Tag Archives: Miracles

Trotting out the Credential

4 Nov

Sometimes when a person has no solid argument to back his viewpoint, he’ll invoke his status as member of a privileged elite.  Such credentials might be based on education or experience or one’s lofty position in an organization.

But those considerations should carry no weight, as they are irrelevant to one’s position or reasoning.

Here’s a comical example taken from the Book of John in the New Testament.  The set up is this:

  • consider the Pharisees, those ruling religious leaders trying to hold on to limited power granted them by the Roman occupiers
  • then there is Jesus, threatening the status quo with his unorthodox teaching and miracles
  • add to the mix the masses, growing more and more intrigued and swayed by this new rabbi

The Pharisees dispatch a posse of soldiers to arrest Jesus and bring him back to them for questioning.

Let’s pick up with the dialogue upon their return, empty-handed:

pharisees

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?”  The officers answered,“No one ever spoke like this man!”  The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived?  Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?  John 7: 45 -48

John doesn’t add their response, but I would have loved to be a fly on the wall back at army headquarters!

If we formulate a syllogism based on the Pharisees’ last question, we get this:

  • Premise 1 –  All (only) beliefs held by the Pharisees are valid and officially sanctioned beliefs
  • Premise 2 –  The belief that Jesus is special is not held by the Pharisees
  • Conclusion – Therefore, the belief that Jesus is special is NOT a valid, officially sanctioned belief

We need to be able to spot quickly, to sniff out the misuse of a credential to bolster a weak or non-existent argument

One clue that never fails to tip us off is when someone sidesteps the issue completely.  Of course there are many ways to do that, all of them Fallacies of Relevance.  Sometimes they work, however, as many a parent will attest.

(Why, Daddy?  Because I said so!)

Logical Gal says Christianity is an evidenced-based faith system

7 May

Evidence-based faith system – does that sound like an oxymoron?

If you’re like a lot of scientific rational people, you might think so.

God apparently doesn’t think so.  He encourages us to check out the evidence and use our faculties of reason (that He, the Creator planted in us)

Reasonable Faith

 

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God encourages us with these words:

  • Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…. Chapter 18:1a

And lest you think that the ‘rules’ changed in the New Testament, Jesus himself invites His hearers to evaluate Him based on the evidence, i.e. His miracles or signs.

John, His closest friend and follower, records these words of Jesus:

  • Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  (John 14: 11)

So, where does faith come in?  Good question!

Faith is a tricky word.  May non-believers think that Christians base their beliefs on a type of ‘blind’ faith.  They would describe this as believing DESPITE the lack of evidence.

Blind faith

 

But FAITH can actually be translated by two Greek concepts.  There is PISTIS (Strongs # 4102) which refers to convictions or beliefs.

And there is HOPE.  But this concept is NOT the kind of hope that we talk about in casual conversation as in:

  • I hope I get an A
  • I hope the rain holds off for the picnic

That is called wishful thinking. 

Wishful Thinking Dino

No, HOPE  in Greek is rather the idea of ASSURANCE, EXPECTATION, FIRM FOUNDATION.  The Greek word is ELPIZO  ( Strong’s # 1679)

Here’s how I would explain a Christian’s relationship to God.  Based on a careful evaluation of evidence provided by historical documents and the recorded speech of God, open-minded seekers follow the evidence to where it leads.  They do not limit or filter their potential results through pre-existing biases.  Then when they have a ‘reasonable’ amount of evidence, they put their trust in the God of the Bible.  (And God promises to meet those who seek Him sincerely)

  • Come near to God and He will come near to you. (James 4:8)

Do you have to have 100 % certainty? Of course not.  That doesn’t exist in this life in ANY arena.  When I buy a ticket and board an airplane, I am trusting the evidence of previous flights’ safety records. I have to make a faith-based decision to get on that plane!

Boarding a plane

So don’t think you have to check your brains at the door to investigate the claims of Christianity.  This religion is easily falsifiable. All one would have had to do to sink this world view would have been to produce the body.

But the murdered prophet who claimed that

  • He was God himself (Yahweh)
  • and that  He would come back from the dead after 3 days

DID rise from the dead.  And there WAS an empty tomb.  And Jesus WAS SEEN by more than 500 people in a different but recognizable body (nail holes and all) during a period of 40 days.

And millions of people have been convinced of the truth of Jesus and His claims to put their trust in Him.

Question:  What would it take for you to trust Him today ?

Logical Gal and even MORE precise definintions

17 Jan

I’ve written about how much I like the idea of making distinctions between this and that.  “As opposed to what?”  is one of my favorite questions for better comprehension.

Well, last night, I heard someone explain the difference between the BROAD sense of the word MIRACLE and the NARROW sense.

,

In essence  miracle could refer to something supernatural in both senses. Yet there would be real distinctions.  That means we would NOT be committing the fallacy of equivocation (same word, completely different concepts). 

So what are the broad and narrow definitions of miracle?  The broad version describes a miracle as an extraordinary event that seems to defy the laws of nature. (paraphrase of what I heard last night) 

The narrow sense limits the scope of these extraordinary events as specifically those meant to attest to the authenticity of the prophet/person carrying them out.  So Moses was able to change a river into blood to prove that he was sent by God.  Jesus was able to multiply fishes and loaves and raise a man from being 3 days-dead to prove that he was sent by God.

Following on the heals of what I heard last night about broad and narrow versions,  this morning I read about 2 levels of faith in God.  Immediately I saw the connection between narrow and broad.  The devotional recounted  Jesus’ rebuke of his disciples who panicked while he slept in the boat amidst the violent storm.

Luke 8:22-25

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

So did the disciples NOT believe Jesus? Of course they did.  They had left their professions to join his band of brothers and follow him.  That act certainly indicated a level of commitment and belief.

But as I’m learning, there is FAITH in God and then there is FAITH in God.  Again we can make the distinction between a general or broad sense and a more specific or narrow sense.

These normal rugged men had the faith THAT he was a man sent from God and they might even at times have accepted his words that he WAS God. (John 10:30 – “I and the Father are one” )

But as I read in my devotional this morning, their faith was NOT the (narrow ) kind that expected the Creator God to CARE for his creation because he loved them. It was the more general kind, the kind that doesn’t touch one’s heart so much.   All of a sudden ‘faith in God’ takes on a new sense.  And how I answer the following question affects my presuppositions. Do I believe and trust that God is a loving God whose every action toward me is one motivated by His love for me? 

That is worth chewing on.  To use a word very passé: I like these NUANCED definitions.