Tag Archives: Judaism

Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? – the power of a counter argument

9 Sep

Some people like to dismiss miracles or supernatural events with the demand for something MORE than the existence of an immaterial being.  They want decisive extraordinary proof to back up any claims they consider beyond the ordinary.

Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Intelligent Design all point to an intentional first cause responsible for the creation of the Universe.   That seems to be pretty ‘extraordinary’, but apparently the ‘doubters’ don’t accept the powerful cumulative case that points to a ‘big-banger’ who/that initiated our universe.

Before we go down the rabbit trail of trying to come up with evidence that would be extraordinary enough to satisfy skeptics, let’s consider whether their requirement for such sensational reasoning is justifiable.

The other day, in reading Psalm 84, I saw a counter-argument to the atheists/agnostics’ pushback.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

If it is true that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof’ then one might EQUALLY say:

  • Extraordinary beauty or loveliness requires an admirer/observer/lodger who is equally extraordinary

But look at the opening of the psalm.  The man who pens these words is overwhelmed with the beauty and the majesty of the Jewish sanctuary.  But is he, himself, majestic or lovely or beautiful?

Well he MIGHT be, you could argue.  And you’d probably be basing that reason on the fact that he is made in the image of God.  All reflectors of God are beautiful in that sense.  But if he is someone who has just offered an animal to be sacrificed and it’s around 970 BC, then he’s probably smelly and might even be splattered with ox or sheep’s blood!

Okay, so the man COULD be lovely or he could be smelly.  But who else or what else in this section of Psalm 84 considers God’s sanctuary good and fit to enter and stay?

  • the common birds, specifically sparrows and swallows

When the ordinariness of the ones coming into the temple, whether humans or birds,  are capable  and qualified to deem the setting “lovely’.  That beauty both satisfies the human soul and provides necessary shelter for God’s winged creatures.  The quality of loveliness does not require the beholder/user to be lovely.  It follows then that reactionary comeback to anything supernatural is NOT well founded.

So, no!!! Extraordinary places or events do not require extraordinary evidence.  They just call for evidence and reasons that are TRUE!

For further discussion of the ‘extraordinary objection’ visit this link

Logical Gal – 2 meanings for ‘God’

17 Feb

Everyone worships the same God, right?

I never knew that there were TWO different questions about God? (see link to an essay at the bottom of this post – the author goes into more details).

People often toss out the question: Do you believe in God?

Before we respond (to ANY question!), we need clarification.  Unless we know what the intent of the questioner is, there’s no point in answering.  As Ravi Zacharias says, ” Intent precedes content

So back to the 2 questions about God – you know how much I love distinctions.  Well, here is one that I NEVER considered (which makes it all the more fun!)

Question # 1:  WHAT is God?

New to me was the idea that ‘God’ is a title or an office, a position like King, President or CEO.

Question # 2:  WHO is God? 

Who is the being that fills the office of God?  Here is where we think about the specific qualities of attributes of the one filling that role. Asking WHO implies that the answer is a person; so he has a name.

For instance, we often here that Muslims, Jews and Christians all worship the same God.  Is that true?

I now see how useful this 2-question tool can be to think through that issue.  Most people would probably agree on the WHAT question, for all 3 religions are mono-theistic.

But when it comes to WHO fills that role, then each of us has a very different answer.

For Jews, it is Yahweh – a one- substance, one-person supernatural creator and sustainer.  The concept of Jesus as an equal member of a triune God is NOT part of their doctrine.

For Muslims, it’s Allah – (and  yes, they happen to use the same term for his role and his name ). They also do not believe that Jesus is God’s son who died on the cross to save sinners.

For Christians, it’s a Person who is one substance or essence, but has 3 different persons. He goes by many names depending on which attribute is being emphasized. (id est – Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Prince of Peace, Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah…….and so)

What is the take away from this distinction between WHO and WHAT?

Namely:  the more tools in our kitbag, (i.e the more questions we have at our disposal), then the clearer our thinking can be.  This world is a complicated place.  One of the keys to living well with the other 7 billion inhabitants is to understand their particular concerns as well as the issues that affect all of us.  We need logical minds to listen well and to communicate clearly.  Seeking distinctions in order to ask more precise questions is a skill worth practicing.

Sorting out what and who God is – good essay