The survey asks these questions:
I have not included their responses to ALL these, but only portions...
It's a brilliant site you have here and is my personal favourite. I
became a Christian about 15 yrs ago and have spent the vast majority of
that time being as brutally honest and as skeptical as I can in an attempt
to find out whether the Bible is all it claims to be. As you can imagine,
I have had my "trust" reduced to almost zero at times. I say "almost zero"
because if it did come to nothing I don't suppose I'd still be here.
But after 13-14 yrs of personal faith abuse(I hope you know what I mean)I
had a very personal experience of God. I'm not saying that I heard a voice
or any such thing. It was just that after so long a search, to finally
come to the realization that the reason the Word stood up so well against
the barrage of criticism it has received(for centuries, by some very intelligent
people)was because it is LITERALLY TRUE! Have you ever held an Ant
farm in front of your face and wondered, if they could think, what would
they think about?
Historians could be mistaken or people could have lied. And how much have I actually observed personally, in any history? Not much. And if I had observed personally, my senses could be deceived. How would I know if they were, or not, for sure?
I suppose there is evidence that at least the Bible has been transmitted accurately. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls match our current Old Testament books pretty closely, from what I have read (but they don't include Esther). Did the authors of the Bible lie? How could we know?
There is also some reference to Jesus' existence, by the Romans, etc. He certainly affected a lot of people. But was He what He claimed? What evidence could there be that would prove that scientifically/historically? Could he demonstrate the resurrection a few times, or walk through a few walls, or something? Could he explain the virgin birth and how the chromosomes got doubled with only an egg, or whether there was an egg at all? He's have to do it for every person, and even then they could doubt their senses anyway.
What Jesus said, and the example He set, is something I find worthy
of my respect and wish I could do. My emotions tell me He is trustworthy
and that my faith in Him is not misplaced. I don't believe a human
male could have been like Jesus. Confucius, for example, had some major
things he missed, in my opinion. He didn't get the whole truth, nor did
he live it out completely. The same is true of all of the "great teachers"
I've read about except Jesus. Everything He said rings true, and there
are no sour or jarring notes in the report of His life, that don't match
what He said.
I have a Chemistry degree, and knowing exactly how so many things work,
without having to exercise faith, and finding out that intuition can mislead
(yet objective testing can correct it), has made the exercise of faith
and belief in metaphysics less natural, and has raised feelings of doubt
in the reality of things that can't be measured, at times. How do we
know, in the way that we know what will happen in a repeatable experiment,
whether God exists, whether miracles actually have occurred, whether we
really think, or anything of that nature? We can't know in that way--that's
the problem for someone with a scientifically educated mindset.
Given that there is a creator, I see evidence in nature of His goodness. I don't have to enjoy food to survive, for example. It would be just as good to eat to get rid of stomach pain...etc. So He is good.
But there is also something wrong in nature. Death, for one thing. The Bible's scenario matches what I see, and rings true more and more, the more I read of it. I consider other beliefs, but only the Bible's depiction of history and God's plan seems like something a good creator would do, and explains what I see as well. I have gathered facts to see how the Bible got here, what historians say, etc., but people could be mistaken or people could have lied.
I have taken a step of faith to believe that the Bible is what it claims to be, and any other belief I consider is compared with the Bible to the best of my ability. I feel comfortable with this, because I have discovered that everyone has to take a step of faith to believe in whatever they believe anyway. It's not whether you choose a belief based on faith--it's which belief you choose to adopt.
If there is a good creator, who wants a relationship with mankind,
then I would expect Him to reach out to us. Philosophy has shown that man
reaching out to God results in whittling away what you can know to nothing,
and a plethora of confusion, and no conclusions--man can't reach God on
his own. I would thus expect to find a revelation given supernaturally,
like the Bible, to guide mankind into a correct relationship with God.
I think that atheist scientists often don't believe in God because they don't want to be considered superstitious or part of the religious fundamentalist movement. Not to mention unintelligent or deceived or gullible.
Many people disbelieve because they don't want to be accountable to a creator, and believing would at least make God the ultimate determiner of truth, and they aren't comfortable with that.
Unbelievers who have thought about it and still don't believe take a
step of faith to not believe. Evolution is a ludicrous idea, despite the
names you get called if you say that. So how did we get here? Panspermia,
It seems to me, that he lived a completely True life. True when viewed from every angle I can think of. (At least, all the ones I've discovered myself so far).
As a open-minded-but-skeptical person, I have looked at a lot of evidence. (Biblical and non-Biblical) and have come to the conclusion that Jesus spoke the truth. When he said that he was God manifested as man, he meant it... it was not an allusion or a metaphor. It was the truth.
This implies many things for me, some of which are:
* He had to have a very Large mind to hold and deal with all the issues in life. By Large, I mean in the capacities of intelligence, memory, spirituality, presence-of-mind, empathy (etc)
* He had to have tremendous courage to live as he did...'Guts' in the more modern vernacular. Has truth and goodness ever been fashionable? Has it ever been 'in'. Perhaps, for short periods of time. But I observe that it is too soon twisted into Pride, or cheapened by cynicism, by over-exposure, by...by, golly! Almost anything can (seemingly) ruin it!
* He practiced what he preached... all the time. What a very difficult task that is! Even with the best of intentions, I have met no-one who can do this (yet!).
* People in his time recognized him as something different, something very special; threatening and frightening to some, filled with peace and 'lit from within' to others. Humans can be very perceptive at times. It would not do to minimize or discount what other's saw when they looked at Jesus.
And here's-the-thing: For an unassisted Human to have all the attributes, and live the life that Jesus lived, seems very, very unlikely. He must of had help. I admit I cannot prove he had help, and perhaps an insane genius could have done it without help. But Jesus doesn't appear to manifest any tell-tale characteristics of an insane person. (This is an interesting side subject about which I am sure many books could-be/have-been written) But the question of whether he had help has not been left up to conjecture. Jesus told everyone that he had help, every day, frequently, constantly, from his Father in Heaven.
At this point, we get into whether Jesus was God-on-Earth.... and (as you probably know, Glenn) we loose many people who begin groaning, scoffing, etc. I used to be one of the groaners... now I keep quiet and listen.
Here is my reasoning on the matter. The proposition is: Jesus was the Son of God. When considering this question, one has to presuppose the existence of God, and the existence of Jesus, otherwise the proposition has no meaning. (I don't mean you have to BELIEVE in God, just take the existence of God as a given (smile) and that Jesus was a human who existed)
If we look at the evidence of his life and actions disinterestedly (without
bias or prejudice for or against the existence of God), evidence documented
from all available sources, and argued about extensively throughout our
history, we have to conclude that, it seems plausible. The explanation
'hangs together' very well with his recorded words and actions. It makes
sense. It is self-consistent. Occam's razor cuts in favour of the proposition.
The question: "Why not?", also pops into my mind, and for the following
reason: The only good, real, hard, unarguable evidence I have witnessed,
is the change made in people who give themselves to Christ. They really
feel changed. They notice that things within themselves are different.
The teaching of Jesus, when put into practice and honestly followed, appears
to 'work' for them just as promised. Now, for the second time, I point
out that it is ludicrous to attempt to discount what other people experience
and 'see'... even if it is within themselves. Sure, they cannot PROVE
it...but, WHY NOT obtain some better data? WHY NOT give it a try yourself?
when the positive, documented Christian experiences are so numerous, and
pervasive, through many cultures and over many years. It is easy to delude
yourself for a day, or even a year... but for a lifetime? If all of the
truly born-again-in-the-spirit Christians are deluding themselves...well,
it passes beyond the bounds of reasonable argument to suggest that. Also,
one has to be impressed with intelligence, common sense, and 'sensibleness'
of many outstanding Christians. One cannot simply discount these persons
as being deluded!
The type of evidence I am referring to is:
Paintings or sculptures of him.Admittedly, it is a tall order to expect ANY convincing physical evidence for a person from this long in the past, but if the person was this important, surely it would be reasonable to expect some scrap to be allowed to survive, especially if an all powerful God willed it! See my Anti-argument Two for possible reasons why an all powerful God might have willed against it.
Clothing he wore.
Objects he made.
Documents he wrote.
Human's are BOTH physical and spiritual beings, my contention is that
the spiritual evidence is well established INSIDE those who believe, why
isn't there equally convincing physical evidence. It doesn't seem
like much to ask. 'Seem' is the appropriate word here. There are good human
arguments why this IS to much to ask. For example: Physical evidence
would not convince the die-hard skeptic (this argument was used by Jesus
when explaining why he performed miracles in one town, by not another).
Also physical evidence might polarize humanity more violently between believers
and non- believers... this might make it more difficult for non-believers
to be converted, which would not be a desirable situation to the Christian
style God. Also Physical evidence might be used by those in power to perpetrate
great evils. I am sure we could all come up with lots of scenarios with
this as the theme. Once again, this might make the number of believers
smaller, or put very great difficulties in the way of converts... not a
desirable situation. But still the question stands and is largely unanswered
by Jesus. (Unless you can provide some insight here Glenn?)
More ambivalent about his claimed supernatural status. Open minded about miracles (particularly healings, as people I know and respect have experienced such non-rational events). The wholly God and wholly human idea has no clear meaning to me - mostly it just seems bizarrely human-centric. Resurrected? I sort of hope so. Take Gospels seriously, mainly because of second-hand accounts of how weighty and early they are compared to accounts of other historical events.
There is no doubt that people converted to faith in Jesus can undergo
radical and long-lasting transformations in their lives (although so can
people 'converted' to other ideologies). Usually, from my observations,
the consequences are positive. If not quite a compelling argument,
this is at least a good advert.
I haven't really looked into the historical accuracy of the Bible, but
people I love or trust or respect think that it is God's words. That has
to be enough for me. I want to find out the truth for myself, but I
don't know where to start.
I do agree that 'always questioning and examining our assumptions is an absolutely necessary part of growth and discovery.' Few people that I know openly acknowledge this truth.
As for my quest for the truth I am much more at ease. At the last time
of writing confusion, disorder, and a general state of gloominess abounded.
Currently I have move from an agnostic stance to a theistic stance.
can't get around God, so to speak. I also now find Christianity very plausible.
I haven't had much time recently for my own personal studies because of
schoolwork. I think this will change this summer when I have more time.
Tough question. "Historical data ....." hmmmmmm. Not quite sure what
you're asking. I have experienced personal salvation through Christ and,
through several church affiliations (& the teaching/preaching/etc.
received) have found Christianity (or, better, my relationship
w/ Christ) most fulfilling. I am, after many years though, seeking
a better (fuller?) understanding of Christianity generally, and, perhaps
more specifically, the "philosophical, scientific, &/or intellectual"
underpinnings of why/how/what I believe. I find this site very interesting,
but almost too overwhelming with information to know quite where to begin.
Reading or study suggestions (either here or elsewhere - books/tapes or
cyber-sites) would be most appreciated!
Just to tell you that I´m:
- still sober after 3 years and three months and have not felt thirsty for one second since then
- still non-smoking
- still thanking God for intervening
- still asking his Son for advice and guidance in every aspect of my life
- still feeling his close presence some precious seconds or even minutes almost every day - feeling that the "scale" of the closeness is up to me
- still praying for more courage to believe a little more every day
- still asking Him to check out my heart
- still feeling changes for the better (-got a new dream-job which I couldn't possibly have overcome if I had been still drinking...)
- still frequently visiting your web site
I've gone from no doubt (in Christianity) but no action, to no doubt some action, to doubt (severely), back to (mostly) believe (not much action here, as you might guess), to doubt, to some belief, to doubt, to some belief, and so on (which is where I am now). Ironically this all started with a thought about Islam (which I know cannot be true, because it teaches (no) salvation through works, which just cannot be (I'm not bigger than God)).
I know logically there has to be a God. I know there are many facts supporting Christianity. I just don't fully believe right now. Sometimes I think the God of the Bible looks quite superstitious, but then I am confronted with Jesus, who supported the OT. But (that's ALWAYS there, huh?), I'm not sure that everything that's written in the NT is accurate, and, at this stage, that means I am simply not sure.
I mean (MEAN) no front to God, in any way. I SINCERELY do want to know and believe the truth, and I will follow Him explicitly once I reach that stage.
I am just not there yet, and it is causing me great trouble.
I have read a lot, but it seems to be mostly level 1 (maybe 2) stuff (Mere Christianity, some other things. Currently I am reading The Case for Christ, and have picked up vol 1 & 2 of Evidence that Demands a Verdict). I have not been able to entirely understand some of what you've written, but most of it I do understand and it makes sense. It has really helped me with some relevant history, Bible understanding, and skeptical arguments.
The funny thing about the arguments is this: You seem to start at level
on (on a hypothetical scale of 1-3). The responses you have published seem
to respond on an apparent level 2. You then respond on level 3. Here's
the funny part: once you respond on level 3, the level 2 skeptical responses
seem to collapse to sub 1 levels! In other words, they appear to have not
been thought out much at all.
I'm about to contradict everything I just said, but the first
person nature of the accounts in the New Testament (and the OT) Though
not unassailable from a rationalist, historical point of view, the very
fact that several different first person accounts agree (with the normal
differences in personal perceptions) on an account of the life, death and
resurrection of Christ and that these accounts were not, as far as I know,
factually contradicted by other witnesses, is a powerful proof that SOMETHING
spectacular went on about two thousand years ago.
1) cleanse us of our sins and
2) to prove that He, in the person of Christ, knows our suffering because he has experienced it.
Though this is not the best "logical" argument for the Truth of Christianity, I do believe that the idea of a god who suffered with and for us, who understands, is one of the most attractive and intriguing facets of Christianity to non-believers (seeking or not)
I have however not yet made the jump required to understand all the implication /consequences of that belief frankly speaking the details of the life historical jesus are not so important to me. the results of the historical-critical exegesis through the last 2 centuries hv shown how little can be said with confidence or accuracy. I wud follow martin bubers statement of the bible as being a palimpsest which need new disclosure by each reader in his time. i find it most logical that the books of the NT are more or less influenced by the intentions of the young christian community. in germany there was a decade or so a book published by the editor-in-chief of the newsmagazine der spiegel ( maybe comparable to newsweek in usa ). though quite polemical in many aspects it gathered the many discrepancies and misunderstandings and interpretations etc of the facts abt jesus.
however i dont feel that even if this would proof how little we actually can really know abt him, it would not be a hindrance to believe in what he taught. i just started to get interested in philosophy of history but i found as much that if you really try to understand what has historically happened you will not come to a conclusion unless you hv been there yourself and even then it wud be filtered by oneself. which also leads to hermeneutics and epistemological issues (the dealing of which again i much appreciate at yr site here)
it may be of course that i am missing the point of faith in total when considering above. when strolling thru christian newsgroups i am always wondering on how people can refer to the bible as being imperative to their lives. inspirating yes. giving solace yes. but whenever imperative it will make it prone to misuse by fun-damn-entalistic exegetics. ( if i reconsider i am mainly referring to moral and ethical aspects here)
i these cases it will then finally come down to contra principium negantem non est disputandum ...
by considering on how much abuse was caused by misinterpretations of the books of the books i just cannot follow this approach.
i believe that every time will hv her interpretation. for instance the
psychological approach of eugen drewermann ( is he known in the usa ? )
has tremendous success. i was also touched by the man's ( a former catholic
priest ! ) ability to read the bible in a way that reveals our longings
and desires. he has shown me how actual the bible can be today !
Pro-argument: The sheer joyous craziness, the sensual delight and
of true Christianity, and the emotional and spiritual sterility of so many
of the alternatives.
Evidence? None whatsoever. I find the fact that the church spread the
gospel and that early Christians and Christianity survived as evidence
of its fulfilling God's intentions.
Accept/welcome Jesus as friend, brother, saviour, God, not-attainable-but-ideal-life-model, physical embodiment of the totality of God in a form more or less understandable by humans.
Never having learned Greek, I am more or less restricted to Roman writings but, bureaucrats that they were, and census takers, there seems to be reasonable historical support of Jesus as a historical reality, and of the political discontent in which he placed himself.
Other? Although the concurrence of Roman travel and communications
competence, and the Roman need for a state religion provided good infrastructure
for the spread of Christianity, it also spread in the East where these
conditions did not prevail, and it was only one of several religious practices
that might have been accepted by Rome. It also survived the dissolution
of the Roman Empire - overall, it survived by either divine love or an
incredible series of coincidences and miracles. More? Person daily
awareness of Jesus in the world around me and in my life. recognition of
Jesus at least partially in many other religions.
Finally there is the witness of my own life: I was an alcoholic drug
abuser with severe emotional problems. I sought help from psychiatry and
spiritualism, but these only exasperated my problems. I sought God for
eight months while researching the Christian faith. When I finally accepted
Jesus Christ, he broke the hold of drugs and alcohol on my life. Since
then He has restored and built my life in a way that testifies to His goodness
and power, not to anything I had in me. I was only capable of destroying
my life, and only Jesus Christ was capable of repairing it.
I'm a pretty thoroughly orthodox - not - evangelical Christian who recovered from a moderately bad case of atheistic materialism.
Part of that opinion is taken "on Faith" in the sense that, convinced of the basics of existence and resurrection, I'll take the Church's word on the details. Current dates for the NT gospels make them credible and unlikely to be "made up." I know Josephus makes a couple of references to the existence of Jesus. They may have been embellished, but the last I knew they were generally considered to be at least partly authentic.
Most objections I've seen to the gospels are unreasonable, and would
not likely be applied to any work that didn't make unusual (i.e. miraculous)
claims. Many of them only make sense if the gospels were written much
later than currently thought. What on earth would have been the point
of making up Christianity? At least David Koresh got free love before Janet
Reno toasted him. The apostles, as best anybody has ever shown, got no
power, no sex, no money and a generally crummy life. And they were
personally acquainted with Jesus, so they would not be convinced or hornswaggled
into phony martyrdom. Even in terms of cult leaders, they got none of
the perks that drive such guys. Could carry on, but won't.
1. The mentions of the existence of the Xtian Church (or band of believers, if you like) throughout the following centuries (in spite of various ups and downs).
2. The correlation of historic events mentioned in the Gospels with secular historical data.(Not many, granted, but some)
3. Again, the very existence of the Church itself. There seems to be no logical reason for its existence or spread, except the supernatural.
1)Well-documented, modern miraculous cures through the intercession of the saints, the BVM, etc. God, of course, does the work, but He lets others help.
2) Personal, subjective experience (but that probably doesn't count)
The question, then, is how to break down the barriers around a mind
that will trust only in its own reality and bring it to a point of meeting
God face to face. I believe that this is the true work of apologetics.
acceptance of any set of premises is not sufficient basis for a right relationship
with God, but intellectual rejection of God's claims is more than enough
to hide behind when seeking to avoid His presence.
If we can win the
intellectual battle and get the skeptic to admit the existence of God,
His voice can no longer be dismissed with questions about the historical
accuracy of the Bible, and He will press his own claims against a lost
and wayward soul and maybe bring it home again. Ours is the labor,
His the result.
I have heard enough historical data outside the Bible to believe that
Jesus exists. I think creation itself is very telling. Though I was
raised in a Christian home, I came to a point where I really questioned
God and Creation. Evolution just seemed so logical. As I searched and
studied, I realized that something always had to exist. It just didn't
seem logical to me that all of creation is an accident. I accepted the
Biblical creation. With that I accepted the Bible and ultimately Jesus
Pro-argument: Growing, changed Christians. They are out there. The
Word of God has gotten into them and they will never be the same. That
makes an incredible impact. How could something untrue continually make
the changes it people that the Word of God does.
He actually rose from the dead. Myths don't develop as fast as that anywhere, so you have to come to face with that. And, all of the twelve disciples died martyr deaths because of the Resurrection. You can't concede that they would actually withstand torture and humiliation and DEATH for something they knew was false, can you?
Just talk to any scientist. They'll tell you that you're going after
straw men if you try to describe the universe without God. After all, Christianity
is the only religion where God comes looking for us. Try to find anything
like that in the other world religions. (Islam, Buddhism, Shikism, Hinduism,
Evidence? No i don't ...Mom and the whole family either believe in Jesus or if they're atheist, its Jesus they don't believe in
The bible is good but not compelling evidence as compared to mom and my own experience.
Age: 41 Occupation: prison guard
Pro: It works for me, I like me better as a follower of Jesus...
Mom and all my friends are Christian
I'm confused. You seem to use the word data as if it were self interpreting. Is there any knowing outside of relationship? As opposed to self-realization.
I find that if I can get someone to suspend their disbelief, i.e.
come as a little child, many people know the Holy Spirits voice. This works
on me, too! Since the basis for most of our basic assumptions are formed
in the relationships and experiences of childhood, arguments don't seem
to be as important as a loving attitude, perhaps linked with a clarity
of thought and a militant honesty (cf. C.S. Lewis). I personally don't
often achieve this. The search for truth is always hindered by an agenda.
Our needs are so great that we almost always have one.
Oh, for completeness, I'm also aggressively rational... and creationists piss me off more than any other group of flakes out there (with the possible exception of those people who invent instant-get-thin-gadget-thingies and advertise them on *my* television)
Who is JC? (long)
Jesus Christ is as advertised. Son of God, part of trinity, yada yada yada.
It escapes the anthropocentric worldviews of far too many Christians that our bodies are but lumps of meat that happen to be convenient containers for our souls. It's our souls that are eternal... the rest is baggage. The purpose of that baggage is to help us develop character and personality and basically to 'grow up' spiritually. JC happens to be just such a piece of meat that God himself inhabited (or at last, as much of God as He could fit into said meat)
His purpose was to show us how we ought to behave, save us from the inevitable consequences of us being nasty SOBs at various points in our lives, and thereby make it possible for us to interact directly with God. You mean assuming God exists, prove that Jesus is Him? That all depends of what your position is on the Holy Spirit, now, doesn't it?
The main difference between pre and post JC God believers is that the post-JC ones experienced a direct infilling of spiritual power/life/whatever. Before JC, this never happened.
Basic theology teaches that this couldn't happen before JC as there was no absolute and complete absolution from sin, erecting a barrier between us and Him.
After JC, it became possible for God to interact with us directly on a spiritual level, as the result of accepting Christ as saviour means accepting His sacrifice on your behalf (the sin/sacrifice Law being immutable). His presence in that realm being called the Holy Spirit, just as His presence in Mikowski space is JC.
So, assuming that all humans are sinful (manifestly obvious), and only a sin-free sacrifice is perfect (as God himself laid down in Law), and that only a perfect sacrifice is sufficient for all humanity (what else would be?), *then* God can reach our souls directly, and allow us to do what Jesus did...
If the Holy Spirit really exists and interacts with humans, then Jesus was who He said He was...OK?
After that, proof becomes trivial. Go anywhere where Christians are saying the Holy Spirit is moving and you'll see instant healing (I'm an eye-witness to this myself), snap conversions, prophesying, etc.
Of course, if you don't believe in the Holy Spirit then you're stuck.
The best corroboration on the life and resurrection of Jesus is the harmony of the 4 Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible. I accept it wholly because when Jesus "invaded" my life, I had to chose who was more a more reliable source of truth. Definitely Him! If I had not had an encounter with the God of the Universe, I wouldn't have had the exposure to His book, the Bible. There are logical proofs for the validity of the Bible. The first proof for me was that it worked it's life in me as I allowed it to. There is power behind those words. Another proof of the validity of Scripture is fulfilled prophecy. The Bible is one book, and yet it is many books, all supporting a concurrent theme: who Jesus really is.
Anti-argument: The best argument I can come up with is: "Shut
up! Stop cramming that crap down my throat! It's fine for you, but I just
don't want to think about it!" Another strong argument I hear is: "If
Jesus is God, why don't he just appear right here and show me. Why don't
he just give me what I want right now." And; "If Jesus is God how
come I'm not a millionaire? Huh?" Here's my personal favorite; "I'll
never become a Christian because Christians are so messed up. Go away!"
.....It is backed up historically. (Old Testament accounts of kingdoms, wars, geography, etc; New Testament accounts of 1st Century life in Israel and Asia Minor, cities, Roman politics, Greek culture, etc.)
It speaks the truth about the human condition. No stories about 'George Washington never telling a lie,' here. We learn about the greatness and the adultery of King David. We see the wisdom and the idolatry of King Solomon. We Paul losing his temper, Peter betraying his Lord, and Thomas having his doubts.
It is more reasonable than the alternative. C'mon, a big "bang?" Caused
by what? In an atheistic universe, all there is, was, and ever will
be are natural laws. The problem, however, is that natural law is the result
of the existence of the universe. Before the "bang," there was no universe,
and hence no natural law. But if the natural law is needed to cause the
big bang didn't exist, why then are we all here talking about it today?
As I said the Bible is more reasonable.
My primary evidence is my own experience. Intellectual arguments
did not convince me that Jesus must be God. I heard logical arguments for
and against Jesus Christ as Messiah. My head was willing to buy into it
before my spirit was ever willing to allow someone, especially someone
I could not see, run my life. As an individual, I wanted to be able to
control my own life. I wanted to define God, to define the parameters of
His influence, to explain all the "whys" that come up about God and
validate my position. I realize that God's existence does not go against
all logic. However, there were and will always be nagging questions and
unsatisfactory answers. The Holy Spirit is God's agent in the world
that convicts and convinces the spirit. I can pinpoint a moment in time
when I experienced Salvation. It was a moment when I was willing add
to my presuppositions the possibility that a supernatural, spiritual aspect
exists and that it's importance it greater than, or at least, equal to,
the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects. Additionally, I
had to be willing to accept that every aspect of God's nature is perfect.
This realization was accomplished by the Holy Spirit. I don't think
I understood at the time that I was evaluating God against my personal
ethics, but I was. I recognized that I would never be satisfied with the
answers available. I wanted God to do things the way I would do
things so that I could understand them and explain them. When I realized
that I was trying to be bigger than God, I was able to see how futile
and unreasonable that position was. Can finite define infinite, can the
limited explain the unlimited? No matter how much knowledge or "stuff"
or how many relationships I acquired, I still would not be complete. Only
God is complete and only He can complete me. The Holy Spirit convinced
me that an intellectual acknowledgement that Jesus was who He said He was
would not be enough to complete me. It was the beginning of an intimate
relationship involving emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual transformation.
Like any healthy relationship, it is based on trust. I know He is worthy
of my trust even in matters I can't explain or may not even intellectually
agree with (yet). I have personally experienced changes in attitude, changes
in intellectual position, changes in personal habits, changes in lifestyle
that did not originate with me, but that happened as an outgrowth of entering
into a relationship with Him that I was not trying to control. I realize
that this may not seem very intellectual and some people would not accept
personal testimony as evidence. Personal testimony is accepted as evidence
in courtrooms across the world. Historically, personal testimony has been
weighted as heavily as circumstantial evidence. Naturally my personal
testimony is going to bear more weight with people who know me and can
measure my credibility day to day. If someone reading this feels ill
equipped to deal with apologetics, read, study, equip yourself with good
data, but don't think you have nothing to say until you know "enough".
You have a testimony with the people who know you that will be validated
by the Holy Spirit. Be confident that you are equipped spiritually as well
++I've read a great many books now; things by C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and many more and I know that I have grown closer to God because of it. One thing continues to bug me though.: In the books the answers seem clear but in real life not even the questions are clear and there always seems to be a ready objection to the most incontrovertible seeming proofs. The Christian is required to show his reasons for every premise in an infinite seeming regression while the atheist can get away with a simple "no it's not." Discussions tend to stray from the initial topic. Murphy's Law applies.: If it can go wrong it will and as frequently as possible.
++Theory is fine I can do that. What still eludes me is how to translate
what I know into something that will serve me well in real life debates;
something that will work when things don't follow the neat precise order
of a book.
.. is not the product of several cultures colliding and causing a spontaneously-formed scrambled-up beliefs system....Age: 15
..also has a human nature.
..was reliably recorded in Scripture
Occupation: High school student
Pro-argument: Generally, contrived explanations to account for resurrection
accounts are usually filled with loopholes.
G-d manifested in Flesh to provide atonement for our sin and blood guilt.
I have Messiah's genealogy. He must come from the house of David.
After 70ad the temple was ransacked and burned down. All records of
Therefore generally 'orthodox'.
I'm a bit of a drop out Evangelical/Fundametalist.
Denominationally I'm quite eclectic. At the University the Anglicans on Campus called me a Methodist, the CU called me a liberal (amoung other things - although in my 1st yr I was 'sound' and on their Exec) and my friends called me ZZZ.
I think Jesus was the Son of God - The God Man. Oh and because I don't seem to fit in many places I've started my own church. - The Church of Jesus Christ and His Latter Day Fools.
I've found the Gospel stories incredibly compelling. I know they don't entirely tally in terms of specific data. However their general outline is similar. As stories they seem to be the ultimate mirror of perfection - idealistic, critical yet sympathetic towards others, highly subversive. As a character Jesus just seems beyond belief totally radical yet totally loving. I guess this is quite subjective. We could go down the objective line and start talking purely in terms of evidence but I'm a bit tired, it's not central to me - although important.
Anti-argument: I guess it tends to be that people find it unbelievable-
in other words they don't see many miracles happen.
I'm not becoming more skeptical about these things, on the contrary, these accounts seem like very honest ones. From my knowledge of the early church, I honestly don't think they could've, or would've, inserted such supernatural phenomena in the gospels and actually gotten away with it. Besides, it's to my understanding that the early church(the churches and church fathers that had the gospels and the other NT documents first) was a very honest one- so it just seems improbable that they would've actually fabricated Jesus' miracles, resurrection, etc. It seems as though if any 'fabrications' were done, it would've been done before the early church had a hold of the gospels...
So my question is, *is there any possibility that the Apostles could've conjured up these miracle stories?* If there isn't, then, after 10 months of being an Agnostic and struggling with my own humanity, I can do nothing but pronounce myself a Christian...
Any insight you could give me would be greatly appreciated. And nice
site by the way.... it's very informative!
I've looked into the possibility of him being a schizophrenic, and I've found *no* *real* reason to believe he was in fact a mental case. It seems as though he was sane...
Definitely a Rabbi, and definitely well respected among his peers. I make this assertion because he was called a Rabbi in the gospels, even by those(the Pharisees, e.g.) who did not think he was anything more than man. I also believe he ran the synagogue in Nazareth, and I base that believe upon the authoritative behavior Jesus was using in Lk 4:16-30, and how he was merely thrown out of his own church, and not stoned to death. I also don't think someone can simply start calling themself Christ, when they're not even a Rabbi...
If he wasn't a Rabbi, then I highly doubt anyone would've listened to him.
Also after reading his brother Jude's epistle you'd kind of think the author of 'Jude' would've *had to have been around a Rabbi for a long period of time* (or be one himself) in order to talk like that... The guy does nothing but quote scripture all throughout the epistle. I think that Jude's personality- and perhaps James's- may reflect Jesus' a little.
The only thing I find odd about him was that he began his ministry very, very late in his life.... It seems as though a 'savior' might start his ministry a little earlier than that.
Question: How could Jude, James, and Simon have called their brother 'Christ'? That must've been REALLY frustrating...
Pro-arguments: Ok well I gave some above but I suppose I can give more...
-The gospel of Thomas(not the infancy one) I believe is authentic, and it makes Jesus look like a Zen Buddhist, which shows that he was very enlightened, and 'in touch' with what he was describing, at least in some form.
-I find it odd that he was able to blurt out extremely long and somewhat complicated parables in answer to questions that were directed at him. It seems as though he did this fairly quickly and easily also. I just find that strange...
-One thing that may support his divinity is the fact that only (as far as the gospels say) the Pharisees and the Saducees questioned him (quite honestly if I may say so), and not a battalion of Roman imperial guards with inflated egos. This may show that the people around him *actually did see something that he did* that made them think twice about him, whatever that something may have been.
-I honestly think Atheists need to get off the 'Jesus is a myth thing', and just except the fact that he existed. I think arguing about it is just stupid to begin with.
I think the historical testimonies of the apostles and other witnesses is sufficient evidence of His crucifixion and resurrection three days later. I mean, logically, there HAS to be a God - it's illogical to think otherwise when you consider the extremely intrinsic interrelated systems in cell compositions, laws of nature, reproduction, etc. However, that is NOT what brought me to my belief in Christ. I came to him kicking and dragging and screaming and didn't believe a darn thing until I saw the PROOF in my life. I started my prayers this way for 3 years [out of desperation]: "If there really is a God up there....." After about 3 years of doing that one day I was trying to explain to someone why my entire personality, level of intelligence, likes/dislikes and appearance had dramatically changed, and it struck me while I was trying to explain this that it was not possible for me to implement such changes through the force of my sheer will. This knowledge struck me speechless because I could no longer doubt his existence. It was impossible. I KNEW.
And if you are thinking that I came to my belief in a somewhat emotional
fashion, you would be right - because anything beyond that would have been
impossible for me - I was an emotional thinker who had no logical capabilities.
The historical data about Jesus is pretty patchy, but 4 separate accounts
remain of his life and resurrection... that's a lot, all things considered.
The rational arguments of CS Lewis and Madeline L'Engle did a lot for me;
so did a friend of mine, who "witnessed" by his life. One of the
things I found, when I was first forced to read the Bible in a college
class about comparative world religions, is that Jesus was a cool guy...
with a sense of humor, someone I would really enjoy being in the same room
with and talking with. Non-Christians are very fond of depicting Jesus
as humorless, prudish and stern. For me, actually researching the Bible
and the people who wrote it, when I was not a Christian, was what first
lured me into Christianity.
the suffering bit comes from the questions that I've asked God, and that I'm sure everyone throughout the ages has done. Also, see Job who questions god on it. god demonstrates how good he is at stuff, and implies that there is a good reason for it all, but that it's too big for man to comprehend.
I accept this because I suffer from tourettes syndrome and have
spent vast amounts of time trying to get justification for the hassle I
go through and that a lot of people go through in "lesser" and "worse"
forms. if I can put my hassle and hurt into gods hands in the knowledge
that he knows the reason why it has to be, then it makes me feel better.
he gives me courage.
In addition, of the half dozen or so basic worldviews theism, deism, naturalism, panenthesim, pantheism) I only find theism and naturalism remotely credible, and theism includes all the good points of naturalism whilst providing a simpler (and therefore more credible) explanation of the existence of the universe as it is, and of human spiritual experience.
On a purely person level, 'meeting God' is a powerful reason to believe; but mystical experiences by themselves are not sufficient.
My basic position is that all these things fit together to make my
view of God, Jesus et al the most reasonable.
The discovery of tombs dated to 50-60AD in Jerusalem marked with crosses, "Jesus" and "Resurrection" indicates the belief the Jesus was somehow involved with resurrection dates very early.
The Trinitarian dogmas provide the best basis of any worldview/religion for explaining the existence of this universe and particularly human personality. They are, therefore, likely to be true.
On a secondary level, these dogmas provide a perfect answer to the
human longings for relationship and significance. This is NOT a watertight
argument because, for example, naturalism could be true without providing
such answers but it is suggestive and certainly places Christianity in
a better explanatory position than any other world religion.
The testimony of the Bible, and the complete lack of Jesus' remains.
said things that dig so deep into the human spirit that he is either embraced
as the Savior, or he becomes the object of slander and ridicule, though
he did nothing to deserve this response. The truth hurts. Also,
his words are deep and challenging enough that a lifetime is not enough
to wrestle with them all. Human philosophers exhaust their interest
after a while, because their message is always ultimately unfulfilling
They never found the body of Christ (and I think they have found
the bodies of other self proclaimed deities). If we can't find the
body and he defeated death (making him the only person ever to do that)
I think we should probably listen to what he has to say. I also know
that I don't live a great life. I sin a lot and so does everyone I know,
thus we need a redeemer to save us from our sins. From this perspective
I don't see why I shouldn't believe in Jesus. I also know that he fulfilled
countless prophecies about his coming. The chances of that happening are
so close to zero. One more point, millions of people have died for their
belief in this Man. That amazes me that they believe that strongly.
I confess that my faith is sometimes unstable. I accepted the reality
of the deity and resurrection of Christ only seven months ago (Praise God!),
and so I've just begun the journey of my lifetime. The initial joy and
power I felt as a result of being touched by the grace of God has given
way to an uncertainty about God's will for my life, and a certain disgust
for the blindness of humanity. I guess all I'm saying is that I wish
I could more strongly feel the Lord's presence. I occasionally catch
myself second-guessing what exactly happened to me at my conversion experience,
but then I always remember some reason why the invisible divinity really
exists. However, the pattern later repeats itself apparently without warning.
like a recording in my head that asks, "How could you be so deceived? Do
you really believe that? Isn't it just a nice story which sucks you in
at a moment of weakness to give you a deluded sense of comfort and superiority?"
I know there is something God wants me to learn from these doubts (probably
having to do with humility), and I trust that the wisdom will be supplied
in good time.
I accept that four witnesses wrote four books as literal non-myth and three of them died for there faith. I find the document of Q an argument from silence and that even if there is only one manuscript from which Matthew Mark and Luke then that provides two witnesses (Mark and John); enough to convict in a court of law. I follow the standard (and heavily criticized) Josh McDowell form of apologetics and the brilliant versions given of his arguments in the Handbook of Christian Apologetics I find most radical critics arguments poorly formed and unconvincing, and some utterly preposterous( Barbara Thiering got her degree in theology from a correspondence course from the theology department at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City; her theology is that bad.)
Most radical critics are desperate to disprove Christianity anyway they can (the Jesus seminar for example) and that comes across in the diabolical arguing (relying on misquotes mainly) in their books. Need I say more?
Testimonies and doctor reports of mass miracles happening all over the world today(especially in China, some of the stories I have from missionary friends are unbelievable. I haven't heard anything like it before.) Witnessing a miracle as a non-believer is about as powerful an argument as your going to get, and if you ain't convinced then, then nothing is going to save you. I am also convinced that there are far more miracles happening today in Christian circles that in any other circles, but I don't have any statistics on that.
The historical mode derives knowledge from two sources: texts and artifacts. It cannot exist outside these evidences. Its method is basically synthesis of all similarity and reconciliation of all dissimilarity in the data of the evidences, as well as ranking them hierarchically in terms of accuracy as relative to the whole. Purely historical knowledge is not possible if it steps outside text and artifact; if it does it will make unfounded assumptions and multiply unnecessary hypotheses.
For the Jesus story, there is direct explication through the Gospels and indirect confirmation through artifacts of such things as places, buildings, fauna, flora, etc.
The Four Gospels are to be trusted more than the others because,
despite their differences in outlook, they agree a great deal more with
each other than any of the various heretical and non-canonical gospels
do with any others. According to the historical mode of knowledge,
approached objectively, there is not only no reason to doubt the Gospel
veracity historically; there is no reason not to believe them
The truth of Christianity has so long been under fire AND survived that
this in itself offers merit for its claims. That is not a "provable" response
which a rationalist would hang his hat upon; however, it is a substantial
argument in the context of social and cultural development.
Introspective philosophical arguments carry a lot of weight with me, e.g. when a person examines the ground of his or her very selfhood, what does he or she find? What must be true in order for him/her to exist? What is undeniable? In other words, what philosophical axioms are thrust upon one by the fact that they are undeniable? Introspection reveals that there must be an absolute consciousness to account for our own relative consciousness.
Turning outward and examining the matter objectively, it becomes apparent that the world is not as it should be. Our own innate moral sense is appalled at most of what we see in the world around us. This very fact of our dissatisfaction with the world points to our transcendence of it. If we truly were mere creatures of the earth, animals and nothing more, then we would have no idea that anything is out of order.
What can possibly set things in order? I haven't worked this out fully yet, but as I mentioned in the previous comment box, it seems that there must be a "perfect penitent" to set things right. If we are indeed more than just animals, and if our there is an absolute Spirit who rules over our own spirits, and if things are indeed "out of order" (including ourselves!), then we need outside help to make things right between ourselves and our creator. As I said, I don't have this worked out to my satisfaction, but my intellectual and spiritual instincts cry out that there MUST be a savior, a perfect person who somehow mends a broken world.
Combined with the scriptural evidence, this line of thinking yields (for me, at least) a more than sufficient reason for placing my faith in Jesus Christ.
Pro-argument: This one is philosophical. The historical Christian religion is the only faith that does full justice to both sides of human existence, the subjective and the objective, the spiritual and the material. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit provides all the subjective, spiritual, deep, reflective truth anyone could ever need, while the hard facts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection provide objective points of correspondence which tie the entire human experience into a complete, harmonious package.
As for Jesus deity, this is also necessitated philosophically, but as
I pointed out several boxes ago, I haven't worked it out to my satisfaction.
The objective side of the equation, however, is handed to me on a platter,
so to speak, in the form of the facts of his life, death, and resurrection.
That is what's so great about accepting the validity of objective argument.
THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IS MY MAIN SOURCE FOR THIS ASSESSMENT OF JESUS OF NAZARETH. IN MY LIFETIME, I HAVE SERIOUSLY DOUBTED IF JESUS EXISTED, BUT AFTER EXAMINING THE WORK OF G. A. WELLS, I BECAME RATHER CERTAIN THAT WELLS WAS FLATLY WRONG. THE JEWS WOULD HAVE HARD EVERY REASON TO TRY AND PROVE THAT JESUS NEVER EXISTED, BUT THEY NEVER MADE THAT ARGUMENT. FURTHERMORE, THERE ARE GOOD 1ST AND 2ND CENTURY SOURCES THAT RECORD THE FACT OF JESUS' LIFE AND DEATH. THEREFORE, WELLS' DISMISSAL OF THEM WITH A WAVE OF HIS HAND IS SIMPLY ACADEMIC AND INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY. THEREFORE, TO KNOW MORE ABOUT JESUS' LIFE, IT BECAME INCUMBENT UPON ME TO EXAMINE THE GOSPELS TO DETERMINE IF JESUS WAS THE "SON OF GOD." AS A KID, I USED TO SPEND MY TIME READING GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHOLOGY. YOU COULD SAY THAT IT WAS A HOBBY OF MINE. WHEN I READ THE GOSPELS, I BECAME SURPRISED TO DISCOVER THAT THE LEGENDARY EMBELLISHMENTS AND MYTHICAL DEVELOPMENTS THAT WERE CONSTANTLY BEING REFERRED TO BY LIBERALS WERE COMPLETELY ABSENT.
HERE WAS SOBER REPORTING, GIVEN WITH AN HONEST AND ALMOST SELF-EFFACING MANNER. OF COURSE, THE GOSPELS WERE NOT WITHOUT THEIR PROBLEMS, BUT YOU COULD EASILY FIND THE SAME PROBLEMS IF YOU READ FIVE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE SUNDAY PAPER. THEREFORE, I HAVE BECOME CONVINCED THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT IS LARGELY RELIABLE, AND THAT JESUS WAS EXACTLY WHO HE SAID HE WAS.
Pro-argument: The internal coherency of the Christian position versus
other world views. I personally find Christian ethical arguments far
more convincing than humanistic ethical arguments. Kai Neilson's entire
book Ethics without God can be summed up in one phrase, "What's the point?"
Keep up the good work and let no man discourage your efforts. You are bright and very aware of the things around you. Someday, I hope we get to meet...this side of paradise.
1) The written and oral testimony of the Apostles and Prophets and preserved for us as the OT/NT. I don't believe anyone could make this up. The consistency and coherency sustained throughout the text's entirety is compelling to me.
2) The ongoing and historically specific narrative saga of the people of God, especially the nation of Israel and the Christian Church.
3) The existential thematic "shape" and "rhythm" of Creation intimates an invitation for engagement and exchange within it as well as outside of it .
4) The recurring themes and rhythms of my life, and the lives of those I know and love, practically plead with me to sit up and take notice of the Creator and Sustainer behind and beneath and above and within and about all that is precious to me.
Certainly the Bible would be my first source. While on a weekend "Walk to Emmaus" in 1987 I accepted Jesus for who He said He was. It was fairly simple, I merely had to decide what I was going to do regarding this belief. Of course, I think this is what others should do. Get the information and make an informed decision. It is going to affect you for a long time. Also, it seemed absolutely normal to me that those who had followed Jesus would desert him when they did. After all, they were told that he was the Son of God, yet he was tried, sentenced and then hung on a cross and ultimately died. I am sure that they sighed a sigh of relief when they got out of Dodge, so to speak, with their lives. All this, their actions, etc. make sense to me. But something happened that made ALL of them change their minds on just who this Jesus was. What could convince me of that? Well, seeing the resurrected Christ would go a long way to changing my mind. Furthermore, I would no longer fear whatever could be done to me. Something quite powerful had to happen around the time of Christ's crucifixion to empower the believers to come full circle. From a normal position of fear to an abnormal position lacking fear.
He is the risen Christ. Of that I no longer doubt.
Well, I've mentioned some to them already but when I left the Mormon cult I immediately found a Bible believing church who believes the Bible IS the Word of God and took an intense Bible Study class where I learned that the Bible is God's Love letter to me and the scales fell from my eyes and I read the Bible with newly opened spiritual eyes and now it is all the world to me. Jesus alone is all I need in my life as my Mormon family have no need of me. I am now a Lutheran-Missouri Synod.
The Mormon Church is all I know and they take away Jesus' deity
as the cross work to them was only the murder weapon of Jesus and when
they see one they want to tear it to shreds. Jesus is the brother of Lucifer.
Jesus is only a glorified man who worked is way up to godhood.
JC is...resurrected, spent "quality time" with his disciples post-resurrection, lives now as a spiritual but very real presence in the world, in his church and with those who love and hunger for him...
JC "Was" Historical data...early non-Christian sources (Roman histories, etc. also biblical record...JC "is" - biblical record...in the present...the witness of the church and those who have sought to be his disciples down through the ages...personal experience ... personal experience of having been called, grasped, sustained, given life by and having met the unseen but very present person of JC who is himself alive...more alive than we can dare to hope we ourselves may someday be.
Pro-argument: The continuing experience of the presence of Jesus Christ with us...and there are remarkable similarities in the nature of the experiences and the fruits that emerge in those lives over a good long period of time and from many quarters...
Pro-argument: To claim that the resurrection and deity of JC are hallmarks of foolishness, superstition, etc. shows a significant lack of imagination...likewise the claim that something has to be visible and tangible to be real...
You challenged him to demonstrate evidence that man indeed invented God.
You can also challenge him to justify doing anything that is not a "waste of time" if God doesn't exist.
It seems to me, if God doesn't exist, anything we do is like running an eraser across sandpaper: it will run out eventually.
And if God doesn't exist, everything is just atoms banging around.
What does it matter if one bangs one way or another?
As a former reporter (for 22 years) I've a keen eye for the small detail that would only be included by someone who was actually there, or who pinned down an eyewitness. As the only one of the 12 who was present, John includes the observation that the sour wine is offered to Christ on a hyssop branch (the others who weren't present can be forgiven for saying merely 'a stick.' Or the little tax collector. He didn't merely climb a tree, he climbed a sycamore. 'And he doodled in the dirt with his finger' (before saying let the one who has not sinned . . .) The young man who is following along as Christ is taken away, and when they go to lay hands on his, loses his clothing and runs away naked. You wouldn't include such details for any other reason than that they happened. And you saw them. Or someone like John made a point of telling you EXACTLY what he'd seen, even if he didn't understand why he was including the detail. What's the expression? God and the Devil are in the details. It's a principle of good plain reporting, and it's there, again and again to give this essentially plain reporting the ring of truth, down through the centuries.
Also, his followers include details that don't appeal to them or to us: such as negative miracles (killing a poor tree). Or making his first public announcement of his divine status to a gentile woman who'd been in the beds of six men. These things were not calculated to enhalo Christ's reputation. Why else would his earliest, Jewish male followers include them---except that they really happened.
These things compel my belief like nothing else. That and the
hard, hard sayings, none harder than: "But Lord, we performed miracles
in your name. And I will say (get lost), I never knew you." I have a Baptist
Minister (hockey dad) friend who says that one is the single most terrifying
saying (for him) in all of scripture. Tent makers, fishermen, tax collectors,
ex- prostitutes and others would simply never be able to make it up.
Wil Durant put it best I think in saying that the notion that the likes
of such early followers being able to make it all up and sell it to a world
(as he might have added make it last 2,000 years and appeal to an estimated
2 billion people (a third of all who ever lived) "would be an even greater
miracle than any described in the New Testament."
Evidence? Oh no, I have to be intellectual! OK, here goes...He is the one person who claimed to be god in a Jewish world. ex. In his teachings he was concerned with the heart attitude and not the boundaries that the teachers were concerned with. He claimed to have the authority to define the law in regards of the spirit of the law. "You say do not commit adultery, but I tell you if you lust...etc. This stand was remarkable because rabbi's always quoted commentaries or the law to explain and add to the Scriptures. Jesus had a lot of nerve. It was because he had the right to say I tell you.
Jesus himself said I am the way. His way was really simple. He did the
work to save us. Other religions demand that the follower do something
to receive forgiveness or find a higher knowledge. Reconciliation to
god requires that we stop having faith in ourselves and have faith in the
one who did the work for us. We have to believe and accept this sacrifice.
I have never witnessed any kind of miracle that is so often described in the New Testament. I cannot know if it is possible or if it was a fiction. There just doesn't seem to be any evidence that such miracles are conceivable in the known universe. Yet I do acknowledge that there is much that we have yet to discover and that there may be that which it is impossible to discover through the channels we have available. But there must be some logic to the miraculous if indeed it does exist. I hope physics will one day be able to accept the miraculous as a real possibility, but until I can see the plausibility of the claims made for Christ's (or anyone else's) miracles, I must use the definition which is most consistent with my understanding of reality and of the sometimes deceptive nature of mankind. That Christ is a fiction or an exaggeration by men who may have had good intentions, but were deceptive in their desire to do good. I realize that this point has it's weaknesses, but it seems the most logical to me at the moment.
Pro-argument: The argument from beauty, whatever that argument may be seems a very compelling argument. It is as though we recognize the artistry of a consciousness much like our own in some respects. We can receive the same feelings creating anything beautiful as observing it. This could be explained by evolution too I am sure, but evolution is a "rubber sheet" theory which argues from function. I do not believe you can describe anything by it's function. Purpose is also a product of function. But can we describe the whole as a function? We can infer the whole from the function or vice versa, but should we do this? Objectively? Yes, we should. Evolution is fact. Subjectively? I do not experience beauty as a function, but as a brief moment of fusion between myself and my hope. Subjectively I am at one with the creator-at least in spirit-while appreciating His works. I remain hopeful.
The argument for causality still seems to hold sway in scientific thought.
Perhaps there was no need for a cause. But it looks like there was some
cause for this universe. That cause must have been logical and artistic
or we would experience chaos alone. Laws come into play through some force.
It makes sense to think of this source as an infinite being outside of
time and space (though in another way being inside every moment and space).
In a recent TV interview, Billy Graham was asked what convinced the most skeptics. And he said babies. So after bibles I guess you've got babies.
One of the problems you're having in the debate with J. Still (which I'm enjoying to no end by the way) is that he is not about to accept that phenomena like babies or human love or human consciousness are miracles just as jaw-dropping as the ones chronicled in the gospels.
1) work of secular historians taken collectively, especially re enduring influence of Christian values
2) Scripture -- content, enduring influence
3) human witness by authentic Christians, though it costs me much effort of filtration to keep this witness from being drowned out by the counter witness and scandal offered by multitudes identifying themselves as Christians, now and in the past (e.g. most of Germany complicit with the Nazis, the long disgraceful history of slavery and its aftermath in the United State, the brutal subjugation of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere by Europeans, the Thirty Years War, etc. ad nauseam extremam)
Anti-argument: pervasive, grave, enormously scandalous behavior by large communities self-identified as Christians, as indicated above, in the face of Scriptures such as Matthew 7:15-20
Anti-argument: pervasive vicious conflict among communities self-identified as Christians
Pro-argument: powerful Christian witness, where the goodness and wisdom of those witnessing shines forth, uncommon as this may be