My Thoughts On “Teacher We Wish To See A Sign”

On Monday this week I happened to read a catholic publication, it is a daily devotional. I would like to share my thoughts on the write-up / reflections in the devotional for monday. You can find images of the article below

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Basically the “Meditation Of The Day” was based on the gospel reading for monday, which was Matthew 12:38-42

When a person steadfastly refuses to believe something, even in the face of overwhelming data, it’s probably not because of weak faith; it’s more likely because of a hardened heart.

I generally agree with this statement, if it was me writing it I would probably replaced “because of weak faith” with something along the lines of “because of no evidence”, this may seem minor to many off you but I am off the stance that what you believe in and place your trust in should be based on evidence / facts rather than faith ( especially the religious kind of faith ). That’s by the way, the main reason that phrase stood out to me was that I had a red alert when I read “even in the face of overwhelming data” and the fact that the whole write-up was based on “Jesus” and “signs”, that the author was going to say something about Jesus

Other than this objection, that section of the write-up is spot on, try to provide evidence of an old earth to a young earther, or a spherical earth to a flat earther, try to provide evidence for evolution to someone who says that there is no evidence for evolution, try to provide evidence to someone who says that not a single one of Einstein relativity propositions has been proven or someone who says that there is no contradiction in the bible. If you have encountered any of this situation,  you would find that this statement is spot on and the objections or rebuttals being offered is not from lack of evidence but from a brain that has evicted reason ( at least during the conversation ) or one that graduated with an A+ in indoctrination.

What about us? What kinds of signs has Jesus left us to strengthen and reaffirm our faith?

Another red alert here, but a good question nevertheless. Reading the rest of the write-up I felt that the author misused the word “sign” especially if you read how the word “sign” is used in the bible passage that this meditation is based on. From the rest of the write-up it is clear that what the author is referring to is “What evidence do we have of Jesus that reaffirms our faith?”. And that is a good question

Well, first, there is historical evidence outside of the New Testament that Jesus existed

Here we go again. Yeshua was a fairly common name in Israel, the name can also be found in the old testament. So I have no problem in you saying that someone in first century Israel went by the name Jesus. What I am asking for is not evidence for Jesus but rather evidence for the biblical Jesus

We have accounts from the Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius

A quick aside, in this post I wouldn’t have an indepth discussion on the authenticity of many of the ancient writings on Jesus, though many of them are regarded by scholars to be chrisitian interpolation

First, what does Tacitus say

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Tacitus in Annals Book 15, Chapter 44

Tacitus passage serves more as evidence for the presence of Christians in Rome than of the gospels alleged miracle worker. At the very most, what Tacitus says concerning “Christus” is that “Pontius Pilatus” had him put to death. This could be used to argue that “Christus” was crucified and that its.

Ok, what about Suetonius

During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made: a limit was set to expenditures; the public banquets were confined to a distribution of food; the sale of any kind of cooked viands in the taverns was forbidden, with the exception of pulse and vegetables, whereas before every sort of dainty was exposed for sale. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. He put an end to the diversions of the chariot drivers, who from immunity of long standing claimed the right of ranging at large and amusing themselves by cheating and robbing the people. The pantomimic actors and their partisans were banished from the city.

Suetonius in The Lives of the Twelve Caesars , Nero 16

Ok, I doubt that this is what the author of the write-up was referring to, all that this passage serves as is evidence of Christians in Rome and that the undergo some form of punishment

What I believe the author is referring to is this,

Iudaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit

Translated as

As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome

It is important to  point out that the word used is “Chresto” not “Christo“. Chrestus was a common slave name which means “good”, “righteous”, or “useful”. Christos denotes “anointed” or “messiah”

Many argue that Suetonius made a mistake and was referring to “Christo” this is just wishful thinking as the earliest extant manuscripts contain “Chresto” and not “Christo. And also the event in which Claudius expelled Jews from Rome is recorded elsewhere in other histories – without the “impulsore Chresto” claim – and dates to around 49, 52 or 53 AD/CE, an incident that apparently was unrelated to a historical Jesus of Nazareth and cannot serve as evidence for his historicity.

As R.T. France says that the notion of a misspelling by Suetonius “can never be more than a guess, and the fact that Suetonius can elsewhere speak of ‘Christians’ as members of a new cult (without any reference to Jews) surely makes it rather unlikely that he could make such a mistake.”

It can also be said that Suetonius “Chresto” existed in Rome at the time. If this is the case, then it can’t be about Jesus, as the biblical Jesus was crucified a couple of years prior to this event

Even if Suetonius was talking about “Christ”, this reference doesn’t serve as evidence for a supposed miracle worker

Ok, back to the write-up

We also have the Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote that Jesus was a “doer of great works” who “was crucified.”

At this point, you may be thinking that I am too critical of Tacitus and Suetonius when stressing that they don’t proof that Jesus described by the bible existed. You would be right, I am a bit too critical, but it isn’t because of the accounts per say but rather because many of the readers of the devotional would be hearing of Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus for the first time and would have no idea that the historical Jesus proposed by scholars differs drastically from the biblical Jesus

The author’s mention of Josephus got my attention and his or her intentional omission of Josephus reference to “James the brother of Jesus” which is actually considered more authentic than the one used by the author ( though it isn’t without criticism ). Catholics believe that Jesus was an only child and that Mary remained a virgin forever, so it would have been interesting to see how he or she tackled “James the brother of Jesus”. The Testimonium Flavianum which was used by the author used is generally viewed by scholars to be a forgery, a christian interpolation ( though it is largely seen to be partially authentic but has gone through christian processing ). If the author considered the Testimonium Flavianum authentic, I would have loved to hear his or her response to “James the brother of Jesus”

Then there is also the New Testament itself. We could also say that the Bible is unreliable, but again, historical evidence seems to point away from that.

Now saying that the bible is reliable, I need to know what you mean. Do you mean that the bible is reliable in its entirety and in all aspects. If so, I beg to differ. If I’m to put the bible scientific claims to test, it falls short. Lets look at some examples

  1. A snake ( Genesis 3:4-5 ) or a donkey ( Numbers 22:28 ) doesn’t possess the required biological organs and neuronal process to have a concise conversation with a human being
  2. A rod can not spontaneously transform into serpents ( Exodus 7:10-12 ). A non living thing can not perform the life processes necessary for a living thing
  3. We know that throwing sticks into water does not make the head of an axe float in water ( 2 Kings 6:5-6 ). We also know that the density of an axe-head ( iron ) is much larger than water and based on Archimedes principle, axe-head can not float in water as the weight of the water displaced by the iron axe head is less than its weight, hence the axe-head can not produce enough buoyant force and combined with its greater density an axe-head can not float in water
  4. If the earth was to come to a stop in order to reverse its spin for the shadow cast by the light from the sun to go back 10 degrees ( 2 Kings 20:9-11 ), the effect on earth would be catastrophic. Most of earth would become inhospitable, everything on the earth that isn’t tied well to the ground e.g buildings, humans, animals, water etc will go flying eastwards at about 1675 km/hr. We know that no incidence like this ever occurred while humans have roamed the earth
  5. For someone to convert water into wine ( John 2:1-11 ), one would have to carry out nuclear transmutation and other changes to the hydrogen and oxygen atoms to produce carbon which is needed for the formation of ethanol, phenolics, tannins, carbohydrate etc which are all important constituents of wine. We know that 1 century Israel didn’t have the technology to do this, even if they could, a large amount of nuclear energy would be produced

Ok, lets say the aren’t talking about the bible in the “science sense”, lets see it in the “history sense”

  1. The conquest narrative in the book of Joshua has been disproven to be historical events. Most of the cities mentioned were either uninhabited at the time or if destroyed where destroyed at widely different times. The destruction of the Hazor which date to that time period has varying theories on the cause of the destruction: the Israelite did it, it was the result of civil strife, attacks by the sea people, and / or a result of the general collapse of civilization across the whole eastern Mediterranean in the late Bronze Age
  2. Historical, archaeological evidence and lack off shows that exodus if it occurred did not take place as described by the bible
  3. The bible states that “Darius the Mede” captured Babylon in the sixth century BC (  Daniel 5:31 ), whereas historians know it to be Cyrus of Persia
  4. They are also many contradictions in the bible

Now I am not trying to say that the bible does not contain historical truth. Actually some things in the bible are set in actual historical places and at actual historical times. But much of the bible garbles with what we know as “Historical fiction”.

We have evidence for Homer’s Troy, validating some names, places and events in the Iliad. The fact that the Iliad correctly records that there was a city called Troy that was attacked by the Greeks does not give credibility to the claim that the various gods fought alongside the Greeks and Trojans, that the was an “invulnerable” Achilles etc.

Writings about other historical figures from that time – people like Julius Caesar and Tacitus – exist, but the oldest reliable manuscripts come from nearly a thousand years after their deaths.

What’s more, only a few copies of these manuscripts have survived. By contrast, nearly five thousand copies of the Greek New Testament and ten thousand copies of its Latin translation exist – and they date back as far as AD 130. Clearly, we can rely on these accounts of Jesus far more than the accounts of Tacitus and Caesar!

I would devout an entire future post on this matter. But to keep things simple, we have more manuscripts concerning Jesus, that is true. But a very big BUT, we have more evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar than we have of Jesus. Having a greater number of manuscripts can make you have better textual integrity. But  textual integrity tells us ZERO about the validity of the contents of the text.

Someone in a post-apocalyptic future where Scientology has become the dominant religion could potentially show that the text of their hand-copied manuscript editions of Dianetics had greater textual integrity than their manuscripts of Hawking’s A Complete History of Time.  That would say nothing about which one reflected reality.

OR, in a post-apocalyptic future where more copies of DC comics or the Harry Potter series or the Perseus Jackson series survive, they would have a really good textual integrity. But will that serve as evidence that a alien pod ( that was mistaken for a meteorite ) carried Kal-El ( superman ) to earth or that evidence for New York remains, then superman existed. Or the historical events mentioned in the Perseus Jackson book series make us conclude that Perseus Jackson existed as a historical figure

An urban legend can be superbly attested (we can collect thousands of primary source documents containing the legend), yet 100% bogus

So having a large amount of manuscripts does nothing to show the reliability of the manuscripts content

Then, of course, there were the apostles themselves. If Jesus weren’t God and if he hadn’t risen from the dead, there would be no reason for his disciples to dedicate their lives to spreading the good news of the resurrection. At the very least, there would be no need for them to become martyrs for the cause

To be fair, this is the best argument for the biblical Jesus and the resurrection I have heard but even it falls down flat. I would write a future post on it. But to keep things simple

Now, I only consider this method of reasoning valid for the earliest “martyrs” those who would have had contact with Jesus not for the many more that came decades / centuries after. I’m following this line of thought largely because many people have died for their beliefs not just christians but that doesn’t serve as evidence that their belief is true, it means they were utterly convinced. The only “martyrs” with substance would be the earliest apostles.

In some persecutions (as that mentioned by Philo), it’s clear that Christians could recant and so escape. But that is not applicable to all cases. To take a famous example, it’s said that Nero blamed the great fire in Rome on Christians, and punished them viciously as scapegoats. Who would care if they renounced their faith? Who would ask them to? They weren’t persecuted to turn them away from their faith, but as punishment for something they’d allegedly done. In other scenarios, they might be convicted (in the eyes of the mob) of blasphemy or atheism that they wouldn’t get an opportunity to back out of.

Paul and Peter were put to death shortly after Nero’s great fire of Rome. We can’t say for certain if their deaths were because they didn’t recant but it is most likely it had to do with Nero using christians as scapegoat rather than Peter and Paul not denying the resurrection.

We don’t actually know precisely what beliefs any early Christian martyrs would have died for. Early Christianity was very diverse, with at least dozens of different sects and divisions, with all kinds of different christologies and beliefs.

I don’t know exactly how the author’s assertion of Jesus being god was related to the rest of his or her statement. Like I said early christianity just like modern christianity is pretty diverse.

Saying “there would be no reason for his disciples to dedicate their lives to spreading the good news of the resurrection” if the resurrection is not true is like saying, people dedicating a significant portion of their lives spreading things like the earth is flat, the holocaust never happened, the moon landing is a hoax and other urban legends and conspiracy theories implies that they are true. That doesn’t proof that what they are saying is true, it just means they are utterly convinced that their stance is true

That’s a lot of signs! So the question is not “Did Jesus exist?” Neither is the question “Did people really believe he is the Son of God?” The only question left for us is “Can I believe that Jesus is who the Scriptures say he is? Can I stake my life on him and his promised?”

Like I stated earlier, I am not asking if someone called Jesus existed in 1 century AD Israel, what I am asking for is evidence that the Jesus described in the bible existed and that wasn’t provided. To be quite fair, the authors did a good job in the sense that their targeted audience are not atheist or skeptics like me but are practicing catholics who don’t need any sort of non-biblical convincing so the authors can paint a nice picture in their minds that they are a lot of evidence for the biblical Jesus, even though that is false.

“Did people really believe he is the Son of God?” people do even to this day believe that Jesus is the son of god, some even say that Jesus is god. But like I said earlier, early christianity was diverse, some christians didn’t believe this stance others did

“Can I stake my life on him and his promised?”. No I can’t stake my life on him and his supposed promises, they are no sufficient reasons

C. S. Lewis once said that the evidence leaves us with only three possibilities: Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. Let’s believe the third option, and give him our hearts today

I don’t see the evidence being referred to. And there are other options Jesus was a Legend,  “mis-represented”, “fiction”. I am more to the mis-represented option

 

Jonathan

 

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29 thoughts on “My Thoughts On “Teacher We Wish To See A Sign”

  1. And the words they choose to describe their fallen hero can be extremely misleading. The Mormons say Joseph Smith was a martyr. He was in the Carthage jail when a mob stormed the jail and a shootout ensued. He was shooting them and they were shooting at him. Hardly sounded like a martyr when he was at the jail for destroying a printing press, the nauvoo expositor. He didn’t like what they wrote about him so he and his thugs ransacked it. Some martyr.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree that evidence is important. Narrow-mindedness leads to fundamentalism.
    If the scripture was a science primer about talking snakes and planetary motion we could certainly throw it out. You’re picking through the Bible just like a fundamentalist Christian. You’ve selected the lines that support your doctrine. You chose to skip the parts that you accept as true and helpful.
    The Bible does say a lot of things that are unquestionably true: “…you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

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    1. The reason why I treated it that way was a couple of years back, I think it was that same devotional or another of the same publishers publication that had stated that when ever the bible says anything concerning science, the bible is right

      you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires

      I think this has been happening in all of recorded history. Even before the bible was written some people have always followed their “evil desires”

      “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

      Among early christians, many thought that Jesus was going to come within their lifetime, this is noted in the gospels and in Paul’s letter when he was talking about those who didn’t see the need to work
      This is a good question to those who thought like this.

      I don’t see this as a prediction rather as it is a keen observation of the objection raised by skeptics and behavior seen in the early days of christianity

      I did mention somewhere in the article that the bible does contain some truth

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “…publication that had stated that when ever the bible says anything concerning science, the bible is right.”
        It’s not difficult to find fundamentalists. It’s not difficult to demonstrate the weakness of their arguments. It is extremely difficult to give fundamentalists new information.

        “I did mention somewhere in the article that the bible does contain some truth”
        It would make an interesting article if you listed some of those truths.

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    2. @ Branyan

      It’s not difficult to find fundamentalists. It’s not difficult to demonstrate the weakness of their arguments. It is extremely difficult to give fundamentalists new information.

      You’re a fundamentalist Branyan – through and through. You simply cherry pick the specific pieces you choose to be fundamental over.

      You are 100% fundamentalist when it comes to:
      1.the Resurrection of the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth.
      2 the bible being the inspired word of your god.
      3.the need of a saviour to help atone for your sins.
      4 that the saviour can only be the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth who had to be a blood sacrifice and thus brutally executed rather than simply inform humanity they are forgiven
      5 Creation over Evolution
      6.A Creator or the Universe
      7.A personal god who can only be the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth who is also the Creator of the Universe.
      8 your morality, which you are blindly convinced comes from Yahweh/Jesus of Nazareth.
      9 you are a Trinitarian and regard non-Trinitarians as not proper Christians.
      10 belief in the Afterlife and some version of Heaven and Hell .

      And that is just off the top of my head. I am pretty sure we could come up with a lot more with the minimum of effort

      And every one of these fundamentalist points that you consider non-negotiable can all be shown to be nonsensical, erroneous or so weak as to not really warrant consideration.

      The irony of the third sentence of your quote is you personify the intransigence and willful ignorance it portrays.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoyed your post. I like the way you order your thoughts and show the reasoning behind your position. It is easy to follow even by those with out as much study into the subject, such as my self. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey, Jonathan,
    An interesting thesis, but reading between the lines tells a story you may not believe. I used to work to help nicotine addicts kick their habits. The surest way to fail was for an addict to continue hanging around with other smokers, keeping track of how making cigarettes they were not smoking, by putting away the amount of a pack of cigarettes every time they figured they would have bought a pack. What they were doing was keeping their minds on nicotine, never allowing themselves to find out how to live without it. If you always keep what you are addicted to in focus, whether positive or negative, you are making it harder to defeat the adiction. The sooner you let it go, the sooner you will win.
    Religion is an addiction, whether a believer is willing to admit it or not. Most are not. How can one be addicted to a belief? It is not a physical thing, like nicotine, alcohol, or heroin. It is not an emtional thing, like love, or lust, or anger. It is not a feeling thing, like sex, or gambling. But all the same it is an addiction, to giving up responsibility for your actons, making your life easy because “God” is taking your responsibility away from you.
    You have taken a few steps, you have judged religion and found it wanting. You have probably looked for something to replace it, such as finding all its faults. You may even have replaced belief in a god with belief in science, or non-belief in anything. But by searching for things to attack, you are still keeping “god” in your focus. Is this really what you want to be doing? Or do you want to get on with your life? Close that book, and start a new one? That is always an option, but it is up to you to choose it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks rawgod for the insightful comment and the advice
      Though I am planning for a time where I would put religion completely behind me
      But as off right now, that isn’t entirely possible. This is largely because of where I currently stay both my physical and social environment

      I plan on taking up your advice

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The absolute best part for me in apologetics is the assumed emotional motivations that causes the rejection of the god claim. Angry at god or hardening of the heart to Jesus. Religious folks have a filter that sifts reason into faith. It’s breath taking to witness. Try, try and try again to explain that something the you believe to be imaginary has zero emotional cas

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    1. The word in Tacitus is also Chrestus. It was a scribal change that was detected under microscope.
      Based on several reasons I consider the entire passage an interpolation, not least because of how long Annals was ”undiscovered” and that no christian apologist or church father ever quoted the passage.
      I believe Tertullian quotes Tacitus on a number of occasions but never this particular passage.
      Much like the TF of Josephus was never mentioned until Eusebius, who certain scholars consider to be the person responsible for the forgery in the first place.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Fiction authors, I mean truly shallow researched fiction writers with all the literary skill of dime novelists given 300 years of corporative plagiarizing and interpolation could not do better than the authors of the worlds religious texts. Yet the claim of inspiration form a unchallengeable authority assures a best seller. What are we all doing with this blog nonsense. There is a model for success here if your interest is to persuade others. All that seems to be required is a small population of the predisposed as a receptive seed group. It’s still fiction but relabeled at the point of sale.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. What if your interest is not to persuade others, but just to give others something different to think about. I know the language I use on my blog can make it sound like I am an expert at what I write about, possibly sounding like I am telling others what to believe or not believe, but that is not my intent. My most used phrase is, IMO, in my opinion. My most common instruction is, do not believe anything I say unless it works for you. I do not expect it to work for many people. My thoughts and beliefs are based almost solely on my experiences, and what I have learned from those expetiences. No one else will ever have the same totality of experiences I have had in this lifetime. No one else will ever have the same totality of experiences anyone else has had in their lifetimes. It is impossible. We each have our experiences, and for the most part, it is those experiences we build our belief systems around. If we are able to build our own belief systems. Unfortunately, while this is possible for everyone, many people to not know they can do this, or choose not to do this. They are fed someone else’s experiences, and brainwashed into believing those are the best to build their belief systems upon, in not so many words. I, for one, do not want anyone to try to build a belief system on my experiences. I hope they will choose to build their belief systems on their own experiences.
        Is what I believe fiction? Not for me it is not. But to you, or anyone else, it might be. That is your choice to make, and I have no desire to take that choice away from you, or anyone else. So why do I blog? As I said, but in other words, I want to leave a record of my belief system so that if others discover similar beliefs in their own systems, they can take solace in knowing they are not totally alone, as I felt for many many years. I still do not know if anyone believes as I do, though I doubt it. Thanks to the internet I have found a few who come close, and I take my solace in that.
        Solace, however, is a fleeting thing. It is the confidence within me that my beliefs work for me that lets me know who I am, and what I stand for. Truly, that is all that matters. And if every person on earth, and every living being in the universe, can find a belief system that works for them, based on their own experiences, that is what would make me most happy, even if not one of them believed anything similar to what I believe. What one believes is not important, as long as they believe what they find inside themselves, IMO.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. As far as I got was “Jonah, 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a whale” … ye gods, whale didn’t get hiccups? Belch? Barf him up? Indigestion? … … poop?

    “SPCA man, Sir~!”
    “Yes, Argus?”
    “I wish to report one God Inc for cruelty to poor little fish—”
    “Whales aren’t fish, Argus. But I get your point. Duly noted—”
    “And?”
    “It’s in the NFA file.”
    “NFA?”
    “Yep. No Further Action … we’ve been trying for years and years to serve Mr God with many summonses for cruelty to animals but His representative deny all access.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I placed 2nd in my third grade science fair. My supposition was: A tooth bathed in a sealed container of Coke would cause damage to the outer tooth after one week, ie. the chemicals in Coke could damage tooth enamel.
      I’m sad to report that one week (4 days, I fudged the protocol) didn’t confirm the hypothesis.
      I admit I enjoyed getting second. Teach said the recognition was for the method. The results didn’t matter. Besides everyone knows that acid is what decays tooth enamel.
      Stomach acids effect on flesh is immediate. Everything beyond the opening of the feeding orifice

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hah! An acid-proof Jonah, with no need to breathe … sounds about right. For fairy stories. As a determined infant I nearly drowned myself in the bathtub trying to set a world record for holding my breath … ol’ Jonah must have been a natural. Brrrrr …

        Love your experiment~!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Portland, Oregon … ship was alongside there when St Helens blew … unreal, but love the place. One of my favourites, to be honest. And the Rose Festival parade; only Americans can do them with such joie-de-vivre (and style~!).

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Lovely place for sure. At times it looks and feels like living in a forest. The Rose Festival is, at its best, a reflection of civic pride in shared commitments to the city and region. It’s a big deal party too.
        The past few days our air quality is like the lighter ash events and people are wearing masks.

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  7. Well, I have been thinking about this for some time. I have to admire you Jonathan for your reason and research. My question would be, if the ax head did rise to the surface, if the sundial did go backward, if a voice appeared to come from a serpent or donkey, if a man did turn water into wine without touching it at all…if it all really happened, would there be any explanation other than…the God who made the laws has the ability to break the laws…that that was a miracle?

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    1. Great comment Randy. Sorry for the late reply, been away for a while

      if it all really happened, would there be any explanation other than…the God who made the laws has the ability to break the laws

      Let’s assume for a moment all these did really happened back then. Sure god could be posited as an answer but that wouldn’t explain anything. The main bedrock of science is the quest to find explanations of things observed in the natural world and understand the intricate workings of nature.
      A side note, most of these “miracles” occurred during the same time some societies explanations for most natural events were along the line of god or a god did this or did that. If the ax did rise to the surface, science would treat this event the same way all other natural events and even things like earthquake and volcano which were assigned as actions of a diety

      That’s by the way.
      The most important concern is not an explanation for these events BUT showing that these events actually occurred in the first place. Based on our current knowledge of science this events are almost unlikely to occur, the evidence needed to show that they did actually happened would have to be able to upturn modern physics. An ancient text just doesn’t cut, the bible alone doesn’t serve as enough evidence to make the occurrence of these events as the most probable explanation

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      1. Makes sense. But, in my experience as a believer, I have seen, heard of, and tastes enough “God interventions” in my times to make it quite easy to accept these unexplained miracles as true possibilities. Just because it comes from an ancient text doesn’t mean it is not true, or that the people of that time had less intelligence than we have.
        The fact that the Israelite people were so careful to exactly copy and preserve the texts through millenia shows an ability and a wisdom.
        Imagine if all we had to preserve our knowledge and culture and history was this super scientific internet thing.
        One electromagnetic pulse, and you will be back in the dark ages.
        Then…a belief in the God of the Israelites may come in handy.

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      2. Imagine if all we had to preserve our knowledge and culture and history was this super scientific internet thing.

        The internet as a means to preserve knowledge and information is a far more advanced and superior method of information storage than the method anyone used in ancient times. Now the internet as a medium of information storage and exchange is not one without shortcomings but it is still vastly superior than anything the Israelites or anyone in the ancient world had. You cited an EMP, but you failed to consider the fact that it is far more likely for fire to burn down libraries and books than it is for an EMP to take out the internet.
        We do know that fire had burnt down libraries in the past and many works of antiquity have been lost forever to raging flames🔥

        make it quite easy to accept these unexplained miracles as true possibilities

        You hardly have any thing that is absolutely certain or uncertain. So the occurrence of a miracle here is still a probability but the question is it the most probable explanation for the evidence that is available

        What’s your take on this

        Three independent historians Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Doo record that the emperor Vespasian in Alexandria between 69-70 CE through the aid of the god Serapis is said to have cured a blind man by spitting in his eyes before a whole crowd of people in addition to curing a crippled man

        (i could provide links to the citations if you need them)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. @Randy …

        You wrote: But, in my experience as a believer, I have seen, heard of, and tastes enough “God interventions” in my times to make it quite easy to accept these unexplained miracles as true possibilities.

        They were “God inverventions” only because you are, as you said, “a believer.” To those who reject the existence of any gods, the “unexplained miracles” were simply happenings of life that didn’t fall into what we, as humans, have learned to expect.

        This life is not cut and dried. We all experience unusual happenings at various times. but this does not indicate a supernatural and unseen entity is controlling things.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. The fact that the Israelite people were so careful to exactly copy and preserve the texts through millenia shows an ability and a wisdom.

    This is not the case. For one, our available old testament manuscripts do not date that far for us to be able to ascertain that the texts were copied exactly
    One of the oldest old testament manuscripts we have (for certain portions of the old testament it is the oldest) is the dead sea scrolls which is dated to around 408 BCE to 318 CE, have been found to differ widely from the masoretic texts (which is what is used for most bible translation)
    Note the masoretic text were written between 7th and 10th centuries CE. More than one thousand years after the dead sea scrolls
    Another old testament manuscript the Septuagint which was written between the mid 3rd century BC to the 2nd century BC also shows considerable differences with the masoretic texts
    So I can’t see how your claim that the Israelites exactly copied the texts holds any basis

    One electromagnetic pulse, and you will be back in the dark ages.

    A couple of years back, I used to have this belief. But one emp don’t have the ability to do that. An emp that we can generate at most would send us to about the mid 1800s for a couple of weeks. Sure there would almost certainly be significant, wide scale disruptions in power and communications until our power infrastructure could be restored, this wouldn’t be something that would last that long and it would not be a belief in the God of the Israelites that would be the solution rather it would be science and proactive leadership

    If an EMP is strong enough to penetrate any significant amount of shielding, like things under ground. then the likely hood is that the EMP is cosmological in origin. This means that we not only would receive the EMP but other radiation much more harmful to biological life. Organs such as our pineal gland can be affected by strong enough electromagnetic activity

    Just because it comes from an ancient text doesn’t mean it is not true,
    Sure, it depends on the claims being investigated. Based on our current knowledge of science, archaeology, history etc, the bible has gotten things wrong on different occasions. In this our case, the ancient text is going against what we know through empirical sciences. Though experiments that have been carried out thousands of times and experiments that can be replicated anytime anywhere, we know what is required for an object to float and that an axe head by itself wouldn’t float in water
    We know a lot about centrifugal and centripetal forces and physics in general to know what would happen to the constituents of a fast spinning body, and in the case of the earth just what is needed to make the planet earth 🌍 to stop and change its direction of rotation
    This is what the ancient text is up against, and it is almost impossible for the contents of an ancient text to provide enough evidence to upturned what is known in empirical science
    You should also bear in mind that if someone existed presently made those claims the texts did without being able to provide evidence other than word of mouth, the person would be ignored by the scientific community

    We know that it is more likely for people to lie, for people to misrepresent things, for people to over exaggerate things than for an axe head to float in water or the earth to change its direction of rotation

    Especially in this case when the texts are a couple of thousands of years from when the event supposedly occurred

    The claim that this events were historical is not the most probable explanation for the contents of the text

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This topic annoys me, so thanks for taking it on. We have seen the rise of new religions in recent history, yet Christians just can’t figure any possible way their religion grew up other than “must be true.” It’s lack of imagination is all.

    Liked by 1 person

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