Below is a hypothetical conservation between myself and a typical conservative Christian. I have included the most common Christian responses, received over the years from Christians when asked for the evidence for their supernatural belief system. As you can see, their arguments are frequently circular:
Gary: Where is Jesus’ resurrected body at this very moment?
Christian: Jesus, in his resurrected body, is sitting at the right hand of God.
Gary: Where is God?
Christian: God is in heaven.
Gary: Where is heaven?
Christian: Heaven exists outside of this universe, possibly within another dimension.
Gary: What evidence do you have that a place called “heaven” exists outside our universe or in another dimension?
Christian: The Bible says so.
Gary: How do you know that the Bible is correct on this issue?
Christian: The Bible quotes Jesus. Jesus told his disciples that he was going to heaven to prepare a place for them.
Gary: How do you know that Jesus said this?
Christian: The authors of the Gospels says so.
Gary: How do you know that Jesus was correctly quoted in the Bible? Maybe this statement was a theological invention (fictional story) or even a legend which the authors of the Gospels sincerely believed to be true but was not?
Christian: The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses. Would eyewitnesses be willing to die for a lie?
Gary: The claim that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels is contested among the experts. Therefore, your claim that Jesus, in his resurrected body, is in heaven at the right hand of God, is based on the highly disputed evidence regarding the authorship of the Gospels? Is disputed evidence good evidence??
Christian: I have extensively studied the Bible and historical records and I believe that the evidence that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, Creator of the universe, is strong and even overwhelming.
Gary: That may be your very sincere opinion, but your non-expert opinion on this issue doesn’t count for much among most modern, educated people. Can you give us any better evidence than your opinion?
Christian: I can refer you to many books written by highly educated scholars, historians, and theologians which all support the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a true, literal, historical event.
Gary: And I can refer you to numerous books by highly educated skeptics, some of whom are scholars, historians, and former theologians, who all doubt the resurrection of Jesus. But what’s more, even if Jesus was seen alive again after his execution by some of his disciples, that in no way is evidence that he is currently alive and living in another dimension. What evidence do you have that the bodily resurrected Jesus is alive and living in another dimension or outside the borders of the universe??
Christian: Well, if the evidence found in the Bible and the research of Christian scholars is not sufficient for you, the Holy Spirit is another source of evidence for the truth claims of the Bible. The Holy Spirit testifies to each and every true believer that Jesus is resurrected and that He is alive and active in the world.
Gary: Who is the Holy Spirit?
Christian: The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.
Gary: Where is the Holy Spirit?
Christian: The Holy Spirit is everywhere and He resides within each Christian.
Gary: But if the Holy Spirit is everywhere, then he resides within everyone, even within atheists like me.
Christian: The Holy Spirit permeates all, but He does not take up residence within the soul of the unbeliever.
Gary: So then…he is not everywhere, is he?
Christian: He is everywhere, but He is not in your soul. It may seem contradictory to you, but the ways of God are a mystery. If you do not believe in Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit, who testifies to the truth of the claims of the Bible, does not dwell within your soul.
Gary: Wait. Don’t Christians believe that Jesus “dwells within” their soul?
Christian: The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ replacement, his representative here on earth, since Jesus ascended to heaven at the Ascension.
Gary: So Jesus does not dwell within you, only the Holy Spirit??
Christian: Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and the Father) are one.
Gary: So three invisible spirits or beings “dwell” inside Christians?? Sounds crowded! If these three beings are one and the same, why bother using three different names?
Christian: They have different functions. They are each God, with different functions, and all of them together are God. Three distinct persons but one God.
Gary: Hmm. That makes no sense at all. It sounds like something a clever but devious person would make up to pull the wool of the eyes of gullible people in order to manipulate them. It sounds like a sophisticated-sounding con job: sophisticated nonsense concocted for the purpose of bewildering and silencing gullible people…kind of like what the Emperor’s tailors did with their “invisible cloth”. But, let’s get back to the resurrected body of Jesus. Where is it? Give me a straight answer.
Christian: Like I said, the resurrected body of Jesus is in heaven, and heaven is in another dimension. I can’t be any more specific than that.
Gary: So let me get this straight: You’re not sure where heaven is, but where ever it is, that is where we will find the body of Jesus. Why don’t you just admit that you have no idea where the body of Jesus is!
Christian: These are complex metaphysical concepts. You do not understand them because you have not read enough books by scholars on the subject. In addition, as an unbeliever you naturally resist the work of the Holy Spirit. If you would be receptive to the Holy Spirit, and would believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then He would open your eyes to see the truth of what I am saying. The evidence for the truth claims of the Bible is truly overwhelming, but sin prevents you from seeing it.
Gary: So I must believe this fantastical story first, and then I will see that it is true??? That sounds like something a cult would say!
Christian: Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.”
Gary: Yea. Blind faith. That doesn’t sound smart to me. I suggest we use our brains. You don’t appear to know much about the concept of critical thinking, do you, Christian? I suggest that you investigate this very important tool for evaluating truth claims, my friend. It will make you a much more intelligent, discerning person and may very well change your life! Check this out:
End of post.