Greg was sitting in a huge auditorium with 150 other students.
He had just witnessed two of the biggest experts in their field debate about God’s existence.
On the left corner of the stage was Samantha Paris, a well-known author, blogger, and atheist.
On the right side of the stage was Dr. Bill Wright, a University professor who taught biblical studies.
It was now time for open-mic, and the speakers were taking questions from the audience.
Greg immediately stood up from his seat and waited in line so he could ask his question to Dr. Wright.
The beautiful thing was that Greg knew his question would be incredibly difficult to answer.
He was going to be the hero of the night. Greg was going to be the one who finally stumps the Christian professor.
When it got to be his turn, Greg went up to the mic and said, “My question is for Dr. Wright.
“I’m sure you’ll agree that the Bible has many historical errors in it. Many scholars have found Bible passages that contradict each other.
“My question is why should intelligent people who know the truth about the Bible believe in the Christian god when it has so many blatant mistakes in it?”
Dr. Wright looked at Greg and smiled. “That’s a great question, young man. I’d love to share with you the answer to clear up this misunderstanding.”
Do You Believe That The Bible is Full of Errors and Contradictions, Just Like Greg?
Even though I’m a Christian, I used to think that the Bible was filled with all sorts of problems when I was an atheist.
In fact, I used to think that Christians were the most gullible, un-intelligent (nice way of saying stupid), and weakest people in the world.
After all, Christians created a god of their imagination because they are too weak to be able to survive the everyday troubles that they face in life.
Now go figure, I’ve become one of those weak gullible Christians ? .
Here, Check Out Atheist’s and Skeptic’s Biggest Problems With The Bible
Skeptics often object to:
- The Biblical account of creation
- The Bible supposedly condoning the beating and use of slaves
- Noah’s Ark and the account of the Great Flood
- God committing genocide because He kills entire nations
- And a whole lot more
So are these objections valid?
You see, things may seem one way on the surface, but the truth needs a little deeper investigation.
That’s why I’m writing this article.
These objections may be valid to you depending on what kind of books you read or videos you watch.
However, there is a logical explanation for everything in the Bible.
You may not agree with them, but there is an explanation.
So let’s see how much of this article you agree with. Sound fair?
Listen, If You Don’t Fix The Misguided Way You’re Reading the Bible, Then You’re Doomed
Yes, it’s that serious.
I know you don’t believe in God, or in life after death, and all that made up stuff.
In my opinion, the important thing is not to be committed to your current beliefs, but to be committed to discovering the truth.
I know this may sound offensive, but just stick with me here.
So if there is truth in the Bible and if it might be important for your life, then you need to be able to find out what it is.
Here are some reasons why you should care about what the Bible teaches:
- It could have the answer to what happens to you after you die
- It could have the answer to the questions that you have about God’s existence
- It could have the answer to what your ultimate purpose in life is and what it is that you were born to do
Be Careful of People Who Have Their Best Interests in Ignorantly Lying to You
Listen, there are some atheists out there that unknowingly give the wrong interpretation of the Bible.
They’re not interested in making a correct analysis even if someone showed them the proper way to interpret the Bible.
Some of these atheists that I’m referring to tend to have book deals that are very lucrative. They’ve also created businesses around their atheist beliefs.
If they end up recanting their atheist beliefs or something wrong that they said about the Bible, then it would result in a massive loss of thousands of dollars. In some cases, it’s even millions.
I know you have a skeptical mind, so I just wanted you not just to be skeptical about Christianity, but also to be skeptical about some bad sources of information out there.
So What is the Biggest Mistake That Unbelievers Make When Reading the Bible?
Imagine someone gave you a book about neurology.
It’s the size of a 15-inch laptop, and weighs the same as three pairs of shoes.
Now, imagine that you open up to the middle of the neurology book, and you start reading it.
But you aren’t a neurosurgeon, and neither are you training to become one.
Would you agree that you won’t understand the things found in the neurology book?
Sure, you can read English, but the actual semantics and context of the text will be like you speaking English to a 3-month old baby.
Now, check out what the Bible has to say about what happens when unbelievers read the Bible:
[x_blockquote cite=”1 Corinthians 2:14″ type=”left”]But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.[/x_blockquote]
That means that you as an unbeliever aren’t able to correctly interpret the Bible.
At least that is what the Bible says about you.
Because you need the Spirit of God to be able to understand the Bible.
“Well, That’s Convenient For You,” You Say
I know, I know, it must be awfully convenient for Christians to have a Bible that can only be interpreted correctly by Christians.
But think about it.
- Only a petroleum engineer can read an earth chart correctly that identifies where oil is buried under the ground
- Only a doctor or a highly skilled nurse can correctly interpret the chart of a sick patient
- Only a dentist can accurately read the x-ray’s of one of her patient’s teeth
Listen, If Skeptics Know How to Correctly Interpret the Bible, Then We Wouldn’t Have Hermeneutics
“What do hemorrhoids have to do with understanding the Bible,” you ask.
Not hemorrhoids but hermeneutics ? .
Here’s a definition of hermeneutics according to Dictionary.com (great app for your phone, by the way)
- The science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.
- The branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis.
It’s the critical explanation or interpretation of a Biblical text.
So imagine that there is a whole world dedicated to correctly interpreting the Bible.
People get their Ph.D.’s in hermeneutics, exegesis, and Biblical theology. And it takes the average student 8.2 years to get their Ph.D. (source)
That’s 8.2 years!!!
Does that mean that you have to study the Bible for 8.2 years before you can understand it?
Nope, there are several ways to fix this problem.
3 Solutions That Will Help You Read the Bible Accurately
Ok, so if you want to have the correct interpretation of the Bible, you have three options.
You can pick 1 out of the 3, or choose to do a combination of these solutions:
Solution #1 – Ask God to Give You the Correct Interpretation
You’ll probably think this is the hardest of all the solutions to do, but it is the best option (in my opinion).
After all, you might be thinking why would anyone talk to an imaginary daddy in the sky and ask Him/Her/It to tell you what a made-up book (the Bible) means?
I know, I know, I understand your skepticism because I was in your shoes before.
It’s up to you, but God says this:
If you want to receive revelation from God even though you don’t believe in Him, then you can approach God with your skepticism.
I did that when I was an atheist.
I didn’t believe in God, but there was one specific night where I said to God, “God if you’re real, and you’re out there, I need Your help.
“I don’t know who I’m praying to, if you’re listening, or if you’re real, but I’m going to try contacting you anyways.”
I thought it was going to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. But I was wrong.
That was the beginning of an incredible spiritual journey.
Solution #2 – Read an Orthodox Commentary Written by a Trusted Source
If you want to read a good explanation of the Bible, then you want to avoid Bart Ehrman’s commentary on the Bible.
After all, Bart is an unbeliever which is going to give you the same inaccurate interpretation that you can find by other skeptics.
Instead, get yourself a good Orthodox commentary that is in line with mainstream Christianity.
The flaw with this option is that you’re going to have to battle the doubt in your mind about what if mainstream Christianity is wrong.
If that’s true, then reading a Bible commentary about Orthodox Christianity might be a waste of your time.
The solution, in my opinion, is that even if you struggle with this, then reading one of these commentaries at least will provide you with an excellent education about what most Christians believe is an accurate interpretation of Scripture.
That way, if you enter into a debate, you’ll be better equipped to win.
So here is a list of widely accepted Orthodox commentaries if you’re interested in checking them out:
- Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible
- The MacArthur Bible Commentary
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
By the Way, What Do You Do About This One Critical Question?
While you and I are on the topic, may I please ask you how do you choose which sources of information to believe in?
For example, you have books written by authors like Bart Ehrman that denounces the Bible and Christianity. The books he’s written are based on scholarly work.
Then you have books by authors like Norman Geisler, who affirm the Bible and Christianity. His books are also backed by scholarly work.
Both of the teachings of these two authors oppose each other.
Who is right, and who is wrong?
I’m not offering an answer here, but it’s just some food for thought.
Solution #3 – Ask a Real, Not a Fake, Christian
Not everyone that says they’re a Christian is a Christian.
There are many fakes out there, and one of the most popular articles on my blog to this day is an article I wrote about fake Christians.
So how can you tell if someone who claims to be a Christian is real or not?
Here are some things that will help you identify fake Christians from the real ones:
- Fake Christians tend to be hypocrites who regularly act differently than what they say (I’ve acted hypocritically too on occasion, but not on a regular ongoing basis)
- Fake Christians have no desire to read the Bible regularly or to do activities that will make them closer to God
- Fake Christians can sometimes be found “living in sin” (like living with a boyfriend or girlfriend)
Are there exceptions to these rules? Sure there are.
But these are just some general guidelines to help you identify who’s a real Christian and who isn’t.
Once you’ve found a genuine Christian, take them aside, or take them out to lunch, and ask them your question about the Bible.
Hopefully, they’ll be able to answer you.
Here are the main takeaways from this blog post:
- Skeptics are unable to correctly interpret the Bible because it’s a spiritual book that must be spiritually discerned
- There are three main ways that a skeptic can find out the correct interpretation of Scripture, and they are:
- He/She can ask God for the interpretation even though they are not believers
- He/She can read an Orthodox Christian commentary
- He/She can ask a real, not fake, Christian
Got something to say? Post your comment and I’ll do my best to respond as quickly as I can.
[author title=”About the Author”]
Great article man! Keep em coming!
That’s awesome, thanks so much Robert ?
You hit it out of the park again, Peter.
Aww, thanks so much Don, all the credit goes to Jesus ☝. Love you my brother
Here’s the problem. I can study and learn all those things, from reading a medical chart to reading a geological chart to reading X-rays of teeth. I don’t need to have any special beliefs, I just need to learn and understand science. I can even, should I desire, go back and recreate every step that leads to the knowledge of how things work.
On the other hand, you require a belief before understanding. I can’t go to the beginning and perform experiments to determine the validity, I must accept, with no proof, that what you say is correct.
It’s simple, you require faith — belief without proof, science requires proof for belief.
In that way this entire article fails. You can’t reasonably compare science with religion for the reason I give above. You even point out that no amount of study will give the “correct” interpretation unless you first have belief. Again that is contrary to the way science works.
In fact, this article reinforces the idea that the bible is not truth, with or without a capital ‘T’, and that its believers essentially make up their beliefs based on what people have said before or vague quotes from the text.
Question99, I can see your point there especially because it is true to some degree because Christians do live by faith. However God always does give us proofs to start with which can come in many different forms, which like what Peter had emphasized in his previous post, skeptics have different reasons to why they don’t believe and so these skeptics needed different kind of proofs (some needed miracles perform while others just plain explanation, etc).
Going back to the topic, I do believe, talking about your context of proof, that there are living proof(s) to our faith. Firstly, Historical artifacts https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relics_associated_with_Jesus yet even with this you might still be doubtful because the authenticity is not a 100% proven yes, in that case you might find this useful http://www.npr.org/2012/04/01/149462376/did-jesus-exist-a-historian-makes-his-case . Aside from that, the fact that it was widely accepted in the past to use the term BC/ BCE (Before Christ) this is a proof in itself. In the past, people DID believe in the authenticity of Jesus existance and so God’s. You might argue that because it was in the past it proves nothing however it is logical to think that with time, evidence does lose its authenticity/credibility overtime (consider, DNA/dead body for instance) which thus explains the increasing disbeliefs. Another thing, I found out overtime is that in other religions (Buddha for instance if you read the tripitaka) the believers are also waiting for a saviour yet unlike Christians they deny the fact that Christ is the saviour. This is a proof enough for me that Christ does indeed exist and so does God.
What I can tell you from my past experience is that it’s not that there are things that aren’t clear/not explained. Sometimes we just don’t look at the right places. Being a christian is also difficult for me because I question many things but God has proven me faithful. Reading through the bible has helped me a lot, I believe the bible is there as God’s proof too (in fact the whole bible is God’s proof) and is a tool that we are blessed to have. You might also find reading the bible useful. God has opened my eyes numerous times through the bible (it is to be noted that the whole bible is a unit. One book supports the understanding of another).
Lastly, I think even scientists need to have faith for them to understand and draw out conclusion for their proofs.
Hopefully this helps.
I really liked your answers, B. You did a wonderful job sharing your point of view ? . Keep up the great work ? .
You hit it out of the park again, Questions99! Solid, logical and concise. The Bible can never validate its own claims of truth – neither can any other religious text. Throughout history (and all the religions that have come and gone) faith has proven to have a terrible track record as a mechanism to determine truth. I doubt very many people make critical decisions in other areas of their lives in this manner. Why is it just the given norm when it comes to religion??
Peter – this article doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of accuracy issues with the Bible. I was hoping to find more that “take it on faith”.
Keep writing. I’ll keep reading. Peace.
I have to agree with thatguy…you offer tantalizing points, Peter, declaring that “Skeptics often object to: Biblical account of creation, supposed condoning of slavery, Noah’s Ark and Flood [as literal events], God committing genocide” then say nothing more about these valid objections, instead directing us to ask God, read Bible-supporting commentaries, and ask a real–not fake–Christian. I still challenge all of the above, because I did all of the above, and realized I had even more questions!
LOL, I’m glad you were “tantalized” ? I actually didn’t do that on purpose. it’s just that I have a good grasp of what the atheist objections are and I talk about them with my atheist friends all the time ( present company included ? )
But I promise you that I will tackle on these topics head-on in upcoming articles that I have scheduled for this year.
I think I understand why you’re disappointed, thatguy. The article isn’t really meant to tackle any perceived errors in the Bible. It’s meant to tackle the problem of how skeptics read the Bible.
The problem with that is that your answer is “You have to think like me to interpret the Bible the right way.” If you already have to believe for the Bible to make sense, then the Bible itself is worthless in getting someone to believe it.
By the same “logic,” if you already believe in the Hindu gods, the Vedas are all logical and make perfect sense. You can’t believe they are true unless you already believe they are true.
Sorry, but your argument only further convinces me that relgion–yours and everyone else’s–is without any real value.
If what you are saying is correct, then there wouldn’t be an explanation for atheists who read the Bible and then become Christians.
I was thinking earlier today or yesterday I believe, I haven’t read a blog post from Peter Guirguis in awhile, and low and behold here’s a blog post. Thanks Brother!
Hi Andrew, you’re right, it has been a while. I went on vacation and then I got busy with some personal projects. But now I hope to have more time to write. How about you Andrew, how is your summer going so far?
Question 99, You’ve missed the point. Unless you have been born again spiritually by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life, the Bible will be just jumble. Spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh. Trying to understand something spiritually by the flesh is impossible. 1 Corinthians 2 v 14. Why not try solution #1 and just ask the eternal God to show you, if you are sincere He will.
Thanks Geoff, you make an excellent point ?
I don’t think I’ve missed the point at all.
I perfectly understand what you’re saying. You’re saying I must have faith and believe before I can understand the bible.
I’m saying that’s exactly the opposite of how real life works. You don’t have to believe a plane will fly before you can understand a manual about building a plane. You don’t have to believe in gravity before you can study its effects.
Your insistence that one must believe before one can understand doesnt work in the real world. You believing the world is flat doesn’t make it true.
Any skeptic is going to view this the same way. Belief and faith are never precursors to fact. Belief comes from discovery of fact.
Finally, I’ve already tried your solution. Now I can’t understand why any mature mind believes it any more than they they believe in the Greek myths, or any other myth you don’t believe in,
There are lots of gods you don’t believe in. Why do you think your particular god is the correct one, and how do you know you’re not just fooling yourself?
That’s actually not what I’m saying and neither is it what the article is saying either. You can still remain an unbeliever and interpret the Bible correctly. All you have to do is choose one of the three solutions I wrote about in this blog post while remaining an unbeliever.
I’ve been that orthodox Christian, I have read through at least one full
commentary written by a Christian, as well as parts of others, and commentaries by non-Christians. Yet I’m pretty sure you’d tell me I don’t interpret the bible correctly.
It still works out to belief and faith, doesn’t it? I don’t accept that the bible can be literal. Yet how many Christians will tell me the bible is the literal word of God? At that point there really isn’t much interpretation. The story of Adam and Eve and an angel (well, cherubim) with a flaming sword to guard the tree, all literal truth.
So, while I understand that you believe I can get the “correct” interpretation from a Christian or book, doesn’t that then beg the question of which interpretation is right? And since you can’t really take anyone else’s word for that, don’t you have to believe, have faith, and study to come to the correct interpretation?
Thank you very much for sharing about your background with me. It’s very helpful to understand where you’re coming from.
So I understand that you have been an Orthodox Christian. It sounds to me like you are no longer one anymore. May I please ask you if you have a certain denominational background?
No real affinity to a particular denomination. I grew up in a small church where my father was the preacher. I got along fine with a church that just called themselves “name Christian church”, though I guess I remember not being entirely in agreement with them on some points. I found Nazerines very different from what I believed.
And no, I’m no longer a believer in any god.
May I please ask you how long ago did you stop believing in God?
I identify myself as a new christian and am attending an evangelical church. I trust the Lord and would love to be His disciple and obey Him (not because He will condemn me if I don’t but because I know I respect and love Him). However, sometimes I am struggling with my faith particularly about trinity that Christ and God are one.
As of now, I believe Acts 9:4-5 NKJV”And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”” and
John 10:25-30 NKJV “Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”” has helped me a lot at times I was guilty of being doubtful.
Do you have any other verses/references that might further explains trinity?
What a great question, B! Yes, I do have some more verses that affirms the Trinity. But instead of writing out my answer here, I’m going to point you to a great resource. Here you go, click on this link please:
Not exactly sure how long it’s been, but a minimum of between 20 and 25 years ago was the last time I can say I even might have believed in some kind of god.
Okay Questions99, and do you remember what it was that caused you to leave the Christian faith?
I would like to add, Question99, scientists need to construct a hypothesis before they can conduct an experiment. Thus I believe, faith and facts are correlated and (in my opinion) that’s where the statement science enhances faith originated from.
B: I just noticed your comment to me and wanted to reply.
First, scientists do not need faith for science. This is a point believers like to push, but it simply isn’t true. In science you can usually recreate the experiments that lead to a conclusion, and you can always examine the evidence and follow the reasoning that leads to a conclusion. Science doesn’t have a need for faith.
I don’t think you understand what a hypothesis is, or how it’s used in science. A hypothesis is a guess — perhaps an educated guess — of how something occurs. It is never thought of as fact until confirmed by experimental data. There is no faith there, because the hypothesis is considered no more than a possibility until confirmed.
I start with that because when you mention artifacts or try to prove that a historical Jesus existed, what we don’t have is proof.
No non-Christian scientist believes, for example, the shroud of Turin is an actual artifact from the time of Jesus, let alone the face of Jesus. While Christian historians attempt to prove that the man you call Jesus existed, many other historians disagree. The earliest possible mention of Jesus isn’t until about 50 years after what would have been his death. He’s only mentioned a very few times in historical writings that aren’t biblically based. In short, I find the lack of evidence makes me believe that the person you believe existed, didn’t.
What it boils down to is that the proof that would satisfy a scientist doesn’t exist. Not for the artifacts or for the existence of Jesus.
Well, like you point out in your comment Questions99, it’s all going to depend on which sources you’re going to choose to believe in. So since you have atheistic beliefs, then naturally you’re going to believe in the sources that tell you that the first mention of Jesus isn’t until about 50 years after what would have been his death. But I can cite for you scholarly resources that show you that the time is less than 50 years.
Additionally, the reason that there is a gap between the writings of the apostles mentioning Jesus is because after Jesus’ death, the disciples believed that He was going to come back very soon. But when He didn’t, that’s when they began to write things down to pass along to the next generation and to address new communities of Christians worldwide.
I’ve already told you, but in a single word: knowledge. I studied everything I could get my hands on, read everything I could, and after years of that, I came to the conclusion no gods exist.
And at the time when you were a Christian, did you know the Lord?
No, the reason that the gospels were written so much later was because at the time stories and events were handed down orally, the fact that Jesus said he’d be back within their generation is coincidental.
Further, the first non-biblical text that mentions a man who might be Jesus was written you by Josephus, in 93-94 AD.
And it isn’t a matter of simply choosing a source to believe, it a matter of which source has the most proof for their conclusions. I don’t reject Christian sources because they are Christian, I reject Christian sources that aren’t reliable because of how they present their data, what data they use, because their conclusions don’t follow logically from their data, or other similar reasons.
I’m not sure if you ever came across this in your studies, Questions 99. there is a recording earlier than Josephus in 93-94 AD that mentions Jesus.
Thallus is the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient his writings don’t even exist any more. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who previously tried to explain away the darkness occurring at Jesus’ crucifixion. Here’s an excerpt
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)
When I was a Christian, did I know the lord?
At the time, I would have adamantly said yes.
Now I’d say that I was experiencing things and attributing them to an outside force simply because I chose to. In other words, I was fooling myself.
Sadly you were most likely never a Christian at all. A truly born again person passes from spiritual death unto life and it is impossible for them to go back to that lost state again, nor would they even consider the thought of doing that. But I am so glad that you are questioning your beliefs and that you are very in depth with your answers as is testified by your continued correspondence to this site.. Perhaps The Lord is working within your heart to bring you back to himself. 1 Timothy 3 v 16.
So in essence what you’re saying is that you were not a true Christian because you were just imagining things in your mind. Therefore, you were never a true convert to begin with.
I don’t mean to offend you, but I’m just basing my conclusion on what you wrote in your comment.
I never said I wasn’t a “true” Christian. I was a much a true Christian as you believe yourself to be.
Rather, what I’d say is that I now realize that I was experiencing things that I attributed to a god. I’d also say you are doing exactly the same things.
None of your experiences can be proven to anyone else, and no matter what you feel, if you are honest, you have to admit those experiences could have come from within.
There are only two requirements to be a Christian: believe in (the Christian) God, and believe that Jesus was his son who sacrificed himself so they we could be saved.
To enter heaven, you also must confess your sins.
But only those two requirements to be a Christian, and I met both. I believed in God and I believed that Jesus came so that we could be saved.
Not only did I grow up in the church, as an adult I rededicated myself to God. Even though I didn’t feel it was a requirement, I chose to be baptized.
What this boils down to is that you are wrong. It’s something Christians like to tell me — I couldn’t have been a Christian, because if I had been, I wouldn’t believe as I do. You’re wrong about that, as well. It happens far more often than you want to believe.
See, I understand, though. I’ve done the work, I’ve studied the scripture, and my guess is that I’ve been thinking about this longer than you’ve been an adult, and it’s not unlikely that it’s even longer than you’ve been alive. It’s threatening to find a person who’s been where you are and yet come to a conclusion that is the opposite of yours, especially when it’s such a big part of your life.
I’m not questioning. I’m content with my current belief system. i don’t know where you got the idea I’m still questioning. I came to my conclusions years ago. I’m open minded and willing to be proven wrong, but since there’s never been proof of any supernatural event, I’m not holding my breath.
Questions99, I will add to enter heaven and to be a christian, aside from having faith we need to act on our faith (which I believe as time goes on people tend to disregard this). For instance read James 2:14-26 NKJV “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” and 1 John 2:5-6 “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked”.
I wouldn’t argue you aren’t educated enough in the Christians studies but I would believe (though you might not agree) at the end it goes back to what Peter had previously mentioned, since you have reached your conclusion and are looking at the scriptures through your atheist lense I don’t think we have the chance to prove you wrong from the very first place. Are you willing to rethink and reconsider your analysis? I could say each time I was guilty of disbelieving I was open to rethink and reconsider my analysis and that was how I was able to come back having more faith than before.
However, I would ask what do you consider as facts? Aren’t what we consider as facts is deduced from what we believe too? To accept a fact as facts we need to “believe” it is a fact. If facts are obsolete then why would we sometimes argue with facts? Consider in a campus setting sometimes we would argue with our lecturers before our lecturers explain the logic behind it. You might say that “earth is round” is a fact but even that we need faith to believe it as facts. Have we seen the earth from the outerspace? Unless we have seen the earth with our very own eyes, we could only BELIEVE what the astronauts NASA said. Moreover no one is omnipotent omnipresent omniscient so no one can ever say that God doesn’t exist is a fact. Therefore from an objective point of view both of us have a 50/50 chance. You choose to “believe” that God does not exist and I choose to “believe” that He does.
You’re attempting to shift the burden of proof. No one can conclusively prove that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy don’t exist, either. Does that make the chances of them existing 50/50? Why not play the lottery every week. Either you’ll win or you won’t–does that mean your chances of winning are 50/50?
Additionally, no one “chooses” to believe anything. We are convinced by evidence. I’m unconvinced by your evidence, because I think your evidentiary standards are far too low.
Since the original post and many commenters have suggested studying Christianity and theology, may I humbly suggest that you take a course in basic logic?
Equating God’s existence with the existence of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy is an ignorant argument that is used by atheists who are not well-educated on the subject.
Its like comparing apples to watermelons – the two are so different. Here is how God is different from Santa Claus and tooth fairies:
1. Santa Claus and tooth fairies are supposed to exist in our universe but God exists outside of the universe
2. Santa Claus and tooth fairies are myths and no one in their sane mind claims that either of these exist. But millions of sane people claim that God exists for hundreds of years.
3. Santa Claus and tooth fairies have no historical evidence of ever existing. But there is plenty of historical evidence that Jesus Christ (God) existed and still exists today.
*if facts are absolute (sorry not obsolete).
Sorry english isn’t my first language.
You don’t need faith to know the earth is spherical. Do you think that we thought the earth was flat before we were able to go into space? Before manned flight?
Usung mathematics and science the earth was proved to be spherical no later than 1048 at the latest, and the concept of a spherical earth goes back to Plato, at least, and probably further.
So, no faith required to prove the earth is spherical. Nor is faith required in any science. If you believe it is, then you don’t understand how science works.
Faith vs. works is a common argument among Christians. But works alone can’t get you into heaven. Nor can faith. I did add that confessing your sins before God was the final key, and that’s not faith.
The 50/50 chance thing? It’s not you’re right or I’m right. That’s part of the problem. Your mistake is in assuming the only God is the Christian God, but there are many, many, more.
Why don’t you believe in Shiva, for example?
So, essentially what it boils down to is that I believe in one fewer gods than you do. There are bunches of gods you don’t believe in. I simply add one to that list.
From an objective point of view, you have about one chance in a thousand of being right and I have about one chance in a thousand of being right — except that there exists no proof for anything supernatural ever occurring, so I’m on the side of where the most evidence exists.
Now the premise of me not being able to understand the bible was based on the idea that I had never been a Christian, I had never read a Christian commentary on the bible, and I had never had an orthodox Christian explain the bible to me.
I’ve been the first, I’ve done the second and third. I simply reject that the bible has any real validity. it’s not a matter of understanding, it’s a matter of having no reason to believe.
Why should I believe something for which no proof and no evidence exists? Why should you?
I admit I’m not a science person I’m more into rationalization. I’m explaning things from what applies to me. And, yes I do need faith to accept something as facts. Until I am omnipotent omnipresent omniscient I will need faith to accept something as facts. I believe something can only be regarded as genuinely a fact if it has 0 probability of something proving it wrong -which in reality is impossible to know because we can have 9999999999999 evidences to support the something and 1 evidence against it to prove it otherwise. I believe in this matter, i’m going to frustrate you.
Studying the bible does not make someone a Christian. Faith and works is needed for someone to be a Christian at the very first place. That is why I doubt your authenticity in being a Christian in the past. If someone has truly believes in God our brain is wired to find things and accept the evidences that support our beliefs. In the same manner because you believe that God doesn’t exist, your brain is going to accept the evidences that support your stand.
I don’t believe in any other gods because I do have some background in other religions and simply said I don’t feel the presence of God in any other religion and no other religion makes sense to me.
On the side note, are you a scientist?
Thank you Peter for sharing the link about trinity! 🙂
You’re welcome, B, anytime ?
There is no proof for God, you are correct about that. However, there is plenty of evidence. Proof and evidence are not the same thing.
Science cannot prove God. But science can show us evidence for God.
Here’s the bottom line: both atheist scientists and believing scientists have exactly the same data in front of them. What causes them to reach different conclusions about the data is their starting points.
If an unbelieving atheist scientist starts with a universe that does not have a Creator and starts with evolution, then it’s going to influence the way he interprets the results. Likewise, if there is a believing scientist who believes that there is a creator God and that He created the universe and the things in it, then it’s also going to influence his conclusions.
It’s not a matter of one group having studied more, or being more intelligent than the other. What matters is the starting point of every person.
You’re right, both atheist scientists and theistic scientists start from the same data.
But here’s the problem. Theistic scientists start with an additional point: god exists. If you start with the assumption that God exists — as any believer does — then your bias forces you to make that part of your theory of anything you want to describe.
This can be seen in many places. Evolution, for example. If evolution is false, please explain why only theistic scientists doubt it. Yes you might be able to find one or two, but one or two in a sample of hundreds of thousands is statistically insignificant.
Evidence is not proof, but there is no evidence anywhere that can’t be described in methods that do not require a supernatural being.
So, the fact that a minority of scientists believe something contrary to accepted scientific theories is meaningless. It doesn’t prove a god, it doesn’t offer evidence for a god, all it does is show that some people have beliefs so strong they ignore logic and reason to keep those beliefs.
I can make exactly the same argument; anti-theists start with an additional starting point of saying that there is no God. To us theists, that doesn’t make sense. That’s because since the universe is of a certain age, as you know, it’s currently believed to be 13.8 billion years of age by most scientists, then that’s going to stipulate that there must be an uncaused cause who designed the universe 13.8 billion years ago.
As for you saying that because the majority of scientists believe something, then the minority is wrong, here is the issue with that. History has shown that there are times when the minority is right and the majority is wrong.
No, you can’t make the point that anti-theists start from a similar position, because it isn’t true.
Theists start with the position there is a god. They start with positing something that has never been proven exists.
That’s like starting from the position that leprechauns exist, and using folk tales as evidence to say it’s true.
Secular scientists start from nothing and say prove everything.
It isn’t the same, and to say it is either shows how little you understand about what consists of proof, evidence, and the d i.e. Ridiculous metric, or it is simply a lie.
Also let me point out that as a scientist, your responsibility is to created a hypothesis that is both testable and repeatable. Any theory that bases itself on a god is not testable because the existence of a god is not testable. So, any scientist claiming god has already violated the basic premise of how to create an experiment.
Using your logic, I’d like to point out that Darwinian Evolution is not testable nor is it repeatable. No scientist has ever been able to create an experiment to prove that Darwinian Evolution is true. That’s why it remains a theory.
And by Darwinian evolution, I’m talking about how humans started from a molecule. I’m not talking about adaptation.
Darwinian evolution is both testable and reoeatable, and scientists have done the tests, repeated the tests, and observed the outcome. They have also seen evolution in action and seen speciation in the wild.
Again, you do t understand the scientific method if you believe that evolution is not testable and repeatable.
Go ahead and link to an article that cites an experiment that proves Darwinian evolution. Please note that in not talk about adaptation as in Darwin’s finches. I’m talking about an experiment that shows that humans and animals all evolved from a single molecule.
You don’t really understand what evolution is, or you wouldn’t make the distinction you do. But try some of these that talk about evolution in proteins:
Bloom, JD; Arnold, FH (16 June 2009). “In the light of directed evolution: pathways of adaptive protein evolution.”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106 Suppl 1: 9995–10000. doi:10.1073/pnas.0901522106. PMID 19528653
Moses, AM; Davidson, AR (17 May 2011). “In vitro evolution goes deep.”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 (20): 8071–2. doi:10.1073/pnas.1104843108. PMID 21551096.
Or this one about RNA replication:
Or this one:
All of those are pieces to the puzzle.
And when you still want to argue with me, go look up a (sexular) evolutionary biologist and ask him the question, because nothing I can say will make you believe me.
Then you don’t believe that God exists is a fact.
Truth is, you don’t believe anything is a fact except that you exist. You can’t 100% prove you aren’t a brain in a jar being fed stimulus. You can’t even come close to proving you aren’t, because every single thing you experience is through your brain.
So, let’s go back, because I don’t believe you really think that. Is gravity a fact? There is zero evidence against it. Will you die if deprived of air for a sufficient time? Yes. Will you die if your head is removed from your body?
There are facts that are completely indisputable. You say you aren’t a science person. I knew that already by the statements you make. I will tell you that a person who understands science does not need faith to accept certain things as fact. A scientist need proof. That you can’t accept things without depending on faith — belief without proof — is a fault you have, not a fault of science.
Works. You need to read you bible more carefully. At the very least, the necessity of works is debated among Christians, and so you proclaiming that one needs works to go to heaven simply isn’t accepted by all Christians.
So, were you brought up as a Christian? Live in a predominantly Christian country? Have you tried any other religion? Have you tried praying to one of those gods and sincerely asking them to show their self in your life?
No. I believe that God exists so it is “my” fact. You believe that God does not exist and that is your fact.
I don’t see the world as black and white. Yes I might die, but that’s not necessarily 100% true how would you explain miracles then? Why so the word miracles exist in the very first place?
The neccesity of works might be debated but truth is how can someone who really loves God loves sin? (Key word loves not never falls into sin again). Repentance and our beliefs heals our relationship with God but it doesn’t mean our sins aren’t considered as sins.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”
Romans 3:19-26, 31 NKJV
Nonetheless it wasn’t the point that I was going to make. Genuinely asking, have you ever truly believe in God the times you study the bible?
My father is a born buddhist but in reality he believes in monotheism not a believer of any religion. My mother is also buddhist but under a entirely different denomination which is unlike traditional buddhist beliefs. So yes I had prayed to other gods. I live in a predominantly islamic country but I went to a christian school where we had the habit to study the bible every morning starting elementary school. It was a must to learn Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, Islam as a compulsory course that I had to take in the past.
You may believe that God exists, but I would dispute that it can be called a fact. It is faith, because you have no proof.
A fact is something that can be proven.
Faith is belief without proof. That’s what you have.
I never said that God doesn’t exist. I said that I see no reason to believe in him, as no facts support his existence.
Miracles? Whist miracle do you have proof of? Mostly people use the word miracle to describe something good that happens that they can’t explain.
I have never been offered proof of any miracle, nor do I believe there is proof of any miracle.
Yes, again I tell you I was a Christian, I believed in God, and as a Christian I studied the bible.
I congratulate you. Most people stick with the religion they were brought up in. Nonetheless, simply because you found a religion that feels good to you doesn’t mean that religion you chose is the right one. Did you try Mithra? How about Zeus? How about Shiva? It is simply your own internal feelings that make you believe in the Christian God, and you have no proof that you can show to me or anyone else that you are correct.
I see, I was confused because isn’t it the same? We need proofs to believe that God does not exists which isn’t possible to be proven because no one is omnipotent omnipresent omniscient.
Talking about miracles, until people can explain all “miracles” (consider this as a simple noun not something ‘supernatural’ related with this) through sciences/math/etc. I would believe “miracles is never a miracle” is a belief in itself.
I do not know Mithra. I know Zeus, shiva is a god in Hindu. Perhaps, in the same way no one can ever have a proof that these gods exist. I have accepted that God exists and therefore it is what I believe as facts. I might not be able to prove to you that God exists but I have proven to myself thousand of times that God does indeed exists 🙂
The reason god can’t be proven to not exist is because you can’t prove a non-existence of anything.
Do you believe in leprechauns? Can you prove they don’t exist?
And though I can’t completely prove gods don’t exist, I don’t see any more reason to believe in them than I do leprechauns.
Just like leprechauns, we have no proof for their existence either.
About miracles: I admit, like gods, I can’t prove no miracle will ever occur. But neither do you offer any proof that a miracle did occur. What miracles do you refer to? You want to talk in generalities because a generality can’t be disproven. Talk in specifics, talk of some miracle that you can point to and say this was a miracle.
But then one statement you make seems to place you do far from science and fact that it would take years for you to unlearn your prejudice. You start the statement by saying that until all miracles can be proven by science, and go from there.
A logical person doesn’t start with the idea that an incident is a miracle. A logical person starts with the idea that there is a scientific explanation for an occurance, and only proceeds to miracle if there is no other explanation. Which there has been in every single case ever brought to my attention.
Going off the topic, the thing is as I was saying I would need faith to accept anything as facts until I am omnipotent omnipresent omniscient because nothing can genuinely be considered as facts (considering the 0 probabilities and 999999 vs 1 evidences i previously mentioned). This is my roots for my beliefs.
Back to the topic, I would conclude because you cannot prove the non existance of anything it is not a genuine fact (your definition of fact) at least in my point of view. It is what you believe as fact. Or else how is it fair? If the logic of yours is true that fact (your definition of facts) should be accompanied by proofs it should be applicable to even non existance. (Consider the 99999 vs 1 evidence).
And I was mentioning miracles as I was relating to the proof that some people scientifically died and live again. People who were scientifically supposed to die but did not (for instance, those people who hurt themselves for attraction). This is a continuation of when I say “yes I ‘might’ die”. I was saying this because it is the evidence to why the die logic is not an absolute (genuine) fact.
You say you don’t believe in any god, but I would conclude you also have no reason not to. So what do you identify yourself as?
Specifically, what people have died and come back to life? Give me a specific circumstance, and I’ll talk about it. Talking in generalities is worthless.
What reason do I have to not believe in a god? The mere fact that there is no proof or evidence to show that any god exists. Why should I, or anyone, believe in a thing that not only can’t be proven, but for which there is no evidence? There are very good reasons not to believe something if you don’t have evidence for it. I can believe all I want that some magical bring will provide me food, shelter, and a way to pay my bills even though I choose not to go to work. But that belief will get my house reposesed, leave me hungry, and take away the comforts I enjoy in my life.
It is not simply my belief that says you can’t prove a negative. It is the way logic itself works. Until and unless you can examine every single location in the entire universe, a thing can’t be proven to not exist because it might be in one of the locations you didn’t look in.
Look, you don’t understand science. You don’t understand logic. You don’t even really understand what a fact is. (Your belief in something does not make it a fact. You don’t get your own personal set of facts, facts are shared between all.)
Before you can argue more than your opinion, you really need to understand a lot more about science, s lot more about logic, and probably a lot more about the world in general.
“Until and unless you can examine every single location in the entire universe, a thing can’t be proven to not exist because it might be in one of the locations you didn’t look in.” That is why I believe in God because nothing prove Him doesn’t exist. And yes I might need to learn more about science and the world in general because I’m not omnipresent omniscient omnipotent nor will I ever be.
I do believe the existance/ inexistance of leprechauns and any other mythical creature is not a fact but it is something that is still in question. At the same time that is controversial. I’m not saying that all mythical creatures exist/does not but dinosaurs are considered to be a myth too (at least in my knowledge you are open to argue) before the fossils were understood.
PS: I never said you should believe in God/any god. I previously thought you wanted to find out the reasons to why believers believe in God (at least my version of it).
Anyways, I think we have made things clear enough that we would never agree 🙂 I would say my goodbye, it was nice talking to you (at least in my point of view) you made me think and it’s not that easy to find someone who I can talk deeply with.
“That is why I believe in God because nothing prove Him doesn’t exist.”
Sigh. Again, the opposite of what science would do.
By that statement you believe in leprechauns, fairies, unicorns, dinosaurs that live right now, in people with super powers, that life exists at the center of the earth, that life doesn’t exist at the center of the earth, that there is life on the moon, that I’m a self aware robot, that aliens secretly run the world, that computers and your phone are magic, not science, that we live on an earth surrounded by a video screen that shows us the sun, moon, stars, and sky, that you exist only as a brain in a jar being fed information…
And I could go on and on.
I’m sorry, but it’s simply ridiculous to believe in something because you can’t prove it false.
Have a nice life.
Hey B and Questions99–interesting discussion. Looks like a lot of the Twitter convos I’ve been involved in for the past 3 years, first as a Young Earth Creationist (YEC), and since then as a much wiser person who has looked at the evidence that 2 or more viewpoints have presented–in fact I recently changed my handle to @WiserThanIWasB4 (look me up and let’s chat!). I was a born again believer who invested heavily in publishing an evangelistic children’s book that didn’t sell, despite my earnest desire to go and make disciples, in English, French and Spanish! Peter, I was surprised by your statement in your article that well-known atheists simply can’t change their views because they have multiple thousands of dollars invested in book sales. Well, I can’t sell my Christian book despite the enormous investment, because I don’t believe anymore, and don’t want to be guilty of confirming a bias that has frankly done a lot of damage in the world, while it has propelled people to do a lot of good.
I do still continue to seek…I think…maybe I just find the pretty platitudes annoying and misleading, so I challenge them, which leads to more discussions and deeper thinking about critical issues, like why people believe as they do, and how they would respond in different situations, based on their belief systems–and would they respond differently if in a less homogenous peer group.
Anyway–best wishes to all. Do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do!
Sandra, I would love to learn about your belief system too. Will look you up soon 🙂 Hopefully we will be able to have a good discussion.
Thallus can’t be called reliable. Even you note that the first mention of Thallus is in the second century.
What we do know from historical texts of the time is nothing. We don’t know how many books he wrote, or even if he wrote any.
In the 18th century even invented facts about him.
The accounts we do have from Thallus — citations, really — disagree with the gospels.
So, while there are citations from hundreds of years later, we don’t have direct evidence that can be said to be pre Josephus.
Questions99 states the basis of his arguments as:
“It’s simple, you require faith — belief without proof, science requires proof for belief.”
There are many comments to this blog from many individuals but all seem to miss the importance placed (by both sides) upon this definition.
“faith = belief without proof”
That meaning of the word ‘faith’ is not found in the Bible (at least I haven’t found it yet).
That meaning does exist in our English dictionaries (but it is only one of several meanings and even then it is only a sub note expressing a ‘level’ of trust).
The Bible was not written in English and we need to make certain we are understanding original meaning.
The New Testament was written in Greek.
The Greek word which is translated as ‘Faith’ is the word ‘Pistis’.
Pistis in Greek means ‘trust in another’ (in other Greek texts with similar context).
Pistis in the New Testament means ‘trust in God’ (again, in similar context).
The interesting point about ‘Pistis’ is that it is ‘trust which is built upon evidence’.
That also means that if the evidence does not support it, the evidence will erode the ‘trust’ (sounds like a valid, honest approach to me).
When the Bible discusses ‘Faith’, a meaning of “belief without proof” does not exist, the meaning within the Bible is ‘strong trust in God’, ‘trust in what He has promised’ and that trust is based on the evidences which are witnessed and recorded by people.
Just like our scientific experiments are witnessed and recorded by people.
The Bible constantly encourages me to validate and correct what I am believing, exactly the opposite of “belief without proof”.
The Bible constantly repeats our need to understand, to know, to correct erroneous belief, to not be misled by false prophets, etc. The only way we can accomplish these things is to not have a “belief without proof” .
I do agree with ‘Questions99’, that if our faith is a “belief without proof” we are likely wasting our time.
Actually Paul agrees as well…
1Co 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
1Co 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
In my experience, when I don’t validate my beliefs (including what scientists say), I am easily led astray.
A simple misunderstanding of a single word can easily be twisted into entire books on how to avoid God.
Re: twisting evidences
Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Woe Gord, I’ve been a Christian for many years now and I didn’t know this definition for biblical faith that you are bringing up. This is super helpful, thank you so much for sharing that!
You miss the point about all believers needing faith. It doesn’t matter what you feel the word means in the bible. I’m not talking about that.
It’s much simpler. There is no proof for any god. There is no real evidence for anything supernatural, no proof.
Belief without proof is faith.
So you must have faith that a god exists, you must believe without proof your God exists before you can even start to be a Christian.
Thanks for your reply Question99, I’m appreciating the discussion.
I don’t think I’m missing your point about faith – you have stated it quite clearly several times.
You say “faith = belief without proof”.
You have also stated in a variety of ways that “There is no proof for any god. There is no real evidence for anything supernatural, no proof.”
And you also point out that is what Christians must do – begin with no proof and then believe without proof, only then we can have faith in what the Bible says about God.
I think I am understanding your main points clearly?
Please correct me, if theses are not your main points.
Because if I am understanding them, then I am not missing the point.
Although I must also respectfully disagree with each of them.
You also told me “It doesn’t matter what I feel the word means in the bible.”
Again I must disagree.
I think this entire blog discussion is about ‘understanding’ the Bible and also what causes mistakes when reading and interpreting it.
What we feel and what we think before reading anything will adjust and often overrule what we learn.
We must be very careful what we ‘feel’ and attempt to validate what is true.
I spent months studying that single word, where it came from, what were its roots, in what context it is used, what it means in various sources in the same language, etc.
Nowhere, that I have found, does the Greek refer to anything close to your restrictive meaning “belief without proof”.
I was also confused by why our modern English dictionary includes the definition you keep referring to (because it is a very common attack against Christianity).
I like to understand so I studied more…
– The Greek word ‘Pistis’ meaning ‘confidence, trust, belief’ in the Bible refers to “trust in God”
– The Greek Bible was was translated into Latin.
– The Latin word ‘Fides’ also means ‘confidence, trust, belief’
– The Latin Bible was translated into English
– ‘Fides’ was translated into the English word ‘Faith’, but at that time the word Faith meant ‘confidence, trust, belief’ and that’s it!
We know this from old dictionaries.
So at that time of the translation from Latin to English, the translation of Fides to Faith was completely accurate it meant “confidence, trust and belief”.
But then around the years 1300-1400 the English definition of Faith was changed (society does this all the time), it was changed to add another meaning “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.
You might think it was atheists or agnostics who brought about this change, but it seems to have been the Christian Church which added it (but that’s another blog discussion).
So, it’s actually not what I ‘feel’ the word faith means in the Bible, that’s what it actually means in the Bible.
And there is a lot of proof available to what I’ve briefly stated above.
Peter’s main point in this article is to figure out how we are misinterpreting the Bible and correct it. Then to work at understanding what the Bible truly says. That really has nothing to do with ‘belief without proof’.
The Bible says faith is very important and it shows us hundreds of times that faith is having a ‘strong trust in God’. In both the old and new testaments.
It does not begin with no proof or evidence, it is FULL of evidence and proof and truth.
Have you ever asked who taught you that “faith = belief without proof”?
But it really doesn’t matter how you define the word as used in the bible. I don’t care. I’m using it in its modern sense : belief without proof.
To believe in a god, any god, you must believe without proof. If you don’t want to call that faith, fine, but you’re choosing to ignore the accepted modern meaning.
There is no proof for god, therefore to believe in god you must choose to do so without proof.
Since you choose to disagree with me, I invite you to provide proof that god exists. This proof must be testable and repeatable, or it isn’t proof.
When you can do so, I will admit that you don’t need faith to believe in a god. But in hundreds of years of searching, not one scientist has been able to create a proof of god, and I don’t believe you can either. Philosophers have tried, but what they propose isn’t testable, and I’ll warn you now that I’ve probably already looked at and dismissed any philosophical argument you might pose.
Where do I get my definition of faith? The dictionary. That’s the reference for modern usage and definitions of words. Anyone who chooses not to use a dictionary definition is committing a grammatical error. You can qualify your word, and say “here’s what this word really means”, but the truth is you’re still using it improperly.
Thank you for the added clarity.
As I better understand exactly what your definitions and expectations are, hopefully the better chance we have of communicating.
I guess in fact, that is everyone’s ONLY chance of communicating.
This is the modern definition from a current dictionary:
: strong belief or trust in someone or something
: belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs
: a system of religious beliefs
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
synonyms see belief
Other forms: plural faiths \ˈfāths, sometimes ˈfāthz\
on faith : without question
Origin: Middle English feith, from Anglo-French feid, fei, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust — more at bide.
First use: 13th century
Synonyms: devotion, piety, religion
Antonyms: atheism, godlessness
transitive verb archaic
: believe, trust
Origin: (see 1faith ).
First use: 15th century
Synonyms: devotion, piety, religion
Antonyms: atheism, godlessness
As you have very clearly stated, you feel strongly that the only definition of ‘faith’ we should use is item 1.2.b(1)
We may be able to continue our discussion with that strict restriction, but that means we would have to completely remove any Biblical references to the term, which seems quite silly within this blog.
I do want our discussion to continue, I just don’t understand why you choose to eliminate ~90% of your own definition requirement.
You have invited me “to provide proof that god exists” this is a great challenge (as you have mentioned) and I like challenges.
But then you also place a further restriction on what you will accept as proof,
“This proof must be testable and repeatable, or it isn’t proof”.
I need to again ask where you get that definition of proof, it’s definitely not from a modern dictionary.
It sounds more like a tiny piece extracted from the ‘scientific method’ which might very well be used as proof of something specific. But the ‘scientific method’ is by no means the only method of proof of anything.
It appears your reason for this restriction may be an attempt to make it impossible for anyone to provide you with proof?
Wouldn’t that be akin to a judge in a murder trial saying the only proof I will accept is to murder that same person again and again so that I can validate what happened?
Obviously a judge must accept other forms of proof.
I would like to accept your challenge but we need to agree on a more sensible definition of ‘proof’. Maybe we could try a modern dictionary?
My modern dictionary definition includes terms like cogency, evidence, logic, reasoning, testimony, witness, etc.
Using your restricted definition I couldn’t provide proof for most things that happened in the past (e.g. I couldn’t even prove that I ate dinner last night, let alone what I ate). And it appears you will only believe things that are going to happen in the future if we set up a repeatable, testable experiment.
Definitions do matter but agreement on the definitions is what is most important for understanding and communication to occur.
I would love to share the truths and proofs and evidences of why I have a strong trust in God. My ‘proofs’ continue to increase every day, this does not happen because of blind faith, it happens because my eyes are now open and I have stopped restricting God.
When I say faith I almost always mean belief without proof, and in my experience, most people who use the word use it the same way. I won’t respond to any more discussion about the word and what it means, though. It seems to me to be a ridiculous thing to spend my time on. I’ve defined how I’m most likely to use the word, nothing more is important.
Especially not what you believe it means based on the bible.
Now proof. I’ll except logic, however, you can’t prove God via logic, because at some point one of your premises will need to be proven, and you won’t be able to do so because to prove your premise you’ll need to provide an experiment that is testable and repeatable.
I won’t accept testimony. Thirty years ago I would have testified there was a god in my life, something I now see as ridiculous. I can find people right now who will testify they’ve been abducted by aliens. I don’t believe them either.
“Testable and falsifiable” is not a small part of the scientific method. It is the crux of the scientific method.
I won’t budge on this. You really can not prove — definitively prove — that a god exists without an experiment that tests for a god, that is repeatable, and that is falsifiable. Anything else is subject to interpretation.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. You are making an extraordinary claim.
Evidence can be used, but is also subject to interpretation. We have over 200 years of proof for evolution, yet some people, because they believe in a god, reject what really is proof that the process occurs in lieu of believing in some illogical set of stories that place the earth at 6000 or so years old.
Evidence isn’t proof. Evidence might lead to proof, but is not in and of itself proof.
Everything else is a matter of interpretation.
You complain that you can’t prove anything that happened in the past. It depends on what. I can prove I took out a car loan two years ago. I can prove who witnessed the signatures, I can prove that I still owe some money on that vehicle.
Right at this moment I could, given sufficient need, prove I ate dinner last night. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but it is provable.
But who cares? You want to prove that something exists. Tell me a single thing that we know exists that can’t be proven using testable, repeatable, falsifiable method — except god.
You said that you’ll accept logic. Ok, here you go:
1. Premise 1: Something exists (for example, our universe)
2. Premise 2: Nothing cannot create something
3. Conclusion: Therefore, something must have always existed
Do you agree with the logic of this argument?
But you first have to explain to me where your god came from, since that’s obviously where you’re going.
Premise 1: God exists.
Premise 2; Nothing can exist without a cause.
Conclusion: god must have had a creator or cause. As an aside, it also means there was a time when god didn’t exist.
All you do by claiming the universe must have had a cause is to push back the uncaused event to your god. So, even were I to accept it, you then must explain why your god doesn’t also need a cause.
And by the way, I don’t accept the premise. “Nothing” is too ambiguous. Further, string theory now looks like it shows the origin of the universe. Not proven, but there are good possibilities. And those possibilities would look, to an outside observer, as if a universe was formed from nothing.
I’m taking things one step at a time. For now, let’s just focus on the logic of this argument.
So are you saying that you reject this argument because the word nothing is too ambiguous? If that is the case, then please state your definition for the word nothing.
The fact that you don’t define your terms is not my problem. It is your job to define the terms you choose to use, not mine.
And no, I don’t really feel like waiting around for you to get to the point. If your premise is that everything that exists must have a cause, then skip all the intermediary steps. I’ve been through them far too often. Answer my question: if everything that exists must have a cause, then where did your god come from?
I do not accept that everything must have a cause. Science doesn’t know that. Read Lawtence Krauss’s book “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing”.
“Developments in both cosmology and particle physics over the past 30 or 40 years have not only changed completely the way we think about the universe but made it clear that there’s a plausible case for understanding precisely how a universe full of stuff, like the universe we live in, could result literally from nothing by natural process.” — Lawrence Krauss
I don’t expect a response here but just in case people come across this and think this is a solid point – it isn’t. Mr Krauss does not posit that the universe came from nothing and as a physicist myself I would point out, as you have enjoyed doing to others before me, you must not understand enough about science to follow the physics.
His argument is two fold – I will attempt to explain these in layman’s terms for those reading.
First, the universe came from a very small amount of stuff and not what a normal person would consider nothing but instead what a theoretical physicist would consider nothing. Therefore, as you have blasted others here for doing, Lawrence Krauss is just redefining a term (word: nothing) to make his point seem more credible.
Second, he proposes that empty space can just pop in and out of existence randomly through natural process. Then within this empty space he says that virtual particles can actually also pop in and out of existence randomly through natural process. These are transient fluctuations that conform to -some- portion of normal particle function but are, conveniently, limited completely by Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle.
The issue here is that you are trying to, just as Doctor Krauss does, talk far enough above the heads of the people reading/listening that they cannot refute your postulate. This is, indeed, Lawrence Krauss coming into the end of his understanding and thereby redefining terms to support his argument. Then, not shockingly, he proposes something that by definition cannot be proven by scientific means (do keep in mind that Krauss is a THEORETICAL physicist) – this believe (eg. faith by your definition) in virtual particles, magic space that pops in and out of existence and thus his basis for the validity of the Big Bang and everything since.
You may wonder how then does Krauss provide mathematical evidence for his theory? Antimatter. He posits that antimatter is the exact antithesis of matter and as such the net energy in the universe is zero. Which, according to him, proves that everything could have come from nothing: Matter+Antimatter=Nothing. This is semantics. It’s a play on words. It’s what happens when someone doesn’t have an answer but is used to being the smartest guy in the room – he makes some crap up that sounds logical and talks above your head to make you believe him.
I don’t know a single mathematical physicist, chemist or just reasonable person who would read/hear the Krauss explanation and be convinced. This doesn’t mean God exists – obviously. Just that the currently accepted version (in theoretical physics) of the Big Bang is complete and utter bollocks and not a scientific fact. Why? Because as you so eloquently put it before – science bases it’s facts on repeatable careful observation or measurement (by experimentation or other means), also called empirical evidence of which Krauss has none.
Great article Peter with a very interesting discussion.
It is true that no one can prove the existence of God. While there is no definite proof of God, there is tons of evidence. Anyone that looks at God solely through the lens of science and logic only is likely to not find God. But if one looks also at evidence, then one will find a great deal of evidence.
I remember reading in a comment above (I think) that the earliest mention of the earth being round was Plato, incorrect. The Bible said the earth was round long before that. (Isaiah 40:22 & Job 26:10)
Look at Archeology, the more that is dug up in Israel and other places, the more items and places etc. are found that were mentioned in the Bible. In 1993 the first evidence of King David was dug up. In 2014 6 clay seals were unearthed backing the existence of King David and King Solomon.
The Great Flood of the Bible, it’s not only a tale in the Bible, it’s also noted in other civilizations: Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Greeks all report a flood in primordial times.
Many many biblical cities have been excavated including the cites of the Philistines.
I knew a gentleman with a brain tumor, likely prognosis: death. When the tumor was rechecked a short time later, it was completely gone with no treatment. I also know a person that was run over by their own vehicle, the front end of the vehicle drove over her chest. One does not survive this kind of accident – she did.
Many will say the Bible itself proves nothing, I beg to differ. Over 60 books with over 40 authors and this “book” does not contradict itself as some say. The Old Testament supports the New Testament and vice versa. Anyone who has studied the Bible, studied, not merely read it will note that there are way to many correlations between the different books and even passages to be coincidence – not to mention sentence structure and choice of words used.
I fully well realize that all I have said can be shot down and likely will be. I have had this discussion with many people before. I could write a book, a long book with all the evidence there is to support the truth of God. But if someone requires absolute concrete proof that God does in fact exist, that person will never believe. I was that person…
But if one is willing to look at the “evidence”, not the same as proof, with an open mind – there is plenty of said evidence to be found.
Look at it this way – you know your spouse loves you, do you have concrete proof of that or only evidence?
Your child makes a serious mistake, after which at a certain time you decide said child merits a second chance – can you “prove” your child will do what is right this time, or are you relying on evidence?
I don’t believe there is real evidence. I also find it somewhat amusing that you tell me how the bible says the earth is round. You’re right. It does say it’s round. Problem is, the earth is a sphere, not round. Sitting above a circle, as said in Isaiah, does not mean sphere.
But let’s say, as some claim, that the word translated by pretty much every translator as ‘circle’ really means sphere.
In that case you need to explain the very clear and very wrong description of the earth with land and sky separating the waters below the earth and the waters above the earth.
So, though I’m sure you have a way to tell me I’m wrong, I can clearly see the bible is wrong.
You tell me that there are discoveries that show that locations in the bible are actually there. I don’t doubt that. The seven Harry Potter novels also mention locations that actually exist, but that doesn’t mean the story is true.
The flood. Yes, many civilizations have a legend about a flood. However, a 4000 year old tablet, which predates the writing of Genesis, has a flood myth as well, and is similar in many ways. Add to that that many civilizations, such as Egypt, seem to predate flood times, and exist right through to now, yet never died out because if s flood, and add to that that we have at least one 5000 year old tree that would have been killed in a world wide flood, and finally, science sees no evidence that a world wide flood ever occurred.
No, it really doesn’t. Name even one secular geologist that believes in a world wide flood. If there is real evidence, then there would be debate among secular scientists. There is none.
Being run over on your chest is hard to survive? Not really. I did a quick search and found four people who survived just that. On the first page of results.
Tumors can be misdiagnosed, even those correctly diagnosed can go away for no known reason.
Look, I don’t care what you believe. What you believe is up to you. But you say the things you say like the things you offer provide reasonable evidence and/or proof. To an analytical mind, they do not. Nothing you put forth above even begins to offer good evidence for a supernatural being.
There is no good evidence for a supernatural being. And I say that as someone who has studied the bible. From where I sit I can see three different bibles in three different translations, plus a four way parallel. My Scofield seems to have been left in another room, since I can’t see it. I can also see at least one commentary.
Can I see my spouse’s love? Yes, in her words and actions every day. That can be concrete proof. Do I trust my child to do the right thing next time? Perhaps, but that has nothing to do with proof, it has to do with trust.
But Let’s pretend the answer to both those questions is no, I can’t prove it.
That’s not what I’m asking for.
Can you prove your spouse exists? I highly suspect you can.
You claim god is real. I’m asking for proof he exists. If he exists, why can’t you prove his existence?
All I will say is that it does not matter what I say, you will tell me I’m wrong. There is a reason that Peter and I among many others came to believe in God after not believing. I hope that you find that reason for yourself someday.
No, there is no evidence. What you choose to see as evidence is merely sonething else. Tell me the evidence, I’ll do my best to tell you why.
I agree. There is a reason people choose to believe in a god. It’s comforting. It’s nice. It allows you to believe you’ll never die. You get to believe you’re one of the good ones, you made the right choice and people like me, well, no matter how smart we are, compared to you we’re still fools. It gives you a sense of justice — no one ever gets away with anything. None of those things make your God real.
And you’ll argue with me and tell me you have evidence that leads to proof. And you’ll tell me that over and over again. Yet never once will you give me any hard evidence of any supernatural event. You don’t have any. You may fool yourself, but hard evidence of a supernatural event? None exists.
You won’t bother to answer questions I ask, because I’m already hopeless. You know you can’t provide anything I want, so why bother talking to me? And in a way you’re right.
So, I leave you with this.
God answers prayers, correct? The bible says that with faith you can do anything, correct? You believe in miracles, correct? Do you believe prayer has an excellent effect, that is, if you pray for someone, gods will help them, correct?
Studies say the majority of Christians believe in the power of prayer to heal those in the hospital. Are you one?
Ask yourself why, in all of recorded history, there has never been a single verified instance of god regrowing a limb that was lost.
Also ask yourself why people who believe in a god almost always believe in the god their parent’s believed in.
If you are completely honest with yourself, no excuses for god, just taking the evidence on face value, maybe you’ll learn something.
Amen Greg, we believe brother ?
You said you do not believe there is evidence. That is your choice and your choice is your prerogative but your choice not to believe does not mean there is no evidence. If you look for an evidence through the narrow lens of material or scientific platform, it may limit your scope of discovery. One thing I have not heard from your statement is that there is no God and I want to believe that you are being deliberate to avoid such a sweeping conclusion. By focusing on the absence of proof or evidence, it shows that you are still searching and whoever search shall find. Therefore it is safe to say that your doubt about the existence of God is due to lack of proof or evidence that is acceptable to you. That also is a choice and also a proof or evidence that you do not know everything there is to know about everything.
I’m not searching, I never say there is no god simply because it can’t be proven.
You talk about “through the narrow lens of science”. Science is the best method so far discovered to understand how things work, to discover the facts of the world. Nothing else provides reliable results.
I’ve been through this several times in this discussion; there is no good evidence for a god, and certainly no verifiable proof. Nor is there any reliable evidence for what Christians call miracles.
You obviously were not that person who needed absolute concrete proof, because I know you never received any, yet you now believe in a god. You compromised for something less than proof. It’s likely you never cared about real truth or real evidence.
Actually I simply came to the realization that there IS no proof, I cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God, and you cannot disprove it – so there is no compromise. As I said, there is plenty of evidence and contrary to your statement, the evidence is very real. Apparently you feel the “evidence” for God is no evidence at all, I disagree but I can respect that. What I cannot respect is your last comment.
I believe what I said. You keep talking of evidence but you offer none. And I honestly believe that if you were totally honest with yourself you could examine this “evidence” and know that nothing in it requires a god. It doesn’t even suggest a god, because you can easily find other reasons for you evidence.
Just look at what you said earlier. You said a friend of yours was run over by the front end of a car and survived, and people just don’t survive that. You believe that, I’m sure. You take that as evidence of a god. But it happens, and it’s not that uncommon. If it happens, and it isn’t uncommon, it isn’t evidence of god.
But you’ll believe it is no matter what I say. So, even with evidence against you, you choose to believe in something that you can’t prove.
There is just as much evidence for leprechauns as there is for your God, just as much evidence for Mithra, just as much — and perhaps even more — evidence for the gods of Olympus.
Yet you insist on believing in a Christian god.
You aren’t following evidence. If you were, you would not claim you have evidence.
All the points that you make are valid Greg, and the analogies that you give are fantastic. If someone is a hard-core atheist, I’m pretty sure they’re going to find something wrong with what you said. But if somebody is open to reason, then I’m sure they will take a second look.
Either way, God is allowing for all of these comments to come into this article for many different reasons. I pray that God will use your comment to bring people to Christ and to plant gospel seeds.
Love you bro ?
I find it sad that so few people actually understand what it means to have evidence or proof. That people say there’s no proof, but lots of evidence and believe it.
I find it sadder that people admit that god can’t be proved by science, yet people insist one can be proved anyway. It’s a massive lack of knowledge about what proof is.
I’d love to see one verifiable piece of evidence that has no other potential explanation than that of the supernatural. But I’ve replied to quite a few messages here now, and only two potential pieces of evidence were even attempted, and both were easily explained by non-supernatural means.
Yet you still believe. Why?
Thanks Peter, love you always brother!
My question, as a soft-core agnostic, is simply: How can this god you claim, with or without proof/evidence/whatever choose to be invisible, silent, and indiscernible from natural phenomena and random occurrences, yet threaten/warn/propose or merely ACCEPT the retelling of stories assigned to him regarding condemning or letting people “choose” eternal suffering, possible in conscious fiery torment? Generations of people have been willing to believe and live their lives in fear of hell yet billions more have never heard of this god!
What is the point of worshiping? What are the consequences of not worshiping?
Hi Sandra, it’s a great question that you have. I’m drawing from the apostle Paul who wrote in Romans 2:6 that God, “will render to each one according to his deeds.” So on Judgment Day, God is going to be the perfect Judge who will judge righteously everybody according to their actions.
In the meantime, I want to share something with you because I love you as my dear sister. I know we’ve talked before about this topic and we spent a lot of time emailing back and forth. But where are you heading? Where are you going to spend eternity?
I want you to think about your actions, Sandra. You’ve broken God’s Law just like I have. You’ve told lies, hurt people’s feelings whether on purpose or unknowingly, you haven’t always put God first, and you’ve blasphemed.
And to top it all off, Sandra, your situation is worse than most unbelievers. That’s because you know about Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He made for you. I’m not saying this to judge you, or make you feel bad. In fact, if I didn’t care about you and your eternal salvation then I wouldn’t be writing this to you. But I need to warn you about the road that you are on because you are heading for destruction.
Please Sandra, put your faith in Jesus, repent, and come back to Christ. You know too much to walk away. God loves you, and He wants His daughter back.
I think its waste of time. I will not debate as a citizen of a Kingdom. Because in a Kingdom what the King says thats the rule no one xan object on it. Its amatter of take it or leave it. Hoping the Holy Spirit will touch your heart. Peace
Okay, thanks Benny for your comment, God bless you.
This for question99
This what? Are you asking me what mistakes atheists are making in interpreting the bible? Because I don’t necessarily agree that in general, they do make mistakes.
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Here we go again.
Man #1: “How can I trust you?”
Man #2: “Because my brother told you you can trust me.”
Man #1: “But how do I know I can trust your brother?”
Man #2: “Because I’m telling you you can trust him.”
Skeptic: “How do we know the Bible is true?”
Believer: “Because God says it is.”
Skeptic: “Okay, then how do we know that God is real?”
Believer: “Because the Bible says so.”
Am I the only one who sees a big problem with this logic?
First, a response to your book on neurosurgery analogy:
God is omnipotent, right? That implies that he’s also the greatest author in the universe, and intimately familiar with the level of intelligence and education of the average human. With that in mind…
When God wrote the Bible, or rather when he had fallible men write the Bible on his behalf, He knew that we weren’t all neurosurgeons. So why didn’t He write it in a manner that was simple and clear and could be readily understood by everyone? The way the Bible was written means that we need to rely on fallible humans to interpret a book written by other fallible humans for us. Not a good plan, and not what I would expect from an all-powerful, all-knowing being.
Next, a response to your position that a person has to have the “spirit of God” in them before they can comprehend the Bible:
Isn’t that the ultimate catch-22? I don’t believe, so I can’t comprehend the one document that supposedly contained the information I need in order to believe. Therefore I’ll never believe.
Meanwhile, if I had the “spirit of God” in me already, I wouldn’t need to read the Bible to become a believer. I’d already be one, wouldn’t I?
So I make the first step and pray to God to give me the capacity to believe. I make the first move, he grants me that ability, and then the Bible is unlocked to me, right?
Except at least in my case, God never granted me the capacity to believe. So I’m locked out.
Guys…I’m telling you from my heart that I want to be able to see this your way. I’m in a rough spot in my life right now, and I could really use the comfort that comes with believing that there is a loving, benevolent God out there who’s got my back.
But man, you’re giving me absolutely nothing to work with. God doesn’t talk to me. He never has. In fact, he’s never done anything at all that would lead me to believe that he exists.
I’m not a person who thinks that all people who believe in God are crazy or stupid. My brother is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He’s crazy intelligent, highly educated, impressively well-read, and with nearly a half-century of hard-earned wisdom under his belt. The last thing he is is stupid, and he’s also perhaps the most devoted Christian I’ve ever met.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’m a bright and well-educated guy myself. Not a genius, and admittedly extremely fallible, but I know s**t from shinola. And yet my brother has never said anything that brought me around to his way of thinking. Nor have any of the numerous other Christians and pastors I’ve spoken with over the years.
What am I missing here? What’s the missing piece that’s going to remove all doubt and make me change some of my most deeply held beliefs (like homosexuality being okay, and good non-Christians being able to get into heaven – if there is one – regardless of their faith or lack thereof)?
Free coffee to the first person who can give me an answer to that question that actually works for me.
Thank you, Ed, you’ve articulated my quest for real answers not dependent on circular reasoning. I also need to know why people believe a loving deity created eternal damnation and sends/allows/predestined/whatever billions of human beings–created by said loving creator–to burn in torment forever, or even live in fear that displeasing him or not being chosen by him will incur this inescapable fate. This may or may not be the same deity who allows/demands/encourages people to be put to death, or jailed for life, for blasphemy in Pakistan and other countries.
Meanwhile, in order to appeal to believers in this deity, some of whom follow the progression of the recent, highly publicized interpretations of the book he is said to have written, the President of the United States has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel (can he do that?) and that our country will be moving its Embassy there. Believers in End Times Prophecies hail this as a sign of the times, the ushering in of the Tribulation, etc, while the rest of their fellow citizens shudder. Current events and world news illustrate why it’s desperately important that rational answers take precedence, because factional voices are loud and amplifying. Others have not been given the same information, yet all must work together to make decisions that will affect world history, and many cannot escape the culture which foisted those beliefs and lack of rationality upon them–care must be taken to invite change, not mandate it.
Understanding what people believe and why, and challenging the foundation on which their beliefs are built is far more than a personal choice, an academic discussion, or interesting hobby: beliefs matter because they undergird important decisions that can impact the planet.
You’ve asked many questions – which is the one worth free coffee?
Re: “Am I the only one who sees a big problem with this logic?”
No, you are not the only one, I agree with you.
Re: “What am I missing here? What’s the missing piece that’s going to remove all doubt and make me change some of my most deeply held beliefs?”
I have found, the best way to remove doubt and change deeply held beliefs is to honestly question my reasons supporting the belief (why do I believe that?).
When I honestly do this, there are two things that could happen (both are beneficial)
1. The reason is found to be valid – and the Belief becomes stronger (valid beliefs are good)
2. The reason is found to be invalid – and the Belief becomes weaker (invalid beliefs aren’t good)
For example, when I honestly questioned all my ‘reasons’ for believing Jesus was just a man, (a good man, but just a man). My deeply held belief disintegrated because my reasons were either too weak or completely invalid.
Then I was presented with a simple question,
According to the what the Bible says about Jesus, he can only be one of three things:
1. A lunatic (he had no understanding of what he was saying)
2. A Liar (he knew exactly what he was saying and that it was a lie)
3. Or he is The Lord (and what he said is the truth)
Which do you believe Jesus is?
When I answered that question, my life changed. It changed immediately (I mean in seconds!) and it has continued to change for the past 25 years.
But I don’t know if that would have happened if I hadn’t first honestly questioned my reasons for believing what I did.
My invalid beliefs were preventing me from holding valid beliefs.
Re: your question “What am I missing here? What’s the missing piece?”
I don’t have that answer – you do.
What are your deeply held beliefs which are preventing you from believing the truth?
And then, honestly ask what are your reasons which support those deeply held beliefs?
For example: you mention one deeply held belief you have is “you believe good non-Christians should be able to get into heaven”
From what I read, the privilege of “Getting into heaven” has nothing to with the merits of anyone’s performance (in fact I read exactly the opposite)
As Paul said in Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (I think that includes me and you and all those good non-Christians)
The criminal on the cross also comes to mind:
Luk 23:42 And he (the criminal) said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Luk 23:43 And he (Jesus) said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Read from verse 33 for context.
That man did not have any opportunity to ‘perform’ good enough to get into heaven..
Back to your deeply held belief…
Where did that Belief come from for you? (who said it, where did you read it or hear it, etc)
What are your reasons for believing it?
I might even go further and question whether “getting into heaven” is even the goal?
It is where I believe I will spend eternity but it is not my goal.
I agree wholeheartedly with your third paragraph!
Your second paragraph is interesting.
In your first paragraph, you mention a ‘loving deity’ and your ‘need to know’
The Bible does mention God’s love in many places, it even says ‘God is love’, I would say God’s love for humans is the reason the Bible exists.
But I think your query might benefit by also including God’s other attributes in your analysis. e.g God is also Holy, Righteous, Worthy, Just, Creator, etc. The Bible mentions many other attributes without which we cannot have a clear understanding of God.
I feel it is important for us to ensure we are not tipping the scales of our analysis by eliminating or avoiding important truths.
Jesus loves you!
I feel like Muslim apologists do this all the time. I feel they ignore the historical context and try to read Islam into it. Ironically, they believe it is has been changed.