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Skeptic: Why should I believe in Jesus or the Bible?

In response to Conversations with a Skeptic Podcast.

The next part of Conversations with a Skeptic focuses on the factual basis of Jesus and of the Bible. No actual evidence is provided though, which makes me sad. The Pastor's daughter has a few parts in this section of the sermon and at one point she refers to what she's talking about as "circumstantial evidence, and I'm ok with that. Plenty of people have been convicted on circumstantial evidence." Yeah, some have been convicted on circumstantial evidence... some of those people were found to be innocent later. But you know what the real problem with this statement is? None of those people were found to be in violation of the Laws of Physics on circumstantial evidence. They were convicted of a crime in which there was a reasonable liklihood they were guilty and the defense was unable to establish a reasonable doubt. Heresay (which is really what the Bible is, not circumstantial evidence) is not a foundation for a belief that involves violations of all of the natural laws of the universe.

The Pastor at one point makes the age-old assertion that if someone doesn't accept Jesus it's because they just don't KNOW Jesus. I've got news for you. I know Jesus. I was devout for the majority of my life. It's how I was raised. I would preach to people, and I was GOOD at it too. My disagreement with Christianity (and religion in general) doesn't spring from ignorance. It comes from a critical analysis in which I was willing to accept the possibility that I was wrong.

The Pastor's daughter continues a little later on by talking about Sisyphus, a Greek King who was punished by the Gods to perform a meaningless task for all eternity (rolling a rock up a hill, watch it roll down, repeat). She talks about the many people who have written about Sisyphus throughout the ages. The interesting part here is that her father said something very similar earlier in this part of the podcast. He talked about the existance of the Scriptures and the many people who have written about them as one of the reasons to believe they are true. That the volume of writings implies that something must have happened there, otherwise it would not have received so much ink. However, neither the Pastor nor his daughter believe that Sisyphus was punished by Zeus to perform a meaningless task for all eternity, even though plenty of ink was spilled for him as well.

This is a key point in understanding how and why people believe in the Bible. If the Pastor and his daughter were born in Ancient Greece, they would have been taught from birth about Zeus and/or lived within a society where people believed in the existence of Zeus and so they would most likely have believed in the existence of Zeus. But they weren't. They were born here and now in a society with a Christian majority population and were raised from birth on the teachings of Jesus. Kids believe in Santa because their parents tell them and TV encourages them to believe, but after awhile we let them in on the secret.

Another interesting point of the Sisyphus portion of the sermon seques nicely with the discussion that Scott and I are having about the meaninglessness of life without God. Sisyphus existed long before Jesus (or at least the story of Sisyphus long before the story of Jesus) and he didn't worship God. He lived in a world of mythical Gods... which according to the Pastor is a meaningless existence, because without the morality of God life is meaningless. Yet in the story he was punished with a meaningless life pushing the rock, which implies he HAD a meaningful life before... and that meaningful life existed without God or Jesus. It's just kind of interesting to me that the sermon would include an example that contradicts the spirit of the sermon.

Another argument the Pastor offers for why he believes in Jesus is that Jesus is essentially the only way to heal a wounded heart. He talks about a divorced woman who was distraught, but healed her emotional wounds:

She does what is almost humanly impossible outside of the touch of what Christ does in somebody's life.

Well, I did it without the touch of Christ, did I perform the nigh impossible? No, I had the love and support of the people around me. God wasn't a part of it. It was my personal effort and desire supported by the love of my friends. In fact, I've been through two divorces which absolutely CRUSHED ME emotionally. I wasn't reaching to Christ or being touched by Christ in either of those situations, so did I perform the nigh impossible twice? No. I did it because of the loving support of my friends and through personal determination. In my opinion, given what I had to personally go through to heal from those experiences, to state that my healing was because of Jesus is to insult and degrade all of my personal hard work and determination as well as the patience and love of my friends. It was even so hard that I lost one of my friends in the process, because even though he gives his heart to Jesus, it was just too hard for him to be around me during my depression. Jesus certainly wasn't helping my situation.

The Pastor also talks about Dreams. He apparently did some missionary work in Laos and told a story of a man who had a dream the night before the Pastor's arrival. The dream, according to the Pastor, was an obvious crying out for Christianity. He's amazed by the dream which happened to come RIGHT before the Pastor arrived. Wow! Or not... You know, I had a dream once. I was working at Virtualis and I dreamed that I was at my desk and a martial arts master came into my cubicle and introduced himself to me. I thought nothing of it, until the next day, I was working in my cube. A man walked up into my cubicle. He stopped because he saw my Hwa Rang Do gym bag and he sparked up a conversation. Normally, I leave my HRD bag in the car, so it was kind of weird that I brought it in this particular day. It turns out that he was a 7th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido. WOW! My dream came true! It blows your mind, huh? Well, no. He was my boss's boss in town for a few meetings. Apparently my boss had told me months before that his boss was a martial arts master. Then the week before he told me his boss was going to be in town next Wednesday. I didn't recall any of the memories, but clearly my subconscious did. Dreams are the LEAST reliable source of information available. It's entirely subject to the rumblings of your subconscous mind. If I took my dreams for truth, then I would live in a different house almost every night, be fighting off zombies on a regular basis and my sex life.... well, actually that's just as awesome in real life as it is in my dreams. ;)

Another argument he uses is the historicity of the Bible stories. He states that the Bible is historically accurate because you can go to the places mentioned in the Bible and they are there. Yeah, well, I can go to Mount Olympus which is mentioned in numerous Greek writings, but that doesn't mean Zeus is real.

The Mother of All Bad Arguments

Part 4 of the series is about whether you can believe in the Bible. His primary answer is:

Well the primary reason that you start with is that I came to a decsion about Jesus, and we talked about some of that in previous weeks, but I came to a decision about Jesus and I'm a disciple and follower of him. And the primary reason I accept Scripture is because Christ treated the Scriptures as if they were from God. And I cannot claim to be a follower of his and yet reject this very simple truth that this is the word of God.

Wow. Um, this may be the single worst argument I've ever heard in support of the Scriptures. He supports the Scriptures because the guy he learned about from the Scriptures has become his personal Lord and so therefore the Scriptures have to be right because his Lord supported them.

*sigh* There is a popular misconception about the phrase "begging the question" that Theresa educated me about. Most people use it when they mean, "and that causes me to ask the following question..." In reality, the phrase describes a situation in which a person is answering a question with circular logic that assumes the thing in question is already true. That phrase right up there? THAT is begging the question. The Pastor has ALREADY accepted the Scriptures as truth before he can even accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior because he's accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior BASED on those Scriptures. So, you can't then answer a question about the validity of the Scriptures with your belief in Jesus because you didn't have that belief until you read the Scriptures!


I've got one or two more parts coming up. I'm going to finishing with the subject of Free Will which the Pastor talks about over and over and I think it is one of the most important parts. Thanks for reading with me this far!

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