Monday, August 24, 2009

Faith and Evidence

Faith and Evidence

I am often confused as to why believers try so hard to prove their beliefs are not based on faith but evidence. The mental gymnastics they have to perform to accomplish this is nothing short of jaw-dropping. It’s like taking a curved line and trying to convince your self it is straight.

Perhaps I should spend some time defining faith. I’ve heard people say there is such a thing as “reasonable faith.” This “reasonable faith” is when you drop a ball, and it falls, and you drop a ball again, and it falls again. “Reasonable faith” says the ball will fall again if you drop it again.

I don’t call this “faith”. I call this an expectation based on evidence. Faith, as I will discuss here, requires no evidence. That is to say, faith only exists in the absence of evidence OR in the presence of conflicting evidence. If there is evidence, there is no need for faith.

Now, I came across a website that attempts to “prove” Jesus was resurrected. Before I begin to show how insane these people are, why would anyone even think this was a good idea? With evidence, you lose the need for faith. However, once I read the evidence, it was apparent that I would require more faith to believe these people had a clue. In the portion that follows, I have “sanitized” the original text, meaning I have removed all scripture references. Hey, if you want to prove Jesus came back to life, you’re going to need to do so WITHOUT using the bible. My thoughts are in italics.

Evidence about Jesus' Resurrection
The Importance of Jesus' Resurrection
The WHOLE Christain faith is based on the resurrection of Jesus
In fact, whether Christianity is worth believing or not ultimately depends on whether Jesus really did resurrected from His death....
o Basically Jesus is saying that by His resurrection is the ONLY WAY that we will REALLY KNOW that He is indeed the Son of God

At least we are being honest about the importance of the resurrection. At least they give the reason why they have embarked on such a futile journey. If they had said after this, “And it is a matter of faith because we can’t prove a damned thing”, I’d have much more respect for them. Seeing as how they are deluding themselves, I made a blog of it.
Why is the Resurrection Miracle so Special ?
Soccerers and magicians can perform "miracles" or tricks
PROPHETS in the Old Testament could perform great miracles - including raising people from the death....
The prophet Elijah did it:
The prophet Elisha did it:
But NO ONE has EVER came back to life after HIS OWN death - not even prophets !!!

That’s right, no one has EVER come back to life, not even JESUS!
Do we have evidence that Jesus has ever resurrected ???
Since the resurrection is THE MOST IMPORTANT PROOF that Jesus is the Son of God, it is only fair that God provides to us EASILY VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE of this event - because if God does not do this, He could not accuse us of our unbelief fairly.
And indeed, we can find ironclad historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
The evidence can be summarized as follows:
There are ironclad historical evidence that Jesus died
There are ironclad historical evidence that Jesus was buried in a well-known tomb
There are ironclad historical evidence that Jesus' tomb was empty on the Easter Sunday following the Passover
There are ironclad historical evidence that Jesus was seen alive after His death.
Okay, I’m redacting the following portion that “proves” Jesus died. To me, the only thing you have to do to prove Jesus died is to prove he was born. Then it logically follows that he died SOMEHOW. Your next task would be to prove he was crucified, but these guys just skip to the crucified part. Anyway, it wouldn’t make a difference to me how he died, this is supposed to be about a resurrection. I’ll concede the dead part so I can get to the alive again part.

OK, so Jesus died... What evidence do you have that He was resurrected ?
There are no eyewitnesses to the resurrection... (in other words, no one stood next to Jesus when he came back to life) however, we do have other convincing evidence that shows that the resurrection did happen...
Logic dictates that if there is convincing evidence that:
Jesus died
They knew the exact location where Jesus was buried
They could not find Jesus' corpse in that burial place
Jesus was seen later alive
We would have convincing evidence that Jesus did resurrect from death - because dead people normally don't do these 4 things....
And here is where this dude’s logic begins to really fail. It’s pretty obvious when you start your list with “0”!! Anyway, let’s look at this:
Jesus died. I’m giving you that. Jesus was later seen alive. BIG DEAL!! Elvis was seen after his death. Marilyn Monroe was seen after her death. I’m surprised I’ve not heard of any Michael Jackson sightings already. So what?! How does eyewitness testimony recorded decades after the event prove the event happened as the eyewitness says it did?
I realize I skipped the part about the burial and the empty burial. Whoopee. These events do not in any way help to prove a resurrection. They might suggest grave robbery. Maybe someone, a Christian no doubt, thought the “King of the Jews” would have been buried with some valuables? Maybe they figured they were hidden on his body? You can’t seriously expect me to accept an empty tomb as evidence of a resurrection, do you?
Keep in mind I’ve redacted any reference to scripture. The argument gets real short when you do that.

Evidence that Jesus was buried
Here, the skeptics like to point out that it is customary for the Romans to leave the crucified victims on the crosses for a LONG LONG time; and let animals eat them and them throw what remains into a mass grave.
Therefore, they say, Jesus was not buried in his own grave, but in a mass-grave and you can't never find His body was missing.
But we are talking about "the normal practice", but one single case - in Jesus' case, something special happened and this event has been recorded and passed on to us reliably - as I will show you next.
Evidence that testimonies on Jesus' burial is accurate and reliable:
It is no wonder that the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University ( click here ) said that the burial of Jesus is one of the most certain facts about the historical Jesus - (Reference: "Will the Real Jesus please stand up", page 27)
Huh? What happened the all the evidence? Was it all in the bible? Yep, it sure was.
Evidence of a missing body
It is quite clear from the reading of historical documents that Jesus' body was missing...
Imagine what would happen if Jesus' body was NOT missing. You would have the following event happening around Easter in 30 AD:
Jesus' disciples say: Our Lord has risen Pharasees: Oh, yeah ? Pharasees produce Jesus' dead body, saying: Pharasees: No, he's not
End of argument....
And that would be the end of Christianity....
Historical documents show a different story....
Instead of producing evidence to counter the disciple's proclamation about the risen Jesus, the Pharasees bribes the guards to make them say something that explains a missing body:
Clearly, the Jewish leaders have a problem: Jesus' body was MISSING....

Clearly, Christians have a problem identifying evidence. What happened to the “historical documents”? I didn’t redact them. They weren’t there. I can’t imagine anyone ever finding an empty tomb and immediately saying, “Holy Shit!! He’s come back to life!!”
Was Jesus seen later alive ?
Here is where the Jewish leaders and the disciples differ in their accounts....
Clearly, the resurrected Jesus did not appear to everyone, so the Jewish leaders are right to claim that they have not seen the risen Jesus
But that does not disprove the claim that Jesus was seen alive after his burial....
Examining the evidence of Jesus' resurrection
Both the Jewish leaders and the disciples knew where Jesus was buried.
How do we know that:
Both the Jewish leaders and the disciples knew that on the Sunday after Jesus' death, that grave was empty.
How do we know that:
And since it would be extremely easy to shut the disciples up from proclaiming their gospel of the risen Christ if the grave was not empty (by showing them the dead body of Jesus), but they did NOT. Because they COULD not. Instead, they gave an explanation for the missing body.
Therefore, we can conclude the Pharasees also know that Jesus body was missing - it's no longer inside the grave....
The disciples were convince that they saw Jesus alive....
How do we know that:
Some men will die for a lie invented by others, but no man will die for a lie invented by himself. The disciples were the first ones that preached that Jesus was risen from the death - if this was a lie, these men would have died for a lie invented by themselves.
So, what we have left is that there was an empty grave with no explanation, and people claimed to have seen him alive after that. Well, how can you dispute evidence like that? I seem to remember Jim Jones died for a lie he created. Did David Koresh do the same? Aren’t there lots of examples of delusional people dying for their own delusion? Wasn’t this supposed to be “ironclad”?
Yet another excuse: you can't believe the disciples because the disciples were biased....
Fine, let's hear it from some FORMER UNBELIEVERS !
[redacted] I didn’t redact this because it was scripture. I redacted it because it really doesn’t matter if believers thought they saw Jesus and were already delusional, or if there were non-believers who became delusionsal.
The fact is:
Jesus DID appear to UNBELIEVERS after His resurrection
Sure, He did not appear to ALL unbelievers, but we have the testimony of two unbelievers who BECAUSE THEY saw the resurrected Jesus and believed !!!
Testimonies from UNBELIEVERS
James, the brother of Jesus
The Jewish historian Jesephus wrote about the DEATH of James in his book "Antiquities" - Book 20, Chapter 9 ( click here ):
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned...
The Sanhedrin (religious leaders) had James put to death.... these Jewish religious leaders were persecuting Christians and James was killed for his faith.
The Bible did not say what made James change from an unbeliever to someone who would give his life in spreading the Gospel, but most Biblical scholar believe it is this:
When James saw the risen Jesus, he HAD TO believe.
Paul: something strange happened on the road to Damascus...
o [redacted]

I left Josephus here. The passage from Josephus that is quoted here is barely proof of someone’s death, but it does not say anything about what James believed or did in his life. But I’ll assume he was killed for his beliefs. I’m still not following how someone murdered for believing a thing is true makes the thing true. Paul’s evidence is, of course, redacted.

The resurrection is even confessed by UNBELIEVERS turned Christians who have seen the risen Jesus !!!

Do or don't you WANT to believe, that's the question !!!
The material I documented above show that there is overwhelming evidence that
Jesus died,
Jesus was buried in a known grave (Joseph of Aremathea),
his body disappeared (missinh)
was seen alive again by some believers AND by some unbelievers (who later became believers)
Yet, some people claim that "their intellect won't allow them to believe"
A common "intellectual" objection is: it would take a miracle to resurrect....
- to this, I have to say that they are right; I'm glad that it DID take a miracle because otherwise - if any John Doe can resurrect from the death, I would not have believed that Jesus is God.
According to Lynn Anderson ( click here ) in the "Case for Faith", it is pure bullshit (sorry for the strong word, but that's the only way to describe it correctly) that the intellect prevents someone from not believing in Jesus (See "Case for Faith" on or around page 236):
"Here is my experience," Anderson said in summary. "When you scratch below the surface, there is either a will to believe or a will NOT to believe.
In other words: your reason (intellect) will not stop you from believing in Jesus - there is plenty of evidence that can convince any reasonable man.
It is your own FREE WILL that prevents you from believing.
Jesus himself had told us about this in John 7:17:
o In other words, if your free will decide to do God's will (i.e., if you decide to turn away from sin), then you will find out whether Jesus' teaching comes from God or decides on that Jesus was just a man and he "only talks the talk" (but does not walk the walk).
o [redacted]
o In other words: After Jesus had done many miracles before some people, they still did not believe because they chose not to. And because they chose not to believe, they could not believe.

If there had been a shred of intelligence presented in any of the preceding paragraphs, this might be convincing. However, there was not.
Faith: the Most Important quality of a human being
So believing or not believing in Jesus is ultimately based of your free will - not on your mind. Your reason or mind cannot prevent you from not believing (although many people claim that, underneat all their "excuses" you will find a "unwillingness to believe").
Faith is achieved by free choice and that's why the quality that God appreciate most in men is faith.... not wisdom or intelligence or whatever. - a man that has faith is a man that has chosen by his own free will to follow God.
Case in point: [redacted]

Ah, here it is. Faith is something you must will yourself to do. You must force yourself, though an act of will, to believe in something for which there is no evidence, or very weak evidence. This is the most important thing you can do, and god demands it. Why? I cannot imagine why a god would want us to delude ourselves.
Important Note: [redacted] This was also not redacted because it was scripture, but because it just plain sucked.

And that’s the end, folks. I really try to avoid these long blogs, but I had to do this one. I just can’t get over why people think they can or should even try to “prove” anything within a religion. On one hand, they say faith is the most important virtue you can have, and in the other they attempt to remove the need for faith by presenting evidence. Now, granted, I didn’t see any. I saw not one argument that would qualify as reasonable. In fact, I find the idea of trying to prove faith is reasonable ridiculous. Just admit you have no evidence, that it is all based on faith, that faith is an act of self-delusion, and you don’t see a problem with any of this. I see all kinds of problems.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A mission of malice

A mission of malice

I often rag on how bad belief is. People who want to ban gay marriage, ban abortion, ban pornography and ban comprehensive sex education are among the most dangerous people on the planet. People who think “intelligent design” should be taught in the science classroom are almost as bad. Belief hurts us when people think we need to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality. It hurts us as people infringe on others freedoms, rights and privacy. It is one of the most destructive things we know.

Often, a common rebuttal to this is that belief also does some good. Faith-based initiatives do all kinds of great things like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc. There are missions that go to the ends of the earth to try to ease the suffering of others. Surely I must acknowledge that belief if not all bad?

Nope. This would be another example of the harm belief can cause.

The purpose of these missions is NOT primarily to do the good works; it is to spread belief. What better way to spread belief than to offer a hungry person food in exchange for conversion? Let’s offer clothing and shelter for your soul! Confess Jesus is lord, and you will never be lonely again.

While it is true there are rare exceptions to this, the fact is the exception is rare. Show me a mission whose primary purpose is NOT to spread belief but to do the good work, and I will show you one that is criticized by the christain community for this very reason.

Or, you could show me a secular organization that does the good work.