Friday, August 3, 2012

"Unequivocal, Unimpeachable, Convincing Credentials?"

by Kenneth W. Hawthorne

The following is a reply I made to an article on a church of Christ website. My comments are in blue and the church of Christ preacher's comments are in black (except for two quotes from Thomas Paine):

In a previous article, this writer made the statement: “The message of the Bible is such that any rational person will want to believe it.” (April 8, 2007)

And the rest of the quote was, "And, wanting to believe it, he will look for rea­sons to be­lieve rather than reasons to dis­believe." You admit that you only look for reasons to believe that the message of the Bible is true. But you only use such illogical reasoning when it comes to the Bible. You would never use such a system for investigating the truth of a claim, especially an extraordinary claim, in any other area of life. Is there any wonder that you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that Paul and the rest of the apostles actually performed miracles to "confirm the word"?

What is the message of the Bible? It is, simply, that there is something far better in store for those who believe the Bible than that which is experienced by all mankind in this life.

There very well may be an afterlife, but is the Bible an inspired message from God concerning this possible afterlife? Because of the absence of evidence for it and the abundance of evidence against it, one must answer no. And no matter how much you want to believe that it is--if the evidence is against it--that's just the way it is and you'll have to accept it. Remember BW's Characteristics of Truth? This would be a good one to add to his list: Truth is not determined by how much you want to believe something.
As usual I'm in agreement with Thomas Paine:

"I trouble not myself about the manner of future existence. I content myself with believing, even to positive conviction, that the power that gave me existence is able to continue it in any form and manner he pleases, either with or without this body. I leave all these matters to Him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter."(The Age of Reason)

"I consider myself In the hands of my Creator, and that he will dispose of me after this life consistently with his justice and goodness". (Private Thoughts on a Future State).

But if God can establish order in creation, He can surely suspend order in a miracle.

Of course He can. But is there any evidence that He has chosen to do this after establishing order in creation? No.

Of course, Jesus did not expect anyone to accept the reality of the resurrection on the strength of testimony alone but gave to the apostles “unequivocal, unimpeachable, convincing” credentials so that those who heard—honest or not—would have “no choice but to believe it.” (Acts 4:14-16) 

Okay, let's see these "unequivocal, unimpeachable, convincing 'credentials' " so that I would have "no choice but to believe it." But, of course, the claim is that these "credentials" (i.e., having the ability to perform obvious miracles) allowed the apostles to "confirm the word" in the first century so that it needs no confirmation today. But how can this possibly convince a rational person today? All a person has today is the testimony of biased writers (so we are back to only having testimony, and biased at that) who claim these miracles were performed. No rationally thinking person would even begin to entertain such a claim as being true from such writers. So, again, we are back to needing unequivocal, unimpeachable, convincing evidence--which, alas, is conspicuously missing. Thus, I have no choice but to disbelieve.


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