Tag Archives: Resurrection

Do beliefs and knowledge differ?

23 Dec

Non-theistic person: – “Belief is different from knowledge.  Beliefs deal in faith and feelings and knowledge deals in facts and truth.”

 

Facts

Is this categorization by a typical atheist correct?  One often hears about the Fact/Feeling divide.  The assertion postulates that there are objective facts like:

  • Most climate change is man-made
  • Life begins when a fetus is viable outside of the womb

and there are subjective feelings like:

  • Parenting is my most important job

Some assumptions that often are embedded in this description of the way of the world are:

  1. Only facts are universals and can be determined to be true or false
  2. One shouldn’t argue over the subjective, for that lies in the realm of personal opinion and preference
  3. Beliefs and values are part of the subjective feeling realm
  4. Faith is a belief and needs to be private
  5. Facts are measurable and therefore indisputable

But those assumptions don’t always hold water.  Values and beliefs are wedded to facts and together the two undergird and guide ALL of our actions.  There is no clean divide or separation so that one can say, “These people’s actions are guided solely by facts, whereas those folks over there base their actions solely on beliefs.”

  • Let’s take origins.  If one starts from the position that only the material realm exists, that there is nothing transcendent, that is a statement of belief.  It takes FAITH to hold onto that viewpoint. It’s accepted a priori, not proven.
  • Consider climate change. For projections about the future, one must place faith in one’s assumptions that go into the computer model.
  • Turning to the belief in a personal, transcendent God. One must trust the reliability of the eyewitness accounts written in the Torah, that is the Old Testament if one is Jewish or the entire Bible if one is Christian or the Koran if one is Muslim.
  • Implementing an exercise program. A committed man or woman must value a more fit body AND place their faith in the specific details of the regimen to lead them to the promised results.

Logical Joes and Janes must not accept this False Dichotomy or separation. Reasonable (that is, supported by reasons) faith and values are based on facts that one holds to be true and reliable.  I put my faith in Jesus’ claims because I hold as a proven fact that His death and resurrection did take place in time and history.  Thus, the historical events prove His claim to be God is to be trusted.

Explanations and discussions take time.  Our sound-byte culture often doesn’t allow for more than quick assertive jabs.  Logical and careful argument building take time to craft and digest.  How about a campaign for SLOW THINKING à la organic and whole foods movement?

slow food

 

 

 

 

God gave you a brain, so use it!

12 Aug

Confession:  I find it challenging to exercise patience with Christians who don’t know why they believe something.  Unable to articulate reasons, they feel put on the spot.  Their reaction is predictable – they tend to retreat behind a weak excuse: “I just have faith!”

One doesn’t have to study deeply in the Bible to notice that not only Jesus himself but many of the inspired writers used logical argumentation and evidence to support their claims.

Paul, the New Testament apostle who encountered and was transformed by the resurrected Jesus, was skilled in good debate.  A clear argument to showcase why God expects us to be rational comes from Paul’s instruction to the Christians of Corinth. They were plagued with some incertitude and fears, which came from the ambient Greek philosophy of the times that devalued the body.  These sincere but baby Christians were beginning themselves to doubt the possibility of resurrection. Paul took on their argument with full-square directness and articulated the consequences of their fear:

1 Corinthians 15:16  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

It’s easy to take Paul’s argument and render it into logical form.  If we just address his first thought, we arrive at this syllogism:

Premise 1: No human beings are raised from the dead

Premise 2: Christ was a human being

Conclusion:  Therefore, Christ was not raised from the dead

In his letter to them, Paul has set up the Corinthians intentionally so that they can NOT argue in this manner.  The first fifteen verses of Chapter 15 of his letter have already laid out the case for the historicity of the resurrection.  In fact, Paul’s strongest card is the fact that more than 500 people saw the newly risen Jesus during the 40 days between the resurrection and His ascension. So even though the syllogism above is in a valid form, as we see here below,

No M is P

All S is M

Therefore, No S is P

..the argument STILL fails the ‘soundness’ test.  Remember that all we have to do is show that one premise is false and the argument comes apart.  Since Jesus was fully human AND fully God, we have to accept Premise 2 as true.  We then turn to Premise 1, which states that No human beings are raised from the dead. Not so!

resurrected Jesus

The Bible recounts at least 5 or 6 people raised from the dead.  See link here for explanation of each

Therefore, by virtue of discrediting the truth of Premise # 2, the entire argument falls apart. And an argument, however valid it might be, is not sound if it is not true.  But a valid, true argument is airtight, hence unbeatable.

Do you see how logic is useful?  Being a thinking, rational Christian is NOT a contradiction in terms.  God is Himself a reason-based rational being.  Yes, He is far more multi-dimensional than us, to include being supernatural and immaterial. But we are made in His image.  Should we not expect Him to endow us with some measure of logical thinking?

Logical Gal – No such thing as blind faith!

8 Apr

How many times have you heard Christians described as un-thinking dolts who depend on ‘blind faith’ to get them through life?

Properly defining terms will release Christians from that unkind, unflattering and untrue label.

Pistis (Strong’s  # 4102) is the Greek word for trust. (often translated as ‘faith’)

So what do Christians trust or rely on for their beliefs?  They look to evidence.

Image

Does that surprise you?  It shouldn’t.  The Christian God provided the direct evidence of an empty tomb, ‘securely’ guarded by well-trained Roman soldiers. Paul cites eyewitness testimony from 500+ people who vouched they encountered or saw the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth. When he pens this fact, most of those people are still alive and available to counter his bold statement if in fact UN-true.

So Christians who trust God have past evidence to inform their ‘faith’.  They also have the recorded promises of a supernatural being. This God has the audacity to have put in writing for generations to see what He was predicting.  So far, many of those promises have been fulfilled.  Actual circumstances that have turned out the way God promised build confidence in His followers.

Image

So Christians have an evidence-based trust in God, backed up by reason.  Those who live by ‘supposed sight’ actually are the less rational.  They tend to let circumstances alter their feelings, which then rule their decisions.

So tell me, who is the one who lives blindly? ‘Thinking Christians’ is NOT an oxymoron!

Image

Question: What do you have faith in?  Whom or what do you trust and why?

Logical Gal and courage to ask some questions

17 Sep

Questions - ask them

As a woman, I’m sometimes overwhelmed by assertive naturalist types who claim that evolution IS the only rational explanation for the way life is.  I guess I’m taken back by their self-assurance and confidence.

But gradually as I’ve listened to podcasts by thoughtful, rational and well-educated /well-credentialed scientists and philosophers who are Christian, I’ve learned some questions that might come in handy.

Actually there is NO reason ever to feel intimidated by anyone because we can ALWAYS ask a question.  The more we learn about someone’s position, not only do we ‘buy time’, but we gain insight that can be very helpful in future conversations.

Here are a few questions I have learned to ask:

  • When a self-proclaimed materialist says: “Intelligent Design is NOT science!” Ask: What do you call a theory that is based on physical data and uses logical inferences? (Michael Behe of the Discovery Institute’s response)
  • When you encounter this claim: “Evolution accounts for all our human development” Ask: How can you trust reason if it comes from a non-rational source? (materialists claim we are just molecules in motion)
  • When up against the assertion,”There are no absolute moral values!” Ask: How can you be sure?
  • When someone is going on and on about the strength or beauty of the theory of evolution, Ask: If survivability is what ensures that species continue and evolve, then truth is not necessary.  And if truth is not necessary, why should I trust your theory of evolution?
  • When you encounter a resurrection-denier who says, “Dead men don’t rise on their own!” Ask: Do you believe in the theory of Cause and Effect?  (Christians don’t claim that Jesus rose on his own, but that God supernaturally raised him!)
  • When faced with pushback from someone who needs ‘logical certainty’ before he’ll believe the truth claims of Christianity Ask: Did you have that kind of certainty when you got married?  (Practical certainty is what most of us live by)

These are just a few questions I am adding to my ‘rational thinking tool bag’.  What about you?  Which questions have served you well?

Bag of tools

Logical Gal and How to Figure out the Truth

10 Sep

Truth

Recently I heard a clear-thinking talk show host provide a method of discovering the truth about a topic. Of course, none of us can be 100 % confident that we have ‘the truth’. But we CAN arrive at a position with a reasonable degree of confidence of its correspondence to reality.

As an aside, why can’t any of us be ABSOLUTE certain of anything? Because in this universe we only occupy a position as created beings. We are part of the creation and we don’t stand above it, with a 360 % view (so to speak).

Back to the radio show I heard – the illustration used to showcase this method was the argument for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This system works for any event, from crimes being tried in court to your teen’s assertion that the car WAS home before midnight.

When we look at the historicity of Jesus Christ, there are apparently 4 unattested facts. Atheistic, agnostic and Christian scholars alike agree on these four points because one does not have to point to the Bible or any supernatural cause.

 

Jesus' tomb is empty, unlike others

Gary Habermas is credited for having boiled these down to clear indisputable data:

  1. A man named Jesus of Nazareth was put to death by crucifixion at the hands of Roman soldiers on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
  1. The dead Jesus was put into a tomb that was sealed and guarded.
  1. Three days after his death his disciples claimed the tomb was empty and that they encountered the resurrected Jesus and continued to see him for 40 days.
  1. Based on that claim/belief, the Christian church exploded into being and grew exponentially.

Those are the facts. Now what?

What follows next is to open the discussion to competing explanations. All are welcome to hold forth. But….

After you lay out your best scenario that explains all the facts, there is still one crucial piece.

You must provide EVIDENCE to support your explanation. Otherwise, your explanation is nothing more than a ‘just so story’. Or as I’ve heard another Logical Joe say:

  • One could say THIS….
  • Or one could say THAT….but what does the evidence support?

Evidence

In  summary:

-lay out the facts

-suggest possible explanations, looking for one that has the most explanatory taking into consideration ALL the facts

-examine the evidence

Question: What situation comes to mind that would benefit from this method for getting at the truth of the matter?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ?