Wednesday, August 1, 2012

6 Reasons to Believe in God - Reason 6 - Jesus is the clearest Example


Lately, I've been deconstructing a webpage that describes six reasons to believe in God. I first saw it as an ad, and decided to look into it.

My prior posts are:
Today's reason - #6 - is that, uh... Jesus is the "clearest" description of a God revealing himself to us?

Alright.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us. 
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you're looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father. 
He said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, "follow my words and you will find truth." He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me." 
What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can't do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people...blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects...created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature...walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I'm telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you're seeing.
Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us. 
Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." This is God, in action.
Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We're told that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth's perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith. 
If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can. 
This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her]." If you want to do this, but aren't sure how to put it into words, this may help: "Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen." 
God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, "I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand." 
So, does God exist? Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way. If you need more information about Jesus' claim to divinity, or about God's existence, or if you have similar important questions, please email us.
Alright, there's a lot here to parse through. This one is probably the weakest "reason" to believe in God, but there are some interesting points I'd like to address. 


Here we go!
Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
Is God Jesus Christ? I thought Jesus Christ was the son of God? Or do you buy into that Trinity thing? That's not very clear. Zeus was pretty straight forward - a father-like god who shot lightning bolts. Between the two, Zeus is more clear and specific.

That doesn't matter though. One story can be very clear and specific and still be fiction, whereas another story can be muddled and confused, and be correct. This isn't a reliable metric of truth.

In fact, in science, the truth is stranger than fiction. Just look at Quantum Physics.
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God.
Jesus never claimed to be God either. I looked up on a Christian website to see whether my assertion here is true - they had no verses to cite. They made a few arguments about how Jesus made "God-like statements" and "Why would they worship him if he wasn't God?" - but no - no where in the Bible does it claim that Jesus is God.

Also, these verses stop making sense when you think that Jesus and God are the same entity:

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12 ESV)

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, E'li E'li, la'ma sa-bach'tha-ni? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 ESV)

It actually occurs to me that the author said "claim to be equal to God", but there's no indication of that either. The hierarchy is typically: God -> Jesus -> Man -> Woman -> Child -> Animal
That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you're looking at him.
Citation needed for the assertion that Jesus said people were looking at God (because he's God).

Secondly, Jesus was not unique. I'm not finding a lot of great sources to cite, but off the top of my head, HorusDionysus and Mithra are very similar mythical figures. In fact, "son of god" lunatics were fairly common at the time. Jesus was a cliche archetype like Superman is now.

But like I said, I'm not well versed in that information, nor do I have good sources, so take what I say with a grain of salt. The important point is that uniqueness doesn't establish truth.

If I say that my dog comes from the 15.7th dimensional influx of portagulon string universes, is it true because it's unique? If Mohammad claimed to be made out of potatoes, would that make Islam more likely true because it's a unique claim?

This is a massive non sequitur.
Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father. 
It'd be nice if the author cited verses, but alas, I will have to look it up. The closes thing I can find is a reference to John 6:46, which are basically a bunch of variants of "Jesus is from God and only Jesus has seen God", which doesn't support the claim. The reference to belief doesn't at all establish that Jesus = God - just that they share the same belief system, or something.

Phew! Second paragraph down, bazillion to go!
He said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, "follow my words and you will find truth." He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me." 
Here, the author is just preaching about irrelevant indemonstrable things.  Still waiting for evidence.
What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can't do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people...blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects...created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature...walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I'm telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you're seeing.
*raises hand* - I have a question! First, how do you know Jesus existed? Secondly, how do you know any of that stuff happened? Because an old book said so? I think we're skipping a few steps, such as evidence.

There's a lot of question begging here, presupposing that the contents of the Bible are true.

Let me pause for for a second and address the topic of the standards of evidence for history. It's not uncommon for apologists to raise the point that we accept that George Washington or Julius Caesar existed on textual evidence, which is true.

They, however, did not break any laws of physics. They didn't perform magic. They didn't do anything that cannot be reproduced now. We're talking about a balance of the precedent of a claim versus how difficult it is to demonstrate.

I would almost accept, on face value, that a Jesus guy walked the Earth, but once one starts asserting magical/miracle things, the evidentiary requirements shoot through the roof. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (mind you, "extraordinary" does not mean "awesome" - it means "unprecedented, in violation of other things else we know to be true").

So far, all we have is a single book that talks about what supposedly happened. As far as I'm aware, there's no extra-biblical contemporary evidence for the historicity of Jesus. None. In terms of standards, being extra-biblical and contemporary are error-control standards, in terms of mitigating the possibility of contamination or "cooking the books", primarily.

That's why we have standards - to reduce error. If one has taken no steps to reduce error, why should I believe that what you're telling me is anything but bursting at the seems with error?

It wasn't until decades later, when Saul/Paul picked up Christianity and started trying to spread it that Christianity started to grow. Paul barely knew anything about Jesus. You can tell, because the tone and message changed drastically, for one thing. The Gospels and the Book of Acts could be considered the only relevant parts of Christianity, in regards to an actual connection to Jesus's teachings.

But I digress..
Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. 
That is very strange, since the Old Testament God was nothing like this. Why the sudden staggering change between the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament?
Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. 
I've already gone on at length about why this is ludicrous. I won't rehash it too much here.

In short, to infinitely punish us for finite crimes is not justice, it's not moral. It's evil. The grand total of my crimes in life might amount to a couple thousand dollars in fines. I parked in a handicapped spot illegally once. To punish me forever for that is evil. In fact, for God to do this, God would have to be infinitely evil.


Satan has nothing on this guy!
Sounds ludicrous?
Uh, yes.

Still waiting for that evidence/proof thing.
Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us. 
Invalid analogy. The proper analogy would be that the father decided that being sick because the child sneaked a 6-pack of beer warranted infinite torture, and instead of simply changing that protocol, decided to clone himself to take the place of the child, and be executed instead, and somehow that fixes everything.

It's fucked up, to be blunt.

Again, none of this matters. This is supposed to be the 6th reason to believe in a God, and I'm still not getting what it's supposed to be. We started out with some claims that Jesus was unique, now we're preaching about unproven Christian scripture... and?

Skipping ahead a bit to something that's not irrelevant preaching.
God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth's perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.  
Awesome! The author makes a pathetic attempt to tie the tsunamis of logical fallacies into some kind of actual argument! Apparently reason #6 is "the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ", which I do not understand how that's a reason to believe. The author hasn't just derailed in terms of standards of evidence, the train has floated up into the sky, and poofed into a cartoonish world of talking bunnies and butterflies.

I don't think I need to address these points again. You can go read my responses in the other posts.
If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can. 
As I stated in my personal experience bit last post - I tried. Nothing happened. I don't believe there is a person named "God" to have a relationship with.

Plus, he sounds like a total jerk, so I don't want to hang around him. He's very anti-intellectual, and that annoys me.
This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. 
If I've wronged someone, the only person who needs to forgive me is that person whom I've wronged. It does this other person no good for God to forgive me on his behalf. That's not how society works.

More preaching - skipping...
So, does God exist? Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way.
What facts? That water dissolves solutes? That we happen to live on a planet that is mildly compatible for life? Or do you mean the armada of consecutive unending logical fallacies that were presented?
If you need more information about Jesus' claim to divinity, or about God's existence, or if you have similar important questions, please email us.
Given that this was your apparent A-game for demonstrating God, I don't think email discussions are going to be terribly productive.

Recap

Undemonstrated claims.
Invalid claims about scripture.
Non-sequiturs.
Lots of preaching.
No evidence given.
What was I expecting?

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