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August 27, 2015

Comments

You clearly aren't addressing the question. You're just saying that history aligns with the questioner's proposal. In fact, the questioner is saying that if the resurrection happened, why isn't history unambiguous? E.g., why was there any persecution at all? Everyone should have been convinced. There should be no one to do the persecuting. Paul should've converted early on. And what about Herod and Pilate, etc.? These things did NOT happen.

Furthermore, your appeal to Paul's conversion is spurious. Paul converted because of his theophany, not because of ambient evidence. Yes, you can say that Paul's theophany was THE evidence to Paul of Jesus' resurrection, but Paul did NOT believe until then even though you would agree that many of Paul's contemporaries believed. So on what basis should anyone else believe that the resurrection happened? Why can't we all have theophanies?

Just asserting that history DOES show that many people believed does not obviate the questioner's point that there were many people who were unconvinced. You admit as much when you launch into answering the question "Why do some people not believe?".

And by the way, your answer to that question is a meaningless answer. You essentially say that girl believes but refuses because of a "will" issue. If she believes, then she does not fall into the category of "not believing". She is NOT one of those who rejects your evidence.

The answer to "Why do some people not believe?" is that your evidence is NOT compelling. Herod and Pilate did not convert. Paul didn't even convert until he a personal revelation which is useless for anyone else. We don't even have multiple attestations of Paul's theophany. We don't know that hundreds of people saw Jesus after his death, only that one person CLAIMS (wrote down) that hundreds of people saw him after his death. Extra-biblical evidence is scant AT BEST. Biblical evidence has been tampered with by scribes. And on and on and on...

“Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Peter Boghossian have said they would not consider it conclusive evidence for God if the stars all realigned themselves to say in everyone’s own language, “I am God, believe in me.” Boghossian says, “It could be a delusion.” Dawkins and Boghossian have also said the same thing about the return of Christ, if it happened: not enough evidence.” (Gilson)


You clearly aren't addressing the question. You're just saying that history aligns with the questioner's proposal. In fact, the questioner is saying that if the resurrection happened, why isn't history unambiguous? E.g., why was there any persecution at all? Everyone should have been convinced. There should be no one to do the persecuting. Paul should've converted early on. And what about Herod and Pilate, etc.? These things did NOT happen.
Alan addresses this in the second half of the video.

In response to one of the arguments in the second half, you said this:

You essentially say that girl believes but refuses because of a "will" issue. If she believes, then she does not fall into the category of "not believing". She is NOT one of those who rejects your evidence.
The challenge was "Why didn't everyone convert?" not "Why didn't everyone believe?". Alan's example of the girl is on point in providing a reason someone might not convert...even though she does believe.

Post-ascension, it's clear enough why some people might not believe (forget about converting), even though the evidence would have been more compelling then than it is now: Jesus himself wasn't bodily present anymore. So if you weren't one of the people who actually did see Jesus, it was a lot easier not to believe.

WisdomLover,

With respect to the convert/believe distinction, you are, to some extent, correct. I muddled the terms in my haste to keep them discrete.

It sounds like we agree that belief is necessary but not sufficient for conversion. Therefore conversion requires belief and any talk of conversion assumes belief. However I think my issue with the example still stands.

It's still a cheap answer. And if I were respond directly to that situation, I would say she doesn't even truly believe. It's virtually unthinkable to me, and I would hope to you, that someone could assent to the core claims of Christianity and still say "I don't want to change my life." They are serious, worldview-altering claims. So the girl's profession of believing without converting is not a rational thought/action combination. And, well, maybe that's the answer because we as humans so often act irrationally even when we know the rational thing to do. So then is God going to take the blame for making us that way?

Getting off topic. Regardless of her response, there is still the person who says "I reject your claims" for all the reasons (plus many more) from my first post. THAT is the harder question for Alan and the one he should address.

Here's a little more to think about. Is a physical, post-resurrection encounter with Jesus a guarantee of conversion? If so, then what's the deal with Satan? Do you think he doesn't know the full extent of Jesus' divinity? If not, then what possible situation could convince those who reject him?

It's virtually unthinkable to me, and I would hope to you, that someone could assent to the core claims of Christianity and still say "I don't want to change my life." . . . Is a physical, post-resurrection encounter with Jesus a guarantee of conversion? If so, then what's the deal with Satan? Do you think he doesn't know the full extent of Jesus' divinity? If not, then what possible situation could convince those who reject him?
These points are tightly related.

I think it's a big theme in Christian thought that radical irrationality is possible. Satan is fully aware of who God is and how powerful and good He is, but he still refuses to bend the knee. Adam too. He knew full well that God had an excellent reason for denying him the fruit. Still he ate it. Likewise, there were some who saw the Risen Lord, and knew that he offered forgiveness to all, but still rejected Him. I think that Judas was one such.

A lot of people find it unlikely that such extreme irrationality exists in beings capable of rational thought.

I'm not sure I can convince you that it does exist...it's a pretty bedrock idea. I think you can see that the existence of such irrationality would explain all sorts of cases where people choose against their own acknowledged greater good, for example, watching TV instead of exercising. But people who reject radical irrationality have alternate explanations for such mundane instances of irrationality.

Don't both atheists and Christians typically accuse each other of radical irrationality? However, if you say there is no soul, like atheists often do, do you believe we choose to believe anything? Do you believe in choice at all? If we make no free will decisions, then who is to be blamed for what they believe? And if we don't have free will, why the illusion of free will?

Here's my quick outline of Alan's response: The Sudden Transformation (of the disciples, etc.); The Gradual Growth (of Christianity); The Challengers (James and Paul);and The Challenge (of Belief). Whether you like alliterative outlines or not, I think that is a fair and memorable summary.

Now, looking at the situation in context, many were involved in Jesus' death. Would such people be interested in seeing proof that Jesus was the Son of God? Is that the typical reaction of a criminal? When my in-laws went to Germany, the tour guides received much of their information about the concentration camps from American documentaries! Apparently it was not a subject that participating Germans wanted to study, discuss, etc. So, if they had heard of the resurrection, I don't think they would have rushed out to see it for themselves. Of course, Jesus could have made his appearance unavoidable, but then future generations would ask why he doesn't do the same for them.

Also, borrowing from William Lane Craig here, the purpose of the resurrection was to send the disciples out into the world. I think that fits the context well. While I believe the resurrection provides evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, there seems to be a higher priority / purpose- namely, again, sending the apostles out. Now I do think God can have multiple purposes. I think the incredible complexity of the human body provides evidence of a wise Creator, but the primary purpose, it seems to me, is to make a creature for certain purposes, not to solely provide evidence of a designer. Doesn't the New Testament give us a broader context than what the challenger has given? Also, aren't we more impressed by people turning to Christ in a hostile world than in a world that is friendly toward Christians? And does making Christian a national religion make everyone want to become a Christian?

Wisdomlover,

I'm not sure I can convince you that it does exist...

On the contrary, I alluded to it earlier as a possibility. I'm quite willing to see it as an explanation. But this is the point...

If radical irrationality is true, then God has made some such that they cannot believe. And if that is true, then it paints God as a psychopath or sadist or both, creating some just to condemn them, possibility torturing them for eternity.

Certainly there are Christians who agree with this idea and even cite the Bible for it (John 6:44,65 to start with). But I find it revolting as would any empathetic human and think it's just one more reason to conclude that God is a fiction and heaven a poultice against the fear of death.

Chip-

I believe in single predestination (the saved receive no credit for their salvation, but the lost receive all the blame for their damnation). I also believe that humans can exhibit radical irrationality. But I don't quite see the necessary connection between them you allege. If anything, radical irrationality and, at least, a fatalistic view of predestination seem to conflict.

But I find it revolting as would any empathetic human and think it's just one more reason to conclude that God is a fiction and heaven a poultice against the fear of death.
Wouldn't your point about empathetic humans indicate that, if Christianity were a fiction and heaven a poultice against the fear of death, that Christianity would teach that everyone goes to heaven?

The fact that Christianity doesn't teach that everyone goes to heaven is one of the many reasons to think that it is true. Like so many real things, it behaves in unexpected ways.

Am I biting the bullet and admitting that God is unjust?

I don't think so. I'm saying that

  1. Christianity teaches that God is just.
  2. The non-universality of glorification is heaven is a difficult and unexpected teaching of Christianity.
  3. I don't know how #1 and #2 fit together.

"in heaven" not "is heaven" in #2.

I make that n-s isvernios inversion a lot.

WisdomLover,

The problem here is that some versions of Christianity DO teach that everyone goes to heaven. I know it's declared heresy by such and such council and it says in the Bible... blah, blah, blah. But universalists quote the Bible for support just like you. And if you cite council decisions, you're just shifting the claim of authority around to other entities which I cannot confirm actually have the authority to make this decision.

Regardless, it is not unexpected that Christianity would include hell in its creeds. Fear of death is not the only powerful human emotion. Furthermore, I suspect that fewer Christians believe in hell than you might think. Or would you say that a lack of belief in hell disqualifies them from identifying as Christian, and, ironically, would send them to hell?

And as for a just God, I know this is what Christianity teaches but this REALLY needs to be qualified. If God saves a single person, God automatically becomes unjust. This person is no longer receiving the due punishment. Whatever you call this, forgiveness, substitutionary atonement, grace, it is NOT justice. It is something else. Therefore, God is not just. Maybe he's loving, forgiving and all that other stuff. But he's not just.

But universalists quote the Bible for support just like you.
Anyone can claim the support of the Bible for just about any belief.

BTW, anyone can claim the support of Shakespeare for just about any belief. Or Cato. Or Dickens. Or...

The human capacity for misinterpretation of any text is more-or-less unlimited.

This does not imply that the text doesn't say what it says.

Church councils have no special authority, but they nonetheless represent the wisdom of some of history's very brightest people on how the interpretation should go. You might go against them and be right, but it's usually not the way to bet.

Regardless, it is not unexpected that Christianity would include hell in its creeds. Fear of death is not the only powerful human emotion. Furthermore, I suspect that fewer Christians believe in hell than you might think.
These points are actually in tension. There are a lot of Christians that want to go out of their way to deny what the Bible teaches because they expect so much that a just and loving God won't send people to Hell. They're wrong about that, but it does tell you just how unexpected the teaching of Hell is. Virtually no one likes it.
And as for a just God, I know this is what Christianity teaches but this REALLY needs to be qualified. If God saves a single person, God automatically becomes unjust.
I don't think that the inference
  1. God is merciful.
  2. So God is unjust.
is a valid inference.

Mercy is not simply the opposite of or the suspension of justice. Justice can be satisfied without making the perpetrator of injustice pay a penalty.

There are two types of justice: Distributive Justice and Retributive Justice.

The primary notion is Distributive Justice. Distributive Justice is achieved when each individual gets the good to which he is entitled.

Injustice is what occurs when Distributive Justice is not satisfied. An individual is involuntarily deprived of some good to which he is entitled. (The involuntary bit is important...if I give you a gift, I'm giving you a good that I am entitled to, but it's no injustice because I do it freely.)

Retributive Justice is about restoring Distributive Justice after Injustice has occurred.

Retributive Justice might be achieved imperfectly by some form of punishment, but that form of Retributive Justice is usually very imperfect...How does your spending 5 years in prison for stealing my car restore Distributive Justice? As far as I can tell, it doesn't. It just ensures that you won't steal anyone else's car for 5 years.

The only from of nearly perfect form of punishment I can think of in human justice is fining the wrongdoer for the purpose of compensating the victim for his purely economic loss (including all economic losses...like opportunity costs) plus the administrative costs to the state.

In that nearly perfect form of justice, it is possible for a third-party to freely pay the victim and state the fine on behalf of the criminal. Distributive justice is, nevertheless, restored. Retributive justice is satisfied. The third-party has shown Mercy to the criminal. It was the Mercy of the third-party that satisfied Retributive Justice.

Now for most crimes in the human sphere, such perfect solutions are not practically achievable. If I kill your spouse, I cannot bring her back to you, and even if I could, I cannot restore the time you lost.

But the Omnipotent God can achieve a perfect solution. He can restore things to Distributive Justice. He can achieve perfect Retributive Justice. It does not involve crude punishments such as we humans mete out to each other. It does involve Mercy.

For God, Retributive Justice is achieved through Mercy, not in opposition to it.

All the crimes that we commit toward each other God can repair. Bear in mind that "repair" doesn't mean "take things back to the status quo ante". It means "put things into a distributively just arrangement." If you were beating your wife when I killed her, don't expect God to repay my debt by restoring your wife to you for more beatings. But he can restore her to herself and heal her completely in mind and body.

But after all those inter-human debts are balanced, and be sure that God has felt all the pain of them and knows exactly what it takes to balance them (because He is Omniscient), there remains one huge distributive injustice to be righted: our debt to Him.

Only God can make that right. No punishment we take, no work that we can do, will ever make it right. If we try, we'll just make matters worse.

This is because the nature of our crime to God is treason. We have tried to be King in place of God. Trying to pay the debt that only God can pay isn't taking responsibility for our actions...it's just us trying to be King in place of God again. It's just more treason.

And it was treason that led to all the other crimes in the first place. So when we don't let God pay, we just end up committing more of those too.

And that's what Hell is.

It's all the traitors living together.

Never letting God pay their bill.

Piling treason upon treason.

Committing all those crimes among themselves that come from treason to God.

Forever.

If we let God pay, He puts us into a state of of perfect Distributive Justice. It is one huge act of Mercy that He does so. And Retributive Justice is satisfied...through the Mercy.

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