Practical Application of Yesterday’s Theory
Yesterday, I presented a theoretical post. I said that the Euthyphro dilemma could be solved, as William Lane Craig observes, by the ontology of God. God is the ultimate source of good, and therefore the dilemma creates a false dichotomy. God neither commands something because it’s good, nor is it good because he commands it. God is good, and therefore his commands are good since they flow from his nature.
However, I observed, this wouldn’t satisfy most skeptics because they don’t think a syllable of the Bible is either true or reliable. Most believe that the Bible has been completely disproved by every discipline of science:
- Paleontologists and geologists have shown that the earth is older than the Bible declares (my buddy Mike disagrees, as does this website)
- Archeologists have shown that most of the sites mentioned in the Bible don’t exist (check out some discoveries that attest to the veracity of the Bible)
- Historians have demonstrated serious contradictions between what the Bible claims and what is reported in other historical documents (begs the question; why couldn’t the Bible be right and the other documents wrong?)
- Biology shows us that the Bible reports nonsense about animals; hares don’t chew cud, bats aren’t birds, humans aren’t fundamentally different and therefore not special creations of any god (the last has to do with the rejection of the soul, so I won’t give a specific defense)
And on the list goes.
Now, all of those have logical answers. I’ve linked to what others have said (I haven’t actually addressed any of those claims in depth) if you, the skeptic, would actually care to read them.
But let’s get to a practical application of yesterday: the Resurrection. This is the central tenet of Christianity, but if the skeptic believes that the Bible is as riddled with error as many believe (above), then how are they ever going to swallow something as improbable and unbelievable as the Resurrection?
And make no mistake: It is both unbelievable and improbable!
How important is the Resurrection? Paul writes:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:17-19)
Wow. If Christ isn’t raised, we are still slaves to sin and loyal to a delusion. Those believers that have died are worm food. If we only have hope in this material existence only, then we are to be the most pitied people of all.
It seems that the Resurrection is as central as it gets. Because if it never happened, then we are to be pitied.
Yet, if the skeptic isn’t convinced by anything in the Bible, if he thinks that the Bible is a load of crap and that anyone who believes it is deluded, then there’s no hope he’s ever going to believe that the Resurrection happened.
And it only gets worse–those that subscribe to metaphysical naturalism don’t think that anything could raise the dead. So, not only is the entire Bible nonsense, but even if some of it might be true, dead people just don’t rise and gods just don’t exist.
Quite a pickle.
So why are there atheists who have converted to Christianity? Josh McDowell, for example. Or Lee Strobel?
Well, I’m more familiar with Lee’s story than Josh’s, so permit me an exposition of Lee’s conversion. First, though, I need to establish that you generally find that which you seek. If you’ve lost a sock in the dryer again, unless you get out the wrench and start taking apart that blasted sock-eating apparatus, you will forever have an odd number of socks.
Moreover, no one approaches anything from a perspective of pure neutrality. Sorry, but this includes your hometown newspaper, where ever you are reading this from. I’m in Toledo, and the biggest criticism of our paper, The Blade, is that it is super-biased. Guess what? No other newspaper in the world is any different, some just show it clearer than others.
Put these two things together, and you will see why Lee Stobel converted. It wasn’t because he objectively approached the facts and followed the evidence where it lead. It was because he was seeking God, most likely because his wife had previously converted. He didn’t so much do it to prove her wrong, then proved himself wrong. He did it because he, however unconsciously, expected to find that Christianity is true.
You find what you’re seeking.
On the other hand, what is the committed atheist going to find? Well, he’s already decided (often a priori) that religion is a delusion, miracles aren’t real, people don’t rise from the dead three days later, and the Bible is total BS in everything it says.
So, the Bible won’t be enough to confirm the Resurrection. The atheist will have to look elsewhere. But, is the Resurrection recorded elsewhere? Nope. Would we expect it to be? Nope.
Even if the skeptic were to conclude that the Resurrection might have some meat, he still thinks miracles aren’t real. The Resurrection is a miracle, and therefore is going to be rejected on that ground.
What if, by some (ahem) miracle, the skeptic could get over the first two objections? He might think this way:
All of those people had to have seen something, even people hostile to Jesus saw him, right? And, the very people who claimed the visions died confessing it. Maybe it isn’t a miracle, but something real affected a staunch Pharisee like Paul enough for him to break the Law and write to others scolding them for trying to adhere to it, and to Jesus.
But wait, says the skeptic, that would require me to believe that a miracle happened, which would be powerful evidence for God. That means religion, and religion is nonsense!!
Three defeaters to the Resurrection. Somewhere down the road, one of them is going to stick in the mind of the skeptic and he’s going to conclude that the Resurrection didn’t happen.
Where does the chain start? With the historical reliability of the Bible. This is a neglected area of apologetics, and I think it is the key to finding some middle ground with the skeptics that challenge our faith. If we can do some more work in this area as apologists, and break some new ground (pardon the archeology pun), then I think we might be able to lead a new generation of seekers to Christ.
Posted on August 13, 2011, in Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Religion and tagged archeology, Christianity, Christianity for Seekers, reliability of Bible, Resurrection. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.