Is your World governed by Science and Reason or by Ghosts and Ghouls?

In my many discussions with conservative Christians regarding their belief system I have noticed that we always run into two major problems:

A.  What constitutes evidence?
B.  What is the basis of reality?

Christians regard the following as evidence:

1.  The existence of four first century books that tell the same general story is evidence that the story is historical fact.
2.  The fact that a small group of first century Jews would believe in the resurrection of one person, (an unheard of concept in Judaism…but not in the teachings of Jesus…) is evidence the Resurrection occurred.
3.  The fact that a new religion in the first century spread rapidly throughout the known world, its followers being subjected to persecution and sometimes violent deaths, is evidence that the teachings of the new religion are true.
4.  The fact that “all” early Christians came to accept the 27 books of the New Testament as the inerrant, inspired words of God the Creator is evidence that, in fact, these 27 books are the Word of God.
5.  The probable fact that Papias, in the early second century, knew people who had known the apostles is proof that the four Gospels were written by their traditional authors.
6.   The fact that the Christian Bible states that “all Scripture is inspired by God” is proof that all 66 books in our modern Bibles are the very words of the Creator.
7.  The evidence for a Creator is evidence for the Christian god.
8.  The absence of Roman and Jewish documentation of the events of the Resurrection is evidence of a conspiracy to suppress the story.
9.  The fact that the majority of New Testament scholars (the majority of whom are Christian believers) believe that there was an empty tomb is convincing evidence that there was an empty tomb.
10.  An empty tomb can only be explained by a supernatural resurrection.
11.  Grave robbers, the disciples, the Romans, the Jewish authorities, nor Joseph of Arimethea could not have removed or moved the body, resulting in an empty tomb,  because the source in question, the Bible, in only one version of the story, states that the Romans had placed guards at the tomb.
12.  Jewish rabbis do not convert to new Jewish religious sects, such as was early Christianity.
13.  The conversion of a Jewish rabbi, to a religious sect that he once hated and persecuted, confirms that the rabbi’s new religion is true in all its supernatural claims.
14.  If a former Jewish rabbi says that he encountered a talking, bright light that told him that it was a dead man, this is evidence that the former rabbi actually saw the body of a walking, talking resurrected dead man.
15.  If someone claims that there are 500 people living in a distant country who can verify that a dead man walked out of his grave approximately 20-25 years ago, this is sufficient evidence to believe that dead people do walk out of their graves, or at least, one dead man walked out of his grave…2,000 years ago.

Question:  Would most rational, educated people, who have never heard of Christianity, consider the above statements as “evidence”?  Graduates of seminaries and divinity schools may be able to present very complicated arguments using logic as to why you and I should believe the above “evidence”, but is the above “evidence” strong enough to convince you that our universe is controlled by invisible ghosts and ghouls? 

Question:  Have you ever seen or spoken to a ghost our ghoul?  Based on your experience and the experience of other educated, 21st century people whom you know, what is the probability of the existence of invisible ghosts and ghouls?

Question:  Regardless of the complicated logical arguments presented by graduates of seminaries and divinity schools for the existence of reality-controlling ghosts and ghouls, are you willing to give up your world view that Science and Reason best explain reality and submit to the schemes and whims of these invisible ghosts and ghouls?

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6 thoughts on “Is your World governed by Science and Reason or by Ghosts and Ghouls?

  1. Gary Opines: Christians regard the following as evidence:

    News to this Christian.

    Gary Opines: 1. The existence of four first century books that tell the same general story is evidence that the story is historical fact.

    No. Your explanation is uncharitable an a gross oversimplification. Internal evidence as well as external evidence of many sorts is “evidence that the story is historical fact.” Just like how we determine the authenticity of other books in antiquity.

    Gary Opines: 2. The fact that a small group of first century Jews would believe in the resurrection of one person, (an unheard of concept in Judaism…but not in the teachings of Jesus…) is evidence the Resurrection occurred.

    The idea of a resurrection was not something new or unique to Christianity. Pagan religions had such a conception as did the Pharisees. The resurrection of Jesus is evidence of His being the Son of God. He specifically said that He would rise from the grave. What makes Christ's resurrection unique is that it concerns the forgiveness of sins to all who believe. No other religion has such an account for their resurrection stories.

    Gary Opines: 3. The fact that a new religion in the first century spread rapidly throughout the known world, its followers being subjected to persecution and sometimes violent deaths, is evidence that the teachings of the new religion are true.

    You need to cite a scholarly Christian work that argues as much. Until then your assertion is crap.

    Gary Opines: 4. The fact that “all” early Christians came to accept the 27 books of the New Testament as the inerrant, inspired words of God the Creator is evidence that, in fact, these 27 books are the Word of God.

    You need to cite a scholarly Christian work that argues as much. Until then your assertion is what? Yes, crap.

    Gary Opines: 5. The probable fact that Papias, in the early second century, knew people who had known the apostles is proof that the four Gospels were written by their traditional authors.

    Once again crap on your part. Who says this?

    Gary Opines: 6. The fact that the Christian Bible states that “all Scripture is inspired by God” is proof that all 66 books in our modern Bibles are the very words of the Creator.

    I don't know what kind of hay you think you are making here? If a personal God exists (and He does) then He will want to communicate with His creation somehow. So how else would one identify God's communication? “Oh, here is a book written by 'you know who' but don't say God lest the skeptics get all bothered!” Right.

    Gary Opines: 7. The evidence for a Creator is evidence for the Christian god.

    Crap again. If you take the time to examine the various conceptions of God, there is only one conception that talks about God having all the following attributes: omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenvolence, omnipresence, just, good, love, necessarily exists, and eternal, to name some. The only God having all these attributes is the God of the western theological tradition (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Being the Creator is a property ascribed to other “gods” and is not the sole property ascribed to the Christian God.

    To be continued…

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  2. Continued from above….

    Gary Opines: 8. The absence of Roman and Jewish documentation of the events of the Resurrection is evidence of a conspiracy to suppress the story.

    What scholarly work can you quote from here?

    Gary Opines: 9. The fact that the majority of New Testament scholars (the majority of whom are Christian believers) believe that there was an empty tomb is convincing evidence that there was an empty tomb.

    You have a knack at misrepresenting your opponents. You are pretty dishonest in your scholarship.

    Gary Opines: 10. An empty tomb can only be explained by a supernatural resurrection.

    Once again. Crap.

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  3. Continued from above…

    Gary Opines: 11. Grave robbers, the disciples, the Romans, the Jewish authorities, nor Joseph of Arimethea could have removed or moved the body, resulting in an empty tomb, because the source in question, the Bible, in only one version of the story, states that the Romans had placed guards at the tomb.

    In here you have hit upon some evidence if we state “could not have” rather than “could have removed” as you wrongly assert. I don't think your condition “because the source in question” is correct. The condition is that if there were guards placed at the tomb, as the Gospels state, what do you do about that? How could the body be moved? Breaking the seal of the governor on the tomb is a terrible offense. Hyper-skeptics such as Ehrmann say that the guards killed grave robbers and took the body of Jesus to a common grave where it was buried. What evidence does he have for that assertion? He has no evidence but he is willing to stand by the assertion because he believes it has a better probability than that Jesus rose from the dead. The problem with Ehrmann's explanation is he ignores what the Gospels are saying and he raises up a 'paper tiger.'

    Gary Opines: 12. Jewish rabbis do not convert to new Jewish religious sects, such as was early Christianity.

    What are you saying here?

    Gary Opines: 13. The conversion of a Jewish rabbi, to a religious sect that he once hated and persecuted, confirms that the rabbi's new religion is true in all its supernatural claims.

    Wrong. Again cite a reputable source for your claim.

    Gary Opines: 14. If a former Jewish rabbi says that he encountered a talking, bright light that told him that it was a dead man, this is evidence that the former rabbi actually saw the body of a walking, talking resurrected dead man.

    You have a terrible understanding of what consists in eye witness testimony. If a “former Jewish rabbi” made such a claim, then we are confident that the same rabbi believes he really had such an encounter. Now what is left for us to do is to determine what made him come to that belief? Was he lying? Was he insane? Was there something such as a hoax that made him believe as much? The default is not that the person was a nut case. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Gary Opines: 15. If someone claims that there are 500 people living in a distant country who can verify that a dead man walked out of his grave approximately 20-25 years ago, this is sufficient evidence to believe that dead people do walk out of their graves, or at least, one dead man walked out of his grave…2,000 years ago.

    You are one dimensional. Jesus didn't just rise from the dead as a miracle to convince unbelievers that He is who He said He is. That is not the full story. Jesus is raised from the dead in victory over sin and the devil. His resurrection is not meant to persuade apostates such as yourself. Jesus was clear that those who seek after a sign are a wicked and adulterous generation. No the resurrection is proof that God has been reconciled to the world. Paul doesn't say that the resurrection is *proof* for the scoffers. It isn't. It is proof to those who already believe. It is proof that their sins have been forgiven and that is why Paul says that if the resurrection didn't happen our faith is in vain. So keep pounding your drum for proof, but there is nothing that will convince you other than your own sinfulness. I guarantee that your sins will weigh down upon you. I only pray you will repent before you die.

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  4. dear anon,

    methinks you doth protest too much. if you have ever taken a serious look at biblical criticism, regardless of what conclusion you ultimately come to, you'd be able to recognize the issues that gary has raised in summary form.

    every one of gary's points is a summarization of arguments frequently made by either pew-level christians in forums like this, or by christian scholars and apologists. and gary has read quite a few scholars over the last year, including the magnum opus by nt wright. regardless of the conclusions he's drawn, he's familiar with the issues, while clearly you are not.

    re: “… if there were guards placed at the tomb, as the Gospels state, what do you do about that?”

    do all 4 gospels state that there were guards at the tomb? why don't you make a brief summary of each of the 4 gospels, listing who that gospel said went to the tomb, and what they found when they got there? eg, was there a guard mentioned in that particular gospel, or not? was the stone already rolled away, or not? were there angels there, or not?

    eg:
    Matthew: guard mentioned?: yes/no
    Mark: guard mentioned?: yes/no
    Luke: guard mentioned?: yes/no
    John: guard mentioned?: yes/no

    if you've never seen this done, or never considered doing it, it means that you're completely unfamiliar with scholarly criticism, as this is a rather basic starting point.

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  5. “It (the Resurrection) is proof to those who already believe.”

    When does the Bible say that the eleven disciples became “true” believers in the teachings of Jesus in the sense that they were willing to preach the Gospel boldly, risking their very lives? Was it when they saw Jesus being dragged away to be crucified? No. Was it when they saw him die on the cross? No. When the saw the sky turn black for three hours? When there was a great earthquake? When dead people roamed the streets of Jerusalem? When they saw the empty tomb???

    No.

    The eleven disciples ONLY believed…when they saw the resurrected body of Jesus! Before that they were “apostates”: they had abandoned and rejected Jesus as the Christ in the Garden, and Peter even cursed him.

    Bottom line: the disciples only believed when they saw a walking/talking dead body.

    And how about Paul? Did Paul believe when the earth was dark for three hours? The two earthquakes? The torn veil in the Temple? The dead people roaming the streets of Jerusalem? The report of the Roman guards to the Sanhedrin of angels moving the stone?

    Answer: Nope!

    Paul only believed when a walking/talking dead man appeared to him.

    So I have a question for you: If the Eleven Apostles and the Apostle Paul demanded to see a resurrected body before THEY believed, then why is it too much for me to ask for the same for ME to believe???

    If Jesus is God, he has the power to appear to every person on earth, just as he did for the Eleven and Paul, and give us evidence that the Christian story is true. If Peter, John, Matthew, and Paul wouldn't believe without seeing a body, Jesus should know that most other human beings aren't going to believe this incredible supernatural story either without seeing a body. But he doesn't do it, does he? Why not?

    I say he doesn't do it…because he's dead!

    But Christians will say, “Blessed are they who believe without seeing”, I say, “Stupid are those who fall for such a lame excuse”. If the very leaders of the Church required visible proof to believe, then the Resurrection was not proof for believers, but proof for unbelievers, and I'm not going to believe either until I see a walking, talking, broiled-fish-eating dead body!

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