We Were Not Born Atheists or Christian pt 1
Let us start with the idea that most atheists eventually get around to presenting: “Christians are arrogant to believe they are right.”
Yep, you got it!
Their line of delusional reasoning goes like this: if we believe in a god, how can we know which god is right? Well, as we hope to find out, it comes from the knowledge of the FACTS. Eventually, nonbelievers start to harp on a single line such as, “Will the real God please stand up?”
Bear, with me, let me lay out a few concepts. From a Christian perspective: In this world, there are many things that we can reason from that which is known. Here are just a few: 1) a creator must be vast given the size of the universe; 2) the author must be powerful given the forces holding all things together and in place; 3) the architect must enjoy beauty when we consider our world at every level; and 4) the originator must contain love, as the designer could not instill something in the created being that was not already in the Creator. All of these attributes and more are found in the one person who claimed he was God, lived as if he was God, and performed miracles like God: Jesus.
From the non-believers perspective: “Books I believe in?….s**t man! I believe no books!…I believe what I see.” This was a quote from a non-believer in a post on a non-believers Facebook page. It goes along with “Educated people don’t believe someone rose from the dead.” One needs to define ‘Educated’ because I know many individuals with a great deal of advanced schooling with many of those coveted initials after their name (and who have published many papers and in some instances bestselling books) who would under normal consideration be considered ‘educated.’
I hope the above individual did believe something from the books he certainly had to read in school, even though they were probably biased. I would say that if you have difficulty believing or understanding that someone came back to life (other than in a movie or a video game) after being dead, that would generally mean that you are a logical person who does not believe everything that someone tries to tell you and you are cautious about grandiose claims to fame and the truth.
Nevertheless, if you can remember the news or have read (sorry individual being satirized above) about it online or in a newspaper or magazine you can probably remember some of these things. Modern technology allows medical professionals to revive individuals within moments of a heart attack that would have been fatal years ago. Some individuals have been stuck under ice for thirty minutes or more but not days later. Some individuals have been in comatose for years and suddenly woken up (‘Kill Bill vol 1 notwithstanding).
But get this: Christians want you to believe that a normal, fairly healthy individual (he was a carpenter by trade) was nearly beaten to death, nailed to a wooden structure, stabbed with a sword through his side, wrapped tightly in a death-shroud from head to toe, laid in a small cave carved out of rock with no medical attention, followed by three days of normal natural tissue decay. Then he suddenly came back to life, and with super human strength rolled a massive boulder away, walked out of the cave without any of the guards noticing and walked some forty miles to appear before his friends for 40 days and proclaim He is the Savior. Right!
Nobody, I mean nobody has any personal experience like that and other than that book called the Bible there is no written historical account of any other instance of this sort of thing occurring. Based upon all of the available scientific studies of human endurance, our physical and intellectual understanding of life and death or just plain a logical understanding of reality would allow us to believe something so ridiculous.
Most people would (and have) said that no logical thinking person with any amount of common sense, reason or a rational mind would believe such a story. However, what if it is true?
Some Christians make these claims of truth with nothing more than the words “And you need to believe this to be saved.” This is an indication of the sad state of complacency instead of compassion for a person searching for the TRUTH. It is wise, definitely natural and certainly wise to question a “story” that is as far away from known reality as can be. If we do not question outrageous claims to “truth”, we could fall prey to many things that are more dangerous than asking questions.
An intelligent (and I would presume an ‘educated’ one) normally listens to the evidence, researches and weighs the validity of the evidence and is generally (except for those that are biased and prejudiced) able to alter their opinions based upon the presentation of the new evidence. We can easily understand that no specific knowledge is one hundred percent correct. We can scientifically believe that something is more likely true than not true and we can then react due to our interpretation of the available facts.
I cannot prove that if I jump up, gravity will bring me back down to earth at every single location around the earth because I have not tried to jump throughout the world. Nevertheless, I can believe that I will not float into space based upon the number of times and differing locations that I have jumped up in the air. A story that is thousands of years old about a dead man coming back to life three days later is truly bizarre. However, what if it is true?
Everything we do, we do out of a form of faith. Our faith in events begins by our own experience or someone spending the time to teach us. We continue to have new experiences and various events during our lifespan and from these our faith in various areas begins to grow. Faith begins small and slowly and only grows as we learn to trust that which we put our faith in it. If the majority of what we know holds true, it eventually leads us to do things we would not have attempted in the beginning.
We base our belief on available facts and knowledge. That is how we live our lives, faith based on evidences. Christians are no different than the skeptic except they have found the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus more likely true than not. From this initial faith, they follow Jesus believing he will continue to uphold his promises with the main one being Jesus’ resurrection. This trumps the most hardened belief we have that dead people stay dead, so we start with a small faith and allow it to grow.
Once we realize what faith truly consists of, we can grasp that Christian faith does not step outside the normal requirements of daily living. Belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is not blind faith. Blind faith is a technique of the cults or a slick salesperson who hides the details. People with questionable intentions purposely hold back available information to entice the unwary. The promise of more information is one of the most potent forces on earth. The enticement of experiencing the unusual or hidden is eerily controlling and often overrides our commonsense. Many powerful, intelligent, and successful people have built a path of self-ruin from nothing more than the allure of experiencing the hidden.
There are fascinations that take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. A Christian tries to tell the truth as it is (“ No one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14: 6), will ask you to test the knowledge provided for truthfulness (“ Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” 1 John 4: 1), and does not run from your questions (“ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7: 7). False gods and/ or lies do not want to be questioned. Only truth willingly and openly invites investigation.
Faith in Jesus is not like the cults or other false religions that ask you to believe them simply because they say so. Christian faith is logical, rational, and based upon solid historical data, and the information is available to all regardless of age, education, or financial status. It is common to hear people say that Jesus was a good, virtuous, and wise man. His teachings were profound, his actions were something to imitate, and his love for everyone is something to emulate.
Let us stop and think for a moment. Think of the audacity of someone claiming to be God. A person who claims to be God is either knowingly telling a lie, a self-deceived lunatic, or God. That seems to cover all of the choices. Normally if someone tells you they are God, either they need serious psychological help or they want us to join some outlandish cult.
No sane and good person claims to be God, accepts praise as if they are God, and tells thousands of people that the only way to Heaven is by believing in him as God unless he is indeed God. To go around stating that Jesus was a ‘good man’ yet not believe he is God is illogical. Given what we know about Jesus, in order to be good, he must be God, or he is an evil genius or a self-deceived lunatic.
However, what if it is true?
Jesus said He represents God the Father, “I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it” (John 12: 49). Jesus, it appears, is God’s way of filling the natural inabilities of mankind to grasp God. It is similar to trying to visualize eternity; it is enough to make our heads hurt reading about all the weird and unusual things that astrophysicists make up to try to explain what they think is correct.
While belief in an unseen God is difficult, faith in a man rising from the dead is somewhat more challenging. However, that is what we are asked to do, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10: 9). All of this certainly sounds absurd and is rightfully impossible to believe.
However, what if it is true?
Questioners of God have spent 2,000 years trying to tell the world where the body of Jesus went. Many of these researchers were and are brilliant scientists, in-depth anthropologists, vigilant historians, and various other experts.
These experts have developed many theories as to how Jesus’ body left the tomb. Out of the many considerations, questioners agree at least five hold enough merit to rise to the level of scholarly writing and are worthy of publication. They consider all other theories as farfetched and not worth discussing (these are the experts, so if you don’t believe in any of the five mentioned below, then your theory is just that yours- nobody else is interested in it). The following are the only available intellectual, well researched, scientifically studied, and peer reviewed alternatives to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not including the resurrection answer given in multiple books of the Bible (keep in mind: the Bible is accepted by serious scholars, at minimum, as a trustworthy historical book), the Koran, several letters written by non-Christians from the first and second century, hundreds of sermons up to the second century where death was commanded if you spoke about Jesus and thousands of live witnesses to the events recorded who passed the story from generation to generation (granted some exaggeration could occur between different families).
- Swoon: Jesus passed out on the cross and did not die. While in the tomb, he awoke, rolled the sealed boulder guarded by the soldiers away, and walked to his friends’ house, roughly seven miles away after having been beaten and whipped- maybe a miraculous healing of his wounds?
- Hallucination: The apostles and hundreds of eyewitnesses simultaneously hallucinated that Jesus was alive and heard him teach over a forty day period. (Although some Hindus practiced ‘temple sleep’ the first known discussion of mass hypnosis was by Ibn Sina, a Persian psychologist and physician, who made a distinction between sleep and hypnosis. In The Book of Healing, which he published in 1027, he referred to hypnosis in Arabic as al-Wahm al-Amil, stating that one could create conditions in another person so that he/she accepts the reality of hypnosis. This makes more since then everybody receiving a hallucinogenic drug and having the same ‘trip’).
- Wrong Tomb: Within three days of burying Jesus, the apostles and disciples of Jesus walked to the graveyard, but instead of stopping at Jesus’ grave, they peered into someone else’s tomb. Within a few hours of their friend and teacher and compatriot for the past three years being buried, they forgot the location (not that it was in a large gravesite and was donated by a friend). However the momentary lapse of short-term memory didn’t stop them from preaching and teaching about his resurrection and eventually some of them died gruesome deaths for that simple act of forgetfulness.
- Theft: The devil made them do it! Either the Roman guards stole the body (contrary to what Biblical and non-biblical texts indicate Pilates order was), or Joseph of Arimethea, the owner of the tomb, stole it so he could be buried in it later, or the apostles and disciples stole it to keep Christianity spreading or the Pharisees and Sadducees stole it too prevent the spread of Christianity. Place your bets as to which one makes the most sense.
- Passover Plot: During the Last Supper, Jesus and the apostles came up with a plan to sneak a sleeping agent into the bitter wine the guards would give him –presuming they also knew he would be beaten and whipped horribly. The medicine would place him in a comatose state (where he would not feel the pain he was in) and the guards would believe he was dead and the apostles would get him out of the tomb and heal his wounds and the religion would have their risen Savior.
So now, we can wait a while for part two. There will not be any reason to debunk these theories due to the obvious flaws. Whether that statement is fact or fantasy is irrelevant.