In some regards, it doesn’t matter whether the guards were Roman or Temple guards. The mere fact that there were guards represents a real problem for those who wish to dismiss the resurrection. Clearly, though, the more trained these soldiers are, the less likely we can consider other scenarios, such as incompetence.
It’s easy to be a skeptic because it is much easier to not believe something as to believe it. Skepticism has no non-arbitrary stopping point. That is, full blooded skepticism will naturally morph into cynicism. There is no objective point where any kind of argument, piece of evidence, or logical deduction must coerce belief. This is a point I raise in this post. Many skeptics construe their skepticism as an act of courage, as though being willing to question everything shows a brave streak that others do not have. To a point, there is courage… and in a way, yes, there is something to that.
However, if it is brave to question everything it is braver still to believe anything. Let me illustrate.
I think it goes to my larger point. Story moves. Yes, Story can move more than evidence. And yet even if that is the case, nowhere do I suggest that I think that is good! Indeed, this whole event illustrates just how unfortunate it can be when evidence is divorced from Story. Oh yes, there is a Story here. There is a Narrative. This Narrative is one that Myers and his many fans are drenched in, so much so none of them actually need evidence to know that me and my stories are [fill in your favorite pejoratives here]. The Narrative fills in the gap. It is the skeptical storyline: Christians, dumb. Christians, blind faith. Skeptics, geniuses. Skeptics, reason and evidence. Nothing more needs to be said because everyone is already agreed on how the story ends, anyway. The ‘evidence’ ends up being just a ‘literary’ flourish that adds little to the accepted Narrative.
This Narrative appears to be driving Dave’s response, though to his credit, he is exceptionally mild and measured compared to many of the other responses I observed.
As I argued above, all the religions and most of the world’s people deal honestly and seriously with the problem of death, but I should like to point out something truly unique about Christianity: it believes that at a specific place at a particular time in our history, God himself- knowing perfectly well what an offense death was- dealt death itself a death blow. He came to earth in a real place at a real time and interacted with real people that we can know from real history and really died and really rose from the dead and really promised to share that victory with anyone who will really accept the medicine he really offers.
In my view, since death is the common denominator for all of us and the one thing that stands in our way of ultimate and meaningful happiness, it is a proper subject of intensive human scrutiny. If there were hope, real hope, that there is an ultimate answer to death, then it is worth doing everything in your power to find out, and if one finds that hope to be more than plausible, but actual, seize upon it.
Apologetics ministries tend to focus on issues such as God’s existence or the fact of the resurrection or the Bible’s reliability. These are all very important. Indeed, they bear directly on the issues at hand- for if there is no God, it obviously follows that we cannot be made by him in his image. Further, Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection on behalf of a fallen human race is an emphatic testament to how much God himself values each human life. Dispense with these, and there are ripples down the line.
There, however, is where I wish to make the point: there are ripples down the line.
Somewhere I read once that in the 1700s they went after God. In the 1800s, they went after Jesus. In the 1900s, they went after Man. The sequence is logical, rational, and predictable. One would like to think that they can dispense with God without there being practical effect, but the 1900s have shown otherwise.
Richard Dawkins, among many others, have contended that ‘faith’ is believing what you know isn’t true. Less severe, but equally inaccurate, is the view that faith is a thing completely apart from evidence, or even in spite of the evidence. This view isn’t restricted to atheists. Unfortunately, many Christians themselves take that view. It is unfortunate because it is not true, it is not how the Scriptures actually present it, and it takes Christians out of discussions they should be involved in.
The simplest way to put it that would be accurate would be to understand ‘faith’ as including, front and center, the idea of ‘trust.’
Christian faith is not merely the confident belief that certain propositions are true. It isn’t even the confident belief that a God exists. The Scriptures forbid such a narrow understanding: “So you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19
Another passage puts it in better context: “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he awards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Real Christian faith includes and transcends beliefs in propositions and speaks to the trust that we have in God and our reliance on his nature (ie, most prominently, his goodness).
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” GK Chesterton
I was thinking to myself how hard it is to be ‘good’ and how easy it is to be ‘bad.’ For the introspective nonChristian, especially in today’s day and age where great pains are expended to eliminate both concepts, that nagging voice of conscience is still quite audible. Have you ever actually tried to follow through on everything your own conscience demands? Never mind the words of an old book or the collective pronouncements of a bunch of religious wingnuts, what about your own conscience? Try to be entirely good, even by your own standards, for just a day. I think you will discover that it is extraordinarily difficult. But not living up to your standard is easy. So easy. Doesn’t this require an explanation that covers all the facts?
All in all it was an interesting exchange. I thought his explanation for his disbelief confirmed what I’ve been saying for some time about the church actually creating atheists. In fact, let me take a minute to single out a correspondent from a church in Indiana- is that specific enough?- who recently complained about my ‘law’ posts attacking the state of the church and how we are transmitting the faith and just ask him: do you ever even talk to people who are not Christian? It must be nice to operate in a little bubble where you figured you did your job after you confirmed all the kids in your youth group but then 48 out of 50 of them fall away in college- and you hardly are aware and are happily willing to go on doing everything the same way you’ve always done it. Meanwhile, we apologists strive to clean up the mess. It is a mess made worse, often, I think, then if they had never been raised in the faith at all. (Matthew 12:43-45) Yes, if it’s law, it is a law message that you need to hear.
But I digress.
The conversation I had last night raised a number of lines of thoughts for me
I noticed the other day that someone had taken the time to respond at length to my post discussing trancendence, immanence, logic and superlogic. Then I woke up this morning to find out he had posted again on it! Herr Professor, this is just too much! 🙂 Herr Professor, now going by Deacon Duncan, knows that I prefer to have extended discussions on my discussion forum but he has sufficiently stroked my ego that I think a post or two is warranted. It is not every day that I am described as smart and sophisticated and that my arguments are clever. However, since the Professor already is two posts ahead of me he will have to be patient as I catch up. Below is part one. Please read this to the very end, or not at all.
For this entry I am responding mainly to his first article, ‘Can God do Nonsense?’
From the start, I’d like to point out that H. Professor admitted one of my contentions as reasonable. I had argued that an evaluation of God’s ‘omni’ nature doesn’t require that he performs nonsensical demands, like making a rock he cannot lift. I said that even atheists can accept this, and H. Professor did.
Christian apologists are constantly asking skeptics and genuine seekers to hold to the question of God and Jesus the same standards of evidence they hold anything else. The question of Jesus being also a question of history, we are satisfied if non-biased standards of historical research were employed. Usually, it is the skeptics employing ad hoc standards based on priorly held beliefs about reality.
On this basis then, we see that one cannot dismiss the idea that there was really a man named St. Nicholas just because 350 years separates him from the (current) best sources. On that reasoning we’d have to ditch much of what we know about a great many historical figures, including big ones like Alexander the Great. So, let it be agreed: Santa Claus existed; it is a fact of history.
Last night I went and saw Madagascar II with my wife and kids. Though there were a couple of things that were over the top they were fortunately things my kids didn’t think twice about. Still, wish they wouldn’t do that. Anyway, there was this one scene that got me thinking. The scene is where hunk hippo Moto Moto is asked by New York Girl hippo Gloria ‘Why do you like me?”
How about some background first?
I will contend that the right answer to “Why do you love me?” is “For no reason at all.” This is in fact the answer I gave to my girlfriend in college, with predictable results.