes of this post you were assuming there is a God. Am I correct in understanding that you were positing this God as not the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah?

            I ask, because the crux of your arguments why God would not resurrect Jesus in your post and in your replies to my comments dealt mainly with Jesus endorsing faith in Jehovah, and your beliefs about what Jehovah taught and who He was. Well, at least 1-3 of your arguments. 4-8 have more to do with your opinions about faith vs reason, miracles (if we’re assuming God *can* resurrect Jesus, why couldn’t he provide the supernatural power for healings?), the purpose of life/death, and other things. I don’t know the assumptions you’re making for 9-11.

            Anyways, in your response to me, you focused more on arguments 1-3, which are based on the “real” God in your post not being the same being as the Jehovah taught in the OT.

            If that’s the case, I bet it’s safe to assume you have lots of reasons for believing that, that probably have whole blog posts written about them, so I don’t really feel the need to debate that. I just have to say, for the purposes of this particular argument (that God wouldn’t resurrect Jesus), what if Jehovah is that God? You don’t believe in Him anyways, and are just assuming for this exercise. If instead we assume that Jehovah was the true God, he has every reason to resurrect Jesus.

            I get that you have a lot of beef with the teachings and will of Jehovah as recorded in the OT. I don’t think it’s a stretch to also posit that those might not be faithful accounts of His true nature.

            I have other thoughts and problems with other assumptions you make, but I’d like to get your feedback on this first, to know if I’ve figured out something you’re thinking or not. Otherwise I might make some arguments that don’t even apply :)

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            Obviously, you don’t believe in God, but for the purposes of this post you were assuming there is a God. Am I correct in understanding that you were positing this God as not the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah?

            ============
            Response:

            Correct.

            According to Christian philosophers and theologians the word “God” is the name or title of a person who is omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and eternal (among other things). It is not just that the person who is named “God” happens to have these attributes, but rather the very meaning of the word “God” is connected to the possession of these attributes.

            Any person who was less than omnipotent or less than omniscient or less than perfectly good or less than eternal would not and could not count as being “God” and would not be worthy of the name or title “God”. These are minimal requirements or necessary conditions for someone to be properly be considered to be “God”.

            From where I sit, Jehovah clearly fails to meet the minimum requirements or necessary conditions to merit the name or title “God”. But I can imagine that there is some OTHER person besides Jehovah who does meet these requirements and who would therefore merit the name or title “God”.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Daniel Sharp said:

            I ask, because the crux of your arguments why God would not resurrect Jesus in your post and in your replies to my comments dealt mainly with Jesus endorsing faith in Jehovah, and your beliefs about what Jehovah taught and who He was. Well, at least 1-3 of your arguments. 4-8 have more to do with your opinions about faith vs reason, miracles (if we’re assuming God *can* resurrect Jesus, why couldn’t he provide the supernatural power for healings?), the purpose of life/death, and other things. I don’t know the assumptions you’re making for 9-11.

            ================
            Response:

            Good points.

            I didn’t have specific categories in mind, but I think it is a good idea to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture, like you have done here. I have thought, read, and written quite a bit on the Jehovah-related points, but it would be good to develop my thinking and views on some of the other areas implicit in the list.

            Thank you for the feedback.

  • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

    “… one of my favorite reasons why I think that God would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus:
    Jesus was a false prophet because he taught his followers to pray to and worship a false god (i.e. Jehovah).”

    Hmm. So God in this hypothetical scenario is not the Yahweh of the Bible but some other hypothetical god? If this hypothetical god is not Yahweh, but someone else, it seems that he would self evidently be against Jesus’ resurrection not only because Jesus told his followers to pray to Yahweh, but that Jesus himself provided the only path to salvation, which makes him god numero dos or some other divine manifestation of Jehovah. And gods tend to not like competition.

    • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

      Bradley, if you are interested, I gave my take on this post on my site: http://www.jeremystyron.com/2013/04/wutu-wouldnt-resurrect-jesus-either/

      • Bradley Bowen

        Jeremy – Thank you for taking my argument seriously enough to think about it and write up a critique of it.

        I will respond to your objection here, hopefully a bit later today.

      • Bradley Bowen

        Jeremy said…

        But here’s the hang of it, and why this argument as a consequence seems to double back on itself. If this hypothetical God is not Yahweh but some other god, let’s call him Wutu the Almighty, it seems obvious that Wutu wouldn’t care two farthings about another supposed god named Jesus, just like Yahweh so readily dismissed Baal in the Old Testament. Gods tend to not like competition, after all. So, sure, Wutu would be opposed to the resurrected Christ on the grounds of worshiping a false god, Jehovah. But the entire notion of a resurrected Jesus relies on maintaining a link between Jesus and Jehovah, for without Jehovah’s story, we would have no resurrection story. This is why I said that Bowen must be referring to Jehovah when he mentions God. Otherwise, where is the point of reference?

        Now, if Bowen actually is referring to the God of the Old Testament, the argument is dead on arrival since Jehovah would obviously not condemn Jesus as a false prophet for telling people to pray to himself, Jehovah. Having said all that, this does not take address the claims — for another day — that Jesus was a bad person or that God must necessarily fit into our idea of “good,” since Yahweh had no problem with slavery, stoning gay people and burning random women who might
        have been witches. For all the reasons not to believe in the resurrection — and there are many — this particular argument seems to suffer severely.

        =============================

        Response:

        You concede a key point to me:

        “If this hypothetical God is not Yahweh but some other god, let’s call him Wutu the Almighty, it seems obvious that Wutu wouldn’t care two farthings about another supposed god named Jesus…. Gods tend to not like competition, after all. So, sure, Wutu would be opposed to the resurrected Christ on the grounds of worshiping a false god, Jehovah.”

        We disagree about WHY my “hypothetical God” who is not Jehovah would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus, but we agree that my “hypothetical God” who is not Jehovah would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus.

        Thus, your objection is based on the assumption that my “hypothetical God” must be, has to be, the same person as Jehovah:

        “But the entire notion of a resurrected Jesus relies on maintaining a link between Jesus and Jehovah, for without Jehovah’s story, we would have no resurrection story. This is why I said that Bowen must be referring to Jehovah when he mentions God. Otherwise, where is the point of reference?”

        What you say here is unclear and confused. To start with, your conclusion is unclear:

        “the entire notion of a resurrected Jesus relies on maintaining a link between Jesus and Jehovah…”

        What do you mean by “a link”? Do you mean some sort of logical or conceptual connection? Are you saying that

        • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

          Thanks for the reply, Bradley. I don’t know if you’re a former believer like myself or ever had an experience with religion, but I suspected that my claim that Jesus and Jehovah were linked might be the hardest thing for a nonbeliever to accept. I’ll leave aside my thoughts on “Wutu” at the moment, since we largely seem to agree that if your hypothetical God is not Jehovah, he may object to raising Jesus from the dead for obvious reasons.

          But on the other point, let me know if I’m mistaken, but you seem to view Jesus as an isolated deity with no particular connection to god the father in the Bible. Even if I had never become a Christian at all, I don’t see how this is possible, and this is why I objected to your essential argument. I suppose we are free to ignore the entirety of the Bible and claim that Jesus was either wrong or misquoted when he said “I and the father (Jehovah) are one,” and even ignore the 2,000 year Christian tradition and all the references to god the father in the NT, but doing so seems to render whatever we think about the Jesus story meaningless. Even non-Christians like Jack Miles, who wrote the “biographies” on God and Jesus concede, just for the purposes of recreating the literary narrative, that Jesus was the son of God in the Bible and that the gospels are about God the Father, Yahweh, sort of “reinventing” himself to save mankind from sin by sending Jesus as a sacrificial lamb. It seems to me that we can’t ask a question about Jesus being raised from the dead unless the God performing the resurrection is, indeed, Jehovah. This is why early Christians were ostracized in the first place: Jesus, the man who they followed, claimed to be harnessing the power of the Jewish God, Jehovah, which deeply offended the Jewish leaders.

          When you think about god the father who is mentioned so many times in the New Testament, do you imagine it to be Jehovah or someone else?

          I hope that clarifies. Again, I suppose we can view Jesus as just an isolated guy claiming to be divine with no “back story,” but that doesn’t square with the Bible or Christian doctrine.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Jeremy -

            Thank you for your effort to clarify the “claim that Jesus and Jehovah were linked”. Before I can decide whether to agree or disagree with this claim, I need to understand what it is that you are claiming.

            You said:

            “…you seem to view Jesus as an isolated deity with no particular connection to god the father in the Bible. Even if I had never become a Christian at all, I don’t see how this is possible, and this is why I objected to your essential argument. I suppose we are free to ignore the entirety of the Bible and claim that Jesus was either wrong or misquoted when he said “I and the father (Jehovah) are one,” and even ignore the 2,000 year Christian tradition and all the references to god the father in the NT, but doing so seems to render whatever we think about the Jesus story meaningless.”

            According to the Gospel of John, Jesus said “I and the father are one”. I agree that this is what the Gospel of John reports. So we agree on that much. I don’t agree that this is something that Jesus actually said. The Gospel of John is, in my view, a very unreliable source of the words, beliefs, and teachings of the historical Jesus. So, I strongly doubt that Jesus said those words.

            However, it would actually HELP my case if Jesus had actually uttered those words, so let me grant, for the sake of argument, that Jesus did say “I and the father are one”.

            Clearly, when Jesus speaks of “the father” he is referring to Jehovah, as you yourself indicate with the parenthetical comment “(Jehovah)” above. It would help my case if Jesus claimed to be one with Jehovah, and to be the divine Son of Jehovah, for there could hardly be a stronger endorsement by Jesus of Jehovah than to claim to be the divine Son of Jehovah.

            So, assuming for the sake of argument, that Jesus did claim to be one with Jehovah, and did claim to be the divine Son of Jehovah, then Jesus would very clearly be giving his endorsement to Jehovah. If this were true, it would totally confirm a key piece of my case.

            The other part of my case is that Jehovah is evil, or at least Jehovah has very serious moral failings, because Jehovah commanded or endorsed slavery, sexism, and the mass murder of civilians, among other immoral actions. Thus, in giving his endorsement of Jehovah, Jesus was giving his endorsement to an evil or morally corrupt person.

            Based on the definition of “God” accepted by most Christian theologians and philosophers, God is a morally perfect person who is omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal. Jehovah was clearly NOT a morally perfect person, so Jehovah is NOT God, and thus Jehovah is a false god.

            If Jesus gave his endorsement of an evil or morally corrupt diety, then Jesus was a false prophet. If Jesus gave his endorsement to Jehovah, then Jesus gave his endorsement to an evil or morally corrupt deity. Therefore, Jesus was a false prophet, assuming that Jesus claimed to be one with Jehovah or to be the divine Son of Jehovah.

            But if Jesus was a false prophet who endorsed a false god (named Jehovah), then if God existed, that is to say, if a morally perfect person who was omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal existed, then God would not allow anyone, including Jehovah, to raise Jesus from the dead, for then God would be allowing Jesus and Jehovah to greatly deceive human beings into worshiping a false god and obeying the commands of an evil or morally corrupt deity.

          • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

            Bradley,
            I don’t agree that Jesus actually said “I and the father are one” either, but it doesn’t matter for my case. I just raised it as an example. The link between Jehovah and Jesus is still there if you look at the entirety of the Bible, Christian doctrine, etc.

            I think we are unnecessarily going around and around on this. Your original post above was not about Jesus endorsing God, but God opposing the resurrected Jesus on the grounds that he was immoral, never objected to slavery, etc. As I see it, there are only two options in your argument: your hypothetical God is Jehovah himself, in other words, god the father from the Bible, or your hypothetical God is some other god. If your God is god the father, he necessarily endorses Jesus since Jehovah sent him to earth to die and be resurrected on the third day and then to take his seat at the right hand of the father (just going by what scripture and doctrine actually says). We can agree that they are both corrupt and even go so far as to say that Jehovah is not the perfectly loving God that Christians claim he is. But regardless, if you are to talk about Jesus at all, he must inextricably be linked with Jehovah for the numerous reasons I mentioned. It really doesn’t matter whether both Jesus and Jehovah were corrupt. They endorsed each other. Regardless of whether Jehovah was moral or not, as I said in my post, it seems absurd to suggest that he would condemn Jesus for telling his followers to pray to himself, Jehovah, since gods not only hate competition, but love mindless worship.

            As you will see in the post on my site – I didn’t explore it in depth – but I also don’t necessarily buy the notion that God has to be perfectly good, for if God has to be anything, he might hindered by some force other than himself, and thus, not all-powerful. This is obviously just one of the many fallacies about the character of God. God could in theory just turn what we moderns think of as “good” on its head without telling us, so that rape and slavery are perfectly acceptable. If you object that Jehovah was moral in the Bible, I agree. But going back to your original argument, it doesn’t seem to make sense to ruminate about what “God” might have thought about Jesus being raised from the dead unless that God is Jehovah, since Jehovah is the only god, so far as I know, who is actually tied to Jesus.

            That’s as clear as I can make it. In any case, enjoying this interesting conversation.

          • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

            Sorry for the duplication – a web browser error, and I wasn’t able to delete the extra post.

          • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

            Bradley,
            I don’t agree that Jesus actually said “I and the father are one” either, but it doesn’t matter for my case. I just raised it as an example. The link between Jehovah and Jesus is still there if you look at the entirety of the Bible, Christian doctrine, etc.

            I think we are unnecessarily going around and around on this. Your original post above was not about Jesus endorsing God, but God opposing the resurrected Jesus on the grounds that he was immoral, never objected to slavery, etc. As I see it, there are only two options in your argument: your hypothetical God is Jehovah himself, in other words, god the father from the Bible, or your hypothetical God is some other god. If your God is god the father, he necessarily endorses Jesus since Jehovah sent him to earth to die and be resurrected on the third day and then to take his seat at the right hand of the father (just going by what scripture and doctrine actually says). We can agree that they are both corrupt and even go so far as to say that Jehovah is not the perfectly loving God that Christians claim he is. But regardless, if you are to talk about Jesus at all, he must inextricably be linked with Jehovah for the numerous reasons I mentioned. It really doesn’t matter whether both Jesus and Jehovah were corrupt. They endorsed each other. Regardless of whether Jehovah was moral or not, as I said in my post, it seems absurd to suggest that he would condemn Jesus for telling his followers to pray to himself, Jehovah, since gods not only hate competition, but love mindless worship.

            As you will see in the post on my site – I didn’t explore it in depth – but I also don’t necessarily buy the notion that God has to be perfectly good, for if God has to be anything, he might hindered by some force other than himself, and thus, not all-powerful. This is obviously just one of the many fallacies about the character of God. God could in theory just turn what we moderns think of as “good” on its head without telling us, so that rape and slavery are perfectly acceptable. If you object that Jehovah was moral in the Bible, I agree. But going back to your original argument, it doesn’t seem to make sense to ruminate about what “God” might have thought about Jesus being raised from the dead unless that God is Jehovah, since Jehovah is the only god, so far as I know, who is actually tied to Jesus.

            That’s as clear as I can make it. In any case, enjoying this interesting conversation.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Jeremy said:

            But going back to your original argument, it doesn’t seem to make sense to ruminate about what “God” might have thought about Jesus being raised from the dead unless that God is Jehovah, since Jehovah is the only god, so far as I know, who is actually tied to Jesus.

            =====================
            Response:

            If a Christian claims to believe that ‘God exists’, and if they are using these words in their normal sense, then that Christian is claiming to believe in the existence of a perfectly good person who is omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal.

            Therefore it clearly and obviously does “make sense to ruminate about” whether or not God would be in favor of or opposed to the resurrection of Jesus. For, based on their own basic theological beliefs, there exists not only a perfectly good person, but that person is in control of EVERYTHING that happens, including any resurrections or attempted resurrections and any time and in any location in the universe.

            I understand your objection now. It has no force at all.

            Whether Jehovah exists or not, and whether Jehovah is “actually tied to Jesus” or not is of no relevance. Christians believe that a perfectly good person is running this universe, so if anybody is “connected” or “tied” or “linked” to anyone else, and the anyone else tries to raise the anyboby from the dead, then God will know about this and will determine whether to let it happen or not. God will makie this determination based upon the sorts of reasons and considerations that a perfectly good person would care about.

            Christians believe that ‘God exists’ and this belief implies that Jesus was NOT raised from the dead.

            Anyone is perfectly free to say “I believe in Jehovah, but I don’t believe in the existence of God” if they wish. But such a person is NOT a Christian. Such a person has rejected a basic dogma of the Christian faith. I am simply pointing out that the basic Christian belief that “God exists” is inconsistent another basic Christian belief, namely that “Jesus rose from the dead”.

          • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

            “I understand your objection now. It has no force at all.”

            Man, as politely as I can say it, I’m not sure that you do.

            You said:

            “If a Christian claims to believe that ‘God exists’, and if they are using these words in their normal sense, then that Christian is claiming to believe in the existence of a perfectly good person who is omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal.

            Therefore it clearly and obviously does “make sense to ruminate about” whether or not God would be in favor of or opposed to the resurrection of Jesus.”

            The Christian who claims to believe in God unequivocally believes that particular God to be Jehovah, the father of Jesus. If they believe anything else, they are a cult of mainstream Christianity. Jehovah clearly is an advocate for Jesus if you look at the entirety of the Bible, and if we are talking about Jesus, then the New Testament along with the OT should be considered.

            I said that it doesn’t make sense to “ruminate” about what any other God (other than Jehovah) might have thought about Jesus’ resurrection because if we contemplate some other God than Jehovah, Jesus is not even in the conversation or part of the story. Jesus. Jesus, for instance, is obviously irrelevant to Baal or Zeus or Osiris.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Jeremy said:

            The Christian who claims to believe in God unequivocally believes that particular God to be Jehovah, the father of Jesus.

            ===================
            Response:

            Christians believe lots of things about God. Some of the things that Christians believe about God might be logically contradictory.

            In my view, the belief that “Jehovah is God” and the belief that “God is a perfectly good person” are logically incompatible beliefs, given that Jehovah accurately described by the OT.

            So, I am focusing in on one basic Christian belief, which is that “God is a perfectly good person” and showing how that belief leads to a contradiction with another Christian belief, namely that “God raised Jesus from the dead”.

            You are focusing on a different Christian belief, namely that “Jehovah is God” and drawing the conclusion that “God raised Jesus from the dead” based on that assumption. Let me grant, for the sake of argument that your inference is valid. This is still IRRELEVANT to my argument.

            In gerneral terms, the fact that ‘P entails Q’ has no relevance as an objection to the claim that ‘R entails not Q’. You are insisting that one Christian belief entails that ‘God was in favor of Jesus being raised from the dead’ and I insist that another (different) Christian belief entails that ‘God was opposed to Jesus being raised from the dead’. We can both be right. Your claim has no relevance as an objection to my claim. The correctness of your claim is logically compatible with the correctness of my claim, and thus fails as a refutation of my claim.

            The fact that you can validely infer from one Christian assumption the conclusion that “God raised Jesus from the dead” does NOTHING to show that I have failed to validly infer that “God would have opposed the resurrection of Jesus” based on another (different) Christian assumption.

            Your inference is only relevant as an objection to my inference if you start with the ASSUMPTION that ALL Christian beliefs about God are logically consistent with each other.

            But that assumption begs important questions, and in fact begs the question at issue here, since my point is precisely to show that there is a logical contradiction between some basic Christian beliefs about God, namely that “God is a perfectly good person” and that “God raised Jesus from the dead”.

            So, before you can press your objection, you will need to provide a good reason for me and others to believe that ALL Christian beliefs about God are logically consistent, or at least that ALL basic Christain beliefs about God are logically consistent.

            That is a very tall order, and I strongly doubt that you will be able to meet this heavy burden of proof, especially without begging the question at issue, without assuming that I MUST be wrong in arguing that there is in fact a logical contradiction between some basic Christan beliefs about God.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Jeremy said…

      If this hypothetical god is not Yahweh, but someone else, it seems that he would self evidently be against Jesus’ resurrection not only because Jesus told his followers to pray to Yahweh, but that Jesus himself provided the only path to salvation, which makes him god numero dos or some other divine manifestation of Jehovah. And gods tend to not like competition.

      ————————–

      Response:

      You claim that if “this hypothetical god is not Yahweh” then “this hypothetical god” would be “against Jesus’ resurrection” because “gods tend to not like competition”.

      You are missing a key point. The “hypothetical god” that I’m supposing to exist (for the sake of argument) is not just any old deity, but is God, that is to say, God as traditionally conceived of by Christian philosophers and Christian theologians: a perfectly good person who is omnipotent and omniscient and eternal.

      A perfectly good person would NOT have a big ego, and thus would not care about competition from lesser deities or even fake deities. So, I don’t agree with your assessment.

      However, a perfectly good person would care about whether human beings were greatly deceived or not, and about whether human beings were misled particularly in the area of morality.

      A perfectly good person would care about whether people are being decieved into worshiping and obeying a false god who commanded people to do immoral things, such as to carry out mass murder of civilians in a war of aggression in order to steal land that belonged to others. A perfectly good person would care about whether people are being deceived into worshiping and obeying a false god who promoted the practice of slavery or promoted sexist beliefs and practices.

      God, if God exists, would be opposed to the mass murder of civilians. God, if God exists, would be opposed to slavery. God, if God exists, would be opposed to sexism. Therefore, God, if God exists, would be opposed to the promotion of worship and obedience towards a false god who commanded or endorsed mass murder of civilians, slavery, and sexism. Thus, God, if God exists, would be opposed to anyone encouraging anyone else to worship and obey JEHOVAH, a false god who commanded or endorsed mass murder of civilians, slavery, and sexism.

      Thus, God, if God exists, would be opposed to Jesus’ promotion of worship and obedience to JEHOVAH. Thus, God would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus. Not because God would be “a jealous god” who becomes pissed off when some other minor deity is getting attention, but because Jesus was misleading people concerning important moral issues.

      • http://twitter.com/ourdailytrain Our Daily Train blog

        Thanks for the post and response. It’s 1 a.m. right now, but I’ll be sure to get back with you this weekend.

  • Nicki

    What verses are you drawing all your conclusions about Jesus from? Jesus never even talked about slavery. Why would Jesus believing faith healing, demons and angels be a reason he is a false prophet? Why is what he says about God false?

    I just would like to see some Scriptural backing to the claims you’re making.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Nicki said…

      What verses are you drawing all your conclusions about Jesus from? Jesus never even talked about slavery.

      ================
      Response:

      True. Jesus did not talk about slavery. That is part of the problem, though. Jesus problem. Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah, the god of the Jewish religion. But Jehovah blessed and promoted slavery. So, by supporting worship and obedience to Jehovah, Jesus was promoting slavery. That is, Jesus promoted slavery UNLESS he explicitly disavowed either Jehovah or Jehovah’s views on slavery. But clearly Jesus did NOT disavow Jehovah, and there is no indication in the Gospels that Jesus disavowed slavery or any other teaching or law of Jehovah.

      If a person promoted Adolf Hitler as a great leader for Germany, then such a person bears some responsability for Hitler’s policy of mass murder of the Jews. If Jesus promoted Jehovah as a great leader for the human race, then Jesus bears some responsability for Jehovah’s immoral teachings and laws.

  • Zainab

    Hi Bradley, I just read your above article on the reasons for ‘why God did not raise Jesus from the dead’. I agree with you in the case of Jesus and the alleged resurrection that it concludes if God exists, then that in itself is an argument AGAINST the alleged resurrection of Jesus. I also totally agree with you that after your careful reflections on the so called ‘God’ in the Bible, that this ‘God’ does NOT exist and here is the reason why: The God of the Bible is a MAN-MADE concept, ‘made in the image of man’, distorted, moulded to suit people’s agendas and so you are right that the God of the Bible DOES NOT EXIST. However, you did not create yourself or the environment around you, nor do you control the weather, nor can you stop death or control your fate, therefore THERE IS A CREATOR, and intelligent design in the creation. So, looking at the bigger picture, yes leaving the Bible and Christianity behind, which has no doubt been falsified by man, you can move on and find that One Creator, you can move on and find the purpose of our very existence- because everything has a purpose, and you can still be a believer- a believer in the One True God-The Creator of the heavens and earth and all contained within, The One Who deserves our undivided worship, Who is NOT in need of our worship or praise, Who is NOT dependent on the creation, this God DOES EXIST and you will find this God around the corner in a book called: The Holy Qur’an, preserved in its ORIGINAL language for over 1434 years, memorised by millions in its totality, confirming scientific facts that have been recently discovered, providing a map for life and beyond, a manual for life. A book which was sent to correct the past deviations of men, a book like no other on this planet, guaranteed by the Creator to be preserved until the end of time. I invite you to discover this God THAT DOES EXIST. Please read the Holy Qur’an then compare that with other Scriptures, research Islam thoroughly. The Qur’an invites humanity to think, reason, contemplate, ponder on the creation, reflect upon your own very existence. There is a God….you just have to look in the right place :)

  • Kris Riemens

    WLC offered some interesting thoughts on this article, see his podcasts at RF.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/mediaf/podcasts/uploads/RF_Recent_Objections_to_the_Resurrection_2013.mp3

  • Reasonable Believer

    Hello. As a Chrisitan, even though I disagree with your essay here, I appreciate your willingness to address the issues in a non-emotional, non-condescending, and irenic way. If you or your readers are interested, Dr. William Lane Craig has responded to your essay in his Reasonable Faith podcast “Recent Objections to the Resurrection” located at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/recent-objections-to-the-resurrection.

    Some rebuttals that can be made to your points (I may be repeating some of what Dr. Craig mentions):

    * Just because the New Testament documents don’t explicitly declare Jesus’ opposition to certain things of his day (slavery, for example) doesn’t mean he didn’t say anything against it (perhaps it wasn’t recorded in the writings of the early disciples) nor does it mean he didn’t object to it. This is merely an unsubstantiated argument from silence.

    * Anyone who reads the New Testament will see Jesus most certainly did use critical thinking and reason – everytime he debated with his Jewish opponents, he used critical thinking and reason and logic! And because of this he often left them frustrated at how Jesus was always able to win the argument.

    * If you read the Sermon on the Mount, it is hard to see how anyone could come away with Jesus being anything but a practical, this-worldly thinker. He provides ways which one can live in this world, in this life, in ethical ways.

    * Yes, Jesus did believe in faith healing and exocisms and angels and demons! But! To believe his faith healing wasn’t real, his miracles weren’t real, angels and demons don’t exist as an argument against the resurrection is merely committing the fallacy of begging the question. If you believe these things weren’t true, then you are already stacking the deck. Maybe those miracles were real! Maybe Jesus really did heal the sick! Maybe angels and demons do exist! You would need to provide arguments for your position why those things are false; otherwise, you are just presupposing your points and therefore begging the question. Note that to believe that Jesus’ faith healing actually occurred is not to justify any “faith healer” that has ever occurred since. The point is – you need to argue against *Jesus’* miracles and thinking to argue that your point demonstrates the resurrection was not possible.

    * The doctrine of hell does not imply physical torture. This is to assume a charicature of the doctrine of hell where people are literally burning in fires in hell and being eaten alive by demons. This is not the orthodox Christian doctrine of hell and not the teaching of Jesus (his parables of the fires and heat of hell are just that, parables. Clearly, they were symbolic – an illustration of the angst and horror at the realization that one is separated from God. Just as the “darkness” of hell also mentioned in the New Testament indicates a separation from the light of God.). Hell is the separation – the complete separation – from God (and this is normally what atheists ask for anyway, so they are getting what they want).

    * Jesus believed and taught that the Jews were God’s chosen people – you imply they weren’t. But again, this is the fallcy of begging the question. What are your arguments that they weren’t? For all we know, maybe they were the chosen people of God through which God revealed himself to the world? If this is true, then Jesus was right to proclaim this. For you to say otherwise is merely begging the question. We can’t presuppose the Jews weren’t the chosen people of God then say that because Jesus believed they were the chosen people, therefore, he was wrong. That is a classic case of begging the question.

    * Jesus refusing to advocate the violent overthrow of Rome ignores the fact that, merely 40 years later, the Jews did attempt to do this and disaster befell the Jews! A few decades after that, all of the Jews were dispersed and they lost their temple and their city. It was a complete disaster. So, it seems Jesus was wise in not advocating a violent rebellion – perhaps because he knew the catastrophe that was to come! Besides, Jesus advocated loving your enemies, turning the other cheek and so on – for him to then advocate a violent rebellion would go against his teaching. So, for those two reasons, I think your point here has no weight.

    Again, I appreciate your willingness to enter the debate of the truth of falsity of Jesus’ resurrection in an un-emotional, rational, and intelligent way. Again, while I disagree with your points and conclusion, I find it refreshing to be able to read a cogent attempt at a rebuttal to Christianity without all the name calling and frothing at the mouth.

  • Joseph O Polanco

    You have the beginnings of a valid argument here. I say beginnings because it lacks a foundation. To complete your argument, then, it needs to address the following question, “On what objective moral basis do you condemn anyone’s actions?”


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