YouTube Skeptics: 6 Questions for All Christians
YouTube appears to be an untapped resource of materials that I can blog about. The whole site seems to be filled with critics of Christianity, and they aren’t shy about keeping vlogs about their doubts. I should have looked more seriously at YouTube months ago, when Caleb started deconverting due to materials that he saw via YouTube.
So I searched a bit and found some interesting materials. I thought that I’d answer a video every now and then. I’m going to try for ones that really make a person think, but I might take on a capitally stupid one just for amusement purposes every now and again.
This video caught my eye first, because I like to think deeply about my faith. Videos that ask questions, though usually rhetorical, make me think more deeply and I believe actually strengthen my faith in God, though they’re intended to do the opposite.
The producer of this video, known by the moniker “otherwisesaid,” lists his name as Carlos and his favorites column has several Mr. Deity videos. That alone knocks his credibility down a few notches.
Either way, his video asks six questions. Most appear to be rhetorical. He doesn’t really expect anyone to have an answer to the questions, but he thinks by asking them he can challenge the faith of some. Let’s examine his questions in turn and see if they truly challenge Christianity.
Do you know the history of the Bible? How it was compiled? And the history of what we today call Christianity? I do, actually. I’m somewhat fuzzy on the Old Testament, but I know that the New Testament was written between a.d. 40 and a.d. 90 (with many scholars believing that all of it was written prior to a.d. 70), with some parts (such as the hymns and creeds that Paul quotes in his letters) dating even earlier than that. The first attempt at an authoritative canon came in response to Marcion’s second century attempt to recast Jesus as a different god than the one described in the Old Testament. Marcion played with the generally accepted canon, and it became necessary for the orthodox churches of the time to agree on which writings were authoritative. The issue wouldn’t be settled for many, many more years.
The Muratorian Fragment, which dates to about a.d. 170 is the first known list of canonical books. It includes most (but not all) of the same books that we recognize today, with the addition of the Shepherd of Hermas and the Revelation to Peter, as well as Paul’s letter to the Laodiceans. The purpose of the Fragment was to guard against the heresies of Marcion.
My question back to Carlos is, What does this prove? It isn’t unusual for any religion to deliberate carefully over what books are considered holy. The cold, hard fact is that the Bible didn’t drop magically out of the sky. It was penned between 1250 b.c. (or perhaps even earlier) and a.d. 90, by some 40 different authors from all walks of life, from kings to fishermen. Am I now supposed to doubt Christianity because its early church fathers took time and care in deciding which books that God had inspired?
In Genesis 6:6, it is said that God was grieved that he created man. Does it ever hit you that doesn’t make sense? No. I think it makes perfect sense. Look at the opening:
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Note especially verse 5: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” How does God view evil? Turn to Psalms and Proverbs:
- The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. (Ps 5:5)
- I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. (Ps 26:5)
- The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. (Ps 34:16)
- For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. (Ps 37:9)
- A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. (Ps 101:4)
- The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. (Prv 8:13a)
- A good man obtains favor from the LORD, but a man of evil devices he condemns. (Prv 12:2)
- Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out. (Prv 24:19-20)
It is pretty clear that God hates evil and will not tolerate it in his presence. So why is it so hard to believe that God would be grieved at the fact that man is only evil continuously?
Well, it seems that the real objection here is that God is omniscient. That means that he already knew what was going to happen when he set out to do it.
So? When my grandma received the wrong pain medicine and had a reaction to it that could only be reversed by a surgery that she wasn’t strong enough to survive, I knew that she would die. It was inevitable at that point. But that doesn’t mean that news of her passing didn’t grieve me. Same with God. Even though he knows the evil we are capable of and that we will inevitably accomplish, that doesn’t mean that he can’t feel grief or regret. It would be different if his reaction were one of genuine surprise, but that doesn’t happen here.
According to the Old Testament, the Messiah would be the descendant of David, but did you ever notice that you can’t connect Jesus to David? Not true. The genealogies given in Matthew and Luke both show that Jesus is descended from David via Joseph. Of course, the video tries to preclude that simple answer by pointing out that Jesus isn’t the biological son of Joseph. But, the Bible shows two cases where biological descent isn’t necessary to be called a son of the person in question.
The first case is that of Levirite marriage, discussed in Deuteronomy 25:5-6. Basically, it states that when the elder brother dies without descendants, it is the duty of his younger brother to father children via the dead brother’s wife and raise descendants in his brother’s name. In such a case, the children are considered heirs to the dead brother’s property without being biological descendents of the dead brother.
The second case is the case of descent from Abraham. The Scriptures say that only descendants of Abraham through Jacob will share in salvation. But, the apostle Paul argues in Galatians 3 that the true descendants of Abraham are not according to the flesh (that is, biological descendants) but are descendants through faith.
So here are two other biblical cases in which we see that heirs do not depend solely on genetics. Jesus, therefore, is another such case. While not a biological descendant of David, he was raised by a man of the house of David, and therefore an heir to that throne.