Theists, Agnostics, and Atheists, OH MY!

Your Rent-A-Friend starts a long walk through the Metaphysical Map starting with God. When it comes to God, there are only three positions anyone can take: They know He’s there, they don’t know, they pretend He isn’t. Every religion on earth, from Atheism to Zen fits in here somewhere. But your view of the world will remain cloudy, and your metaphysical map will lead you astray unless you begin with the true God, Jesus Christ.

Come Learn stuff, and get Smarter! And thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.

Read more on these topics at the Rent-A-Friend Blog:
https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/the-start-of-the-metaphysical-journey/
https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/the-nerd-to-metaducky-dictionary/
https://rentafriend2000.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-metaphysical-map-or-the-truth-of-the-duckie/

Proving God 7: We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident

One of the classes you slept through was the one where you should have learned the Declaration of Independence. It’s a long document which explains why we should be burning Washington DC to the ground today. But I digress. It begins thusly:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I’m sure you’ve heard this part several times, just before your eye lids got heavy and the room went dark. But have you ever wondered what the phrase “Self-evident” means? Just like it sounds, self-evident means it is SO OBVIOUS that merely hearing it is proof enough. The evidence for the truth is the truth itself.

One great example of self-evident is the law of non-contradiction. All it says is that anything is itself, and nothing is something other than itself. Or, as Dr Seuss once said, “You are YOU!”

And just to be preemptive- if you plan to send me an email which says, “Oh yeah? PROVE IT!” Don’t bother. If you need someone to prove to you that you are you, you are too stupid to talk to. Just make yourself a sock puppet and spend time yelling at it for a while.

That’s the point of the concept of “Self-evident.” Even if you CAN find evidence to prove it, you don’t NEED to because the alternatives are SO RIDICULOUS that they may as well be impossible merely by definition. Some things which most people would accept as self-evident are thing like:

The existence of the physical world.
The existence of people/minds other than ourselves.
The existence of ourselves.
The fact that we think when we think we are thinking.
The fact that bacon is delicious.
The cuteness of bunnies.

Alvin Plantinga has argued, and many have said very well, that belief in God is what he calls properly basic- meaning it is a self evident belief that we are born with, just as belief in the external world is properly basic. Apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate argues from the bible that all people KNOW God exists, and they know the God of the Bible exists. Sye just goes to Romans chapter 1 and reads,

“…men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Which, when you look at it, does sound like Paul is trying to say what can be known about God is plain to them, and that they are without excuse. But that’s just my interpretation. However, former atheists who have become Christians always tell the same story- they find that coming to Christ is a seeing what was always there, and accepting what they really always knew. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a former atheist say, “I had NO IDEA God was there! I really thought atheism was true!” Maybe those people are out there, but I’ve not yet met one. They tend to be like people who are looking for their glasses, and come to discover they’ve been wearing them the whole time.

Don’t hate. We’ve all been there.

The rarity of Atheism is further proof of this concept. ALL Cultures have been theists. The whole human race for our entire history have been born knowing there was a “Higher power” or “Great Spirit” or “Jesus of Nazareth.” Some descriptions have been better than others, but they’ve all agreed that we are not merely matter, alone in the universe.

So I encourage you to ask questions, find answers, and examine the evidence, because I know you will eventually come to see what you already know and have suspected all along- God is there. That’s the truth- but even better than the truth is the good news that comes with it:

 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3

Faith in God is reasonable. Science does show his fingerprints all over the universe. Seek, and you will find. And as always, thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.

Proof of God 6: Proving God with Science (AKA: Indiana CSI: Tomb Raider)

Roach Clowns all the time be saying, “I don’t understand God, Science, or the concept of proof!” but because their spelling is so bad it frequently comes across as “I demand scientific proof for the existence of God!

Now because they so often want scientific observations of God Himself, they prove only what they don’t know (See previous article). They are demanding physical observations of a immaterial being. This is like asking how much water love would displace when submerged or how tall Jazz is in centimeters. On the other hand, there is a second way to take this demand. We could alter it to demand that science be used to show the existence of God (Sometimes you need to help the Roach Clowns make sense before you can answer them. This is one of those times). It is in this second way that science is of great help to the Christian Apologist. But before I explain that, I need to tell you something truly amazing about this article.

BagawatChurch copy

You may picture me (Stunningly good looking, hair blowing in the wind) sitting at my laptop and typing away at these articles, and most weeks that is true. However, this week I did not write ANY of this article! Not even this paragraph! I actually left my laptop out in the back yard during a nasty thunderstorm, and hail rained down on my keyboard for nearly half an hour. When it was all done, the hail strikes on the keyboard had managed to produce this entire article! Even this paragraph! Can you believe it!?!

OK, I am of course just kidding. I wrote the above paragraph. However, the rest of the article was written in exactly that way because of falling hail! Is that not AMAZING?!

For what doest thou roll thine eyes? Ought I to be offended? Surely thou thinkest not that information comest from minds only? Egad and forshooth! Does thou? Then like archeologists, CSI scientists and the SETI team listening for radio signals from space, thou concludest thast information- the specified complexity which carries in it meaning- comes not from brute matter but from minds only? Not even from a well organized storm of hail on a laptop running Windows?

Alas poor Darwin. I knew him well Horatio. He was a man of infinite jests and silly theories pretensing to be science. And he married his first cousin. What’s with that, Horatio?

Consider how Crime Scene Investigators or Archaeologists use science. Both will look at existing evidence, consider all of the logical and possible ways that the evidence may have been caused, and then try to determine the single most likely cause of the evidence.

CSI teams and archaeologists can often run into a common difficulty, and that is not being able to talk to the person responsible for a particular piece of evidence. When an archaeologist finds a piece of pottery made 3,000 years ago in Egypt, he may never even hope to know the name of the individual who had made it, but he knows as well as anyone with half a brain and one eye that the pottery was made by a person with a mind, who chose to make that piece, as opposed to wind, sun, and rain over thousands of years. Furthermore, in thousands of years, we have never once seen a plant or animal make a piece of pottery, and thus any fragment of pottery from thousands of years ago is proof that there was a human who chose to make pottery at least that once. Even if we cannot know the man, we know the man was there.

This brings us to all of the sciences. While I could go on and on with examples for ages, I will sum up a couple of the best examples from science:

  1. Math and physics (Specifically the laws of thermodynamics) prove that the universe cannot be infinitely old, thus, it must have come into being. Anything that comes into being must have a cause, and that cause must have been God (To read more on that, read THIS and the previous article in this series.
  1. Physics and biology have shown the universe, from the very big to the very small to be AMAZINGLY fine tuned for life, and brilliantly designed. From the laws of matter and energy, to the vast amounts of information packed into every cell, as well as the irreducibly complex machinery in every living thing, we know that nothing but the greatest mind in the universe could have caused the world we know. Design demands a designer, and only a fool would try to say otherwise.

If you want to know what it’s like to be someone like me talking to a Roach Clown about these things, watch any one of those CSI shows, and imagine that one of the detectives was ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that ALL of the evidence was created by natural causes like wind, rain, and random chance. Bullet holes? Natural causes. Ransom note? Ink being spilled by the wind accidentally forming the illusion of words. Footprints? Dug by ants in the unlikely but not impossible shape of a foot. Eventually you start to go a little crazy.

Until next time, try to stay sane, and thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.

Dr Craig’s Fine Tuning Video

Kalaam video

 

Proof of God 5: Universe from the new i-God (Not coming to any store near you)

During this series I’ve been focusing on how Roach Clowns all the time be demanding evidence for the existence of God, but they are not the only people who ask for evidence for the existence of God. Lots of people do and ought to ask for evidence for every part of the Christian worldview. What makes Roach Clowns unique is that they have absolutely no desire to hear the answer, and will do anything in their power to ignore, misunderstand, or make fun of any evidence you provide. When Roach Clowns ask you to give evidence for God, they are like Midwesterners who say, “How are you doing?” We don’t really want to know how you are doing. It’s a greeting. It simply means, “I acknowledge your presence in my vicinity.” You’re supposed to reply, “Fine,” or “Good,” and then quickly change the subject. When a Roach Clown says, “What evidence do you have for the existence of God?” what he means is “I don’t understand your position, but you’re wrong and I hate you.” Naturally, the meaning does get lost in translation.

universe box

A friend of mine- not a Roach Clown- once asked me to give him evidence of God’s existence. So I said, “OK, how about the entire universe?” The look on his face told me he was expecting something smaller, but I figured, if I can start with everything, then this would expedite the conversation. I’m all about efficiency. Read more of this post

Proof of God 4: Proving God with science- or, What does the Number Five Smell Like?

If you’ve admitted in the public space of social media that you are a Christian, you no doubt have been attacked by the filthy pests of social media which I call Roach Clowns in an exchange that sounds something like this (once you remove the profanities and name calling):

Roach Clown: You believe fairy tales! I’m a man of science! I only believe things which can be proven scientifically with 100% mathematical certainty!

You: You can prove atheism to be true then?

Roach Clown: Uh…I don’t have to prove anything! Don’t try to push the burden of proof on me! You’re the person believing in fairy tales! I only believe things which can be proven scientifically with 100% mathematical certainty!

You: You mean, for example, evolution?

Roach Clown: Evolution is a scientific fact! We don’t need to prove it, we KNOW It’s true!*

You: With 100 % mathematical certainty?

Roach Clown: Evolution denier! Heretic! OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!

measuring the five

Roach Clowns all the time be demanding “Scientific Proof” for God’s existence, which to me is just another way they prove how much they don’t know. In this case, they are admitting that they don’t understand the nature of God or science. You’ve got to hand it to the Roach Clowns. They cover all of their bases. Read more of this post

Proof of God 3: Tological Argument: ON!

Have you ever tried to get to the top of a tall tree by digging a really, really deep hole? If so, you have some idea what it’s like to be a Roach Clown. By trying to set the bar for evidence high enough that faith in God can never be justified, they’ve actually dug themselves a really deep hole. It’s no wonder these guys worship at the alter of Darwin, as evolution depends on great additions being made by small, gradual subtractions. Hard to say if that makes it a running gag or some kind of contagious disease, but I digress.saint anselm roach clown copy

What is both sad and very funny is where one of these guys tries to be REALLY consistent with this attitude. Those conversations sound a lot like this:

Roach Clowns: You can’t know God exists because you can’t have 100% mathematical certainty.

You: But wouldn’t you agree that, on your worldview, you can’t know anything for certain in that sense? Can you even prove that YOU exist with that certainty?

Roach Clown: No. I could be wrong about everything I know. *

You: So, you’ll admit that maybe you’re wrong to claim atheism and God does exist.

Roach Clown: NO! I’m totally right about that!

You: But you’d admit that maybe evolution is wrong and all life was intelligently designed.

Roach Clown: NO! Evolution is a total fact and I’m totally right about that too!

You: I see how this works. Read more of this post

Proof of God 2: Sleeping Through Math Class

Today we’re going to dust off the cobwebs of our minds and try to remember way back to our various math classes. Remember how the cover of the book always looked like the jacket for some Atari racing game or 1980’s pop album cover? Remember that thing the teacher had which held chalk and allowed him to draw perfect circles on the board? Remember that blond girl from Alabama who sat behind you and managed to learn nothing every day even though the option of being distracted by an i-phone was still years away? Those were good times. Oh, and there was something about numbers. Try to remember some of that, because today it will help.math board copy

Roach Clowns all the time be trying to set the bar for acceptable proofs for God’s existence so high that NOTHING could ever be acceptable as evidence in favor of the Biblical world view. One of the things they demand is “100% certain mathematical proofs”. Conversations on social media tend to sound like this:

Roach Clown: If you want me to believe God exists you’ll have to show me evidence that is 100% mathematically certain!

You: You want me to prove God exists with math? You know God isn’t an equation, right?

Roach Clown: I knew it! You can’t prove God exists! WINNING!

You: No, really. Let’s talk about what you think the word “God” means. Because it seems like you have no idea. Read more of this post

Proof of God 1: I Think I Think, Therefore Maybe I Am?

Today we are going to take a good close look into your brain. Of course, I don’t mean you’ll be taking your brain out of your head. I am going on the assumption that you have an extra brain or two laying around, maybe out in the garage. If not, just hit one of the local garage sales. Someone is bound to have a brain they aren’t using. Taking a look around our world today, I’d say there are a LOT of people who have brains they aren’t using. On the internet, these people are called Roach Clowns.abandined library copy

When Roach Clowns find out you’re a Christian, they like to demand proof for the existence of God which is “100% certain, like mathematical proofs are 100% certain”. This is the kind of thing which makes them feel very clever. However, these same Roach Clowns will admit that, if you were to prove to their satisfaction that God existed and the Bible was true, they would not worship God or become Christians. This always makes me wonder why they don’t just get another hobby to occupy their time while they wait to die. Is harassing Christians on line with their limited vocabulary REALLY enjoyable enough that they choose to spend what little time they have before oblivion calling me names on Twitter? If I were them, I’d try surfing, or arson. But I digress.

The point I wish to make is that the demand for “mathematical proofs and 100% certainty” is itself horribly wrong and based on some misunderstandings. Read more of this post

Jesus was GUILTY! (And all of his followers knew it)

The Bible is a collection of books, written by a large number of men over a long time. The New Testament is a collection of biographies of Jesus, the history of the early church, and some letters to some of the early church from other members of the early church. And by “Early Church” I don’t mean the 8am service. I mean the Christians from the first century.

The New Testament was written within the lifetimes of the first generation of Christians, including those eye witnesses to the events described in the four Gospels. I’ll defend that proposition later, but for right now I want you all to consider something which struck me as significant about the New Testament books recently- specifically, something which is missing. We know from the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and other historical accounts that Jesus was executed by crucifixion under the charges of blasphemy (For claiming to be the God of the Jews) and sedition (for claiming to be the king of the Jews). His trial and execution are described in detail in the Bible, but many people, myself included, never consider what is missing from ANY writing of the church, from the very first generation on, within the Bible or outside of it: No one has EVER written a defense of Jesus. All of his disciples wrote and preached under the assumption that he was guilty of those charges.

This is where you all be, “What the WHAAAATTT?!??!”

If one of your close friends was accused of serious crimes against the church and state, you would come to their defense, would you not? And if they were executed for those crimes, you would speak of their innocence, would you not? Of course you would. You’re a good friend who’s not afraid to tell the truth! I like that about you.

We know the disciples were not afraid to speak their minds, because they all got killed for it sooner or later. And yet, with forty years to tell the story of Jesus, and many, many letters written to each other about what they had seen and heard, and with the four biographical accounts they wrote, no one ever tried to come to Jesus defense and argue that he had been falsely accused. What gives, man?

Here’s why this omission is so important. There are people who would try and tell you that Jesus never made any grand claims about Himself. They will tell you that he just told people to love their neighbor, and for some reason, that was enough to make the Romans and Jews bury the hatchet, join forces, and have him killed. Many liberal theologians will tell you that Jesus was just a very good man who said some very nice things, but never claimed to be God or King. Islam teaches that Jesus never claimed to be God or King (Although I’m uncertain if it teaches he was actually crucified; see below). And Mormonism says Jesus was God and King, but somehow the charges of sedition and blasphemy were false ones. I’m not sure how they make that work, but I’m just telling you what they said (also see below).

Naturally, the many interweb skeptics prefer the liberal version where in Jesus was put to death for essentially being first century Mr. Rogers and insisting that everyone love each other. To me this makes no sense. This would be like getting Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton to join forces to execute DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba on charges of treason. It’s a popular revision of history on Twitter and Facebook, but to me it is asking a lot.  Maybe a little too much.

The thing to take note of here is that NONE of the disciples of Jesus ever tried to write a defense for him, to clear him of those charges. None tried to defend him in court, and none tried to clear his name of the accusations in the years following. The Jews said, “He claimed to be God!” and the Romans said “He claimed to be the King of the Jews!” and both said “Execute him!” and not one single Christian ever said, “Jesus didn’t say that!” Every part of the New Testament essentially says, “Yes, Jesus said those things about himself, but he only said them because they were true.”

Admittedly, the writers of the New Testament who had known Jesus personally would not agree to the terms “Blasphemy” and “Sedition” since they felt he SHOULD have claimed to be God and King, but the point I am making is this: They said a lot of things about Jesus, but they never claimed he was innocent of the charges. Jesus DID claim to be God and King, but then he also proved it. If the versions provided by skeptics had any validity, then SOMEONE would have tried to write a defense of Jesus, telling the “REAL story” and offering arguments for his innocence. No one even tried. I think that says a lot.

Think about it, won’t you? And thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.

Footnotes:

“Jesus Christ was crucified because a group of unbelievers falsely charged him with sedition against Caesar and blasphemy because he said he was the Son of God.” [Official Mormon doctrine, emphasis mine] (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/crucifixion)

Author’s note: I am confused by the above claim that he was FALSELY charged when the same web site says this about Jesus:

“He is the Lord of lords, King of kings, the Creator, the Savior, and the God of the whole earth.”

(https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/jesus-christ?lang=eng)

Did he claim to be God and King or not? Because claiming to BE God and King WAS sedition. That’s how Ceasar rolled, yo.

In the Muslim book, the Qur’an, Surah 3:54 states:

“When Allah said: ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die and exalt thee in My presence and clear thee of those who disbelieve…”

Which sounds a lot like Jesus DID die, because Allah said he was going to cause it to happen, but then Surah 4:157-158 states:

“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not—nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself.”

Which sounds a lot like Allah kept Jesus from dying. So, your guess is as good or better than mine.

If you know how to solve these riddles, please send me a message.

Is Luke Skywalker a Moral Monster?!?!?

Whenever dealing with deep theological and philosophical issues, all wise persons tend to let their minds wander toward Star Wars, especially the original trilogy, Episodes IV, V, and VI (that’s 4, 5 and 6 for those of you who don’t speak ancient Greek). I  recently heard a question which comes up frequently when people are pondering the existence, character, and nature of God, which is “How do you reconcile the peace and love talk of Jesus with the war and genocide actions of God in the Old Testament?” Sometimes people will just frame this question about the “slaughter of the Canaanites” which always makes me want to ask them, “Why are you so concerned with the killing of the Canaanites? Do you even KNOW any Canaanites? OF COURSE NOT! They’re all DEAD! For all you know they were the biggest jerks in the universe which YOU would have killed given half a chance!”

But it is a fair question. In the New Testament Jesus says “Love your neighbor” and in the Old Testament he apparently told the Israelites to kill all of the Canaanites. Seems like a sticky wicket doesn’t it?

Luke-Skywalker-monsterHmmm… I think Wicket was the name of that one Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Read more of this post

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