In Summary: Resurrection & Lack Of Knowledge

In my last few posts I took a rather different approach to the prospect of a historical resurrection. I actually granted the possibility of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and qualified my argument by saying, “I do not claim knowledge in this realm.”

This is fair, and to take it another step further, I think granting the possibility is as fair as anyone can ever get considering what is actually known in the present. Now, here is what granting a resurrection miracle does not do.

It does not mean that a human being named Jesus was speaking from knowledge of the true God, if such a God exists? Why? Well, considering that other religions also claim extraordinary miracles as evidence for their view it ought to bring the Christian to at least level his or her playing field in this regard. Perhaps a resurrection did occur and the credit could be given to another source? Perhaps the source isn’t even a God at all!

Consider the Eastern view of the power of Chi. Perhaps Jesus lacked knowledge about the actual source of his power and interpreted it in light of his own religious tradition? Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. Again, I do not claim any knowledge in this regard but my ultimate point is that in the absence of any kind of verification concerning the source of resurrecting power the possibilities are seemingly quite vast in a worldview that grants miraculous phenomena.

A resurrection miracle also does not demonstrate that Jesus was honest in every respect. Perhaps a follow through with an extraordinary miracle would be perfect reason to sway the world away from the true religion? It would seem that the possibilities are still quite vast without any confirmation of the source either back then or now.

So it is that the most important point within my argument is the question of knowledge. Does even a resurrection establish confirmatory knowledge about the source of such a claim? It appears that even when one grants such a fantastic miracle we are still found wanting both in the past and in the present. This is due explicitly to the nature of this claim. In a sense it isn’t boring enough. It isn’t consistent enough to demonstrate the presence of God in the world.

A wise God that intends to establish his praise in all the earth would most likely be getting the credit from everyone right now, if in fact this was the desire of this being! Why create hiccups in human awareness and knowledge? These things inadvertently create unnecessary hurdles when trying to discern between fact and fiction.

Further Observations (Resurrection & Lack of Knowledge)

Why trust one religio-historical context? Why favor the Judeo-Christian revelation? Even in light of a plausible resurrection hypothesis these questions remain open ended. Dare I say, without justification?

Why is this the case?

Irregular divine intervention creates gaps within history as well as within human knowledge. Since human beings have limited awareness and ability to establish unseen and inactive sources it then becomes justified over time to look elsewhere for answers. Dead lines breath no life into our present knowledge.

Being that the resurrection account is a fantastic oddity within the world at best there still exists no way of knowing whether such an event has the capacity to establish an appropriate knowledge of God within the past or the present.

It would appear to be a jaw dropping story that is stuck in the obscurity of the past. This is where it really ought to hit home to not play favorites with such fantastic claims!

So please be mindful of what even a seemingly plausible resurrection hypothesis is able to do for your present knowledge. Atheism speaks from what it lacks. A lack of knowledge personally and by consensus is what justifies a path into Agnosticism. A lack of knowledge and/or information on multiple fronts is what solidifies a noncommittal stance. Logical fallacies and absurdities within Theism is what then leads to a lack of belief.

Potential Objections: Resurrection & Lack Of Knowledge

Potential Objections

1) You are willing to believe anything other than the actual story of Jesus! You are unreasonable!

a) Am I? Remember how I qualified my argument? “I do not claim knowledge in this realm.” What this means is that regardless of what I really think, it is most important to demonstrate that in the absence of objectivity within even a seemingly plausible resurrection account there is still room for other possibilities that are as equally extraordinary regarding the actual source! Why play favorites in the absence of a clear bridge into our present knowledge? Why should the disciples of Jesus even have played favorites when all they really ever claimed to have witnessed was a living Jesus, a dead Jesus, and then a bodily resurrected Jesus? The rest can be chalked up to what Jesus simply taught these men and women to believe.

How important is confirmation and regularity within religion? These things are what drive the engine of a genuine pursuit of knowledge within the world. Apart from such a pursuit even the viable possibilities are vast! Just think of Sherlock Holmes or the more kid friendly mysteries within the Scooby-Doo series. Sometimes weird anomalies unfold but where do we allow our own judgment to fall in such cases? This is key. I can’t think of any more appropriate moment than right now to say: KNOWLEDGE IS KEY! Both then and now.

b) Allow me to approach this question in another way. The primary reason that I brought up the Chinese notion of the power of Chi in the case of Jesus is because in the absence of any kind of bridge that verifies the Judeo-Christian God as being the source, then other religions are in fact justified to reinterpret the resurrection account in light of their own conception of God and the supernatural. Even a resurrection does not establish an exclusive commitment to Christian belief alone. It also says nothing in regards to a polytheistic view.

2) God did establish a regular presence within the world at least until it culminated in the person of Jesus! Great, but how is this helpful in establishing this knowledge right now? The further away we get from such alleged events the more justified it becomes to question these matters in light of what is either known or unknown in the present. What is the opposite of regularity? Quite logically it would be irregularity and a lack of justification. At the end of the day the resurrection still does not help to establish viable knowledge of God within our present lives. We are still left guessing, hoping, waiting for some kind of vindication.

Here is another intriguing question. When should we predict that our present circumstances will quite naturally tip the scales in favor of modern knowledge so that religion will remain on a consistent decline? Is it possible that religious explanations are going to predictably become less compelling due to having no justifying principle that can be called upon in the present or possibly ever? Time will do the telling.

3) Finally, extraordinary claims require an extraordinary kind of justification. This is because we are trying to establish what is by definition a clear abnormality within the world. This God would have been more wise, at least in the interest of a worldwide plan of salvation, to maintain a clear and undisputed relationship with his people from the past and leading into our modern day. Indisputable intervention on a repeatable basis would solve the problem of human knowledge once and for all. I rest my case friends. Go where the evidence leads!

Resurrection & Lack Of Knowledge

Modern Christian Apologists such as William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas are deeply regarded by many believers today as presenting some of the strongest and most cogent arguments for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. As one who has become openly skeptical within the last fifteen months of my life I still find it important to take on the challenge of faith. I am also willing to say that if I find compelling reasons within my life to reconsider my skepticism in this regard, I will do so for I strive to be a person that will follow the truth wherever it leads.

With that being said I have come to find some rather compelling reasons to the contrary that have brought me to suspend my judgment with regard to possessing belief in any kind of God or supernatural realm. My reasons were born out of my own struggle to reconcile faith with present human knowledge across the board. This is where I intend to now narrow in toward anyone that strives to make a case for the resurrection of Jesus in the affirmative. William Lane Craig often says within his own argumentation that it is the religio-historical context of Jesus that tips us off to necessitating belief in his resurrection from death.

For the sake of argument and open inquiry let us first grant that an extraordinary miracle did in fact occur regarding the body of Jesus. From the very beginning I do not claim knowledge in this realm, remember this statement! My judgment has been suspended for reasons I will get into shortly.

As a first line of thought should a resurrection from death necessarily lead to definitive belief in an unseen God? To put this in another light, should a bodily resurrection necessarily lead to belief in an honest Jesus? Does a claim of honesty and a follow through with an extraordinary miracle necessitate belief in a God that for unknown reasons does not choose to establish regular lines of verification for a wider audience?

What could these regular lines of verification honestly look like within the world? Well, it could in fact mirror the many alleged interventions of God in the past in which this being intentionally established a relationship with people that would otherwise live unaware. An all-powerful God could quite reasonably make himself blatantly obvious within the lives of all human beings. This would still not affect one’s free-will and it would finally make doubt unjustified whether or not one chooses to enjoy and worship such a God.

We are now approaching the first part of my own argument in which we will zoom in on present human knowledge as regards to the resurrection of Jesus. We are actually granting here that a resurrection may well have occurred. Great! Should this truly put the matter of the existence of God to rest? To many Christians it would seem unreasonable to any longer question in the midst of a jaw dropping miracle, but for anyone who is interested in truly getting to the bottom of the matter, why stop there? Really?! I am even asking this reasonably and with sober expectations. I am asking this with regard to the historical context in which we are claiming that some kind of inexplicable miracle has occurred.

If there was no bridge of knowledge for the disciples of Jesus to verify the source of what is regarded as the greatest miracle then why should we assume that Jesus himself was speaking from knowledge? That he was speaking from God? What if Jesus himself was an extraordinary human being that possessed something akin to what people define in Chinese Medicine as the power of Chi? I don’t even care if you laugh at this point, just follow my logic here, what if Jesus built up his power of Chi so high that his body was destroyed but this power of Chi completely reanimated his crucified body within three days? Before you fly out of your seat and accuse me of being radically unreasonable allow me to simply reel you back in and say again that I do not claim to have any knowledge in this regard. I am just thinking! I’m thinking for myself, and I am attempting to evaluate what anyone, even the disciples of Jesus really knew in this regard?

What kind of premium should we truly put in having knowledge regarding these things? I’ll let you be the judge my friends. My simple appeal at the end of the day is this: 1) Are human beings limited in knowledge and the scope in which we can verify the source? Yes or no? 2) Does Christianity or any religion for that matter attempt to bridge the gap reasonably both in the past and in the present? Yes or no? 3) If too much remains open ended within a claim that even is alleged to be historically viable should this honestly lead to belief or a suspension of one’s judgment? Thank you for considering my points. I have one or two more approaches to this question of the resurrection of Jesus. Stay tuned!

Darkness Speaks Volumes!

 

Imagine yourself waking up in complete darkness! No longer familiar with your surroundings it seems as if you’ve been transported to a very spacious room that has a slight echo when you speak. Suddenly out of the silence you hear a voice. Initially startled you haven’t discerned much of what has been said but then you distinctly hear your name. This voice immediately calls your attention and says, “I am the true God and I am here to lead you into the truth.”

As this voice begins to elaborate on the story of our origins a second voice abruptly chimes in, this voice is different from the first and conveys a different presence altogether. As the first voice drowns into the background this second voice also claims to be the true God. It says to you, “I am the one who made the sun, the moon, and every star as far as the eye can see!” Just as you wonder about what happened to the first voice a third one overpowers the second voice, and then a fourth, and then a fifth.

In just a few minutes time you find yourself blinded and overwhelmed in a room filled with innumerable voices all beckoning for your explicit attention and devotion. All are claiming to be the voice of your God, in some cases a few of these voices have teamed up and offered themselves as a set. A plurality of divine authorities.

All of these voices claim to be the way, the path to ultimate truth and fulfillment so which set of one or many Gods do you choose? Nothing else has tipped you off in this regard. The darkness is like a blindfold. So who is telling you the truth?

In an almost paralleled sense this scenario that I have depicted is very much like our existence in the present. Lack of objectivity on a mass scale is what illustrates the darkness. What these religions do is they claim authority over our lives without providing a present bridge into our knowledge of the world. There appears to be no justifying principle by which we can effectively narrow in on the God question.

So I’ll end with a simple challenge. Is it more effective to speak from faith or from knowledge? There seems to be a very distinct difference friends!

 

A Conversation With A Christian

It seems to me that across the spectrum of Christianity most believers admit that God is not a readily identifiable reality. In other words, my Christian friends can’t simply walk me to heaven’s gates and introduce me to Jesus. It just doesn’t work like that, right?

Now, since God is understood by both believers and skeptics as not being a readily identifiable reality, then what should we make of this? What should be concluded in this regard?

The Christian view concludes that God has some unknown reason for not being readily identifiable. Perhaps it is human sin, perhaps it is the mystery of God’s sovereign decree, perhaps it is some kind of concern over God potentially overriding the free-will of his creatures. Bear in mind that this did not appear to be this God’s concern within every Bible story from Genesis to Revelation.

The expectation of the Christian view is that just enough has been revealed about God in the world in order for present humanity to make a safe and informed choice. We must question this basic assumption to see if it passes muster. This is necessary regardless of whether or not the divine claims of Christianity turn out to be indisputably true in the end.

You admit there is a veil, I admit there is a veil. Since there is a veil or a wedge between faith and knowledge what must be admitted in order to move forward and be painstakingly honest in one’s position? It is the admission that nothing would appear to presently substantiate the Christian view from any other religious view ever held! This is big, this is really substantial! There exists no known bridge for you to walk me over to the house of Jesus to simply settle this dispute.

We are both at the end of our knowledge quest. That is unless this assumed God would like to start doing some more extraordinary feats as has been alleged in the past? So what does this present crisis in our knowledge do? It justifies us to doubt in the present. There is no bridge within sight and therefore it is far more honest to not play favorites. It is far more level minded to simply admit uncertainty. When one says, “I don’t know,” then they have the right to suspend all judgment in the present. A Biblical understanding of God may be a possibility, but it just as likely may not be one at all!

So where does our present reality seem to tip the scales? Here are some very relevant things to consider:

1) Mass variation = No compass

Variation of religion and thousands, perhaps millions of conceptions of a God or gods that equally lack a bridge to heaven’s door means that there exists no compass for anyone to make an informed choice. When one does choose a religion it is far more likely to stem from tradition or personal attraction to a set of beliefs.

2) Undetectability = Blindness (intellectually)

Since there is no way to detect such immaterial beings by their own definition then this attempts to erect a transcending philosophical principle by which people claim the right to believe in spite of any evidence to the contrary. This is simply unhelpful! Also, it is clearly detrimental to anyone that does not believe in the correct set of divine claims. This provides no way to identify which God to believe or even justify whether any kind of immaterial realm exists!

3) No present justifying principle = Lack of relevant knowledge

Since there is no justifying principle or bridge to fill the gap between faith and knowledge then it is most honest to admit a lack of knowledge and not draw any further conclusions from what is clearly unknown.

4) Possibility of the unknown= Possibility of a better explanation on different grounds (i.e. the neutral endeavor of science)

The Theistic picture of God = an infinite causal regress (it is a claim of immense power, knowledge, and fixed attributes without a source). Does this not sound at least a little bit fishy? The neutrality of science does not claim to definitively know the source of our origins. Science also very effectively postulates that a universe starts from simplicity, not unaccounted for complexity. A God that has no source for said immense power and knowledge requires an equally immense amount of justification to complete the loop. So far, universes that begin with a big bang require no gods as of yet. Not unless and until we can cross that bridge. Plain and simple. Based upon present knowledge belief in a God appears to be a shot into the dark. It is also problematic in that immense complexity, power, and knowledge remains unaccounted for. It’s like a dog chasing its tail forever. I rest my case. Decide for yourself my friend!

Are You Into Gambling? Pascal’s Problem (Part 2)

Psssst! Can you hear me? You, yes I’m talking to you! Are you into gambling? Ah yes, I could tell you were. Why else would you have come to my imaginary casino? That’s right I’m the owner as well as the dealer. Get ready to wage your bets, but this time I don’t want your money, I want your life!

A few centuries ago my man Blaise Pascal illustrated that life is kind of like a sailing ship that has already embarked and left the shore. Like it or not we are all moving, sailing if you will through this life. When it comes to the question of God as well as heaven and hell, I’m not concerned so much about your certainty in this regard. No, what I’m concerned about here is your ultimate happiness and well-being. It seems that you have about a fifty-fifty shot at eternal happiness so what are you going to do?

Like it or not you are an active player in this game of life so what is it going to be? Are you going to bet on God or pass on a potentially amazing offer? If you bet on God and choose to believe in spite of your level of knowledge or certainty then even if you were wrong you didn’t lose anything. Though if you don’t wager at all you are at risk of potentially losing everything! The choice should be pretty obvious, go with God.

Go with God? Hmmm, I’m going to break character for a moment as your dealer. I for one have been making this argument for quite some time now. So now it has gotten me to thinking. Sure, I understand that there is potentially a very big risk involved here. You or myself may end up being punished and ultimately unrewarded for something that we have no measure of certainty about. Wow, actually that would seem rather unjust right there.

I get that I’m sailing and the fact is I never chose to embark in the first place. I just was born into this world and find myself here. That’s about it. I could just as likely have never existed at all. Had my parents chosen another mate, or even a different time to consumate their love you might be talking to someone of the opposite sex with a completely different name than mine! Kind of strange and surreal to think about actually.

I have to be honest, I’m seeing a lot of potential flaws in this argumentation. For one it doesn’t appear that I have one of two choices. It appears that there are many dealers like myself that advocate completely different religious views. These are utterly different scenarios of reward and punishment that should be considered within this wager. So it is that even if I choose to go with God I am very much at risk of choosing the wrong one anyway. Objectively speaking I see no reason to play favorites here!

I’m well aware of the religion I grew up with. Heck, there even seems to be some religious scenarios that are more attractive and logical over the others. This still does not warrant me to be biased in this regard. Not if it is a question about what is ultimately true? Nothing would seem to justify me to make any kind of informed choice on this matter. What would seem to be more at stake here is the alleged goodness of this God.

This particular argument acknowledges that perhaps the vast majority of human beings that have ever existed are in fact uncertain as to whether a God truly exists. Since this is the case then all that would really be required for myself and the vast majority of human beings is a clear bridge of evidence that would serve to answer who the true God of this universe is, if in fact there is even one to consider? Until what is unknown can become undisputedly known to me in this life, then I am justified to doubt. This method for knowledge isn’t applied to the question of God alone, it is applied to every bit of knowledge that I can gain in the present.

Even as I continue to sail and move through this life as an active participant it would appear that I am still very much justified to remain uncertain about the ultimate outcome of my life. In many ways I wish I could just have the ultimate answer in the palm of my hands, yet in another sense I have never been so driven to seek out the truth in the midst of uncertainty. To be justifiably uncertain is an amazingly useful tool.

Pascal’s Problem (Part 1)

This is simply one angle or a snippet of my thoughts toward the ever so popular Theistic argument known as Pascal’s Wager.

This argument creates a false dilemma between faith and reason. This is not a world of Christianity vs. Atheism. This is a world with thousands of other competing sets of divine claims. It is not realistic to play favorites by wagering on one bet and ignoring all the others. Though if I wager on Christianity as well as on Islam and Judaism simultaneously then I will have contradicted the requirements of each of these religions. Each of these religions teaches a form of exclusivity. I must wager on one set of divine claims exclusively or I am at risk of not being considered sincere or loyal to faith in the first place!

This wager does not factor in that varying sets of divine claims are a cause for confusion as well as contradiction. What is most sensible in light of a plethora of confused and contradictory claims? A suspension of judgment plain and simple. What other reason is there to play favorites here? Why should any set of authoritative claims have any leg up on the other when each one individually is unable to demonstrate God within reality? All of these claims belong in the same category precisely because they do not provide a bridge into our present state of affairs. Our present knowledge.