Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ten Reasons Christianity Does Not Make Sense? Part 1

I came across an article called “Ten Reasons Why Christianity Makes No Sense,” and decided to respond (just in case there is anyone out there who might be convinced by these terrible reasons). Before I get started, I just want to get on a soapbox about something. The author wrote about her surprise about how many Internet atheist “activists” display so much “scholarliness.” This is a major problem on the popular level (Christians and atheists alike). Most people have virtually no idea what it takes for something to be “scholarly.” Hint: it’s not “what confirms my position and sounds good.” It’s more like “worthy of publication in peer-reviewed journals,” and I can tell you right now the vast majority of Internet atheists would not be able to participate. OK, let’s end that rant for now. What we’re going to do in this article is discuss each point by presenting their contention and argument as fairly as possible, and then discuss why that doesn’t make any sense. Here goes!

1.     Jesus didn’t die.

The idea here is that Jesus’ “death” was really more like a coma, since he didn’t stay dead. He just napped for three days and then vacated his tomb. If that is the case, then he’s either a zombie or else he’s completely alive. Therefore, a central fact about the Gospel seems to be false.

I suspect virtually no Christian actually believes this is a knockdown argument against the Gospel, but they may not know what precisely is wrong with it. Well, first, it begs the question against the definition of a resurrection. But more importantly, it’s scientifically and medically ignorant. The mere fact of Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t entail he wasn’t dead (in fact, as has been hinted at, the entailment is actually that he was dead). Medically, he was actually dead. It’s just bizarre that anyone would claim that the scourging, crucifixion, piercing of the side with a spear, etc. means that he wasn’t dead. In fact, comatose patients still have their hearts beating, brain activity, etc., while Jesus, from all medical and scientific indications, did not. This is the opposite of scholarly; it’s virtually anti-intellectual. The zombie comment is a throwaway line that shouldn’t trouble anyone, but lest it does, I’ll address it. The reason the zombie comment is supposed to be a problem for Christianity is the same reason it’s inapplicable. It’s supposed to be a problem because zombies are goofy, undead, mindless things that feast on flesh and all of that. But of course Jesus is not goofy, undead (in fact he is alive), mindless, and feasting on flesh. Curiously, this author is correct: Jesus is presently alive. That’s just what it means to be resurrected. So what’s the problem?

2.     Jesus didn’t have faith.

If Jesus was the Son of God, then he didn’t need faith to know these things. It’s not fair to require faith from others when you don’t have it yourself.

This, of course, is patently absurd. Jesus requires people to be his followers, but why should anyone complain that Jesus is not following himself (since no one can follow themselves)?! The point is that this isn’t a huge problem: someone might shrug their shoulders and say, “so what?” However, we can go even further. Most people recognize there are only a few things that could have happened with Jesus and the incarnation. What is most plausible is that Jesus freely laid aside the independent use of the divine attributes and relied on the Holy Spirit. In that sense, in many cases he had the same level of access (functionally) to knowledge that we do (of course not counting personal experience). But something else is troubling about the author’s claim (in the original piece): they seem to think that knowledge and faith are not compatible. But that’s just not a Christian definition of faith; that’s a new atheist definition of faith. Pop quiz: Who said the following?

            Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.

Give up? It was one Jesus of Nazareth (John 10:37). So I guess Jesus isn’t asking people to believe without any evidence, after all, and he plausibly did have a great and active trust in the Father, through the Spirit, to get him through life.

I’m going to go through the rest in subsequent installments, so stay tuned!

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